Friday, January 30, 2015

Transparency & Accountability: The war on journalists, activists & whistleblowers took 2 more casualties

"The Scales of Justice" - (Sodahead.com)


AGENDA-ETHICS
...Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.
  Change.gov            
Office of the President-Elect


In 2008, then candidate, Barack Obama, railed against the paradigm of secrecy and the lack of accountability as displayed by the US government. He promised, repeatedly, if elected, he will bring true transparency and accountability to the White House and the government. He would respect, support and protect whistleblowers; He would stop the revolving door between government and lobbyists and he would protect Americans from the overreach of surveillance...


Floor Statement General Michael Hayden Nomination

TOPIC: Foreign Policy & Defense
May 25, 2006
Senator Barack Obama
Floor Statement General Michael Hayden Nomination
Complete Text
Mr. President.

Let me start by saying that General Hayden is extremely well qualified for this position. Having previously served as head of the National Security Agency and as Deputy Director of National Intelligence under John Negroponte, he has thirty years of experience in intelligence and national security matters. And he was nearly universally praised during his confirmation to deputy DNI.

Unfortunately, General Hayden is being nominated under troubling circumstances as the architect and chief defender of a program of wiretapping and collection of phone records outside of FISA oversight. This is a program that is still accountable to no one and no law.

Now, there is no one in this Congress who doesn't want President Bush to have every tool at his disposal to prevent terrorist attacks - including the use of a surveillance program. Every single American - Democrat and Republican -- who remembers the images of falling towers and needless death would gladly support increased surveillance to prevent another attack.

But over the last six months, Americans have learned that the National Security Agency has been spying on Americans without judicial approval. We learned about this not from the Administration, but from the New York Times and USA Today. Every time a revelation came out, President Bush refused to answer questions from Congress.

This is part of a general stance by this Administration that it can operate with no restraints. President Bush is interpreting Article II of the Constitution as giving him authority with no bounds. The Attorney General and a hand full of scholars agree with this view, and I don't doubt the sincerity with which the President and his lawyers believe this constitutional interpretation. However, the overwhelming weight of legal authority is against the President on his unbounded authority without any checks or balances. This is not how our Constitution is designed.

We don't expect the President to give the American people every detail about a classified surveillance program. But we do expect him to place such a program within the rule of law, and to allow members of the other two coequal branches of government - Congress and the Judiciary - to have the ability to monitor and oversee such a program. Our Constitution and our right to privacy as Americans require as much.

Unfortunately, we were never given the chance to make that examination. Time and again, President Bush has refused to come clean to Congress. Why was it that 14 of 16 members of the Intelligence Committee were kept in the dark for four and a half years? The only reason that some Senators are now being briefed is because the story was made public. Without that information it is impossible to make the decisions that allow us to balance the need to fight terrorism while still upholding the rule of law and privacy protections that make this country great.

Every democracy is tested when it is faced with a serious threat. As a nation, we have to find the right balance between privacy and security, between executive authority to face threats and uncontrolled power. What protects us, and what distinguishes us, are the procedures we put in place to protect that balance, namely judicial warrants and congressional review. These aren't arbitrary ideas. These are the concrete safeguards that make sure that surveillance hasn't gone too far. That someone is watching the watchers.

The exact details of these safeguards are not etched in stone. They can be reevaluated from time to time. The last time we had a major overhaul of the intelligence apparatus was 30 years ago in the aftermath of Watergate. After those dark days, the White House worked in a collaborative way with Congress through the Church Committee to study the issue, revise intelligence laws and set up a system of checks and balances. It worked then and it could work now. But unfortunately, this Administration has made no effort to reach out to Congress and tailor FISA.

I have no doubt that General Hayden will be confirmed. But I am going to reluctantly vote against him to send a signal to this Administration that even in these circumstances President Bush is not above the law. I am voting against Hayden in the hope that he will be more humble before the great weight of responsibility that he has, not only to protect our lives, but to protect our democracy.

Americans fought a Revolution in part over the right to be free from unreasonable searches - to ensure that our government couldn't come knocking in the middle of the night for no reason. We need to find a way forward to make sure that we can stop terrorists while protecting the privacy, and liberty, of innocent Americans. We have to find a way to give the President the power he needs to protect us, while making sure he doesn't abuse that power. It is possible to do that. We have done it before, we could do it again.


Since his election, now President Obama has touted his administration as the "most transparent and accountable" administration in US history, a protector of whistleblowers, a respecter of Constitutional freedom and rights to privacy; a champion of justice and due process. - the facts state otherwise.

The current administration jailed John Kiriakou - a former CIA officer from 1990-2004, who blew the whistle on torture and now sitting in prison since 2013; persecuted Snowden - who blew the whistle on the NSA spying on everyone and now living in the Soviet Union for another couple of years until a review comes up as to his status or until he can seek asylum in another nation - through cancellation of his passport (then demanded he travel internationally knowing full well he  could not),intimidation (and intimidation of other nations), threats to family and friends and in the media; persecuted, tortured, prosecuted, and jailed Chelsea Manning - a former US military service member who downloaded and released the "War Logs" to WikiLeaks to include a video of the murder of civilians and a journalist by the US Military and now sits in prison; continued the prosecution, indictment and persecution of Thomas Drake - charged secretly and formally under the Espionage Act for "leaking" information on the NSA ; prosecuted and/or jailed multiple individuals for actions as part of the collective known as Anonymous when they obtained and released information proving "Security Corporations" were involved in activities to include contracting with corporations and foreign nations to spy on and obtain private information on individuals (just who is committing espionage?), activists and organizations - a violation of all of our civil and human rights; persecuted and prosecuted activists like Aaron Swartz (Swartz committed suicide after months of fighting the DOJ's persecution for a crime that even the "victim" refused to pursue).

Over the past week, we have witnessed 2 more people failed by the US system of "Justice"; 2 more fall at the hands of an administration hell bent on preventing a transparent and accountable government; hell bent on ignoring the basic promise of the US Constitution that includes the right to free speech (and the right to protest), the right to a free press (and journalist's afforded the right to protect their sources), the right to a fair and speedy trial (to include the ability to confront one's accusers and their evidence in an open court as well as present an affirmative defense), and the right to privacy.  These two are not simply a few "perps" convicted of "lawbreaking" - they are a bellwether for what seems to be a growing attack on journalists, activists and whistleblowers.



The Cruel and Unusual Case of Barrett Brown:

Last Thursday, January 22, Barrett Brown, journalist and activist, was sentenced to 63 months (minus the 30 months he has already spent in jail awaiting his trial and sentencing) and has been ordered to pay $890,000 in restitution for "making threats against an FBI agent, obstruction of a search warrant, and assisting the Anonymous hackers who infiltrated and gutted Austin, Texas–based intelligence company Stratfor" (Slate, "Bad, Bad Barrett Brown" by Gabriella Coleman, January 23, 2015).  A sentence that may leave Brown an indentured servant to the State for the rest of his life, or face more jail time.

For those unfamiliar with Brown, Barrett has been a journalist writing for some of the most  recognized publications to include the Guardian, Vanity Fair, and Huffington Post; he has written two critically acclaimed books; and has been involved in  activism for years.  His statements, articles and actions have given rise to more than a little anger by a government that deludes itself with the idea that it is "a shining beacon of hope" or a "golden city on the Hill."

From DemocracyNow!, July 11, 2013:
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As NSA leaker Edward Snowden remains at a Moscow airport, Army whistleblower Bradley Manning is on trial, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, today we look at the strange story of another man tied to the world of cyber-activism who faces over a hundred years in prison. His name is Barrett Brown. He’s an investigative reporter with ties to the hacking collective Anonymous. He has spent the past 300 days in jail and has been denied bail. He faces 17 charges, ranging from threatening an FBI agent to credit card fraud for posting a link online to a document that contained stolen credit card data. But according to his supporters, Brown is being unfairly targeted for daring to investigate the highly secretive world of private intelligence and military contractors.

AMY GOODMAN: Before Brown’s path crossed with the FBI, he frequently contributed to Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, The Guardian and other news outlets. In 2009, Brown created Project PM, which was, quote, "dedicated to investigating private government contractors working in the secretive fields of cybersecurity, intelligence and surveillance." He was particularly interested in the documents leaked by WikiLeaks and Anonymous. In the documentary We Are Legion, Barrett Brown explains the importance of information obtained by hackers.

