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.
Below is the Merriam Webster dictionary definition of two words. Please keep in mind their meaning when reading the article. There is a relationship between the two words:
Boogeyman: a monstrous imaginary figure used in threatening children
Terrorism: Systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. This word also rhymes with absurdism.
The boogeyman is the fictitious monster that haunts kids particularly when they are going to bed. In my case, he hid underneath my bed ready to grab my ankles and pull me under. To avoid him, I leapt into bed to avoid his reach. To avoid seeing him in case he came out, I covered my eyes with the blanket. I think my feelings and childhood fears of this imaginary creature are common.
Use of a boogeyman in the case of children could be to persuade them to go to bed early or eat their vegetables. “If you don’t do this, the boogeyman might get you”! None of as children wanted that, so we did as we were told. A boogeyman is also useful in the case of adults. In the past 75 years adults in the United States have been under the influence of three or more scary boogeymen. The media outlets and the US government kindly supply us with ever-scarier boogeymen. Whether intended or not, the use of a boogeyman works well in persuading and obtaining compliance (getting adults to do something).
The boogeyman 75 years ago was scary. However, he lived less than ten years, and we eliminated him. The boogeyman I refer to was one for my parents and grandparents: he was called the Nazis and he lived in Germany. He was a threat to the freedom and constitutional rights of Americans. He invaded countries and killed our friends (read allies). For some years my parents actually feared being bombed or invaded by that boogeyman. Note they lived in the Midwest and not the East coast. Had they thought it through, they too would have realized that was not possible due to logistical limitations then present in military aircraft (today they can refuel midair). Today it seems rather absurd that people could believe such a thing back then, but it was real to them.
Nonetheless, the government fanned the flames of fear (maybe use of terrorism) ,and almost all people believed what they were told by media and government back then. The citizenry, young and old alike, complied with government requests and did what they could do to help eliminate the threat. That boogeyman disappeared through a war that ended in 1945.
Only a few years passed before a new, more global, boogeyman emerged. He was the communists and the threat of communism. If we did not stop this boogeyman, he too, might take our liberty and freedom like the one before. We stared to fear this boogeyman shortly after World War II and into the 1980s. The communists were good boogeyman for decades, and represented the opposite of what we stand for. We were told they have no liberty or freedom, and this boogeyman does not want people of the world to have such inalienable rights like that.
Who would doubt this and not want to comply with government support in the elimination of this boogeyman? We largely complied, trillions of dollars were spent, and thousands of people were killed. We fought wars to ward off this boogeyman (Korea Vietnam, and other armed conflicts of smaller duration). We even helped some friends (read allies) fend off this boogeyman-Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Guatemala, to name some examples.
The government softened its stand (ended the terrorism) on this boogeyman, and people don’t perceive it a threat any more. This might be due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the despair we are told of in Cuba, and widespread trading with China and Vietnam In fact, it does not seem to matter that China is a communist country, we can travel there, trade with them, but for some reason, Cuba is off limits.
The boogeyman of the modern era is terrorism. He came out in the late 1990’s and made his real debut on September 11, 2001. He is more nebulous than the former boogeymen, as he does not have a permanent address or place where we can easily find him like the Nazis or the communists. However, being so nimble and fast moving, he can be under your bed, like the boogeyman of childhood. He can be down the street and could be your neighbor. This new monster serves better than those of the past to incite fear and compliance. Lacking an address, we are inspired to chase him down in many places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and down the street from your house. He might even be in your home or office now. We even look for him at the airport every day.
The modern boogeyman has more places to hide, and a better strategy than his predecessors. This new boogeyman might even be friends of our friends (allies, or friends), as President George Bush warned us in his address on September 20, 2001 to a Joint Session of Congress
We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. – Bush, George W. (September 20, 2001). “Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People”. The White House. Retrieved 2008-09-19.
Our government finds the current boogeyman scarier than his predecessors, as we have parked our constitution to pursue him. We have spent much money to catch him, and many are currently willing to be spied on to avoid him. As former President Bush said to congress, if you keep company with the boogeyman, we consider you an enemy. Obviously we are very serious about this newer boogeyman, and even willing to give up some things we fought boogeymen in the past for. That being our freedom and parts of the constitution (read Patriot Act).
Let us return to the definition of terrorism: It is systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. Where did the latest boogeyman come from? Who is creating the fear and the real terrorist? Who wants to bring about a political objective?
Our prior two boogeymen were created by non-United States entities: German and Russian political movements. Maybe the current boogeyman was created because of our past and current follies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, etc. Is it really a boogeyman, or are the good folks that promote him (read terrorists) making him larger than he need be.
Maybe stopping our forays into other parts of the world will eliminate the current boogeyman. However, those wanting to make terror will not have an excuse to bring about a political objective and need this boogeyman. You decide- who are the real terrorists, and who wants political change? Who is who in this game? Is this not all absurdism?
Similar to Daniel Ellsberg in my generation, these men have put their idealism ahead of their personal fate. Certainly “they” tried to “get Ellsberg” but failed. This week, “they” forced down an aircraft that they thought might be carrying Snowden so it had to be rerouted. “They” will stop at nothing to assure that such a release of information never occurs in the future and we are kept in the dark.
Again the public has been “brainwashed” to believe that the ”truth” of these matters is not as they clearly are — like the weapons of mass destruction that were not! But no one appears to care, and the killing and the destruction go on.
Why should families here and in Afghanistan suffer so much? Why should our infrastructure suffer because the assets are used elsewhere to try to maintain the “empire” that we have created?
Anyone who knows history knows how this all will end if we do not change our goals and methods of operation — absolutely similar to the Roman Empire and many others.
SOLDIERS who failed to meet Afghan death targets are to be sacked.
Apaches are for closers
The Ministry of Defence said the armed forces will offer taxpayers better value for money if resources are focused solely on those troops who are consistently good at killing people. A spokesman said: “There is no point in buying someone a brand new gun if they keep missing. “And you would not believe the cost of an Apache helicopter. You can’t just hand them out to anyone who’s not related to the Queen.” The MoD is to introduce a commission-based pay structure with new recruits receiving no basic salary but 40% of the value of each dead Afghan. The spokesman added: “The platoon commander will also receive commission for each brown person killed by one of his troops, with the formula being continued all the way up the chain of command. In a good year a brigadier general could take home the best part of £1.5m.” “These days it’s all about ‘ABC’, Always Be Closing…. Afghans. “My watch cost more than your car.” Corporal Roy Hobbs said: “I had a good month in April. Booked six grand worth of Afghans and came top of my section. They gave me two free tickets to the snooker.” But former soldier Nathan Muir added: “I could have closed about 20 Afghans last month but the leads were shit. You get told to close someone but then it turns out they’re fucking miles away. “It’s all politics.” via Redundancy for soldiers who didn’t kill anyone.
Bradley Manning’s Trial, Day 8 (Live Updates)
12:08PM EST Government defends admissibility of evidence that it thinks shows that Manningconspired with WikiLeaks. For an in-depth look at this point during today’s proceedings, read here. 11:08AM EST Prosecution argues that if WikiLeaks has a plan …
See all stories on this topic »Russell Brand Says Bradley Manning Is A Hero
“I happen to believe that Bradley Manning has the right to a fair trial; it seems clear to me that some of the charges against him are mendacious and duplicitous from the outset … The things I’d say I’m highly qualified to talk about are drugs and …
See all stories on this topic »I am Bradley Manning (full HD)
Peter Sarsgaard Angela Davis Moby Molly Crabapple Tim DeChristopher. LT Dan Choi Bishop George Packard Russell Brand Allan Nairn Chris Hedges Wallace Shawn Adhaf Soueif Josh Stieber Michael Ratner Copyright: Bradley Manning Support Network …
See all stories on this topic »From Afghanistan, Thank You Bradley Manning!
