Category Archives: Human rights and Liberties

The ‘Unnatural’ Death of Dr Kelly: The Forensic Pathology – The Subversion of Due Process Continues


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Andrew Watt ended his article with the post-mortem examination being carried out by Dr Nicholas Hunt on the evening the body was found 18 July 2003.  It was the penetrating smell of Lysol, lights and stainless steel in the mortuary of the John Radcliffe Infirmary Oxford, as well as the remains of a fit husband and father.   Nine police officers were in attendance, the most senior being Detective Chief Inspector Alan Young who was in charge of the investigation.  He was at the scene on Harrowdown Hill where the unidentified body was found by Louise Holmes.  In spite of his lead position in the inquiry into a missing person, and then a suspicious death, he was neither called to the Hutton Inquiry which started sitting 13 days later, nor did he submit a statement to it (1).  There is no obvious explanation for the presence of nine police officers at this very morbid autopsy given that the police had sprayed the word ‘suicide’ about earlier that day.  The size of the squad would surely have fitted better if murder was foremost in the minds of the investigating authorities.

The examination finished just after midnight.  Dr Hunt wrote up his report of his findings at the scene and of his post mortem examination the next day, the 19th of July.  He would have come to preliminary conclusions as to the cause of death and been helped in that by the early findings of Dr Allan the toxicologist.  That first report has never been published; it was not referred to by Dr Hunt when he gave evidence at the Hutton Inquiry (2)  The only report, and that is entitled Final Post Mortem Report – 25th July 2003, was published in October 2010, by the Ministry of Justice.  The only original copy of this in existence is a very poor ‘scan’.  An OCR and tidied version of this is here (3).  That the findings in the first report have never been made public was one among three  important concerns brought by this author to the General Medical Council in 2011, established by the Medical Act of 1858. (4)  This will be discussed later but suffice to say they were dismissed.

Dr Nicholas Gardiner, HM Coroner for Oxfordshire, opened an inquest as the law demands for all violent, unnatural or unexplained deaths on the 21st July.  It is surprising that transcripts of coronial hearings are seldom made.  The hearing would have been attended by Dr Hunt, the coroner’s officer and the police.  It would have been adjourned until more evidence had flowed in.  However, it can be inferred that the cause of death had been given by Dr Hunt. (5 )

Whilst this mouse of an inquest moved ever so quietly, an elephant had been trampling the undergrowth for the three previous days, starting at Harrowdown Hill.  Within three hours of the body being found, my Lord Hutton had been engaged to chair an ad hoc inquiry, by my Lord Falconer as Dr Watt has already described.  Miles Goslett recently reported in the Mail that Hutton had confirmed in a letter to Norman Baker MP that he had been asked to meet Lord Chancellor Falconer in his Lord’s office around noon of the 18th July and that he agreed to serve.(6)  At that point the subject, David Christopher Kelly CMG DSc had not been identified and no cause of death had been established.  This fixer was a friend of Blair’s when they were in chambers studying law!  He had assisted his friend the PM in bolstering the claim that there was a legal basis for a massive bombardment and invasion of Iraq rather than it being a supreme war crime as defined at Nuremberg.

It is salutary to consider that it took six and half years for the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq ‘War’ to be set up in which over one million Iraqi humans died, at least two million were maimed by customary calculation and four million were made refugees in Syria and Jordan.  It took the New Labour high command, the sofa cabinet, just three hours after the death of just one man to set up Hutton with the clear intention of containing the inquiry and ensuring safe conclusions.  The instruction given to Hutton was to ‘…urgently to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly’.  ‘Urgently’ can be interpreted as ‘nail this promptly’, ‘consider’ as ‘without especial accuracy’ and ‘circumstances’ as equalling the ‘media furore’ which obviously drove Kelly to an inevitable suicide.  It was not who the deceased was, and how, when and where he died which are the plain duties of a coroner.  It was the ‘circumstances’; and if anything showed the mind and the motives of this most evil cabal, that word is the nub.

The words of the two conversations (6) between Falconer in Westminster and his pal Blair on wing to Tokyo in the hour after noon that day have not, of course, been revealed.  That it was to do with an awkward corpse in a wood it is fair to assume.  After all, it was a central topic at the press conference in Tokyo where blood, or other medium, drained from Blair’s face with ‘Have you got blood on your hands Mr Blair’ from a Daily Mail journalist.  The obvious answer was that he had the blood of thousands upon thousands of people on his hands whereas the European only had one white man in mind at that moment.

Correspondence by Ms Albon of Falconer’s other office (he was also the Secretary of State in the Department of Constitutional Affairs – Mikado style) with the Oxfordshire coroner has a dictatorial ring to it.  It was recognised he had to reconvene his inquest in law but this mouse then had to be silent until the elephant had trumpeted the findings.  All this was engineered by the mechanism of Section 17a of the 1988 Coroner’s Act.  It had been applied for multiple deaths of common cause – Shipman, the Ladbroke rail crash and the sinking of the trawler Gaul.  It had at its root – efficiency in investigation, thoughtfulness towards loved ones and verdict as to the common cause.  There was no justification for invocation of Section 17a on top of this ad hoc inquiry other than to shackle the coroner and thus to subvert due process.  With a few ‘phone calls Falconer had made certain with this ad hoc ‘judicial’ inquiry that there would be no evidence under oath, no ability to subpoena  witnesses, no cross examination and no ability to call a jury.  The last thing he wanted was twelve good women/men and true.

The coup de grace for the mouse was this Section 17a.  There was a further hearing on the 14th of August at which an extraordinary death certificate was conjured up and registered four days later. The hearing was not publicised and again there was no transcript or reportage.  This officer of the Crown whose authority and duties stretched back to the 13th Century had been made into a small creature by power and cunning.   “The use of these powers to oust the Coroner’s jurisdiction …” is how Frances Swaine of Leigh Day & Co put it an excellent memorandum to the Attorney General in October 2010. (7)  (Leigh Day were initially instructed by Dr Frost; they did a large amount of excellent work without charge.)

A letter that Mr Gardiner wrote 6th of August to Ms Albon includes “The preliminary cause of death given at the opening of the inquest no longer represents the view of the Pathologist and evidence from him would need to be given to correct and update the evidence already received.”

(5 – section ONE).  This was brushed aside in a letter from lawyers acting for Dr Hunt who were reacting to this long letter from the author to the GMC listing his concerns about Dr Hunt’s performance.(5)  Whether his opinion had been changed or not, there was an absolute professional and legal requirement on him to reveal his initial report with its conclusions and his train of thought.

This principle has been tested in the case of Dr Kenneth Shorrock who is currently suspended for unknown reason from the Home Office list of forensic pathologists which was last updated 15th May 2013.   This extract from (5 – section ONE) –  “He was charged with serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council on eight counts I believe.  He had produced a second post-mortem report on a hospital patient which was indicative of negligence by the surgeon without any reference to his first report which had exonerated the surgeon.’

The surgeon was charged with manslaughter but was cleared.  He complained to the Home Office whose Scientific Standards Committee of the Policy Advisory Board opined that he had not ‘maintained the standards required’ and simply issued advice, its interest ending in July 2004.  The surgeon then complained to the General Medical Council.  Mr Vernon Coaker, Minister of State at the Home Office, said in a letter to the author 22 November 2008 “The GMC had been considering the complaint for, I believe, many months (prior to July 2005) and had, similarly, taken no steps to restrict Dr Shorrock’s practice.”

