‘Hypocritical BS’: Critics Slam Establishment’s Applause for ‘War Criminal’ George W. Bush

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By Jake Johnson

In a piece for Vice News, Eve Peyser argued that the “racist and authoritarian” policies of the Bush administration paved the way for Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House. (Photo: The Washington Post/Youtube)

“The Iraq War was worse than anything Donald Trump has done (so far).”

While media outlets and television talking heads were quick to applaud former President George W. Bush’s implicit rebuke of Trumpism in a rare political address delivered in New York on Thursday, many critics dissented from the chorus of applause, calling the speech “hypocritical bullshitand highlighting Bush’s long list of offenses that includes wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, an overseas torture regime, and “heinous” treatment of Muslims at home and abroad.

Bush delivered his remarks before a conference hosted by his foundation, which he convened “to support democracy,” in the words of the New York Times.

During the course of his 16-minute address, the former president lamented that “our discourse” has been “degraded by casual cruelty,” and that “we’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism.”

Bush also turned his attention to foreign affairs, noting: “We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places.”

“Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone and provides permission for cruelty and bigotry,” Bush said. “The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”

The former president’s remarks were largely greeted with positive press, and many echoed pundit Chris Cilizza’s celebration of the Bush’s “major smackdown” of Trumpism.

Others, however, saw Bush’s speech as nothing more than “hollow words,” given his long record of human rights abuses.

In a piece for Vice News, Eve Peyser argued that the “racist and authoritarian” policies of the Bush administration paved the way for Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House.

While “Bush never verbalized his Islamophobia,” Peyser notes, his “administration detained more than 1,200 people—most of whom were Muslims or of Middle Eastern descent—without charge, instead holding them as ‘material witnesses.'”

Bush may now be denouncing the “conspiracy theories and outright fabrication” of the present moment, but “the war in Iraq, which destabilized the region, killed hundreds of thousands, and helped give rise to ISIS was predicted on intelligence that Bush’s administration misrepresented to the American people,” Peyser observes.

The Trump administration is now simply building upon the bigoted policies put into place by the Bush White House and ignoring the former president’s “platitudes,” Peyser concluded

Others similarly criticized the media’s largely positive treatment of Bush’s brief emergence from retirement, arguing that such favorable press amounts to “rehabilitation” of a “war criminal” who helped intensify the bigotry and war-mongering he now claims to oppose.

Some commentators from major networks also sounded off.

MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes concluded simply: “The Iraq War was worse than anything Donald Trump has done (so far).”

This article was originally published by Common Dreams

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Crimes Against Humanity: The British Empire

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By Paul Gregoire,

First published by Sydney Criminal Lawyers and Global Research in July 2017.

It was the largest empire ever to have existed. And as the saying used to go, the sun never sets on the British Empire. At its height in 1922, the colonial power was lording it over a fifth of the world’s population and for many of them, the sun never rose again.

Under the policies of British colonialism, people around the globe were subjected to mass famines, atrocious conditions in concentration camps, and brutal massacres at the hands of imperialist troops. The Brits also played an integral role in the transatlantic slave trade.

Although the atrocities of the British Empire are well documented, the myth of the noble colonising power continued into recent decades.

The Migrated Archives

During proceedings in the British High Court in 2010, University of Warwick historian David M Anderson submitted a statement referring to 1,500 files that went missing from Kenya as British rule in the region was coming to an end.

This led the British government to concede that they had hidden or disposed of those files, and many others at a high-security facility north of London. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was hiding around 600,000 historical documents in breach of the 1958 UK Public Records Act.

The stash included around 20,000 undisclosed files from 37 former British colonies. Indeed, it’s common knowledge that as the British colonial edifice was disintegrating, administrators of the colonies were told to either burn their documents or try and smuggle them out.

The legal proceedings where Mr Anderson made his revelations related to a case brought against the British government by three elderly Kenyans who claimed they’d been tortured and abused by the colonial authorities during the British occupation of their country.

The British gulag in Kenya

The British first moved into East Africa in the late 19th century, and Kenya was declared a Crown colony in 1920. In the 1940s, after half a century of British occupation, a small group of Kikuyu people – the country’s largest ethnic group – formed the Mau Mau movement and vowed to oppose colonial rule.

As word spread, Mau Mau resistance grew and they began knocking off colonial officers and local loyalists. In October 1952, Governor Evelyn Baring declared a state of emergency, which held until 1960.

In 1964, the colonial army began erecting a network of concentration camps. Historians estimate that 150,000 to 1.5 million Kikuyu people were detained. Conditions within the camps were atrocious, and people were systematically beaten and sexually assaulted during questioning.

The grandfather of Barack Obama, Hussein Onyango Obama suffered severe mistreatment in the camp where he was held, which included having pins forced under his fingernails.

The British government, after being continually defeated in the High Court, agreed to settle the Mau Mau case in 2013.

On June 6 that year, then UK foreign secretary William Hague announced 5,000 survivors would each receive £3,800 payment, and he also expressed the nation’s sincere regrets to Kenyans who were subjected to “torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the colonial administration.”

The desecration in India

It’s said that India was the jewel in the crown of the British Empire. The British East India Company began making avenues into the subcontinent in the 17th century, and India was established as a Crown colony in 1858.

The British Raj systematically transferred the wealth of the region into their own coffers. In the north eastern region of Bengal, “the first great deindustrialisation of the modern world” occurred.

The prosperous two centuries-old weaving industry was shut down after the British flooded the local market with cheap fabric from northern England. India still grew the cotton, but the Bengali population no longer spun it, and the weavers became beggars.

India suffered around a dozen major famines under British rule, with an estimated 12 to 29 million Indians starving to death.

The Orissa famine occurred in north eastern India in 1866. Over one million – or one in three local people – perished. As the region’s textile industry was destroyed, more people were pushed into agriculture, and were dependent on the monsoon.

That year, the monsoon was weak. Crops didn’t grow and many starved to death. The colonial administration didn’t intervene as the popular economic theory of the time reasoned that the market would restore proper balance, and the famine was nature’s way of responding to overpopulation.

When the British finally got out of India, they simply drew a line down the map and partitioned the subcontinent into India and Pakistan. The move led to the mass migration of around 10 million people, and when it escalated into sectarian violence an estimated one million lost their lives.

A southern invasion

The British began invading Australia in 1788, under the pretext that it was terra nullis: a land with no owners. The High Court of Australia abolished the legal fiction of terra nullius in its 1992 Mabo versus Queensland (No 2) ruling.

It was a landmark decision, but not everyone was surprised that the court found that there were actually sovereign people living on the land prior to the arrival of the British. At that time, there were an estimated 750,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living across the continent.