The 75,000 Afghan War Logs, which Bradley Manning gave Wikileaks to ‘help document the true cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan’, can help all of us evaluate whether the Afghan war is cost-effective. Bradley Manning had also handed Wikileaks a video …
See all stories on this topic »Speed of Bradley Manning Trial Masks Prosecutors’ Struggles
Bradley Manning’s court-martial was already in weekend recess as of midday Tuesday, marking the third consecutive week the court has finished far ahead of schedule. Since the court-martial began, the court’s week has never gone later than Wednesday …
See all stories on this topic »Whistleblowing 2.0 — from the Pentagon Papers to Bradley Manning to PRISM
With computer technician Edward Snowden’s bombshell revelations about the extent of state snooping — coupled with the ongoing court martial of Private Bradley Manning — 2013 is the year of the whistleblower. These ongoing cases also highlight the …
See all stories on this topic »“A Different Kind of Patriotism”: Russell Brand on Bradley Manning
Today marks the eighth day of Bradley Manning’s court-martial for leaking more than 700,000 United States government documents to Wikileaks. Although the 25-year-old former Army intelligence analyst has confessed to disclosing classified information, …
See all stories on this topic »Manning WikiLeaks case in recess until June 25
Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court-martial over giving massive amounts of classified material to WikiLeaks has gone into recess until next week. The prosecution and defense will spend the next week negotiating written statements from some 17 witnesses, in …
See all stories on this topic »Manning WikiLeaks case in recess
US soldier Bradley Manning’s trial for giving massive amounts of classified material to WikiLeaks has gone into recess until next week. The prosecution and defence will spend the next week negotiating written statements from 17 witnesses, in lieu of …
See all stories on this topic »Manning WikiLeaks case in recess until June 25 while attorneys negotiate …
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, left, is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., Monday, June 17, 2013, after the start of the third week of his court martial. Manning is charged with indirectly aiding the enemy by sending troves of classified …
See all stories on this topic »Public access fight over Manning docs in Md. court
BALTIMORE (AP) — A government lawyer said Monday the U.S. Army has released the vast majority of court records in Pfc. Bradley Manning’s case and told a civilian judge the dispute over the records had become moot. A lawyer for a constitutional rights …
See all stories on this topic »Manning’s Team Questions Secrecy of Leaked Data
Courthouse News Service
MEADE, Md. (CN) – The “secret” profiles of Guantanamo detainees disclosed by Pfc. Bradley Manning contained information that may have been publicly available for years, government witnesses testified by stipulation. The nearly 800 documents published …
See all stories on this topic »Court hears public access fight over Manning records
The Star Democrat
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning steps out of a security vehicle as he is escorted into a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., Monday, June 17, 2013, for the start of the third week of his court martial. Manning is charged with indirectly aiding the enemy by …
See all stories on this topic »Government Defends Admissibility of Evidence That It Thinks Shows Manning …
Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is on trial at Fort Meade for releasing United States government information to WikiLeaks, does not face any conspiracy charges. However, this morning there were arguments on a motion that related to defense objections over …
See all stories on this topic »siliconANGLE » Manning, Snowden Cases Highlight the Importance of Basic …
Army Pfc Bradley Manning is facing a military judge in a court-martial procedure that will endure over many weeks. Be aware that rights and procedures in a court-martial are quite different than that of a civilian trial. The issue at hand is the public …
See all stories on this topic »Disputed Tweets May not Fly in Manning Trial
Courthouse News Service
MEADE, Md. (CN) – Prosecutors fought Tuesday to use Twitter postings they hope will depict Pfc.Bradley Manning as a WikiLeaks foot soldier, rather than its journalistic source. Months before his trial, the 25-year-old soldier acknowledged he uploaded …
See all stories on this topic »Manning trial focuses on whether tweets meet evidence standards
Lawyers for Private First Class Bradley Manning, 25, who is accused of providing more than 700,000 files to the anti-secrecy website in the biggest breach of classified U.S. data in the nation’s history, argued on Tuesday that Twitter postings offered …
See all stories on this topic »Guardian Weekly Letters, 21 June 2013
Fitting that Bradley Manning’s photo should be juxtaposed in World Roundup (7 June) with the famous shot of the Tiananmen Square tank stand-off, on the occasion of the release of the last “counter-revolutionary”, Jiang Yaqun. Our 19th-century idea “My …
See all stories on this topic »Medina Roshan, REUTERS
London Free Press
U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (C) is escorted in handcuffs as he leaves the courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland, in this June 6, 2012 file photo. (REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana/Files). Tweet · Bookmark and Share. Change text size for the story.
See all stories on this topic »Obama’s One-Way Mirror
There is something very wrong with this picture: Today I am in a federal court arguing that the press and public have a right to have access to daily transcripts and court documents in the trial of whistleblower Bradley Manning; meanwhile, Verizon is …
See all stories on this topic »China: Snowden Case Like Shawshank Redemption
China: Snowden Case Like Shawshank Redemption. Xinhua also compared the NSA leaker to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. by. Bridget Johnson. Bio. June 18, 2013 – 11:00 am. Page 1 of 2 Next -> View as Single …
See all stories on this topic »Sphere of Influence says Insider Threats are Detectable
The Herald | HeraldOnline.com
Sphere of Influence, a technology company specializing in advanced “Big Data” analytics and behavioral analysis, is informing organizations that losses from insider threats, such as those caused by Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, can be reduced or …
See all stories on this topic »Ai Weiwei on his incarceration: “They never looked away from me, 24 hours a day”
The three men she singled out from the stage – Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden – all pasty-looking, unlikely Robin Hoods of classified information, are acquiring the cachet of rock stars. So too is Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei …
See all stories on this topic »Issue 25: Fashion Issue
Baltimore City Paper
In Mobtown Beat, Van Smith looks into a lawsuit to make the evidence in whistleblower Bradley Manning’s court-martial case open to the public and Edward Ericson Jr. details the tax incentives the city gives to millionaire developers. In City Folk, Bret …
See all stories on this topic »Julian Assange Timeline Of Events Leading To Ecuadorian Embassy Refuge Bid
Huffington Post UK
In 2009, Bradley Manning, a United States Army Intelligence Private, allegedly contacted Mr Assange and is later accused of leaking classified information. In 2010 Manning is charged with leaking secret diplomatic cables and is held in prison in the US.
See all stories on this topic »Public enemy
The News International
A good example is the recurrence of phrases like ‘endangered our national security’ and ‘aided the enemy,’ in reference to leaks by people like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. These intend to evoke certain associations in the minds of listeners …
See all stories on this topic »Without Waiting for Proof, Edward Snowden Foes Begin Spreading Smears
Let me suggest an alternative explanation: Bradley Manning. The trial of the man who handed over classified information to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is a cautionary tale for all wannabe whistleblowers. While being held for nearly three years …
See all stories on this topic »9/11 Case Motions Hearing: June 18 Session
Dew glistens on the lawn just outside Fort Meade’s Burba Cottage—-our usual haunt, Smallwood Hall, being unavailable on account of the ongoing Bradley Manning trial. Lawfare is in the house for a second day of CCTV-broadcasted motions hearings in …
See all stories on this topic »SF Examiner President Talks Free Michelle Shocked Concert
While Vogt seems to be claiming that he is giving the squawky singer an opportunity to be held accountable for her actions earlier this year, any attempt to paint this as a noble effort to support journalism, or Gay Pride, or Bradley Manning or even ad …
See all stories on this topic »One room, 10188 tweets and £9000 on takeouts: Julian Assange’s year in the …
In one of the chatroom conversations of May 2010 that now form the basis of his court-martial, US Army private and WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning referred to Julian Assange as “a crazy, white-haired Aussie who can’t seem to stay in one country very …
See all stories on this topic »Julian Assange Has Been Inside for a Year
It’s a sort of absurdist parallel narrative to the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning. The two figures are inextricably linked, and together, their saga reads like Miltonic poetry. Or a blockbuster film. Indeed, in Alex Gibney’s recent documentary We Steal …
See all stories on this topic »Open and Shut Case
Baltimore City Paper
On May 22, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a suit asking for a court order to end pervasive secrecy surrounding the court-martial proceedings against another leaker, U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, who in 2010 …
See all stories on this topic »
On June 3, the highly anticipated court-martial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was arrested in July 2010, will take place. A previous PolicyMic article delivered specific details on the over 700,000 government documents and pieces of classified military information Manning allegedly leaked. According to the article, “Manning is charged with leaking hundreds-of-thousands of classified documents to the website WikiLeaks.”
Manning is an American hero who made the decision to leak these classified documents as a service to the general public. He testified, “I believe that if the general public had access to the information, this could spark a domestic debate as to the role of the military and foreign policy in general.” He added, “I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”
In a January 2013 ruling, Military Judge Colonel Denise Lind awarded Manning a 112-day reduction in any eventual sentence due to being subjected to excessively harsh treatment while in military detention. A month later, Judge Lind accepted Bradley Manning’s guilty pleas of 10 lesser charges that he misused classified information, though he denied “aiding the enemy.” A guilty sentence to “aiding the enemy” could languish him military prison for the remainder of his life.
Bradley Manning released the video, “Collateral Murder,” to WikiLeaks and he explained, “The most alarming aspect of the video to me was the seemingly delightful bloodlust they appeared to have.” He went on, “They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life by referring to them as quote ‘dead bastards’ unquote and congratulating each other on the ability to kill in large numbers.”
A similar whistleblower was arrested 40 years ago in the Vietnam era, named Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg was a military analyst who worked in the Pentagon under Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. He was an ex-Marine officer who was allowed to walk with combat troops in Vietnam and see the war up close. Ellsberg reported on what he considered a costly and immoral war through publishing a secret study known as “The Pentagon Papers” in The New York Times.
Since Manning’s arrest, Ellsberg has been a vocal protester of President Obama’s use of the Espionage Act against whistleblowers since it had questionable constitutionality unless used in situations of actual espionage. He has also urged anyone who cares about the future of our country to learn about Bradley Manning’s trial because he believes transparency and accountability are at stake.
Bradley Manning has pled guilty to lesser crimes after he endured a considerable amount of personal sacrifice to bring forward classified military documents which highlighted some of the immoral undertakings in Iraq and Afghanistan. The information Manning leaked was valuable for providing Americans with the knowledge needed to further assess their support for seemingly unending military presence in wars with already questionable motives.
As Bradley Manning’s June 3 trial draws near, be grateful for the sacrifices he has made to educate Americans on the military actions abroad and consider the impassioned conclusion Glenn Greenwald wrote in his article earlier this month about the permanency of the war on terror. “The Obama administration already claims the power to wage endless and boundless war, in virtually total secrecy, and without a single meaningful check or constraint,” Greenwald wrote. “No institution with any power disputes this. To the contrary, the only ones which exert real influence — Congress, the courts, the establishment media, the plutocratic class — clearly favor its continuation and only think about how further to enable it. That will continue unless and until Americans begin to realize just what a mammoth price they’re paying for this ongoing splurge of war spending and endless aggression.”
Photographer Lalage Snow, who is currently based in Kabul, Afghanistan, embarked on an 8-month-long project titled We Are The Not Dead featuring portraits of British soldiers before, during, and after their deployment in Afghanistan. Similar to Claire Felicie’s series of monochromatic triptychs, Snow captures the innocent expressions of these men transformed into gaunt, sullen faces in less than a year.The three-panel juxtaposition allows the viewer to observe the physical changes a stationed soldier in a war zone goes through. Time is sped up for these men under the beating sun, amidst combat. Regardless of age, the boys that went in came back as men with experiences beyond their years. As weathered and worn as their skin or sunken in faces may appear, it’s their dilated eyes that are the most telling.Additionally, Snow’s series accompanies each triptych with quotes from each of the servicemen that gives a great deal of insight into their mental and emotional state at each given time. Sergeant Alexander McBroom’s first portrait, before deployment, features him bravely saying, “I am not worried about going out – it is my job after all.” Three months later, he is quoted as saying, “It has been an eye opener.” And, finally, another four months after, he says, “It is always that fear, that apprehension, what is going to happen if I get blown up?” Having gone through life-altering trials and warfare, it is no surprise that fear is no longer a foreign feeling to these courageous men.
Snow’s intention with the series is to not only honor their bravery by featuring them, but to also draw attention to every soldiers’ psychological transformation. She says, “It was a very personal project and stemmed from having embedded with the military on and off for 4 years in Iraq and Afghanistan and bearing witness to how many young men return as shadows of their former selves and, in many cases, with deep, psychological scars. As the body count of British servicemen killed or wounded rose and the political ramifications of the British army’s presence in Afghanistan became increasingly convoluted, more and more soldiers felt like they didn’t have a voice, or at least, weren’t being listened to. We Are The Not Dead is an attempt at giving the brave young men and women the chance to explain how it really is.”
Update: See more triptychs and read our exclusive, one-on-one interview with Lalage Snow, here.
Lance Corporal Sean Tennant, 29
Private Ben Frater, 21
Corporal Steven Gibson, 29
Second Lieutenant Struan Cunningham, 24
Private Fraiser Pairman, 21
Lance Corporal Martyn Rankin, 23
Second Lieutenant Adam Petzsch, 25
Private Jo Yavala, 28
Lance Corporal David McLean, 27
Private Sean Patterson, 19
Private Steven Anderson, 31
Sergeant Alexander McBroom, 24
Private Matthew Hodgson, 18
Following is the full text:
Human Rights Record of the United States in 2012
State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China
The State Department of the United States recently released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, posing as “the worldjudge of human rights” again. As in previous years, the reports are full of carping and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation inmore than 190 countries and regions including China. However, the US turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and neversaid a word about it. Facts show that there are serious human rights problems in the US which incur extensive criticism in the world. TheHuman Rights Record of the US in 2012 is hereby prepared to reveal the true human rights situation of the US to people across the world bysimply laying down some facts.
The human rights situation in the US in 2012 has deeply impressed people in the following aspects:
– Firearms-related crimes posed serious threat to the lives and personal security of citizens in the US Some shootings left astonishingcasualties, such as the school shooting in Oakland, the Century 16 theater shooting in Colorado and the school shooting in Connecticut.
– In the US, elections could not fully embody the real will of its citizens. Political contributions had, to a great extent, influenced the electoralprocedures and policy direction. During the 2012 presidential election, the voter turnout was only 57.5 percent.
– In the US, citizens’ civil and political rights were further restricted by the government. The government expanded the scope ofeavesdropping and censoring on personal telecommunications. The police often abused their power, resulting in increasing complaints andcharges for infringement upon civil rights. The proportion of women in the US who fell victims of domestic violence and sexual assault keptincreasing.
– The US has become one of the developed countries with the greatest income gap. In 2011, the Gini index was 0.477 in the US and about 9million people were registered as unemployed; About 16.4 million children lived in poverty and, for the first time in history, public schoolsreported more than one million homeless children and youth.
– There was serious sex, racial and religious discrimination in the US Indigenous people suffered serious racial discrimination and theirpoverty rate doubled the national average. A movie produced by a US director and aired online was deemed insulting to the ProphetMohammed, sparking protests by the Muslims worldwide.
– The US seriously infringed upon human rights of other nations. In 2012, US military operations in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan causedmassive civilian casualties. US soldiers had also severely blasphemed against local residents’ religion by burning copies of the Muslim holybook, the Koran, and insulting bodies of the dead. There was a huge rise in birth defects in Iraq since the war against Iraq with military actionsin which American forces used metal contaminant-releasing white phosphorus shells and depleted uranium bombs.
– The US was not able to effectively participate in international cooperation on human rights. To date, the US remains a country which hasnot participated in or ratified a series of core UN conventions on human rights, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social andCultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
I. On Life and Personal Security
The US was haunted by serious violent crimes in 2012 with frequent occurrence of firearms-related criminal cases. Its people’s lives andpersonal security were not duly protected.
According to statistics released by the FBI in September 2012, an estimated 1,203,564 violent crimes occurred in the US in 2011, about 386.3violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. Aggravated assaults accounted for 62.4 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement.Robbery reached 29.4 percent of violent crimes, forcible rape accounted for 6.9 percent, and murder amounted to 1.2 percent of estimatedviolent crimes in 2011. And firearms were used in 67.7 percent of the nation’ s murders, 41.3 percent of robberies, and 21.2 percent in allcrimes in the US
Americans are the most heavily armed people in the world per capita. According to a CNN report on July 23, 2012, there were an estimated270 million guns in the hands of civilians in the US and more than 100,000 people were shot by guns each year. In 2010, there were morethan 30,000 deaths caused by firearms. However, the US government has done little in gun control. In 2008 and 2010 landmark SupremeCourt rulings on two firearms-related cases dramatically diminished the authority of state and local governments to limit gun ownership.Roughly half of the 50 US states have adopted laws allowing gun owners to carry their guns openly in most public places. And many stateshave ‘stand your ground’ laws that allow people to kill if they come under threat, even, in some cases, if they can escape the threat withoutviolence. According to an article on the website of the Hindu on August 7, 2012, in population-adjusted terms, civilians in some parts of the USare more likely to become the victim of a firearms-related murder than their counterparts in war-torn regions like Iraq or Afghanistan. OnJanuary 16, 2013, the US president announced 23 steps on gun control to take immediately without congressional approval. And thepresident signed three of the measures. But the public opinion generally believes that the gun-control measures will encounter greatresistance.
According to a report on the USA Today’s website on October 17, 2012, the violent crime rate went up 17 percent in 2011. Firearms-relatedviolent crimes posed as one of the most serious threats to the lives and personal security of the US citizens. Statistics showed that anestimated 14,612 people fell victims of murder in 2011 and 9,903 of them were firearms-related murder victims (Website of the CongressionalResearch service, http://www.fas.org, November 14, 2012). The US witnessed more firearms-related violent crimes in 2012. According to NYPDstatistics published on September 2, 2012, there had been 1,001 shootings so far that year in New York, about 3.4 percent more than the968 reported at the same time the previous year (NY Daily News, September 9, 2012). According to statistics from the website of ChicagoPolice Department, there were 2,460 shooting incidents in Chicago in 2012, up 10 percent year on year. Some of the shootings were quitebloody and terrifying, such as the movie theater shooting in Colorado and the school shooting in Connecticut.
On July 20, 2012, James E. Holmes, 24, entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, carrying an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and atleast one handgun. He sprayed people at the theater who were watching a movie, leaving at least 12 dead and 59 wounded. A witness said: “He was just literally shooting everyone, like hunting season.” According to a CNN report on July 21, law enforcement documents showed thatthe weapons were purchased legally by Holmes at sporting goods stores in the Denver area over a six-month period before the shootinghappened. According to a CNN report on July 23, in wake of the shooting rampage in Colorado, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “I don’t think there’s any other developed country in the world that has remotely the problem we have.”
On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School inNewtown, Connecticut. He committed suicide after that. But before he came to the school, he had shot and killed his mother. The incident wasthe second deadliest school shooting in the US history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre which left 32 killed.
II. On Civil and Political Rights
The recent years have seen closer surveillance of American citizens by the US government. In the country, abuse of suspects and jail inmatesis common occurrence, and equal suffrage enjoyable by citizens continues to be undermined.
The US government continues to step up surveillance of ordinary Americans, restricting and reducing the free sphere of the American societyto a considerable extent, and seriously violating the freedom of citizens. The US congress approved a bill in 2012 that authorizes thegovernment to conduct warrantless wiretapping and electronic communications monitoring, a move that violates people’s rights to privacy.According to a report carried on May 4, 2012 by the CNET website, the FBI general counsel’ s office has drafted a proposed law requiringthat social-networking websites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail to alter their code to ensure their products arewiretap-friendly (news.cnet.com, May 4, 2012). Documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union on September 27, 2012, reveal thatfederal law enforcement agencies are increasingly monitoring American’s electronic communications. Between 2009 and 2011, the JusticeDepartment’ s combined number of original orders for “pen registers” and “trap and trace devices” used to spy on phones increased by 60percent, from 23,535 in 2009 to 37,616 in 2011. The number of authorizations the Justice Department received to use these devices onindividuals’ email and network data increased 361 percent between 2009 and 2011. The National Security Agency collects purely domesticcommunications of Americans in a “significant and systematic” way, intercepting and storing 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other types ofcommunications every day. A Wired investigation published in March 2012 revealed the NSA is currently constructing a huge data center inUtah, meant to store and analyze “vast swaths of the world’ s communications” from foreign and domestic networks (The Guardian, July 10, 2012). As the American Civil Liberties Union explained in its December 2011 report, the US could potentially use military drones to spy on itscitizens (Fars News Agency, June 26, 2012).
On September 17, 2012, or the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street’s initial demonstration, confrontations between protesters and policearound the Wall Street resulted in the arrests of more than 100 people (The New York Times, September 17, 2012). The US journalistcommunity is worried about the continued toughening up of legislation on mass media. It is frequent that journalists in the US lose their jobsbecause of “politically incorrect” opinions (www.mid.ru, October 22, 2012).
Complaints and allegations of American police violating rights of suspects and jail inmates are going up. A litany of lawsuits was broughtagainst the New York City Police Department, with police officers charged with violating civil rights in law enforcement. According to a reportcarried by the Chicago Tribune on March 6, 2012, jail inmate Eugene Gruber, 51, was paralyzed a day after he walked into a jail where hewas believed to have been maltreated. He died of injury four months after the jail incident. Another report by the Chicago Tribune on March21, 2012 showed that suspect Darrin Hanna suffered trauma from physical restraint and Taser shocks during a struggle with North Chicagopolice and died a week later. The CNN reported on May 17, 2012 that some 9.6 percent of the prisoners in state prisons are sexuallyvictimized during confinement, more than double the rate cited in a report on the subject in 2008. In Texas state prisons, many inmates arehoused in triple-digit temperatures in Fahrenheit. Four inmates — Larry Gene McCollum, 58; Alexander Togonidze, 44; Michael DavidMartone, 57; and Kenneth Wayne James, 52 — died in summer of 2011 from heat stroke, and at least five others were believed to have diedfrom heat-related causes (www.texascivilrightsproject.org, July 7, 2012).
American citizens have never really enjoyed common and equal suffrage. Despite an increase of over eight million citizens in the eligiblepopulation in the US presidential election of 2012, voter turnout registered a drop of five million from four years before, with only 57.5 percentof eligible citizens voting (bipartisanpolicy.org, November 8, 2012). A February 2012 report by the Pew Center said America’s voterregistration system is plagued with errors and inefficiencies that undermine voter confidence and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity ofthe country’s elections (www.pewstates.org).
The US election is like money wars, with trends of the country’s policies deeply influenced by political donations. The 2012 election had anestimated cost totalling six billion US dollars. The Obama campaign and the Democratic camp raised 1.06 billion dollars, and the Romneycampaign and the Republican camp raised a total of 954 million dollars (www.standard.co.uk, November 6, 2012). Both groups have fundingsupport from business giants. An opinion poll showed that nearly 90 percent of Americans believe the 2012 election is marked by too manypolitical donations from business circles, which will mean the increased influence of the rich over the country’s policy-making (TheInternational Herald Leader [Chinese newspaper], November 16, 2012). A Harvard professor said America’ s political system is sinking intoserious crisis as it is under manipulation of interest groups and their sponsors. Election donations give a loose rein to all other defects.American politics are corroding the people, making them increasingly dependent on interest groups (Internationale Politik, November &December issue, 2012).
Citing a world-known analyst, the Christian Science Monitor website in a report on November 5, 2012 said America’s trouble-prone votingmachines, the risk of tampering in those machines, the lack of transparency in vote tabulation, and then the Electoral College system,combine to give the country an election system that leaves much to be desired.
III. On Economic and Social Rights
To date, the US government has not approved the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which was already ratifiedby 160 countries. Many American citizens could not enjoy the internationally-recognized economic and social rights.
Unemployment in the US has long been high. A huge number of Americans newly joined the unemployed population in recent years. Figuresreleased by the US Department of Labor on May 4, 2012 showed that in April 2012 the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, with 12.5 millionpeople unemployed. Citing a report, the Huffington Post website in a story dated December 3, 2012 said nearly 6.5 million US teens andyoung adults are neither in school nor working, and the employment rate for teens between the ages of 16 and 19 has fallen 42 percent overthe last decade. The Los Angeles Times in a report published on April 27, 2012 said the unemployment rate for veterans of Afghanistan andIraq is 10.3 percent, and for veterans aged 24 and under, the rate is 29.1 percent. It is also hard for college graduates to find jobs. TheAssociated Press reported on April 22, 2012 that 53.6 percent of bachelor’ s degree-holders under the age of 25 in America were jobless orunderemployed in 2011. Of the nearly 20 million people employed by the American food industry, just 40 percent are earning enough to putthem over the local poverty line (www.huffingtonpost.com, June 6, 2012).
Poverty in the US has increasingly worsened since the economic crisis in 2008. America’ s poverty rate in 2011 was 15 percent, with 46.2million people in poverty, according to the US Census Bureau data released on September 12, 2012. Almost 18 million American homesstruggled to find enough to eat in 2011, including 6.8 million households that worried about having enough money to buy food several monthsout of the year (www.ers.usda.gov, September 5, 2012). A report carried by the Huffington Post on October 30, 2012 indicated that the UShas a staggering 22 percent of its children living in poverty. The US is one of those that have the highest child poverty rates of all developednations.
The gap between the rich and poor is growing in the US over the years. The US has the fourth worst income inequality compared to otherdeveloped countries, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. America’s Gini index was 0.477 in 2011and income inequality increased by 1.6 percent between 2010 and 2011, indicating a widened rich-poor gap. Between 2010 and 2011, theshare of aggregate income increased 1.6 percent for the quintile with the highest household income, and increased 4.9 percent for the topfive percent households. The aggregate share of income declined for the middle quintile. The changes in the shares of aggregate income forthe lowest two quintiles were not statistically significant (www.census.gov, September 12, 2012).
A huge number of people are homeless in the US According to a report released by National Alliance to End Homelessness on January 17, 2012, the nation had 636,017 homeless people in 2011, including 107,148 chronically homeless people. There were 21 homeless people per10,000 people in the general population. Nearly four in 10 homeless people were unsheltered. The unsheltered population was 243,701 in2011, up 2 percent from 2009. In April 2012, the New York City homeless shelter population was 10 percent higher than the previous year(www.coalitionforthehomeless.org, June 8, 2012). Homeless people suffer discrimination and assaults. Citing a survey of 234 cities, a USAToday report dated February 15, 2012 said 24 percent of the US cities prohibit begging, 22 percent prohibit loitering, 16 percent labelssleeping in public places as illegal. From 1999 through 2010, the homeless faced 1,184 acts of reported violence resulting in 312 deaths.
The US is among the few developed countries without health insurance covering its whole population. A considerable number of Americanshave no access to necessary healthcare services when in illness because of having no health insurance. The number of people withouthealth insurance coverage was 48.6 million in 2011, accounting for 15.7 percent of the population (www.census.gov, September 12, 2012). AHuffington Post report on November 13, 2012 said about 115,000 women in the US lose their private health insurance each year in the wakeof divorce, largely because they have trouble paying premiums for private insurance. A study, released on June 20, 2012, by the consumeradvocacy group Families USA, estimates that a total of 26,100 people aged 25 to 64 died for lack of health coverage in 2010, up 31 percentfrom 18,000 in 2000 (www.reuters.com, June 20, 2012).
IV. On Racial Discrimination
The long-existing racial discrimination prevalent in the US society sees no improvements, and ethnic minorities do not enjoy equal political,economic and social rights.
Ethnic Americans’ rights to vote are limited. During the presidential election in November 2012, some Asian-American voters were obstructedat voting stations and received with discriminations (The China Press, November 8, 2012). The United Nations Human Rights Council SpecialRapporteur used to lodge a joint accusation against the US of failing to fully guarantee the rights to vote of African-Americans and Hispanics.The January/February 2013 edition of the Boston Review reported that as of 2010, more than 5.85 million American citizens weredisenfranchised because of criminal convictions, and more than two million African-Americans currently are stripped of their right to vote. TheUS attorney general also acknowledged, as the rights to vote of some ethnic Americans were restricted by laws requiring proof of identity,some people are as a matter of fact stripped of such rights (The Guardian, May. 30, 2012).
Ethnic Americans are discriminated against in the job market, and their economic well-being worsens as a result. According to statistics fromthe U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate of whites was registered 7.0 percent in Oct. 2012, 14.3 percent for African-Americansand 10.0 percent for Hispanics. The average period of unemployment for ethnic minorities is notably longer than that for whites. Asians areunemployed on average for 27.7 weeks, African-Americans for 27 weeks (Desert News, December 4, 2012). According to data from the federalLabor Department, over half of all African-Americans and non-Hispanic blacks in New York city, who were old enough to work, had no jobs in2012, and it takes them almost a full year on average to find another job (Madame Noire, June 21, 2012). Employment discrimination is themain reason behind income disparity and poverty. According to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 12, 2012, themedian household income for African-Americans was 32,229 U.S. dollars in 2011, less than 60 percent of that of non-Hispanic whites; and thepoverty rate for African-Americans stood at 27.6 percent, almost three times of that of non-Hispanic whites.
Racial discrimination is rampant in the field of law enforcement and justice. The Reuters website reported on July 3, 2012, police tend to bemore lenient to whites. Out of more than 685,000 police stops in New York City in 2011, more than 85 percent of the stopped were black orHispanic. Ethnic Americans are often offended by law enforcement authorities. A 21-year-old black man in Arkansas was searched and put intoa police car, and later was found shot in the head while handcuffed (www. telegraph.co.uk, August 8, 2012). The incidence where a 28-year-oldblack man, Mohamed Bah, was shot dead by New York police outraged the black community (NYDailyNews.com, September 26, 2012). Anarticle on the website of Texas Civil Rights Project on July 24, 2012 said the Austin police’ excessive use of force had led to two fatal policeshootings of minority suspects since 2011. The president of the Texas Civil Rights Project said that the shooting death of a dog even receivedmore thorough and careful investigation than the death of a black victim. The New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow wrote an article onJanuary 14, 2013, saying “the idea that progress toward racial harmony would or should be steady and continuous is fraying. And the pillars ofthe institution — the fundamental devaluation of dark skin and strained justifications for the unconscionable — have proved surprisinglyresilient.”
Religious discrimination is rapidly on the rise, with an increase in insults and attacks against Muslims. Muslims account for less than onepercent of the U.S. population, but are involved in 14 percent of religious discrimination cases under investigation of the federal government,and 25 percent of employment-related discrimination cases (www. sinovision.net, March 29, 2011). In September, 2012, a U.S. film directormade a film that is insulting to the Prophet Muhammad and posted it online, which triggered waves of protests in the Muslim world. In Houston,a dead pig was left in front of a mosque (abclocal.go.com, December 5, 2012). The U.S. Navy special operations force was reported to useimages of gun-holding Muslim women as training targets (www.nydailynews.com, July 3, 2012). The 57-year-old Muslim, Bashir Ahmad, wasstabbed and bitten outside a Mosque by a suspect who shouted anti-Muslim expletive during the attack (Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2012). Since the September 11 attacks, the U.S. Justice Department has investigated more than 800 incidents of violence, vandalism andarson against people believed to be Muslim, Arab or South Asian (www. reuters.com, March 29, 2011).
