Editor’s Note: Below is a selection of reader comments about some of our recent articles:
Re: “Where Are U.S. Democracy’s Heroes?”
American democracy has many, many heroes. But never will one find much mention of them (except disparaging) in the MSM.
One might start a search for such in the jails. We have still got Black Panther and American Indian Movement people locked up since the sixties. These are recognized at least beyond our borders, or by Amnesty, for the political prisoners that they are. They have been locked up much longer now than has anyone from the African National Congress.
The regime has been experimenting with maximum terms for trespassing for certain classes of demonstrators; notably from annual efforts against the school for the assassins at Fort Benning. I personally have met a couple of brave young women who finished their terms and are ready to do it again.
People like Cindy Sheehan or Medea Benjamin are every bit as gutsy (and far less corrupt) than Benazir Bhutto.
What of the Berrigans and their friends over in Baltimore? And the other Catholic clergy and laity locked up for the Fort Huachaca demonstrations?
The cops have been roughing up a lot of people in venues as different as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund outreach or those against the Democratic or Republican Conventions, or the weapons ports at Oakland or Port Washington. There are some real heroes there.
American officials resigned on principle from Bush's own government. Peter Edelman from Clinton's. What of them?
Re: “Media Is the Key to Democracy”
If the Democrats had even a lick of "beyond-the-beltway" common sense, they would relentlessly use the stories you have reported on. They (Democrats) would have made those stories and scandals the centerpieces of their campaigns, and American voters would not let Republicans within ten miles of elective office.
Even in such 'Wingnut' states as Oklahoma, Alabama, North Carolina, and Idaho, voters are turned off by the vast corruption that is endemic to the Republican Party - as election 2006 showed. Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel think that they were responsible for the Dem. majority of 2006, but it was OUTSIDE OF WASHINGTON Democratic CHALLENGER candidates - grass-roots, appeal to local community fighters - who did the heavy lifting of election 2006. (And even then, Pelosi & crew ALLOWED Republicans to STEAL Christine Jennings win in Florida 13, Katherine Harris's old district, where 10,000 "undervotes" - ten times the average for similar-sized Florida districts - knocked her win into the gutter.)
(Not only that, but there are several good independent articles that suggest that Rahm Emanuel backed mostly LOSING "centrist" candidates, and in doing so, knocked off some good "lefty" candidates who might have won instead of the DCCC hand-picked "muddled middle" moderates.)
Democrats could get FREE MEDIA by OPPOSING such criminal and illegal conduct - such as perhaps the WATERGATE HEARINGS of 1974?! - but they have become cowed and corrupted by the process.
Unfortunately, Bill Clinton set that precedent in 1996 - he took to fundraising from big-donors who wanted access like a duck to water... or more accurately, like a pig in slop.
(In 1992 Clinton was running as a reformer from OUTSIDE DC pledging to straighten out the economic mess Bush Sr. had put America in.. in 1996 he was turning to campaign donors as an insider who could help them get what they want from regulations and taxpayer dollars.)
I personally spent countless hours in the mid-late 1990s defending the Democrat's need to fundraise on an equal footing with the Republicans... but today, after a full seven years of Bush-Cheney gross abuses of power (including stolen elections, getting the entire US national security apparatus to stand down before 9-11, lying us in to war, running that war with gross corruption, and now setting up a complete police state), BILL CLINTON thinks that being "BIPARTISAN" means suggesting that he and former President Bush (Sr.) should take a world tour together after election 2008!
My question to the former president is, "Why didn't you take your love of attention, and whatever press contingent you could muster, and head down to New Orleans, to find out why, despite billions of taxpayer "reconstruction" dollars there over past 2 years since hte hurricane, today there are still entire neighborhoods under stinking piles of rubble, and there is still no environmental master plan to allow community leaders to plan their redevelopment?
The same could be said about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and every other Democratic Senator seeking national office (running for president).
"WHY?" we should ask them, "Don’t you take some press crews down to New Orleans to highlight Republican contracts corruption?
"Why can REPUBLICANS fun FILIBUSTERS at the DROP OF A HAT, while Democratic Senators (except for Senator Dodd's FISA bill threatened filibuster) DON'T KNOW WHAT THE WORD MEANS, much less how to LEAD ONE EFFECTIVELY to DEMAND MEDIA ATTENTION to public issues?"
Unfortunately, in our gross ignorance and apathy, we American voters are ALLOWING the Republicans, the Media, and COMPLICIT Democrats to SELL US the National Security police state; the National Security Strategy (NSS) which entails ever-expanding US military bases deep into Central Asia (and thus against China as well as Russia?) , and the destruction of our Constitutional freedoms and bill of rights.