Of the greatest importance is the fact that he was called from Sheffield to examine the remains of Jean Charles de Menezes who had been shot with six hollow point bullets in the head as he sat in a ‘tube’ carriage 22nd July 2005.  Sheffield is 150 miles from London which has at least 8 forensic pathologists available.  The call to attend a headless Jean Charles was in spite of the fact that a charge of serious professional misconduct was hanging over him; the first hearing by the GMC Fitness to Practice Panel was only six weeks after the killing of Jean Charles.  There had been several adjournments of the GMC hearings of this charge which was first heard 5th of September 2005.  The nine page summary of the final hearing 19 February 2007 found him guilty of serious professional misconduct. (8 -HALPIN website)

This author wrote to five relevant authorities before the 22nd September 2008 inquest at the Oval, Kennington about this most improper instruction given to Dr Shorrock to take this case in the summer of 2005. There were no replies from any one of the five; this included the Public Solicitor to the inquiry and Justice4Jean.  Dr Shorrock’s evidence would be central at this inquest and would include the position and identity of each bullet prior to ballistic studies, and would thus indicate which weapon and which agent had injured Jean Charles beyond recognition IF the evidence had not been contaminated.  The Independent Police Complaints Commission does not have a reputation for being just but it did not take possession of the scene until 48 hours had elapsed.

The final hearing of five altogether took place on the 5th of February 2007.  The  GMC panel found him guilty of the charge of serious professional misconduct.  It found his actions “unprofessional, inconsistent, unreasonable, not based upon the medical and pathological information and likely to bring the medical profession into disrepute”.

Two professors of forensic pathology advised the panel:-

Vanezis – ‘He further stated that if a pathologist had reason to change his conclusions or opinion, an explanation should be given as to why he has deemed this necessary.’

Pounder – ‘ Dr Shorrock had a duty to make reference to the existence of the first report. In addition, the second report should have given the reasons for his change of view.

Many had written in support of Dr Kenneth Shorrock.  He was simply issued with a reprimand.

The reader has two forensic pathologists in examine.

One was lecturing at the Police Staff College, Bramshill, Hampshire when he was called to a corpse on Harrowdown Hill which was all about a supreme war crime.

The other was called from Sheffield to a most high profile unlawful killing at Southwell Tube Station, London.

Should the second have been on gardening leave until the GMC had considered the serious charge against him?  Or did Jean Charles not deserve the best within our law?

Should the first not have fully revealed the first post mortem report he wrote up on Dr Kelly on the 19th of July?  It is certain there was a FIRST report and Lord Hutton referred to it in his introduction.  Were the opinions as to the causes of death different in important ways between the 19th of July and the FINAL Post Mortem Report of the 25th of July.  It is clear the Coroner thought so.  That this gross defect slipped through is typical of much that happened at Hutton.  His professional and legal duty was made completely clear later in the case of Dr Shorrock.

We move on next to the Hutton Inquiry and its many defects.

Notes

http://chilcotscheatingus.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/death-of-david-kelly-operation-mason.html

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20090128221550/, http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/transcripts/hearing-trans33.htm

http://wikispooks.com/wiki/Document:David_Kelly_Post-Mortem_Report

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Medical_Council

http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/23-articles/dr-david-kelly/144-letter-to-ms-c-f-floyd-investigation-officer-general-medical-council

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362659/Revealed-How-Blair-fixer-picked-judge-David-Kelly-Inquiry-just-hours-weapons-inspectors-suicide.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1337661/David-Kelly-report.html

http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/23-articles/dr-david-kelly/146-s

via The ‘Unnatural’ Death of Dr Kelly: The Forensic Pathology – The Subversion of Due Process Continues | Global Research.

Pfc. Bradley Manning’s Trial Comes To An End As The Government Alleges He ‘Aided The Enemy’


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While the world has become fixated on the NSA’s domestic and foreign surveillance activities in the past months, the trial of Private First Class Bradley Manning is coming to a close. Concluding arguments were heard today. The government, as BoingBoing notes, is trying to convict Manning using the Espionage Act, and slap him with the charge of ‘aiding the enemy.’ Manning has plead guilty to “lesser” charges.

We in technology must pay attention to those willing to leak from the government, given that such information has played a key role in the shaping of public opinion regarding piracy and privacy among other issues. The Snowden effect is material, and critical.

Firedoglake has done a masterful job of not only reporting on the case, but also live-blogging as much as possible.

The government alleges that Manning leaked not out of a desire to spread knowledge of government and military misdeed, but instead out of a lust for fame. His pride, it was asserted, was proven because the government produced a picture of a smiling Manning. Hard evidence, certainly.

At the same time, as Nathan Fuller pointed out, “Govt repeating over & over #Manning was obsessed about his own fame, craved notoriety. At same time arguing further he kept identity hidden.” If you can untangle the logic behind that argument, you are a better person than I.

Regarding the Collateral Murder video that showed needless civilian deaths, the government, according to Firedoglake merely stated that the clip contained “actions and experiences of service members conducting a wartime mission.” The government put a price on the “worth” of the Afghanistan and Iraq Logs that Wikileaks released to the public at $1.3 million and $1.9 million, respectively.

The idea of prosecuting Manning for “aiding the enemy” is worrisome, as it is an around-the-side charge: Manning provided information to the enemy because he gave it to a journalistic organization that published it, allowing the “enemy” to read it; this would make all leakers and whistle blowers potentially legally damnable on the same charge. If we set that precedent, investigative journalism will take a body blow.

From a pure journalism perspective, current treatment of reporters inside the courtroom would be laughable if it weren’t so blatantly intimidatory. I quote, to preserve the original voice, Alexa O’Brien:

Journalists sending me emails telling me soldier stationed right behind me with a gun.  I tell you, OVER THE TOP JUDGE LIND #Manning

And, for taste, Kevin Gosztola:

Armed military police officer leans over my shoulder & informs me not to have browser windows open during court proceedings #Manning

So, we aren’t being fed what could be called a full dish of the proceedings, because armed folks are telling people to knock it the hell off. We can disagree all evening about the guilt of Mannning, and the efficacy of leaks to the national discourse, and their potential denigration of our national security, but at least we can agree that threatening the press with soldiers isn’t in the best of taste.

When the verdict is given, we’ll update this post and bring you the news. That is, if the government allows the press to report it.

via Pfc. Bradley Manning’s Trial Comes To An End As The Government Alleges He ‘Aided The Enemy’ | TechCrunch.

Assange Seeks Seat in the Australian Senate


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SYDNEY, AustraliaJulian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, formally inaugurated a new political party bearing the name of his antisecrecy organization on Thursday and declared his own unorthodox candidacy for a seat in the Australian Senate in national elections to be held later this year.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Assange said he had every confidence in his ability to run a campaign from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. He has been living under asylum there for more than a year to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sexual assault accusations.

“It’s not unlike running the WikiLeaks organization,” he said. “We have people on every continent. We have to deal with over a dozen legal cases at once.”

“However, it’s nice to be politically engaged in my home country,” he added.

Mr. Assange, 42, an Australian computer hacker who rose to prominence as an evangelist for radical government transparency and a critic of United States foreign policy, is a deeply polarizing figure. Many believe that the WikiLeaks Party is simply a vanity project for Mr. Assange, although several polls conducted since plans to establish the party emerged earlier this year suggest that it could fare better than expected.