BARRETT BROWN: Some of the most important things that have been—have had the most far-reaching influence and have been the most important in terms of what’s been discovered, not just by Anonymous, but by the media in the aftermath, is the result of hacking. That information can’t be obtained by institutional journalistic process, or it can’t be obtained or won’t be obtained by a congressional committee or a federal oversight committee. For the most part, that information has to be, you know, obtained by hackers.

AMY GOODMAN: In 2011, the group Anonymous hacked into the computer system of the private security firm HBGary Federal and disclosed thousands of internal emails. Barrett Brown has not been accused of being involved in the hack, but he did read and analyze the documents, eventually crowdsourcing the effort through Project PM. One of the first things he discovered was a plan to tarnish the reputations of WikiLeaks and sympathetic journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian. Brown similarly analyzed and wrote about the millions of internal company emails for Stratfor Global Intelligence that were leaked on Christmas Eve 2011. Shortly thereafter, the FBI acquired a warrant for Brown’s laptop and authority to seize any information from his communications—or, in journalism parlance, his sources. In September 2012, a troupe of armed agents surged into Brown’s apartment in Dallas, Texas, and handcuffed him face down on the floor. He has been in prison ever since.


From BoingBoing ("Barrett Brown’s sentence is unjust, but it may become the norm for journalists," by Trevor Timm, January 26, 2015:

Brown—a longtime journalist and activist has written for Vanity Fair, the Onion, and the Guardian—has been the subject of a controversial government witchhunt for more than two years now, stemming from his association with members of the hacker collective Anonymous and his own journalism website known as “Project PM,” which investigated shadowy intelligence contractors like Booz Allen (long before Edward Snowden made them a household name).

The FBI relentlessly pursued Brown for his relationship with source and hacker Jeremy Hammond, who last year pled guilty to hacking into Stratfor, the intelligence contractor whose emails were the subject of that notorious link. It’s important to note: the FBI never accused Brown of hacking. (For more on this, read Anonymous expert Biella Coleman in Slate: “Barrett Brown isn’t a hacker, but he’s being punished like one.”)

However, the FBI would eventually charge Brown with obstruction of justice and threatening an FBI agent that stemmed from his reaction to their hacking investigation, and also included a charge of “trafficking” in stolen information for merely sharing a hyperlink with his collaborators on Project PM.

The hyperlink, which Brown just copied from an Anonymous chatroom into a private Project PM chatroom, led to a trove of the Statfor documents, some which contained newsworthy information, and some which also contained private credentials. In other words, it’s the type of link journalists share between each other and on Twitter all the time.

After Brown’s lawyers wrote a blistering legal brief accusing the Justice Department of violating the First Amendment, the government swiftly drop the linking indictment, but Brown eventually had to plead guilty to three lesser charges (including threatening an FBI agent, which Brown freely admitted in court was wrong and stupid).

But you’d think that would be the end of trying to punish him for linking. But at the sentencing hearing on Thursday, the Justice Department again brought the hyperlink up, arguing that even though Brown was NOT charged for the linking to a public document, he should still be punished more for his other crimes because it is “relevant conduct.”

So instead of being sentenced for just his crimes, Brown—as explained in detail by his defense attorney Marlo Cadeddu—got at least a year more in jail because the judge accepted the argument sharing a hyperlink—his First Amendment right, mind you—should factor into a longer sentence.

Barrett Brown's allocution statement to the court (Free Barrett Brown, "Barrett Brown’s allocution / sentencing statement," January 22, 2015):

Good afternoon, Your Honor.

The allocution I give today is going to be a bit different from the sort that usually concludes a sentencing hearing, because this is an unusual case touching upon unusual issues. It is also a very public case, not only in the sense that it has been followed closely by the public, but also in the sense that it has implications for the public, and even in the sense that the public has played a major role, because, of course, the great majority of the funds for my legal defense was donated by the public. And so now I have three duties that I must carry out. I must express my regret, but I must also express my gratitude. And I also have to take this opportunity to ensure that the public understands what has been at stake in this case, and why it has proceeded in the way that it has. Because, of course, the public didn’t simply pay for my defense through its donations, they also paid for my prosecution through its tax dollars. And the public has a right to know what it is paying for. And Your Honor has a need to know what he is ruling on.

First I will speak of regret. Like nearly all federal defendants, I hope to convince Your Honor that I sincerely regret some of the things that I have done. I don’t think anyone doubts that I regret quite a bit about my life including some of the things that brought me here today. Your Honor has the Acceptance of Responsibility document that my counsel submitted to you. Every word of it was sincere. The videos were idiotic, and although I made them in a manic state brought on by sudden withdrawal from Paxil and Suboxone, and while distraught over the threats to prosecute my mother, that’s still me in those YouTube clips talking nonsense about how the FBI would never take me alive. Likewise, I didn’t have the right to hide my files from the FBI during a lawful investigation, and I would’ve had a better chance of protecting my contacts in foreign countries if I had pursued the matter in the courts after the raid, rather than stupidly trying to hide those laptops in the kitchen cabinet as my mother and I did that morning. And with regard to the accessory after the fact charge relating to my efforts to redact sensitive emails after the Stratfor hack, I’ve explained to Your Honor that I do not want to be a hypocrite. If I criticize the government for breaking the law but then break the law myself in an effort to reveal their wrongdoing, I should expect to be punished just as I’ve called for the criminals at government-linked firms like HBGary and Palantir to be punished. When we start fighting crime by any means necessary we become guilty of the same hypocrisy as law enforcement agencies throughout history that break the rules to get the villains, and so become villains themselves.

I’m going to say a few more words about my regrets in a moment, but now I’m going to get to the unusual part of the allocution. I’m going to make some criticisms of the manner in which the government has pursued this case. Normally this sort of thing is left to one’s lawyers rather than the defendant, because to do otherwise runs the risk of making the defendant seem combative rather than contrite. But I think Your Honor can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. I think Your Honor understands that one can regret the unjust things one has done, while also being concerned about the unjust things that have been done to him. And based on certain statements that Your Honor has made, as well as one particular ruling, I have cause to believe that Your Honor will understand and perhaps even sympathize with the unusual responsibility I have which makes it necessary that I point out some things very briefly.

I do so with respect to Your Honor. I also do it for selfish reasons, because I want to make absolutely certain that Your Honor is made aware that the picture the government has presented to you is a false one. But it is also my duty to make this clear as this case does not just affect me. Even aside from the several First Amendment issues that have already been widely discussed as a result of this case, there is also the matter of the dozens of people around the world who have contributed to my distributed think tank, Project PM, by writing for our public website, echelon2.org. Incredibly, the government has declared these contributors — some of them journalists — to be criminals, and participants in a criminal conspiracy. As such, the government sought from this court a subpoena by which to obtain the identities of all of our contributors. Your Honor denied that motion and I am very grateful to Your Honor for having done so. Unfortunately the government thereafter went around Your Honor and sought to obtain these records by other means. So now the dozens of people who have given their time and expertise to what has been hailed by journalists and advocacy groups as a crucial journalistic enterprise are now at risk of being indicted under the same sort of spurious charges that I was facing not long ago, when the government exposed me to decades of prison time for copying and pasting a link to a publicly available file that other journalists were also linking to without being prosecuted. The fact that the government has still asked you to punish me for that link is proof, if any more were needed, that those of us who advocate against secrecy are to be pursued without regard for the rule of law, or even common decency.

Your Honor, I understand that this is my sentencing hearing and not an inquiry into the government’s conduct. This is not the place to go into the dozens of demonstrable errors and contradictions to be found in the government’s documentation, and the testimony by the government. But it would be hypocritical of me to protest the government’s conduct and not provide Your Honor with an example. I will do so very briefly. At the September 13th bond hearing, held in Magistrate Judge Stickney’s court the day after my arrest, Special Agent Allyn Lynd took the stand and claimed under oath that in reviewing my laptops he had found discussions in which I admit having engaged in, quote, “SWATting”, unquote, which he referred to as, quote, “violent activity”, unquote. Your Honor may not be familiar with the term SWATting; as Mr. Lynd described it at the hearing it is, quote, “where they try to place a false 911 call to the residence of an individual in order to endanger that individual.” He went on at elaborate length about this, presenting it as a key reason why I should not receive bond. Your Honor will have noted that this has never come up again. This is because Mr. Lynd’s claims were entirely untrue. But that did not stop him from making that claim, any more than it stopped him from claiming that I have lived in the Middle East, a region I have never actually had the pleasure of visiting.