The First Fleet arrived in the vicinity of what is now the city of Sydney in 1788. Around 15 months later, at least 50 percent of the local Aboriginal population was dying due to a smallpox epidemic.

Some historians put the outbreak down to contact with the Macassans from Sulawesi in the far north of the continent. However, others argue that bottles of smallpox were brought across on First Fleet ships, and the disease was then released, either accidentally or with clear intent.

Dozens of massacres of Indigenous people were carried out by the British right up until the 1920s. On June 10 1838, the Myall Creek massacre occurred near Inverell in NSW. This tragedy is well-known as it was the first time Europeans were brought to justice for such an atrocity in Australia.

At the time about 50 Aboriginal men were working for stockmen in the area. One evening the stockmen rode into the local people’s camp, tied up 29 men, women and children, and beheaded them. Seven of the perpetrators were eventually brought to trial and hanged.

Today, in Australia, the colonial legacy continues. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the most incarcerated population on earth.

As of March this year, there were 11,288 Indigenous adults detained in the Australian prison system. First Nations peoples account for only 2.5 percent of the overall Australian adult population, yet they represent 28 percent of the adult prisoner population.

A bloody trail

But these are only some of the crimes perpetrated by the British as they carried the greatest land grab the world has ever seen.

There were the concentration camps in South Africa, where tens of thousands of the Boer population were detained in the first years of the 20th century. The Irish potato famine occurred in the 1840s, leading to the deaths of well over a million people.

There were the torture centres in Aden in the 1960s, where nationalists were kept naked in refrigerated cells. When the Empire was facing communist insurgents during the Malaya Emergency of the 1950s, they simply decided to imprison the entire peasant population in detention camps.

And the list goes on…

Featured image from Sydney Criminal Lawyers

Besides torture, genocide & building walls, the U.S. has something else in common with israel-shooting children who throw stones

US Forces Shoot Two Afghan Children over Stone Throwing

US Forces Shoot Two Afghan Children over Stone Throwing


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Alwaght- Two Afghan children have been shot and wounded by US troops in the eastern part of the country after they allegedly hurled stones to armored American army vehicles.

According to a report by RT, head teacher of a local school said two of the eight pupils at a school on the outskirts of the city of Jalalabad in the Nangarhar Province were injured during shooting.

Saying that the incident happened at 7:00 Monday morning, the man explained that he “was standing at the main gate of the school where the pupils enter.”

“The Americans were patrolling the road. Then I heard firing sounds. Some of the pupils were carrying two injured schoolboys,” the teacher added.

The two injured boys, who have been treated by doctors at a local hospital, also shared their account of the events.

“I wanted to go to school. When I entered the school, some of our classmates took the stones and threw them at the US vehicles. Then they [US troops] opened fire. I got injured in my leg. My friend also got injured,” one of the boys said from his hospital bed, with bullets visible next to him. The children were saying that “the US should get out of our country,” the boy added.

Another child who received a leg injury claimed he personally had not thrown stones at the US convoy.

Saying that the stone-throwing boys “don’t know better because they are children,” the father of one injured boy pointed out that the US troops should have known better than to shoot at the boys.

The head teacher said the school condemns the incident and called for the government to “inquire about this case.” The US recently announced an increase of its military forces in Afghanistan, potentially bringing the total number of NATO occupation troops in Afghanistan to over 17,000.

U.S. Holds the World Record of Killings of Innocent Civilians

U.S. Holds the World Record of Killings of Innocent Civilians

By Prof. John McMurtry

First published by Global Research in July 2014

A world-renowned Canadian philosopher argues that the United States holds the world record of illegal killings of unarmed civilians and extrajudicial detention and torturing of prisoners who are detained without trial.

Prof. John McMurtry says that the U.S. government is a gigantic mass-murdering machine which earns profit through waging wars, and is never held accountable over its unspeakable war crimes and crimes against humanity. He also believes that the U.S. has become a police state, which treats its citizens in the most derogatory manner.

“I have travelled alone with only backpack possession through the world, and have found no state in which police forces are more habituated to violent bullying, more likely to draw a gun, more discriminatory against the dispossessed, and more arbitrarily vicious in normal behavior,” said McMurtry. “The US now leads the globe in an underlying civil war of the rich against the poor.”

 “The US can … detain, kidnap and imprison without trial or indictment any US citizen or other citizen anywhere by designating them enemies to the US,” Prof. John McMurtry noted in an exclusive interview with Fars News Agency.

 According to the Canadian intellectual, the United States statesmen have long supported dictatorial and tyrannical regimes and even funded and armed the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler in the period between 1939 and 1945.

 John McMurtry is a Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Guelph, Canada. In 2001, Prof. McMurtry was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada for his outstanding contributions to the study of humanities and social sciences. His latest major works are his 15-year study, “The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure” and three monumental volumes commissioned by UNESCO for its Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems entitled “Philosophy and World Problems.” McMurtry’s articles and writings regularly appear on different newspapers and online magazines across the world.

 Prof. McMurtry took part in an in-depth interview with FNA and responded to some questions regarding the U.S. project of the War on Terror, its military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the September 11, 2001 attacks. The following is the text of the interview.

Q: Prof. McMurtry; it was following the 9/11 attacks that the United States launched its project of War on Terror. The venture has so far cost the lives of thousands of innocent, unarmed civilians across the world, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya; however, the civilian cost of the Global War on Terror has been mostly ignored by the mainstream media and the politicians in the West. Why do you think they’ve overlooked the enormous rate of civilian casualties resulting from an endeavor which was purportedly aimed at exporting democracy and liberal values to the world?

A: In the US’s so-called War on Terror, by far the greatest and most systematic terrorization of civilians is in fact perpetrated by the US state itself. Unarmed citizens are murdered across the world as ‘collateral damage’, ‘illegal enemy combatants’ or other license of impunity. The US state conceives itself as above international law along with ally Israel, but this reality is taboo to report and so too all the killing and terrorization of civilians. One can truly say that “the historical record demonstrates the US is provably guilty of continual lawless mass murder of civilians across the world”, but the truth is unthinkable within the ruling ideological regime. Consider for example, the US-led deadly civil wars and coup d’etats in Venezuela and Ukraine as well as Libya and Syria. They mass terrorize and destroy societies into defenseless dependency so that their resources, lands and markets are “free” for transnational corporate exploitation. Yet the meaning is un-decoded. Ignorance is built into the syntax of acceptable thought.

Q: Many immigrants who seek refuge in United States from the four corners of the globe in search of a better and more prosperous life think of America as an absolutely free, democratic and open society with abundant opportunities for economic and social progress. However, you’ve argued, as many scholars did, that the United States is a police state. Would you please elaborate more on that? Do you believe that these immigrants and asylum-seekers are not told the whole truth about the United States or are somehow deceived?

