12 November 2005

Our Mothers (and Thomas Paine) Warned Us about People like the Disciples of Strauss 

How much more will the American people endure?

"Find out just what people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

---Frederick Douglass, African-American slave, and abolitionist

By Jason Miller

229 Years Later Have Passed and True Freedom Still Eludes Most of Us

In support of the brave and intelligent citizens of Vermont who recently passed a resolution to secede from the union, I decided to update and modify our Declaration of Independence to fit the circumstances we are facing in 2005. Despite the numerous distinctions between then and now, in some significant ways, little has changed. Like our Founding Fathers, I enumerated grievances of the Oppressed in my version of the Declaration, and many are similar to those spelled out in the original version drafted in 1776. Even the name of the lead Oppressor remains the same.

I realize this updated Declaration has no authority, and that such a movement towards independence from our corrupt plutocracy would require significant grassroots support and organization to be successful. However, I believe it is crucial to fan the dying embers of the American spirit of independence in a time of unprecedented apathy, conformity, and complicity in the crimes of our abomination of a federal government. George Bush is not fit to lick the boots of a man like Thomas Paine, yet he is one of the most powerful men on the planet. With the might of the US government at their disposal, he and his loyal minions have committed duplicitous, larcenous, and homicidal acts virtually on a continual basis throughout their reign. In a symbolic act of defiance against King George, and an act of support for social justice and human rights, I have signed my revision of the Declaration.

Thomas Paine was one of the few Founding Fathers who championed the rights of the "common people". Paine recognized the universality of human rights, which is why he has not been enshrined in the "American pantheon" with the likes of Washington and Hamilton. Were he alive today, he would once again be vehemently agitating for change as he caught scent of the overwhelming stench emanating from the seemingly grand epicenter of inhumanity rising from the banks of the Potomac River. In deference to Paine's spirit, I wrote this revised version of the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence of the Fifty Colonies and their Poor and Middle Class Inhabitants from the Imperialist Federal Government of the United States of America

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10 November 2005

putting a price on our values ..... 

‘Hameed Hassan sat in the remains of his car, next to his dead wife, & watched his four-year-old son begin to bleed to death.

The family had been on the way to buy clothes in Rawah's small market when the American soldiers opened fire. A helicopter gunship joined in the attack, cutting the car & two of its occupants to pieces.

Hassan's wife, Basima Taha, died almost immediately: his youngest son, Mahmoud Muhsin, was not as lucky. Hit in the torso, his abdomen was torn open, a wound that would prove fatal.’

How US Prices Death

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'bootin' scootin' scooter ..... 

‘Here's an idea, and I can't believe I'm the first to come up with this modest proposal, but why doesn't the U.S. government just go ahead and torture Lewis "Scooter" Libby? And not just for that ridiculous name.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has laid five charges against Libby related to the investigation into how an undercover CIA operative's identity was leaked to the press. One can only imagine how long it's going to take for Fitzgerald to lay out the evidence, to put witnesses on the stand, to build a case against Libby, and find out whether he lied to cover up for his actions or those of others at the White House.

Who knows how many other CIA agents may be outed while this case works its way through the courts?

Now, couldn't the whole process be expedited if Fitzgerald could attach a few electrodes to Libby's chest and then crank up the volts?

Some of you might find this position a bit extreme, but unless I'm reading the situation all wrong, this is exactly the sort of thing that Libby's boss, vice-president Dick Cheney, could get behind.’
If Cheney's For Torture, Why Not Use It On Scooter?

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same old carpetbaggers ..... 

‘Top executives from five of the world's largest oil companies will have some explaining to do Wednesday on Capitol Hill as they try to fend off attempts by some U.S. lawmakers to tell them what to do with their record profits.’

Big Oil Defends Windfalls at Senate Hearing

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08 November 2005

we don't do torture ..... 

‘At the end of a secluded cul-de-sac, in a fast-growing Virginia suburb favoured by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, is a handsome replica of an old-fashioned farmhouse, with a white-railed front porch. The large back yard has a swimming pool, which, on a recent October afternoon, was neatly covered. In the driveway were two cars, a late-model truck, and an all-terrain vehicle. The sole discordant note was struck by a faded American flag on the porch - instead of fluttering in the autumn breeze, it was folded on a heap of old Christmas ornaments.

The house belongs to Mark Swanner, a forty-six-year-old C.I.A. officer who has performed interrogations and polygraph tests for the agency, which has employed him at least since the nineteen-nineties. (He is not a covert operative.)

Two years ago, at Abu Ghraib prison, outside Baghdad, an Iraqi prisoner in Swanner’s custody, Manadel al-Jamadi, died during an interrogation. His head had been covered with a plastic bag, and he was shackled in a crucifixion-like pose that inhibited his ability to breathe; according to forensic pathologists who have examined the case, he asphyxiated. In a subsequent internal investigation, United States government authorities classified Jamadi’s death as a “homicide,” meaning that it resulted from unnatural causes.

Swanner has not been charged with a crime and continues to work for the agency.’

A Deadly Interrogation

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07 November 2005

in smelly dark corners ..... 

‘After the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA was eager to whisk captured terrorists off to secret locations around the world where its operatives could interrogate them out of the reach of the U.S. legal system and human-rights organizations.

But four years later, with about three dozen of al-Qaeda's most hard-core agents in CIA custody, America's new spy chief seems less enthusiastic about the leeway his operatives have had.

At a secret briefing for U.S. Senators on Oct. 26, a senior U.S. intelligence official tells TIME, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte was pointedly neutral on Vice President Dick Cheney's Capitol Hill lobbying to have the CIA exempted from legislation banning mistreatment of detainees. "It's above my pay grade," the spymaster said, then artfully dodged another question about whether the harsher interrogation tactics Cheney wants the agency to be free to use actually produce valuable intelligence.’

Outing Secret Jails

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the hypocrisy of our criminal values ..... 

‘Torture means the woman who was raped with a broken bottle, and died after 10 days of agony.

The Government has been arguing before the House of Lords for the right to act on intelligence obtained by torture abroad. It wants to be able to use such material to detain people without trial in the UK, and as evidence in the courts. Key to its case is a statement to the Law Lords by the head of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller. In effect she argues that torture works. It foiled the famous ricin plot.

She omits to mention that no more ricin was found than is the naturally occurring base level in your house or mine - or indeed that no poison of any kind was found.

But let us leave that for now. She argues, in effect, that we need to get intelligence from foreign security services, to fight terrorism. And if they torture, so what? Her chief falsehood is our pretence that we don't know what happens in their dungeons.

We do. And it is a dreadful story. Manningham-Buller is so fastidious she even avoids using the word "torture" in her evidence. Let alone the reality to which she turns such a carefully blind eye.’

The Reality Of Britain's Reliance On Torture

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06 November 2005

Proposed: that the United States shall not engage in torture 

On the Durbin Torture Amendment

June 16, 2004

I hope we can work on this tomorrow, and I will confer with the chairman on that aspect.

I come to the floor today to offer amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill.

The amendment would reaffirm a very important, long-standing position of our nation: that the United States shall not engage in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. This is a standard that is embodied in the U.S. Constitution and in numerous international agreements which the United States has ratified.

The amendment would require the Defense Secretary to issue guidelines to ensure compliance with this standard and to provide these guidelines to Congress. The Defense Secretary would also be required to report to Congress on any suspected violations of the prohibition on torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The amendment specifically provides that this information should be provided to Congress in a manner and form that would protect national security.

Floor Statement of Sen. Richard Durbin

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