Mumia Abu-Jamal writes about - Lynne Stewart, the activist lawyer, - 10 years in prison. Mood:
loud Now Playing: Lynne Stewart, the activist lawyer, was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison. Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT
[col. writ. 7/18/10] (c) '10 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Lynne Stewart, the activist lawyer, was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison.
This outstanding lawyer, a 70 year old grandmother, who is facing the serious threat of breast cancer, was originally sentenced to 2 years and 4 months, but the federal appeals court apparently felt that wasn't enough.
The same appeals courts that traditionally reverses the convictions of cops who torture or kill Black citizens, and who traditionally rely on the judgments of the trial courts, reversed Stewart's sentence as not tough enough.
So much for judicial tradition.
For Lynne's tradition wasn't that of the tony, tie and tails law firms of downtown Manhattan. She didn't represent the rich, the powerful, the well-heeled.
She represented the poor, the oppressed, the destitute and the dispossessed; the Black, the Latino, the Arab, the damned; those whom Frantz Fanon famously called 'the wretched of the earth.'
A juxtaposition: Many, many lawyers on the Office of Legal Counsel, in the White House, the CIA, and the Defense Dept. violated criminal laws, the military legal code, the Geneva Conventions, and the Convention Against Torture (CAT) [not to mention the U.S. Constitution!] to aid and abet violations of law -- for years.
Guess how many of them faced trial? Guess how many of them will in future?
How many of them will ever face prison?
None, None -- and none.
For their crimes were on behalf of the powerful; the state; hence their immunity.
Or consider what is know in international law as the 'supreme crime': wars of aggression.
Iraq will be a basket case for generations, thanks to American arrogance and greed.
Will anybody be brought to book for this crime, that shattered a nation, that sent millions into exile, and killed perhaps a million men, women and children?
Don't hold your breath.
There are still black sites, secret prisons, where tortures happen daily. There is still extraordinary renditions - clear violations of the Convention Against Torture (CAT)
But politicians are doing it - not to 'protect' the nation -- but to secure elections. Torture for votes.
And a 70 year old grandmother, a lawyer, is sent to prison for 10 years - for violating a prison rule that is an unconstitutional relic of the so-called war on terror.
Please make a contribution to help free Mumia. Donations to the grassroots work will go to both INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL and the FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL COALITION (NYC).
Seven years ago today, in a speech on the Iraq war, Sen. Ted Kennedy fired the first shot in an all-out assault on President George W. Bush's integrity. "All the evidence points to the conclusion," Kennedy said, that the Bush administration "put a spin on the intelligence and a spin on the truth." Later that day Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle told reporters Mr. Bush needed "to be forthcoming" about the absence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Columnist John Fund says you'll never guess who's funding ads critical of Obama's agenda. And, Columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady looks into whether the just-passed Dodd-Frank financial reform measure is a quota bill.
Thus began a shameful episode in our political life whose poisonous fruits are still with us.
The next morning, Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and John Edwards joined in. Sen. Kerry said, "It is time for a president who will face the truth and tell the truth." Mr. Edwards chimed in, "The administration has a problem with the truth."
The battering would continue, and it was a monument to hypocrisy and cynicism. All these Democrats had said, like Mr. Bush did, that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD. Of the 110 House and Senate Democrats who voted in October 2002 to authorize the use of force against his regime, 67 said in congressional debate that Saddam had these weapons. This didn't keep Democrats from later alleging something they knew was false—that the president had lied America into war.
Senate Intelligence Chairman Bob Graham organized a bipartisan letter in December 2001 warning Mr. Bush that Saddam's "biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs . . . may be back to pre-Gulf War status," and enhanced by "longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies." Yet two years later, he called for Mr. Bush's impeachment for having said Saddam had WMD.
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On July 9, 2004, Mr. Graham's fellow Democrat on Senate Intelligence, Jay Rockefeller, charged that the Bush administration "at all levels . . . used bad information to bolster the case for war." But in his remarks on Oct. 10, 2002, supporting the war resolution, he said that "Saddam's existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities pose real threats to America."
