Posts Tagged ‘Obama

10
Nov
10

Well if Bush Can Get Away With It – So Can I

Our President and the DNC wonders how we lost so many House seats and did poorly in the Senate races; well maybe they should look back at what got them into office.  So far there’s really been “No” change from the Cheney Administration of “Law of Rule” as opposed to the “Rule of Law” from which we have always believed in.

Obama Administration Claims Unchecked Authority To Kill Americans Outside Combat Zones

 

Federal Court Hears Arguments Today In ACLU And CCR Case Challenging Administration’s Claimed Authority To Assassinate Americans It Designates Threats.

 

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration today argued before a federal court that it should have unreviewable authority to kill Americans the executive branch has unilaterally determined to pose a threat. Government lawyers made that claim in response to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) charging that the administration’s asserted targeted killing authority violates the Constitution and international law. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia heard arguments from both sides today.

 

“Not only does the administration claim to have sweeping power to target and kill U.S. citizens anywhere in the world, but it makes the extraordinary claim that the court has no role in reviewing that power or the legal standards that apply,” said CCR Staff Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei, who presented arguments in the case. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly rejected the government’s claim to an unchecked system of global detention, and the district court should similarly reject the administration’s claim here to an unchecked system of global targeted killing.”

 

The ACLU and CCR were retained by Nasser Al-Aulaqi to bring a lawsuit in connection with the government’s decision to authorize the targeted killing of his son, U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi. The lawsuit asks the court to rule that, outside the context of armed conflict, the government can carry out the targeted killing of an American citizen only as a last resort to address an imminent threat to life or physical safety. The lawsuit also asks the court to order the government to disclose the legal standard it uses to place U.S. citizens on government kill lists.

 

“If the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the president does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes is an enemy of the state,” said Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU, who presented arguments in the case. “It’s the government’s responsibility to protect the nation from terrorist attacks, but the courts have a crucial role to play in ensuring that counterterrorism policies are consistent with the Constitution.”

 

The government filed a brief in the case in September, claiming that the executive’s targeted killing authority is a “political question” that should not be subject to judicial review. The government also asserted the “state secrets” privilege, contending that the case should be dismissed to avoid the disclosure of sensitive information.

 

The lawsuit was filed against CIA Director Leon Panetta, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barrack Obama in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Attorneys on the case are Jaffer, Ben Wizner, Jonathan Manes and Jennifer Turner of the ACLU; Kebriaei, Maria LaHood and Bill Quigley of CCR; and Arthur B. Spitzer of the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital. Co-counsel in Yemen is Mohammed Allawo of the Allawo Law Firm and the National Organization for Defending Human Rights (HOOD).

 

For more information on the case, including fact sheets and legal papers, visit:www.aclu.org/targetedkillings and www.ccrjustice.org/targetedkillings

 

 

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

 

09
Oct
10

Unreviewable Authority to Execute Americans Without Charge or Trial

There’s a limit to what an Executive Order, by the President should encompass.

 

The Center For Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union today filed a brief in federal court responding to the Obama administration’s claims that no court should have any role in establishing or enforcing legal limitations on the executive’s authority to use lethal force against U.S. citizens who the executive has unilaterally determined to pose a threat to the nation. The groups’ brief came in their lawsuit challenging the government’s claimed authority to carry out targeted killings of U.S. citizens outside the context of armed conflict who do not pose an imminent threat.

Source: (http://goo.gl/XbTE) from ACLU Newsroom

 

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.

27
May
09

Afghanistan our New Challenge

600afghanistan_woman

icon_digg The war in Afghanistan has been in progress for almost eight years, two years shy of the former Soviet Union’s losing duration when they invaded the country in 1979.  Today, we are finding ourselves in the same predicament as they were some twenty years later, with the only difference being the stakes are much higher with the spreading battlegrounds reaching into Pakistan with its nuclear weapons potentially falling under the Taliban’s control.

Should we be there, yes – but unfortunately we have made the same mistakes the Soviet Union committed in assuring their failure:

  • The difficult terrain features Afghanistan offers to foreign armies
  • The ability of small numbered Afghan troops to quickly mobilize, strike swiftly and rapidly disperse into the general populous
  • Modern military technology is mostly limited to air support supremacy only
  • The appearance of armed foreigners in Afghanistan has always been met with arms in the hands of the Afghans.

This last point is perhaps the most important reason of why the war is dragging on and why the U.S. has not been overwhelmingly successful in conflicts such as this before, such as: Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia and Iraq.

The aforementioned conflicts, like Afghanistan presents itself, are fundamentally based upon religious differences among the populous and invading foreign powers, where political dissimilarities were secondary and ideological dissimilarities were a distant third.

