Levellers

Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Andrew Sullivan’s Open Letter to George W. Bush

I don’t agree with Sullivan’s just war premises, nor that the Iraq War ever met the criter of Just War Theory, not even initially. But this article, by someone who was, from 9/11/’01 to early 2004, one of Bush’s strongest supporters on foreign policy is well worth reading.  It is a devastating critique of torture policies and fairly good on the steps needed to extricate ourselves as a nation from these policies.  Take the time to read it carefully.

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September 19, 2009 Posted by | torture | 1 Comment

End Torture and Free the Innocent NOW

Bob Herbert’s column MUST be read.  The U.S. government (and, thus, all of us who are citizens), “detained” a teenaged boy years ago, tortured him, and kept him in various semi-legal prison.  HOW LONG  before he is freed? How long before we free all the innocent and try those who should be tried? When do we STOP the torture and the indefinite imprisonment?  How long will we allow the 3,000 innocent deaths at 9/11 be used to keep justifying things are NEVER justifiable?  When will we realize that WE ARE BRINGING SHAME TO THE MEMORIES OF THE 9/11 VICTIMS??

STOP. NOW.  It has to end.

June 30, 2009 Posted by | human rights., torture | 4 Comments

‘Nuff Said

doonsburyontorture

June 22, 2009 Posted by | arts, human rights., humor, torture, U.S. politics | 15 Comments

U.S. General: Prisoners Were Raped at Abu Ghraib

I’ve said all along that the torture the U.S. committed was more than so-called “waterboarding,” which used to be called “water torture.” Atrocities happen in every war and should always be prosecuted.  This is the first time in U.S. history, to my knowledge, that committing atrocities was POLICY! 

Now, a U.S. General, Maj. General Antonio Taguba, has said that the classified Abu-Ghraib photos show far worse abuse than we knew, including at least one picture of a U.S. soldier raping a female prisoner!!  Another shows a male translator (military or contractor?) raping a male prisoner!!  Other photos show such graphic abuse as sexual assaults on prisoners with objects, such as phosphorescent bulbs, truncheons, and a wire!!!!!

Years back, when Bush called the Abu Ghraib incidents the work of a “few bad apples,” Pvt. Linsay Graham Lynndie England  (shown in photos taunting nude male prisoners) claimed she was being punished for others’ crimes.  She spent 6 years in jail, but so far the rapists are free.  And now de-classified documents show that, far from being the work of a “few bad apples,” the Abu  Ghraib prisoner abuse in Iraq was the result of the “interrogation” program designed by Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, with the collusion of the Dept. of Justice under Ashcroft and the White House legal counsel with Gonzalez and Yoo, and first worked out at the prison in Guantanemo Bay.

THESE ARE WAR CRIMES.  They are war crimes designed at the highest levels  of the Bush government, possibly with the collusion of some high ranking Democrats.

DEMAND that Attorney General Holder appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute ALL who are responsible for these crimes!! 

Currently, in my state (Kentucky), a U.S. soldier has just received life imprisonment for rape and murder in Iraq.  I am glad to see justice done here. But this was a random atrocity of the type that so often happens in war (another argument for pacifism, in my view). It was not policy and not systematic.  The torture program WAS policy and not only the lower levels should pay the price.  Here is where I agree with Dick Cheney. He says he wants to spare the grunts “just following orders.” Fine. So, let’s indict the ones who gave the orders, INCLUDING CHENEY.

May 29, 2009 Posted by | torture | 6 Comments

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) Rejects Military Commissions & Indefinite Detentions

In a letter to Pres. Obama, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed support for the closing of the Gitmo gulag, and appreciation for the Obama administration’s continued rejection of torture and the many Bush admin. erosions of the rule of law.  However, Feingold rejected the use of even modified military commissions (Feingold and Obama both voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006) and promised senate judiciary hearings as to whether the Obama modifications brought these tribunals within the rule of law. (Feingold sees no reason why normal federal courts or military courts cannot try all the detainees or terrorism suspects.  Neither do I.)

Feingold also challenges the Obama administration’s claim that a few Gitmo detainees cannot be tried or released.  Feingold alleges that the very concept of indefinite detention (or preventive detention) without trial is “almost certainly unconstitutional.”  I agree. 

I’m glad to see the Congress (at least in the form of Sen. Feingold) reassert itself as a separate and equal part of government.  And the only cure for the Obama administration’s move toward the right (in the face of pressure from Cheney and co.) is to give pressure from the left.  But  this still falls short of the need for the D.o.J. appointing a special prosecutor to investigate and try all involved in Bush-era war crimes (or any war crimes since the change of administrations).