A: Deception allies with ignorance. I define a police state as a society in which there is unlimited state power of armed force freely discharged without citizen right to stop it. While the men at the top always proclaim their devotion to the public good, an endless litany of crimes against human life is permitted by legally terrorist offices, central directives, and bureaucratic channels. Thus in “free and democratic America”, more citizens are caged than any country in the world, and over 80% have perpetrated no violence against [any] person. While the US accuses others of inhuman persecution and despotism, it holds the world records for caging non-violent people, for violent killings of civilians, for spy surveillance of everyone, and for mass murders of innocent people across international borders. Even kicking the tire of a VIP vehicle may be prosecuted as an act of “terrorism”. I have travelled alone with only backpack possession through the world, and have found no state in which police forces are more habituated to violent bullying, more likely to draw a gun, more discriminatory against the dispossessed, and more arbitrarily vicious in normal behavior.  The US now leads the globe in an underlying civil war of the rich against the poor.

Q: What’s your viewpoint on the recent laws and legislations that have stipulated limitations on the civil liberties of the U.S. citizens, including the PATRIOT Act of 2001, which was widely criticized and protested at? It’s seen as a discriminatory measure that violates the privacy of the American citizens and the foreign nationals traveling in the States. Isn’t it so?

A: The repression of civil rights by the US goes far deeper than violation of citizen privacy to which the media confine themselves. The Patriot Act together with other laws like the Military Commissions Act, the Defense Authorization Act, the Homeland Security Act and the Protect America Act, mutating to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, form a systematic curtailment of civil rights and freedoms. Spying on everyone across borders is the accompanying apparatus of the National Security Agency which has been recently exposed in its totalitarian global snooping and dirty tricks. Department analyst Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers summarizes the post-9/11 situation in the US as “a coup … a steady assault on every fundamental of our Constitution for executive government to rule by decree”.  What makes these new laws and licenses tyrannical is their selective suspension of established constitutional rights to habeas corpus, the right of the accused to see evidence against him/her, the right to one’s chosen legal defense, the right to trial without indefinite detention, and other rights of due process of law including to free speech and organization that can be construed as supporting “illegal enemies”. As to who these “illegal enemies” are, this is determined by the US president without legal criterion, proving evidence or verification required. The US can thus detain, kidnap and imprison without trial or indictment any US citizen or other citizen anywhere by designating them enemies to the US. This arbitrary power has most infamously instituted US presidential right to kill individuals and those around them at will by robot killer drones – all crimes against humanity and war crimes under international law, but again taboo to report in the mass media or question in international security meetings themselves.

Q: The U.S. government has traditionally supported the oppressive regimes that are widely considered as dictatorial and tyrannical. Some examples include the successive U.S. governments’ support for the regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and Israel. Isn’t such an approach contrary to the democratic principles which the U.S. Constitution is said to be oriented on?

A: Certainly the US has long supported dictatorial and tyrannical regimes. In fact US corporations and banks led the funding and arming of Hitler and the Nazis even during the 1939-45 War, and official US support of murderous dictatorships afterwards has been normalized since the CIA’s foundation in 1947. In the years since 9/11, US government has covertly directed funding and arming of the most destructive armed forces including jihadists, not only in the nations you mention, but in Syria and before that Libya, Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan and many much less known places like Mali. Ukraine has been similarly launched into civil war and escalated oppression by US-led destabilization, covert Special Forces, and local fascists.

Yet the US Constitution itself has no clear resource to prevent such international crimes, the founding US fathers themselves being mainly rich slave owners and leaders of the genocidal Western expansion against first peoples which England had forbidden in 1763. In fact, despite some stirring phrases without binding force, the ultimate concern of the US Constitution is the protection of private property and wealth at the top against the masses and democratic reversal. The ultimately governing value is profitable and unfettered private commerce, the “commerce clause” being the only way found to enforce the civil rights of Blacks. The opening slogans of “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” seem inspiring except that happiness cannot be pursued, life needs do not ever enter into consideration, and liberty without the means to exercise it is nonsense.

Bear in mind that Supreme Court decisions have further granted the constitutional freedom of private money hoards to control politicians, public speech and elections themselves. Transnational corporations which are the global vehicles of the world’s ruling money sequences have at the same time multiplying powers with no obligations, while other societies’ rights have been effectively erased by international trade treaties which recognize only corporate rights and strip societies of their economic sovereignty and public resources. Corporate rights to dominate public speech and elections have been twisted out of even the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protecting the civil rights of ex-slaves. In short, a near total expropriation of rights by Big Money has shown how anti-democratic the US Constitution has been made. I think that only the rule of life-protective law with the force of international law can regulate this global money-power dictatorship back into coherence with life support requirements now violated at every level, with or without a revolutionary uprising.

Q: Over the course of 20th century, the United States has been involved in several covert foreign regime change actions, and as the Foreign Policy magazine notes, it has toppled seven governments in the last 100 years through masterminding and engineering coups across the world, including the 1953 coup d’etat against the popular government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh or the 1973 coup in Chile that brought down the government of President Salvador Allende. Is such sponsorship of coups and regime change actions the characteristic feature of a democratic, peace-loving government?

A: There has been almost no coup or government overthrow since 1945 not led by the US. The examples you give of Mosaddegh and Allende are sea-changes of history in which elected, socially responsible and peaceful governments led by men of the very highest quality have been criminally usurped. This perpetual and increasing destabilization of other states and societies along with other gravely degenerate trends are systematically tracked in my 15-year study The Cancer Stage of Capitalism/ from crisis to cure. In the US itself, the three powers of supreme legislature, executive and court are now all controlled by the same money party selecting for the same full-spectrum predation of life and life support systems everywhere to multiply themselves. Yet still the long record of the US state and its oligarch allies destroying societies across the world is unspeakable in the mass media because they themselves are financed and advertised in by the same transnational corporations that demand the resources and territories of societies everywhere. The carcinogenic global causal mechanism is ever more evident and catastrophic, but not recognized.

Q: More than a decade after the 9/11 attacks, there are still several unanswered questions about the tragic event, including the origins and motives of the perpetrator, the role of foreign intelligence organizations in masterminding the attacks and the behind-the-scenes benefits of the attacks for the U.S. military-industrial complex. As you note in your writings, it was not Osama bin Laden who spearheaded the 9/11 attacks. Who is the real culprit? Did the 9/11 attacks play into the hands of the Bush administration to set in motion its lethal project of War on Terror and start invading different countries?