We have all heard the saying “winning the hearts and minds”, which in my opinion is preached but never practiced; we as Americans are told this usually after our military leaders realize the conflict is going to be long and drawn out.

Our picture of the real social and economic situation in the country was insufficiently clear.

History should have been our textbook to use in the Afghan War!

As mentioned when the Soviet Union invaded the country in 1979 they in essence installed there own president, Babrak Karmal, as we did with Hamid Karzai with both presidents’ first steps rendering hopes for the problems facing their country being resolved with foreign aid and support. However, nothing new emerged and their policies that could have changed for a better attitude of a significantly increased portion of the Afghan population towards their new regime never did reach or as in today’s situation reach maturity.

Moreover, the intensity of the internal Afghan conflict continued to grow, and the military presence was associated with forceful imposition of customs alien to the national characteristics and feelings of the Afghan people.

Both the Soviet’s and our current approach did not take into account the country’s multiple forms of economic life and other characteristics, such as tribal and religious customs.  One has to admit that we as the Soviets essentially put our bets on the military solution while developing a counterrevolution with force.

As always we were acting out of our best intentions, trying to transplant the approach to which we are accustomed onto Afghan soil, and encouraging the Afghans to copy our ways. All of this did not help our cause; it bred feelings of dependency on the part of the Afghan leaders in regard to both the sphere of military operations and economic solutions.

The war in Afghanistan is continuing and our troops are engaged in extensive combat actions. Finding any way out is becoming more and more difficult as time passes.

President Obama is fully committed, as we should be, in winning this war; the reasons are straightforward and simple to understand:

  • To stop the spread of terrorism in the Eastern hemisphere and establish a permanent military base within Central Asia from which we can protect both our Middle East and Asian allies and our own vast interests in the region.
  • Insure nuclear arms in Pakistan are secure from radicals and groups obsessed in conveying their politically motivated messages of ideological concepts
  • Halting the flow of narcotics for worldwide consumption
  • Eliminating wide scale corruption in aspects of Afghan society

We must face reality in Pakistan; we have poured billions of dollars into the country with, in my opinion very little to show for, other than a much un-needed amount of political bickering and the simple fact the Taliban is gaining more control of the country than ever before.

Here again is our overall lack of understanding the people within Pakistan and as in Afghanistan talking about “winning the hearts and minds” but doing so in such a way to render us as invaders rather than saviors.

Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos all turned around their agricultural communities from harvesting drug producing crops to alternative methods of land usage.  This was not an easy task, but accomplished through government sponsored programs and education of the farmers.

Additionally stringent law enforcement was required, not necessarily on the farmers themselves, but more so on the distribution or middlemen and drug lords.

Today, production and the exporting of drugs within these aforementioned countries has been drastically reduced.

Corruption has driven the country since its inception and something that cannot be eliminated by a proclamation or two by the country’s top officials.  The elimination of corruption cannot be only approached from a typical top-down or grassroots approach of bottom-up; instead it must facilitate both of the following equally and in conjunction with one another:

  • The populous requires an education as to the harmful effects caused by a corrupt government and the benefits received from quick law enforcement.
  • Strong and courageous leadership who understands the needs of the populous and willing to enforce or institute corruption laws to protect not only the people but his own position in the government.

An excellent article, authored by Chak Sopheap for UPI Asia, entitled “Cambodia needs anti-corruption culture” details the current corruption problems taking place in Cambodia and the harm it is causing on the Cambodian people.  Well worth a read!

What’s my Point:

Lets stop by throwing needlessly money, bullets and bombs at the Afghans and Pakistanis by starting first of all; educating ourselves with the understanding of their culture, traditions and language or give up the tired old line of “winning the hearts and minds” of the people and simply conquer them, which is less time consuming and possibly less costly.

However we as Americans would be bound to rebuild their country in our own image, such as we did after World War II with the countries of Japan and Germany, along with Korea, after the Korean conflict.

I wonder what the international community’s attitude would be towards us, if we conquered Afghanistan and Pakistan?  Also, I wonder about the overall cost of rebuilding these two countries?

Reference Documents and Newswire Updates:

Related Newswire Stories:

Remarks by the President on National Security (pdf)

Press Briefing by Sect. of State Hillary Clinton on Humanitarian Aid to Pakistan (pdf)

Press Briefing by National Security Advisor General James Jones on the President’s meetings with President Karzai of Afghanistan and President Zardari of Pakistan (pdf)

Accompanying Video:

From Afghanistan

Photos by Scott Carrier from Afghanistan. Taken for his Harper’s Magazine article:
http://hearingvoices.com/webwork/carr…

Music by Eva Cassidy from her Live at Blues Alley
http://www.evacassidy.org/

19
May
09

The Torture Issue and 2010 Senate Elections

DS002449

icon_digg When reviewing which senators are coming up for re-election in 2010 (posted here) and comparing with this list of senators who were briefed on the CIA’s torture techniques (posted here (pdf document)) we discover the following senators should be given serious consideration of our vote in 2010:

Democrats:

  • Evan Bayh – Senator from Indiana (D)
  • Russ Feingold – Senator from Wisconsin (D)
  • Barbara A. Mikulski – Senator from Maryland (D)
  • Ron Wyden – Senator from Oregon (D)

Republicans:

  • Richard Burr – Senator from North Carolina (R)
  • John McCain – Senator from Arizona (R)
  • Richard Shelby – Senator from Alabama (R)
  • Christoper S. Bond – Senator from Missouri (R) (retiring)

Understandingly being briefed under the blanket of congressional confidentiality and condoning torture are entirely two different issues; it is still a voter’s responsibility to request the candidate’s feelings regarding their position on torture.

Additional Reference Sources and Newswire Updates:

Related Newswire Articles on 2010 Elections

Related postings on the torture issue:

Is There a Need for Abu Ghraib II Photos

What Makes Guantanamo Bay Special

Change Starts by Correcting the Past

Torturing Democracy – The Film

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Armitage: ‘Maybe I should have quit’

Richard Armitage, the former US Deputy Secretary of State, tells Avi Lewis on Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines why he should have resigned from the Bush administration over its lack of respect for the Geneva conventions.

From Fault Lines, a new show on Al Jazeera English hosted by Avi Lewis and Josh Rushing.

The first episode examines the Obama administration’s emerging policies on detention, rendition and torture.

19
May
09

Racial Profiling – Action Required

racial_profiling

icon_digg A number of social issues presented in both the Primary’s and General Election have been reviewed by our current Obama Administration; with some being overturned by the administration while others have been set aside and left as is.

One issue addressed recently by Attorney General Eric Holder and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), during Holder’s Confirmation Hearing, was that of “Racial Profiling”, which is a centralized issue I strongly disagree with and was condoned by, adhered to and practiced under the Bush White House approval and implemented throughout the Department of Justice.

We as Americans know it has existed for some time and have either seen it practiced or read about profiling during sometime in our lives.  We see it in local law enforcement agencies (traffic checks) to unwarranted data mining searches by our federal government.

As previously stated I disagree with this policy of categorizing groups of society by placing emphasis on associations or beliefs.  It was encouraging last fall to read a News Brief by the ACLU, entitled “Holder’s Statement Marks Clean Break With Bush Administration”, which in part:

In October, the American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern over controversial changes made to FBI internal guidelines governing investigations that allow agents to use intrusive measures without evidence of wrongdoing. These changes, which went into effect in December, opened the door to racial profiling. In fact, FBI agents are now able to use these same intrusive techniques to investigate potential participants in public demonstrations.

The following can be attributed to Mike German, ACLU Policy Counsel and former FBI agent:

“Attorney General Holder’s statement set a new tone that racial profiling is unacceptable in all situations. The Bush administration had lowered the bar by allowing the use of race and religion as factors in national security and border integrity investigations. Holder sent a clear signal today that the FBI guidelines for investigations need to be redrafted. It makes no sense to use an ineffective law enforcement tool in our most important investigations.”

The following can be attributed to Jennifer Bellamy, ACLU Legislative Counsel:

“Attorney General Holder’s remarks on racial profiling should shut the door on the Bush administration’s use of race and ethnicity in the name of homeland security. Now it is time for Congress to follow the example of the top law enforcement officer and pass the End Racial Profiling Act.”

An excellent article, again by the ACLU, well worth reviewing is entitled “2004 DHS Program Used Racial And Ethnic Profiling” where the following is stated:

In 2001, President Bush declared that racial profiling was “wrong” and that he would “end it in America.”In 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft said, “Using race… as a proxy for potential criminal behavior is unconstitutional, and it undermines law enforcement by undermining the confidence that people can have in law enforcement,” and his Justice Department banned racial profiling by federal law enforcement in 2003. That ban, however, came with an exemption for national security investigations. Today’s New York Times article shows how DHS drove a truck through that loophole just one year later.

“Despite President Bush’s vow to end racial profiling, his administration embraced it,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “This program confirms that racial and ethnic profiling are not only wrong, but they don’t work. The time and resources spent by DHS rounding up, interrogating and investigating innocent American immigrants could have been spent dealing with actual threats to our country.”

Again, recently, we have seen campaign commitments reviewed and some recanted, I sincerely hope both our President and Attorney General will hold true to their promises of eliminating the usage of racial profiling.

Additional articles on Profiling:

Online News Service: Racism in Journalism

Talk – King Downing – Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work

Talk by King Downing National Coordinator of the ACLU’s Campaign Against Racial Profiling on “Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work”




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