Apartheid in fact still exists in the American society. New York Times reported on August 6, 2012 that, the proportion of non-Hispanic blackresidents on the Upper East Side is only 2.7 percent, and whites 81 percent. Local co-op boards can reject black buyers without giving areason, and some Upper East Side co-ops have a reputation for rejecting black buyers. A study found that the New York area was the secondmost segregated for black people and the third most segregated for Hispanic and Asian residents. A superintendent of NASA Real EstateCorporation was sued for refusing to show three African-Americans any openings, claiming no apartments were available for rent, but showingvacancies to white individuals who inquired about the same apartments less than an hour after turning down black renters, saying, “You looklike nice people. That’s why I show you.” (queenscourier.com, December 12, 2012) Furthermore, studies found a rising tide of apartheid in theU.S. workplace. Nineteen out of the 58 surveyed industries showed a trend toward racial re-segregation between white men and black men(www.washingtonpost.com, October 25, 2012).
Racial relationship is in tension, and hate crimes take place frequently. The Associated Press reported on October 28, 2012, citing a latest poll,that 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-African-American attitudes, three percentage points higher than in 2008. Theabc.go.com reported on November 19, 2012, three shop owners of Middle Eastern descent were shot dead in four months in Brooklyn, NewYork, and the police cannot rule out the possibility of the homicides being racially motivated. Two young white men from Mississippi killed ablack man by running a truck over him. The two, since 2011, have frequently assaulted and attacked African-Americans in and aroundJackson, Mississippi, using beer bottles, sling shots and motor vehicles, and they often bragged about their exploits (Reuters, December 5, 2012). A white gunman named Wade Michael Page killed six Sikh worshippers at their temple, and his motivation was linked to neo-Nazipropaganda, and he was suspected to be a white supremacist (edition. cnn.com, August 10, 2012).
Native Americans’ rights are not properly guaranteed. In 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on racism,Mutuma Ruteere, pointed out Navajos, a branch of Native Americans, faced racial discrimination, including the lack of access to justice andlegal remedies (United Nations document number A/67/328). United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on the rights ofindigenous people, James Anaya, said the ability of Native Americans to use and access their sacred places is often curtailed by mining,logging, hydroelectric and other development projects. He cited research figures of relevant institutions, saying Native Americans’ poverty ratesnearly double the national average, and their life expectancy is 5.2 years less than the national average. Thirteen percent of Native Americanshold a basic university degree, much lower than the national average, 28 percent. Indigenous women are more than twice as likely as all otherwomen to be victims of violence and one in three of them will be raped during her lifetime (United Naitons document numberA/HRC/21/47/Add.1).
The rights of illegal immigrants are violated. Deaths often occur in immigration detention centers. United Nations Human Rights Council SpecialRapporteur Christof Heyns said in his report that deaths occurred in prison-like conditions where detention was neither necessary norappropriate, and where no proper medical care was provided (United Nations document number A/HRC/20/22/Add.3). U.N human rights expertsand South Florida Haitian rights advocates call for the U.S. to suspend all deportations to Haiti, saying the deportations may constitute a humanrights violation, and may place the Haitians in a life-threatening position (The Miami Herald, June 6, 2012).
V. On the rights of women and children
The U.S. remains one of a few countries in the world that have not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminationagainst Women or the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It faces prominent problems in protecting the rights of women and children.
Women face discrimination in employment and payment. Women made up about two-thirds of all workers in the U.S. who were paid minimumwage or less in 2011 and 61 percent of full-time minimum wage workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.womensenews.org,December 11, 2012). On average, women have to work as far as April 17 into 2012 to catch up with that men earned in 2011, meaning womenearned 77 cents to the male dollar. African American women earn 62 cents to the male dollar, Latinas 54 cents. In some states, women of colorearn less than half as their male counterparts. Women in Wyoming, the lowest ranking state, earn just 64 cents on the male dollar(www.womensenews.org, April 30, 2012). Voters in Oklahoma approved an amendment to the state’s constitution to end affirmative actionprograms in state government that had been designed to increase the hiring of minorities and women in the state’s 115 agencies(www.articles.chicagotribune.com, November 7, 2012). The problems that pregnant women and new mothers face on the job are very real.Employers routinely ignore mandate in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and are forcing pregnant women out of the workplace(www.edition.cnn.com, November 26, 2012). A Houston mother says she was fired from her job at a collection agency after asking to bring abreast pump into the office so she’d have plenty of fresh breast milk for her newborn. A new Connecticut mom says her new employer askedher to resign after she told them she was pregnant (www.latimes.com, February 8, 2012).
The poverty rate among women is higher than males. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) announced that the poverty rate for womenin 2011 was 14.6 percent, compared to men’s 10.9 percent. Women are more likely to live in poverty and about 40 percent of women who headfamilies live in poverty, according to the NWLC. Another report on the plight of female retirees also notes that the poverty rate among retiredwomen is 50 percent higher than their male counterparts (womensenews.org, September 17, 2012).
Women are the victims of violence and sexual assaults. An average of three women in the U.S. lose their lives every day as a result of domesticviolence (www.dccadv.org, October 1, 2012). A national census of domestic violence agencies in September 2011 found that more than 67,000victims were served in a single day (www.womensenews.org, July 17, 2012). In 2010, the arrest rate for rape was 24 percent in the U.S. (www.thedailybeast.com, April 9, 2012). According to the Report on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, submitted by theSpecial Rapporteur to the General Assembly in 2012, most prison staff in the U.S. is not adequately trained to prevent or respond to inmatesexual assaults, and prison rape often goes unreported and untreated (United Nations document number A/67/227).
Women in the U.S. forces are the victims of widespread sexual abuse, leading to media allegation that the US military has a culture of rape(www.aljazeera.com, August 4, 2012). Around 79 percent of women serving in the military reported experiences of sexual harassment. Militarysexual trauma often leads to debilitating conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and major depression(www.servicewomen.org). That Air Force drill instructor Luis Walker was accused of raping and sexually assaulting 10 female trainees is thebiggest sex scandal to hit the U.S. military since the 1990s (www.reuters.com, July 21, 2012). In 2011, nearly 3,200 rapes and sexual assaultswere officially reported, but the Pentagon admits that represents just 15 percent of all incidents. A military survey revealed that one in fivewomen in the US forces has been sexually assaulted, but most do not report it. Nearly half said that they “did not want to cause trouble in theirunit” (www.aljazeera.com, August 4, 2012).
The health of female minority groups is worrying. A media report in June 2012 said rate of HIV infection in heterosexual African Americanwomen in the poorest neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. nearly doubled the 6.3 percent infection rate two years before. Officials said 90percent of all women with HIV in the city are black (www.washingtonpost.com, June 21, 2012). Sixty-six percent of the women newly infected withHIV each year are black, even though African-American women represent only 14 percent of the U.S. female population. The national age-adjusted death rate for black women in the U.S. is nearly 15 times higher than that observed for HIV-infected white women (www.newswise.com,March 7, 2012). Minority women in the U.S. are more likely to die during or soon after childbirth than white women, according to a report postedon the website of the Chicago Tribune on August 3, 2012. For every 100,000 babies born to white women, between seven and nine moms diefrom complications related to pregnancy. In comparison, 32 to 35 black women die for every 100,000 live babies. Deaths among Hispanic andAsian women – born in the U.S. and abroad – are closer to rates for white women at around 10 per 100,000.
Children in the U.S. are not blessed with enough protection for their personal safety and freedom. According to a report posted on the websiteof the Daily Telegraph on December 16, 2012, the slaughter of children by gunfire in the U.S. is 25 times the rate of the 20 next largestindustrial countries in the world combined. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says at least 100,000 children across thecountry are trafficked each year (www.usatoday.com, September 27, 2012).
