Friday, May 1, 2009

Somber Reflection On A Day Long Ago And Reporting On A Day Fraught With Equal Danger For This Nation.

Somber Reflection On A Day Long Ago And Reporting On A Day Fraught With Equal Danger For This Nation.


“On May 4, 1970 the Ohio National Guard opened fire into a busy college campus during a school day. A total of 67 shots were fired in 13 seconds. Four students: (L to R) Allison Krause, William Schroeder, Jeffrey Miller, and Sandra Scheuer were killed. Nine students were wounded.”…and thus began the “Day That Never Ends.”

The tragedy at Kent State shocked this nation; and it challenged a sleeping apathetic conscience on the verge of deserting everything this nation ought be. The recklessness of the shooting was all too evident in the distances at which students were hit. None was closer to the National Guard than 60 feet and Donald MacKenzie was placed by the FBI some 730 feet from the Pagoda, where the Guard was massed. John Kifner, a reporter for the New York Times, was standing but a few yards from Jeffrey Miller and could just as easily have been killed.

Any parent of a Kent State student could have lost a son or daughter in those thirteen seconds, yet far too, many refused to believe the circumstances under which the shooting occurred. They were quick to accept the explanations of Del Corso and Gen. Robert Canterbury, only to learn later that there were no snipers, that the Guard was not surrounded and that their lives were not in danger.

And as the years have passed we have all had to labor to expose the real truth of what happened that day and slowly but surely the lies have been exposed, incompetency has been documented. History is being clarified with the truth and accuracy because those of us who endured the invasion of our campus, who tossed back the tear gas canisters of our would be oppressors and silencers of our dissent, have refused to relent, refused to surrender, in our pursuit of every minute of the truth of those few days.  They changed this nation; they our lives forever. 

That search for truth and simple justice, at times has seemed to be a hopeless effort to make the government fulfill its obligations to the Constitution. As the months dragged by, our conviction that the gunfire was totally unnecessary was confirmed, first by the Justice Department's summary of the FBI investigations and them by the President's Commission on Campus Unrest. Not only was it unnecessary; it was termed "inexcusable." Thirteen students had been inexcusably shot, but those who did the shooting could not be called to account.

Many labored studying all the available material on the tragedy, waded through the official reports, the testimony of witnesses to both the President's commission and the Kent State commission. Books compiled detailed notes regarding the conduct of the Ohio National Guard during the one hour preceding the fatal volley. Comparing more than 100 photographs taken on May 4 with the testimony of witnesses, I strongly suggested that the gunfire was initiated by some eight or more Guardsmen, the last ones to reach the Pagoda on the Guard's march back to the Commons.

No honest, neutral investigator has found anything to support the claims of self-defense, nor could anyone find any explanation for the sudden, coordinated about-face made by these few men.  Furthermore, several photos revealed that those particular Guardsmen had gone back some 15 feet toward the so-called threat to their lives. Such a movement,   universally concluded, was not consistent with the theory that the men were shooting to protect themselves from a charging mob about to overwhelm them -- which General Canterbury had given as the reason his troops fired.

At a meeting with Richard Kleindienst, U.S. Deputy Attorney General, John Adams told him that there: were compelling grounds for believing that collusion had occurred, at least on the part of several Guardsmen”, and that those actively involved in private investigations desired to submit their ideas and findings to that date  to the Department before a decision was made on the convening of a grand jury.

Kleindienst suggested that they be submitted, in the form of a substantial document, to David Norman, at that time Acting Assistant Attorney General and head of the Civil Rights Division. Mr. Norman still had the Kent State matter under "intensive" review.

At about that time that James Michener's Kent State: What Happened and Why was published. Reading it, we came across a startling suggestion: Michener wrote that it seemed likely "some kind of rough verbal agreement" had been made on the football practice field to shoot a few minutes later.

In other words the fusillade might very well have been the consequence of a conspiracy.

At another point in the book Michener claimed that just about everything that happened on May 4, 1970 is known, "save for the crucial matter" of whether or not there was a decision made to fire at the demonstrators. He went on to say that he very much doubted that the Guardsmen will be able to maintain their wall of silence indefinitely, and that some time in the future one of them will talk and thereby release "a flood of testimony."

Michener, spent several months in Kent and had at his command the resources of a Reader's Digest investigative team. For him to conclude from the material gathered that a decision to shoot was quite possibly made some five or ten minutes beforehand was as impressive as it was controversial, because it explained so well the conduct of those few Guardsmen during their climb to the crest of Blanket Hill and their sudden turnabout in the vicinity of the Pagoda.

By early June a 227-page report, which included some seventy of the photographs used as reference, was submitted to John Adams' Department of Law, Justice and Community Relations.

Because it seemed evident that Attorney General Mitchell had decided against a grand jury investigation, the report was printed and a limited number of copies issued. On June 21, Adams presented the document: "Appeal for Justice" to David Norman, and the following day copies were delivered to the offices of Mitchell and Kleindienst. One month went by during which we did not receive so much as an acknowledgement from anyone in the Justice Department, and on July 22, we reluctantly decided to release the report to the press. A few reporters had learned of the document’s  existence and their questions regarding its content contributed to the decision to make it public.

The press response far exceeded anything anticipated, and suggested that journalists had been far from satisfied by the official explanation of the killings. For almost a year Justice Department spokesmen had been telling newsmen that a decision on Kent State would be announced at the "appropriate time," and three days after the report was released, the Dayton Daily News asked editorially when the time is appropriate for justice at Kent State.

It continued: "It is appalling and it is strange that the U.S. Justice Department continues to balk. Decency and preservation of the good name of 'law' itself require such issues be met." A few weeks later, after Congress had recessed and was safely out of town, Mitchell answered the Dayton Daily News at 4 o'clock on a Friday afternoon.

The government could find no "credible evidence" of a conspiracy and little hope for successful prosecution of individual Guardsmen.

Although agreeing that the shooting was "unnecessary, unwarranted and inexcusable," Mitchell closed the file and expressed the hope that such a tragedy would not happen again… “Partial Truth without Consequences”!

This remark moved Time to observe that, after spending more than a year in intensive investigation and study of Kent State; all the Justice Department could produce for its labors was a "pious wish."

The Akron Beacon Journal complained: "It is Mr. Mitchell who has absolved the National Guard of blame--not a grand jury or federal court." And the Christian Science Monitor said: "Mitchell's burial action at the weekend" will "likely haunt the Nixon Administration for a long time to come." James F. Ahern, a member of the President's commission, told The New York Times in late July that there was no question in his mind that the first single shot described by witnesses was a signal to shoot; he added, "At the very least it's manslaughter."

After Mitchell's announcement, Ahern expressed his dismay at the obvious failure of our judicial process in the case. To Ramsey Clark the Kent State tragedy represented "a total breakdown in our system of justice." Nevertheless, both the federal government and the state of Ohio refused to implement existing laws.

At the federal level, the report suggested that there had been a possible violation of Section 241 of the U.S. Code, Title 18. Mr. Mitchell disagreed.

However, in doing so he made no reference to Section 242 of the same Code which, in Mitchell's conclusion that the shooting was "inexcusable," must surely have been violated. Section 242 provides for federal prosecution of anyone "acting under color of law" who "willfully deprives" any "inhabitants of any state" of any rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

At the state level, Section 2923.55 of the Ohio Revised Code specifically states that law-enforcement officers "are guiltless for killing, maiming or injuring a rioter as a consequence of the use of such force as is necessary and proper to suppress the riot or disperse or apprehend rioters."

No court in Ohio had yet been permitted to determine (a) if there was in fact a riot on May 4, 1970; (b) if all the students shot were indeed rioters, and (c) if the force used, assuming the court found there was a riot, was both necessary and proper.

The Ohio grand jury never addressed itself to the question of whether or not all the students shot were rioters, and now that the official investigations unanimously concluded the volley was "unnecessary, unwarranted and inexcusable" it became imperative that the force of law be applied to this case in a public trial.

The pursuit of justice was far from over.

For seventeen months Arthur Krause and others had worked within the system to make it work.

They had been joined by courageous men like John Adams and gradually by other Kent State parents as they realized the enormity of their government's failure, As Mrs. Schroeder bitterly observed after Mitchell's decision to do nothing,

"Now we know the Justice Department is capable of fraud and deceit."

It is indeed, and our failure to force elected officials and their appointed ministers to uphold their oaths of office is a frightening reflection on the quality of our government today.

The following September our labors were rewarded with a $3 million libel and slander suit against the Board of Christian Social Concerns of the United Methodist Church and Peter Davies. The plaintiff, Sgt. Myron C. Pryor of the Ohio National Guard, alleged I had made allegations, inferences and statements about his role in the tragedy with "malice" against him.

The complaint, filed in Federal District Court in New York County, further alleged that the board and I had conspired to publish, circulate and distribute the report "knowing" these statements to be "false" or with "a reckless disregard" for the truth.

In response to the action Dr. A. Dudley Ward, general secretary of the Board of Christian Social Concerns, said: "We will resist the suit with all appropriate legal action. We will make it very clear that the purpose of our release of the study was to bring the whole matter into public discussion and to get the facts. And insofar as the case will bring the matter under judicial scrutiny, we think is may serve a useful purpose."

Millions of words had been written about this tragedy, but they had not moved the government to respond in the manner one expects when four young men and women lose their lives to the law of force. Nevertheless, I am convinced justice will eventually be done.

A petition submitted to President Nixon served as testimony to the depth of student concern more than eighteen months after the tragedy.

Paul Keane and Greg Rambo, two Kent State students, obtained 10,380 signatures for their appeal to the President that he convene a federal grand jury, and the Law Students, Council at New York launched a nationwide petition in support of the students and faculty at Kent State.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of these developments was the fact that the man who was chief of the Kent State police at the time of the disorders has signed the petition. Dr. Glenn Olds, president of Kent State University, personally presented it to Leonard Garment at the White House, and it signaled that this case was not closed. It is still , on this occasion, the 39th year commemoration, an open case!

Sufficient facts are known that. Intellectually, the Historian that I am, should be satisfied with the “truth”, the judgment of history and the ongoing research and pursuit of redress; I cannot accept this a settlement, as resolution. That manner of acceptance, that perspective is a luxury reserved for historians ages hence. 

For the living historian, the contemporary historian is neither a simple observer nor an immediate recorder of events; not in this instance, for we are witnesses for the prosecution testifying for the historical record and advocates in the pursuit of justice. 

As many are today on the contemporary issues of this day, we may be involved them also; our lives long enough to be filled with this nation’s history, that we find ourselves joined by other serious-minded Americans in the continued ever-vigilant search of both the truth and a hold on the hope/belief that somehow we can encourage, force if necessary, the system to provide for the Justice required by this nation’s Constitution and the International Agreements and Conventions we as a nation are pledged to honor and uphold.

For us; the history that will be written, the judgments that will be rendered are not sufficient.  Justice requires for the contemporary not just the revelation of the truth; it requires consequences for wrong doing.

Thirty Nine Years And The Search For The Truth And Justice Continues…

In May 2007, Alan Canfora, one of the injured protestors, demanded that the case be reopened, having found an audiotape in a Yale University government archive allegedly recording an order to fire ("Right here! Get Set! Point! Fire!") just before the 13 second volley of shots.[30]

Canfora has been on a crusade since discovering the tape, hoping to get authorities to reopen the case and use new technology to perform voice analysis. Larry Shafer, a guardsman who said he fired during the shootings and was one of those charged told the Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier newspaper in May 2007:" I never heard any command to fire. That's all I can say on that," Shafer, a Ravenna city councilman and former fire chief, told the newspaper. "That's not to say there may not have been, but with all the racket and noise, I don't know how anyone could have heard anything that day." Shafer also went on to say that "point" would not have been part of a proper command to open fire.

If you read deeply into this material you will uncovers host of incompetent Ravenna, Ohio officials involved.   That community was my home for thirty years and my opinion remains unchanged!

The journey aboard the Sam Henry RV from Virginia to Ohio seemed like but a blink in time as the conversation never ceased, the testing of our onboard computer and communications systems, now more sophisticated than last summer, provided ample distraction from any road boredom, and unlike Virginia in the shadows of DC; we had already been cleared for secure parking once in Kent.  My companions have come along to see what a serious piece of living American History is like.  I welcomed their decision.

Today and yesterday in Kent ( has been a matter of huge swings from the exhilaration of communicating with student activist leadership possessing a kindred fire and a historical perspective that few others by way of constant reminder of their May 4, 1970 inheritance.  They have not forgotten history and its’ painful lessons…and I thank those students who accompanied me today on my somber and sobering re-walking of Blanket Hill.    It is not unexpected that I found a more militant attitude towards what must and may eventually have be done in this nation in the name of reclamation of our most fundamental institutions and legal practices.

Kent is already a bit on the hot side with recent downtown skirmishes with the local police:, but the events starting officially tomorrow should be confined to the Campus and of a festive nature.  One can only hope that weekend reveries will not detract from the solemnity of the moment before us….

(KSU, Kent looking to tame partiers: Ravenna Record Courier - 11 hours ago By Colin mcewen With unofficial parties named “Shermania” and “Drinkin' on Lincoln” planned for this weekend,Kent city and Kent State University officials ...Kent Police Working to Prevent Another Riot This Weekend Cleveland News - Fox 8 Lefton, Ruller tout positive city, university relationship after riot Daily Kent Stater KSU president sends letter warning students Ravenna Record Courier).

It has been a stimulating day spent in answering questions everywhere I have gone, and the same has been true of everyone of my generation who has arrived here. Beyond the atmosphere of affirmation; the most intriguing moments have come in answering questions concerning this blog and how it all done; the most pleasantly surprising being ambushed by students who after having identified themselves, turn out to be many who have written to this site.

It is indeed a small world.  It is my considered opinion that it has been a good thing for so many faces from the past to have arrived here a day or two early for the sake of mental adjustment and renewed friendships. The time here will be solemn and I guess there really is no way one can express the feelings of those who lived the tragedy and carry with them the memories and the scars of that day.  “Would I/We do it again?; was asked repeatedly today, and to a man and woman the answer was “YES”. 

I have met some wonderful student here the past two days. Some have adopted we “older geezers” and this morning my first coffee was met with a knock on the RV door from six students bearing Dunkin Donuts and fertile minds: a good way to start the day.

Supper was Pizza from a long ago frequented favorite.  Some things have changed, obviously, over the years in Kent, but the Pizza is still wonderful. More in the days ahead.

It is time to say good night and turn off this s very nice computer system. 



Pro-Guns, Anti-Obama

by Max Blumenthal

Not everyone is celebrating Obama's 100 days. Max Blumenthal takes his cameras into America's gun shows, where paranoia, conspiracy theories-and Nazi flags-abound. Watch his report.

On April 18 and 19, I attended gun shows in Antioch, California, and Reno, Nevada, to probe the culture of gun enthusiasts at the onset of the Obama era. I came away from these events with a portrait of a heavily armed, tightly organized movement incited by right-wing radio to a fever-pitched resentment of President Obama and his allies in Congress. Even as the economy suffers, gun dealers and their Washington lobbyists are leveraging renewed anti-government sentiment into unprecedented sales figures and fattened membership rolls. “We’ve been swamped today,” an NRA representative from Antioch boasted. “We’ve practically ran out of our materials that we give away at sign-up.”

Fueled by the screeds of radio hosts Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, and the lesser-known but increasingly influential online conspiracist Alex Jones, many gun-show attendees I spoke to were convinced Obama planned to usher in a Marxist dictatorship. They warned that the president’s power grab would only begin with mass gun seizures. “If Obama takes away our guns,” a young, .45 pistol-toting man from Reno told me, “it’s just a step into trying to take away everything else.”

Indeed, in their minds, average Americans opposed to the Obama agenda would be herded into FEMA-run concentration camps by a volunteer army of glassy-eyed liberal college graduates. “When they start imprisoning Americans, and people start seeing that we’re the enemy, then that’ll make it hot,” predicted one Antioch-based young man sporting a button for former Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul. “People talk about a revolution,” the young man continued, “an armed revolution. I think police crackdowns on individuals will tip the scales.”

More than a few gun dealers and attendees echoed the young man’s seeming enthusiasm for armed revolt.

One Contra Costa, California-based gun dealer named Rich predicted during an otherwise casual off-camera conversation that “some nut” would assassinate Obama within one year of any Democratic attempt at gun-control legislation. While the prospect of organized right-wing violence against the federal government seems far-fetched at this point, the paranoid rhetoric I documented suggests the militia movement that organized against President Bill Clinton’s policies during the 1990s could experience a dramatic resurgence by mobilizing resentment against Obama.

If a new militia movement coalesces, its members will have no shortage of sophisticated assault weapons to choose from. At the gun show in Reno, I witnessed the sale of rocket-propelled-grenade launchers and bazooka guns; I watched a California-based dealer demonstrate how rapidly he could field strip his .308-caliber sniper rifle, then stash it in a deliberately innocuous-looking backpack and a briefcase that “looks just like a camera case.” Nearby, I interviewed another dealer retailing a brand of.50-caliber assault rifle that was banned in California because it could supposedly down an airplane. He told me by slightly altering the bullets his gun fired, and by converting the gun from semi-automatic to bolt-action, he was able to sell it in California once again.

(Weapons like these are useful to Mexican narco-cartels, too. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' Phoenix field division claimed that “many gun shows attracted large numbers of gang members from Mexico and California. They often bought large quantities of assault weapons and smuggled them into Mexico or transported them to California.”)

“If Obama takes away our guns,” a young, .45 pistol-toting man from Reno told me, “it’s just a step into trying to take away everything else.”

Though big guns were the main attraction, a handful of retailers in Reno appealed to some visitors’ apparent enthusiasm for Nazi memorabilia. Swastika-emblazoned flags, photographs of Hitler and his henchmen, and anything related to the Third Reich were available at several booths. There was obviously no way to gauge the percentage of show attendees who adhered to the racist fringe, but the prominence of so much Nazi regalia suggested they maintained a significant presence. In fact, I learned about the gun shows I attended from a Web site that features a prominent banner ad for the Council of Conservative Citizens, America’s largest white-supremacist group.

On April 4, a neo-Nazi wannabe named Richard Poplawski murdered three Pittsburgh police officers with a high-powered assault rifle. By all accounts, Poplawski was an avid follower of right-wing talkers including Alex Jones and Glenn Beck who “grew angry recently over fears Obama would outlaw guns.”

In the wake of Poplawski’s massacre, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning of the mounting threat of “right-wing extremism.” “Heightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms control,” the DHS asserted, “may be invigorating right-wing extremist activity, specifically the white-supremacist and militia movements.” With its focus on right-wing gun culture, the report compounded the already palpable paranoia of gun-show enthusiasts. An organizer of the Antioch show told me the heightened specter of government scrutiny prompted numerous dealers to demand a total ban on cameras of any kind inside the show.

Even with the restriction in place at both shows I attended, I managed to record enough footage to provide what I think is a vivid journalistic report on gun culture mentality during the first 100 days of the Obama era. Was the DHS report on right-wing extremism credible? See my video report, “Gun Show Nation,” and judge for yourself.

Max Blumenthal is a senior writer for The Daily Beast and writing fellow at The Nation Institute, whose book, Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books), is forthcoming in Spring 2009. Contact him at

Spanish Judge Launches New Torture Probe Of Bush Officials

By Paul Mitchell and Chris Marsden 
1 May 2009

Spain’s top investigative judge, Baltasar Garzón, has launched a new criminal investigation into allegations of torture at Guantánamo Bay and other US prison camps that will target the “possible material authors, enablers and accomplices” of the illegal abuse of detainees.

In a strongly worded court order issued Wednesday, Garzón indicated that he would investigate the role of high-level Bush administration officials in what he called an “authorized and systematic plan for torture and harsh treatment of people deprived of their freedom without any charges and without the most basic elemental rights for detainees, set forth and demanded by international treaties.”

Guantánamo Bay, he wrote, could be seen as “a true ‘limbo’ in the legal sense which is defined by a multitude of treaties and conventions signed by the International Community.”

Garzón clearly implied that he would consider bringing charges against Bush officials who authored, directed or sanctioned the use of torture, not simply the CIA agents who carried it out or the Justice Department lawyers who provided pseudo-legal justifications.

He wrote that previously classified Bush Justice Department memos released last month by the Obama administration indicated the existence of a torture program at the US prison at Bagram air base in Afghanistan as well as at Guantánamo that had been sanctioned at “almost an official level.” There was, therefore, “penal responsibility in the different structures of execution—command, design and authorization of this systematic plan for torture.”

He added that the memos, drafted by Justice Department lawyers in 2002 and 2005, provided evidence “of what previously could only be insinuated.”

In a ten-page writ, Garzon wrote that abuses at Guantanamo and other US prisons for terror suspects suggest “the existence of a concerted plan to carry out a multiplicity of crimes of torture.” He said he would request copies of the memos from the Obama administration and also ask Spanish judge Ismael Moreno for the information he has gathered in the course of an investigation into CIA rendition flights that landed in Spain.

Although Garzón did not name potential targets of his probe, the language of his writ raises the possibility of his issuing arrest warrants for top Bush officials such as Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser and later Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Bush himself.

In 1998, Garzón issued an arrest warrant for Augusto Pinochet while the former Chilean dictator was visiting Britain and demanded his extradition to stand trial in Spain. This set off a legal dispute that forced Pinochet to remain under house arrest in Britain for 17 months. Top Bush administration officials, including the former president, now have good reason to avoid leaving the US for fear of a similar fate, or worse.

Garzón cited Spain’s “universal jurisdiction” statutes and provisions in the Geneva Conventions and international laws banning torture that obligate signatories to prosecute officials of any government who violate the proscriptions against torture. He said he would review the testimony of four former Guantánamo Bay detainees. All four were tried for being Al Qaeda members several years ago, but Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed and Lahcen Ikassrien were acquitted by Spain’s High Court, and Abdul Latif al Banna and Omar Deghayes had their warrants for arrest in the UK cancelled.

The detainees allege that they “had suffered from the practice of various acts of physical and psychological aggression against their persons during their detention in different countries, under the authority of US Army personnel.” The list of abuses includes beatings, sexual assault, exposure to extreme heat and cold and continuous loud music, long periods of interrogation and sleep deprivation.

Garzón’s announcement compounds the political crisis that has enveloped the Obama administration over the US’ use of torture and other violations of domestic and international law. Obama has sought to give the impression that his administration represents a break from these practices, while defending some of the most egregious crimes, such as the abduction and “disappearance” of individuals and their “rendition” to face imprisonment and torture at the hands of other governments.

Obama decided on April 16 to release the Bush-era memos approving methods such as waterboarding, which his administration has acknowledged constitute torture. He did so only under the pressure of a court-imposed deadline for their release.

At the same time, he ruled out any investigation or prosecution of CIA agents who carried out torture. He evidently hoped thereby to put an end to the simmering controversy over torture, placating his liberal supporters and world opinion while reassuring the intelligence and military establishment and Bush officials that they would not be held accountable.

The move had the opposite effect, sparking public denunciations of the administration by Bush officials, including Cheney and former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who have sought to mobilize disaffected sections of the intelligence and military apparatus and right-wing forces more generally by defending the torture of alleged terrorists and charging Obama with undermining US national security.

In the face of a mounting conflict within the state, administration officials have declared their opposition to any pubic investigation of Bush’s torture program. This places Obama in the position of acknowledging state crimes while defending the perpetrators.

The Democratic leadership in Congress has followed Obama’s lead, opposing any criminal investigation of Bush administration officials and rallying instead behind a Senate Intelligence Committee probe that is being conducted behind closed doors, based on assurances that it will be “bipartisan” and “non-political” and that most, if not all, of the findings will remain classified.

Garzón’s announcement on Wednesday follows his attempt to bring torture charges against six Bush administration officials involved in the drafting of the torture memos. Spain’s attorney general, Candido Conde-Pumpido, has publicly opposed this investigation and sought to quash it. The move to block the investigation came after high-level discussions between Washington and Madrid, including direct talks between Obama and Socialist Party (PSOE) Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero.

Garzón’s new investigation is an act of defiance that ups the political ante, targeting the high-level Bush officials who authored the torture program.

At a press conference Wednesday, Obama reiterated his belief that the waterboarding authorised by Bush was torture. Yet top former representatives of the Bush administration continue to defend such practices and their sanctioning of them.

One of those named in Garzón’s original case, Jay Bybee, who as deputy assistant attorney general signed some of the torture memos, was appointed by Bush to a federal appeals court judgeship. He faces growing demands for his impeachment. On Wednesday, he broke his silence and defended his role in approving the torture of detainees. He told the New York Times, “I believed at the time, and continue to believe today, that the conclusions were legally correct.”

If anything, Condolleezza Rice’s defence of her actions is more brazen than that of Bybee. On Thursday, the Huffington Post web site posted an account of a recent exchange between Rice and students during a speaking appearance at Stanford University. When students asked her whether waterboarding was torture, she replied, “[B]y definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture.”

Rice’s position is that Bush personally sanctioned waterboarding and that presidential authority overrides the rule of law. In seeking to defend herself, she has effectively placed Bush himself directly in the line of fire.

Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, refused to say whether the US would cooperate with Garzón’s investigation. In reply to a question, he merely said, “Obviously, we would look at any request that would come from a court in any country and see how and whether we should comply with it.”

Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which represents many of the Guantánamo Bay detainees, said of Garzón’s new investigation, “The torture conspirators are in deep trouble. Even if the US fails in its obligation to criminally investigate, Spain will. The conspirators can run, but they can’t hide. It is conceivable that arrest warrants have already been issued or will be soon. Indictments will almost surely follow. The torture team’s travel options are narrowing.”

The attitude of the American political and media establishment to Garzón’s investigation is indicated by the virtual silence with which the media has greeted it. It has barely been reported on the television news channels and been given only the most perfunctory coverage in the print media. An article was published in the electronic edition of the New York Times Wednesday, but not in the next day’s print edition.

This response demonstrates once again the complicity of the media, both in the criminal actions perpetrated by the Bush administration and the efforts by Obama to prevent those guilty of state crimes from being held accountable.

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The War On Terror And Terrorism: Nancy 'Scooter' Pelosi
By Domain Names 4 Sale 24-7 
Nancy 'Scooter' Pelosi. By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Monday, April 27, 2009 4:20 PM PT. Security Breaches: Scooter Libby went to prison for the "outing" of a desk-jockey CIA agent. He forgot conversations. Pelosi forgets ...
The War On Terror And Terrorism -

Torture: How and When Did Pelosi, Others In Congress Know? « Peace ...
By arturoafc54 
The letter, which was sent Wednesday and made available to The Washington Times on Thursday, appeared to undercut remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that there was little Congress could do about harsh interrogations, ...
Peace and Freedom Promises -

RealClearPolitics - Torture? No. Except...
By Charles Krauthammer 
Judging by Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress who were informed at the time, the answer seems to be yes. In December 2007, after a Washington Post report that she had knowledge of these procedures and did not object, ...
RealClearPolitics -

Torture and Accountability
RealClearPolitics - Chicago,IL,USA
The real architects of US interrogation policies were President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who staunchly defends them as necessary to save ...
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Signs of the Times News for Fri, 01 May 2009
(From Mark Crispin Miller, "Bush and Cheney's War on the Englightenment," in Dennis Loo and Peter Phillips (eds.), Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2006, p. 193.) ...
Signs of the Times -

Bradley Whitford: Waterboard Dick!!!
By Bradley Whitford 
I have no hesitation in asserting that Judge Bybee should be subjected to impeachment proceedings, and that Bybee, Yoo, Addington et al. should face disbarment proceedings. .... David Bromwich: Follow the Evidence. The truth about what Bush and Cheney and Addington and Yoo and Cambone and Feith and a handful of others did must be known before it can be judged, and all that can be judged is the content of their actions. ...
The Blog -


Our Obligation to Investigate

Sen. Robert Byrd

Posted April 30, 2009

In President Obama's inaugural address, he declared that "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake."

The President's statement referenced false and disingenuous choices of the Bush Administration. As the facts continue to come to light about exactly what happened at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Bagram, and other U.S.-run secret prisons around the world, it is increasingly impossible to ignore that the U.S. government violated the basic human rights of prisoners. Not only did these insidious tactics sacrifice our national integrity, but they may also have compromised our security as well.

The recently leaked report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as the four released memorandums from the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), confirm our worst fears. These documents point to brutal, inhumane acts which were repeatedly carried out by U.S. military personnel, and which were authorized and condoned at the highest levels of the Bush Administration. These acts appear to directly violate both the U.N. Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions. Spain and the United Kingdom have already initiated investigations of Bush Administration officials who approved these acts. The United States needs to investigate as well. To continue to ignore the mounting evidence of clear wrongdoing is a national humiliation.

Additionally, U.S. military officials have come forward with accounts of the damage these policies have done to our military's ability to prosecute detainees. According to those officials, because torture was used as an interrogatory method, prosecution may not be brought against individuals who may, in fact, be terrorists.

The ICRC report of cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, described clearly as torture, was sent to the Bush Administration in February of 2007, and since that time, there has been a refusal to investigate and, if needed, prosecute these acts. The OLC memos confirm that the Bush Administration permitted torture of detainees that included waterboarding, defined by Attorney General Holder and others as torture. These despicable acts illustrate clear and recurring violations of both domestic and international laws. Article 146 of the Geneva Conventions obliges the United States to investigate allegations of "grave breaches," while Article VI of the U.S. Constitution clearly indicates that "all Treaties...shall be the supreme Law of the Land." And in June of 2006, the Supreme Court affirmed that the United States must abide by the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of all prisoners.

The rule of law is not just a lofty concept to which we should aspire only when convenient. It is a fundamental principal upon which our Republic was founded, and it is the foundation of our free society. I understand the desire to look forward and to forge a new path on high ground instead of on the low road of the past eight years. But to use the need to move on as a reason not to investigate basic human rights violations is unacceptable. Excusing individuals at the highest levels of government from adhering to the rule of law, whether in wartime or not, is a dangerous precedent, for it undercuts the principle of accountability which permeates representative democracy.

Sadly, the world will discover more and more about the acts committed at Guantanamo Bay, Bagram, and elsewhere around the world. There is no avoiding that eventuality. It is our choice as a nation whether to pursue the path of truth ourselves, or leave the details of the abuse to be painfully revealed by others. Releasing the OLC memos was a courageous and admirable first step. But we must not stop there.

Whether it is through an independent investigation, a "Truth Commission," a Congressional investigation, or a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice, action must be taken. As long as those who condoned and approved these despicable acts are permitted to escape the consequences, we allow our moral standing in the world to be severely compromised. September 11 did not suddenly legalize torture, nor did it exonerate those who authorized such a heinous deviation from the rule of law. How we address these abuses will shape the image of the United States for decades. In order to truly clear our good name and put the past behind us, the United States must strive to be sure that this dark period of sick and secretive torture schemes receives the scrutiny it deserves.


Country Needs To Clear Conscience On Torture

In discussion as to whether we should fully investigate and perhaps prosecute the Bush administration officials for their policy of torture, it might be well to review the pardon given President Nixon by President Ford and the attempt by Senator Mike Mansfield to reopen the process of impeachment. The pardon which emerged and which withstood arguments based accurately on constitutional principles led to some dire sequences. Ronald Reagan was thus emboldened to flaunt Congress and to aid the Nicaraguan Contras in defiance of the Boland Amendment; candidate George H.W. Bush adopted the craven defense that he had not been “in the loop” while he was vice president and the decision had been made; the Bush-Cheney-Addington triage could prostitute secondary assistants like Gonzales ,Yoo and Beylin into creating a legal fiction so as to defend torture and so avoid the cautions of law, decency and morality.

The Nuremberg trials following World War II established the very dangerous precedent that a military tribunal could try civilian accused. It did, however, establish a needed principle later incorporated into the Geneva Conventions and our own military code: One may not execute an order solely on the basis of being instructed to do so by a superior.

President Bush wreaked great and corrosive harm to many of the safeguards upon which society must rely. His approval of torture, arguably ineffective to obtain truth but certain to fan hatred for our country and a powerful recruiting tool for insurgent opposition to our military forces and friends, is a blight upon our conscience which must be cleared.

We Need Not Be Vindictive, But We Cannot Be Content Merely To Look Toward The Future With Such An Albatross About Our Neck. 

Throw The Bums Out - All Of Them Senate Millionaires Kill Mortgage Assistance For Citizens

The United States Senate took a swipe at the spirit of May Day in a spectacular show of callous indifference when it voted down a bill to provide limited assistance to citizens at risk for losing their homes. 

The final vote was 45 in favor, 51 opposed to Senator Richard Durbin's (D-IL) mortgage assistance bill.  The original version of the bill covered some but not all of those requiring assistance.  The final version was even more restricted.  It applied to only homeowners currently in foreclosure as a result of actions prior to the start of 2009. 

The denial of assistance to citizens by Senators is ironic given the fact that the origins of the current economic crisis came from Senate legislative actions in 1999 and 2000.While their avarice knows no bounds, their memory suffers. Apparently these multimillionaire aristocrats of the Senate "gentlemen's club" haven't been watching the news. 

The International Monetary Fund declared that the United States is in adepression almost three months ago.  Delinquency and foreclosure rates around the country are rising at spectacular rates.  Unemployment has jumped by 3.3 million in the last five months.  Economic growth has declined at a rate of 6.3% in the first quarter of 2009.What part of economic crisis can't they understand?  Apparently all of it.

Memo to stingy Senators:  Workers and their families are in serious trouble or about to be in trouble.  That means they lack the money to pay for their homes (also known as shelter, a basic human need).  These citizens did nothing to bring on this crisis. You, the members of the Senate, are largely to blame and you know it.

One of the most revealing remarks came from Democrat Ben Nelson (D-NE) who said:“Do I want to have my rate go up so that somebody else might be able to cram down” their mortgage payment?" asked Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who voted against the bill. Associated Press, Apr. 30, 2009Nelson has never been regarded as the sharpest tool in the shed but he's set a new standard for ignorance with this remark.  Nelson was worth at least $7.0 million as of reporting in 2008.  Obviously he needs to skimp on every penny to stay afloat.  He'll offer no breaks for financially strapped citizens on the brink of ruin even if they are in trouble as a result of his support of Wall Street welfare. 

The bill would have no impact on his or anybody else's mortgage rate unless they qualified for help.  In those cases, the rate would go down.

The Durbin bill offered a reasonable change in bankruptcy law that would allow those in foreclosure to ask (simply ask) bankruptcy judges to invoke a "cramdown."  In that process, the bankruptcy court would set a lower interest rates and longer terms on loans.  This takes the case out of foreclosure and allows citizens to keep their homes and the lets banks collect the money owed at a lower rate over an extended period.  (See this for a real cramdown to benefit all citizens)

The Durbin bill provided limited options since it presumed that homeowners at risk had the money to get in bankruptcy court; that the courts would be able to handle all those in need; and that the judge would accept the request for a cramdown to keep people in their homes.  But the bill might have helped as many as 1.7 million homeowners.Even with those limitations, Sen. Durbin was forced against the wall and had to negotiate the bill to a lower level of protection.  The final bill rejected by the Senate. 

Associated Press reported:  "The latest proposal would have restricted eligibility to homeowners already in foreclosure whose lender had not offered better terms. Homes would also have to be worth less than $729,000 and apply to mortgage loans originated before 2009." Apr 30, 2009Durbin's last stand would have provided protection some homeowners but now there's no protection for anyone.

William K. Black is the chief fraud investigator who untangled the 1980's Savings and Loan fiasco.   His comments on the current economic meltdown are instructive and assign blame: William K. Black: 'We need some chairmen or chairwomen … in Congress, to hold the necessary hearings (on banking fraud) and we can blast this out. But if you leave the failed CEOs in place, it isn't just that they're terrible business people, though they are. It isn't just that they lack integrity, though they do. Because they were engaged in these frauds … they're not going to disclose the truth about the assets."  

Bill Moyers Journal, Apr 3, 2009Senators, you allowed changes in banking regulations that turned Wall Street in to a big casino for the "in crowd" and wiped out millions of small investors and retirement funds.You failed to monitor the new freedoms you gave the banks and Wall Street after you stripped away citizen protections in law since the Great Depression.You created the current depression.

And now, you're so stingy you won't even help a few of the many people victimized by the massive corporate fraud schemes, Ponzi schemes according to Black.Is there any reason why even one single Senator of the 51 who voted down this assistance should remain in office to complete his or her term?Is there any reason to hold back from recalling them where allowed or demanding their resignations in every state that they represent?I can't think of one.  Can you?


Permission to reproduce this article in whole or part with attribution of authorship to Michael Collins and a link to this article

Appendices:  Hall of Shame,

The votes lined up in the usual way, with the majority of citizens losing out on positive action.  Of note, the "moderate" Republicans Collins and Snow of Maine both opposed the bill.  The new Senator from Montana, Democrat Tester, voted no.  And Democrat "Changling" Specter Said No Also., April 30, 2009 ·Supreme Court Justice David Souter is planning to retire at the end of the current court term.

The vacancy will give President Obama his first chance to name a member of the high court and begin to shape its future direction.

At 69, Souter is nowhere near the oldest member of the court. In fact, he is in the younger half of the court's age range, with five justices older and just three younger. So far as anyone knows, he is in good health. But he has made clear to friends for some time that he wanted to leave Washington, a city he has never liked, and return to his native New Hampshire. Now, according to reliable sources, he has decided to take the plunge and has informed the White House of his decision.

Factors in his decision no doubt include the election of President Obama, who would be more likely to appoint a successor attuned to the principles Souter has followed as a moderate-to-liberal member of the court's more liberal bloc over the past two decades.

In addition, Souter was apparently satisfied that neither the court's oldest member, 89-year-old John Paul Stevens, nor its lone woman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had cancer surgery over the winter, wanted to retire at the end of this term. Not wanting to cause a second vacancy, Souter apparently had waited to learn his colleagues' plans before deciding his own.

Given his first appointment to the high court, most observers expect Obama will appoint a woman, since the court currently has only one female justice and Obama was elected with strong support from women. But an Obama pick would be unlikely to change the ideological makeup of the court.

Souter was a Republican appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, largely on the recommendation of New Hampshire's former Gov. John Sununu, who had become the first President Bush's chief of staff.

But Souter surprised Bush and other Republicans by joining the court's more liberal wing.

He generally votes with Stevens and the two justices who were appointed by President Bill Clinton — making up the bloc of four more liberal members of the court, a group that has usually been in the minority throughout Souter's tenure.

Possible nominees who have been mentioned as being on a theoretical short list include Elena Kagan, the current solicitor general who represents the government before the Supreme Court; Sonia Sotomayor, a Hispanic judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and Diane Wood, a federal judge in Chicago who taught at the University of Chicago at the same time future President Barack Obama was teaching constitutional law there.

President Obama's choice has an excellent chance of being confirmed by the U.S. Senate, where Democrats now have an advantage of 59 seats to the Republicans' 40.

By the time a vote on a successor is taken, the Senate is anticipated to have a 60th Democrat, as the Minnesota Supreme Court is expected to approve the recount that elected Democrat Al Franken over incumbent Republican Norm Coleman in that state.

Souter was a graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He also attended Magdalen College at Oxford University in England. But his academic pedigree was only one reason he had been regarded as a thinking man's jurist and a highly thoughtful conservative prior to his elevation to the nation's highest bench.

Once appointed and confirmed, he soon became a "surprise justice." He bucked the expectation that he would join the court's conservative wing — then led by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who was appointed to the court by President Nixon and elevated to chief by President Reagan, and featuring Reagan appointees Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy.

The appointing president had been assured of Souter's credentials by the White House chief of staff, John Sununu, who had known Souter as a conservative member of the New Hampshire Supreme Court when Sununu was that state's Republican governor.

But when confronted by the ideological debates and partisan landscape of Washington, Souter surprised both Sununu and Bush by aligning himself with the court's more moderate wing, which also included Reagan appointee Sandra Day O'Connor.

Later on, Souter became a full-fledged member of the court's unabashedly liberal caucus, featuring yet another Republican, John Paul Stevens (appointed by President Ford in 1975), who remains a member of the court to this day.

Souter was unconventional in other ways beyond his ideological independence. He moved to Washington to attend court sessions, but he returned to his beloved roots in New Hampshire whenever possible, including for the court's long summer hiatus each year.

Rather than fly home, Souter preferred to drive. He also resisted other forms of contemporary technology and convenience, holding out against the cell phone and e-mail and continuing to write his opinions and dissents in longhand, using a fountain pen.

Once engaged but never married, Souter was once listed among the capital's 10 "most eligible bachelors" but remained in that category of "confirmed bachelors."

He was never a creature of the capital city's social scene, living in a Spartan apartment in the city not far from the Supreme Court offices on Capitol Hill. Although he served nearly two decades on the high court, he made no secret of his preference for the lifestyle and pace of his native rural New Hampshire.


Commentary: A U.S. Dept. of Peace?

By Lewis Diuguid | The Kansas City Star

Barack Obama's election as president has breathed life into efforts for a U.S. Department of Peace and Nonviolence.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich first proposed the Cabinet-level post in July 2001 – two months before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. He had seen too much violence worldwide and wanted to create a platform in the executive branch to promote alternative ways to resolve conflicts.

People too quickly turn to violence and war. Kucinich says a department of peace would give people better tools.

"Peace is not some airy, fairy notion," said Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat and past presidential candidate whose bill embodies the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi and Jesus Christ. "It's an active presence of love, mutuality and understanding."

The bill had no chance of advancing when George W. Bush was president, Republicans controlled Congress, and the U.S. was newly embroiled in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The wars drag on, along with billions of dollars wasted on violence.

Obama gives people long-awaited hope that this country can do better, said John Parker, media coordinator with the Peace Alliance in Washington, D.C. He sees a resurgence of interest in Peace Alliance work on Capitol Hill.

Parker said the peace department would have a $10 billion budget. About 85 percent of the money would go to reduce violence in the United States, which annually costs $64.7 billion in lost productivity.

Wars in the 20th century claimed more than 100 million lives, an incredible waste of human talent and potential.

Kucinich said, "Peace is practical; violence is quite impractical." He pointed to gun violence and a series of mass shootings in workplaces, homes and even churches.

People are unable to settle differences peacefully. "This is a very human condition, but it doesn't mean it needs to stay that way," Kucinich said.

To read the complete column, visit 



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