Thursday, October 27, 2005

Rallies, Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay

Good evening and we'll kick things off with Democracy Now!

Over 1500 Events Held To Mark 2,000 U.S. Deaths in Iraq
The Village Voice is reporting over 1500 events took place across the country Wednesday to commemorate the death of 2,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. In Washington, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan and 25 others were arrested for demonstrating without a permit in front of the White House. The protesters lay on the ground in a "die-in" to symbolize the US soldiers killed in Iraq. In New York, several hundred flooded the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square with shouts of "Bush lied, 2,000 died."

I should have gone to one of those yesterday but I wasn't thinking. We were all, Rebecca, Elaine and me thinking about the incredible interview Amy Goodman did yesterday. I know C.I. went and I know C.I. has an ear infection. Even so, C.I. was there and counted for. My folks went. I was wondering where they were. I assumed my sister had some school thing but I got home last night to an empty house. Ma was nice enough to leave me a plate that I just had to heat up.
After I finally posted (and got off the phone) last night, I went in search of a snack and there was Dad and Ma in the kitchen drinking coffee and talking about it.

I said I felt like a real slacker and they go no because Rebecca, Elaine and me were focusing on the Amy Goodman interview and getting the word out on that. I went to bed telling myself that was true and then I was reading C.I.'s e-mail about the rally and thinking, "Man, C.I. posted four things yesterday and still managed to go to a rally and work." I always feel like with college and work and friends and family and Nina I'm stretched to the limit then C.I. puts me to shame.

I salute everyone who participated and say "Well done."

I also salute my good buddy Cedric who wrote a most excellent post on the white white white world online and the people who didn't seem to think that Rosa Parks dying meant anything worth noting. I'm glad Cedric wrote what he wrote and real glad that there's a blog like Cedric's Big Mix because I doubt many people even noticed how little attention was given by some on the left to Rosa Parks' death. If you haven't read it, you should. You can click here to read it.

And while I'm plugging (shamelessly), let me plug my buddy Wally's site, The Daily Jot. If you don't know, he's in Florida. In one of the areas hit hard by Hurricane Wilma. He didn't have to be there but his grandfather wouldn't leave his house and when Wally found out, he drove out there. Everyone else was driving in the opposite direction but Wally wasn't going to let his grandfather face a hurricane alone. Wally's awesome and brave. They're on a generator but he managed to get a post up today and here's a part of it:

Right now we have power for a few hours thanks to the generator.
Do I sound like Riverbend?
Well say a prayer for Florida, while the rest of the nation lives under only one Bush, we live under two and you can really tell that with the incompetence displayed at every level in the wake of Hurricane Wilma.

That cracked me up when he asked if he sounded like Baghdad Burning. Bully Boy and his bro Jeb are turning Florida into a disaster site. Iraq has come to Florida with regards to electricity and that's because you have people who do not respect science or the need for government. All they know is tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts. And they just know that for their wealthy friends.

Meanwhile, 2000 Americans have died serving in Bully Boy's illegal war and all he can do is whine today about Harriet Miers.

Renewed Patriot Act to Alter Death Penalty Rules
The Washington Post is reporting the House bill that would renew the USA Patriot Act includes little-noticed provisions that would dramatically alter the federal death penalty system. The bill allows for smaller juries to decide on executions and grants prosecutors the right to re-try suspects if a jury deadlocks on sentencing. The bill also triples the number of terrorism-related crimes eligible for the death penalty. The Justice Department has already endorsed the provisions. Jennifer Daskal of Human Rights Watch, told the Post : "These are radical changes in the way federal death penalty cases are litigated, and they were added virtually without any debate."

This is just like when they passed the Patriot Act to begin with, it was all done in secret without discussion. I can't believe that people are going to stand for this again.

Elaine's going to try to do a quick post tonight. I'm not sure if she'll be able to or not. When the group she's doing ends, it's been an all day thing for her of seeing patients individually during the day and then grab a quick bite and start group. But you can check Like Maria Said Paz because she said she's going to try to do something tonight. It may just be posting the above two things and also noting one of those excellent peace quotes. But because of how we both agreed would be a good ending, she may post something tonight.