The Australian Senate has a long history of successful protest candidates, John Wanna, a political-science professor at Australian National University in Canberra, said in an interview. Mr. Assange is probably hoping to trade on his name recognition and follow in the footsteps of other rabble-rousing, single-issue senators, Professor Wanna said.

“He’s basically a nuisance candidate who may attract a bit of attention, because he’s not really about governing and sitting in Parliament,” he said. “He’s not standing to do the work, he’s standing for the nuisance value.”

If elected, Mr. Assange said, his party will work to advance “transparency, justice and accountability.”

“My plans are to essentially parachute in a crack troop of investigative journalists into the Senate and to do what we have done with WikiLeaks, in holding banks and government and intelligence agencies to account,” Mr. Assange said.

Supporters of Mr. Assange laud him as a hero for what they see as his dogged pursuit of government transparency, but prominent critics have described his releasing of classified information as a reckless act.

Mr. Assange is perhaps best known for WikiLeaks’ 2010 release of a huge trove of American diplomatic cables. His supporters maintain that the United States and its allies have fabricated the sexual assault case against him in Sweden to hamper his ability to release further classified materials and to punish him for those already released.

Under Australian law, Mr. Assange would have to take his seat within one year of being elected, although the Senate could technically grant him an extension if he is unable to physically take his seat. The British government has stated its intention to arrest him if he leaves the embassy in London.

Although he is best known for his views on international affairs, Mr. Assange was eager on Thursday to offer WikiLeaks’ position on the most contentious issue in contemporary Australian politics: the record number of people trying to reach Australia each year in rickety boats to claim political asylum.

Mr. Assange assailed a tough policy announced last week by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, under which all asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat are to be sent to refugee-processing centers in Papua New Guinea.

He compared his own situation, and that of Edward J. Snowden — the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked documents about American surveillance programs — with the plight of those trying to reach Australia by boat.

“I am a political asylum seeker, awarded political asylum by the Ecuadorean government, and another state, the United Kingdom, and other states are interfering with that,” he said.

via Assange Seeks Seat in the Australian Senate – NYTimes.com.

Bradley Manning on Trial


If Manning is ever released, he will re-enter a world ready to embrace him, advanced with the understanding to recognize his greatness.

Mark Wilson, Getty Images)

Zoom in on an aerial image of the Fort Meade military base and you will see miles of sprawling green fields and parking lots separating homes and administrative buildings. From that vantage point the magistrate court looks about the size of a Mack Truck. History is being made in that little building, the court martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning is being held there.

Two weeks ago, in the swampy heat, I stood outside that single-floor courthouse. A crowd of about twenty-five of us were gathered in a narrow paved area between trailers for restrooms, crowd overflow, and the security check-in. There was a man near the entrance that had to be in his eighties. I overheard him interrupt a conversation to ask, “What’s an e-reader?” A white haired woman told him it is a thin device that holds loads of books as digital files. He paused, perhaps to consider how the contents of his personal library might be encoded to fit inside something not much bigger than a calculator. I looked around again. Maybe a third of the people attending the trial as spectators could remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor as clearly as 9-11. And quite a number more looked like retired boomers. Has AARP thrown its weight behind hacktivist causes? Were they cypherpunks in elaborate disguise?

I started talking with a retired woman who drove down from Pennsylvania. I asked how she felt about the prosecution’s depiction of WikiLeaks as a terrorist abettor. “Well, I’m not as concerned with that,” she said. “I’m here because they were torturing that kid.”

I was there because they were torturing that kid.

Last winter, I read a tweet from the Guardian‘s Ed Pilkington quoting Manning’s testimony in the pre-trial hearing. I shut my phone off and stared out the window — a tiny privilege that Manning had for so long been denied:

“BRADLEY MANNING: ‘You could see the reflection of the reflection of the skylight if you angled your face on the cell door’ – Quantico” — @Edpilkington

From then on, I found myself often thinking about Manning straining to see a “reflection of the reflection” while locked away at the brig. And for what? For exposing criminality and corruption on a worldwide structural level when no one else dared. But in the courtroom, Manning looks so earnest. He appears confident, not frail. You can see in him a glimmer of the “bradass87″ that once wrote to a friend that he would like to be like his idols, “richard feynman, carl sagan, harvey milk, etc.”

The enormity of his actions sits in contrast with the work-a-day procedure of the court martial. But that is Washington for you, a city where you might meet diplomats with sweat stains under the arms of their dress shirts and stateswomen in fraying stockings. Power appears unexpectedly accessible and deceivingly provincial. The prosecutors — representing the US government — seem guided less by iron fist than egregious technical illiteracy. The people who tortured Bradley Manning do not have horns. And that makes it all much worse.

Earlier that day, I left my phone in a friend’s glove compartment and handed my umbrella to a soldier as another searched my bag in the security trailer. Anyone can walk in and observe the proceedings. It is a short train ride from Union Station and the Bradley Manning Support Network arranges pickups, but too few people are taking advantage of this opportunity. On a panel at Left Forum, Jessalyn Radack, the attorney who represented NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, said that some days there were only six spectators. Nearing a verdict now, the courtroom is typically full, but the overflow trailer still has plenty of room. It makes a difference. They announce court attendance every morning.

How many people even know the trial is happening? Manning was held for three years without a trial. That is plenty of time for the public to mistakenly assume there was already a court decision and sentencing. And why did they try this case at all? Manning already pled guilty to 10 charges and faces up to 20 years. The remaining charges are bizarrely exaggerated. Using flimsy circumstantial evidence, the government is trying to argue that publishing documents on the internet assists terrorists. And for that they could lock him away for life.

The prosecution insists they would have pressed the same charges if Manning had gone to the New York Times instead of WikiLeaks. Daniel Ellsberg did go to the New York Times, which published excerpts of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Before his case was thrown out as a mistrial, he faced a sentence of up to 115 years under the Espionage Act of 1917. “Everything that Richard Nixon did to me, for which he faced impeachment and prosecution, which led to his resignation, is now legal under the Patriot Act, the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] amendment act, the National Defense Authorization Act,” Ellsberg told Chris Hedges in an interview. Now Manning is accused not only of espionage, but “aiding the enemy,” essentially because some WikiLeaks files were on Osama bin Laden’s computer.

The prosecutors are in their early 30s — nominally “digital natives” — and should know better. “Do you know what Wget is?” they interrogate a witness, as if it is malicious spyware and not an everyday command line program. The government is capitalizing on asymmetric tech literacy and the failure of language when old laws are applied to the internet. At the peak of this absurdity: WikiLeaks cables are still formally classified, so despite being readily available to anyone with internet, closed sessions are required to discuss them.

Perhaps you heard the audio of Bradley Manning’s court statement earlier this year. That was leaked. No other recordings or visuals have come out of the trial, with the exception of courtroom sketches. Now imagine if there were a livestream. And imagine if everyone had tuned in to watch Yochai Benkler’s gripping expert witness testimony on July 10th. He argued on behalf of the decentralization of media in the digital age, the blurred lines between activist and journalist, and that WikiLeaks was “providing a discrete but critical component of what in the past was always integrated in a single organization.” He explained in clear language what everyone of a certain generation knows intuitively about the internet. Afterward, in the restroom, I overheard two old ladies say they plan to read his book, The Wealth of Networks.