Your Honor, this is just one example from a single hearing. But if Your Honor can extrapolate from that, Your Honor can probably get a sense of how much value can be placed on the rest of the government’s testimony in this case. Likewise, Your Honor can probably understand the concerns I have about what my contributors might be subjected to by the government if this sort of behavior proves effective today. Naturally I hope Your Honor will keep this in mind, and I hope that other judges in this district will as well, because, again, there remains great concern that my associates will be the next to be indicted.

I’ve tried to protect my contributors, Your Honor, and I’ve also tried to protect the public’s right to link to source materials without being subject to misuse of the statutes. Last year, when the government offered me a plea bargain whereby I would plead to just one of the eleven fraud charges related to the linking, and told me it was final, I turned it down. To have accepted that plea, with a two-year sentence, would have been convenient. Your Honor will note that I actually did eventually plea to an accessory charge carrying potentially more prison time — but it would have been wrong. Even aside from the obvious fact that I did not commit fraud, and thus couldn’t sign on to any such thing, to do so would have also constituted a dangerous precedent, and it would have endangered my colleagues each of whom could now have been depicted as a former associate of a convicted fraudster. And it would have given the government, and particularly the FBI, one more tool by which to persecute journalists and activists whose views they find to be dangerous or undesirable.

Journalists are especially vulnerable right now, Your Honor, and they become more so when the FBI feels comfortable making false claims about them. And in response to our motion to dismiss the charges of obstruction of justice based on the hiding of my laptops, the government claimed that those laptops contained evidence of a plot I orchestrated to attack the Kingdom of Bahrain on the orders of Amber Lyon. Your Honor, Amber Lyon is a journalist and former CNN reporter, who I do know and respect, but I can assure Your Honor that I am not in the habit of attacking Gulf state monarchies on her behalf. But I think it’s unjust of them to use this court to throw out that sort of claim about Miss Lyon in a public filing as they did if they’re not prepared to back it up. And they’re not prepared to back it up. But that won’t stop the Kingdom of Bahrain from repeating this groundless assertion and perhaps even using it to keep Miss Lyon out of the country — because she has indeed reported on the Bahraini monarchy’s violent crackdowns on pro-democracy protests in that country, and she has done so from that country. And if she ever returns to that country to continue that important work, she’ll now be subject to arrest on the grounds that the United States Department of Justice itself has explicitly accused her of orchestrating an attack on that country’s government.

Your Honor, this is extraordinary. Miss Lyon isn’t the only journalist that’s been made less secure legally by this prosecution. Every journalist in the United States is put at risk by the novel, and sometimes even radical, claims that the government has introduced in the course of the sentencing process. The government asserts that I am not a journalist and thus unable to claim the First Amendment protections guaranteed to those engaged in information-gathering activities. Your Honor, I’ve been employed as a journalist for much of my adult life, I’ve written for dozens of magazines and newspapers, and I’m the author of two published and critically-acclaimed books of expository non-fiction. Your Honor has received letters from editors who have published my journalistic work, as well as from award-winning journalists such as Glenn Greenwald, who note that they have used that work in their own articles. If I am not a journalist, then there are many, many people out there who are also not journalists, without being aware of it, and who are thus as much at risk as I am.

Your Honor, it would be one thing if the government were putting forth some sort of standard by which journalists could be defined. They have not put forth such a standard. Their assertion rests on the fact that despite having referred to myself as a journalist hundreds of times, I at one point rejected that term, much in the same way that someone running for office might reject the term “politician”. Now, if the government is introducing a new standard whereby anyone who once denies being a particular thing is no longer that thing in any legal sense, then that would be at least a firm and knowable criteria. But that’s not what the government is doing in this case. Consider, for instance, that I have denied being a spokesperson for Anonymous hundreds of times, both in public and private, ever since the press began calling me that in the beginning of 2011. So on a couple of occasions when I contacted executives of contracting firms like Booz Allen Hamilton in the wake of revelations that they’d been spying on my associates and me for reasons that we were naturally rather anxious to determine, I did indeed pretend to be such an actual official spokesman for Anonymous, because I wanted to encourage these people to talk to me. Which they did.

Of course, I have explained this many, many times, and the government itself knows this, even if they’ve since claimed otherwise. In the September 13th criminal complaint filed against me, the FBI itself acknowledges that I do not claim any official role within Anonymous. Likewise, in last month’s hearing, the prosecutor accidentally slipped and referred to me as a journalist, even after having previously found it necessary to deny me that title. But, there you have it. Deny being a spokesperson for Anonymous hundreds of times, and you’re still a spokesperson for Anonymous. Deny being a journalist once or twice, and you’re not a journalist. What conclusion can one draw from this sort of reasoning other than that you are whatever the FBI finds it convenient for you to be at any given moment. This is not the “rule of law”, Your Honor, it is the “rule of law enforcement”, and it is very dangerous.

Your Honor, I am asking you to give me a time-served sentence of thirty months today because to do otherwise will have the effect of rewarding this sort of reckless conduct on the part of the government. I am also asking for that particular sentence because, as my lawyer Marlo Cadeddu, an acknowledged expert on the guidelines, has pointed out, that’s what the actual facts of the case would seem to warrant. And the public, to the extent that it has made its voice heard through letters and donations and even op-eds in major newspapers, also believes that the circumstances of this case warrant that I be released today. I would even argue that the government itself believes that the facts warrant my release today, because look at all the lies they decided they would have to tell to keep me in prison.

I thank you for your indulgence, Your Honor, and I want to conclude by thanking everyone who supported me over the last few years. I need to single out one person in particular, Kevin Gallagher, who contributed to my Project PM group, and who stepped up immediately after my arrest to build up a citizens’ initiative by which to raise money for my defense, and to spread the word about what was at stake in this case. For the two and a half years of my incarceration, Kevin has literally spent the bulk of his free time in working to give me my life back. He is one of the extraordinary people who have given of themselves to make possible this great and beautiful movement of ours, this movement to protect activists and journalists from secretive and extra-legal retaliation by powerful corporate actors with ties to the state. Your Honor, Kevin Gallagher is not a relative of mine, or a childhood friend. This is only the third time I’ve been in the same room with him. Nonetheless, he has dedicated two years of his life to ensure that I had the best possible lawyers on this case, and to ensure that the press understood what was at stake here. Your Honor, he set up something on Amazon.com whereby I could ask for books on a particular subject and supporters could buy them and have them sent to me. And he spoke to my mother several times a week. During that early period when I was facing over a hundred years worth of charges, and it wasn’t clear whether or not I would be coming home, he would offer support and reassurance to her, an effort that I will never be able to repay. He knows how much I regret the pain and heartbreak that my family has suffered throughout this ordeal.

A few weeks ago, Kevin got a job at the Freedom of The Press Foundation, one of the world’s most justifiably respected advocacy organizations. And, according to the government, he is also a member of a criminal organization, because, like dozens of journalists and activists across the world, he has been a contributor to Project PM, and the government has declared Project PM to be a criminal enterprise. I think that the government is wrong about Kevin, Your Honor, but that is not why I’ve brought him up. And although I am very glad for the opportunity to express my gratitude to him in a public setting, there are some gifts for which conventional gratitude is an insufficient payment. One can only respond to such gifts by working to become the sort of person that actually deserves to receive them. A thank-you will not suffice, and so I am not bringing him up here merely to thank him. Instead, I am using him in my defense. Your Honor, this very noble person, this truly exemplary citizen of the republic who takes his citizenship seriously rather than taking it for granted, knows pretty much everything there is to know about me — my life, my past, my work, from the things I’ve done and the things I’ve left undone, to the things I should not have done to begin with — and he has given himself over to the cause of freeing me today. He is the exact sort of person I tried to recruit for the crucial work we do at Project PM. I am so proud to have someone like him doing so much for me.

Your Honor, the last thing I will say in my own defense is that so many people like Kevin Gallagher have worked so hard on my behalf. And having now said all those things that I felt the need to say, I respectfully accept Your Honor’s decision in my sentencing.

