Saturday, April 30, 2011

US Intervention in Syria

US Intervention in Syria - by Stephen Lendman

Despite genuine popular Middle East/North Africa uprisings, Washington's dirty hands orchestrated regime change plans in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Jordan, and Syria as part of its "New Middle East" project.

On November 18, 2006, Middle East analyst Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya's Global Research article headlined, "Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a 'New Middle East,' " saying:

In June 2006 in Tel Aviv, "US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (first) coin(ed) the term" in place of the former "Greater Middle East" project, a shift in rhetoric only for Washington's longstanding imperial aims.

The new terminology "coincided with the inauguration of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Oil Terminal in the Eastern Mediterranean." During Israel's summer 2006 Lebanon war, "Prime Minister Olmert and (Rice) informed the international media that a project for a 'New Middle East' was being launched in Lebanon," a plan in the works for years to "creat(e) an arc of instability, chaos, and violence extending from Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Iran, and the borders of NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan."

In other words, "constructive chaos" would be used to redraw the region according to US-Israeli "geo-strategic needs and objectives." The strategy is currently playing out violently in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria, and may erupt anywhere in the region to solidify Washington's aim for unchallengeable dominance from Morocco to Oman to Syria.

Partnered with Israel, it's to assure only leaders fully "with the program" are in place. Mostly isn't good enough, so ones like Mubarak, Gaddafi, Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, likely Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh (now damaged goods), and Syria's Bashar al-Assad are targeted for removal by methods ranging from uprisings to coups, assassinations, or war, perhaps in that order.

Nazemroaya now says Syrian "protesters are being armed and funded by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states via Jordan and Saad Hariri in Lebanon," besides US and Israeli involvement.

Pack Journalism Goes to War with Washington

America's pack journalism never met an America imperial initiative it didn't support and promote, no matter how lawless, mindless, destructive or counterproductive. For example, an April 28 New York Times editorial headlined, "President Assad's Crackdown," saying:

He "appears determined to join his father in the ranks of history's blood-stained dictators, sending his troops and thugs to murder anyone who has the courage to demand political freedom."

Whether about Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Haiti's Aristide, former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, Venezuela's Chavez or others for many decades, Times "journalists" and opinion writers have a sordid history of supporting America's imperial ruthlessness, including perpetual wars killing millions for power, profit, and unchallengeable dominance.

Now Times writers laud Obama for intervening in Libya and trying "to engage Syria....in hopes that Mr. Assad would make the right choice," meaning get "with the program" by surrendering Syrian sovereignty.

Despite clear evidence of US intervention, Obama "issued a statement condemning the violence and accusing Mr. Assad of seeking Iranian assistance in brutalizing his people. That is a start, but it is not nearly enough."

War is always a last choice so The Times endorses "international condemnation and tough sanctions, (as well as) asset freezes and travel bans for Mr. Assad and his top supporters and a complete arms embargo."

However, "Russia and China, as ever, are determined to protect autocrats. That cannot be the last word."

Times opinions are shamelessly belligerent, one-sided, wrong-headed, and mindless on rule of law issues, including about prohibitions against meddling in the internal affairs of other countries except in self-defense until the Security Council acts.

Instead, the "newspaper of record" remains America's leading managed news source, backing the worst of Washington's imperial arrogance and ruthlessness. As a result, it omits inconvenient facts to make its case, including America's notorious ties to numerous global despots on every continent.

WikiLeaks Released Cables Expose America's Regime Change Plan

Though widely reported since mid-April, The Times hasn't acknowledged information (though sketchy) from Washington Post writer Craig Whitlock's April 17 report headlined, "US secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by WikiLeaks show," saying:

Through its Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), "The State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel (London-based Barada TV) that beams anti-government programming into the country, according to previously undisclosed diplomatic cables."

"Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of (pro-Western) Syrian exiles."

Funding began at least after the Bush administration cut ties with Damascus in 2005. In April 2009, a diplomatic cable from Damascus said:

"A reassessment of current US-sponsored programming that supports anti-(government) factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive."

In February 2006, Bush officials announced funding to "accelerate the work of reformers in Syria." Nonetheless, Barada TV denied receiving money, its news director Malik al-Abdeh saying:

"I'm not aware of anything like that. If your purpose is to smear Barada TV, I don't want to continue this conversation. That's all I'm going to give you."

America's National Endowment for Democracy: A Global Regime Change Initiative

Besides covert CIA activities, US-government funded organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and International Republican Institute (IRI) operate as US foreign policy destabilizing instruments. They do it by supporting opposition group regime change efforts in countries like Syria, despite claiming "dedicat(ion) to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world....in more than 90 countries."

In MENA nations (Middle East/North Africa) alone, NED's web site lists activities in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Yemen, Kuwait, Morocco, Lebanon, Bahrain, Libya, Sudan, and Syria.

The IRI's web site includes (destabilizing anti-democratic) initiatives in Afghanistan, Egypt, GCC states, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, and Palestine.

Other US imperial organizations are also regionally active, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), operating contrary to their stated missions.

In January 1996, based on firsthand knowledge, former CIA agent (from 1952 - 1977) Ralph McGehee discussed covert NED efforts in Cuba, China, Russia and Vietnam, saying:

The government-funded organization "assumed many of the political action responsibilities of the CIA," including:

-- "efforts to influence foreign journalists;"

-- money laundering;

-- isolating "democratic-minded intellectuals and journalist in the third world;"

-- distributing propaganda articles "to regional editors on each continent;"

-- "disseminating an attack on people in Jamaica;"

-- funding anti-Castro groups in South Florida as well as Radio and TV Marti, airing regime change propaganda;

-- anti-communist grants; and

-- much more while claiming its mission is "guided by the belief that freedom is a universal human aspiration that can be realized through the development of democratic institutions, procedures and values."

In a 2005 interview, another former CIA agent (1957 - 1968), Philip Agee, author of "Inside the Company," explained NED's origins and covert efforts to destabilize and oust Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, calling efforts "similar to what (went on) in Nicaragua in the 1980s minus the Contra terrorist operations (that) wreaked so much destruction on the Nicaraguan economy."

Founded in 1982, NED distributes government funds to four other organizations, including the IRI, NDI, Chamber of Commerce's Center for Private Enterprise (CIPE), and the AFL-CIO's American Center for International Labor Solidarity.

In fact, a 2010 Kim Scipes book titled, "AFL-CIO's Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?" discusses its covert anti-worker "labor imperialism," including regime change initiatives.

Manipulated Popular Uprising in Syria

Since late January, popular uprisings began, suspiciously orchestrated by outside forces to destabilize and oust Assad. In fact, Richard Perle's 1996 "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," prepared for Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu during his first term, stated:

"Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq - an important Israeli objective in its own right."

It added:

"Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An affective approach, and one with which America can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizbollah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon...."

"Given the nature of the regime in Damascus (much the same today), it is both natural and moral that Israel abandon the slogan comprehensive peace and move to contain Syria, drawing attention to its weapons of mass destruction programs, and rejecting land for peace deals on the Golan Heights," Syrian territory colonized by Israel since 1967.

Perle's report was a destabilization and regime change manifesto, implemented in Iraq, Libya, elsewhere in the region, and now Syria. The strategy includes managed news, funding internal and external dissident groups, and other initiatives to oust leaders like Assad.

On March 30, 2011, Haaretz writer Zvi Bar'el headlined "Why did website linked to Syria regime publish US-Saudi plan to oust Assad?" saying:

"According to the report....the plan was formulated in 2008 by the Saudi national security advisor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan and Jeffrey Feltman, a veteran US diplomat in the Middle East who was formerly ambassador to Lebanon and is currently the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs."

Dividing Syria into large cities, towns and villages, the plan involved "establishing five recruitment networks," using unemployed youths, criminals, other young people, and media efforts "funded by European countries but not" America, as well as a "capital network of businesspeople from the large cities."

Training included "sniper fire, arson, and murdering in cold blood," journalists reporting it by hard to monitor satellite phones depicting "human rights activists....demanding not the regime's fall," but need for social networks training "as a means for recruitment."

"After the recruitment and training phases, which would be funded by Saudi Arabia for about $2 billion," thousands of "activists" would be given communications equipment to begin public actions. "The plan also suggest(ed) igniting ethnic tensions between groups around the country to stir unrest," including in Damascus "to convince the military leadership to disassociate itself from Assad and establish a new regime."

"The hoped-for outcome is the establishment of a supreme national council that will run the country and terminate Syria's relations with Iran and Hezbollah."

The Jordan-based Dot and Com company was named as the behind the scenes recruiter, a company run by Saudi intelligence under Bandar to destabilize Syria and oust Assad.

Whether or not the plan was implemented, some of its features are now playing out violently across the country. Orchestrated in Washington, it's to install a totally "with the program" regime, the same war strategy ongoing in Libya.

