Friday, September 30, 2011

Anwar al-Awlaki's Extrajudicial Murder -- Michael Ratner, Cen. for Constitutional Rights

Is this the world we want? Where the president of the United States can place an American citizen, or anyone else for that matter, living outside a war zone on a targeted assassination list, and then have him murdered by drone strike.

This was the very result we at the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU feared when we brought a case in US federal court on behalf of Anwar al-Awlaki's father, hoping to prevent this targeted killing. We lost the case on procedural grounds, but the judge considered the implications of the practice as raising "serious questions", asking:

"Can the executive order the assassination of a US citizen without first affording him any form of judicial process whatsoever, based on the mere assertion that he is a dangerous member of a terrorist organisation?"

Yes, Anwar al-Awlaki was a radical Muslim cleric. Yes, his language and speeches were incendiary. He may even have engaged in plots against the United States – but we do not know that because he was never indicted for a crime.

This profile should not have made him a target for a killing without due process and without any effort to capture, arrest and try him. The US government knew his location for purposes of a drone strike, so why was no effort made to arrest him in Yemen, a country that apparently was allied in the US efforts to track him down?

There are – or were – laws about the circumstances in which deadly force can be used, including against those who are bent on causing harm to the United States. Outside of a war zone, as Awlaki was, lethal force can only be employed in the narrowest and most extraordinary circumstances: when there is a concrete, specific and imminent threat of an attack; and even then, deadly force must be a last resort.

The claim, after the fact, by President Obama that Awlaki "operationally directed efforts" to attack the United States was never presented to a court before he was placed on the "kill" list and is untested. Even if President Obama's claim has some validity, unless Awlaki's alleged terrorists actions were imminent and unless deadly force employed as a last resort, this killing constitutes murder.

We know the government makes mistakes, lots of them, in giving people a "terrorist" label. Hundreds of men were wrongfully detained at Guantánamo. Should this same government, or any government, be allowed to order people's killing without due process?

The dire implications of this killing should not be lost on any of us. There appears to be no limit to the president's power to kill anywhere in the world, even if it involves killing a citizen of his own country. Today, it's in Yemen; tomorrow, it could be in the UK or even in the United States.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"'American Autumn' Will Depend on People, Not Parties" -- Margaret Flowers

I will be there on Oct. 6 in DC too and will blog from there as often as I can. Margaret is one of the reasons I am going. She is steadfast in the idea that we have to build a movement independent of the political parties. Hopefully this will be the start of it and I echo Margaret's invitation to join us. Linda

EXCERPT from Interview w/Margaret Flowers about October 6 Occupation in DC:

MF: A specific example of where October2011 differs with MoveOn and Rebuild the Dream is in the area of health care, one of my top priorities. The majority of people in the US support improved Medicare for all, also known as single payer. This is one of many issues in which the people want real change but the Democratic Party leadership refuses to consider real change that would end insurance company domination of health care. If you read the Rebuild the Dream platform, you will see that they have taken the single payer term "Medicare for all" as well as other single payer language such as the administrative savings of a Medicare for all system. It is not until the last line of their health care summary that you find they are not really advocating Medicare for all, but rather they merely support giving people the choice of buying into Medicare. This is essentially a public option which is very different from a national improved Medicare-for-all health system. The public option is the same thing progressive Democrats were pushing in 2009 that was rejected by the single payer movement because it fails to address the fundamental problems with the health care system in this country.

By using the language of real health care reform - Medicare-for-all - Rebuild the Dream misleads people into thinking they are advocating for single payer and fools well-meaning people into using their energy against their own best interests.

We've seen groups like MoveOn use these tactics before. They use progressive language or convince their constituents not to ask for too much and then compromise for the Democratic Party agenda that protects corporate power. This is not something to treat lightly. Tens of thousands of people in the US are suffering and dying needlessly each year. We are already spending enough money to provide high quality comprehensive health care for every person living in the US. We should not be protecting corporate power and political parties at the cost of human lives.

RB: It's probably hard to rebuild the dream when it's actually turned into a nightmare.

To borrow a metaphor from your profession, it increasingly seems that our entire democratic system is on life support at this point. Or, to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, the corporatist plutocrats riding the poor and middle classes into the ground are "in the saddle and ride humankind." The corporate aristocracy appears to be convinced that they've got us right where they want us.

MF: The October2011 Movement is about being independent, clear in our language and uncompromising in our call for transformative policies that are proven to address the crises faced by the United States and the world. October2011 is a people-led movement, not a top-down organizationally-led movement. If you look at the polling on a number of important issues, supermajorities of the people in this country support solutions that would address our crises, yet the politicians are going in the wrong direction on each issue. The people are making better decisions than the rulers. That is why we believe in creating a truly democratic society, one in which people have a voice in how our resources are used and have more control over the economy. We must have self-confidence in our abilities to make decisions about the issues that affect our lives. We are advocating an end to corporatism and militarism. We support policies that put human needs before corporate greed. And we invite all who support our call for a peaceful, just and sustainable world and who believe in the strength of nonviolence, to join us.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rich Totally Lose Their Dignity Trying to Kiss Dick Cheney's Ass -- Thanks Canada! Well done!

Start at minute 5:38 if you already know why Vancouverites were blocking the entrance to Cheney's book promo. 5:38 is when you see begin to see the wealthy scum's willingness to shed any dignity to get in there and snuggle with Dickie.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Occupy Wall St S24 Police Riot

The Age of the Reaper -- Pepe Escobar


The Reaper was not formally invited to the United Nations General Assembly annual bash in New York.

In ancient times, he used to be known as the Grim Reaper. Grim the wily fellow still is - always under many guises. Reinventing the concept of death from above, he may call himself MQ-9 Reaper and strut his stuff equipped with Hellfire missiles.

Or he may wear a business suit and incorporate the persona of the president of the United States.

Get me to the target on time
Barack Obama, from his UN podium, told the world, "Let there be no doubt: the tide of war is receding."

Neo-Orwellian spin doctors could hardly top him on this one. Referring to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's operation of bombing Libya into democracy, Obama stressed, "This is how the international community is supposed to work."

Virtually on cue, that usual suspect, a "NATO official", leaked that the alliance had just extended its mission to bomb Libya for another 90 days before the green card expired next Tuesday. Of course, the smart NATO bombs only recognize bad guys, and don’t commit collateral damage.

As for the "international community" - which now comprises only NATO members and Persian Gulf monarchies, to the exclusion of everybody else - it will still "have to respond to the calls for change" in the Middle East, according to Obama. Signaled targets, not surprisingly, were Syria and Iran.

And then, also on cue, the usual "US officials" leaked that the Obama administration was assembling what the Washington Post described as "a constellation of secret drone bases for counter-terrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula". Signaled targets, already engaged, are Somalia and Yemen.

As for the excuse, no surprises; it’s that same old al-Qaeda bogeyman. Once again, industrial-military complex "defense contractors" started uncorking their Moet.

Obama Tells Obama STOP! Stop Deportations, Cuts to Medicare, Funding of Israel, Drones, Wars, ....

11 a.m. at Paramount Today! Obama, Escucha, Estamos en la Lucha!