Thank you.
The case of Barrett Brown proves that the US "Justice" system will allow for journalists to be prosecuted for their stories if those stories don't reflect the current paradigm promoted by that system; it will protect private corporations before the public interest; and will use manipulation tactics and innuendo to effect the sentencing of journalists instead of provable facts.

The obscene sentence handed down in the Brown case, based in part on an unproven and untried charge, should strike anger in any people still deluding themselves that "the American Justice System" is a fair process or still believing they have any Constitutionally guaranteed "Free Press." 

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, second from left, leaves the Alexandria Federal Courthouse, Jan. 26, 2015, in Alexandria, Va., with his wife, Holly, second from right, attorney Barry Pollack, right, and attorney Edward MacMahon, after his conviction. KEVIN WOLF/AP

The long and winding circumstantial case against Jeffrey Sterling:

Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer turned whistleblower, left the CIA in 2002...

"...As for Sterling, [John] Brennan played a role in his unhappy departure from the CIA a dozen years ago. In 2000, Sterling filed a discrimination complaint within the agency, asserting that he had been denied certain assignments because of his race. (Sterling was one of the CIA’s few African-American officers.) Brennan, as deputy executive director, was involved in rejecting Sterling’s claim. Sterling responded by suing the CIA; he was fired in 2002. The CIA rebuffed a number of settlement offers and then won dismissal of the entire lawsuit in 2004 after claiming that the litigation would expose state secrets.

In early March 2003, Sterling met with two Senate Intelligence Committee staffers to report that Operation Merlin—the CIA’s ill-conceived and bungled effort in 2000 to use a former Russian scientist to pass flawed nuclear-weapons blueprints to Iran—may have helped Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The government concedes that Sterling went through proper channels when he “disclosed classified information” to committee staff. (In court documents, the prosecution has complained that Sterling was unfairly critical of that operation when he spoke to committee staffers.)

The story of both "Operation Merlin" and US government warrantless wire-tapping under the GW Bush administration were exposed in Journalist James Risen's book, State of War, after the journalist's repeated attempts to get his employer, The New York Times, to publish his exposes over 6 years.

One might ask, what stopped The New York Times from publishing the stories?  The Times met with Bush Administration officials who threatened the paper and James Risen - a violation of the 1931 Supreme Court decision in the case, Near v Minnesota, the 1971 Supreme Court decision in New York Times Co. vs. United States, and the 1976 Supreme Court decision in Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart.

Once the book was published, the persecution of, both, John Risen and Jeffrey Sterling escalated - James Risen because he refused to reveal his source for the stories; Jeffrey Sterling because the CIA and the Bush DOJ,  Alberto Gonzales, decided that the stories "had" to come from Sterling.

Again, from The Nation:

Alarm bells had gone off as soon as the National Security Council got a bootlegged copy of State of War before its publication. Frantic skimming of the book alighted on its final chapter, devoted to the highly classified and embarrassing story of Operation Merlin. On the last day of 2005, officials at an emergency White House meeting tried to figure out how to block distribution. “As best anyone could tell, the books were printed in bulk and stacked somewhere in warehouses,” Rizzo’s memoir recalls. “We arrived at a rueful consensus: game over as far as any realistic possibility to keep the book, and the classified information in it, from getting out.”

The leak investigation of Sterling stretched over seven years, from suspicion in 2003 to indictment in 2010. The Justice Department has sought to justify the delay by relying on a McCarthy-era extension of the statutes of limitation associated with charges against him, and by holding Sterling responsible for the publication of Risen’s book chapter rather than for the conversations the two men allegedly had back in 2003.

The US government has been relentless in its pursuit of Risen in the Sterling investigation. Along with serving three subpoenas on the reporter, the DOJ obtained his credit reports, travel records, credit-card records and bank records. “One former official was asked to sign a document stating he was not a confidential source for New York Times reporter James Risen,” ABC News reported in May 2006. And the government appears to have obtained Risen’s phone records without alerting him, as required by DOJ guidelines. In an affidavit, Risen said that a witness who testified to the grand jury investigating the domestic wiretapping story had been shown “copies of telephone records relating to calls made to and from me.”

In its 2011 Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, the FBI formally authorized the use of national-security letters to obtain the call records of journalists who are witnesses to a crime. (NSLs are secret orders that the FBI can issue with no judicial review. Recipients are prohibited from telling anyone they’ve received such an order.) The FBI has not publicly changed this policy despite the attorney general’s revised guidelines issued last year and touted as protection for the press. The judge in the Sterling case, Leonie Brinkema, even pointed out that the government has never said whether prosecutors have recordings of Sterling’s conversations with Risen, indicating that she may suspect they do.

The way the Justice Department has constructed its legal case against Risen reeks of retaliation. With the rationale of seeking to rule out people other than Sterling as his sources, the government says it wants to make Risen go through the book’s offending chapter—statement by statement—and identify his sources by alias, at least, to indicate when he learned a certain fact. Such a process could implicate other sources. Given the small universe of people who knew about Operation Merlin (at least according to the government’s claims), such an extent of detail would likely identify all of Risen’s sources, regardless of any role Sterling may have had.

Meanwhile, the prosecution claims that Sterling lied about the details of Operation Merlin in order to get the Senate Intelligence Committee as well as Risen interested in the story. According to a government brief in Sterling’s case, “The grand jury specifically found that the defendant provided information to Risen in a false and misleading manner specifically as a means of inducing Risen to write about it, thus severely undercutting any First Amendment protection to be afforded that information.” (The government even claims that Sterling lied about believing that the Merlin scheme might help, rather than hurt, Iran’s nuclear ambitions.) But according to Rizzo’s memoir, the CIA came to very different conclusions about the accuracy of Risen’s reporting on Operation Merlin. The memoir, which went through CIA review and approval before publication, says the CIA’s chief of operations “confirmed that the details largely were all too distressingly accurate and damaging to CIA sources and methods.” In its prosecution of Sterling, the Justice Department is telling a notably different tale.

Legal maneuvers and contradictions aside, the government insists that such strenuous prosecution efforts are all about safeguarding the CIA’s “sources and methods” to collect information and run covert ops. But neither Risen nor Sterling had anything to do with the serious damage to sources and methods in Iran that the CIA actually suffered during the Bush years. Rather than being caused by journalism or whistleblowing, that damage was entirely self-inflicted. In 2004, an officer at the agency’s headquarters in Virginia mistakenly sent data to an agent that “could be used to identify virtually every spy the CIA had inside Iran,” Risen reported in his book. The mistake morphed into spook disaster when it turned out that the supposed CIA agent on the receiving end was a double agent. Wrote Risen: “The agent quickly turned the data over to Iranian security officials, and it enabled them to ‘roll up’ the CIA’s agent network throughout Iran.” But CIA leaders have no interest in acknowledging their Iran-related failures. Instead, they’ve made vague assertions that Sterling and Risen have caused harm. “All too frequently,” Risen points out, “the government claims that publication of certain information will harm national security, when in reality, the government’s real concern is about covering up its own wrongdoing or avoiding embarrassment.”
The DOJ finally dropped their case against Risen.  On January 12, 2015, it decided that it would no longer seek to compel James Risen to testify in the case they were continuing against Jeffrey Sterling.

For Sterling, now charged under the "Espionage Act," Obama's DOJ was not so "magnanimous."  On Monday, January 26, 2015, Jeffrey Sterling was convicted in a completely circumstantial case .


"... Because, along the way to the conviction of Sterling this week on all nine counts – including seven counts under the Espionage Act — something far more banal yet every bit as dear to D.C.’s economy of secrets may have been criminalized: unclassified tips.

To understand why that’s true, you need to know a bit about how the Department of Justice larded on charges against Sterling to get to what represents a potential 80-year maximum sentence (though he’s unlikely to get that). Sterling was accused — and ultimately convicted — of leaking two related things: First, information about the Merlin operation to deal flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran, as well as the involvement of a Russian engineer referred to as Merlin in the trial. In addition to that, the government charged Sterling separately for leaking a document (one which the FBI never found, in anyone’s possession): a letter Merlin included along with the nuclear blueprints he wrapped in a newspaper and left in the mailbox of Iran’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency. So the government convicted Sterling of leaking two things: information about the operation, and a letter that was used in the operation.

Then, having distinguished the operation from the letter, DOJ started multiplying. They charged Sterling for leaking the operation to Risen, then charged him for causing Risen to attempt to write a 2003 New York Times article about it, then charged him for causing Risen to publish a book chapter about it: one leak, three counts of espionage.