Even Kennedy, who opposed the war resolution, nonetheless said the month before the vote that Saddam's "pursuit of lethal weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated." But he warned if force were employed, the Iraqi dictator "may decide he has nothing to lose by using weapons of mass destruction himself or by sharing them with terrorists."
Then there was Al Gore, who charged on June 24, 2004, that Mr. Bush spent "prodigious amounts of energy convincing people of lies" and accused him of treason, bellowing that Mr. Bush "betrayed his country." Yet just a month before the war resolution debate, the former vice president said, "We know that [Saddam] has stored away secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
Top Democrats led their party in making the "Bush lied, people died" charge because they wanted to defeat him in 2004. That didn't happen. Several bipartisan commissions would later catalogue the serious errors in the intelligence on which Mr. Bush and Democrats relied. But these commissions, particularly the Silberman-Robb report of March 31, 2005, found that the "Bush lied" charge was false. Still, the attacks hurt: When they began, less than a third of Americans believed the charge. Two years later, polls showed that just over half did.
About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy-making process.
Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.
Karl writes a weekly op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is the author of the forthcoming book "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions).
Email the author atKarl@Rove.comor visit him on the web atRove.com. Or, you can send a Tweet to @karlrove.
The damage extended beyond Mr. Bush's presidency. The attacks on Mr. Bush poisoned America's political discourse. Saying the commander-in-chief intentionally lied America into war is about the most serious accusation that can be leveled at a president. The charge was false—and it opened the way for politicians in both parties to move the debate from differences over issues into ad hominem attacks.
At the time, we in the Bush White House discussed responding but decided not to relitigate the past. That was wrong and my mistake: I should have insisted to the president that this was a dagger aimed at his administration's heart. What Democrats started seven years ago left us less united as a nation to confront foreign challenges and overcome America's enemies.
We know President Bush did not intentionally mislead the nation. Saddam Hussein was deposed and eventually hanged for his crimes. Iraq is a democracy and an ally instead of an enemy of America. Al Qaeda suffered tremendous blows in the "land between the two rivers." But Democrats lost more than the election in 2004. In telling lie after lie, week after week, many lost their honor and blackened their reputations.
Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
The federal government is launching an expansive program dubbed "Perfect Citizen" to detect cyber assaults on private companies and government agencies running such critical infrastructure as the electricity grid and nuclear-power plants, according to people familiar with the program.
The surveillance by the National Security Agency, the government's chief eavesdropping agency, would rely on a set of sensors deployed in computer networks for critical infrastructure that would be triggered by unusual activity suggesting an impending cyber attack, though it wouldn't persistently monitor the whole system, these people said.
Defense contractor Raytheon Corp. recently won a classified contract for the initial phase of the surveillance effort valued at up to $100 million, said a person familiar with the project.
An NSA spokeswoman said the agency had no information to provide on the program. A Raytheon spokesman declined to comment.
Some industry and government officials familiar with the program see Perfect Citizen as an intrusion by the NSA into domestic affairs, while others say it is an important program to combat an emerging security threat that only the NSA is equipped to provide.
"The overall purpose of the [program] is our Government...feel[s] that they need to insure the Public Sector is doing all they can to secure Infrastructure critical to our National Security," said one internal Raytheon email, the text of which was seen by The Wall Street Journal. "Perfect Citizen is Big Brother."
A U.S. military official called the program long overdue and said any intrusion into privacy is no greater than what the public already endures from traffic cameras. It's a logical extension of the work federal agencies have done in the past to protect physical attacks on critical infrastructure that could sabotage the government or key parts of the country, the official said.
U.S. intelligence officials have grown increasingly alarmed about what they believe to be Chinese and Russian surveillance of computer systems that control the electric grid and other U.S. infrastructure. Officials are unable to describe the full scope of the problem, however, because they have had limited ability to pull together all the private data.
Perfect Citizen will look at large, typically older computer control systems that were often designed without Internet connectivity or security in mind. Many of those systems—which run everything from subway systems to air-traffic control networks—have since been linked to the Internet, making them more efficient but also exposing them to cyber attack.
The goal is to close the "big, glaring holes" in the U.S.'s understanding of the nature of the cyber threat against its infrastructure, said one industry specialist familiar with the program. "We don't have a dedicated way to understand the problem."