Why did the prosecution ramp up charges against Manning? “Aiding the enemy” might have resulted in the death penalty. The answer came from Benkler under cross-examination. Summarizing an article he wrote, he explained in court, “it’s very hard to suppress information once it’s on WikiLeaks and that the core target needs to be on trust as the center of gravity. In other words, to undermine the concept that WikiLeaks is a place where a leaker can go and trust that they won’t be revealed. So in order to prevent this distributed leaking, it’s necessary to increase the fear, as it were, or the constraint on potential leakers.”

In Ellsberg’s time, the labor involved was its own risk and deterrent. Over the course of a year, he went out with a suitcase to Xerox page after page of the Pentagon Papers (with a piece of cardboard pressed against the glass to edit out the “Top Secret” stamps.) Manning’s cover was a rewritable CD marked “Lady Gaga.” He downloaded the files while listening to “Telephone.” He was tortured and he risks life imprisonment, because leaking is now so easy.

If you grow up knowing an entire library can fit inside a device in the palm of your hand, those 250,000 diplomatic cables and 500,000 army reports do not seem like an enormous bounty. What looks like “harvesting” to one generation, might seem like the obvious way to gather data to the next.

The witness for the defense who has stayed in my mind is Lauren McNamara. She read from a series of AOL chats with Manning in 2009. She was called in to defend his character and demonstrate he was in good spirits in the months leading up to the cable leaks. McNamara — who goes by Zinnia Jones in online videos and blogs — is transgender. It is possible some people in the courtroom had never met someone who is trans* — or think they haven’t. McNamara would smash any retrograde assumptions. She’s confident and witty. There is nothing strange about her gender identity. She is a woman. Manning might be too. McNamara wrote for the Hufington Post, “when I talked with people who are in close contact with Manning, they all told me he currently identifies as male.” Coombes and the Bradley Manning Support Network also say he prefers to be addressed as Bradley. Manning might be female presenting as male, Manning might be non-binary; that’s for Manning to say.

Manning was tortured in part because he signed a few letters from the brig as “Breanna Elizabeth.” Marine Corps Master Sgt. Craig Blenis defended his cruelty in a December pre-trial hearing. Coombs asked why the marine thought Manning’s gender dysphoria should factor into his “prevention of Injury” status. Blenis answered because “that’s not normal, sir.”

But it is normal. Manning’s gender identity is as normal as his computer use. Using Wget, believing WikiLeaks to be a reputable news source in 2010, listening to Lady Gaga, identifying as a gender different from your assigned sex— this is all normal. It just might take another generation to see this. What is out of the ordinary about Pfc Bradley Manning is his extraordinary courage. If Manning is ever released, he will re-enter a world ready to embrace him, advanced with the understanding to recognize his greatness.

– See more at: http://jacobinmag.com/2013/07/bradley-manning-on-trial/#sthash.AfxiatzT.dpuf

via Bradley Manning on Trial | Jacobin.

Digital Carjackers Show Forbes How To Crash Cars, Fuel Michael Hastings Conspiracy Theories [Video]


Digital carjackers met with Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg to demonstrate how they can program a Ford Escape’s computer systems and crash it pretty much by pushing a button. On Wednesday, Forbes posted the video to YouTube, and you’re probably going to want to watch it, so press that button.

Warning: For some reason Andy Greenberg thinks we want to know that he flew out to meet these dudes on an an airplane. I’ve seen enough airports in my life. If you have too, I advise you to skip ahead to about the 0.58 mark where we actually meet digital carjackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek.

The trio plus an unseen camera person test the 3,500 pound Ford Escape in the weedy parking lot of a South Bend, Indiana strip mall.

With Greenberg at the wheel, the digital carjackers mess with the reporter’s mind by making his dashboard show more gas in the car than he actually has or by making his speedometer read 199 miles per hour.

The scariest stunt involves making the brakes fail with a melodramatic bellow — fortunately at 5 miles per hour so that nobody is hurt.

There’s much, much more in Greenberg’s article available online as well in the August 12 issue of Forbes.

The takeaway seems to be that bad guys can mess with your car computer just like they can with any other computer. And I don’t see why not.

However, what Greenberg, Miller, and Valasek may — or may not — know is that they have just fueled the flames of a thousand burning candles of conspiracy.

I got this story from someone who was looking into the death of Michael Hastings, the BuzzFeed reporter killed in a high speed car crash on June 18 in Los Angeles.

From what I’ve seen of Los Angeles, that kind of death isn’t too unusual.

But some people have speculated that he was killed because of his opposition to what he called the surveillance state.

I have no reason to believe that’s true. Andy Greenberg doesn’t mention Michael Hastings in the video or the online copy of his article.

But YouTube viewers of the videos are not so circumspect. Comment after comment reads: “RIP Michael Hastings” or “Hum… so is this what they did to Hastings when he was assassinated by the government goons?”

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/868158/digital-carjackers-video/#m3JMJMRA8KA2EVAy.99

via Digital Carjackers Show Forbes How To Crash Cars, Fuel Michael Hastings Conspiracy Theories [Video].

 

Israel to escalate ethnic cleansing


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Bedouin protest in Rahat against the Prawer Plan.PHOTO: SHIRAZ GRINBAUM / Activestills.org

The Israeli Knesset (parliament) has approved the first reading of the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev. More commonly known as the Prawer-Begin Plan, the bill allows for mass forced expulsions of the Palestinian Bedouin community from the Naqab (the Arabic name for the Negev desert).

According to the Israeli human rights group Adalah, if the plan is fully implemented it “will result in the forced displacement of up to 70,000 [Palestinian] Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel and the destruction of 35 ‘unrecognised’ villages”.

Approximately half of the Palestinian Bedouin population – around 90,000 people – live in 46 towns and villages located on just 5 percent of the land in the Naqab region. Israel currently recognises only 11 of these villages, despite the fact that they have existed since prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Palestinian Bedouin living in these villages are treated as “trespassers on State land” and are denied access to infrastructure including water, electricity, sewage, education, health care and roads. These services are deliberately withheld by the Zionist state as part of a war of attrition that seeks to “encourage” Palestinian Bedouin to leave their land. As a result, the Palestinian Bedouin community is one of the most socially and economically disadvantaged within Israel. According to Adalah, 67 percent of Palestinian Bedouin were classified as “poor” in 2009.

The original Plan was conceived by Ehud Prawer, the former Deputy Chair of Israel’s National Security Council, in 2011 – without any consultation with the Palestinian Bedouin community. In January, amendments to the bill were made by Benny Begin, the son of former Israeli PM Menachem Begin who had been a leader of the Zionist terror militia known as the Etzel (Irgun).

Begin’s amendments resulted in the removal of some of the more offensive language from the bill, which deemed Bedouins “squatters” on their own land, as well as legitimising the use of “reasonable force” to evict them. Both the original plan and the amended bill have been rejected by the Palestinian Bedouin community.

The Prawer-Begin bill will result in the largest single act of ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel since the first decade following the creation of the Israeli state.

In 1948, Zionist terror militias carried out attacks on the Palestinian Bedouin living in the Naqab. Then the newly created Israeli military launched a full scale ethnic cleansing operation to expel Palestinian Bedouin from the region for “military reasons”.

Over the next two years between 70,000 and 90,000 Palestinian Bedouin were expelled from the region. This systematic ethnic cleansing would continue throughout the 1950s.

While the vast majority were pushed outside the boundaries of the Zionist state, approximately 10 percent would remain. They were evicted to the Siyag (meaning “fence” in Arabic) in the northern Naqab, where they were forced to live under military rule until 1966.

However, since the 1950s the Palestinian Bedouin have continually sought to return to their traditional lands. Israel has prevented their return both militarily and also by planting trees via the Jewish National Fund. While the JNF claims that it is rehabilitating the land, the main purpose of the tree planting is to ensure control of the land.

Haneen Zoabi, one of the 12 Palestinian Arab members of the Knesset, told the Jerusalem Post on 28 May that “This is not how a normal state or even a dictatorship treats its citizens because it is very obvious that the aim of this plan is to expel the Palestinian citizens from their land and develop the land for the Jewish population.”

“We didn’t immigrate to Israel, it was Israel that immigrated to us,” she added.

Since the Prawer Plan was first announced, Israel has demolished more than 1,000 Palestinian Bedouin homes in the Naqab, while at the same time announcing plans to plant forests, build military centres and establish new Jewish settlements in the place of Palestinian Bedouin villages that will be ethnically cleansed

via Socialist Alternative – Israel to escalate ethnic cleansing.

Role Reversal: How the US Became the USSR


I spent the summer of 1961 behind the Iron Curtain. I was part of the USUSSR student exchange program. It was the second year of the program that operated under auspices of the US Department of State. Our return to the West via train through East Germany was interrupted by the construction of the Berlin Wall. We were sent back to Poland. The East German rail tracks were occupied with Soviet troop and tank trains as the Red Army concentrated in East Germany to face down any Western interference.

Fortunately, in those days there were no neoconservatives. Washington had not grown the hubris it so well displays in the 21st century. The wall was built and war was avoided. The wall backfired on the Soviets. Both JFK and Ronald Reagan used it to good propaganda effect.

In those days America stood for freedom, and the Soviet Union for oppression. Much of this impression was created by Western propaganda, but there was some semblance to the truth in the image. The communists had a Julian Assange and an Edward Snowden of their own. His name was Cardinal Jozef Mindszenty, the leader of the Hungarian Catholic Church.

Mindszenty opposed tyranny. For his efforts he was imprisoned by the Nazis. Communists also regarded him as an undesirable, and he was tortured and given a life sentence in 1949.

Freed by the short-lived Hungarian Revolution in 1956, Mindszenty reached the American Embassy in Budapest and was granted political asylum by Washington. However, the communists would not give him the free passage that asylum presumes, and Mindszenty lived in the US Embassy for 15 years — 79% of his remaining life.

In the 21st century roles have reversed. Today it is Washington that is enamored of tyranny. On Washington’s orders, the UK will not permit Julian Assange free passage to Ecuador, where he has been granted asylum. Like Cardinal Mindszenty, Assange is stuck in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

Washington will not permit its European vassal states to allow overflights of airliners carrying Edward Snowden to any of the countries that have offered Snowden asylum. Snowden is stuck in the Moscow airport.

In Washington politicians of both parties demand that Snowden be captured and executed. Politicians demand that Russia be punished for not violating international law, seizing Snowden, and turning him over to Washington to be tortured and executed, despite the fact that Washington has no extradition treaty with Russia.

Snowden did United States citizens a great service. He told us that despite constitutional prohibition, Washington had implemented a universal spy system intercepting every communication of every American and much of the rest of the world. Special facilities are built in which to store these communications.

In other words, Snowden did what Americans are supposed to do — disclose government crimes against the Constitution and against citizens. Without a free press there is nothing but the government’s lies. In order to protect its lies from exposure, Washington intends to exterminate all truth tellers.

The Obama Regime is the most oppressive regime ever in its prosecution of protected whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are protected by law, but the Obama Regime insists that whistleblowers are not really whistleblowers. Instead, the Obama Regime defines whistleblowers as spies, traitors, and foreign agents. Congress, the media, and the faux judiciary echo the executive branch propaganda that whistleblowers are a threat to America. It is not the government that is violating and raping the US Constitution that is a threat. It is the whistleblowers who inform us of the rape who are the threat.

The Obama Regime has destroyed press freedom. A lackey federal appeals court has ruled that NY Times reporter James Risen must testify in the trial of a CIA officer charged with providing Risen with information about CIA plots against Iran. The ruling of this fascist court destroys confidentiality and is intended to end all leaks of the government’s crimes to media.

What Americans have learned in the 21st century is that the US government lies about everything and breaks every law. Without whistleblowers, Americans will remain in the dark as “their” government enserfs them, destroying every liberty, and impoverishes them with endless wars for Washington’s and Wall Street’s hegemony.

Snowden harmed no one except the liars and traitors in the US government. Contrast Washington’s animosity against Snowden with the pardon that Bush gave to Dick Cheney aide, Libby, who took the fall for his boss for blowing the cover, a felony, on a covert CIA operative, the spouse of a former government official who exposed the Bush/Cheney/neocon lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Whatever serves the tiny clique that rules america is legal; whatever exposes the criminals is illegal.

That’s all there is to it.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Failure-Capitalism-Economic-Dissolution-ebook/dp/B00BLPJNWE/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1362095594&sr=8-17&keywords=paul+craig+roberts

via OpEdNews – Article: Role Reversal: How the US Became the USSR.

Something to Thing About -Immigration


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Snowden Gets Whistleblower Award in Germany


Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has become the winner of this year’s Whistleblower Award established by German human rights organizations, the German branch of Transparency International said in a statement.

“This year’s winner of the Whistleblower Award is Edward Snowden,” the statement posted on TI Germany website on Monday said.

The award, established in 1999, is sponsored by the Association of German Scientists (VDW) and the German branch of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA).

A VDW spokesperson told RIA Novosti on Monday that the award money, amounting to 3,000 euros, would be passed to Snowden through his representatives – either a lawyer or a “friendly” organization.

Snowden, who faces prosecution in the United States for leaking highly sensitive classified data about the US National Security Agency’s surveillance activities, submitted a request for temporary asylum in Russia last week, having been holed up in the transit zone of a Moscow airport since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23.

He is still waiting for a decision by the Russian migration authorities.

Washington has repeatedly called on Moscow to reject Snowden’s request for asylum and send him back to the United States to stand trial on charges of espionage and theft.

via Snowden Gets Whistleblower Award in Germany | World | RIA Novosti.

A Bright Ray of Hope for Bradley Manning


Many people have worried about the fate of Bradley Manning, a lone soldier who informed the world of war crimes being committed by the War Machine that has devoured the American republic and turned its ravaging, profit-reaping fury on the world. As we all know, Manning is now in the iron grip of that Machine, facing the prospect of life in prison for his truth-telling, having already endured a long incarceration marked by episodes of relentless psychological torture. Many people quite reasonably dread what awaits Manning when the Military Court hands down its inevitable verdict against him.

But wait — perhaps all is not lost after all. In the long dark night of our military imperium, a shaft of light, of hope, has suddenly appeared. And it comes from — of all places — the very pinnacle of the military justice system that is bearing down on Manning: the Court of Appeal of the Armed Forces of the United States.

For it turns out that if a military prisoner has faced the least mistreatment during incarceration, even a temporary abuse of due process, then all charges against him will be dropped and he can walk free. And since Manning has manifestly faced any number of abuses of due process and egregious mistreatment, then we can be supremely confident that the military Court of Appeal — which enshrined this Solomonic principle in a recent case — will act with perfect consistency and release Bradley Manning in good time, whatever the eventual outcome of his current trial.

After all, that’s what the Court has done for poor Lawrence Hutchins III, the good Marine who has been persecuted for years merely for carrying out his duty during America’s “extraordinary achievement” — as Barack Obama so aptly termed it — in ousting the dictator Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. (It seems there were some other reasons adduced for the invasion back in the day — something sort of dubious? even spurious? — but thankfully, these have long been forgotten as America has put aside the petty squabbles of the past and returned once more to implacable sense of righteousness that wraps the nation’s every action in a golden, godly glow.)

All Sgt. Hutchins did was lead his team on a night raid against a private home in the Iraqi town of Hamdania. All he and his team did was break into the house, grab an innocent retired policeman named Hashim Ibrahim Awad, drag him down the road to the site of a IED attack, tie him up, shoot him dead in cold blood, then dump his body in the IED hole, remove the plastic restraints, and leave a stolen AK-47 rifle next to the corpse to pretend Awad was a terrorist who had been killed in a firefight. That’s all Hutchins did. Oh yes, that, and have his men shoot Awad repeatedly in the face, in the hope of obliterating his identity. But family members recognized the body and demanded justice from their American military occupiers.

Then came the real crime, the misdeed that would later lead the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces of the United States to carry out its humanitarian intervention and set Hutchins free. As AP reports, Hutchins was arrested by the military brass and held “in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for seven days during his 2006 interrogation in Iraq.” Thus Hutchins — who was facing a term of 11 whole years for kidnapping an innocent man, shooting him in the face then covering up the crime — was released from custody last month by the Court of Appeals, which cited the six-day spell in solitary as the basis for overturning his conviction.

Who knew that the American military justice system was so fiercely adherent to due process that it would even let a killer go free on a “technicality,” like a bunch of wimpy ACLU lawyers? Who knew they would act with such exemplary exactitude in applying letter of the law down to the last jot and tittle? Yet this is the principle they have firmly established with their ruling on Hutchins: the failure to safeguard a military prisoner’s full panoply of legal rights in every respect must result in the overturning of any subsequent verdict against that prisoner, and his release from captivity.

I think we can all rest easier knowing that this principle will now be guiding the decisions of the U.S. military justice system from now on. For surely it will be applied universally, not only to Bradley Manning but also to, say, the captives in Guantanamo Bay, who are subject to the same military justice system. Surely, it cannot be that this strict adherence to the legal niceties will only be applied in cases where an American soldier has brutally murdered some worthless towelhead in some piece-of-sh*t foreign hellhole we had to invade for some reason or another a long time ago, so who cares anyway.

No, surely, that cannot be. For as our recent history clearly shows, the operators of our War Machine always adhere strictly and consistently to the highest and most noble principles, applying them to all equally, the great and the low, without fear or favor, or the slightest hypocrisy.

So Bradley Manning has nothing to worry about!

Right?

via OpEdNews – Article: Soft Machine: A Bright Ray of Hope for Bradley Manning.

Obama’s Escalating War on Freedom of the Press


The Executive Branch fought for that ruling — and is now celebrating.”We agree with the decision,” said a Justice Department spokesman. “We are examining the next steps in the prosecution of this case.” The Risen case, and potentially many others, are now under the ominous shadow of the Appeals Court’s pronouncement: ” There is no First Amendment testimonial privilege, absolute or qualified, that protects a reporter from being compelled to testify ” in criminal proceedings.”

At the Freedom of the Press Foundation, co-founder Trevor Timm  calls the court ruling “the most significant reporter’s privilege decision in decades” and asserts that the court “eviscerated that privilege.” He’s not exaggerating. Press freedom is at stake.

Journalists who can be compelled to violate the confidentiality of their sources, or otherwise go to prison, are reduced to doing little more than providing stenographic services to pass along the official story. That’s what the White House wants.

The federal Fourth Circuit covers the geographical area where most of the U.S. government’s intelligence, surveillance and top-level military agencies — including the NSA and CIA — are headquartered. The ruling “pretty much guts national security journalism in the states in which it matters,” Marcy Wheeler writes.

That court decision came seven days after the Justice Department released its “News Media Policies” report announcing “significant revisions to the Department’s policies regarding investigations that involve members of the news media.” The report offered assurances that “members of the news media will not be subject to prosecution based solely on newsgathering activities.” (Hey  thanks!) But the document quickly added that the government will take such action “as a last resort” when seeking information that is “essential to a successful investigation or prosecution.”

Translation: We won’t prosecute journalists for doing their jobs unless we really want to.

Over the weekend, some news accounts described Friday’s court decision as bad timing for Attorney General Eric Holder, who has scrambled in recent weeks to soothe anger at the Justice Department’s surveillance of journalists. “The ruling was awkwardly timed for the Obama administration,” the New York Times reported. But the ruling wasn’t just “awkwardly timed” — it was revealing, and it underscored just how hostile the Obama White House has become toward freedom of the press.

News broke in May that the Justice Department had seized records of calls on more than 20 phone lines used by Associated Press reporters over a two-month period and had also done intensive surveillance of a Fox News reporter that included obtaining phone records and reading his emails. Since then, the Obama administration tried to defuse the explosive reaction without actually retreating from its offensive against press freedom.

At a news conference two months ago, when President Obama refused to say a critical word about his Justice Department’s targeted surveillance of reporters, he touted plans to reintroduce a bill for a federal shield law so journalists can protect their sources. But Obama didn’t mention that he has insisted on a “national security exception” that would make such a law approximately worthless for reporters doing the kind of reporting that has resulted in government surveillance — and has sometimes landed them in federal court.

Obama’s current notion of a potential shield law would leave his administration fully able to block protection of journalistic sources. In a mid-May article — headlined “White House Shield Bill Could Actually Make It Easier for the Government to Get Journalists’ Sources” — the Freedom of the Press Foundation shed light on the duplicity: As a supposed concession to press freedom, the president was calling for reintroduction of a 2009 Senate bill that “would not have helped the Associated Press in this case, and worse, it would actually make it easier for the Justice Department to subpoena journalists covering national security issues.”

Whether hyping a scenario for a shield law or citing new Justice Department guidelines for news media policies, the cranked-up spin from the administration’s PR machinery does not change the fact that Obama is doubling down on a commitment to routine surveillance of everyone, along with extreme measures specifically aimed at journalists — and whistleblowers.

The administration’s efforts to quash press freedom are in sync with its unrelenting persecution of whistleblowers. The purpose is to further choke off the flow of crucial information to the public, making informed “consent of the governed” impossible while imposing massive surveillance and other violations of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. Behind the assault on civil liberties is maintenance of a warfare state with huge corporate military contracts and endless war. The whole agenda is repugnant and completely unacceptable.

Norman Solomon is the author of many books, including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death,” which has been adapted into a documentary film. For more information, go to: http://www.normansolomon.com

via OpEdNews – Article: Obama’s Escalating War on Freedom of the Press.

Executive Branch leaders have killed, wounded and made homeless over 20 million human beings in the last 50 years


Introduction: America’s Secret Shame 

America has a secret. It is not discussed in polite company or at the dinner tables of the powerful, rich and famous.

