Tuesday, January 27, 2015
America's War on Everything It Claims to Stand For
What kind of nation scorns basic precepts free societies cherish? Mocks them. Operates extrajudicially. Polar opposite what it claims to support. Rewarding its wicked. Most reprehensible. Punishing its best, brightest, most honorable and deserving of praise.
What nation has far and away the world's worst human and civil rights record over a longer duration? Affecting the greatest number of people.
Which one bears more full responsibility for multiple global genocides? At home and abroad.
Which cares only for its rich, well-born and privileged? No others. Which more systematically wants its middle class eliminated? Its working population exploited as serfs.
Which one more disproportionately shifts wealth from ordinary people to corrupted rich elites already with too much? Billionaires and multi-millionaires. Making money the old-fashioned way.
Which one more egregiously supports wrong over right on a global scale? Which continues inflicting more harm on more people than any nation in human history?
Which more systematically trashes its own laws on fundamental rights?
America's Constitution Preamble stresses "form(ing) a more perfect union…"(E)stablish(ing) justice…(I)nsuring domestic tranquility…"
"Provid(ing) for the common defense…Promot(ing) the general welfare…Secur(ing) the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."
Bill of Rights guarantees include free expression. A free press. Freedom of religion. Freedom of assembly and association.
Privacy by prohibiting unjustified searches and seizures. Due process and judicial fairness.
Cruel and unusual punishments forbidden. Other rights guaranteed by law.
The UN Charter is bedrock international law. Its Preamble vows "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…
Its provisions strictly prohibit one nation from attacking others except in self-defense. Acting only if authorized by Security Council members.
Not presidents. Not Congress. Not federal courts. Or Pentagon generals. America rhetorically proclaims support for high-minded principles.
Its actions belie its words. Its criminal class is bipartisan. Democrats no different from Republicans.
On issues mattering most, they're in lock step. Including premeditated wars of aggression without end. Against invented enemies.
Supporting monied interests at the expense of popular ones. Police state ruthlessness matching some of the world's worse tyrannies.
Duopoly power rules. Elections when held are farcical. Why half or more of the electorate opts out. Why bother with no say.
Monied interests run things. Choose candidates. Determine key outcomes. Americans get the best democracy money can buy.
Human and civil rights abuses are horrific. Fundamental freedoms fast disappearing in plain sight.
War criminals receive Presidential Medals of Freedom. Multi-million-dollar book contracts. Six-figure speech deals. Almost for just showing up.
Wall Street crooks go unpunished. Free to steal all they can.
Corporate plunder is the coin of the realm. Unprecedented amounts on a global scale. Activists against wars, racial discrimination as well as criminal, political, and social injustice risk imprisonment. Even death
Thousands of political prisoners languish in America's gulag. Others are wrongfully convicted for crimes they never committed. Including capital ones.
The North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence is part of the Innocence Network. Helping wrongfully convicted victims prove their innocence.
Calling "life in prison a nightmare for those who commit crimes. Imagine what it's like for those in prison for a crime they did not commit."
"God knows I'm innocent," Joseph Sledge maintained throughout his wrongful conviction and 37-year imprisonment.
For two 1976 murders he didn't commit. "Miracles happen in their own kind of way," he said. Belately-obtained DNA evidence exonerated him.
On January 23, a Columbus County, NC three-judge panel ordered him freed. According to the Raleigh News & Observer, he's entitled to $750,000 in compensation for wrongful incarceration.
"I'm full up on freedom," said Sledge after his first free meal in a local restaurant.
In 1993, Larry Lamb was wrongfully convicted of first degree murder, robbery and felonious conspiracy.
Despite no physical evidence connecting him to the crime. Imprisoned for 20 years. Until Judge Douglas Parsons vacated his conviction on August 9, 2013.
Calling testimony against him "false." Saying "there is more than a reasonable possibility that, had the false testimony not been admitted, a different result would have been reached."
Ordered all charges against him dismissed. He walked out of prison a free man.
Dwayne Dail was exonerated after being wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years. For the rape of a 12-year-old girl. DNA evidence freed him. Otherwise he would have remained imprisoned for life.
Willie Grimes is "free at last." After 24 years in prison. Wrongfully convicted of a rape and kidnapping he didn't commit. Exculpating evidence freed him.
Greg Taylor spent 6,149 days in prison for a murder he didn't commit. On February 17, 2010, a three-judge panel exonerated him. Saying he proved his innocence by clear and convincing evidence.
In 1995, Joseph Abbitt was wrongfully convicted of first-degree rape, first-degree burglary, and first-degree kidnapping. Exonerated in 2009 after serving 14 years in prison.
These and similar cases aren't isolated exceptions. Thousands of wrongfully prosecuted and convicted victims languish in America's gulag.
For crimes they didn't commit. Many on trumped up charges. Many others for political reasons. In a nation proclaiming freedom and justice for all. Police state persecution proves otherwise. More on this below.
The New York-based Innocence Project explains "(s)ince 1989, "tens of thousands of cases where prime suspects were identified and pursued until DNA testing (prior to conviction) proved that they were wrongly accused."
The Chicago Innocence Project (CHIP) calls itself "Watchdogs over the justice system." Headed by former Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism Professor David Protess.
Involved in "investigat(ing) cases in which prisoners may have been convicted of crimes they did not commit, with priority to murder cases that resulted in sentences of death or life without parole."
Prosecutorial injustice is rife. Courts most often are conspiratorially involved. Guilt by accusation suffices.
Fabricated evidence is accepted as real. So are confessions extracted under torture. Multiple studies over the last half century show courts punish prosecutorial misconduct in less than 2% of cases.