Then they charged Sterling for improperly retaining the letter (again, FBI never found it, not in CIA’s possession, not in Sterling’s possession, and Merlin purportedly destroyed his version before anyone could find it in his possession). Then DOJ charged Sterling for leaking the letter to Risen, then charged him for causing Risen to attempt to write a 2003 New York Times article including it, then charged him for causing Risen to publish a book chapter including verbatim excerpts from it (apparently Risen is a better investigator than FBI, because he found a copy): one letter, four more counts under the Espionage Act.

The participants in the economy of shared tips and intelligence in Washington D.C., breathed a collective sigh of relief when, on January 12, the government announced it would not force James Risen to testify in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. “Press freedom was safe! Our trade in leaks is safe!” observers seemed to conclude, and they returned to their squalid celebration of an oppressive Saudi monarch.

That celebration about information sharing is likely premature. Because, along the way to the conviction of Sterling this week on all nine counts – including seven counts under the Espionage Act — something far more banal yet every bit as dear to D.C.’s economy of secrets may have been criminalized: unclassified tips.

To understand why that’s true, you need to know a bit about how the Department of Justice larded on charges against Sterling to get to what represents a potential 80-year maximum sentence (though he’s unlikely to get that). Sterling was accused — and ultimately convicted — of leaking two related things: First, information about the Merlin operation to deal flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran, as well as the involvement of a Russian engineer referred to as Merlin in the trial. In addition to that, the government charged Sterling separately for leaking a document (one which the FBI never found, in anyone’s possession): a letter Merlin included along with the nuclear blueprints he wrapped in a newspaper and left in the mailbox of Iran’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency. So the government convicted Sterling of leaking two things: information about the operation, and a letter that was used in the operation.

Then, having distinguished the operation from the letter, DOJ started multiplying. They charged Sterling for leaking the operation to Risen, then charged him for causing Risen to attempt to write a 2003 New York Times article about it, then charged him for causing Risen to publish a book chapter about it: one leak, three counts of espionage.

Then they charged Sterling for improperly retaining the letter (again, FBI never found it, not in CIA’s possession, not in Sterling’s possession, and Merlin purportedly destroyed his version before anyone could find it in his possession). Then DOJ charged Sterling for leaking the letter to Risen, then charged him for causing Risen to attempt to write a 2003 New York Times article including it, then charged him for causing Risen to publish a book chapter including verbatim excerpts from it (apparently Risen is a better investigator than FBI, because he found a copy): one letter, four more counts under the Espionage Act.

Altogether, seven counts of spying, for one leak.

Here’s the really scary part though: the jury convicted Sterling based entirely on circumstantial evidence: there was not one shred of evidence showing Sterling handing Risen classified information on the operation, the Russian asset, or the letter that Risen found but FBI could not."

Sterling will be sentenced April, 2015.  The CIA thinks they will "save" their reputation (not even by a long shot will that happen) and the Obama Administration will have another bright, bloody red feather in their cap on "leaks" and "protection of whistleblowers" sham.

The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act of 1917 than any other president in history.  Since 1917, 11 people have been charged and prosecuted under the "Act," 8 of whom have been prosecuted under the Obama Administration.  

I imagine Jeffrey Sterling's conviction, in only 7 days, must have sent "whoops" of celebratory "congratulations" through the Capitol - "Hey, guys, we finally got another one!"

For the people who still actually believe in transparency and accountability, Constitutional rights, and the right of the people to know what the hell is being done in our name,  Jeffrey Sterling's conviction should enrage us all.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Civil Rights Activism in America: The story of Clyde Kennard

Clyde Kennard. Photograph from a January 1963 Mississippi Free Press.
Courtesy the Clarion-Ledger.

On June 12, 1927, Clyde Kennard was born to a farming family in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  At age 12, he left Hattiesburg to move to Chicago, with his older sister, in order to attend school.

Now this act might be lost on most people today, but in 1940, the chances for a black farm kid, living and working in rural Mississippi, to receive much of a formal education was nearly impossible.  Segregation (aka, "the Plessy Doctrine" or Plessy v Ferguson decision) was in full oppressive force and, with it, the absolute refusal to provide anything close to an "equal" educational opportunity for anyone not quite white enough to pass the restrictively rigid and institutionalized racism that ruled America.

In Mississippi, this was status quo.

From "Mississippi's School Equalization Program, 1945-1954: 'A Last Gasp to Try to Maintain a Segregated Educational System'" (Bolton, C. C. (2000). Mississippi's School Equalization Program, 1945-1954: "A Last Gasp to Try to Maintain a Segregated Educational System" The Journal of Southern History, 66(4): 781-814):

.... Although many black Mississippians actually endorsed a justly administered equalization policy, white leaders proved hesitant to spend millions to upgrade black schools without an explicit pledge of support from black leaders to maintain Jim Crow education...

...During the late 1930s and 1940s, for the first time since Reconstruction, serious public
discussions also occurred among white Mississippians about how to improve black education...

Those white Mississippians who began to call for greater equalization between white and black public schools generally made sure to emphasize that their ultimate motive remained preserving white privileges and saving school segregation. When Percy H. Easom, the supervisor of black schools for the state's Department of Education and a white man truly interested in advancing the cause of black schooling in the state, asked the state legislature for improvements in the training of black teachers in 1938, he carefully couched his request for change in the language of white supremacy: "[I]t is not so much a question of what the colored people deserve as it is a question of what the white people of Mississippi deserve. The white people deserve to have something
done to improve the status of their colored people. Do not the white people depend upon the colored people for their labor supply, for their tenant farmers, for their looks, for their nurses, for their brickmasons, for their plasterers, for their chauffeurs, etc.?"  [note from author: my bold] As the threats to segregated education began to appear more visibly on the horizon, Easom began to emphasize not only the benefits of equalization but also the danger to continued segregation if some type of equalization program was not pursued. At a speech before the Indianola Rotary Club in 1946 Easom reiterated his theme of how black educational advances benefited whites, and he also suggested that segregation could only be preserved if whites made a sustained attempt to address long ignored black educational needs. Given such self-serving attitudes about why black education should be improved, it is not surprising that white Mississippians typically endorsed equalization plans that provided only the most minimal of changes in the operation of the state's dual educational system. Real educational equalization would have required a vigorous and sustained program to close the yawning gap that existed between white and black education at the end of World War II.

In order to understand just how feeble the state's post—World War II equalization efforts were, it is important first to recognize how the operation of state-enforced school segregation over the preceding four decades had altered Mississippi education. In the late nineteenth century, white and black education, while unequally funded, remained almost everywhere equally inadequate, except in the state's largest towns. Most rural schools in the state had short terms, few supplies, and poorly paid teachers in one-, two-, or three-teacher operations. But during the first two decades of the twentieth century, Mississippi, like other southern states, dramatically upgraded white schools, while black education—receiving only limited state aid—languished, despite valiant efforts from black citizens and assistance from northern philanthropists.

Perhaps the most important of the Progressive-era reforms to improve white rural schools in Mississippi and other southern states was school consolidation, which allowed small schools to combine to form larger, graded schools, with at least one teacher for each grade. At the same time, control of these consolidated schools passed from local school trustees to centralized, usually countywide, school authorities who gained the power to raise taxes on a district or countywide basis. The modernized school districts used their newly available local funds to improve white schools by extending the school term, raising teacher salaries, and instituting a system of public transportation of students to the larger and more amply furnished consolidated schools. Although southern whites frequently objected to consolidation because of the additional taxes or the loss of local control, the reform increasingly gained popularity as a mechanism for increasing the educational benefits available to the white youth of the South's rural districts.

The Mississippi legislature's initial school consolidation measure, passed in 1910, provided for the creation of rural school districts that could levy taxes and issue bonds. Over the next thirty five years, whites took advantage of the new law to initiate a massive consolidation of their schools. In the 1909-10 school year, Mississippi had 4,256 rural white schools; by 1946, the state had 861 consolidated white schools and only 164 that had not yet been consolidated. State leaders hailed the changing structure of white education as a dramatic improvement...

