Posts Tagged ‘Iraq

06
Nov
10

Secrets

Doug Liman Talks “Fair Game”

Source: (http://goo.gl/Q72NY) by Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director, Center for Democracy

Which secrets should be kept, and which should be exposed? Those questions are at the heart of Doug Liman’s new film, Fair Game, which tells the story of Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. Joe Wilson, remember, was the former U.S. diplomat who exposed one of the many false claims made by the Bush administration in the lead-up to the war in Iraq. Valerie Plame is Wilson’s wife, a covert CIA operative whose identity the Bush administration disclosed to reporters in an effort to retaliate against Wilson.

The film is about Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, but it’s also about secrecy. The Bush administration gathers evidence to support its claim that Iraq presents an imminent threat to the United States and its allies. The intelligence is manipulated, and the evidence is false, but the public is told only the rotten conclusion — that Iraq has sought yellowcake uranium from Niger — and the public is of course not in any position to evaluate that claim, because the evidence to support it is secret. Joe Wilson exposes the truth; he pierces the secrecy that conceals government misconduct. He’s a whistleblower in the best sense of the word.

But of course Joe Wilson isn’t the only one in the film who pierces secrecy. When Joe Wilson exposes the truth about the yellowcake claim, the Bush administration decides to discredit him by exposing the truth about his wife. Joe Wilson has a secret, too, and the government exposes it. Lewis Libby and Karl Rove are whistleblowers in a different sense of the world. When they pierce secrecy, it is an extension of government misconduct that they’re already engaged in.

There’s a sense in which these two narratives — or these two sides of Liman’s narrative — are emblematic of twin political shifts that have taken place over the last decade years. The public knows less and less about government policy; government secrecy is increasingly the norm, and transparency the exception. At the same time, the government knows more and more about individual citizens; government surveillance is increasingly pervasive, and increasingly intrusive. These twin shifts reverse the proper relationship between a democratic government and its citizens. It’s supposed to be the government that’s transparent and accountable to the citizenry, but increasingly transparency and accountability work only in the other direction.

As government secrecy has become the norm, particularly on issues relating to national security, we’re increasingly reliant on whistleblowers to provide us with information. Without leaks to the media, we wouldn’t know about the Abu Ghraib abuses, we wouldn’t know about the NSA warrantless wiretapping program, and of course we wouldn’t know about the yellowcake scandal. It’s worth asking whether this is good for our democracy.

And as government surveillance has become the norm, citizens are also more and more vulnerable to government power. Valerie Plame is an extreme case, because her secret was one that, when exposed, almost completely destroyed her life. But the government knows more and more of our secrets — at the very least, it knows who we call overseas, it knows who we correspond with by email, it has access to our banking records, our telephone records, our credit records, our internet surfing histories. With information comes power; in this context, the power to expose is the power to destroy. Here, too, it’s worth asking whether this is good for our democracy.

No one is above the law. Ask your member of Congress to support the State Secrets Protection Act today.

 

25
Oct
10

We Must Face Up to the Truth

It’s been overdue for some time now that we admit to the world we didn’t practice what we preached “Winning the hearts and minds” of the counties of Iraq and Afghanistan.  President Obama, a good leader, must have our Defense Department and Justice Department investigate these Human Rights abuses we inflected on the innocent people of these countries.

Iraq: Wikileaks Documents Describe Torture of Detainees

Source: (http://goo.gl/CPrg) – from United States

The Iraqi government should investigate credible reports that its forces engaged in torture and systematic abuse of detainees, Human Rights Watch said today. Hundreds of documents released on October 22, 2010, by Wikileaks reveal beatings, burnings, and lashings of detainees by their Iraqi captors. Iraq should prosecute those responsible for torture and other crimes, Human Rights Watch said.

The US government should also investigate whether its forces breached international law by transferring thousands of Iraqi detainees from US to Iraqi custody despite the clear risk of torture. Field reports and other documents released by Wikileaks reveal that US forces often failed to intervene to prevent torture and continued to transfer detainees to Iraqi custody despite the fact that they knew or should have known that torture was routine.

“These new disclosures show torture at the hands of Iraqi security forces is rampant and goes completely unpunished,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s clear that US authorities knew of systematic abuse by Iraqi troops, but they handed thousands of detainees over anyway.”