The information gathered by Perfect Citizen could also have applications beyond the critical infrastructure sector, officials said, serving as a data bank that would also help companies and agencies who call upon NSA for help with investigations of cyber attacks, as Google did when it sustained a major attack late last year.
The U.S. government has for more than a decade claimed a national-security interest in privately owned critical infrastructure that, if attacked, could cause significant damage to the government or the economy. Initially, it established relationships with utility companies so it could, for instance, request that a power company seal a manhole that provides access to a key power line for a government agency.
With the growth in concern about cyber attacks, these relationships began to extend into the electronic arena, and the only U.S. agency equipped to manage electronic assessments of critical-infrastructure vulnerabilities is the NSA, government and industry officials said.
The NSA years ago began a small-scale effort to address this problem code-named April Strawberry, the military official said. The program researched vulnerabilities in computer networks running critical infrastructure and sought ways to close security holes.
That led to initial work on Perfect Citizen, which was a piecemeal effort to forge relationships with some companies, particularly energy companies, whose infrastructure is widely used across the country.
The classified program is now being expanded with funding from the multibillion-dollar Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, which started at the end of the Bush administration and has been continued by the Obama administration, officials said. With that infusion of money, the NSA is now seeking to map out intrusions into critical infrastructure across the country.
Because the program is still in the early stages, much remains to be worked out, such as which computer control systems will be monitored and how the data will be collected. NSA would likely start with the systems that have the most important security implications if attacked, such as electric, nuclear, and air-traffic-control systems, they said.
The Obama administration said Tuesday that it “firmly opposes” the legalization of any illicit drugs as California voters head to the polls to consider legalizing marijuana this fall.
The president and his drug czar re-emphasized their opposition to legalizing drugs in the first release of its National Drug Control Strategy this morning.
“Keeping drugs illegal reduces their availability and lessens willingness to use them,” the document, prepared by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, says. “That is why this Administration firmly opposes the legalization of marijuana or any other illicit drug.”
Is anyone surprised? You shouldn’t be. After all, this is the same Gil Kerlikowske that has said repeatedly that legalization is not in his vocabulary, and publicly stated, “Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit.” And this is the same administration that recently nominated Michele Leonhart to head the DEA — the same Michele Leonhart who overruled the DEA’s own administrative law judge in order to continue to block medical marijuana research, and publicly claimed that the rising death toll civilians attributable to the U.S./Mexican drug war “a signpost of the success” of U.S. prohibitionist policies.
Yet, given that national polls now indicate that an estimated one out of two Americans nationwide support legalization, and that a solid majority of west coast voters and Californians back regulating the retail production and distribution of pot like alcohol, it seems politically counterproductive for the administration to maintain such a ‘flat Earth’ policy. So what could possibly be their reasoning?
We have many proven methods for reducing the demand for drugs. Keeping drugs illegal reduces their availability and lessens willingness to use them. That is why this Administration firmly opposes the legalization of marijuana or any other illicit drug. Legalizing drugs would increase accessibility and encourage promotion and acceptance of use. Diagnostic, laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological studies clearly indicate that marijuana use is associated with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects, and legalization would only exacerbate these problems.
Yet the entire premise for maintaining the government’s policy — that keeping marijuana criminally prohibited “reduces [its] availability and lessens willingness to use [it]” — is demonstrably false. Under present prohibition, more than 1/3 of 8th graders, more than 2/3rds of 10th graders, and some 85 percent of 12th graders say that marijuana is “easy to get.” Even according to the stridently prohibitionist group CASA (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University), more teens say that they can get their hands on pot than booze, and one-quarter say that they can buy marijuana within the hour. That means, President Obama and Gil Kerlikowske, that 25 percent of teens can obtain marijuana as easily — and as quickly — as a Domino’s pizza!
This is your “proven” method for “reducing availability?” Don’t make us laugh.
By contrast, dozens of studies from around the globe have established, consistently, that marijuana liberalization will result in lower overall drug use. For example, no less than the World Health Organization concluded:
“Globally, drug use is not distributed evenly, and is simply not related to drug policy. … The U.S. … stands out with higher levels of use of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug policies. … The Netherlands, with a less criminally punitive approach to cannabis use than the U.S., has experienced lower levels of use, particularly among younger adults. Clearly, by itself, a punitive policy towards possession and use accounts for limited variation in national rates of illegal drug use.”