...As a general rule, whites, who controlled all county governments in the state because of the disfranchisement of black citizens, did not extend this basic technique of school modernization to black education. During the 1909-10 school year, the state had 3,006 black schools, a number that had increased to 3,737 by 1946, only 100 of which had been consolidated. Between 1910, when the state enacted consolidation legislation, and 1930, only fifteen black schools were consolidated in the entire state, and almost half of these were in Forrest County, located in south Mississippi. This county clearly had the early progressive edge among the state's counties, at least in terms of assisting the development of black education. Before consolidation, the county had twenty-six black schools, only two of which were located in structures clearly identifiable as schoolhouses; the remainder held classes in one- room shacks or even sawmill sheds. The average length of the school term in these institutions was just forty days; the average white school term at the time was not much better, only fifty-nine days...."

At the age of 18, Clyde Kennard joined the U.S. Army for 7 years, serving in both Germany and Korea, before receiving an honorable discharge. Upon his return to civilian life, he put a down-payment on 20 acres for his mother and step-father outside of Eatonville, Forrest County, Mississippi, but remained in Chicago to study at the University of Chicago.

Upon the death of his step-father in 1955, Clyde was forced to return to Mississippi in order to assist his widowed mother (now in her 60's) with the farm.

Clyde had already completed 3 years of study towards a Political Science degree while in Chicago so wanted to complete his final year while assisting his mother with the farm.

William D. McCain, president of Southern Mississippi College. Courtesy Mississippi Department of Archives and History

In 1955, one year after the Brown v Topeka Board of Education decision, Clyde was determined to complete his education. Since there were no black colleges in the area, Clyde applied at the all white Mississippi Southern - a fifteen minute drive from his family farm. That was the beginning of his trouble.

Mississippi still would not desegregate. Clyde was denied admission because the school stated he needed and could not supply written recommendations from at least five alumni from his home county. When Clyde asked for a list of Alumni so he could request recommendation letters, the college president, William D. McCain, told Clyde that “such a list was not available.”  Apparently Clyde had above average scores and met all other requirements with the exception of those letters.

Not to be deterred, Clyde applied once again, but this time, he wrote a letter to the editor of Hattiesburg American, the local newspaper, announcing his intent to apply for the January, 1959, quarter at Mississippi Southern.

From Zinn Education Project ("Letter to the editor the Hattiesburg American about race and integration." by Clyde Kennard, 1959):

Route 1, Box 70
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
September 25, 1959

THE RACE QUESTION

Editor,

The charge that any person who believes in any form of integration of the races is a Communist or an out-side agitator has been made so constantly and with such force that it would not surprise me if there are some people who are innocent enough to believe, if not all, at least some portion of that charge. It is for the benefit of these unfortunate people that I review, briefly, the fundamental principle upon which the conviction of the integrationists is based.

Most basic to our beliefs about the race question in America today is that there can be no racial segregation without some racial discrimination, and that there cannot be a complete racial equalization without some racial integration.

Now this principle is an easy one for us to follow, for it holds as true in human history, especially American History, as it does in logic. Reason tells us that two things, different in location, different in constitution, different in origin, and different in purpose cannot possibly be equal. History has verified this conclusion. For nearly a century now the State of Mississippi has been under a supposedly separate but equal system. Let us ask ourselves, does the history of the system support the theory of the segregationists or the theory of the integrationists? What segregationist in his right mind would honestly claim that the facilities for the two races are equal? Still segregationists say, give us a little more time, we are really making progress. Perhaps they are making progress of some kind, but human life is not long enough to extend their time. They have had nearly a hundred years to prove their theory, and so far they are no closer to proof than when they began.

The differences which we now have over this matter of segregation versus integration have, unfortunately, been characterized by some as a mortal contest between out-side agitators and-or Communists, and peaceful, law-abiding citizens. This is furthest from the truth. The question is whether or not citizens of the same country, the same state, the same city, shall have equal opportunities to earn their living, to select the people who shall govern them, and raise and educate their children in a free democratic manner: or whether or not because of the accident of color, one half of the citizens shall be excluded from society as though they had leprosy?

If there is one quality of Americans which would set them apart from almost any other peoples, it is the history of their struggle for liberty and justice under the law. Lincoln has rightly said that this nation was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Truly, the history of America is inseparable from the ideals of John Locke, John Stuart Mill and Jean Rousseau. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, says our Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal.” How different that statement is in spirit from the one which says: Before I see my child go to school with a Negro, I will destroy the whole school system. How different in virtue is the statement of Patrick Henry which says, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me give me liberty or give me death,” and the one which says, before I see a Negro with liberty I had rather see him dead.

I find it indeed interesting that the people who come closest to the thinking of Fascists and Communists in their activities should accuse the integrationists of that very thing. Is it the segregationists or the integrationists who are employing secret investigators to search the records and to apply pressure on any one suspected of opposing the present dictatorship of the minority by the majority? Is it the segregationists or the integrationists who are preaching the doctrine of the superiority of one race over another? Is it the segregationists or the integrationists who are dogmatically suppressing the aspirations of nearly half the people of this great state for their inalienable right to participate in their government?

The segregationists give as their reason for not allowing Negroes to participate more fully in the general community activities that ninety-five percent of the Negroes are not interested, which would leave only five percent of the Negroes are interested. Now, assuming that their statement is correct, and knowing that no person nor group of people in the United States has the right to forbid even one single person his constitutional rights, what accounts for their actions? Some declare that the northern states can permit integration because they have only a few Negroes, but the South can’t do that because the South has so many Negroes. Well, according to their own estimates, only five percent of the Negroes in the South are interested in the general community activities, and five percent of the Negroes in any community would certainly not weigh very heavily in any critical issue even if we were to assume that they would all vote the same way. On the other hand, if a majority of the Negro people in this State desires to participate to the fullest extent in the general community activities and are being forbidden to do so either through fear or ignorance, then the segregationists of this State are guilty of one of the strangest and probably the most tragic dictatorships yet recorded by history.

It is an easy matter, I suppose, for White people to misunderstand the aspirations of Negroes; this is understandable. But we have no desire for revenge in our hearts. What we want is to be respected as men and women, given an opportunity to compete with you in the great and interesting race of life. We want your friends to be our friends; we want your enemies to be our enemies; we want your hopes and ambitions to be our hopes and ambitions, and your joys and sorrows to be our joys and sorrows.

The big question seems to be, can we achieve this togetherness in our time? If the segregationists have their way we shall not. For instead of preaching brotherly love and cooperation they are declaring the superiority of one race and the inferiority of the other. Instead of trying to show people how much they are alike, they are busy showing them how much they differ. Instead of appointing a commission to study the problem to determine whether integration or segregation is the best policy for Mississippi at this time, they appointed a commission to try to maintain segregation at all cost whether it is the best policy or not the best policy.

In this matter I like to quote from the great Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi, in his discourse on the existence of God. He says: “In the midst of death, life persists; in the midst of untruth, truth persists; in the midst of darkness light persists.”

So, let it be, in our case.

Respectfully submitted,

Clyde Kennard

The powerful Mississippi Sovereignty Commission (headed by a former FBI agent, Zack J. VanLandingham) , a state agency created after Brown v. Topeka Board of Ed., whose purpose was to preserve segregation as they tracked any "threats" or potential threats against the white hierarchy firmly entrenched in the state) was not happy. They began to investigate Kennard, calling him a "race agitator," for anything they could find that would sabotage his latest application to the college - anything from his past employment, military, personal or financial life history that could be used against him.  Much to their chagrin, the Commission could find nothing in Clyde's history that could be used to keep him out of the college or used to deny his application.

The Governor was dismayed but VanLandingham was not through yet. Vanlandingham tried to manipulate Clyde by having "conservative black educators" dissuade Clyde from pursuing his application at Mississippi Southern - Clyde would not budge.  The governor tried by offering him free tuition at any out-of-state college of his choosing, but Clyde insisted he wanted to be with his family, and, again, refused to withdraw. The Governor and the president of the college, McCain, continued their pressure on Kennard and after another private meeting, Clyde agreed to withdraw his latest application but he did not give up his dream.

In the Fall of 1959, Clyde Kennard informed both the president of Mississippi Southern, McCain, and the admissions director Aubrey K. Lucas, that he was re-applying for admissions. When Clyde returned to the admissions office in September, he was told he was missing one transcript from the University of Chicago. Clyde knew this was not true but had to come back later with another copy of the document.