The 391,831 documents released by Wikileaks, mostly authored by low-ranking US officers in the field between 2004 and 2009, refer to the deaths of at least six detainees in Iraqi custody. The reports also reveal many previously unreported instances in which US soldiers killed civilians, including at checkpoints on Iraq’s roads and during raids on people’s homes.

The documents indicate that US commanders frequently failed to follow up on credible evidence that Iraqi forces killed, tortured, and mistreated their captives. According to the documents, US authorities investigated some abuse cases, but much of the time they either ignored the abuse or asked Iraqis to investigate and closed the file. In one incident on January 2, 2007, Iraqi security forces took detainees to an abandoned house and beat them, resulting in a death. The report stated, “As Coalition Forces were not involved in the alleged abuse, no further investigation is necessary.”

Even when US officials reported abuse to Iraqi authorities, the Iraqis often did not act. In one report, an Iraqi police chief told US military inspectors that his officers engaged in abuse “and supported it as a method of conducting investigations.” Another report said that an Iraqi police chief refused to file charges “as long as the abuse produced no marks.”

The documents reveal extensive abuse of detainees by Iraqi security forces over the six-year period.

In a November 2005 document, US military personnel described Iraqi abuse at a Baghdad facility that held 95 blindfolded detainees in a single room: “Many of them bear marks of abuse to include cigarette burns, bruising consistent with beatings and open sores… according to one of the detainees questioned on site, 12 detainees have died of disease in recent weeks.”

On June 16, 2007, US soldiers reported that Iraqi forces interrogated and tortured a terrorism suspect by burning him with chemicals or acid and cutting off his fingers. According to the Wikileaks file, “Victim received extensive medical care at the Mosul General Hospital resulting in amputation of his right leg below the knee[,] several toes on his left foot, as well as amputation of several fingers on both hands. Extensive scars resulted from the chemical/acid burns, which were diagnosed as 3rd degree chemical burns along with skin decay.”

In a case reported on December 14, 2009, the US military received a video showing Iraqi Army officers executing a bound detainee in the northern town of Talafar: “The footage shows [Iraqi] soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him, and shooting him.”

In at least two cases, postmortems revealed evidence of death by torture. On December 3, 2008, a sheikh who a police chief claimed had died from “bad kidneys” in fact was found to have “evidence of some type of unknown surgical procedure on [his] abdomen. The incision was closed by 3-4 stitches. There was also evidence of bruises on the face, chest, ankle, and back of the body.”

On August 27, 2009, a US medical officer found “bruises and burns as well as visible injuries to the head, arm, torso, legs and neck” on the body of another detainee. Police claimed the detainee had committed suicide while in custody.

The disclosures by Wikileaks come almost six months after Human Rights Watch interviewed 42 detainees who had been tortured over a period of months by security forces at a secret prison in the old Muthanna airport in West Baghdad. The facility held about 430 detainees who had no access to their families or lawyers. The prisoners said their torturers kicked, whipped, and beat them, tried to suffocate them, gave them electric shocks, burned them with cigarettes, and pulled out their fingernails and teeth. They said that interrogators sodomized some detainees with sticks and pistol barrels. Some young men said they were forced to perform oral sex on interrogators and guards and that interrogators forced detainees to molest one another. Iraqi authorities have still not prosecuted any officials responsible.

Between early 2009 and July 2010, US forces transferred thousands of Iraqi detainees to Iraqi custody. International law prohibits the transfer of detained individuals to the authorities of another state where they face a serious risk of torture and ill-treatment.

“US authorities have an obligation not to transfer any of the 200 or so detainees still in their custody to Iraqi forces or to anyone else who might mistreat them,” said Stork. “The US should also make sure those detainees already transferred are not in a dungeon somewhere currently facing torture.”

At a Pentagon news conference on November 29, 2005, Gen. Peter Pace, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded to a question about Pentagon guidance in situations where US commanders witness abuse by Iraqi forces, saying, “It is absolutely the responsibility of every US service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it.” Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who was also on the podium, intervened and said: “But I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.” Pace responded, “If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.”

A reporter then asked Rumsfeld if it was his sense that alleged Iraqi abuses were not widespread. Rumsfeld responded that he did not know.

“It’s obviously something that the – General Casey and his troops are attentive to and have to be concerned about,” Rumsfeld told the reporter. “It – I’m not going to be judging it from 4,000 miles away – how many miles away?”