This was our ending. We thought another item from Democracy Now! was really important but we both agreed C.I. summed it up this morning when dealing with the New York Times story and I'm stealing from C.I's post on Democracy Now! too because C.I. linked to the story Democracy Now! did last week on this issue:

Govt. Ordered to Notify Prison Lawyers on Force Feedings
Lawyers for hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay won a federal court order Wednesday mandating the government to provide them with clients' medical records and to notify them before their clients are subjected to involuntary force feedings. As Democracy Now reported last week, scores of hunger-striking detainees have been force-fed with tubes up their noses at the U.S. military prison.

Now here's C.I. thing and Elaine and I felt it was all the commentary needed:

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Bush administration and the military to provide information to defense lawyers about the condition of detainees at the Guantanamo military base in Cuba who are participating in a hunger strike.
The judge, Gladys Kessler of Federal District Court, acted on a petition brought by lawyers for a handful of detainees from Qatar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan who say they have been forcibly and sometimes brutally fed by tubes placed through their noses.
[. . .]
Julia Tarver, a lawyer for three of the detainees, asserted in court papers that when she visited her clients she found them weak and sometimes able to speak only with difficulty because of throat lesions they said were caused by having the feeding tubes forced in. Ms. Tarver said one detainee, Yousef Al-Shehri, told her that a feeding tube had been roughly inserted through his nose into his throat, causing him to spit up blood.
The above is from Neil A. Lewis' "Striking Guantanamo Detainees Gain in Ruling" in this morning's New York Times.
As has been noted on Law & Disorder and Democracy Now!, you're talking about prisoners who've been held for years, with no trial and little hope of getting out. This is their way of protesting and taking action when no other action is left to them. We could do something about it (other than force feeding) but that would mean living by the prinicples our nation's supposed to stand for.
Instead, we lock people away without a trial and no hope of release. Then when they take one of the only stands left for them to take, we further the indignity by force feeding them. (After denying for months that a hunger strike was even going on.) What will future generations think when they look back on this?
America, the supposed nation of rule of law, detained, imprisoned people with no trials (including children under the age of eighteen) and left them there. Kept them there with no end in sight.
Threw out the Constitution because, the administration argues, it doesn't apply to Guantanamo.
Nothing applies to Guantanamo, it's not part of the United States. If you buy that argument (I don't), what of the people working at Guantanamo? Are they not part of the United States? Are they not bound by the laws and principles of this country?
Let's note Amy Goodman's interview with Janis Kaprinski from yesterday's Democracy Now!:
JANIS KARPINSKI: The only person that I spoke to individually after General Miller's visit – briefing, his in-brief, that initial briefing, I went to find the JAG officer, the legal officer, lawyer, who was with General Miller, and she was -- I believe she was a major and she had been working down at Guantanamo Bay. So, I asked her, I said, "What are you doing about releasing the prisoners down at Guantanamo Bay?" And she said, "Ma'am, we're not releasing prisoners. Most of those prisoners are going to spend every last day of their lives at Guantanamo Bay. They're terrorists. We're not releasing them." And I said, "Well, what are you going to do? Fly their family members over to visit them?" She said "No, these are terrorists, ma'am. They don't get visits from home." And that was -- that was absolutely shocking, thinking about the fate of these, what we believed was, several hundred prisoners down there, 680 prisoners spending every last day of their lives at Guantanamo Bay, and particularly important because that meant that military police would be guarding them for the foreseeable future.
There's a little truth that doesn't make the news, mainstream. "We're not releasing prisoners."Are we really surprised that after several years with nothing, no trial, no end in sight, that people would decide that a hunger strike that could result in death was the last act open to them?
If you missed the interview, you can watch, read or listen to it online at Democracy Now!

Let me add in here that Kat went to one of the rallies last night too. She e-mailed me some photos of the one she attended. I don't know if she'll write about it or not, I know she's trying to get a review together for Stevie Wonder's new CD, but she stood up and was counted and I want to give a shout out to her.