Parents do not teach it to their children. Best-selling authors do not write about it. Politicians and government officials ignore it. Intellectuals avoid it. High school and college textbooks do not refer to it. TV pundits do not comment on it. Teachers do not teach it. Journalists from the nation’s most highly regarded TV news shows, newspapers and magazines, do not report it. Columnists do not opine about it. Editorial writers do not editorialize about it. Religious leaders do not sermonize about it. Think tanks and professors do not study it. Lawyers do not litigate it and judges do not rule on it.

The  few who do not keep this secret, who try to break through to their fellow citizens about it, are marginalized and ignored by society at large.

To begin to understand the magnitude of this secret, imagine that you get into your car in New York City, and set out for a drive south, staying overnight in Washington DC, a four-hour drive. As you leave, you look out your window to the left and see a row of bodies, laid end to end, running alongside you all the way to DC.

You spend the night there, and set out early the next morning for Charleston, South Carolina, an 11-hour drive. Again, looking out your window, you see the line of bodies continues, hour after hour. You are struck that most are middle-aged or older men and women, younger women, or children. You arrive in Charleston, check into your hotel, have a good meal, and get up early the next morning to drive to Miami, another 12-hour drive. And once again, hour after hour, the line of bodies continues, all the way to your destination.

If you can imagine such a drive, or these bodies piled one on top of each other reaching 120 miles into the sky,  you can begin to get a feeling for former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara‘s mid-range estimate of 1.2 million civilians killed by U.S. firepower in Vietnam. (1) (The U.S. Senate Refugee Committee estimated 430,000 civilian dead at the end of the war. (2) Later estimates as more information has become available, e.g. by Nick Turse, author of Kill Anything That Moves, put the number as high as 2 million.)

And the secret that is never discussed is far larger. To the 430,000 to 2 million civilians killed in Vietnam must be added those killed in Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Iraq and many other nations (see below), all those wounded and maimed for life, and the many millions more forced to leave villages in which their families had lived for centuries to become penniless refugees. All told, U.S. Executive Branch leaders — Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals – have killed wounded and made homeless well over 20 million human beings in the last 50 years, mostly civilians.

by Robert Benner Sr.

U.S. leaders have never acknowledged their responsibility for ruining so many lives, let alone apologized or made proper amends to the survivors. Those responsible have not been punished, but rewarded. The memory of it has been erased from national consciousness, as U.S. leaders endlessly declare their nation’s, and their own, goodness. Millions of civilian lives swept under the rug, forgotten, as if this mass murder and maiming, the destruction of countless homes and villages, this epic violation of basic human decency–and laws protecting civilians in time of war which U.S. leaders have promised to observe–never happened.

Over a million innocent human lives in Vietnam alone. Grandparents, parents and children. Decent, hard-working people, each with a name, a face, and loved ones; people with dreams and hopes, and as much of a right to life as you or I. Forgotten. Over one million civilians dead, over 10 million wounded and made homeless in Vietnam alone, forgotten. And particularly remarkable is how this has happened. Totalitarian regimes go to great lengths–strict censorship, prison for those violating it–to cover up their leaders’ crimes. But in America, the information is available. All that is needed to keep America’s secret is to simply ignore it.

Americans keep this secret because facing it openly would upend our most basic understandings about our nation and its leaders. A serious public discussion of it would reveal, for example, that we cannot trust Executive Branch leaders’ human decency, words, or judgment no matter who is President. And more troubling, acknowledging it would mean admitting to ourselves that we have been misleading our own children, that our silence has robbed them of the truth of their history and made it more likely that future leaders will continue to commit acts that stain the very soul of America.

It is a matter of indisputable fact that the U.S. Executive Branch has over the past 50 years been responsible for bombing, shooting, burning alive with napalm, blowing up with cluster bombs, burying alive with 500 pound bombs, torturing, assassinating,  and incarcerating without evidence, and destroying the homes and villages of,  more innocent civilians in more nations over a longer period of time than any other government on earth today.

It is also undeniable that it has committed countless acts, as no less an authority than U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry noted in regard to Vietnam, which have been:

“contrary to the laws of the Geneva Convention, and… ordered as established policies from the top down,” and that “the men who ordered this are war criminals.”

And its crimes against humanity have continued since Vietnam. Thirty years later, a Nuremberg prosecutor speaking of the U.S. invasion of Iraq stated that a

“prima facie case can be made that the United States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity, that being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation.”

And as you read these words the U.S. Executive Branch is adding to its crimes, as it conducts secret drone and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) ground assassinations of individuals without due process.

The rationalizations by which even decent human beings allow themselves to ignore their leaders’ mass murder, e.g. that “these things always happen in war,” or “it’s the other side’s fault,” are just that: rationalizations that allow us to avoid our secret shame. Human civilization, through its body of international law, has defined which acts are both immoral and illegal even in times of war. And a citizen’s first responsibility is to oppose his or her own government’s crimes, not those of others.

Although America’s media, intellectual, political and economic elites “turn their heads pretending they just don’t see’ U.S. leaders’ responsibility for mass murder, dozens of dedicated and honorable scholars and activists led by Noam Chomsky have spent years of their lives meticulously documenting it.

Readers wishing to flesh out the overview below are directed to five important recent books: Kill Anything That Moves, by Nick Turse, about Vietnam; Dirty Wars (and a film), by Jeremy Scahill, about Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia; The Deaths of Others, by John Tirman, covering Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan The Untold History of the U.S. by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick (and a 10-part Showtime documentary) discussing U.S. policy from World War II to the present; and Drone Warfare by Medea Benjamin.  FLYBOYS, by James Bradley, also offers invaluable information on U.S. aerial mass murder of civilians in World War II, as does The Korean War: A History by Bruce Cumings on U.S. Executive massacres of civilians in Korea. Such careful work has been supplemented by numerous reports from such organizations as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Until now, the issue of U.S. Executive Branch leaders’ disregard for innocent human life has mainly concerned their treatment of “non-people” abroad. But as the sinews of a surveillance state and police-state infrastructure have been steadily strengthened at home since 9/11, an Executive Branch mentality that has been so indifferent to innocent human life abroad will threaten increasing numbers of Americans in coming years.

No honest human being can deny what the facts below reveal about the U.S. Executive’s institutional evil and lawlessness. The only serious question is what we are willing to do about it.

Can Americans Trust the U.S. Executive Branch?

Columnist George Will recently summarized the fundamental issue underlying not only Edward Snowden’s recent whistleblowing, but all controversies about U.S. Executive Branch behavior:

“The problem is we’re using technologies of information-gathering that didn’t exist 20 years ago… and they require reposing extraordinary trust in the Executive Branch of government.”

Former Bush aide Matthew Dowd chimed in on the same talk show, saying “what they’re saying is trust us, trust us.” Trust is indeed the only basis for supporting a U.S. Executive which hides its activities from its own citizens.

But can we trust the Executive’s Branch’s commitment to truth, law and democracy, or even basic human decency? Judging its actions, not words, over the past 50 years is the key to deciding this issue. And we might begin with some basic questions:

How would you regard the leaders of a foreign power who sent machines of war that suddenly appeared over your home, dropped bombs which killed dozens of your neighbors and your infant daughter, wounded your teenage son, destroyed your home, and then forced you into a refugee camp where your older daughter had to prostitute herself to those foreigners in order to support you, your wife and legless son? (U.S. Executive Branch officials created over 10 million refugees in South Vietnam.)