 

23
Oct
10

Our President can’t look forward on this issue any longer

I support the President fully, but this is an issue he should have attended to months ago and one Attorney General Holder had better be prepared to investigate without screwing-up or forever delaying in the court system.

Iraq war logs: UN calls on Obama to investigate human rights abuses

 

The UN has called on Barack Obama to order a full investigation of US forces’ involvement in human rights abuses in Iraq after a massive leak of military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.

The call by the UN’s chief investigator on torture, Manfred Nowak, came as Phil Shiner, human rights specialist at Public Interest Lawyers in the UK, warned some of the deaths documented in the Iraq war logs could have involved British forces and would be pursued through the UK courts. He demanded a public inquiry into allegations that British troops were responsible for civilian deaths during the conflict.

The Guardian has analysed the 400,000 documents, the biggest leak inUS military history, and found 15,000 previously unreported civilian deaths. The logs show how US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and generally unpunished.

Nowak said that if the files released through WikiLeaks pointed to clear violations of the UN Convention Against Torture the Obama administration had a clear obligation to investigate them.

The logs paint a disturbing picture of the relationship between US and Iraqi forces. Nowak said that UN human rights agreements obliged states to criminalise every form of torture, whether directly or indirectly, and to investigate any allegations of abuse.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Nowak, who has spent years investigating allegations of US participation in extraordinary rendition and the abuse of detainees held by coalition forces, said the Obama administration had a legal and moral obligation to fully investigate credible claims of US forces’ complicity in torture.

A failure to investigate, Nowak suggested, would be a failure of the Obama government to recognise its obligations under international law. He said the principle of “non-refoulement” prohibited states from transferring detainees to other countries that could pose a risk to their personal safety.

The documents, which cover the period in Iraq from 2004 onwards, have prompted claims that this principle has not been observed. The files contain evidence that US forces were ordered to turn a blind eye to abuses committed by the Iraqi authorities.

Numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee’s apparent death.

Nowak said the US had an obligation “whenever they expel, extradite or hand over any detainees to the authorities of another state to assess whether or not these individuals are under specific risk of torture. If this assessment is not done, or authorities hand over detainees knowing there is a serious risk of them being subjected to torture, they violate article 3 of the UN convention that precludes torture.”

Nowak said it would be up to the Obama administration to launch an “independent and objective” investigation with a view not only to “bring the perpetrators to justice but also to provide the victims with adequate remedy and reparation”.

He noted that neither the US nor Iraq had ratified the international criminal convention that would see officials from either country brought before the international courts for war crimes. It would be up to the US courts to determine whether US officials or soldiers had breached human rights laws. “If it is established that a particular individual is responsible for torture directly or by complicity, this person should be brought to justice in the domestic courts,” Nowak said.

As recently as December the Americans were passed a video apparently showing Iraqi army officers executing a prisoner in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. The log states: “The footage shows approximately 12 Iraqi army soldiers. Ten IA soldiers were talking to one another while two soldiers held the detainee. The detainee had his hands bound … The footage shows the IA soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him and shooting him.”

The report named at least one perpetrator and was passed to coalition forces. But the logs reveal that the coalition has a formal policy of ignoring such allegations. They record “no investigation is necessary” and simply pass reports to the same Iraqi units implicated in the violence. By contrast all allegations involving coalition forces are subject to formal inquiries. Some cases of alleged abuse by UK and US troops are detailed in the logs.

In two Iraqi cases postmortems revealed evidence of death by torture. On 27 August 2009 a US medical officer found “bruises and burns as well as visible injuries to the head, arm, torso, legs and neck” on the body of one man claimed by police to have killed himself. On 3 December 2008 another detainee, said by police to have died of “bad kidneys”, was found to have “evidence of some type of unknown surgical procedure on [his] abdomen”.

A Pentagon spokesman told the New York Times this week that under its procedure, when reports of Iraqi abuse were received the US military “notifies the responsible government of Iraq agency or ministry for investigation and follow-up”.

Shiner has told a press conference organised by WikiLeaks in London today that he plans to use material from the logs in court to try to force the UK to hold a public inquiry into the unlawful killing of Iraqi civilians.

Shiner warned that it would be wrong to assume the US military files “had nothing to do with the UK”. He said: “Some have been killed by indiscriminate attacks on civilians or the unjustified use of lethal force. Others have been killed in custody by UK forces and no one knows how many Iraqis lost their lives while held in British detention facilities.