Child sexual abuse is a widespread public health problem. Research indicates that 20 percent of adult females and 5 to 15 percent adult malesexperienced sexual abuse in childhood or adolescence, according to a report posted on the website of http://www.preventchildabuse.org onNovember 5, 2012. In 2010, 63,527 children in the U.S. were victims of child sexual abuse. According to a report by the CNN on October 18, 2012, 1,247 “ineligible volunteer files” of the Boy Scout released that year identified more than 1,000 leaders and volunteers banned from BoyScout after being accused of sexual or inappropriate conduct with boys from 1965 to 1985. Priests and leaders of the Boy Scouts had shieldedabusers, according to the report. Former Pennsylvania State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of abusing 10 childrenover 15 years (www.usatoday.com, October 10, 2012). In 2012, several religious figures were found to have sexually assaulted children. In July2012, Roman Catholic monsignor William Lynn was sentenced to six years in prison for allowing a priest suspected of sexual misconduct with aminor to have continued contact with children (the Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2012). In September, a Roman Catholic bishop in Kansas Citywas found guilty of failing to tell authorities about child pornography that was produced by a priest under his supervision (the Wall StreetJournal, September 6, 2012).
The number of homeless children increases sharply in the U.S. and many children are stricken by poverty. For the first time in history, publicschools reported more than one million homeless children and youth, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Education on June27, 2012. This total does not include homeless children and youth who were not enrolled in public preschool programs and those identified byschool officials. Forty-four states reported school year-to-year increases in the number of homeless students, with 15 states reportingincreases of 20 percent or more. The number of homeless children enrolled in public schools has increased 57 percent since the 2006-2007school year. In Michigan, the number of homeless children enrolled in public schools had increased 315 percent between 2008 and 2011 (www.nlchp.org, June 27, 2012). The number of children in New York city’s shelters hit 19,000 by September 2012. Francheska Luciano, 14,said living in shelter was “like living in hell.” (www.nydailynews.com, September 9, 2012) The U.S. Department of Education said in a report thatonly 52 percent of identified homeless students who took standardized tests were proficient in reading, and only 51 percent passed the mathportion. Homeless students were also found to be more likely to drop out of school and less likely to graduate from high school than theirclassmates (www.neatoday.org, Nov. 28, 2012). According to “America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2012,” 22percent of the children aged 0 to 17, or 16.4 million kids, live in poverty in 2010 (www.csmonitor.com, July 17, 2012). Fourteen states sawincreases in child poverty between 2010 and 2011 (usatoday.com, September 23, 2012). Nevada saw a 38 percent increase in child povertyover the past decade (www.csmonitor.com, August 17, 2011).
VI. On U.S. Violations of Human Rights against Other Nations
Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has waged wars on other countries most frequently. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both started bythe U.S., have caused massive civilian casualties. From 2001 to 2011, the U.S.-led “war on terror” killed between 14,000 and 110,000 per year,said an article posted on the website of Stop the War Coalition on June 14, 2012 (stopwar.org.uk, June 14, 2012). The UN Assistance Missionin Afghanistan (UNAMA) tallied at least 10,292 non-combatants killed from 2007 to July 2011. The Iraq Body Count project recordsapproximately 115,000 civilians killed in the cross-fire from 2003 to August 2011. According to the article, beyond the two states underoccupation, the “War on Terror” has spilled into a number of neighboring countries including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, killing a greatmany civilians there. From 2004 to the time the article was written, a minimum of 484 civilians, including 168 children, were killed in strikes thatoccurred in Pakistan. It was also reported by the media that strikes resulted in 56 civilian deaths in Yemen, the article added. A news report,posted on BBC’s website on September 25, 2012, pointed at recurrent U.S. drone attacks in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan(www.bbc.co.uk, September 25, 2012). “Just one in 50 victims of America’s deadly drone strikes in Pakistan are terrorists – while the rest areinnocent civilians,” said an article posted on September 25, 2012, on the website of the Daily Mail (www.dailymail.co.uk, September 25, 2012).
U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan also kill civilians for no reason. U.S. soldier Robert Bales was reported to walk out of a military base in the southernprovince of Kandahar at 3 o’clock on the night of March 11, 2012 and killed 17 civilians, including nine children. Bales split the slaughter intotwo episodes, returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again. He first came to one family in a nearby village andshot a man dead, which scared others in the family to hide in neighborhood. Then he went to a second family and shot dead three people andinjured six. Afterwards, he returned to his base and left for another village after chatting with one soldier at the base. In the village, he brokeinto a family and shot dead more than 10 people who were sound asleep. After the massacre, he collected some of the bodies and burnedthem.( The Agence France-Presse, March 23, 2012; The Associated Press, March 24, 2012; The Huffington Post, November, 11, 2012)
U.S.-led military operations have also brought forth ecological disasters. An article posted on the website of The Independent on October 14, 2012 cited a study that reported a “staggering rise” in birth defects among Iraqi children conceived in the aftermath of the war(www.independent.co.uk, October 14, 2012). Steve Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, said that the Iraq war was responsible forat least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) from March 2003 through December 2007, according to a pieceposted on December 21, 2009 on coto2.wordpress.com (coto2.wordpress.com, December 21, 2009). “The war emits more than 60 percent ofall countries,” said Kretzmann. A study, cited by an article posted on the website of The Independent on October 14, 2012, linked a huge risethat Iraq had recorded since the war in birth defects with military actions in which American forces used metal contaminant-releasing whitephosphorus shells. It found that in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which saw two of the heaviest battles during the Iraq war, more than half of allbabies surveyed were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010. Before the war, the figure was more like one in 10. More than 45percent of all pregnancies surveyed ended in miscarriage in the two years after 2004, up from the previous 10 percent(www.independent.co.uk, October 14, 2012).
U.S. soldiers have also severely insulted Afghan people’s dignity and blasphemed against their religion. The AFP reported on September 24, 2012 that during a counter-insurgency operation in July 2011, four U.S. Marines urinated on three bloodied bodies of dead Taliban fighters,and one said, “Have a great day, buddy,” to one of the dead. A videotape depicting their actions was recorded and later circulated on theInternet (The Agence France-Presse, September 24, 2012). In February 2012, U.S. troops at Bagram air base provoked public indignation bytaking a batch of religious materials, including 500 copies of the Koran, to the incinerator, said a news story posted on the website of theWashington Post on August 27, 2012 (www.washingtonpost.com, August 27, 2012).
The U.S. army has for long detained foreigners illegally at the Guantanamo prison. By January 2012, 171 people were still held there, said anarticle posted on the website of Watching America on January 17, 2012. They were denied the rights accorded to prisoners of war under theGeneva Conventions, and savagely tortured (www.watchingamerica, January 17, 2012). American authorities have revealed that, in order toobtain confessions, some of the few being tried (only in military courts) have been tortured by waterboarding more than 100 times orintimidated with semiautomatic weapons, power drills or threats to sexually assault their mothers, said an article posted on the website of theNew York Times on June 24, 2012 (www.nytimes.com, June 24, 2012). Media reported that in September 2012, a 32-year-old Yemeni namedAdnan Farhan Abdul Latif died at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, the ninth to have died there while in custody. He had been held at thedetention camp since it was established in January 2002, without being charged with any crime (abcnews.go.com). On January 23, 2012, theUnited Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spoke out against the failure by the U.S. to close the Guantanamo Baydetention facility and to ensure accountability for serious violations – including torture – that took place there (www.un.org, January 23, 2012). Anoted American wrote in an article that the American government’s counterterrorism policies “are now clearly violating at least 10 of thedeclaration’s 30 articles, including the prohibition against ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’” (www.nytimes.com, June 24, 2012).
The U.S. refuses to acknowledge “the right to development,” which is a common concern among the majority of countries. In September 2012,the 21st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution on “the right to development.” Except an abstentionvote from the U.S., all the HRC members voted for the resolution. The 67th session of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted the21st consecutive resolution, by a recorded vote of 188 in favor to three against with two abstentions, calling for an end to the U.S.’ 50-plusyears of economic blockade against Cuba. One of the three dissenting votes was from the U.S. (United Nations document number GA/11311)
After Sept. 11, 2001, the CIA launched a program of “extraordinary rendition” to handle terrorism suspects. The agency’s problem, as it saw it, was that it wanted to detain and interrogate foreign suspects without bringing them to the United States or charging them with any crimes. Their solution was to secretly move a suspect to another country. Sometimes that meant a secret CIA prison in places such as Thailand or Romania, where the CIA would interrogate him. Sometimes it meant handing him over to a sympathetic government, some of them quite nasty, to conduct its own “interrogation.”