A Final Comment

On April 28, Russia and China blocked a US-backed UK, French, German and Portugal proposed Security Council resolution condemning Syrian violence. Damascus' UN ambassador, Bashar Ja'arari, said it failed because several members were fair-minded enough to reject it, knowing Libya's fate after Resolution 1973, calling only for no-fly zone protection.

UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe reported about 400 deaths so far. Other estimates are higher. Russian, Chinese and Syrian representatives say government security forces killed by armed extremists are among them. According to RT.com:

"Russia's Foreign Affairs Ministry had clearly outlined its position: it condemned all those responsible for the deaths of protesters during the clashes with the police. But, it urged (no intervention) in Syria's internal affairs," that could easily escalate to Western regime change plans.

Federation Council to the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, Rudik Iskuzhin, believes Syrian intervention may mean Iran is next, saying:

"We very well understand that the hidden motive of all of the recent revolutionary processes is Iran, to which the destabilization in Syria will eventually ricochet. Libya, just like Syria, was an important ally of" Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Western powers and Israel want the alliance subverted.

On April 29, China ruled out force against Syria, Foreign Affairs Ministry Vice-Minister He Yafei saying it "cannot bring a solution to the problem and will only cause a greater humanitarian crisis." Insisting proposed solutions comply with the UN Charter and international law, he added:

"Any help from the international community has to be constructive in nature, which is conducive to the restoration of stability and public order and ensuring the maintenance of economic and social life."

American intervention assures "constructive chaos," the agenda Washington pursues globally, focusing mainly on controlling Eurasia's enormous wealth and resources. Either one or multiple countries at a time, it includes turning Russia and China into vassal states, a goal neither Beijing or Moscow will tolerate.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Friday, April 29, 2011

America's Terminal Decline

America's Terminal Decline - by Stephen Lendman

What distinguished experts long knew (timetables aside), the IMF just recognized, saying China's economy will surpass America's in 2016. If so, it will signal an end to the "Age of America," and no wonder after decades of heedless profligacy. More on that below.

The IMF's 2011 World Economic Outlook shows China overtaking America in five years based on purchasing power parity (PPP) - a criterion for an appropriate exchange rate between currencies as measured by the cost of a representative basket of goods in one country v. another.

IMF's 2016 PPP GDP estimate:

-- China - $18,975.7 trillion

-- America - $18,807.5 trillion

In current dollar terms, America retains its lead, but it's slipping noticeably.

IMF's 2016 dollar GDP estimate:

-- America - $18,807.5 trillion

-- China - $11,220.2 trillion

Economic forecasts, of course, vary. Moreover, long-range ones combine extrapolated trends with reasoned judgments. However, as economist Alec Craincross (1911 - 1998) once observed:

"A trend is a trend is a trend. But the question is, will it bend? Will it alter its course through some unforeseen force and come to a premature end?"

Not China's for over three decades, "growing 17-fold in real (inflation-adjusted) terms since 1980," according to economist Mark Weisbrot. As a result, it's been the world's fastest growth engine, a pace it's maintained during the current global economic crisis in contrast to America in decline.

Economist Henry HK Liu mostly attributes China's sucess to its not freely convertible currency, its closed financial market, and its quasi public-private central bank used for economic growth, not bailouts and speculation. In his January 12, 2010 article titled, "China and a New World Economic Order," he discussed policy initiatives to keep influencing it positively, including:

-- avoiding a deregulated market economy;

-- prioritizing full employment and rising wages;

-- breaking free from dollar hegemony;

-- conducting trade based on mutual development; and

-- not using "green-tech investment" to stimulate growth.

On August 17, 2009, financial writer Ellen Brown's article headlined, "China's Miracle Economy: Have the Chinese Become the World's Greatest Capitalists?" saying:

China "seems to have decoupled from the rest of the world, preserving an 8% growth rate (now higher) while the rest of the world sinks into the worst recession since the 1930s."

Unlike America to this day, in fact, China keeps credit flowing freely for economic growth, though too much of a good thing itself creates problems; notably bubbles that sooner or later burst.

However, Brown explains that China's banks "serve public enterprise and trade" because it controls their operations, unlike America's privatized system serving bankers, not people.

Notably, in fact, Beijing prevented "irresponsible bank speculation and profiteering by keeping a leash on (its) banking sector," as well as focusing on economic growth and job creation, ignored by Washington policy makers.

It's worked for over three decades so why not three more or much longer provided greed doesn't replace good policy, what's headed America down for decades.

As a result, China consumes record volumes of oil, natural gas, coal, copper, iron ore, and other commodities. It's also the world's largest industrial country and producer of gold, rare earth metals, steel, coal, copper, agricultural products, pork, seafood, textiles, electronic products, and more with no end of its growth in sight.

Impressively, China passed Japan in Q II 2010 to become the world's second largest economy. Heading for number one, perhaps Washington policy makers recall what's believed Napoleon once advised to: "Let China sleep, for when the dragon awakens, she will shake the world." IMF analysts apparently took note.

America's Decline and Fall

In his book titled, "The World in Crisis," historian Gabriel Kolko believes that America's decline "began after the Korean War, was continued in relation to Cuba, and was greatly accelerated in Vietnam - but (GW Bush did) much to exacerbate it further." Obama not only continues Bush policies, he exceeded him with greater recklessness, masquerading as a people's president while waging war on working Americans.

No wonder Kolko thinks US influence is declining everywhere. The world no longer depends on its economic might. Nations like China, India, Brazil and others grow much faster, and after the Soviet Union collapsed, "the absence of identifiable foes has been a disaster, leaving the US aimless. (So) it picks and chooses enemies" globally in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, and perhaps later China and Russia while other nations increasingly tire of imperial America and its reckless economics counterproductive to their own.

As a result, America's century of dominance is ending. Immanuel Wallerstein agrees, saying it's been fading since the 1970s, accelerating post-9/11. In fact, "the economic, political and military factors that contributed to US hegemony are the same (ones) inexorably produc(ing) the coming US decline."

Chalmers Johnson called it the same dynamic that doomed past empires - "isolation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy," combined with growing authoritarianism and loss of personal freedom.

Calling America's condition dire, he said it's "too late for mere scattered reforms of our government or bloated military to make much difference." History is clear. We can choose democracy and survive or continue as present and perish. Clearly the wrong political, social, military, and economic choices were made, heading US hegemony for the ash heap of history.

Nixon's Council of Economic Advisers chairman, Herb Stein, notably explained, saying, "Things that can't go on forever, won't." Earlier, Johnson said:

The "combination of huge standing armies, almost continuous wars, military Keynesianism, and ruinous military expenses have destroyed our republican structure in favor of an imperial presidency. We are on the cusp of losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire."

Moreover, once a nation starts down that path and won't change, its end time is certain. Only its timing is unknown, perhaps coming faster than expected.

America's Dollar Hegemony in Decline

Global plans to replace the dollar metaphorically highlight America's decline, the topic economist Michael Hudson addressed in his June 13, 2009 article titled, "De-Dollarization: Dismantling America's Financial-Military Empire."

For decades, America stayed economically dominant because other nations agreed to a Washington controlled WTO/IMF/World Bank/Bank for International Settlements (the Central Bank of Central Banks in Basel) system, using the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

Other countries, however, now balk. A June 2009 Yekaterinburg, Russia meeting with top officials of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization (led by China and Russia) took the first step to end dollar supremacy, perhaps replacing it eventually with a single global currency or a basket of major ones.

Today, America remains unchallenged militarily, its economic supremacy, however, weakening as it staggers under growing debt, while nations like China, Brazil, India, Russia and others are rising.

In July, 2009, Russian President Medvedev advocated a supranational currency. In September, the UN Conference on Trade and Development proposed an artificial one to replace the dollar. Other alliances, including nine Latin American countries, support a regional currency. China wants its yuan protected, and Russia plans to begin trading in the ruble and local currencies.

Hudson calls the present system a "sinister dynamic (because) the US payment deficit pumps dollars into foreign economies (that have) little option except to buy US (debt) which the Treasury spends on financing an enormous, hostile (global) military build-up," and its ready-to-unleash-anytime war machine.

Moreover, foreign US Treasury buyers may not only be financing their own endangerment, they're also buying a depreciating asset, what analyst Matthias Chang calls dollar denominated "toilet paper" from a "toilet paper printing press....issu(ing) irredeemable fiat money."

Why else would world demand for gold and silver be strong. They reflect real value, not paper backed solely by the eroding faith and credit of issuing countries. Buyers clearly lack it in America with good reason. As a result, expect further dollar erosion, decline and perhaps crisis if current selling ahead surges.

No wonder other countries seek a new monetary system to avoid funding America's deficit and military. BRIC nations (China, Russia, India and Brazil) took the lead. Others are now following, and the weaker the dollar gets, inevitably they'll be more.

Economist Paul Craig Roberts also believes the dollar's global reserve currency hegemony won't last. Sooner or later wholesale dumping will happen when foreign central banks unload them. As a result, import prices will rise enough to make Wal-Mart shoppers "think they have mistakenly gone into Neiman Marcus."