“If unjustified or unlawful force has been used, prosecutions for those responsible must follow, so we are bringing forward a new case seeking accountability for all unlawful deaths and we argue that there must be a judicial inquiry to fully investigate UK responsibility for civilian deaths in Iraq.”

He cited one case in which he claimed a British rifleman had shot dead an eight-year-old girl who was playing in the street in Basra. “For some reason the tank stopped at the end of the street, she’s there in her yellow dress, a rifleman pops up and blows her away,” he said.

The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, told the press conference that the disclosure of the secret files was about getting to the truth of the Iraq conflict.

“We hope to correct some of that attack on the truth that occurred before the war, during the war, and which has continued since the war officially concluded. While I am not sure we have achieved the maximum possible [political impact], I think we are getting pretty close.”

Assange highlighted how the reports documented 109,000 deaths – including 66,000 civilians, of which 15,000 were previously undocumented. “That tremendous scale should not make us blind to the small human scale in this material. It is the deaths of one and two people per event that killed the overwhelming number of people in Iraq.”

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.

Source: (http://goo.gl/wI4sDavid Batty and Jamie Doward guardian.co.uk, Saturday 23 October 2010 13.41 BST

 

04
Sep
10

Endless War

A book well to consider reading about how “We as American people have changed in our attitude towards war”.

Bacevich is singularly withering on American public willingness to ignore those who do their fighting for them. He warns of “the evisceration of civic culture that results when a small praetorian guard shoulders the burden of waging perpetual war, while the great majority of citizens purport to revere its members, even as they ignore or profit from their service.” Here he has a particular right to be heard: on May 13, 2007, his son Andrew J. Bacevich Jr., an Army first lieutenant, was killed on combat patrol in Iraq. Bacevich does not discuss his tragic loss here, but wrote devastatingly about it at the time in The Washington Post: “Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.’s life is priceless. Don’t believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier’s life: I’ve been handed the check”.

Endless War

Source: NYT (http://goo.gl/hj3y)

02
Jun
09

Fiscal Discipline and the State and Defense Departments

CapitolBuilding

icon_digg  At the beginning of  May President Obama announced an across the board budget reduction for each federal department and a complete revamping of overdue change in the way Washington typically does business.  Throughout all forms of media we learned of the fifteen different departments, including the the overly expensive “Defense Department” revising and slashing their respective budgets as directed by the president.

Personally of course I do not possess the ability to carefully analyze, digest and render judgment on each department’s cost reductions and understand there value to the overall needs of there justifications.  However, the two budgets of most interest were the State and Defense Departments. The State Department in regards to Central Asia and the DoD’s as it  pertains to Iraq only.

It also requires mentioning that “I recognize the 2010 budget presented to congress was not of President Obama’s Administration, instead authored by the Bush Administration, which included numerous “earmarks”; regardless of this fact, my posting is basically unconcerned with the monetary size or the needless earmarks themselves, but only to suggest for consideration aspects of unfinished business within congress regarding the Department of Defense and the reckless “fat” that should be trimmed within the proposed State Department budget.”

Defense Department:

kbr_logo-smRegarding the DoD budget, I sincerely want to secure the recovery of all monies wasted and pilfered by KBR, the Army’s leading Iraqi and Afghan contractor who is linked to “the vast majority” of suspected combat-zone fraud cases that have already been referred to congressional and DoD investigators.  The total amount paid to KBR, for their services (or lack of services) by our government amounts to 13 billion dollars for Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Defense Contract Auditing Agency as found KBR’s contracts for awarded work, accounts for forty-three percent of the Pentagon’s total audited Iraq contracting dollars.  Furthermore, according to the agency’s data, thirty-two cases are now under current investigation.

The Army has paid an additional $83.4 million in added “bonuses” to KBR, despite documented accusations of its inferior electrical wiring work that was incorporated into military facilities and the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, which has been linked to the electrocution of at least four soldiers and one contractor (please review the reference sources below for details).

A Senate Democratic Policy Committee has determined that more than half of the aforementioned bonuses, $48.9 million, to be exact, were awarded to KBR after the DoD sounded an alarm in early 2007 regarding what was described as pervasive problems with KBR.

Let us not forget the Halliburton Company was the parent company to KBR where former Vice President Dick Cheney served as Halliburton’s Chief Executive Officer from 1995 to 2000 before becoming George W. Bush’s running mate.