In fact, NORML has an entire white paper devoted to addressing this issue here.
Of course, the best option to truly reduce youth availability to cannabis is legalization and regulation. This strategy — the same one that we employ for the use of virtually every other product except cannabis — would impose common sense controls regarding who can legally produce marijuana, who can legally distribute marijuana, who can legally consume marijuana, and where adults can legally use marijuana and under what circumstances is such use legally permitted.
But we already know that this option isn’t in the administration’s vocabulary, now don’t we?
I’ve written time and time again that this administration ought to view marijuana legalization as a political opportunity, not a political liability. They obviously aren’t listening. Nevertheless, it is the voters who have led — and will continue to lead — on this issue, and it is the politicians who will follow. Could we expect it to be any other way?
After all it was the federal government that followed the states lead in 1937 — federally criminalizing pot, but only doing so after virtually every state in the nation had already done so. California, for instance, outlawed marijuana use in 1913 — nearly a quarter of a century before the Feds acted similarly. Likewise, it is going to be the states — and California in particular — that are going to usher in the era of re-legalization.
And it will be the Feds who eventually will have no other choice but to fall in line.
“I do not expect any help for a libertarian revolution from any Government in the world. . . . We expect no help, not even from our own Government, in the last analysis.”
“But”, interjected van Paasen, “You will be sitting on a pile of ruins.”
Durruti answered: “We have always lived in slums and holes in the wall. We will know how to accommodate ourselves for a time. For, you must not forget, we can also build.
It is we the workers who built these palaces and cities here in Spain and in America and everywhere. We, the workers, can build others to take their place. And better ones! We are not in the least afraid of ruins.
We are going to inherit the earth; there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts. That world is growing this minute.”
House Democrats are suddenly in a rush to ban corporate earmarks, those just-for-our-donors legislative favors that benefit everybody but the taxpayers. It is the right thing to do, but it is also a classic case of closing the barn door just in time for Election Day.
Meanwhile, holier-than-thou Republicans are trying to trump with a call for a much-too-sweeping ban on all earmarks, even those helping nonprofit endeavors.
The quid-pro-quo awarding of government contracts — and the scandals that come along with it — has been especially rampant in recent Congresses. Most notoriously there was the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal that bedeviled Republicans right into minority status.
Democrats should have been feeling endangered ever since the Justice Department began investigating the coziness between defense contractors and high-ranking members of the Appropriations Committee. But their enthusiasm only blossomed after the ethics committee gave all seven members involved a blanket exoneration.
The appropriators — five Democrats and two Republicans — steered more than $245 million in earmarks through a defense lobbying firm now under criminal investigation. The lawmakers received more than $840,000 in political donations from the firm’s corporate clients.
The House ban was announced just days after the committee blithely pronounced the coincidence of generous defense contracts and political contributions as just that — a mere coincidence that does not “support a claim that a member’s actions are being influenced by campaign contributions.” The committee, notably, deep-sixed the recommendation from its new advisory panel, the Office of Congressional Ethics, to open a more thorough inquiry into two of the seven: Representatives Peter Visclosky, a Democrat of Indiana, and Todd Tiahrt, a Republican of Kansas.
Whether this embarrassment can be trumped by a last-minute earmark ban is doubtful. Senate Democrats instantly announced opposition to the House ban. That means, in final conference bills, corporate donor earmarks can be salvaged by grateful senators.
Police cover up - report on the shooting of civilians during Katrina in 2005 Mood:
don't ask Now Playing: Former New Orleans Detective Pleads Guilty in Katrina Shooting Cover-up Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT
Published on Thursday, February 25, 2010 by Pro Publica
Former New Orleans Detective Pleads Guilty in Katrina Shooting Cover-up
by A.C. Thompson
Former New Orleans Police Department Lt. Michael Lohman on Wednesday pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to obstruct justice, in connection with one of a string of violent encounters between police and civilians in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Police shot at least 10 people during the week after the storm made landfall. (We have been investigating the shootings, along with our partners the New Orleans Times-Picayune and PBS "Frontline.")