Domestic prices will also soar "as a growing money supply chases the supply of goods and services still made" domestically. Disruptions will follow. The dollar won't survive. When it goes America's trade deficit can't be financed. Imports will fall sharply. Inflation will rise, and "(p)anic will be the order of the day" because a corporate - government cabal is "strung out on the ecstasy of Empire," and obsessed with destroying the nation's middle class to transfer maximum wealth to America's super-rich already with too much.

A Final Comment

Consider how far America declined and the inevitable consequences. The combination of:

-- military Keynesianism;

-- permanent wars;

-- Washington being corporate occupied territory;

-- banker bailouts;

-- generous handouts to corporate favorites;

-- offshoring the nation's industrial base;

-- neoliberal austerity;

-- class warfare, including against unionism;

-- systemic corruption;

-- increasing repression;

-- sham elections; and

-- democracy in name only, the best money can buy, made America no longer a model for other nations, the engine of world growth, a fit to live in, or able to prevent its inevitable decline, fall, and replacement by China and perhaps other nations one day.

It's a sad testimony to a two centuries old experiment that failed because absolute power corrupted too many with it wanting more.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Palestinian Unity Deal Announced

Palestinian Unity Deal Announced - by Stephen Lendman

On April 27, the International Middle East Media Center headlined, "Rival Palestinian Factions Reach Reconciliation Agreement," saying:

Meeting in Cairo, Palestinian media sources announced a Hamas - Fatah reconciliation draft agreement, signaling hope for rapprochement between the two sides.

Both parties agreed to form a transitional government soon. The two delegations, headed by Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal discussed security issues and ways to coordinate forces on both sides. They also chose an election date, but didn't disclose it.

"A Hamas official (Izzat Ar-Rishiq) reported that all points of differences with Fatah have been overcome....Egyptian sources said that the two parties will be invited into Egypt soon (for an) official signing ceremony."

Egypt's official MENA news agency confirmed "a complete understanding after talks on all the points, including the formation of a transitional government with a specific mandate and setting a date for elections."

Fatah delegation chief Azzam Al-Ahmad confirmed the report, saying both sides agreed to a "government of independents....tasked with preparing for presidential and legislative elections within a year."

Palestinian factions welcomed the announcement, hoping years of conflict would end. Islamic Jihad's Khaled Al Batsh said his organization welcomed the development, hoping implementation will begin quickly. He also called for ending West Bank political arrests, saying Palestinian priorities include resistance, unity, independence, the right of return, and Jerusalem as Palestine's capital.

PLC deputy head Dr. Ahmad Bahar called the agreement historic, thanking Egypt for hosting and moderating important talks.

Dr. Abdul-Aziz Shiqaqi, head of Gaza's coalition of independent figures, said the deal breaks new ground, offering a new reconciliation phase. Khalil Assaf, representing West Bank independent figures, called the agreement the best and most important development this year.

The Palestinian People Party (PPP) also welcomed the deal, hoping implementation will begin soon, as well as calling for efforts to marshal international support for Palestinian independence with Jerusalem its capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu reacted sharply, demanding Abbas:

"choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There cannot be peace with both because Hamas strives to destroy the state of Israel and says so openly. I think that the very idea of reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and creates the prospect that Hamas could retake control of Judea and Samaria just like it took control of the Gaza Strip."

Netanyahu also said all necessary measures will be taken to continue Gaza's siege, including blocking planned humanitarian flotillas.

He and other Israeli officials repeat the same canards, notably with regard to peace, reconciliation, and denying Hamas' longstanding willingness to recognize Israel in return for Palestinian sovereignty inside pre-1967 borders, just 22% of its original homeland.

In September, it now hopes the UN General Assembly will affirm what Israel for decades spurned, including peace to perpetuate its war agenda based on lies and deception about Hamas threatening its security.

Getting Washington to bogusly declare it a terrorist organization, Western media ignore its legitimacy as Palestine's democratically elected government, facts conveniently replaced by spurious claims about terrorism. In other words, twisting them to fit policy that includes on-and-off again wars, violence, land theft, severe repression, targeted assassinations, and violation of fundamental international law and standards, as well as core Judaic values, ones Israel long ago abandoned.

On April 27, New York Times writers Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner also covered the story headlining, "Fatah and Hamas Announce Outline of Deal," saying:

They "create(d) an interim unity government (and agreed to) hold elections within a year, a surprise move that promised to reshape" the regional diplomatic landscape. Perhaps regional uprisings influenced the move. Also, Al Jazeera's January released Palestine Papers. They revealed covert PA willingness to compromise much in return for little, amounting to de facto complicity and unilateral surrender to Israeli demands, a shameless betrayal like Oslo, what Edward Said called a Palestinian Versailles.

It gives pause about what PA negotiators now have in mind. This time, however, they're dealing with Hamas, not Israel, but that specter remains powerfully omnipresent in lockstep with its Washington paymaster/partner.

Gaza Al-Azhar University Professor Mkhaimar Abusada believes the PA's failure to negotiate peace with Israel, as well as anger over a February US Security Council resolution veto against new settlement construction encouraged Fatah to talk.

Hamas representative Moussa Abu Marzouk said:

"We have ended a painful period in the history of the Palestinian people where Palestinian division had prevailed. We gave the occupation a great opportunity to expand the settlements because of this division. Today we turn this page and open a new" one.

Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said both sides agreed to changes in interim PLO leadership, a tribunal for elections, and a date. Both sides will nominate government members, a 12-judge election tribunal, and an oversight committee to handle security.

On April 27, Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin headlined, "Congress to PA: No US aid if you merge with Hamas," saying:

Florida Republican House Foreign Affairs chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehiten (a member of America's extremist far right) signaled ending US aid, repeating Netanyahu's lies, saying:

"The reported agreement between Fatah and Hamas means that a Foreign Terrorist Organization which has called for the destruction of Israel will be part of the (PA) government. US taxpayer funds should not and must not be used to support those who threaten US security, our interests, and our vital ally, Israel."

New York Democrat Rep. Gary Ackerman, a notorious pro-Israel supporter, called the deal "a recipe for failure, mixed with violence, leading to disaster," sounding as extremist as Ros-Lehiten. Other members of both houses concurred, succumbing to Israeli Lobby pressure to go along or face recrimination in 2012. Mindful also of Israeli support, selling their souls the price they pay keep it.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel would only negotiate with a Palestinian unity government that "dismantles (its) terror infrastructures and recognizes Israel as well as past PLO (negotiated) agreements."

Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, facing indictment for fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and more, said Israel won't negotiate with the interim government, adding:

"One of the clauses of the agreement is the release of hundreds of Hamas prisoners from Palestinian jails, which would flood the West Bank with armed terrorists, and the IDF must prepare accordingly....This agreement crosses a red line. Hamas has been defined as a terrorist organization....in addition to the fact that it has always been known that no talks can be held with groups calling for Israel's destruction."

Israel's president Shimon Peres said:

"The move, as it stands is a fatal mistake," nor will Israel negotiate with a "bona fide terrorist organization." The deal "would lead to a regression and prevent the formation of a Palestinian state."

Through public rhetoric and behind the scenes pressure, including through the Israeli Lobby, Israel is going all out to prevent reconciliation, a unity government, peace, and UN General Assembly recognition of an independent Palestine within 1967 borders this September.

Instead it plans to stay belligerent, choose violence over diplomacy, continue settlement construction, keep Gaza blockaded, launch air attacks with powerful weapons, make regular incursions into Palestinian communities targeting nonviolent civilians, and effectively reign daily terror on Palestine like it's done for over six decades, blaming victims of its own crimes, still with world community support.

As a result, it's for Palestinians to pursue their own agenda until one day liberated and free. A unity government and UN membership are important steps toward it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Supreme Court Lets Corporations Ban Class Actions

Supreme Court Lets Corporations Ban Class Actions - by Stephen Lendman

An earlier article discussed hurdles ordinary people face before America's High Court, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2008/07/supreme-court-inc-supremely-pro.html

Saying pro-business rulings aren't new, it suggested the most damaging one occurred in 1886. In Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railway, the High Court granted corporations legal personhood. Ever since, they've had the same rights as people without the responsibilities. Their limited liability status exempts them.

As a result, they've profited hugely and continue winning favorable rulings. Today more than ever from the Roberts Court, one observer calling its first full (2006-07) term a "blockbuster" with the Court's conservative wing prevailing most often.

Through today, it's been much the same, notably in its January 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, ruling government can't limit corporate political election spending as doing it violates their First Amendment freedoms. Writing for the 5 - 4 majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy called it legal "political speech," effectively putting a price tag on democracy.

The decision overruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990), restricting corporate political spending because their resources unfairly influence electoral politics, and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003), upholding part of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (the McCain-Feingold Act), restricting corporate and union campaign spending.