While serving in the Bush Administration, some critics have charged Cheney’s received “deferred” compensation from Halliburton which represented a conflict of interest and questioned Halliburton’s winning of lucrative government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The contractual money awarded to KBR for work, unsatisfactorily completed, must be fully accounted for and returned before any additional contract is awarded to KBR.

State Department:

federal-reserve-smThe State Department is embarking on a $1 billion crash program to expand its diplomatic presence in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, which is another costly, long-term commitment in South Central Asia when this money could be used more effectively for other uses back here in America.

The White House has asked Congress for and seems likely to receive $736 million to build a new U.S. embassy in Islamabad,  with permanent housing for U.S. government civilians and new office space in the Pakistani capital.  The request also includes funding for two additional Consulate Offices in other regions of Pakistan.

I seriously question this request and needless spending for the following reasons:

  • Financial burdens on our economy still remain an issue here within the U.S., especially at the state and local levels.  Most Americans know and subscribe to the notion that there’s only so much money to go around.
  • Pouring additional money into any country without knowing what the political outcome may be or the final implementation of how a free democracy will best be served, is money unwisely spent.  Currently it appears as if a civil war within Pakistan (pro-government forces versus a Taliban backed regime) could develop over the next three to six months.
  • It behooves me to comprehend why we need three “Super Embassies” within the Eastern Hemisphere; Cairo, Baghdad, and now the proposed expansion of the Islamabad embassy.  Three large embassies located approximately within less than four hours of flight time from one another.

Cairo, Egypt to Baghdad, Iraq is 800 miles,
Baghdad, Iraq  to Islamabad, Pakistan is 1,600 miles
Cairo, Egypt to Islamabad, Pakistan is 2,400 miles

  • How are we the American public going to benefit from this expense?

This last point is of the utmost importance, since one of the primary reasons for the State Department’s justification of existence is to arrange and promote American business interests within countries.  How can this objective successfully be accomplished with an unstable and perhaps corrupt government in Pakistan.

Other major State Department projects are planned for an expanded embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan; and for consulate offices to be setup in the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Peshawar. In Peshawar, our government is negotiating the purchase of a five-star hotel that would house a new U.S. consulate.  Again, I wonder how this is going to go down with our thousands of already homeless, here in the states and aid our laid off auto workers desperately trying not to become homeless?

What’s my Point:

Tom-Serious-80x54After several of our embassies were destroyed or listed as targets for terrorist activity; our State Department requested much needed funding to enhance the security aspects of our embassies and consulates, which I agree, funding needed to be authorized and construction for security re-enforcement undertaken.

However, I feel there are defined limits to be adhered to and there should not be a blanket, coverall “card blanc” policy towards proposed State Department expenditures.

Our president who I believe comprehends the American people, more so, than any other president in the past thirty-five years has acted in a diligent prudent manner, requesting each of his fifteen departments, he oversees, to cut unnecessary items from their budgets.

This can be witnessed here, where the President as taken the following action (links added by myself for reference):

The programs in Terminations, Reductions, and Savings are ones that do not accomplish the
goals set for them, do not do so efficiently, or do a job already done by another initiative. They
include these ten:

  • LORAN-C, $35 million. This long-range, radio-navigation system has been made
    obsolete by GPS.
  • Abandoned Mine Lands Payments, $142 million. This program is now used to clean
    up mines that are already cleaned up.
  • Educational attaché, Paris, France, $632,000. The Department of Education can use
    e-mail, video conferencing, and modest travel to replace a full-time representative to
    UNESCO in Paris, France.
  • Los Alamos Neutron Science Center refurbishment, $19 million. The linear
    accelerator housed here was built 30 years ago and no longer plays a critical role in
    weapons research.
  • Even Start, $66 million. The most recent evaluation found no difference on 38 out of
    41 outcomes between families in the program and those not in it. Strengthening early
    childhood education is accomplished through significant investments in proven, more
    effective programs such as Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Early Learning
    Challenge Fund.
  • Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, $1 million. The Foundation would
    spend only 20 percent of its 2010 appropriation on the fellowships it awards.
  • Advanced Earned Income Tax Credit, $125 million. This program benefits very few
    taxpayers, and has an extremely high error rate: GAO found that 80 percent of
    recipients did not meet at least one requirement.
  • Javits Gifted and Talented Education Program, $7 million. Grants from this
    program go to only 15 school districts nationwide, and there are no empirical measures
    to judge efficacy.
  • Public Broadcasting Grants, $5 million. USDA made these grants to support rural
    public broadcasting stations’ conversion to digital broadcasting. That transition is now
    almost complete.
  • Rail Line Relocation Grants, $25 million. This program, duplicative of a merit-based
    program, is loaded with earmarks.