What would you think of foreign leaders who occupied your country, disbanded the military and police, and you found yourself at the mercy of marauding gangs who one day kidnapped your uncle and cousin, tortured them with drills, and then left their mangled bodies in a garbage dump? (U.S. Executive Branch officials occupied Iraq, disbanded the police, and failed to provide law and order as legally required of Occupying Powers.)

How would you view a foreign power which bombed you for five and a half years, forced you and your family to live in caves and holes like animals, burned and buried alive countless of your neighbors, and then one day blinded you in a bombing raid that leveled your ancestral village, where you had honored your ancestors and had hoped after your death to be remembered by your offspring? (U.S. Executive Branch leaders massively bombed civilian targets in Laos for nine years, Cambodia for four years.)

 

What would you think of foreign assassins who, as Jeremy Scahill reports in Dirty Wars, broke into your house at 3:30am as a dance was coming to an end, shot your brother and his 15-year old son, then shot another of your brothers and three women relatives (the mothers of 16 children) denied medical help to your brother and 18-year-old daughter so that they slowly bled to death before your eyes, then dug the bullets out of the women’s bodies to cover up their crimes, hauled you off to prison, and for months thereafter claimed they were acting in self-defense? And how would you feel toward the leaders of the nation that had fielded not only these JSOC assassins but thousands more, who were conducting similar secret and lawless assassinations of unarmed suspects while covering up their crimes in many other countries around the world? (3)

How would you view the foreign leaders responsible right now for drone attacks against you if you lived in northwest Pakistan where, a Stanford/NYU study reported after a visit there:

“hovering drones have traumatized millions living in these areas. Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.”

These are not rhetorical questions. Every one of these acts, and countless more, have been committed by the U.S. Executive Branch over the past 50 years, and will continue indefinitely until it is transformed. If we judge them by their actions, not words, we must face the following facts:

— The U.S. Executive Branch killed in Vietnam from a U.S. Senate Refugee Subcommittee-estimated 430,000 civilians to the 1.2 million civilians later estimated by Robert McNamara, to the two million civilians estimated by Nick Turse. And it wounded at least 1,050,000 civilians and refugeed at least 11,368,000, according to the Refugee subcommittee (3); assassinated through its Phoenix Program an officially estimated 26,000 civilians, and imprisoned and tortured 34,000 more, on unproven grounds that they were “Vietcong cadre”; created an estimated 800,000-1.3 million war orphans and 1 million war widows; and after the war ended left behind Agent Orange poisons, unexploded cluster bombs, and landmines, creating an estimated 150,000 deformed Vietnamese children; and killing and maiming 42,000 peacetime victims.

— The U.S. Executive has, in Laos, conducted nine years of bombing which has been estimated by Laos’ National Regulatory Authority to have killed and wounded a minimum of 30,000 civilians by bombing from 1964-’73, and another 20,000 since then from the unexploded cluster bombs it left behind. It also created over 50,000 refugees after it had leveled the 700-year-old civilization on the Plain of Jars.

— The U.S. Executive has, in Cambodia, killed and wounded tens of thousands of civilians by carpet-bombing villages from 1969-’75. All told, after Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger secretly bombed and invaded Cambodia, waging a war that made the U.S. Executive responsible for casualties on all sides, the U.S. Senate Refugee Subcommittee estimated that 450,000 persons had been killed and wounded, and 3,990,000 made refugees. (4) Historian Michael Clodfelter has estimated that, all told, 600,000 Cambodian civilians died. (5)

— The U.S. Executive under Bill Clinton in Iraq, John Tirman reports in The Deaths of Others, imposed an embargo so severe that “UNICEF estimated that 500,000 children under five years of age had died as a result of the war and sanctions from malnutrition, diseases for which cures were available but medicine in Iraq was not, and poor health at birth due to prenatal effects on mothers.” (6)

Dennis Halliday, Assistant UN Secretary General, declared that

“I had been instructed to implement a (sanctions) policy that has effectively killed over a million individuals.”

— And after invading Iraq in 2003, the Executive under George W. Bush, as the Occupying Power, was legally responsible for maintaining law and order. Its war was also an aggressive war as outlawed at Nuremberg. It thus bears both the moral and legal responsibility for the deaths of more than 130,000 Iraqis (Iraq Body Count) to 654,965 (Lancet Scientific Journal) to 1,220,580 (Opinion Research Business), hundreds of thousands more wounded, and more than officially estimated 5 million refugees. (Please also see footnote 15)

— The Executive has, in Afghanistan, conducted thousands of night raids familiar to viewers of World War II Gestapo movies — killing over 1500 civilians in 6282 raids in 10 months from 2010 to early 2011 alone, as  revealed  by investigative reporter Gareth Porter. They have also conducted numerous bombing strikes and supported a corrupt regime which has stolen billions of dollars while their fellow citizens died for lack of healthcare and food.

–The Executive has, in Pakistan and Yemen, killed an estimated 2,800-4,000 persons from drone strikes, only 73 of whom it has named. Most were killed in “signature strikes” in which the victims’ names were unknown, and who in no way threatened the United States.

— Also, over the past 50 years, the U.S. Executive Branch bears a major responsibility for massive death and torture throughout Central and Latin America, Africa and Asia. Church, human rights and others estimate that U.S.-installed, trained, equipped and advised death squads in El Salvador and Contras in Nicaragua killed well over  35,000  and 30,000 persons respectively. The U.S.-supported Rios Montt regime in Guatemala killed an estimated 200,000. The U.S.-supported coup in Chile brought to power a regime that killed an estimated 3,200-15,000 political opponents and tortured another 30,000. U.S. support for Indonesian government genocide in East Timor helped kill over 200,000 persons. U.S. support for terrorists led by Jonas Savimbi in Angola helped kill an estimated 1.2 million persons and displaced another 1.5 million. (7)

And how much can you trust the decency of a US. Executive that treats these millions of human beings as mere nameless, faceless “collateral damage” at best, direct targets at worst, as human garbage barely worthy of mention, as “non-people” as Noam Chomsky has observed?

 

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With a critical score of 90 points+

MovieBabble

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The Only Magazine Dedicated To Silent Cinema

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because the internet is not forever

CineSocialUK

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A Shrine to Pop Culture Obsessiveness. With Lots of Spoilers

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Australian movie blog - like Margaret and David, just a little younger

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A place for new perspectives on films, TV, media and entertainment.

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A sci-fi movie history in reviews

The Reviewer's Corner

The Sometimes Serious Corner of the Internet for Anime, Manga, and Comic related things

First Impressions

Notes on Films and Culture

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Where I Review One of the 1,001 Movies You Should Watch Before you Die Every Day

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Movie Galore takes a look at Silent films on up to current in development projects and gives their own opinion on what really does happen in film!

The Catwing Has Landed

A Writer's Blog About Life and Random Things

Gabriel Diego Valdez

Movies and how they change you.

The Horror Incorporated Project

Lurking among the corpses are the body snatchers....plotting their next venture into the graveyard....the blood in your veins will run cold, your spine tingle, as you look into the terror of death in tonight's feature....come along with me into the chamber of horrors, for an excursion through.... Horror Incorporated!

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Finding Me; A site about my life before and after a divorce

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12 months. 100 films. Hopefully.

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