Citizen's United set a precedent, but does it matter given the power of big money and past failures to curb it, Professor John Kozy saying at the time:

"Expecting the Congress, most if not all of whose members reside deep in corporate pockets, to eliminate that influence can be likened to expecting the rhinovirus to eliminate the common cold. Corporate money (in large or smaller amounts) is the diseased life-blood of American politics; it carries its cancerous spores to all extremities."

Kozy also cited Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' Lochner dissent, saying "the Court has taken its task to be the constitutionalization of a totally immoral, rapacious, economic system instead of the promotion of justice, domestic tranquility, the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty."

Of course, the same judgment applies throughout Court history with past civil libertarians far outnumbered by established order supporters and big money interests that run it. As a result, for every William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall there have been dozens of John Jays (the first chief justice), Roger Taneys, William Howard Tafts, Scalias, Burgers, Rehnquists, and Roberts.

It's why Michael Parenti calls the Supreme Court America's "autocratic branch" of government, affirmed shamelessly in its April 27 AT&T v. Conception decision, accessed through the following link:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-893.pdf

America's Supremes Deny Class Action Redress

After the ruling, Dow Jones Newswires Brent Kendall headlined, "US Supreme Court Blocks Class Action Against AT&T Unit," saying:

The Court blocked "a class action lawsuit alleging AT&T Inc. (T) wireless subsidiary acted fraudulently by charging sales tax on cellphones that it advertised as free. The case was considered a test of the enforceability of arbitration agreements that bar individuals from pooling their claims together in a class action."

Earlier, two California federal courts ruled that AT&T Mobility's wireless contract arbitration agreement was not enforceable because it blocked class actions. On April 27, the Supreme Court overturned them. Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said permitting group suits runs afoul of federal law promoting arbitration.

Dissenting, Justice Stephen Breyer said requiring consumers to arbitrate individually forces them to abandon small claims, too costly to litigate.

The case involved Vincent and Liza Concepcion's complaint about the $30.22 sales tax on AT&T's cellphone promoted as free. As a result, Breyer added:

"What rational lawyer would have signed on to represent (them) in litigation for the possibility of fees stemming from" an amount that small, effectively shutting them out entirely from judicial redress.

Still pending before the court is the largest class action in US history - Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. It involves sexual job discrimination, claiming the company violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by denying women equal promotion opportunities as men.

Wal-Mart lawyers now want the case dismissed on behalf of 1.5 million current and past female employees. Doing so, however, will be a crushing blow to aggrieved company employees and millions of others henceforth for redress it appears the ruling now denies.

Public citizen attorney Deepak Gupta represented the Concepcions before the High Court. After the decision he said:

"This morning, the US Supreme Court dealt a crushing blow to American consumers and employees, ruling that companies can ban class actions in the fine print of contracts."

So whenever you "sign a contract" for a cell phone, bank account, credit card, employment, or other purpose, "you may be giving up your right to hold companies accountable for fraud, discrimination or other illegal practices."

In its latest unprincipled decision, the Court ruled 5 - 4 that corporations may use arbitration clauses to prevent consumers and employees from using class actions to hold them accountable, requiring individual litigation instead.

In fact, class actions, like Brown v. Board of Education, are an essential litigation tool. Their fate shouldn't be decided by corporate fine print "take-it-or-leave-it contracts" only lawyers understand.

The 1925 Federal Arbitration Act facilitated private arbitration settlements in state and federal courts, applicable to interstate commerce transactions under the Constitution's Commerce Clause. Henceforth, it will shield corporations from accountability, making it harder for people to litigate "civil rights, labor, consumer, and other (type) claims," resulting from corporate wrongdoing by "join(ing) together to obtain their rightful compensation."

As a result, says Gupta, it's essential for Congress to enact legislation "ending forced arbitration in consumer and employment contracts," but expect no redress from a Republican controlled House and a pro-business president claiming populist credentials.

As a result, expect CEO's from AT&T, Wal-Mart and other corporate predators to sleep comfortably henceforth, knowing America's High Court backs their right rip off consumers and employees with impunity.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Professor Hassan Diab: Unjustly Victimized

Professor Hassan Diab: Unjustly Victimized - by Stephen Lendman

An earlier article discussed the case of Canadian Professor Denis Rancourt. In March 2009, the University of Ottawa unjustly fired him for heroically supporting Palestinian liberation and justice. Access it through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/04/targeting-academic-and-speech-freedoms.html

His "(a)rticles and entries about activist teaching and radical pedagogy" can be followed daily on his blog site, accessed as follows:

http://activistteacher.blogspot.com/

Depending on how events unfold, the case of former University of Ottawa and Carleton University Professor Hassan Diab is more disturbing and shocking. A November 13, 2008 Ottawa Citizen article explained, headlining:

"Ottawa university instructor arrested in 1980 blast at Paris synagogue," saying:

The October 3, 1980 Union Liberale Israelite de France incident killed four, injured dozens, and was followed by similar attacks in Vienna, Antwerp, Belgium, and elsewhere.

On November 13, 2008, Diab "was arrested by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) at Gatineau residence....as he was getting dressed, placed in custody at the RCMP's A division," and for over four months, denied bail, his lawyer, Rene Duval, said at the time. He now lives under virtual house arrest, wears a GPS electronic ankle monitor, and can only leave home accompanied by one of five sureties who posted his $250,000 + bond.

His apprehension followed an international arrest warrant issued by two French judges earlier in November, "believed to be the first such (instance) for (alleged) terrorism ever executed in Canada."

With no corroborating evidence, France's Le Figaro newspaper cited unnamed 2007 sources, saying Diab led "the small commando team responsible for the attack and had asked Canada for assistance with their investigation."

In mid-November 2008, the French magazine L'Express said French police, magistrates and intelligence officers were in Canada, "try(ing) to arrange Mr. Diab's extradition to France. The French warrant....accuse(d) him of making and planting the bomb, according to" a Reuters report.

At the time, Diab explained through his lawyer that he had no involvement in the incident. "Most definitely he's innocent," he said. "He didn't even set foot in France in 1980. At the time, he was studying sociology at the University of Lebanon." A former Canadian Human Rights Commission senior litigator, Duval said Diab is accused of "driv(ing) the motorbike that eventually exploded."

Moreover, he has no criminal record and was never involved with the accused group or other militant organizations. In fact, he was unaware of the bombing until a Le Figaro reporter told him at the University of Ottawa.

In October 2007, Diab told Le Figaro:

"I am a victim of mistaken identity not based on anything" but unjust conjecture. "I have never belonged to a Palestinian organization, nor have I been militant politically. Because of such mistaken identities, my travel in Canada was often affected."

He also explained how often he's mistaken for others with the same name, adding:

"Since (9/11), we know that files are created on nothing, particularly if you are a member of a minority, and that innocent people will admit to anything if they are put under pressure."

After the news broke, he began noticing unidentified (RCMP) agents following him, and once someone tried breaking into his home. Despite notifying Ottawa police, intimidation and intrusive surveillance persisted. Nonetheless, at the time, he continued his normal activities, including teaching, but not for long.

Ahead of his first court hearing, Duval explained:

"They're going to be multiplying security measures, which are absolutely unwarranted and uncalled for. I suspect that will be the case. They like to make it a big deal. The word terrorist (frightens) a lot of people. And governments in Canada, France or (elsewhere), they like to show their muscle in those matters," even with no evidence against innocent victims. Too often, in fact, they're judged guilty by accusation.

Diab was Professor of Sociology at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. A Lebanese national with dual citizenship, he first taught at the American University of Beirut, later earning his doctorate at Syracuse University, New York.

His Background and Case

The web site Justice for Hassan Diab.org can be accessed through the following link for detailed information about him and his case:

http://www.justiceforhassandiab.org/about

Until October 2007, he "enjoyed and engaged in a productive public life, including teaching, publishing research, and traveling internationally." Now he's falsely accused of the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing. In fact, he's innocent of all charges, is peace-loving, and not anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish, or against any other religion or ethnicity.

On November 8, 2010, he released the following statement:

"I am innocent of the charges against me. I condemn all ethnically, racially, and religiously motivated violence. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the presumption of innocence and other core values of our legal system have eroded, especially for people from particular minority backgrounds. I hope this extradition hearing will end the witch-hunt atmosphere I have been living under for the past three years, and that no one else will have to endure the burden of false, unfounded accusations. I also wish to thank the many people and groups across Canada who have signed a statement in my support."

Nonetheless, both the University of Ottawa and Carleton University terminated him, violating his presumption of innocence unless proved guilty, and the "responsibility of a university to protect its autonomy (and academic freedom) from inappropriate political pressure." As a result, Diab is unemployed, and delay in resolving his case adds "thousands of dollars to his legal expenses."

His web site also explains the following:

-- alleged evidence against him is "bald, unsourced and conclusory intelligence information" that's inadmissible in Canadian criminal courts; and

-- its reliability is very suspect, yet his defense can't "confront or cross-examine witnesses," so is unable to "demonstrate weaknesses or inaccuracies" nor "argue against false claims."

As a result, he's "in a double-bind," unable to challenge his accusers because an extradition case isn't a trial. Moreover, in France, he'll face unsubstantiated charges based on secret intelligence, again severely restricting his ability to refute it. In fact, any defense effort "to cross-examine witnesses or (present) exonerating evidence will be looked upon unfavorably by the court" because "neither Canadian nor French judges and prosecutors know the sources of the intelligence information" so can't examine their credibility or lack thereof.

In other words, he'll be hung out to dry under a rigged process to convict, despite his innocence. As a result, human rights and other groups criticized France "for violating internationally recognized due process standards and for running unfair trials."

It's believed alleged evidence in his case comes from torture-extracted confessions of suspects in Middle East custody, saying anything to stop pain and help improve their own status. Various other wrongfully accused victims have been targeted the same way, authorities knowing alleged evidence against them was false but used it anyway.

Nonetheless, Canada's Crown Attorney seems willing to accept dubious secret intelligence to extradite an innocent Canadian citizen. If so, a dangerous legal precedent will be established based on unreliable, uncorroborated, and likely spurious evidence manipulated to convict.

In December 2009, Amnesty International lawyer Paul Champ said:

"If the Canadian government and the French government are able to rely on this kind of intelligence information to support an extradition, I think it's yet another step in the erosion of civil liberties that we've been familiar with in Canada and in other countries for a very long time."

In fact, far too long, so-called Western and other democracies, including Canada, France, Israel and America, are de facto police states, regularly convicting innocent victims by accusations, especially Muslims for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, activism, and at times charitable giving because they care.

As a result, Hassan Diab is one of many needing broad support to free him from this unprincipled burden so he can resume a normal life.

Recent Ottawa Citizen Articles on His Case

On November 24, 2010, writer Andrew Seymour headlined, "Terrorism evidence against former Ottawa professor 'unreliable,' court hears," saying:

University of Toronto Law Professor and anti-terrorism expert Kent Roach testified it was "dangerous" to use alleged 30-year old intelligence, calling it "unsourced, uncircumstanced," and/or manipulated to benefit prosecutorial accusations. He added that aspects of this case set off "alarm bells" based on suspect intelligence that Diab either used his own passport to enter France through Spain or surreptitiously with a fake one, saying:

"It would suggest to me the intelligence record is unreliable because it is malleable enough to fit any or both scenarios. Because it is not sourced, because it is not circumstanced, it is very difficult to go behind their suppositions and to challenge their intelligence," that may, in fact, be fake. He added that:

"It is easy to assert someone is a member of a terrorist organization. It is an entirely different matter to prove it through evidence....At first glance you say, 'This is terrible, this is very, very specific,' but there's nothing there to substantiate it."

Accusing French authorities of "boot-strapping," Roach said they've linked one unreliable piece of intelligence to another, "cherry picking" what they want, ignoring what can help Diab to construct a case basely solely from whole cloth, not verifiable facts.

On January 5, 2011, Chris Cobb headlined, "Expert rips into handwriting evidence," saying:

During Diab's January 4 extradition hearing, "(a) British handwriting expert (Robert Radley) ripped into French evidence, saying its main conclusions are 'frankly absurd - totally misguided and totally incorrect.' I find this whole (analysis) unacceptable and not what I would expect from a trained, competent expert."

At the same, French expert Ann Bisotti called her analysis the case's "smoking gun," claiming a false name on a Paris hotel registration card was in Diab's handwriting by comparing it to his 15-year later immigration paper signatures.

Defense lawyer Donald Bayne used three experts to refute Bisotti's analysis, calling it "fatally flawed," showing ignorance of international professional standards. Radley's "blistering criticism" was especially damning, given his over three decade European and other international experience and familiarity with the European Network of Forensic Handwriting Experts (ENFHEX). He said Bisotti's methodology contradicted its standards, thus invalidating her conclusion, then added:

"In over 30 years dealing with casework and having to produce critiques on literally hundreds of police laboratory reports, I have never had to express criticism in such robust terms."

Hired by French authorities to prove the alleged authenticity of Diab's hotel registry signature, Bisotti apparently concluded what her client wanted to hear, no matter how unjustifiably false.

On February 19, Andrew Seymour headlined, "Diab loses evidence fight," saying:

Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger "decided to allow handwriting evidence....against" him despite saying:

"When all is said and done, I find the evidence amounted to very strong competing inferences which demonstrate some serious weaknesses in the Bisotti report, but in truth fell short of a finding of manifest unreliability. While I find (her) report very problematic, very confusing, with conclusions that are suspect, I cannot say that it should be rejected out of hand based on the expert evidence."

Clearly unidentified pressure on him was exerted, evidenced by his agreeing with Diab's lawyer's "forceful and compelling" arguments (that) flawed methodology results in manifestly unreliable conclusions."

Yet he allowed them anyway, dealing Diab a serious blow. Expressing muted outrage, Donald Bayne noted special concern, saying France doesn't extradite its nationals, "but Canada will (do it) on unreliable evidence because the test for unreliability is so high no one can meet it." He added that if Diab is ordered extradited, he'll appeal to Canada's Supreme Court, hoping there to get justice.

On March 8, Chris Cobb headlined, "Crown wraps up case against Diab," saying:

Prosecutor Claude LeFrancois alleged "Diab belonged to an international anti-Semitic terrorist organization embroiled in a violent underworld of lies and deception." He named the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a heroic resistance group opposing Israel's illegal occupation, struggling for Palestinian liberation.

Of course, as explained above, Diab, maintains his innocence on all charges, asserts his egalitarian views, and strongly denies membership or participation in any resistance or militant group.

On March 9, Chris Cobb headlined, "No proven link to Diab, lawyer argues," saying:

Defense lawyer Bayne "launched a blistering attack (on) the French extradition evidence against" Diab, urging Justice Maranger to dismiss all charges that would be inadmissible in Canadian criminal proceedings.

In fact, the entire case against him is fabricated. No corroborating evidence links him to the synagogue bombing or that he belonged to any anti-Israeli group. However, unlike criminal proceeding requiring proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, extradition hearings only need show possible alleged evidence to warrant sending a Canadian citizen abroad to stand trial. In this case, though entirely innocent, to France where he'll be hung out to dry unjustly.

On March 10, Chris Cobb headlined, "Judge to rule in June on Diab extradition," saying:

Justice Maranger said he'll issue his decision on or about June 8, suggesting he'll "give relatively or no weight to supporting circumstantial evidence offered by the French."

Supportive Organizations for Diab

Many have been outspoken on his behalf, including the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), expressing grave concern about "the nature of the information being presented on behalf of France to try to justify its request."

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) called alleged evidence against Diab "manifestly unreliable," compromising his "section 7 Charter rights to life, liberty and security...."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada (CAIR CAN) asked "all Canadians to urge the Minister of Justice to intervene" on Diab's behalf to prevent likely gross injustice against him otherwise.

On November 23, 2010, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) wrote Canada's Minister of Justice and Attorney General Robert Nicholson calling possible torture-extracted evidence against him unreliable. "As such, it should not be admitted into nor relied upon in a Canadian extradition hearing," adding:

"We thus (urge an immediate) halt (to) extradition proceedings against Dr. Diab, unless and until reliable evidence" supports France's request. "(U)njust and oppressive extradition orders" must straightaway be denied.

Friends of Hassan Diab maintain a French and English language blog site on his behalf, accessed through the following link:

http://friendsofhassandiab.blogspot.com/

It has information on fundraisers, appeals for justice, as well as articles and other supportive information.

Numerous other groups signed a "Justice for Hassan Diab" statement, accessed below:

http://www.justiceforhassandiab.org/

Anyone can join them by emailing diabsupport@gmail.com, saying you wish to sign.

Having exhausted his personal savings and unemployed, Diab also needs financial help for his "very expensive legal defense," besides a $2,000 per month GPS monitoring device cost. His Justice for Hassan Diab.org site has information on how to contribute.

He's a "victim of wrongful accusation" who'll be doubly denied justice if Canada extradites him to France to face proceedings rigged to convict and likely imprison him for life.

A Final Comment

Amid daily bad news, April 26 brought renewed hope to Mumia Abu-Jamal, wrongly sentenced to death for a 1981 murder he didn't commit.

Linn Washington Jr. explained, headlining "3rd Circuit Appeal Ruling Favoring Abu-Jamal Smacks Down US Supreme Court," saying:

The court upheld its over two year ago ruling, "siding with a federal district court judge who, back in 2001, had set aside Abu-Jamal's death penalty after determining" 1982 trial irregularities. The court complied with a Supreme Court ordered reexamination of its 2009 decision by affirming it a second time.

Mumia's lead attorney, Professor Judith Ritter, said:

"Each of the four federal judges (reviewing his case) found his death sentence to be unconstitutional. The Third Circuit's most recent opinion reflects a detailed analysis demonstrating that their unanimous decision is well-supported by Supreme Court precedent. We believe this carefully reasoned analysis will stand."

If so, it'll be a small victory amid a tsunami of social, economic and political injustice. In fact, a scandalous amount is caused by America at home and abroad, the self-proclaimed democratic values champion, failing dismally to back its rhetoric with principled policies on virtually all major issues mattering most. Increasingly, Canada hardly fares better.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lies, Damn Lies, and Misreporting about Gitmo Detainees

Lies, Damn Lies, and Misreporting about Gitmo Detainees - by Stephen Lendman

Post-9/11, The New York Times became the lead misreporting source about Guantanamo detainees, largely characterizing them as dangerous terrorists threatening US security.

For example, on July 25, 2007, (like its many other reports) William Glaberson headlined, "New US study calls Guantanamo captives dangerous," saying:

A new Pentagon study "argues that large numbers of detainees were a direct threat to United States forces, including Al Qaeda fighters, terrorism-training camp veterans and men who had experience with explosives, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades."

"It paints a chilling portrait of the Guantanamo detainees, (saying) 95 percent were at the least a 'potential threat,' including detainees who had played a supporting role in terrorist groups or had expressed a commitment to pursuing violent jihadist goals."

More on The Times' reassessment below.

Under Professor Mark Denbeaux's direction, Seton Hall University School of Law's Center for Policy & Research (CP&R) published 17 "GTMO Reports," including profiles of detainees held, allegations against them, and discrepancies in government (and media) accounts, characterizing innocent men as dangerous.

An earlier report analyzed unclassified government data (obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests) based on evidentiary summaries of 2004 military hearings on whether 517 detainees held at the time were "enemy combatants."

Most were non-belligerents. In fact, a shocking 95% were seized randomly by bounty hunters, then sold to US forces for $5,000 per claimed Taliban and $25,000 for supposed Al Qaeda members. At least 20 were children, some as young as 13.

In his first February 2006 report, profiling 517 detainees through analysis of Defense Department (DOD) data, Denbeaux found:

-- only 8% "were characterized as al Qaeda fighters;"

-- 55% committed no hostile act against US or coalition forces; and

-- of the remaining 37%, most had no connection to either Al Qaeda or Taliban forces, based on the Pentagon's assessment.

In his latest March 2011 report, Denbeaux headlined, "Rumsfeld Knew: DoD's 'Worst of the Worst' and Recidivism Claims Refuted by Recently Declassified Memo," explaining that:

Rumsfeld's memo showed he lied, calling into question whether anything he, or other Pentagon officials, said was true. In fact, Denbeaux's reports refute virtually everything from official and major media sources, exposing their deception in detail. They show the vast majority (perhaps all) Guantanamo prisoners were and still are innocent or "low-value" detainees, posing no terrorist threat to America or other nations.

In other words, even the DOD knew they incarcerated innocent men and children, America's media going along with the ruse, notably The New York Times, the lead source of US propaganda.

On April 24, New York writers Charlie Savage, William Glaberson and Andrew Lehren headlined, "Classified Files Offer New Insights Into Detainees," saying:

Released files on about 750 detainees, including 172 still held, "lay(s) bare the patchwork and contradictory evidence that in many cases would never have stood up in criminal court or a military tribunal."

However, continuing their willful deception, the writers added:

"(M)ost of the 172 remaining prisoners have been rated as a 'high risk' of posing a threat to the United States and its allies if released without adequate rehabilitation and supervision, (besides) about a third of the 600 already transferred to other countries....also designated 'high risk' before they were freed or passed to the custody of other governments."

A same day editorial headlined, "The Guantanamo Papers," saying:

Despite documents revealing administration "chaos, lawlessness and incompetence....(t)here are seriously dangerous prisoners at Guantanamo who cannot be released," despite no corroborating evidence proving it.

Moreover, falsely claiming torture and abuse have stopped, it continued saying the "trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other alleged Sept. 11 plotters should be pursued," even though no incriminating evidence proves culpability, except from perhaps torture-extracted confessions The Times apparently believes are credible, despite international law and two Supreme Court decisions calling them inadmissible in criminal proceedings (Fisher v. State, November 1926 and Brown v. Mississippi, February 1936).

The Center for Constitutional Rights' (CCR) Assessment/Critique

Since Guantanamo detentions began in 2002, CCR has done heroic work representing unlawfully held detainees. It enlisted hundreds of pro bono attorneys on their behalf to provide what Bush and Obama administration officials denied, a detainee's Sixth Amendment right to counsel of his or her choice.

Earlier, CCR said:

"The government has illegally detained thousands of people, the most notorious example being the men at Guantanamo." Its attorneys filed many cases on their behalf, as well as others falsely accused in the "war on terror." In fact, for years, their lawyers "challenged immigration sweeps, ghost detentions, extraordinary renditions, and every other illegal program the government devised to lock people up and thrown away the key."

On April 25, CCR headlined, "Rights Group Critical of Poor Reporting by New York Times," saying:

Executive Director Vince Warren said the following in response to The Times and other news stories on released documents for around 750 Guantanamo detainees, saying:

They "shed light" on "innocent men....many of whom remained and remain there long after the government knew they were innocent." Of course, it was known all along. Still, however, misinformation is being reported about alleged detainees still held, notably from The New York Times.

It keeps recycling "unfiltered....out of date and long-discredited DOD claims and its sensationalizing of inflated risk assessments over revelations of abuses committed by the US. For example, (it calls) five Russian men....recidivists, contradicting DOD's characterization.

CCR client Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu is also falsely called a recidivist, "when in fact he was jailed on his return to Libya and is now fighting with the US-supported rebels...."

Other examples also show irresponsible misreporting, including "scare stories that abet those forces seeking to legitimate the continued existence of Guantanamo and the scheme of detention without charge that the place was created to facilitate."

Moreover, besides scandalous ongoing levels of torture and abuse, Times reports refused even to mention, let alone explain, their lawlessness and effect on innocent victims. In addition, Times, Washington Post, and other major media coverage ignore the fact that most of the remaining 172 detainees, "had been cleared for release by the Interagency Task Force set up in 2009." Instead, as quoted above, The Times called at least most of them "high risk....posing a threat to the United States and its allies."

In fact, their risk assessments "are based on patently unreliable information, much of it the product of other interrogations at Guantanamo," producing torture-extracted confessions or other bogus information. In addition, the files "are years out of date and repeat inaccurate Bush administration allegations long since put to rest."

Yet innocent men will be held indefinitely, either uncharged or tried illegally in military commissions using spurious "evidence" to convict them, including the 9/11 suspects. In fact, their alleged guilt is very much open to question, including the so-called mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), brutally tortured for months in several locations before sent to Guananamo for even more.

Overall, the released documents reveal a sordid story of "government attempting to justify its mistakes and detaining, interrogating and abusing men - as well as teenage boys and men old enough to be suffering from dementia - for years based on bad (or bogus) evidence, hearsay (or) sheer incompetence."

They disclose a scandalous lack of accountability, transparency and respect for international and US law. They also reveal that Washington withheld "information the public sorely needs in order to be able to make informed decisions about vital government policies. In addition, they show that the" media, including The New York Times repeatedly, disgraced themselves by misreporting.

Unlike official Washington and America's media, CCR (for almost 15 years) has advanced and protected constitutionally guaranteed rights and those stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - the same ones Seton Hall's Mark Denbeaux and his dedicated team respect, teach and support.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Israel's Lawless Arrest of Ahmad Qatamish

Israel's Lawless Arrest of Ahmad Qatamish - by Stephen Lendman

On April 21, the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association expressed grave concern about Qatamish's arrest:

"not only because (it's) motivated by his political opinions and beliefs and as such should be considered a case of arbitrary detention, but also because (he's) been (targeted by) Israeli authorities before on numerous occasions, notably" for long incarcerations without charge.

As a result, Addameer feels he'll again be administratively detained "without proper recourse to justice and without any legitimate means to defend himself."

Speaking on his behalf, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Dr. Mustafa Barghouti called Israel's arrest "a shameless attempt at muzzling him in an unjustifiable attack on his freedom of expression."

A distinguished writer, scholar, academic, lecturer and activist, Qatamish earned his doctorate in political science. He's also an author of several books on political, philosophical and literary topics, as well as a respected speaker at local universities and research centers.

In 2010, he taught at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, the only Arab institution of higher learning in the divided city, established in 1984 offering degrees in fields ranging from law to technology as well as many other disciplines.

Moreover, its 1998-established Center for Jerusalem Studies includes course work on interdisciplinary cultural heritage topics, as well as related seminars and symposiums from a Palestinian perspective.