The efforts detailed in Terminations, Reductions, and Savings are part of a larger and longer
effort needed to change how Washington does business and put our fiscal house in order.

Rarely, do I agree with the media who have criticized the President for this small cost savings reduction or members of our legislative branch of government, who infer this is a small amount of the overall 2010 budget.  However, I feel the federal government should look again for additional cost savings measures and rescind programs and projects that may not be needed at this time.

I do hope in the coming four years both the Defense and State Departments act responsibly to fiscal spending along with both Congress and President vetoing  any and all requests for haphazard expenditures, at least until our country is relieved from some of its financial burdens.

Finally, consider authoring an e-Mail to both your House Representative and Senator, requesting an update on the status of where the KBR investigations presently are and your opinion regarding another expensive new embassy in Pakistan along with two new and additional Consulates offices in Lahore and Peshawar.

Reference Sources and Documents:

Newswire Articles and Updates

Defense Department:

The Use and Misuse of Reconstruction Funding Affects the War Effort in Iraq and Afghanistan

Senate Committee Hearing Contractor KBR Misconduct in Iraq (pdf)

Senate Document Questionable Contracting Practices by KBR and the Pentagon (pdf)

House of Representatives Committee Hearing – Statement Thomas Bruni KBR Engineer (pdf)

Senate Document Request to KBR – Blackwater Payments (pdf)

Department of Defense base budget for 2010 (pdf)

Department of Defense Organizational Chart (pdf)

State Department:

State Department FY 2010 Budget in Brief (pdf)

State Department Organization Chart – May 2009 (pdf)

White House:

Remarks by the President on Reducing Spending in the Budget (pdf)

Budget Fact Sheet (pdf)

Fiscal Year 2010 budget overview (pdf)

Accompanying Video:

The President Announces Key Spending Cuts in His Budget

The President discusses his budget reductions a change in the way Washington does business. May 7, 2009.

22
Apr
09

A Lot of Talk Finally Some Action

Call Centers - India

Call Centers - India

icon_digg11 During the Presidential campaign we heard numerous politicians expounding on their concepts on ways to retrain our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and fellow Americans workers who saw their jobs outsourced overseas.

Finally we have one brave Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania with a workable plan to introduce a new law that aims to pay community colleges nationwide $1,000 per student to retrain laid-off workers, which Casey says would come from existing funds already allocated to job retraining in the department’s budget.

In an article authored by Anne Fisher of TIME, entitled: “Tuition Help for the Unemployed Gains Traction” the following excerpts regarding Senator Casey’s pending bill:

His inspiration for the bill: Pennsylvania’s community colleges, 10 of which have enrolled 1,062 unemployed workers in free training programs this semester, at a total cost to the schools of $741,788. “They shouldn’t have to foot the bill alone,” Casey says. “My bill will encourage other community colleges across the U.S. to do the same thing.” Senate Democrats are working to build bipartisan support for the bill and expect to move it forward in the coming months. (See TIME’s special report on paying for college.)

A few states already have a head start. California, whose 11.2% March unemployment rate is the state’s highest since 1941, is rushing to funnel $415 million in federal stimulus money to 49 job-retraining centers. Most of the training will be designed to qualify people for jobs in infrastructure construction, health care and green industries like waste recycling and wind-farm technology. In Texas, legislators will vote next month on a final version of a 2010-11 budget, already passed by the state senate, that boosts spending on higher education by $1.5 billion. That figure includes $500 million in federal stimulus funding for workforce retraining and a $134 million state-funded increase in financial aid for students.

Michigan, whose 12.6% jobless rate is the highest in the U.S., with still more auto-plant closings coming soon, launched its “No Worker Left Behind” program in August 2007. So far the state has footed the bill — up to $10,000 per displaced worker — for 61,434 unemployed Michiganders to learn the math, technology and science skills they need to embark on new careers at companies like Hemlock Semiconductor, Dow Chemical and Dow Corning, which are investing and hiring there. Also in demand: the program’s newly trained nursing assistants, physical therapists and health-care technicians.