A: My recent monograph on the Internet, “The Moral Decoding of 9-11: Beyond the U.S. Criminal State” is a definitive answer to these questions. The turning-point event is laid bare step by step as a mass-murderous construction whose scenario is anticipated and contrived by US geostrategic planners with the official investigation completely concealing the basic fact that fireproofed steel infrastructures collapsed at the speed of gravity into their own footprints against the laws of physics. Moreover the first question of forensic justice – cui bono, who benefits? – is ruled out from the start, although every subsequent policy, decision and new power served the interests of the Bush Jr. regime and the US military-oil complex against the welfare of the American public and the world, especially Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran.

Unfortunately conspiracy theories miss the inner logic of the strategic event and the system disorder driving it. The official conspiracy theory is absurd, but every disbeliever in it is pilloried as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ – the reverse projection which is the signature operation of US propaganda. Always blame others for what the US does as the reason for attacking them. One might laugh at the same old propaganda psy-op and fabrications trotted out endlessly, but the terrible reality is the 9/11 construction has had effectively sabotaged international progress in solving the world’s gravest problems. It has dismantled the global peace movement that was reaching an historical peak in 2001 to stop US-led militarism after the Cold War. It has successfully suppressed world-wide uprisings against a US-led global corporate dictatorship despised and opposed by ever more citizens across America, Europe and the world. It has even formed the draconian laws and police practices needed to squash the world-wide environmental movement across the world at same time. 9/11 has, in short, vastly empowered the corporate money system devouring human and planetary life by falsifying opponents as “terrorists”. But who joins the dots of the Great Repression?

Q: Since its inception 66 years ago, CIA has been involved in numerous covert sabotage, anti-sabotage, assassination, propaganda, destruction and subversion plans against other countries, and during the course of all these covert actions, it has violated different internationally recognized treaties and regulations as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of these nations. Are these actions and gambits legal or illegal? If they are illegal, then why doesn’t any international organization investigate the crimes and hold the U.S. government accountable?

A: Yes this is a turning-point issue of the world. But the US record as a rogue state is unspeakable in the mass media because they are financed and advertised in by the same transnational corporations that demand the resources and territories of the world by threat of trade-investment embargo and the point of the gun of US and NATO forces. This is what the lawless but unnamed US reign of terror achieves – not only by war crimes and crimes against humanity, but by economic ruin for any society resisting transnational trade treaties and demands which recognize only foreign corporate rights to profit. If the underlying causal mechanism is taboo to recognize, unaccountability is the result. Blame is instead diverted to US-designated enemies – like Iran or Russia or Venezuela – and the society-destroying disorder rampages on.

In fact there are many life-protective international laws to hold the US accountable to, but every one of them is repudiated by the US so as not to apply to itself ; laws and conventions against nuclear weapons, biological weapons, chemical weapons, landmines, small arms, international ballistic missiles, torture, racism, sexism, child abuse, arbitrary seizure and imprisonment, crimes against humanity and war crimes, military weather distortions, biodiversity loss, and international climate destabilization. Yet this record remains taboo to track or publish even as the US demonizes others for “defying the laws and norms of the international community”.

The US and ally Israel thus violate the laws against armed aggression, occupation and crimes against humanity at will, but who even knows or cites the laws?  For example, when the US was about to perpetrate the supreme crime of invasion against Iraq in 2003 with no lawful grounds, no-one raised the issue at the Security Council, including the Iraqi diplomat there. As one who later debated on Canadian public television a leading US geostrategic analyst three days before the criminal bombing of Baghdad began, my statement  that he was “advocating war crime and should be arrested for doing so” was deleted from the live broadcast. The cornerstone of international law is thus silenced while the media go on calling opponents “unpatriotic” or “terrorists” – as in Nazi Germany. If law-abiding states do not stand and join for the rule of international life-protective law, there seems no end.

When it comes to gulags, the USA has taken over from Bolshevik Russia

100,000 U.S. Prisoners Are Trapped in Isolation Units

Alternet – by Bill Berkowitz

Portrait of a young man in jail
Photo Credit: CURAphotography / Shutterstock

A travesty of our criminal justice system.

There are nearly 100,000 people being held in solitary confinement today in America’s prisons. They are locked up in cramped, often windowless cells for nearly 24 hours a day. They eat alone. They exercise alone in small fenced-in areas known as cages or dog runs. They are almost completely segregated from the mainstream population and there are no programs available to them. Most aren’t allowed to make phone calls to loved ones. And they are often subject to extreme and excessive punishment, euphemistically called “cell extractions.” Robert Hillary King, an Angola 3 member who spent 29 years in solitary confinement, has called this isolation a matter of “moral depravity.”  

Forensic psychiatrist Terry Allen Kupers knows this moral depravity all too well. He has spent 40 years evaluating prisons and jails and testifying in class action suits revolving around prisoners’ rights issues such as overcrowding, sexual abuse and the lack of decent mental health treatment.

In his new book, “Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It,” Kupers describes how long-term solitary confinement destroys the minds of those imprisoned. He also explains how prisons became warehouses for the mentally ill, which set the stage for a 30-year boom in supermax prison construction and the placement of a large number of prisoners in solitary confinement.

Here, in his first extensive interview since the September release of “Solitary,” Kupers discusses private prison practices, the role of race in solitary confinement and why he does this painful work.

Describe what you look for when you investigate a prison.

I tour the facilities, noting things like crowding, gymnasiums converted into impromptu dorms, prisoners lying in their bunks in the middle of the day because there is nothing productive to do, excessive use of force [by guards] and filthy isolation cells. I talk to prisoners about the conditions and their medical and psychiatric treatment. I review cartons of documents, including prison policies, medical charts and reports of audits and accreditation inspections. I would like to talk to staff in depth about what they do, but usually the attorney general will not permit that. I have to learn the staff’s perspective by reading depositions they give in the case.

What role do you play in court cases?

I am a psychiatric expert witness, or sometimes I serve as monitor after the case is settled and I assess the state’s performance in carrying out the court’s orders. I testify about inhumane and unconstitutional conditions of confinement, including solitary confinement, inadequate or harmful mental health services and sexual abuse. After I have done my investigation, the county or state’s attorneys depose me under oath. Some large class actions are settled at that point. Some go to trial, and then I testify in court as a psychiatric expert. After I describe unconstitutional and abusive conditions and practices, I am asked what remedies I would recommend, and that’s when I have an opportunity to share with the judge or jury the proven effective alternatives to prison crowding and solitary confinement.

How do private prisons play into all this?

Private prisons are the sites of some of the worst human rights abuses. After all, the way corporations make a profit is to cut corners on staffing costs and drastically cut down on rehabilitative programs. Private prisons, which tend to be more crowded than those run by the government, rely a lot on solitary confinement to manage prisoners. They pay staff lower wages and provide them less training than in government facilities. President Obama favored moving away from private prisons and solitary confinement in the federal system, but the Trump administration favors the private prison corporations, especially in the realm of immigration detention. The stock of the private prison corporations rose precipitously in value immediately after Trump won the election.