Qatamish's latest ordeal began before dawn on April 21 when Israeli soldiers and intelligence officers arrested him, his wife, daughter, and two other female relatives (including a 14-year old child). He alone was taken to Beitunia's Ofer detention center.

His wife, Suha Barghouti, is an Addameer and Palestinian Red Crescent Society board member, as well as being affiliated with a Palestinian NGO Network Steering Committee. Heroic and outspoken like her husband, she calls his latest arrest:

"an attempt to silence his critical voice and prevent his compelling vision for emancipation and self-determination from spreading further in the Palestinian public."

As a result, she urged human rights organizations to exert pressure on his behalf to free him and do everything possible to assure his safety and well-being. It's no simple task in Israeli detention, known for its lawless brutality.

His daughter, Haneen, home on break from Cairo University, described her brief ordeal with Israeli soldiers, saying:

"They tried to intimidate me by exploiting my deep agony over the idea of being denied my father again, but I firmly confronted them and reminded them of the fate of all colonial powers on our land. In response, their commander shouted that I was as 'obstinate' as my father."

Expressing support for a comrade, Gerarda Ventura, Euromed Platform of NGOs vice president, called Qatamish "one of the most sensitive and intellectual people I have ever met," especially in the struggle for "freedom, justice and peace."

First arrested in 1969, he was detained a few months and released, then rearrested in 1972 at which time he was imprisoned for four years, undergoing harsh treatment like other political prisoners.

Until 1992 he went underground to stay free until September when he was again arrested and administratively detained for the next five and half years uncharged, making him the longest ever held administrative detainee to that time.

During his ordeal, he was tortured and abused for weeks, Israel calling him a "dangerous" national leader. He later documented what went on in prison notes called "I Shall not Wear Your Tarboush."

Finally on April 15, 1998, after a tireless international campaign on his behalf, he was released but prohibited from traveling outside Occupied Palestine. As a result, he devoted his efforts to study, writing and lecturing, as well as founding the Munif Barghouti Research Center.

Visiting Qatamish a day after his arrest, his Addameer-appointed lawyer said he hadn't yet been interrogated, and was told he'd again be administratively detained uncharged. A previous article discussed how Israel abuses this practice, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/02/israeli-abusive-administrative.html

Those held are denied due process, may be held indefinitely, aren't told why they're detained, can't dispute it, cross-examine witnesses, or present contradictory evidence to refute them.

Three Israeli laws authorize the practice:

-- the Order Regarding Administrative Detention (the Administrative Detention Order), part of military law governing the West Bank;

-- the Emergency Powers (Detentions) Law for Israel; and

-- the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law (the 2002 Unlawful Combatants Law), like a similar one in America, a dubious Geneva-superceded status international law expert Francis Boyle calls a:

"quasi-category universe of legal nihilism where human beings can be disappeared, detained incommunicado, denied access to attorneys and regular courts, tried in kangaroo courts, executed, tortured, assassinated and subjected to numerous other manifestations of State Terrorism."

Moreover, Prolonged arbitrary detention is a serious breach of international law. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:

1. "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law."

2. "Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him."

4. "Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful."

Although some wiggle room around the law is permitted "in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation," Israel uses it consistently, abusively, and in violation of Fourth Geneva's Article 78 stating:

"If the Occupying Power considers it necessary, for imperative reasons of security, to take measures concerning protected persons, it may, at the most, subject them to assigned residence or to internment."

"Decisions regarding such assigned residence or internment shall be made according to a regular procedure to be prescribed by the Occupying Power in accordance with the provisions of the present Convention. This procedure shall include the right of appeal (decided on) with the least possible delay. (If it's upheld), it shall be subject to periodical review...."

Administrative detention should never substitute for customary criminal proceedings. It should only be used to prevent someone from performing a future lawless act, never to transfer protected persons to the territory of the occupying power or to hold heroic activists uncharged.

Nonetheless, throughout its history, Israel has systematically and repeatedly flaunted international law with impunity, including by imprisoning some of Palestine's most heroic figures like Qatamish.

It's done to silence their influential voices, not their redoubtable spirit that persists until Palestine is one day free of Israel's pernicious, repressive, lawless occupation. For millions of Occupied, Israeli, and diaspora Palestinians, it can't come a moment too soon.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Brutal State Terror in Bahrain

Brutal State Terror in Bahrain - by Stephen Lendman

A previous article discussed police state terror in Bahrain, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/04/police-state-terror-in-bahrain.html

Saying sporadic protests began last summer, major ones began for regime change on February 14, the tenth anniversary of the public referendum on the Bahrain National Action Charter - a monarchy reform initiative to end years of 1990s political unrest.

Wanting constitutionally mandated elected government, greater parliamentary authority, political freedom, social justice, and ending discrimination against majority Shias, many thousands defied government demands for weeks, braving police attacks with tear gas, beatings, rubber bullets, live fire, arrests, torture, and disappearances until March 14 when over 1,500 Saudi Arabia-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) military and police security forces invaded Bahrain guns blazing.

They attacked peaceful protesters, arrested opposition leaders and activists, occupied the country, denied wounded men and women medical treatment, and imposed police state control in support of the hated monarchy.

At the same time, Bahrain is a signatory to nearly every major international humanitarian and human rights law, including:

-- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);

-- the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR);

-- the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and

-- the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), among others.

On April 22, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) condemned the violence in a public statement and new report titled, "DO NO HARM: A Call for Bahrain to End Systematic Attacks on Doctors and Patients," as well as against protesters demanding change.

In mid-March, under Saudi occupation, King Hamad declared a state of emergency, set up checkpoints, and used excessive force against peaceful demonstrations. Moreover, calling Salmaniya Hospital a "stronghold of the opposition protesters," security forces occupied it, denied treatment to wounded patients, arrested doctors, nurses, and other medical staff, as well as human rights activists, bloggers, and other pro-democracy supporters.

As a result, dozens were killed, many hundreds detained or disappeared, and some fear an "undeclared war." Under Article 36(b) of Bahrain's 2002 Constitution, King Hamad may declare a state of national safety, saying:

"A state of national safety or martial law shall be proclaimed only by Decree. In all cases, martial law cannot be proclaimed for a period exceeding three months. This period may not be renewed except with the consent of the majority of the members of the National Assembly present (having no legislative authority)."

Article 32(b) vests the king with executive authority, "together with the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet) and Ministers," appointed by him.

Article 123 states:

"It is impermissible to suspend any provision of this Constitution except during the proclamation of martial law, and within the limits prescribed by law. It is not permissible under any circumstances to suspend the convening of the Consultative Council or the Chamber of Deputies during that period or to infringe upon the immunity of their members, or during the proclamation of a state of national safety."

According to King Hamad's March 15 declaration, Bahrain's military head may now "take necessary steps to restore national security," helped by repressive Saudi occupier muscle. The decree also bans trade unions, political and NGO groups, as well as opposition publications.

Moreover, curfews have been imposed. Transportation infrastructure is controlled. Suspected regime opponents are being arrested. Phone, Internet and other forms of communication are being monitored, and everyone is vulnerable to inspections and surveillance.

In repressive crackdowns, security forces are indiscriminately using brute force, including high velocity weapons, shotguns, rubber bullets, birdshot, beatings, tear gas, and live fire against unarmed civilians, as well as against targeted individuals at close range.

Moreover, aluminum canisters containing six large solid rubber bullets are being used. When fired, multiple projectiles explode, hitting human targets indiscriminately with force enough to cause serious injuries or death.

PHR also documented tear gas used in enclosed places, including homes, as well as unidentified chemical agents based on first hand observation of one protester who exhibited neurological symptoms, corroborated by testimonies from three Bahraini healthcare professionals who'd witnessed or treated dozens of patients similarly diagnosed.

Their symptoms included disorientation, respiratory distress, shortness of breath, sensations of choking, spastic convulsions, burning, aphasia, and hysteria.

Since mid-February, doctors, nurses, and other medical staff have been systematically targeted. PHR corroborated testimonies about middle of the night abductions, beatings, and detentions incommunicado at unknown interrogation centers.

As a result, a senior UN human rights official called "the targeting of medical workers deeply distressing." Another UN torture expert denounced "the appalling killing and ill-treatment of protestors, including those in hospitals." The World Medical Association (WMA) demanded accountability for those responsible, saying:

"Physicians have an ethical duty to care for their patients, and governments have a duty to ensure that appropriate conditions exist to allow them to do so."

Nonetheless, on March 15, Salamaniya Hospital was militarized, staff members terrorized, abducted, interrogated, and detained, including leading Bahraini specialists. PHR also documented egregious abuses against patients and detainees, including torture, beatings, verbal abuse, humiliation, and threatened rape, other sexual abuse, or death.

In fact, testimonies obtained from 47 informants were consistent with a systematic, coordinated campaign to abduct, detain, and torture civilians involved in February and March pro-democracy demonstrations. Methods used to arrest them include:

-- roadblocks and checkpoints throughout the country, focusing on Shia areas;

-- checking medical records for smoke inhalation or bullet wounds;

-- published, televised, or Internet photos of protesters;

-- international media and other observers in Bahrain who spoke to protesters, doctors, or other eyewitnesses;

-- nightly raids in Shia communities;

-- information gotten through torture; and

-- posing as health professionals in stolen ambulances.

On April 8, PHR representatives visited Salmaniya Hospital. "(T)he team saw a large-caliber tank gun and an armed soldier standing up in the turret holding an assault rifle. Lined up directly in front of the main emergency entrance were 16 police vehicles and 20 fully armed Bahraini riot policemen."

Inside, security forces, riot police and special forces occupied every floor, wearing masks to conceal their identity.

PHR, however, said at no time did Bahrain face an imminent threat throughout the crisis, and found no evidence that pro-democracy protesters were armed during demonstrations. Nonetheless, police state terror threatens everyone challenging regime power, including doctors and other medical staff for doing their job.

At the same time, while using an alleged Libyan humanitarian crisis as a pretext for intervention, Obama officials are indifferent to appalling Bahraini state terror against peaceful pro-democracy protesters. A dismissive April 12 State Department advisory merely called the situation "fluid," saying "daily routines are returning to normal...." The brazen hypocrisy requires no further comment.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Systematic Injustice Against Sundiata Acoli

Systematic Injustice Against Sundiata Acoli - by Stephen Lendman

In her book titled "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," Michelle Alexander cites Martin Luther King in 1968 highlighting the need to shift from civil to human rights advocacy, saying initiatives for it just began. In fact, it's truer now than then with Blacks and Hispanics comprising two-thirds of America's prison population, by far the world's largest at around 2.4 million, most incarcerated for nonviolent or political reasons.

Focusing on the war on drugs, Alexander characterizes the New Jim Crow as a modern-day racial caste system designed by elitists who embrace colorblindness. Believing poor Blacks are dangerous and economically superfluous, America's gulag became an instrument of control. According to Alexander:

"Any movement to end mass incarceration must deal with (it) as a racial caste system, not (a method) of crime control. We need an effective system of crime prevention and control in our communities, but that is not what the current system is. (It's) better designed to create crime, and a perpetual class of people labeled criminals, rather than to eliminate crime or reduce the number of criminals."

Overall, America's most vulnerable are victimized by judicial unfairness, get tough on crime policies, a guilty unless proved innocent mentality, three strikes and you're out, racist drug laws, poverty, and advocacy for social justice issues challenging repressive state policies.

As a result, figures like former UN ambassador Andrew Young believes "(t)here are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people (in America incarcerated as) political prisoners." Including undocumented Latino immigrants and other aliens, it's tens of thousands, an April 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report saying Washington annually spends over $1.5 billion imprisoning them.

Currently, around 55,000 are in federal prisons, another 75,000 in state facilities. At a November 2010 Workers World Party conference, International Action Center organizer Gloria Verdieu said:

"Freeing all political prisoners, prisoners of conscience and prisoners of war" tops America's social justice struggle, "because the state uses the criminal justice system to lock up those who sacrifice their livelihood for freedom and justices for the masses."

In fact, international precedent recognizes releasing them. France freed anarchists, Germany Baader-Meinhof figures, and Britain IRA members. Not America, however, in contrast to notorious criminals pardoned, including Iran-Contra conspirators Caspar Weinberger, Elliott Abrams and John Poindexter, as well as others convicted of serious offenses warranting long internments.

Unlike them, today in America, heroic activists are incarcerated unjustly, including Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Ramsey Muniz, Oscar Lopez Rivera, the Cuban Five, lawyers Lynne Stewart and Paul Bergrin, and, among many others, Sundiata Acoli (born Clark Edward Squire) for 38 years.

Access his complete profile at:

http://www.sundiataacoli.org/

Born in January 1937, it calls him a New African political prisoner of war, mathematician, and computer analyst with a BA in math from Prairie View A & M College. In summer 1964, he did voter registration work in Mississippi. In 1968, he joined the Harlem Black Panther Party, doing community work relating to schools, housing, jobs, child care, drugs, and police brutality.

In 1969, he and others were arrested in the Panther 21 conspiracy case, jailed for two years without bail, then acquitted and released. Afterward, FBI pressure denied him professional employment, and COINTELPRO harassment and surveillance drove him underground.

Driving on the New Jersey Turnpike in May 1973, he and others were accosted by state troopers. Zayd Shakur was killed, Assata Shakur wounded and captured. One state trooper was killed, another wounded. Acoli was captured days later. In a highly charged, "sensationalized and prejudicial" trial, he was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life plus 30 years.

Initially for five years at Trenton State Prison (TSP), he was confined to a special Management Control Unit (MCU) solely for political reasons, given only 10 minutes daily for showers and two hours weekly for recreation.

The International Jurist (TIJ) "publishes perspectives and opinions on the current state of international law and its future," especially international humanitarian law, human rights law, transitional justice and international criminal law, and comparative law.

After interviewing Acoli in September 1979, TIJ declared him a political prisoner. Days later, he was secretly transferred to solitary confinement at maximum security US Penitentiary, Marion, IL despite no outstanding federal charges. In July 1987, he was sent to Leavenworth, KS federal prison.

Eligible for parole in fall 1992, he was denied permission to attend his own hearing, permitted only to participate by prison phone. Despite his exemplary prison work, academic and disciplinary record, hundreds of supportive letters, and numerous offers as a computer professional, he was denied in a 20 minute proceeding, giving him "a 20-year hit, the longest in New Jersey history," minimally requiring him to serve another 12 years before again becoming eligible for parole.

Reasons given were his Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army membership, as well as hundreds of "Free Sundiata" form letters calling him a "New Afrikan Prisoner of War" and that he hadn't been sufficiently rehabilitated. At issue, however, is forcing him to renounce his social justice advocacy and admit wrongdoing for struggling to liberate his people.

On March 4, 2010, the New Jersey State Parole Board (NJPB) denied him for the third time, again calling him "not rehabilitated" despite over a 1,000 supportive letters and petitions from noted figures, including lawyers, clergy, academics, psychologists, community members, and journalists.

Then in mid-July, with no explanation, he got written notice of a 10-year hit, requiring at least another six years imprisonment before parole eligibility at which time he'll be 79 years old or perhaps dead.

On August 27, 2010, an administrative appeal to the New Jersey Parole Board was filed, his legal advisers saying his case is strong based on NJPB procedural errors.

Throughout his incarceration, he's endured harsh treatment yet maintained an exemplary record, as well as becoming a talented painter and writer on prison industrial complex issues. He's also a father, grandfather, and both brother and mentor to fellow inmates besides making invaluable community contributions before incarceration.

In the 1960s, after years as a skilled computer programmer, he participated in southern civil rights struggles. Moreover, his New York chapter Black Panther Party activities involved him in numerous social justice struggles, including education, slum housing, school breakfasts, healthcare, legal help, and politics. He also worked on anti-drug and police brutality initiatives, an admirable record overall deserving praise, not incarceration for nearly four decades.

A Final Comment

On April 17, 2011, Acoli's latest article headlined, "Sundiata Acoli: Why You Should Support Black Political Prisoners/POWs and How," saying:

"My name is Sundiata Acoli....and am now a Black Political Prisoner and Prisoner or War (PP/POW) who's been (incarcerated) for the last 37 years."

"So why should you care," he asked? "Why should you support Black PP/POWs? Well, maybe you shouldn't. If you're happy with (how America) and the world is going, and if you want (Washington and Western powers) to dominate and oppress the rest of the world, then (don't) support Black PP/POWs (and it agenda to end predatory) capitalism, sexism, (racism), and all unjust oppressions of people and life (on) earth."

That advocacy got Acoli and many others imprisoned for supporting and doing the right thing. Now it's up to mass activism no longer to tolerate it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for April 28, 30, and May 1, 2011

The Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for April 28, 30, and May 1, 2011

Thursday, April 28 at 10AM US Central time: James Petras

Petras is Binghamton University, New York Professor Emeritus, a noted figure on the left, a distinguished Latin American expert, and longtime chronicler of the region's popular struggles.

He's also a consummate scholar and prolific writer of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, including his latest titled, "War Crimes in Gaza and the Zionist Fifth Column in America."

Major world and national issues will be discussed

Saturday, April 30 at noon US Central time: Jack Rasmus

Rasmus is Professor of Political Economy at St. Mary's College and Santa Clara University, CA. He's also a freelance journalist, frequent speaker, a playwright and author, including his latest book titled, "Epic Recession: Prelude to Global Repression."

His forthcoming book available soon is titled, "Obama's Economy: Recovery for the Few."

Sunday, May 1 at noon US Central time: John Kozy

Kozy is a retired philosophy and logic professor, now writing on social, political and economic issues. He taught for many years and has been writing for many more.

Visit his web site at www.jkozy.com.

His latest writing will be discussed.