Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

I know that today they are going to the polls in my neighboring state of North Carolina and in Indiana as well but what has really gotten my attention is a Judge in Ohio. He has ruled that medical examiners autopsies be overturned when they had ruled that tasers contributed to their death. How can a judge know more than a trained medical examiner? What it is, is the fact that Taser International is trying to intimidate medical examiners across the country from telling the truth as they see it. They [Taser International] have done absolutely no medical research into the 50,000 volt devices yet have the arrogance to force a change in autopsy reports. This is just a ploy for them to keep selling them to police across the country and say they are safe. They may be safer than a bullet but they can still kill some people. Police must know this and not have cases decided by Taser International or a judge who sees things in a favorable light to them. The U.N. of which we are a charter member has denounced the use of tasers as torture but we go right on using them without a thought to the safety of those on the receiving end of one. From the numerous videos across the web you can see police officers reaching for a taster first thing rather than trying any other method of subduing a suspect, even those that are not violent routinely get tasered as some officers seem to enjoy see a suspect getting 50,000 volt jolts of electricity coursing through their body. This case is going to be appealed. Lets hope that this time they get a judge with some common sense.

Cuba makes another step into the modern world this week as President Raul Castro lifted the ban on personal computers. The desktop computers cost almost $800 in a country that the average wage is under $20 a month. Some Cubans have plenty of extra spending money as their relatives send it to them. Right now they are restricted to certain workplaces schools and universities. It is unable to connect to giant fiber-optic undersea cables due to the U.S. trade embargo. However Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, Cuba’s ally and a critic of the US, is laying a new cable under the Caribbean. It remains to be seen once they are connected if they will have uncensored internet or not.

Cubans have recently been allowed such items as cell phones and DVD players. How much longer are we going to maintain our embargo on Cuba? Doesn’t it seem to have gone on long enough? I know it does to me.

In a stunning admission to ABC news Friday night, President Bush declared that he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details of the CIA’s use of torture. Bush reportedly told ABC, “I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.” Bush also defended the use of waterboarding.

We need to be calling on Congress to demand an independent prosecutor to investigate possible violations by the Bush administration of laws including the War Crimes Act, the federal Anti-Torture Act, and federal assault laws.

We must be above all this type of treatment. We need to be a nation of laws. We need to open up the tribunals for the ones suspected of masterminding the attacks on September 11th. We must remain true to our core beliefs – even in the most trying of times – and our forefathers vision of what this country would become. America does not stand for trials that rely on torture to gain confessions, or on secret evidence that a defendant cannot rebut, or on hearsay evidence.

I feel so sad and ashamed that our country – a shining beacon of freedom, supposedly – has fallen to the ranks of those that sanction and use torture on individuals it deems are enemy combatants. What is even worse is they can actually grab up a U.S. citizen and claim they are also and enemy combatant and there is no one to stop them.

I have been afraid our President is a war criminal by Geneva Convention Standards but it has came to light that efforts were taken by Vice President Dick Cheney and other members of the Bush administration to insulate President Bush from meetings where CIA interrogation methods, including waterboarding, which simulates drowning, were discussed and ultimately approved.

The meetings were held in the White House Situation Room in the years immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. Attending the sessions were Cheney, then-Bush aides Attorney General John Ashcroft, Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

How much deeper do we need to go before the Congress decides they finally need to investigate?

President Bush‘s refusal to outlaw torture may lie in the fact that we have been torturing hapless victims that we hold without even a chance for criminal proceedings to take place. This is a story of a German citizen – on a religious pilgrimage – who was picked up off a bus on his way to the airport in Pakistan trying to return home to Germany. He was pulled off the bus by a Pakistani police officer who turned him over to U.S. intelligence who was paying $3,000 a head for suspicious foreigners from there he was loaded onto an airplane bound for a U.S. base in Kandahar, Afghanistan. There he was given the identity of “#53″. If they had listened to the FBI, U.S. and German intelligence then he would have been released from his outdoor pen in subfreezing weather and allowed to go home. Instead he was questioned everyday then when his answers did not satisfy them they turned to torture to try and extract the information they wanted from him. But he steadfastly stuck to the story of only traveling in Pakistan and not having any knowledge of al Qaeda or the Taliban. He claims to have had his head dunked into water and beat in the abdomen at the same time, shocked by electricity until numb then hung by his arms from chains for days on end with the only respite being when they would bring in a doctor to check to make sure he could take a little more. This is terrible how can our government allow something such as this to happen? I know they are going to deny that this man was ever tortured but they will have a hard time denying that he was held captive. He was first picked up in 2001 and did not gain release despite the fact that intelligence agencys said he was no threat to the U.S., sometime in 2002 at Guantanamo -where he endured more beatings and was chained to the floor – a memo was written saying “USA considers Murat Kurnaz?s innocence to be proven. He is to be released in approximately six to eight weeks.” Three and one half years later he was finally released after the Supreme Court had ordered in 2004 that inmates at Guantanamo were eligible for legal counsel despite what the Bush administration had claimed. That was when he was surprised by the visit of a lawyer who helped gain his release ,after debunking some of the ridiculous charges that had been laid onto him since his arrival.

If this is indeed true then we are harboring war criminals plain and simple. After WW II we charged and prosecuted war criminals who had used some of the same tactics on our soldiers. The question is how far up the chain of command does this go? Does anyone even think to realize how this makes us look to other nations? The world? How dangerous it becomes for our military now that it appears that we not only allow torture to go on but it is sanctioned by the highest leader in the military and President of the United States?

See 60 Minutes interview with Murat Kurnaz.

Today is an anniversary of sorts. Today five years ago we as a nation invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq. At the time we were led to believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction pointed at us and our allies. Our military, the finest in the world, went through the Iraq's like a dose of salts through a widow woman. In a matter of a few weeks we had captured anything and everything worth capturing, but still - after five years - have not found those weapons of mass destruction that were supposed to have been pointed at us. We have seen that there was absolutely no plan in place for what to do after winning the ground war. Five years after invading them and having Bush stand on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln with a huge banner in the background stating mission accomplished. This is the same image that once graced the White House page but has since been removed as the mission has not been accomplished. What has happened is that nearly four thousand of our brave soldiers have been killed and countless many more injured for life. We have seen cronyism at its worst, as corporations like Halliburton - who the vice president is in bed with being a former vice president of the corporation and still a stock holder - were given no bid contracts. A free reign to grab up all the cash they could milk out of us the tax payers. And the abuses were terrible and have yet to have any repercussions. The wool was pulled over our collective eyes and we were deceived by President Bush and his administration. We investigate or our congress will investigate so many things that though they do matter seem trivial to this, will not investigate who did the lying to bring us to this point. Being the referee in a civil war. Being in the position as an invader - something no one would like in his or her country. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Leaving without security in place leaves a mess for the poor people in Iraq who have suffered mightily over the past five years. Staying only encourages more extremists to attack us as invaders and infidels. Any way we go we can't win. It is a lose lose situation. If only we had listened to voices of reason objecting to the invasion we might be ahead of the game still. Instead we are stuck in Iraq for now with no real solution in sight.

The shameful presidency of Bush has fallen to a new low – even for him. President Bush has vetoed legislation on Saturday that would have outlawed waterboarding – a technique that simulates drowning when interrogating terror suspects. Bush says it will harm the governments ability to prevent future terrorist attacks. The bills supporters assure us that the government can still gain information via interrogation while maintaining our high moral standing at home and abroad. Waterboarding is a known method of torture. We should be above that. We signed the original UN charter that prohibits torture amongst member nations. But that is too inconvenient as far as Bush is concerned. Even though it is a known fact that torture yields unreliable information as a rule. The tortured will tell their interrogator anything at all that they think they want to hear so as to stop the torture.

In a statement Friday, Senator Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. said, “President Bush‘s veto will be one of the most shameful acts of his presidency. Unless Congress overrides the veto, it will go down in history as a flagrant insult to the rule of law and a serious stain on the good name of America in the eyes of the world.” This will make us look bad to allies and enemies alike. Hopefully Congress will override his stupid veto.

As the debate on extending the Protect America Act goes on now would be a really good time to contact your Congress man or woman and tell them to not vote for amnesty for the telecoms. I just watched Bush and his rhetoric on it and the economy. Him telling me that there is not a recession on the horizon tells me there surely is as I no longer believe anything he has to say. If he were to tell me it was raining outside I would have to go look for myself before I would believe it.

The Protect America Act basically gives them the right to spy on communications that pass through or originate in the U.S. onward to foreign destinations. The only problem is they have been spying on us domestically also. They were not limiting the scope of the spying to foreign communications but were capturing all the communications. Yours and mine along with every American were being copied to a huge master data base or so it seems.

I have already been ringing the phone off the hook in the Washington office of my Congressman Bob Inglis. Telling him to not give amnesty to the telecoms. Bush’s logic of “they won’t assist us in the future” is not going to float with me. I know that given a warrant they not only will assist in the spying but are bound to by law. They will be reluctant to hook up illegal wiretaps I am sure, as they should be.

It is very easy to contact your congress person as they all have pages from the House of Representatives once there at the top left of the page is a locater. All you do is enter your zipcode and it will give you your Congressperson name and link you to their page. If you care about the direction this country has gone since the Bushies have taken over then you should call today before it is too late. Letters are great but telephone calls get their attention right away.

??? Keith Olbermann really lets loose on Bush with both barrels. He gives a great account of how Bush has lied to us and Congress. I have been seeing through those lies for the past 7 years but have mostly kept my opinions to myself. Or actually I was somewhat outspoken about him but limited myself in the number of people I was speaking to. Anyhow he [Keith Olbermann] out and out calls George Bush a fascist and a liar and not even a good liar anymore. Bush said that without the Protect America Act that Americans lives are at risk. Yet he said he would veto any extension of the Protect America Act that did not give immunity to the telecoms who have (or so it appears) broken the law in their spying on Americans without a warrant. Ted Kennedy said, “If we take the President at his word, he is willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies” Myself I think it is not just the telecoms he is trying to shield with this immunity but another method of hiding his involvement in illegal spying. Under Bush we have gotten closer to the Orwellian state of 1984. It is looking like George Orwell was right but his dates were wrong.

??? Anyhow the video, while being a little long (9 min) brings out some very valid points. You should watch the video, read the text if need be, and contact your Representative in the House of Representatives and tell them to stand up to the President and his lies and do not grant immunity when we don’t even know what if any laws have been broken. He won’t say what was done he just wants immunity for everyone involved and thats not good for the country. You can also sign the ACLU petition with its “Facts Over Fear” campaign.

The world will have its eye on China this year as it plays host to the Olympics. Some of us hope that it also highlights complaints about their unfair economic policies, its secretive military buildup and its human rights abuses. At least some of our lawmakers and candidates are paying attention, and scrutinizing their actions in hearings and legislation.
“The Chinese want this ‘Show’ – with a capital ‘S’ – to showcase their government to the world,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said in an interview. Congress, he said, should use that as leverage to “bring maximum scrutiny and light to their egregious human rights abuses.”
Myself I still have the picture of the one lone man standing up for democracy in front of a tank. We claim to support and promote democracy yet totally ignored the massacre at Tiananmen Square. Some of the survivors have recently been released from prison. We should not have a “most favored” trading partner that treats citizens so brutally.
Smith backs legislation that would stop U.S. technology companies from aiding countries that restrict Internet access. American Internet companies have been denounced for turning a blind eye to abuse in China so they can crack that lucrative market. Google and Yahoo both have made concessions to the Chinese government to censor the web and web searches for Chinese. Yahoo even went so far as to give Chinese intelligence that resulted in the conviction of a journalist for “divulging state secrets abroad”,
U.S. manufacturers complain that Beijing‘s low valuation of the yuan, its currency, makes Chinese goods cheaper in the United States and American products more expensive in China. Lawmakers are considering bills that would punish China for what they contend are predatory trade practices. Lawmakers also worry about China’s rapid military spending and the country’s apparent secretiveness about its military aims.
All in all I think we need to watch China carefully. They are not as friendly to us as they appear to be. Not as long as we have issues between us over human rights violations and trade deficits. They want our money and our technology but I think we should be wary of giving them too much. Our politicians have already have given away most of our textile jobs to them, as seen by so many empty mills here in the south. What else are they going to give away next?