What motivated you to get involved in prison work?

Back in the day, I was the physician for the Black Panther Party’s Bunchy Carter Free Clinic in South Central L.A. In 1971, COINTELPRO and the LAPD Red Squad attacked the Panther office—the building where the clinic was located—and shot the 13 Panthers sleeping there. I went to the L.A. County Jail Hospital Ward and demanded to see my patients. The conditions and treatment in the jail were horrid, and I reported that to the press.

How did you end up testifying in class action cases?

A couple of years later, the ACLU sued the L.A. County sheriff over unconstitutional conditions and inadequate treatment at Men’s Central Jail and asked me to be their expert witness. I went back in and this time reported the appalling conditions to the federal judge. The psychiatric community was just beginning to discover that a large number of individuals suffering from serious mental illness were behind bars. Once I learned of the horrors that regularly occur [in jails and prisons] I felt compelled to investigate, testify and generally holler about the massive abuses.

I understand there are 100,000 prisoners in solitary confinement today. How did that happen?

In the 1980s, prisons were overcrowded [due to] longer sentences and the War on Drugs, and they were out of control with a lot of violence. The choice was to either downsize the prison population through sentencing reform while upgrading rehabilitation for prisoners, or to lock up “the worst of the worst” in solitary. The powers that be decided on [the isolation option]. This was a historic wrong turn, and we entered the age of supermax. There was no improvement in the violence or gang problems, but there was massive human damage.

What role does race play in solitary confinement?

It’s all about race, of course. It starts with who goes to prison: While approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population is African American, over 40 percent of prisoners are Black. Latinos are equivalently overrepresented in prison. In terms of consignment to SHU (Security Housing Units), there is an unfortunate national trend to send White prisoners to mental-health treatment for the same rule-breaking behaviors that get Blacks placed in SHU.

Can you given me an example?

In New York, according to a 2014 study by the New York Advisory Committee to The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, African Americans make up almost 18 percent of the state population but nearly 50 percent of the state’s prisoners and 59 percent of those kept in extreme isolation. For prisoners under age 21, Black youths constitute 66 percent of those in solitary confinement.

In other words, the racial disparities and discrimination that permeate our society are multiplied and exaggerated behind bars. The racial discrimination of officers is well known, and that includes corrections officers.

Why are there so many people with serious mental illness in our jails and prisons, and why do so many of them wind up in solitary confinement?

With deinstitutionalization, the War on Drugs and the de-funding of social welfare safety net programs, a lot of people with mental illness ran afoul of the law. In prison, they are victimized or they find it difficult to follow all the rules and they get singled out for punishment with solitary confinement. Just about everyone in solitary develops dreadful symptoms, including massive anxiety, mounting anger, despair, paranoia, repetitive behaviors such as pacing, and, too often, suicide. When individuals suffering from mental illness are consigned to SHU, it exacerbates their mental health problems. They develop worse disabilities and prognoses.

What effect is the Trump/Sessions regime having on prison reform, and, by extension, solitary confinement?

Before Trump, there was a bipartisan effort to put radical sentence reform on the legislative agenda. Obama, [Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy] and many influential people were calling for a move away from solitary confinement, and we were on a path to reform. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions insists on the harshest sentences and Trump likes waterboarding. I worry that the progress of recent years will be reversed. The scenario that scares me the most is the detention of millions of immigrants in [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] detention centers, where the feds ask the states and counties to incarcerate the overflow and prison crowding returns with a vengeance. Correctional authorities [will] once again make the wrong decision and put a lot of prisoners in solitary.

I imagine that the correctional authorities insist they need solitary confinement to keep prisons safe. How do you respond to that?

Research shows no improvement in the violence rate in prisons, the gang problem continues unabated, and a huge number of prisoners are very damaged from their stints in solitary. Actually, prisoners who spend time in solitary are more difficult to manage after they are returned to general population, and that’s why the violence rate is not improved.

Tell me about some of the court cases you’ve been involved with.

I have testified in dozens of court cases. Among the most significant is Coleman v. Wilson, which was about mental healthcare throughout the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. This case resulted in an order from the Supreme Court to downsize the state’s prisons. Then there was Presley v. Epps, which was about conditions and inadequate treatment for prisoners with serious mental illness at the supermax unit within the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. And Ashker v. Brown was a case that came out of hunger strikes at Pelican Bay State Prison in California. It addressed conditions and due process in the SHU.

Do you think class action lawsuits an effective way to reform the criminal justice system? What about legislation and social activism? What is needed at this point?

Lawsuits alone will not change things, but they permit us to enter the prisons and assess the damage. Only with social activism, starting with calls for radical sentence reform and massive downsizing of the prisons, will we see progress. Some legislatures are responding to advocates, including prisoners’ families, and they’re passing sentencing- and prison-reform legislation.

https://www.alternet.org/activism/100000-us-prisoners-are-trapped-isolation-units

Yes, the israel Lobby drives U.S. policies. The parasitic enemy within

Source

aipac

IF AMERICANS KNEW – Every US president since Richard Nixon, with the Rogers Plan in 1969, has made an effort to get Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in 1967, not out of any love for the Palestinians, but because Israel’s continuing occupation of those lands, from the Sinai to the Golan Heights, was creating unnecessary problems in a region where maintaining stability of the regions’ oil resources was and remains a necessity. Every one of those plans was undermined by the lobby.

Yes, the Israel Lobby drives U.S. policies

 When reports of Israel’s siege of Beirut were becoming too much to ignore, Reagan asked Sharon to call a halt. Sharon’s response was to bomb the city at 2:42 and 3:38 the next afternoon, those hours, coincidentally, being the numbers of the two UN resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories. When Reagan, like Carter, also publicly called on Begin to halt settlement building, the Israeli prime minister announced the building of new settlements and sent the president a “Dear Ronnie,” letter letting him know who was making those decisions.

By Jeffrey Blankfort

Excerpted from “Yes, Blame the Lobby,” published by Dissident Voice, April 11, 2006

In March 2006, the London Review of Books published “Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,” an article by Professors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Steven Walt, Academic Dean of the Kennedy Center at Harvard University, two nationally known academic figures with impeccable credentials. (The authors afterward wrote an even more thorough book on the same topic.)

This article, critical of the Israel lobby in the US, propelled into the mainstream an issue that had long been confined to the margins. This issue had been avoided not only by the efforts of the Israel lobby itself, but also by those on the Left who prefer to view US foreign policy as being determined by corporate elites and who had long worked to prevent public awareness of the Israel lobby and its role in driving U.S. policies. 

Jeffrey Blankfort provided a detailed response to claims minimizing the role of the Israel lobby. Below are some of the facts that he provided:

Israel lobby critics do not deny US imperialism

Critics of the Israel lobby have no illusions about the evils of US imperialism that have and will continue to exist, irrespective of the lobby… Serious critics of the Israel lobby do not in any way exonerate the US from responsibility for its actions; however Middle East policies were formed under immense Israeli pressure. Israel and its lobby have pushed the US to launch policies that not in its own interest; US support for Israel has generated serious problems in the region, and has been costly in lives and money.

All presidents told Israel to end the occupation

Every US president since Richard Nixon, with the Rogers Plan in 1969, has made an effort to get Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in 1967, not out of any love for the Palestinians, but because Israel’s continuing occupation of those lands, from the Sinai to the Golan Heights, was creating unnecessary problems in a region where maintaining stability of the regions’ oil resources was and remains a necessity. Every one of those plans was undermined by the lobby.

Gerald Ford

In 1975, Gerald Ford, upset because Israel was refusing to disengage from areas it had taken in the Sinai during the 1973 war, halted aid to Israel and publicly let it be known that he was going to make a major speech that would call for a downsizing of US-Israel relations and demanding that Israel to return to its 1967 borders. Within three weeks, AIPAC presented Ford with a letter signed by 76 senators, from liberal Democrats to extreme right wing Republicans, warning him not to take any steps that would jeopardize Israel’s security. Ford did not make the speech.

Jimmy Carter 

Ford’s successor, Jimmy Carter, was repeatedly in conflict with both Israel and the lobby. Neither wanted the Camp David treaty but Carter doggedly pushed it through, although it required a multi-billion dollar bribe to get Begin’s signature. In 1978, before the treaty went into effect, Begin invaded Lebanon, hoping, some speculated, that Egypt would react and the treaty would be nullified since Israel did not want to give up the Sinai. Carter further angered Israel and the lobby by demanding that Begin withdraw Israeli troops from Lebanon three months later.

When UN Ambassador Andrew Young violated an Israeli demand and lobby-enforced rule that prohibited US officials from meeting with the PLO, (much like the lobby imposed rule about US officials meeting with Hamas officials today), he was forced to resign.

Andrew Young – When he told Begin, publicly, to halt settlement building, the Israeli prime minister responded by announcing the start of 10 new settlements while the lobby criticized Carter for bringing up the subject. When UN Ambassador Andrew Young violated an Israeli demand and a lobby-enforced rule that prohibited US officials from meeting with the PLO, (much like the lobby imposed rule about US officials meeting with Hamas officials today), he was forced to resign. When Carter, like Ford, was considering giving a televised speech in 1979 in which he planned to outline the divergence of interests between the US and Israel and denounce Israeli intransigence on the Palestinian issue, he was warned by the lobby, as one Jewish leader put it, that he would be the first president to “risk opening the gates of anti-Semitism in America.” Carter decided not to give the speech.

Donald McHenry – There was an exception to all those US vetoes and it came during the Carter administration. In March 1980, Young’s successor, Donald McHenry, also an African-American, voted to censure Israel for its settlement policy, including Jerusalem. The lobby was outraged and Carter was forced to apologize. The last straw for the lobby was when Carter called for an international conference in Geneva to settle the Israel-Palestine question that would include the Soviet Union. It didn’t matter that he was forced to apologize for that, too. In 1980, he received 48% of the Jewish vote, the poorest showing of any Democrat since they began counting such things.

Ronald Reagan

When Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982, both houses of Congress roared their approval, it being, after all, an election year. When the reports of the siege of Beirut were becoming too much to ignore, Reagan asked Sharon to call a halt. Sharon’s response was to bomb the city at 2:42 and 3:38 the next afternoon, those hours, coincidentally, being the numbers of the two UN resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories. When Reagan, like Carter, also publicly called on Begin to halt settlement building, the Israeli prime minister announced the building of new settlements and sent the president a “Dear Ronnie,” letter letting him know who was making those decisions.

In Reagan’s second term, he tried again to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict with what came to be known as the Shultz Plan, named after his Secretary of State, George Shultz. It called for an international conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who had replaced Begin, was having none of it. One cartoon of the day depicted Shamir sitting in a chair, cutting up pieces of paper while Reagan and Shultz looked on. “How cute,” said Reagan, “he’s cutting up paper dolls.” “Those aren’t paper dolls,” responded Shultz. “That’s our peace plan.” Another showed Reagan and Shamir sitting in armchairs across from one another with Shamir holding a smoking gun in his hand while a dove falls from the sky. Reagan says, “You didn’t have to do that.” Shamir’s intransigence finally provoked 30 senators, including some of Israel’s biggest supporters, into sending him a letter asking him to be more cooperative. They were hardly prepared for the firestorm from the lobby that followed that sent each of them stumbling to apologize. The Shultz Plan was effectively dead.

George Bush Senior

When George H. W. Bush succeeded Reagan, he made it clear that he wanted a halt to the settlements and for Israel to get out of the OT, as well. He arranged for the Madrid Peace Conference over the objections of the obstinate Shamir, making concessions as to the composition of the Palestinian delegation to appease both Israel and the lobby. Was this conference, like the one called for by Carter, like the one planned by Reagan just a charade? Before the conference took place, Shamir asked the US for $10 billion in loan guarantees. Bush made compliance with that request contingent on Israel agreeing to halt all settlement building, its agreement not to settle any Russian immigrants in the West Bank, and to wait 120 days, to see if the first two requests had been complied with. An enraged Shamir decided to go over his head to the lobby-controlled Congress.

After receiving a letter signed by 242 members of Congress urging the swift passage of the loan guarantees, Bush realized that the Lobby had enough votes to override his threatened veto of the request. This led him to take the unprecedented step of calling a national press conference on the day when an estimated thousand Jewish lobbyists were on Capitol Hill pushing for a swift passage of Israel’s request. In the press conference, Bush denounced the arrogance of the lobby and told the American people how much aid each Israeli man, woman and child was getting from the US Treasury. The polls the next day showed that 85% of the American public was with him and a month and a half later only 44% of the public supported giving any aid to Israel at all while over 70% supported giving aid to the former Soviet Union.

AIPAC, in the face of Bush’s attack, pulled back, but then launched a steady attack against him which began to be reflected in the US media where even old friends like the NY Times columnist William Safire would eventually desert him for Bill Clinton. Under tremendous pressure and with the election approaching, Bush finally consented to the loan guarantees, but it was too late. The Lobby blamed him for Shamir having been defeated by Rabin and his goose was cooked.

Pro-Israel Neocons

It is no secret that pro-Israel Jewish neocons have been heavily involved in creating the structural adjustment policies of the World Bank and the IMF. Indeed, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the Gulf War, is now the head of the World Bank.

Starving and then invading Iraq, threatening to invade Syria, raiding and then sanctioning Libya and Iran, besieging the Palestinians and their leaders must also be blamed on the Israeli lobby and not the US government.

While it was not well known, but no secret, that the Lobby played a key role in getting the votes for the first Gulf War, the reporting of which resulted in the firing of the Washington Jewish Week’s Larry Cohler at the behest of AIPAC inductee Steve Rosen, the orchestration of the current war by a handful of Jewish Likud-connected neocons with the support of the Israel Lobby was widely reported in the mainstream press. If there was a question as to who was the chief architect, it was a choice between Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Scooter Libby.

Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9-11 commission, admitted that the war in Iraq was for “the security of Israel”: but that would have been a “hard sell” to the American people.

The “Clean Break” paper that Perle, Feith, and Meyrav Wurmser wrote for Netanyahu in 1996 called for the overthrow of Iraq, Syria and Iran, which Mearsheimer and Walt mention. The “Project for a New American Century,”  was another document drawn up by pro-Israel Jewish neocons. The Office of Special Plans, set up by Feith and run by another Jewish neocon, Abe Shulsky, was directed to provide the phony intelligence that would justify the invasion when the CIA staff was not prepared to do it. Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9-11 commission, admitted that the war in Iraq was for “the security of Israel”: but that would have been a “hard sell” to the American people. And, as for implementing and maintaining the sanctions, the advocacy of the lobby was equally evident.

Lebanon, Iraq, Syria

In 1958, Pres. Eisenhower sent the Marines to Lebanon to prevent what was thought to be a radical nationalist move against the status quo, but the US has only invaded Arab countries twice, Kuwait in 1991, to oust the Iraqis and in 2003. The first required the assistance of the Israel lobby capped by the phony incubator story that was orchestrated by Rep. Tom Lantos, an author or co-sponsor of numerous Iraqi and Syria sanction bills and anti-Palestinian legislation. (According to the Jerusalem Post, Lantos represents Israel in countries where it has no diplomatic recognition.)

Israel and the lobby had anticipated that the Senior Bush would remove Saddam as called for in the Clean Break and when he didn’t they started criticizing him and planning for a future administration that would do the job and the record on that is very clear. AIPAC took credit for writing the anti-Syrian legislation that led to the withdrawal from Lebanon of the relatively small number of Syrian forces that were in the country and more recently the Lobby has been the only sector of US society actively calling for what is unmistakably an armed confrontation with Iran.

Weapons industry does not drive the policy

The Middle East is the only region where a stable environment is required to maintain the oil that fuels much of the world’s economy, including our own. The Middle East is also the only region where there is continued instability. The US has sought political stability, the kind of stability that provides a ready source of raw materials and an outlet for US products.

From the end of the Vietnam War to the beginning of the first Gulf War, the profits of the weapons industry continued to soar, proving that an actual shooting war was not necessary for the arms manufacturers to make windfall profits or the capitalist system to survive. Given that both US political parties are committed to what is euphemistically called “national defense,” there is no debate in Congress over the size of the military budget.

Other countries too prioritize national defense, and buy US-made weaponry, some of which may be used to quiet domestic rebellions, and some, like fighter jets, for national pride and kickbacks on both sides. It is only in the Middle East where a stable environment is required to maintain the oil that fuels much of the world’s economy, including our own, where there is continued instability, and this is the fault of Israel and its lobby.

Cuban Lobby

The Cuba lobby which is, in fact, more properly called the anti-Cuba lobby, not coincidentally, has a strong working relationship with AIPAC for their mutual benefit, but it doesn’t begin to compare with the Israel Lobby’s power although it has seen to it that Florida will stay in the Republican column. Of course, if Israel was a communist or anti-imperialist country, the Jews in the US would no doubt be like the anti-Castro Cubans, calling on the US to liberate it.

Support for Israel endangers Americans

Regarding the families of the marines, soldiers and sailors killed in the bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, as well as American diplomats who have been targeted in the region over the years: Had Israel not invaded Lebanon, these American servicemen killed in their barracks might still be alive, as well the members of the CIA who were wiped out in an earlier bombing of the US embassy in Beirut. Furthermore, without getting into the serious questions that remain unanswered about the 9-11 attack, it has been accepted by those who believe the official narrative that US support for Israel was one of the reasons behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. If the authors and others, including this writer have argued are correct, a significant portion of the responsibility for the dead and wounded on both sides in Iraq can be laid at the feet of Israel and the Israel Lobby, but the latter, in particular.

The US, as a country, is not loved or well liked anywhere except, perhaps, Israel. Much depends, of course, on an individual’s political consciousness, but most of the peoples of the world have had a love-hate relationship with the US, despising its policies but colonized by its materialism. The war on Iraq and the US voters’ re-election of Bush have put more weight in the “hate” column, and in Latin America, Bush has proved to be the most unpopular US president since they started taking polls. It is not unlikely that as the war continues and the US continues to make threats against Iran, again pressured by the Lobby, the degree of antagonism towards the US and US products is certain to increase.

Egypt

Israel has never seen the US as its master. Not a single Israeli soldier has shed a drop of blood for US interests and as Ariel Sharon said on Israeli army radio several years ago, the US knows that no Israeli soldier ever will. At the time of Israel’s attack on Egypt in 1967, France was the major arms supplier and the certain sectors of the US government were engaged with members of Egypt’s military. To describe the defeat of Nasser as a service done by Israel for the benefit of the US, is a both an oversimplification as well as a distortion of history. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1973 war, when Israel, under attack by Egypt and Syria, threatened to use its nuclear weapons unless the US came through with a massive conventional arms airlift, that US support for Israel really took off. So did the oil prices as an Arab oil boycott was implemented in response. Was the very real threat of a nuclear war, which would have brought in the Soviet Union, in the US interest? Was the Arab oil embargo?

Latin America and South Africa

Israel’s arms sales in Latin America and South Africa were done to benefit Israel’s arms industry and that they were useful to the US was a secondary factor. What the Lobby was able to do was keep members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including the notable Ron Dellums, from publicly condemning Israel’s arms sales to South Africa in violation of international sanctions, and to silence those members of Congress who were quick to condemn US actions in Central America but afraid to do so when Israel was the malefactor. That fear is no less prevalent in Congress today where any member can get up to criticize George Bush but none dare say a negative word about the Israeli prime minister, irrespective of who holds that office.

Jordan & Syria

Israel’s role in the Jordanian-Palestinian conflict in 1970 is always raised by those who argue for Israel’s usefulness. We are told that Israel was acting at the behest of the US when it threatened to intervene if Syrian tanks moved south to defend the Palestinians under attack by Jordan’s King Hussein and that this prevented the possible overthrow of the US-friendly Hashemite regime. This fits neatly fits into the client state scenario, except it is missing a key element. What was crucial in that situation was the refusal of Hafez Al-Assad, then head of the Syrian air force, and not a supporter of the PLO, to back up the Syrian tank force that had entered Northern Jordan. Shortly thereafter, Al-Assad staged a coup against the pro-Palestinian president Atassi and proceeded to throw hundreds of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian Syrians in prison and break up the radical Syrian-supported militia group, Al-Saika. This bit of history has apparently now been written out of history.

When Israel neutralized the PLO in 1982, it was appreciated in the beginning by many Lebanese, particularly in the south who found some elements of the PLO heavy-handed and were tired of having a liberation war fought on their soil – until they began to experience Israeli occupation for themselves and began to resist. The Israeli attack violated an 11-month cease-fire that had been negotiated by Ambassador Philip Habib and to which the PLO had strictly adhered. The Senior Bush, then vice-president, opposed the Israeli invasion and wanted Israel to be censured and was overruled by Reagan and Alexander Haig. A year before Bush Sr. was angered by Israel’s attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor and wanted Israel censured at that time, but was again overruled.

Israel did provide training to US troops on the techniques used to occupy and repress a hostile Arab population, only too pleased to have the US join it as the only foreign occupier of Arab soil which may have been one of the reasons the Israeli government (as well as the lobby) wanted the US to invade Iraq. With the US taking the same kind of harsh measures to repress the Iraqis, it would be less likely to complain about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and this has proved to be the case. Israel has been called by Chomsky America’s “cop on the beat” in the Middle East, but when military intervention has been thought necessary it has always been American soldiers that have done the fighting. In fact, US soldiers were sent to Israel during the first Gulf War to operate the Patriot missile batteries to defend the Israelis.

AIPAC 

Read our history and see what has befallen those politicians who have challenged the lobby and were subsequently targeted and defeated beginning with Sen. J William Fulbright who in the early 60s sought to restrict the lobby’s growing power. There are several books written by both supporters of the lobby and its critics that clearly demonstrate its influence as well as the tales of former members of Congress who were its victims.

Edward Said on the Israel lobby

“What explains this [present] state of affairs? The answer lies in the power of Zionist organizations in American politics, whose role throughout the ‘peace process’ has never been sufficiently addressed…”

Every two years, one hears or reads, regarding some issue that deals with Israel, that “the president” or “Congress” “is not likely to act [against Israel] due to domestic political considerations in an election year.” To a great extent, the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a domestic US issue. That the Palestine solidarity movement has ignored that fact is a primary reason that to this point in time it has been an utter failure. This should be a source of embarrassment and reflection, but it so far there is no sign of it.

There was another Columbia professor who had a more profound understanding of the situation who is sorely missed and, perhaps, never more so than at this moment. I refer to the late Edward Said. In his contribution to The New Intifada, entitled, appropriately, “America’s Last Taboo,” he did not mince words:

What explains this [present] state of affairs? The answer lies in the power of Zionist organizations in American politics, whose role throughout the “peace process” has never been sufficiently addressed — a neglect that is absolutely astonishing, given the policy of the PLO has been in essence to throw our fate as a people into the lap of the United States, without any strategic awareness of how American policy is dominated by a small minority whose views about the Middle East are in some ways more extreme than those of Likud itself. (Emphasis added)

And on the subject of AIPAC, Said wrote:

[T]he American Israel Public Affairs Committee – AIPAC — has for years been the most powerful single lobby in Washington. Drawing on a well-organized, well-connected, highly visible and wealthy Jewish population, AIPAC inspires an awed fear and respect across the political spectrum. Who is going to stand up to this Moloch in behalf of the Palestinians, when they can offer nothing, and AIPAC can destroy a professional career at the drop of a checkbook? In the past, one or two members of Congress did resist AIPAC openly, but the many political action committees controlled by AIPAC made sure they were never re-elected… If such is the material of the legislature, what can be expected of the executive?

Although it is trying, the Israel Lobby does not yet control our academics. On the critical issue of the lobby’s power, it is time they stop acting like it does.


Jeffrey Blankfort is former editor of the Middle East Labor Bulletin, long-time photographer, and has written extensively on the Israel-Palestine conflict. He can be reached at: jblankfort@earthlink.net

USA: We have to presume that the photos of Afghan, Iraqi prisoners being tortured still being withheld are worse than those we have already seen

Pentagon to release about 200 photos of tortured Afghan, Iraqi prisoners

NOVANEWS

RT 

Pentagon will publish 198 photos of tortured detainees in the US prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan on Friday, a top American civil rights group said. The release comes after a decade-long lawsuit ended in the group’s favor in March.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, announced on Wednesday that the US Department of Defense (DoD) would provide public access to previously disclosed images of prisoners being tortured in US detention centers after more than 10 years of staunch resistance to do so.

The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding the government to reveal records, including photos of the alleged abuse of prisoners by US officers in the American detention facilities overseas back in 2004.

Despite President Obama’s initial promise to release the requested materials back in 2009, he then urged Congress to pass a special exemption clause to block the release of photos citing security reasons, adding that the publication of the photos “would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by small number of individuals” and would “further inflame anti-American opinion and put our troops in great danger.”

After a long-running court battle, the US District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that the government should “disclose each and all the photographs” referring to the ACLU’s lawsuit in last March.

However, only about 200 images out of some 2,100 pictures will be released on Friday. The major part of the evidence comprising approximately 1,900 photos will remain concealed after US Defense Secretary Ash Carter had invoked his authority under 2009 exemption provision last November.

“I have determined that public disclosure of any of the photographs would endanger citizens of the United States, members of the United States Armed Forces, or employees of the United States Government deployed outside the United States,” he wrote in the certification renewal in support of his decision to appeal the ruling on November 7.

Yet the Pentagon has made some minor concessions in the case with Carter refusing to extend his certification to 198 photographs which are now being processed for release. However, Carter didn’t explain the difference between this series of photos and those remain withheld from the public domain, according to Politico.

The still-classified images consist of collection of photographs taken by the DoD in the period from September 11, 2001 to January 22, 2009 and relate to the treatment of “engaged, captured or detained individuals”, according to the court documents.

The ACLU said it would insist on releasing the whole package of documents. The last major scandal in connection with the release of photos and footages depicting scenes of prisoners’ abuse and humiliation by the American soldiers in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq broke out in 2004. The exposure of horrendous human right violations in the detention center prompted authorities to launch an investigation into the matter as a result of which 11 soldiers accused of sexual abuse in martial trials were incarcerated.

The notorious prison was used for detention purposes by US-led coalition in Iraq until 2006 when the US government handed control over prison to the local authorities. The prison ceased functioning in 2014.

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