The CIA’s extraordinary rendition program is over, but its scope is still shrouded in some mystery. A just-out report, released by the Open Society Foundation, sheds new light on its shocking scale. According to the report, 54 foreign governments somehow collaborated in the program. Some of those governments are brutal dictatorships, and a few are outright U.S. adversaries.
Their participation took several forms. Some, such as Poland and Lithuania, allowed the CIA to run secret prisons in their countries. Many Middle Eastern, Central Asian and European countries handed over detainees to the CIA, some of whom those countries captured on the agency’s behalf. Other states, particularly in the Middle East, interrogated detainees on the CIA’s behalf, such as Jordan, which accepted several Pakistanis. Several, such as Greece and Spain, allowed flights associated with the CIA program to use their airports.
Here’s what the Open Society report has to say about the staggeringly global participation in the CIA program, including a full list of the countries it names:
The report also shows that as many as 54 foreign governments reportedly participated in these operations in various ways, including by hosting CIA prisons on their territories; detaining, interrogating, torturing, and abusing individuals; assisting in the capture and transport of detainees; permitting the use of domestic airspace and airports for secret flights transporting detainees; providing intelligence leading to the secret detention and extraordinary rendition of individuals; and interrogating individuals who were secretly being held in the custody of other governments. Foreign governments also failed to protect detainees from secret detention and extraordinary rendition on their territories and to conduct effective investigations into agencies and officials who participated in these operations.
The 54 governments identified in this report span the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, and include: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.
I was most curious about the involvement of two governments that are very much adversaries of the United States: those of Iran and Syria. It’s clear that, in both cases, it was an enemy-of-my-enemy calculus. Iran and Syria are both enemies of al-Qaeda and have struggled against Sunni Islamist extremism (Syria’s government is secular, Iran’s is Shia). Here’s the report’s section on Iran:
Iran was involved in the capture and transfer of individuals subjected to CIA secret detention. In March 2002, the Iranian government transferred fifteen individuals to the government of Afghanistan, which in turn transferred ten of these individuals to the U.S. government. At least six of those transferred to U.S. custody were held in secret CIA detention in Afghanistan. These six individuals included Hussein Almerfedi, Tawfik al-Bihani, Wesam Abdulrahman Ahmed al-Deemawi (Wassam al-Ourdoni), Rafiq al-Hami, Walid Shahir al-Qadasi, and Aminullah Baryalai Tukhi.
Iran’s transfer occurred as part of a detainee exchange. Because the hand-over happened soon after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Iran was aware that the United States would have effective control over any detainees handed over to Afghan authorities. Amin al-Yafia, another individual believed to have been captured in Iran, in 2002, may have been subsequently held in CIA custody. Yafia’s whereabouts are unknown. See the detainee list in Section IV.
There are no known judicial cases or investigations in Iran relating to its participation in CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations.
The section on Syria is disturbing. That government’s record of horrific abuses has spilled out into the open since the uprising of 2011 became a civil war, with more Syrians subjected to – and speaking out about – a torture regime that sounds as if it were from another century. According to a 2005 article by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, quoted in the report, Syria was one of the “most common destinations for rendered suspects.” Government forces, according to the report, held some U.S.-provided detainees in a prison known as “The Grave” for its coffin-sized cells and subjected them to “torture involving a chair frame used to stretch the spine (the ‘German chair’) and beatings.”
The Irony of this story is that most of the drug trade is controlled by state officials
YANGON – Myanmar has delayed by five years its deadline to eliminate drug production within its borders, a senior official said Monday, as the impoverished nation struggles to stem a growing narcotics crisis.
Authorities are “very concerned” about a rebound in poppy cultivation over the last six years in Myanmar, the world’s second-largest opium producer, while amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) are also surging, said deputy police chief Zaw Win.
Due to “threats posed by ATS” and to achieve a reduction in poppy cultivation, Myanmar’s narcotic control board has “extended its drug elimination to 2019”, he said at the opening of six nation talks in Yangon. The previous target was 2014.
He added that Myanmar’s authorities were “doing our best” to help stem the flow of drugs in the region.
Officials from China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam have gathered in Myanmar for days of talks on a worsening drugs crisis, which the United Nations has warned poses a threat to public security.
A ministerial-level meeting in the capital Nya Pyi Taw on Thursday is expected to produce a regional declaration on the issue.
Zaw Win told delegates that it was “crystal clear that (the) methamphetamine problem is growing rapidly”, adding that “more and more international drug syndicates are becoming involved”.
“Illicit drug production and trafficking are closely linked to instability, human security and insurgency at the border areas, which creates serious challenges to the ability of law enforcement agencies,” he said.
The drugs trade is closely linked to Myanmar’s long-running insurgencies in remote areas bordering Thailand, Laos and China – known as the golden triangle – with ethnic minority rebels widely thought to use drug profits to fund operations.
As part of its reform drive, Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government has reached tentative peace deals with most major armed ethnic groups.
But Gary Lewis, regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in December said the ease of production of methamphetamine in small laboratories, along with distrust between the rebels and authorities meant that some groups could decide to “hedge their bets”.
Around 5.9 million methamphetamine pills were seized in Myanmar in 2011, almost double the figure for the previous year, the UN said in a December report, although seizures are likely to represent only a fraction of the amount produced.
Myanmar was once the world’s largest producer of illicit opium until it was replaced by Afghanistan in 1991. But after years of decline, poppy cultivation again began to rise in 2007.
What does this man care about his fellow man it would seem not a lot
“Budgets are obviously very tight at the moment, but if the choice is between a $1.4m cruise missile or putting food on the table for the unemployed then that’s really no choice at all is it.”
“For a start unemployed people don’t make big explosions or, or use state of the art guidance systems.”
“I’ve suggest to the prime minister that we stop giving money to fat people, and in return the MoD gets to keep buying nice shiny bullets to replace all the ones we fire at foreigners.”
“He’s thinking about it.”
Hammond on MoD cuts
Unemployed Simon Williams feels some sympathy for the defence secretary, admitting he probably has a point.
“I look at the house and my two young kids and I think if they cut income support a little more we could maybe paint a few tanks.”
“I mean really, how warm does a family home really have to be? Surely anything above freezing will be OK, right?”
Two bombs have rocked the streets of Boston, exploding at the Boston Marathon finish line, killing 3 and injuring more than 100. It’s too early to know the cause of these explosions, but you can rest assured both the state and federal government will try to use this tragic event to blame whatever convenient enemies are most advantageous for the government.
What’s not yet being reported by the mainstream media is that a “controlled explosion” was under way on the same day as the marathon explosion.
As the Boston Globe tweeted today, “Officials: There will be a controlled explosion opposite the library within one minute as part of bomb squad activities.”
In response to LeakSource:
04/15/2013 Two bombs have rocked the streets of Boston, exploding at the Boston Marathon finish line, killing 3 and injuring more than 100. It’s too early to know the cause of these explosions, but you can rest assured both the state and federal government will try to use this tragic event to blame whatever convenient […]
Given the ongoing treachery of the current administration on just about any level of government, it’s not unwise to be suspicious that the same officials who have killed almost 4,000 people (most of them civilians or “collateral damage”) in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan would willingly sacrifice American civilians if it would further their agenda. Unwitting Americans at the Boston Marathon didn’t deserve to loose limbs and life. Today 30 people were bombed at a wedding, they did not deserve to be burned to death in their wedding finery either. Our government and congress has lost credibility. We will never know the truth until it’s leaked by real Patriots.