May 25, 2009 Posted by | civil liberties, criminal justice, human rights., torture | 4 Comments

Why Torture is ALWAYS Wrong

Bob Cornwall, Disciples of Christ  Pastor, church historian, and blogger at Ponderings on a Faith Journey, has an excellent case for refusing EVER to morally sanction torture or any torture-lite euphomisms like “harsh interrogation.”  Here it is.

May 18, 2009 Posted by | torture | 10 Comments

Prosecute EVERYONE Involved in Torture: No Exceptions

Look, I have no idea whether or not Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), OR ANY OTHER Democratic politician was informed about the Bush/Cheney torture program or whether or not they helped cover it up.  What the likes of Cheney don’t understand is that for those of us who are truly committed to human rights and civil liberties, this changes NOTHING about whether there should be a special prosecutor investigating and prosecuting these war crimes.  We demand prosecutions of EVERYONE involved and WE DON’T CARE whether there is an “R” or a “D” after their names!!

100 people DIED in this torture program, according to now-declassified documents.  I don’t care who gets dragged down.  We must clean out this infection before it kills our democracy.

And today, Speaker Pelosi claimed that the CIA has been lying about what it told her and when.  Now, whether you love or hate Pelosi, believe her or not, when the 3RD most powerful elected official in the nation, 2nd in line of succession for the presidency (if something happened to both pres. and vp), accuses the nation’s most powerful  intelligence and espionage agency of LYING TO CONGRESS and the American people, that’s a big deal.  Whether or not motivated by her own self-interest, it will frustrate Obama’s “Let’s move on, nothing to see here” approach.  Combined with the fact that ONLY Republicans are happy with his flip-flop on releasing the torture photos, this could, and I pray will, force the snowball to roll toward full hearings and prosecutions.  Justice is the only cure for our slide into fascism.  [Note to Pres. Obama:  When you change your mind about transparency, and civil liberties, and the people who defend your change of mind are Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), you’ve really screwed up.  It’s like being defended by Darth Vader,  Voldemort, and Wormtongue.]

Call your congresscritters and senators and demand hearings.  Call the Dept. of Justice and urge Attorney General Holder to appoint a special prosecutor.  Write your local papers and demand prosecution.  Put anti-torture signs in your yard.  Stand up for human rights and the rule of law.

May 14, 2009 Posted by | torture | 8 Comments

Bush: Torturers Should Be Prosecuted; Take Him at His Word

Here is what Bush said on Al-Arabiya TV when the Abu Ghraib scandals broke:

 

Now that we know that this was not a “few bad apples,” but a widespread program, we should take Bush at his word and prosecute everyone, including Cheney and Bush.  Write Whitehouse.gov and the Attorney General and DEMAND a special prosecutor.

 

Tell me folks:  The next time an enemy of the USA tortures one of our citizens, will we be prepared to let her/him off the hook as long as they DEBATE THE MORALITY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF TORTURE?   If your answer is “no,” then we must step up the calls to appoint a special prosecutor and investigate and prosecute EVERYONE RESPONSIBLE in the U.S. for the torture of others:  CIA, military, rank-and-file, bigwigs, regardless of party.

May 10, 2009 Posted by | torture | Comments Off on Bush: Torturers Should Be Prosecuted; Take Him at His Word

Torture: Prosecute Any Democrats Involved, Too

Let me be clear.  Some are claiming that none of the Bush administration officials will ever be prosecuted for ordering torture because, they say, too many Democrats were also involved. Some claim Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was informed about the torture program (and even the torture of particular detainees) back in 2003 when she was Minority Leader.  I say “Let the chips fall where they may.”  Appoint a special prosecutor, get a grand jury, and investigate and prosecute whomever is responsible. If there were bi-partisan culprits because the Bush admin. coopted Democratic stalking horses, let them face prison, too.  Torture is a war crime. Period. End of discussion.

If we fail to prosecute war crimes, we are, BY DEFINITION, a rogue nation which disregards the rule of law.  And we are immoral beyond belief.

May 7, 2009 Posted by | torture | 7 Comments

Sen. Dodd Supports Investigations and Trials for Torture

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)’s father was one of the U.S. prosecutors in the Nuremberg trials. He reminds bloggers in this youtube video that the trials were originally unpopular. Because of the rise of the Cold War, many people in Europe and the USA wanted to ignore the German atrocities in order to present a united front against the Eastern Bloc.  But when they saw the trials, the people also saw their necessity.

Dodd makes the comparison with the Bush admin. crimes.  We need the Senate investigations and then prosecutions says Dodd.  They might not be popular at first, but they are necessary.  Way to stand for principle, Senator. Your father would be proud.

May 4, 2009 Posted by | human rights., law, torture | 3 Comments