Upon returning to his car to leave, he was met by two Forrest County constables and arrested on the spot for “driving at an excessive speed” and “illegal possession of whiskey.” (the latter was a completely false allegation contrived by the Sovereignty Commission. According to friends, Clyde, as a devout Baptist, never drank). Two weeks later, he was quickly, convicted of both charges, which Clyde appealed going all the way to the US Supreme Court - He was denied even a hearing.

The Sovereignty Commission tracked Kennard's actions and his appeals. In September, 1960, Kennard was arrested once again.


Clyde Kennard was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, tried in an all white court and convicted (in a 10 minute deliberation) by an all white jury and sentenced to 7 years in prison. With a felony record, he was no longer eligible to apply or attend any university.

The actual perpetrator of the crime, Johnny Lee Roberts, was let off in a deal made with the prosecutor, in return for his contradictory and false testimony against Kennard. (he later recanted) The actual thief returned to his job at the Cooperative while Kennard was sent to Parchman Penitentiary, a high security prison, and forced to work on the prison’s "sun up to sun down gang" cotton plantation - the worst of the worst in Mississippi.

Even with Medgar Evers, the NAACP, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dick Gregory and others working tirelessly to get Kennard released; a diagnosis of terminal colon cancer; and the prison doctor's request to the governor for leniency and commutation of Kennard's sentence in order to send Kennard home, (all ignored by Governor Ross Barnett) Kennard was forced back into the fields, even if he had to be carried, in order to "make an example" of him.

The story began to leak out; the press published articles and editorials about Clyde Kennard's plight; protests and actions took place demanding Kennard's release, and in February, 1963, Clyde was finally released to go home.

Too weak to work on the farm; too sick (from neglect, cancer and TB) to even think about college, but  Clyde Kennard refused to openly attack his enslavers.

On July 4, 1963, Clyde Kennard died...a class act until the end; a martyr for the cause; and a hero to the people.

A few days before his death, he wrote, “Ode to the Death Angel” :

Oh here you come again
Old chilly death of Ol'
To plot out life
And test immortal soul

I saw you fall against the raging sea
I cheated you then and now you'll not catch me…

I know your face
It's known in every race
Your speed is fast
And along the way
Your shadow you cast

High in the sky
You thought you had me then
I landed safely
But here you are again

I see you paused upon that forward pew
When you think I'm asleep
I'm watching you
Why must you hound me so everywhere I go?

It's true my eyes are dim
My hands are growing cold
Well take me on then, that
I might at last become my soul

On December 31, 2005, Investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell published an interview with the "witness" to Kennard's crime, now recanting his testimony and clearing Kennard's name.

On May 16, 2006, Clyde Kennard was exonerated in the Circuit Court of Forrest County, Mississippi.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The US House of Representatives passed the Keystone XL Pipeline & so did the Senate - Updated



On January 9, 2015, the US House of Representatives voted, overwhelmingly, to push through the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Every Republican in that House voted for the measure.  28 Democrats joined them in the push.

Below are the names of the Democrats for Ecological Destruction:



On January 13, 2015, the Senate passed the KeystoneXL Pipeline.  Every Republican voted for it, as expected, but the following Independent and Democrats voted for it as well:

Angus King (I- ME),
Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Jon Tester (D-MT)
Tom Udall (D-NM)
Mark Warner (D-VA).

Sunday, January 11, 2015

January 11, 2015, 13 years of Guantanamo proving America is NOT exceptional



Today is the 13th anniversary of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center ...




Sadly, most of America will ignore it.

Many in the U.S. still believe Guantanamo houses "the worst of the worst" terrorists thereby justifying the prison's existence..