Nearly always just slaps on the wrist. Meaningless when ordered. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, official misconduct bears responsibility for 43% of wrongful convictions.
Prosecutors have full discretion over what evidence to use or ignore. Their job is to convict. With no incentive to reveal exculpatory evidence.
Career advancement in large measure depends on how many bad guys they put behind bars. Innocence doesn't matter.
Or compliance with Brady v. Maryland. A landmark 1963 Supreme Court decision against withholding exculpatory evidence.
Ruling doing so violates due process "where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment."
Exculpatory evidence is "material (if) there is a reasonable probability that…conviction or sentence would have been difference had these materials been disclosed."
Brady evidence includes witness statements. Physical evidence conflicting with or disputing prosecutorial witness testimonies.
Evidence permitting defense counsels to legally challenge the credibility of prosecution witnesses. Including false statements. Evidence obtained from paid informants.
Most often, federal, state and local courts fail to uphold Brady. Violating their sworn duty to do so.
In December, US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski issued a rare indictment of a corrupted system.
Citing "an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land." In his dissent involving a defendant's conviction. Despite prosecutorial withholding of evidence in his case.
"Only judges can put a stop to it," said Kozinski. With prosecutors hellbent to convict, they alone can prevent injustice.
Few profiles in courage dare try. Including for journalist Barrett Brown. Unjustly sentenced to 63 months in prison. Ordered to pay Stratfor $890,000.
For so-called links to the hacktivist Anyonymous group. Related to discovering US government contractors' misconduct.
Mainly Stratfor. A so-called global intelligence service. Marketing itself as a for-hire CIA. One or more observers call it The Economist a week later.
Prosecutors claimed merely linking to leaked information was illegal. Wanted Brown imprisoned longterm. He copped a plea on three lesser charges.
Including transmitting a You Tube threat. Hiding a laptop computer during a raid. Being "accessory after the fact in the unauthorized access to a protected computer."
He was imprisoned for a year awaiting trial. Gag order silenced for six months. Denied his First Amendment right to discuss his case freely. Especially to the media.
In 2011, he posted a chatroom link. Containing hacked Stratfor client emails, credit card information and other data.
As well as documented discussions of assassinations, renditions, and ways to undermine journalists and f
Brown stole nothing. Nor misused any information he had. He simply linked to already online posted data. Including by WikiLeaks.
Punishing journalists like Brown for linking to already published information prosecutors call objectionable flies in the face of First Amendment rights.
Brown wasn't the first victim. For sure not the last. A clear example of fast disappearing freedoms in America.
A previous article discussed peace champion Kathy Kelly. Voices for Creative Nonviolence co-cordinator.
A three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee. A guest on this writer's Progressive Radio News Hour when her schedule allows.
Not until at least late April. On Friday, January 23, Kathy began serving a three-month sentence. For exercising her First Amendment rights.
For protesting murder by drones. At Whiteman Air Force Base, MO. Kathy justifiably says drone warfare jeopardizes security for everyone.
America's Constitution protects her free expression, assembly and petition for redress of grievances rights.
Arrested with Georgia Walker and other activists. For trespassing at Whiteman AFB's gate. On June 1, 2014.
Trying to deliver a loaf of bread and letter to its commander, Brig. General Glen Van Herck. Conducting AfPak drone warfare.
"It's a good time to be very uncompromising" about America's wars, said Kathy.
They're "murderous. (They're) killing civilians." The vast majority of war victims. "And this is certainly true with the drone strikes."
Whiteman won't disclose information on its drone operations. Nor will CIA operatives involved.
Americans have a right to know, said Kathy. A right to "seek redress of grievance."
"And having been in Afghanistan, living with young people who are too frightened to go back to visit their own relatives, who see for themselves a future that could be a prolonged, exacerbated warfare, there is a grievance, and we wanted to bring that to the commandant at that particular base."
Kathy is a consummate profile in courage and humility. All give and no take. Putting her body on the line courageously. Dozens of times in harm's way in war theaters.
At Whiteman against murder by drones. Affecting mostly noncombatant civilians. In the wrong place at the wrong time.
On January 23, Kathy's internment began. Continuing through late April. Throughout her ordeal and what lies ahead, "90% (or more) of (her) experience…depend(s) on attitude," she said.
Many others face much harsher treatment. Blacks, other people of color and Muslims most vulnerable.
"(I)nitial arrest often begins with…a 'night raid as armed police surround homes, burst in, remove their prisoner from children and families, often with helicopters overhead," said Kathy.
"(T)hen (victims) sequester(ed) in a county jail…with very little oversight to assure" fair treatment. Some prisoners aren't given time to say goodbye to wives and children.
Medical care is deplorable. Imagine life in prison without vitally needed meds. Assuring pain and suffering without them. At times, life threatening illness.
Asked how to support her while she's away, she urges helping Afghan Peace Volunteers (APV). Consider involvement in Shut Down Creech, March 4 - 6.
In winter 2014, APV began a street kids project. Initially for 21 local children. Now it's 30. Providing one school day a week.
Lessons in literacy, math and global awareness. Supplying kids' families with a sack of flour and tin of oil each month.
APVs hope to increase numbers of children and families they serve. In a nation with one of the world's most immererated populations.
Donations can be sent by check to:
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
1249 W. Argyle
Chicago, IL 60640
Please note "street kids" on checks sent.
Kathy can be reached by mail at the following address:
Federal Medical Center
PO Box 14525
Lexington, KY 40512
Paperback books can be sent if shipped directly from bookstores or publishers. More Bureau of Prisons information is available on its web site.
Kathy will spent the next three months in prison. Like Barrett Brown and countless others, for exercising their constitutional rights.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III".
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs..