January 2009


By William Fisher Inter Press Service 1/29/09

While applauding President Barack Obama’s recent executive orders banning torture and other harsh interrogation practices, medical authorities are calling attention to a little-reported section of the Army’s Field Manual on Interrogation that they say still allows the use of tactics that can constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under U.S. and international law. (more…)

Crime of Compassion: A Court Watcher’s Story of the ‘War on Terror’

A film by Lana Hijazi and Katherine Hughes

In the aftermath of 9/11, the U.S. government flailed about, seeing “terror cells” everywhere.  It targeted for prosecution many prominent Muslims across the country, particularly those associated with Muslim charity. Dr. Rafil Dhafir is one of these people.  He was held without bail for 31 months and then sentenced to 22 years in a U.S. prison for a crime he was never charged with in a court of law — money laundering to help terrorist organizations.  His real crime was speaking out against the U.S. and U.K.-sponsored UN sanctions on Iraq and sending aid to starving Iraqi civilians during the brutal embargo.

In Syracuse, New York, where he was tried, art student Katherine Hughes took a leave from her studies in order to witness his trial.  Her passion for the preservation of civil liberties was ignited 36 years ago when she saw a documentary of the Allies going into the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen.  Since then she has known that if anything similar happened in her lifetime she didn’t want to be a bystander.

One of a dozen people who volunteered as Court Watchers for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Hughes attended the 17-week trial and took notes for 5 hours each day. Dismayed by what she witnessed in the courtroom and the uncritical coverage in the local newspaper, she has dedicated the last 10 years to seeking justice for Dr. Dhafir.

This film is the story of the terrible cost of one man’s humanitarian outreach, and one woman’s efforts to shed light on how the U.S. government so thoroughly perverted a system of justice it purports to uphold.

[Updated 8/03/14]

Please sign this petition

Dear President Obama and Attorney General Holder:

We join with the consensus of people who believe that upon taking office you must move swiftly to close Guantanamo, end warrantless electronic surveillance, and prevent the U.S. from engaging in further torture. (more…)

Julia Finch Guardian U.K. 1/26/09

The worst economic turmoil since the Great Depression is not a natural phenomenon but a man-made disaster in which we all played a part. In the second part of a week-long series looking behind the slump, Guardian City editor Julia Finch picks out the individuals who have led us into the current crisis (more…)

Jules Boykoff The Capital Times Madison, WI, 1/21/09

While the country’s economic infrastructure gyrates, the infrastructure to squelch political dissent quietly thrives after years of post-9/11 behind-the-scenes buttressing. (more…)

In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger writes that “as deserving as Tony Blair is of his George W. Bush Freedom Medal, others cry out for a place in his company”. Following Israel’s assault on Gaza, he offers two additional nominees. (more…)

How to Inflame the Entire Muslim World

By GABRIEL KOLKO Counterpunch 1/21/09

How will history describe the Israeli war against the Palestinians in Gaza? Another Holocaust, this time perpetrated by the descendants of the victims? An election ploy by ambitious Israeli politicians to win votes in the February 10 elections? A test range for new American weapons? Or an effort to lock in the new Obama Administration into an anti-Iranian position? (more…)

By Scott Horton Harper’s Magazine 1/19/09

America’s closest allies overseas never understood the Bush Administration’s obsession with torture. “It’s as if an old friend had a stroke and suddenly went delusional,” a British Tory politician told me. (more…)

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