Hopefully Senator Casey’s proposed legislation will quickly be approved, in congress, since it won’t be long before our long awaited veterans will finally be returning home and will be in direr need of employment.

The following video concerning outsourcing is a revolutionary twist on outsourcing.  American workers have themselves gotten into the act of sending their jobs overseas.  For example; there are tasks, such as proof reading that could be accomplished overseas as well as it could be done in the office back in the states, thus allowing more time, useful energy and increased productivity to be devoted to other, more important tasks.  Give the video a watch it’s interesting.

More American Workers Outsourcing Own Jobs Overseas

The following video concerning outsourcing is a revolutionary twist on outsourcing.  American workers have themselves gotten into the act of sending their jobs overseas.  For example; there are tasks, such as proof reading that could be accomplished overseas as well as it could be done in the office back in the states, thus allowing more time, useful energy and increased productivity to be devoted to other, more important tasks.  Give the video a watch it’s interesting.

Update 05 May 09:

Gary Shapiro: American Brain Drain: Why We Need H1B Visa Immigration Reform
from HuffingtonPost.com by Gary Shapiro

America’s immigration system is broken. While most focus on illegal immigration or changing ethnicities of legal immigration, what concerns me is that we are losing our historic ability to attract and retain the word’s brightest and most entrepreneurial workers.

Silicon Valley exemplifies an American success story threatened by a shift in how we treat the type of bright foreign-born technologists and entrepreneurs who help make us great. These engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs build companies that create jobs and wealth in the United States. Of the 163,000 applications for H1B visas received last year, the law allows for just 65,000 approvals picked through a lottery system. H1B visas allow foreign workers in specialty occupations to work in the United States.

04
Apr
09

The Blinds of Justice are Lifting

justice

icon_digg3 A couple of months ago (February 2nd to be precise), I authored a posting entitled, “John Yoo A Tough Decision to Defend for the President” regarding the redemption of America’s justice system in wake of all the miscarriages of justice which occurred during the Bush Administration and in particular those pertaining to John Yoo.  Yoo was Bush’s lead legal adviser authoring legal memos concerning the treatment, incarceration and trial (hearings) proceedings of Iraqi and Afghan detainees.

Following up on my past posting I’ve learned others share equally in my interest of Mr. Yoo’s all encompassing ability of embarrassing our country in the eyes of the international community.  In an article posted within Hoffington Post, Mr. Martin Garbus, a Trial lawyer, authored an article entitled: “The Times May Be Changing” where he states some of the following excerpts:

Now six years after Iraq started, nearly one hundred days into the new presidency, more and more information is coming out about the involvement of the Bush people in Iraq-related criminal acts. The legal memos and the statements of tortured detainees are only the beginning of what will soon be a flood of information.

The legal machinery is starting to build, case by case, a rejection of Bush’s legal theories.
Today’s decision from Federal Judge John Bates of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia that those detained in Afghanistan will have access to American courts builds on the recent cases that allow Guantanamo detainees access to the federal court. Judge Bates rejected both the Bush administration’s view and the recently articulated view of President Barack Obama that habeas corpus is not available to imprisoned non-Afghans who are arrested beyond Afghanistan.

We are seeing a pattern in the Washington federal courts. The judges are not shying away from tacking tough issues. The concept that a man sitting in Baghram has a right he can enforce in an American court seemed impossible a few years ago. The constant rat-a-tat of the media, with pictures of the tortured prisoners clearly influences judges along with the rest of the population. Judges respond also when the president too set a higher standard.

Attorney General Eric Holder is the one who must start the criminal process against Cheney, Gonzales, Yoo and the others. He does not shy away from difficult choices, given backing that lets him know he is not alone. He can, and has, taken positions that are ahead of Obama.

Attorney General Holder’s decision today is easier than it was yesterday, and as more and more stories of brutalized prisoners come out, it will get even easier, especially with our President’s recent executive order of allowing wider windows to be opened to the public through the “Freedom of Information Act.

Judge Bates, and the judges before him, including the Supreme Court, have rejected the rationale of Bush’s Attorney General and supporting lawyers that gave the President “unitary powers.”

The public should let Eric Holder and the president know they support criminal prosecution of the Bush people.  This may be accomplished by contacting the Department of Justice here.




The Month in Review

June 2017
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