The FBI closed Danziger Bridge along U.S. 90 on Sept. 26, 2009, to further investigate the controversial shooting incident that occurred there in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (Danny Bourque/The Times-Picayune)
Lohman's guilty plea stems from the so-called Danziger Bridge incident of Sept. 4, 2005. Responding to an emergency call that day, New Orleans police officers shot six citizens-killing two-on and around the span.
The Times-Picayune has been covering the Danziger Bridge shootings from the start and it has the latest.
Lohman helped orchestrate the police's investigation of the shooting, a probe portrayed in the bill of information as an attempted cover-up. The former lieutenant was involved in planting a handgun at the scene, drafted phony police reports, and lied to federal agents, according the court document. (The New York Times has good details on the alleged cover-up. And we at ProPublica have posted the bill of information in our easy-to-read document viewer.)
Lohman's plea is the clearest indicator yet that the federal government-which for more than a year now has been investigating the New Orleans Police Department's actions in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina-is mounting a two-pronged probe: federal prosecutors and the FBI are scrutinizing incidents in which police shot civilians in the chaotic days after the storm, as well as the alleged efforts of other officers to cover-up those shootings.
Defense attorneys familiar with the widening federal probe say the Justice Department is looking at the death of Henry Glover as a possible cover-up, as well. Glover was shot on Sept. 2. 2005-possibly by NOPD officer David Warren-and died, according to three witnesses, at a makeshift police compound in the Algiers section of New Orleans. His charred remains were later discovered in an incinerated car dumped on a Mississippi River levee.
Federal agents began examining Glover's death after ProPublica, in conjunction with The Nation magazine, reported on the case in late 2008.
In recent weeks, the Justice Department has begun looking at three other post-Katrina incidents-the shootings of Danny Brumfield, Matthew McDonald and Keenon McCann, all of whom were shot by NOPD officers in the week after the hurricane made landfall. Brumfield and McDonald died; McCann was injured but survived to file a lawsuit against the police department. He was shot to death by an unknown assailant in 2008 while the suit was pending.
The NOPD, like most police departments, conducts an investigation every time an officer opens fire on a citizen-the goal is to make sure the shooting was proper and justified. As a general rule, officers are allowed to use deadly force only when confronted by a person posing a physical threat, either to the officer or another civilian.
However, a joint effort by reporters with ProPublica, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and PBS "Frontline" found that NOPD investigators did little to determine whether officers acted appropriately when they shot Brumfield, McDonald and McCann. NOPD detectives collected little physical evidence, spoke to few civilian witnesses, and conducted brief interviews-ranging from seven to 12 minutes-with the officers involved in the shootings.
The death toll rises as Haiti is crushed by a massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake. Bodies lie in the streets as people continue to cry out from underneath the rubble. Little aid has come in as the situation becomes increasingly desperate. The number of dead is almost certainly in the tens of thousands but could be 100,000 or more. We go to Port-au-Prince to get a report from a young American father who is helping to care for the injured in the hotel where he was staying when the quake struck. [includes rush transcript]
Much of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince has been leveled by Tuesday’s earthquake, leaving as many as 100,000 people dead and tens of thousands of people homeless. As of Thursday morning, little aid has arrived in Haiti. Planeloads of rescuers and relief supplies are said to be on the way from the US, EU, Canada, Russia and Latin American nations. We go to Port-au-Prince to speak with independent journalist Ansel Herz. [includes rush transcript]
We discuss the situation in Haiti following Tuesday’s massive earthquake, as well as the history of Haiti, with two guests who have spent a lot of time there: Bill Quigley, the legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Brian Concannon, director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. [includes rush transcript]
Journalist and author Naomi Klein spoke in New York last night and addressed the crisis in Haiti: “We have to be absolutely clear that this tragedy—which is part natural, part unnatural—must, under no circumstances, be used to, one, further indebt Haiti and, two, to push through unpopular corporatist policies in the interest of our corporations. This is not conspiracy theory. They have done it again and again.” [includes rush transcript]
We speak with Congress member Maxine Waters (D-CA) about the US and international aid response to Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti. As of Thursday morning, little aid has arrived, and a desperate search for survivors continues. [includes rush transcript]