  • Number of men/boys imprisoned at Guantanamo by the Department of Defense since the prison opened on January 11, 2002: 779
  • 86% were sold to the United States during a time when the U.S. military was offering large bounties for capture; commonly, $5,000 offered per man. (e.g., Offers made by the US to Pakistani and Afghan villagers to turn someone in: "Millions of dollars… Enough money to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life.")
  • Percentage of prisoners captured by American troops: 5%
  • Age of the youngest prisoner ever held at Guantanamo: 13
  • Age of the oldest prisoner ever held at Guantanamo: 89
  • Number of children the U.S. imprisoned at Guantanamo: 21
  • Number of men still imprisoned at Guantanamo as of January 11, 2015: 127
  • The names of those still held and their current "status": 
  • 026 Ghazi, Fahed (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 027 Uthman, Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. (but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013); also see: "The Seven Guantánamo Prisoners Whose Appeals Were Turned Down by the Supreme Court"
  • 028 Al Alawi, Muaz (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013); also see: "The Seven Guantánamo Prisoners Whose Appeals Were Turned Down by the Supreme Court" and "Voices from the Hunger Strike in Guantánamo"
  • 029 Al Ansi, Mohammed (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. (but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 030 Al Hakimi, Ahmed (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 031 Al Mujahid, Mahmoud (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention by the task force, but cleared for release by a Periodic Review Board in January 2014
  • 033 Al Adahi, Mohammed (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 034 Al Yafi, Abdullah (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 035 Qader Idris, Idris (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 037 Al Rahabi, Abdul Malik (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention by the task force, and also recommended for continued detention by a Periodic Review Board in March 2014, he was cleared for release by a second Periodic Review Board in December 2014
  • 038 Al Yazidi, Ridah (Tunisia) Cleared for release
  • 039 Al Bahlul, Ali Hamza (Yemen) Convicted pre-Obama, and given a life sentence, although that conviction was overturned on appeal
  • 040 Al Mudafari, Abdel Qadir (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 041 Ahmad, Majid (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 042 Shalabi, Abdul Rahman (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 043 Moqbel, Samir (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 044 Ghanim, Mohammed (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 045 Al Rezehi, Ali Ahmad (aka Ali Ahmad Al Razihi) (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. by the task force, but cleared for release by a Periodic Review Board in April 2014
  • 063 Al Qahtani, Mohammed (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 088 Awad, Adham Ali (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 091 Al Saleh, Abdul (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 115 Naser, Abdul Rahman (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 117 Al Warafi, Muktar (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 128 Al Bihani, Ghaleb (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention by the task force, but cleared for release by a Periodic Review Board in May 2014
  • 131 Ben Kend, Salem (aka Salem bin Kanad) (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention by the task force, and also recommended for continued detention by a Periodic Review Board in May 2014
  • 153 Suleiman, Fayiz (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 163 Al Qadasi, Khalid (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 165 Al Busayss, Said (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 167 Al Raimi, Ali Yahya (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 170 Masud, Sharaf (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 171 Alahdal, Abu Bakr (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 178 Baada, Tareq (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 189 Gherebi, Salem (Libya) Cleared for release
  • 195 Al Shumrani, Mohammed (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for continued detention; determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013, his review took place in May 2014, and in October 2014 he was recommended for continued detention
  • 197 Chekhouri, Younis (Morocco) Cleared for release
  • 202 Bin Atef, Mahmoud (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 223 Sulayman, Abdul Rahman (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 224 Muhammad, Abdul Rahman (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 233 Salih, Abdul (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 235 Jarabh, Saeed (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. (but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 239 Aamer, Shaker (UK-Saudi Arabia) Cleared for release; also see: "10 Years in Guantánamo: British Resident Shaker Aamer, Cleared for Release But Still Held," "EXCLUSIVE: 'I Affirm Our Right to Life': Shaker Aamer, the Last British Resident in Guantánamo, Explains His Peaceful Protest and Hunger Strike" and "EXCLUSIVE: A Demand for 'Freedom and Justice' from Shaker Aamer in Guantánamo"
  • 240 Al Shabli, Abdullah (Saudi Arabia) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 242 Qasim, Khaled (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 244 Nassir, Abdul Latif (Morocco) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 249 Al Hamiri, Mohammed (Yemen) Cleared for release; also see: "From Guantánamo, An Innocent Man Pleads for Release"
  • 251 Bin Salem, Mohammed (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 255 Hatim, Said (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 257 Abdulayev, Umar (Tajikistan) Cleared for release
  • 259 Hintif, Fadil (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 309 Abdal Sattar, Muieen (UAE) Cleared for release
  • 321 Kuman, Ahmed Yaslam Said (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 324 Al Sabri, Mashur (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 434 Al Shamyri, Mustafa (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 440 Bawazir, Mohammed (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 441 Al Zahri, Abdul Rahman (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 461 Al Qyati, Abdul Rahman (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 498 Haidel, Mohammed (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 506 Al Dhuby, Khalid (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 508 Al Rabie, Salman (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 509 Khusruf, Mohammed (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 511 Al Nahdi, Sulaiman (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 522 Ismail, Yasin (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. (but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 535 El Sawah, Tariq (Egypt) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 549 Al Dayi, Omar (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 550 Zaid, Walid (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 552 Al Kandari, Fayiz (Kuwait) Recommended for continued detention by the task force, and also recommended for continued detention by a Periodic Review Board in July 2014; also see: "Justice Denied: The Stories of Fawzi Al-Odah and Fayiz Al-Kandari, the Last Two Kuwaitis in Guantánamo," "The Seven Guantánamo Prisoners Whose Appeals Were Turned Down by the Supreme Court" and "Voices from the Hunger Strike in Guantánamo"
  • 554 Al Assani, Fehmi (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 560 Mohammed, Haji Wali (Afghanistan) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. (but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 564 Bin Amer, Jalal (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 566 Qattaa, Mansoor (Saudi Arabia) Cleared for release
  • 569 Al Shorabi, Zohair (Yemen) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 575 Al Azani, Saad (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 576 Bin Hamdoun, Zahir (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. (but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 578 Al Suadi, Abdul Aziz (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 680 Hassan, Emad (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 682 Al Sharbi, Ghassan (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 685 Ali, Abdelrazak (Algeria) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 688 Ahmed, Fahmi (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 689 Salam, Mohamed (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 690 Qader, Ahmed Abdul (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 691 Al Zarnuki, Mohammed (Yemen) Cleared for release
  • 694 Barhoumi, Sufyian (Algeria) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 695 Abu Bakr, Omar (Omar Mohammed Khalifh) (Libya) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 696 Al Qahtani, Jabran (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 702 Mingazov, Ravil (Russia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 708 Al Bakush, Ismael (Libya) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 728 Nassir, Jamil (Yemen) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"
  • 753 Zahir, Abdul (Afghanistan) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 757 Abdul Aziz, Ahmed Ould (Mauritania) Cleared for release
  • 760 Slahi, Mohamedou Ould (Salahi) (Mauritania) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 762 Obaidullah (Afghanistan) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013; also see: "U.S. Investigation in Afghanistan Clears Obaidullah, an Afghan Still Held in Guantánamo" and "Voices from the Hunger Strike in Guantánamo"
  • 768 Al Darbi, Ahmed Mohammed (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force, he was charged and accepted a plea deal in February 2014, even though he had been determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 836 Saleh, Ayoub Murshid Ali (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 837 Al Marwalah, Bashir (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 838 Balzuhair, Shawki Awad (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 839 Al Madhwani, Musa’ab (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013); also see: "The Seven Guantánamo Prisoners Whose Appeals Were Turned Down by the Supreme Court"
  • 840 Al Maythali, Hail Aziz Ahmed (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 841 Nashir, Said Salih Said (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 893 Al Bihani, Tawfiq (Saudi Arabia) Cleared for release but held in "conditional detention"; also see: "The Seven Guantánamo Prisoners Whose Appeals Were Turned Down by the Supreme Court"
  • 975 Karim, Bostan (Afghanistan) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. (but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 1017 Al Rammah, Omar (Zakaria al-Baidany) (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. (but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 1045 Kamin, Mohammed (Afghanistan) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 1094 Paracha, Saifullah (Pakistan) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 1119 Hamidullah, Haji (aka Ahmid Al Razak) (Afghanistan) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. (but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 1453 Al Kazimi, Sanad (Yemen) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 1456 Bin Attash, Hassan (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 1457 Sharqawi, Abdu Ali (Yemen) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 1460 Rabbani, Abdul Rahim Ghulam (Pakistan) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 1461 Rabbani, Mohammed Ghulam (Pakistan) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 1463 Al Hela, Abdulsalam (Yemen) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. (but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 10011 Al Hawsawi, Mustafa (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution, he was charged and pre-trial hearings are underway
  • 10013 Bin Al Shibh, Ramzi (Yemen) Recommended for prosecution, he was charged and pre-trial hearings are underway
  • 10014 Bin Attash, Waleed (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution, he was charged and pre-trial hearings are underway
  • 10015 Al Nashiri, Abd Al Rahim (Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution, he was charged and pre-trial hearings are underway
  • 10016 Zubaydah, Abu (Palestine-Saudi Arabia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 10017 Al Libi, Abu Faraj (Libya) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 10018 Al Baluchi, Ammar (Ali Abd Al Aziz Ali) (Pakistan-Kuwait) Recommended for prosecution, he was charged and pre-trial hearings are underway
  • 10019 Isamuddin, Riduan (Hamlili) (Indonesia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 10020 Khan, Majid (Pakistan) Recommended for prosecution, he accepted a plea deal in February 2012
  • 10021 Bin Amin, Modh Farik (Zubair) (Malaysia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 10022 Bin Lep, Mohammed (Lillie) (Malaysia) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 10023 Dourad, Gouled Hassan (Somalia) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. (but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 10024 Mohammed, Khalid Sheikh (Pakistan-Kuwait) Recommended for prosecution, he was charged and pre-trial hearings are underway
  • 10025 Malik, Mohammed Abdul (Kenya) Recommended for continued detention (determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • 10026 Al Iraqi, Abd Al Hadi (Iraq) Recommended for prosecution and charged, even though he had been determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 3148 Al Afghani, Haroon (Afghanistan) Recommended for prosecution by the task force in January 2010, but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013
  • 10029 Rahim, Muhammad (Afghanistan) Recommended for continued detention and possible transfer to detention in the U.S. (but determined to be eligible for a Periodic Review Board in April 2013)
  • Number of prisoners serving sentence after military commission proceedings: 3
  • Number of prisoners the U.S. has said it lacks evidence to prosecute but claims are too dangerous to release: 46

  • More men (9) have died at Guantánamo than have been convicted (8) by the military commissions.
  • Number of Guantanamo prisoners convicted by illegitimate military commissions: 8
6 of these convictions were obtained through plea deals
1 of those convictions was in a contested trial
1 defendant chose not to participate in his trial
4 of those convicted have already been transferred home and 4 remain in detention
Number of Guantanamo prisoners transferred for prosecution in federal court: 1
  • Prisoners who have died in custody: 9
7 by "apparent suicide," though this is highly questioned (See Joseph Hickman's account)
1 as a result of an apparent heart attack
1 of cancer
The youngest death by apparent suicide at Guantanamo was Yassser Talal Al Zahrani who was captured at age 16 and died at age 21.
  • Number of FBI agents who reported abusive treatment of Guantanamo prisoners: More than 200
  • Number of military prosecutors who resigned or requested reassignment as of September 2008 because of concerns that the Guantanamo military commissions were unjust: 7
  • Number of prisoners tortured in CIA secret prisons overseas before transfer to Guantananmo: At least 26
  • Longest Hunger Strike by prisoner: 8 years and still going
  • Number of terrorism suspects prosecuted in federal court since 9/11: More than 500
  • Amount spent to run the Guantanamo military commissions in 2013: $116.3 million.
  • Number of  senior government officials have been held accountable for the wrongful detention and torture at Guantánamo: 0
  • It now costs $454 million per year to keep Guantánamo open. The Pentagon will have spent $5.242 billion on the prison by the end of 2014.

    Today's cost to abuse, imprison, and deny basic human rights (and all civil rights), of those left to languish in Guantanamo, goes way beyond the taxpayer's cost of upkeep, guards and housing of America's hostages.  It will cost billions of dollars in continued terrorist acts by those incited by the simple fact of Guantanamo; it will continue to cost the lives of innocents caught in the crossfire between the imperialism of America and the extremists created by that imperialism; it will continue to destroy any attempt at "good will", peaceful co-existence, and global harmony we, as a nation, claim to desire.

    As long as it remains open, Guantanamo Bay Detention Center will continue to shout to the universe that America is not exceptional and those of us in America are anything but exceptional - we continue to ignore it, justify its existence, and allow it to remain open.  


    This is not the first time I have written about Guantanamo's prison camp.  Sadly, I don't believe it will be the last time.  I will keep writing until America grows a soul and a conscience; Until we finally demand the prisoners at Guantanamo be released or tried fairly; And until that prison at Guantanamo is finally and forever closed.


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