Confidential #2 – 1/24/05

Bulletin #2
Monday, January 24, 2005
Please feel free to distribute.
www.struggle-and-win.net

Dear comrades:
This is the second of my e-mail bulletins called “Confidential.” I will be sending these bulletins out on a regular basis. The first bulletin was all about KPFA and Pacifica. This one is mostly about the so-called “War on Terror,” which, in reality, is a war on freedom.

IN THIS BULLETIN:
1. House of Representatives passes “doomsday” plan.
2. Lifetime detention. No charges. No problem.
3. Condi Rice to Congress: Don’t tie the hands of the torturers.
4. Loophole in new torture memo.
5. Bill of Rights an “obstacle to national security?”
6. Frequent flyer miles for a trip from Guantánamo to Australia?
7. Torture and the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
8. Policemen awarded $2.4 million in California beating case.
9. KPFA Peoples Radio event next Friday night.


1. House of Representatives passes “doomsday” plan.

Just after the new year, the House passed a “doomsday” law that would allow a handful of lawmakers to run Congress if some “natural disaster, attack, contagion or similar calamity” killed or incapacitated a large number of Congress members. Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) said “Changing what constitutes a quorum in this way would allow less than a dozen lawmakers to declare war on another nation.” According to a lawyer for an independent bipartisan panel created to study the issue, “it’s unconstitutional.”

2. Lifetime detention. No charges. No problem.

The Washington Post reports that the Bush administration is preparing for possible lifetime detention of suspected “terrorists.” These prisoners would include hundreds whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts, and who have no more “intelligence” to share. The Pentagon will ask Congress for $25 million to build a 200-bed prison at Guantánamo.  “Since global war on terror is a long-term effort, it makes sense for us to be looking at solutions for long-term problems,” said a Pentagon spokesman.

3. Condi Rice to Congress: Don’t tie the hands of the torturers.

Last month the Senate scrapped a proposed law that would have explicitly extended to intelligence officers (read: CIA) the same prohibition against torture that supposedly applies to the military, and would have required the CIA and the Pentagon to report to Congress about their interrogation methods. Condoleezza Rice came over to the hill, and argued that the measure “provides legal protections to foreign prisoners to which they are not now entitled under applicable law and policy.”

4. Loophole in new torture memo.

Alberto Gonzales’ infamous 2002 torture memo was supposedly superseded by a new, milder version released in the middle of the night, just before his nomination hearing. But it has now been revealed that the new version has a cryptic footnote that refers to other still-classified memos approved by the Justice Department that provides a loophole for those inclined to torture, allowing such techniques as shoving uncooperative suspects underwater and “making believe” that they might be drowned.

5. Bill of Rights an “obstacle to national security

Who is Bush’s new pick for Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff? According to the ALCU, he was “an architect of the Patriot Act,” was “instrumental” in crafting Justice Department guidelines to allow the FBI to infiltrate religious and political gatherings, and was the “catalyst” behind the rules that permit eavesdropping on attorney-client conversations. Chertoff is also the man whom Ashcroft chose to
oversee the roundup and detention of thousands of Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants in the aftermath of 9/11, tossing them incommunicado into the clink over every immigration violation, minor or imaginary. The ACLU says that his
“public record suggests he sees the Bill of Rights as an obstacle to national security.”

6. Frequent flyer miles for a trip from Guantánamo to Australia?

The administration recently agreed to release Australian Guantánamo prisoner Mamdouh Habib. But despite the promise of release, Habib is still a guest at Guantánamo, because the US has insisted that the Australian government fly him home in chains. The Australian authorities refused, saying that the US admits it does not have enough evidence to charge him with any crime. The US then denied Habib the right to travel through US airspace, claiming that he might try to get off the plane during refueling stops in LA or Hawaii. This forces the Australian government to fly Habib home on either a charter or military flight, costing from $300,000 to $500,000. The US and the Australians are arguing over who will foot the bill.

7. Torture and the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

January 27 is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the infamous Nazi death camp. The “Nuremburg defense,” that guards were just following orders, didn’t help the Auschwitz guards, nor did it help Abu Ghraib torture ringleader Cpl. Charles Graner. The Nuremberg trials established another important precedent, that the German officials who made the policy decisions that enabled torture and mass murder, were held culpable, even without proof that they directly participated, or had specific knowledge of their policies actually being carried out.

Witnesses at Graner’s trial testified that Col. Thomas Pappas, the highest-ranking military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib, encouraged the abuse of prisoners. According to the New York Times, a still-classified Pentagon report says that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former top commander in Iraq approved the use of interrogation practices “intended to be limited to captives held in Afghanistan and Guantánamo.”

“The higher up they go, the more problems they have with people leading to the Pentagon,” said Harvey Volzer, who represented a soldier who plea bargained her way out of a torture rap. “Pappas gives them Sanchez, and they don’t want that. Sanchez can give them Rumsfeld, and they don’t want that. Rumsfeld can lead to
Bush and Gonzalez, and they definitely don’t want that.”

Human Rights Watch has called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the torture regime rampant in the dungeons of US imperialism from Abu Ghraib, to Guantánamo, to the “ghost detainees” secreted around the globe.

8. Policemen awarded $2.4 million in California beating case.

In the war at home, two Los Angeles police officers involved in the beating of a black teenager have been awarded $2.4 million by a Los Angeles jury that found
they were unfairly disciplined. The cops were captured on an amateur videotape slamming a 16 year-old onto the cop car and punching him in the face after a routine traffic stop. Shown repeatedly on nationwide television, the incident was reminiscent of the infamous beating of Rodney King. One cop was suspended for five days, the other for ten days.

“This is more of an outrage than the Rodney King acquittal. It sends a message to the so-called law enforcement community that they can not only get away with brutalizing Blacks, et al., but GET PAID — BIG TIME!” said Kiilu Nyasha, a well-known Bay Area Black activist.

9. KPFA Peoples Radio event next Friday night.

Peoplesradio.net will present a report on the recent Pacifica National Board (PNB) meeting in Los Angeles, and on current issues at KPFA. Speakers include PNB delegates Fadi Saba and LaVarn Williams, Guns and Butter producer Bonnie Faulkner, and LSB member Riva Enteen.

Friday, 1/28, 7:30 pm,
Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street in Oakland,
between Telegraph and Broadway