Hello: The president if puffing his chest again, by demeaning congress on the spending bill he signed into law. One sore spot with me, is that, in that bill lies the funding for the rogue military corporation we call "Blackwater". To me, this is one of the most dangerous things thrust on the American people, which stays intact, because of the way the president spends the taxpayers monies appropriated for the war in Iraq.
The label applied to this bunch as "cowboys", is not correct when you think of historical meaning in this nation is, it would suit better if the were called Bush`s private army, which is above scrutiny, by anyone and roam around the world and in this nation, in our name, being judge, jury and executioner. Only few candidates are calling for our funding of this group be stopped.
What other purpose could they have other than to rob our treasury, for their own self intrests. After all, does not, our law enforcement agencies and a our military have adequate training facilities, and does it not make the duplication of these services suspect. The use of this private army should be made unlawful, if it already Isn`t. The real danger is, they are operating in our nation, under the cover of the Office of Homeland Security. I hope I am among the many, who are worried about this. Thanks and good luck.
Re: “Surprise! Mukasey Covers Up Torture”
The recent disclosure of the fact that the CIA briefed a bi-partisan group of Senators and Representatives on the Congressional Intelligence Committees, http://www.washingtonpost.com about methods of torture used by the CIA, including "water boarding", http://www.washingtonpost.com is evidence that there is complicity in these crimes by members of Congress.
During the Committee's proceedings Mukasey refused under questioning to declare that water boarding is illegal under the United States Law that includes the Convention Against Torture ratified by the United States Senate.
The Convention ratified by the U.S. Senate makes it the "supreme law of the land" as per Article VI Clause 2 of the Constitution, "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."
Importantly, Article One of the Convention's definition of torture includes not only acts committed by Public Officials but also the acts to which they acquiesced. The convention states, "For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental is intentionally inflicted by.or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official". http://www.hrweb.org
As expressed in a United States Senate's understanding of this point in the Convention the Senate Resolution To Advice and Consent To Ratification (1990) states that in order for an official to acquiesce to an act of torture an official must,
".prior to the activity constituting torture, have awareness of such activity and thereafter breach his or her legal responsibility to intervene to prevent such activity" (CRS-6, page 9) http://126.96.36.199/search
It is the responsibility of Senators who oversee CIA activities "to intervene to prevent such activity"---to put an end to CIA violations of law. Instead, these Senators approved and encouraged CIA torture by not acting to intervene. Mukasey's refusal to declare that water boarding is illegal must be seen against the backdrop of this Senatorial silence and complicity.
Senator Lindsay Graham made the point, "If he does not believe that water boarding is illegal, then that would really put doubts in my own mind (about his appointment) because I don't think you have to have a lot of knowledge about the law to understand this technique violates the Geneva Convention and other statutes."
In the light of these revelations, it is now understandable why Democratic Senator Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein voted in the Senate's Judiciary Committee to support the appointment of Michael Mukasey for United States Attorney General. Mukasey, by his refusal to admit the illegality, the criminality of the water boarding method of torture, was assuring the Senators that had been briefed on the use of torture by the CIA that in his tenure as United States Attorney General he would not focus on their failure to intervene since as far as he was concerned congress had passed no law designating water boarding as torture. An exception was Committee Chair Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy: he voted against the appointment of Mukasey in part because of Mukasey's refusal to recognize water boarding torture as illegal and criminal.
The members of Congress who were advised by the CIA that torturing prisoners, including water boarding, was being used included Rockefeller, from the family that is reaping an added fortune in billions of dollars from their oil, gas, and finance international conglomerates during the invasion and occupation of Iraq; Pelosi that voted for and continues to vote to fund the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Palestine beyond the internationally recognized 1948 and 1967 border between Palestine and Israel; and Jane Harman that wrote HR 1955(now S1959) "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007" to put a cap on, to criminally label criticism of the policies she has also supported---policies that are producing the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocents.
The Senators who were advised of the CIA's use of torture became complicit in the act of torture upon their failure to intervene in the continuing practice and, even worse, in their encouragement of the CIA's use of torture.
That, however, is not the whole of it.
Suddenly we find out now that the CIA has destroyed the tapes of its torture sessions --- the torture methods that the Senators were briefed about and where they failed to intervene ---the visual and sound version recordings of torture, possibly including water boarding, that would make Mukasey's inability to classify water boarding as illegal, criminal torture the mockery that it really is.
In short, the CIA destroyed the tapes---the best evidence of the illegal use of torture--- in defiance of an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in October of 2003 and May of 2004 requiring the CIA to preserve "all records pertaining to the treatment of detainees in its custody." http://www.aclu.org
Obviously, the secret affairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee's illegal, criminal acquiescence to and failure to intervene in the use of torture was about to see the light of day so the CIA destroyed the best evidence of the Senators' and the Representatives' complicity.
William C. Carlotti
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