Saturday, June 21, 2008

Headline from Serbia could just as well be from U.S.

The headline and story: "Bosnian Serb police chief turned over to UN court" First some details from the story:

Jun 21st, 2008 | BELGRADE, Serbia -- Serb authorities Saturday turned over an ex-Bosnian Serb police chief to the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands.

Stojan Zupljanin was arrested in the town of Pancevo last week after nine years on the run. A Belgrade court on Friday rejected his appeal against extradition.

"Stojan upljanin was transferred today into the tribunal's custody, after evading justice for more than eight years," the court in The Hague, Netherlands, confirmed. Details of the transfer routinely are not disclosed.

Serbia has been under pressure from the European Union to turn over suspects to the international tribunal, which has charged Zupljanin with war crimes for allegedly overseeing Serb-run prison camps where thousands of Muslims and Croats were killed during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.

The EU has stressed that all the suspects sought by the tribunal must be arrested and extradited if Belgrade wants to move closer to the 27-nation bloc."
(Click here for the entire story posted on

You could substitute the name Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney or Bush, for that matter, for that of the Serbian Police Chief or former President Slobodan Milosevic, it is possible the same story could play out here, based upon suspected approved torture techniques from our government and played out in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

The question I put to you is this, do we as citizens have the courage to consider this request if it were made of us? Would we be willing to turn over any of our citizens to be tried in the World Court at the Hague in the Netherlands? We insist other countries do, as does the EU make similar requests, as they have in this example. We must elevate our morality and sense of justice, instead of entitlement, to consider these larger questions. I would love to hear from you as to what you believe we should do faced with a similar request from other governments or the U.N. Leave a comment.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More proof of U.S. War Crimes authorized by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld

From the headlines today, "For the most extensive medical study of former U.S. detainees published so far, Physicians for Human Rights had doctors and mental health professionals examine 11 former prisoners. The group alleges finding evidence of U.S. torture and war crimes and accuses U.S. military health professionals of allowing the abuse of detainees, denying them medical care and providing confidential medical information to interrogators that they then exploited.

"Some of these men really are, several years later, very severely scarred," said Barry Rosenfeld, a psychology professor at Fordham University who conducted psychological tests on six of the 11 detainees covered by the study. "It's a testimony to how bad those conditions were and how personal the abuse was."

One Iraqi prisoner, identified only as Yasser, reported being subjected to electric shocks three times and being sodomized with a stick. His thumbs bore round scars consistent with shocking, according to the report obtained by The Associated Press. He would not allow a full rectal exam."
To read the complete story click here.

The World is building a case against Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld for War Crimes while the Congress finally took the first steps to impeach the President & Vice President when Rep. Dennis Kucinich read the Articles of Impeachment on the floor of Congress last week. We have been a little late to this party as a nation of free people, but the world has been moving forward steadily.

The day will come in the next few years under a Barack Obama or John McCain Presidency, when we will be asked to hand these individuals over to the World Court to be held on War Crimes charges. Under a McCain Presidency, we would never even consider this as it would be declared not to have jurisdiction over any U.S. citizen. An Obama Presidency would also be pressed to turn over at least Rumsfeld to the World Court. My hope would be that we would have a different kind of politic and Presidency under Obama and that he would give this request serious consideration and would consider this to heal the rift of the World community with the U.S. But remember this, the time is coming and as a nation we must consider this option, especially if we ask every other country in the world to hand over their suspected War Criminals to the World Court.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Headline reads: Officials warned about harsh interrogation

According to this news story, "Military psychologists were enlisted to help develop more aggressive interrogation methods, including snarling dogs, forced nudity and long periods of standing, against terrorism suspects.

Before they were approved by then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, such harsh techniques had drawn warnings from military lawyers that they could be illegal, an investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee has found. Officials familiar with the findings discussed them on condition of anonymity because the information has not been formally released.

The psychologists who helped interrogate terror suspects for the CIA were set to testify Tuesday before the Senate committee, which was expected to release details of the investigation.

The hearing is the committee's first look at the origins of the harsher methods used in Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and Abu Ghraib in Iraq and how policy decisions on interrogations were vetted across the Defense Department. Its review fits into a broader picture of the government's handling of detainees, which includes FBI and CIA interrogations in secret prisons."

Of course they were warned by attorneys with a moral conscience that the techniques were most likely illegal. Their testimony will prove, once and for all, that the Bush Administration knew exactly what they wanted to do and approved these illegal and degrading techniques used, which, in my view, violate the Geneva Convention and our Constitution. They can and, most likely, will form the base for claims by the World Court in the Hague, to bring charges against Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld in later years. I can't wait for that day! The U.S. does not accept the jurisdiction of the Court over officials within the U.S. but it uses the Court to suit its purpose when other leaders of countries do things we don't approve of, as was the case against Chile's Augusto Pinochet.

We are going to need to decide at some future time whether the laws that pertain to others in the world apply to us as well. I think they should and I think if we believe in the rule of law, we need to get on board with the rest of the world as we are no better than anyone else. Will there be mistakes made by the World Court at times, YES. But there are mistakes made within our own country when it comes to applying the law fairly to its citizens. We too must join in the world institutions if we expect to gain support for positions we hold.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

What's really at stake in the November Presidential election? The direction of the Supreme Court and whether our Constitutional rights are protected!!

Yes, history is being made this year by who we chose as our next President. Some see the historical choices between whether we choose an African-American or our oldest President. But others see this election as a battle for the essence of our way of life: for the next President will most likely appoint at least one new Supreme Court Justice and possibly 2. This will determine many issues near and dear to the hearts of all Americans. Will the Court continue its right leaning direction where the right of habeas corpus was suspended? Will the Court eliminate the rights of people to determine what choices they are allowed to make regarding end of life decisions when those individuals can't decide for themselves, as was the case with the family of Terri Schiavo? Will a woman have dominion over her own body in deciding whether or not to continue an unwanted pregnancy? Will the Executive Branch have sole discretion as to renditions of foreign citizens off the streets of cities all over the world? Will the Executive Branch be allowed to determine when it wiretaps U.S. citizens without the approval of the FISA Court?

We are stuck with the likes of Anthony Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito for many years to come, as Supreme Court Justices serve for life. The next President will determine whether our Constitution is upheld or trashed, as has been the case these past 7 plus years under President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Some decisions have been close as was the recent split decision of the Court regarding reinstating habeas corpus for detainees in Guantanamo. Sec. of Defense Robert Gates wants to shut down Guantanamo as he sees it as a stain on the reputation of the U.S. around the world. Both Barack Obama and John McCain also want to shut it down for similar reasons.

But here we have President Bush and Vice President Cheney who saw fit to bypass the law and put these prisoners there keeping them from our legal system and the scrutiny and fairness which our judicial system is known for throughout the world. They were allowed to do this by the Republican Congress and then supported defacto by the Democratic Congress, too afraid to challenge this President. The media was also complicit by not challenging this President often enough. It took regular lawyers trying to preserve the Constitution to take up the cause of these prisoners who don't really deserve it, to stand up and be willing to fight this battle, not for the prisoners but for our way of life. They believed the Constitution is important enough to fight for. Many on the right see them as unpatriotic. I see them as the most patriotic and I salute them all. We need all 3 branches of government functioning properly. We have had both the Congress and Executive Branch functioning terribly. We almost had the Judiciary branch doing the same if it were not for the 5 voting in favor of restoring habeas corpus and striking down 2 other times the Bush Administration's attempts of circumventing our Constitution.

So what is at stake in the election in November is enormous and will determine the kind of country we live in for the next generation. Get involved in this one as your life depends on it as does the very life of this blessed country. If you are not registered to vote make it a priority in your life.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Headline reads: Supreme Court rules against Bush for the third time. This time on Guantanamo prisoners rights!

Here's some detail: Guantanamo Bay inmates have constitutional rights and may seek release in federal court, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a rebuke to the Bush administration and Congress on their handling of accused terrorists.

The justices, voting 5-4, said a 2006 law unconstitutionally stripped Guantanamo prisoners of the right to file so-called habeas corpus petitions. The majority, pointing to the six years that some detainees have spent in captivity, said a system of limited judicial review set up by Congress didn't adequately protect inmate rights.

``The costs of delay can no longer be borne by those who are held in custody,'' Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. ``The detainees in these cases are entitled to a prompt habeas corpus hearing.''

Now back in September of 2007 I identified those Senators voting for Habeas Corpus rights for these prisoners and those voting against their rights. I reprint below from my earlier Blog posting on that day so you can make your determination who was right and were vindicated today by the Supreme Court. However, many ideologues will see the problem is the Supreme Court majority, as they were not Bus's appointees. This should be a rallying point for Democrats and Independents.

Sept. 20th 2007
The vote to restore Habeas Corpus was defeated today by 56 in favor of restoring it to 43 saying Naye. Sixty votes were need to end cloture. We can all be upset that it didn't pass but I would rather focus on something positive and that is to recognize those brave Republican Senators voting with the Democrats to restore it.

They include:

Hagel (R-NE), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Smith (R-OR), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea
Sununu (R-NH), Yea

These above Senators deserve to be reelected in their communities.

BRAVO Senators!

Of the 2 Independent Senators only one voted with the Democrats:

Sanders (I-VT), Yea

Voting with the Republicans was Leiberman (I-CT), No

All Democrats voted in favor of the Bill.

If the tables were turned and any of these Senators had been incarcerated by our government without due process, they would have voted with the Democrats. Same is true if their kids were serving in Iraq, they would vote more frequently with the Democrats, not all but more of them.

They give us little choice as voters but to replace them in next years Election for their inflexibility on some common sense legislation.

Those voting AGAINST the bill to restore Habeas Corpus are these (who need to be replaced whenever they term is up):

Alexander (R-TN), Nay
Allard (R-CO), Nay
Barrasso (R-WY), Nay
Bennett (R-UT), Nay
Bond (R-MO), Nay
Brownback (R-KS), Nay (Presidential Candidate)
Bunning (R-KY), Nay
Burr (R-NC), Nay
Chambliss (R-GA), Not Voting
Coburn (R-OK), Nay
Cochran (R-MS), Nay
Coleman (R-MN), Nay
Collins (R-ME), Nay
Corker (R-TN), Nay
Cornyn (R-TX), Nay
Craig (R-ID), Nay
Crapo (R-ID), Nay
DeMint (R-SC), Nay
Dole (R-NC), Nay
Domenici (R-NM), Nay
Ensign (R-NV), Nay
Enzi (R-WY), Nay
Graham (R-SC), Nay
Grassley (R-IA), Nay
Gregg (R-NH), Nay
Hatch (R-UT), Nay
Hutchison (R-TX), Nay
Inhofe (R-OK), Nay
Isakson (R-GA), Nay
Kyl (R-AZ), Nay
Lott (R-MS), Nay
Martinez (R-FL), Nay
McCain (R-AZ), Nay (Presidential Candidate and former Prisoner of war)
McConnell (R-KY), Nay
Murkowski (R-AK), Nay
Roberts (R-KS), Nay
Sessions (R-AL), Nay
Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Stevens (R-AK), Nay
Thune (R-SD), Nay
Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Voinovich (R-OH), Nay
Warner (R-VA), Nay

To read the entire article click here.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rep. Dennis Kucinch defies Pelosi and introduces Articles of Impeachment against President Bush

Rep.Dennis Kucinch (D-OH), former Presidential candidate, took the extraordinary step on Monday to read Articles of Impeachment against President Bush in a move to defy the will of Nancy Pelosi, who has said "impeachment is off the table." Many are scoffing at Kucinch's move but I for one applaud the move and it raises the question as to the complicity of the Democrats with the Bush Administrations record on torture and violation of the Constitution with illegal wiretapping of its citizens.

I for one had hoped the Democrats would have kept their oath of office in protecting the rights of citizens by ensuring the Constitution is not violated by this President or any future President by bringing impeachment charges on this President. If not for these High Crimes and Misdemeanors by this President and Vice President, then what Crimes more deserve this action. I applaud Rep. Kucinich's actions and those who have also supported this action; Rep. Wexler of Florida and Rep. Conyers of Michigan.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Hillary concedes and helps her image

Hillary gave the speech today she should have given after Obama secured the number of delegates to secure the nomination. But she did improve her image today which earlier was damaged. Now if we can focus on the real issues, the debates and both candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. The country and the world needs a substantive debate on the issues and I really hope we get one this time.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

What's wrong about an Obama/Clinton ticket? I'll tell you!

If you want the politics of the past to continue, there is nothing wrong with the ticket. If you want the Red State/Blue State divide to continue, there is nothing wrong with the ticket. If you want to have all the drama of the Clintons, especially Bill Clinton, there is nothing wrong with the ticket. But if you want to change all of those mindsets and set a new course for America, Obama must choose someone different. It is worth risking losing it all for a chance to win it all for America. Obama's willingness to be bold, to talk with our enemies, to unite Democrats and Republicans more with Independents, this is the moment in time we all have been waiting for. Let's bet on change and the future and let go of the past for good. It's America's time and the people's time for real change. No more Red State Blue State divisions. I am tired of using fear to motivate us. I want us to be courageous this time!

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Barack Obama Democratic nominee. History is made!

I have more faith tonight in America than I have had in a long time. I know it will be a long general election process. But it is heartwarming to see the outpouring of praise for America in choosing Barack Obama from such people as South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu and written about in morning newspapers from across the world. Much praise is being given our country for its ability to choose a Democratic Presidential candidate who is an Africa-American, when only 42 years ago the Voting Rights Act was passed and Martin Luther King gave his famous speech, "I have a Dream". I will savour this moment for at least a week. Then it's back to the reality of politics and we will all learn what will be the hurdles Barack will have to jump. But for now, it's a wonderful night.

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