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Torture on Trial

Cases come in by the thousands from all over the world. A man was beaten and whipped. A woman was beaten and raped. A boy was hooded with three empty sand bags in 100-degree heat all day, starved, beaten, and kept in stress positions. Alleged suicide victims had their hands tied behind their backs, had boot prints on their heads, or turned out to have been electrocuted. There are torture victims covered with cigarette burns, and torture victims with no visible injuries. They need the expert assistance of doctors and lawyers to heal, to win asylum, and to create any sort of accountability in courts of law.

I’ve participated in countless nonviolent protests of torture, including congressional lobbying, panels and seminars, online petition writing, bird-dogging of politicians and judges and professors. I’ve met victims and told their stories and reviewed their books. But I had never spent a day with a crowd of lawyers and doctors who deal with the medical and court struggles arising out of torture cases, not until I attended a conference in February at American University in Washington, DC, entitled “Forensic Evidence in the Fight Against Torture.”

The doctors, lawyers, and others attending and speaking at the conference were from the United States and many other countries. It was not lost on them that they were addressing something different from a “natural” disaster. In their public comments and private discussions I found universal agreement that torture has gained dramatically greater, world-wide public acceptance during the past decade, and that the United States has been the leader in promoting that greater acceptance. While Juan Mendez, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, pointed his finger at Hollywood movies and TV shows in which harsh interrogation techniques succeed in aiding crime solvers, several experts independently told me that by granting legal immunity to torturers, the United States has led by example.

It may be hard to recall that a mere decade ago torture was almost universally condemned here, and had been almost universally condemned in the Western world for centuries (racist exceptions for slavery excluded). By 2004, 43 percent of U.S. respondents to a Pew Research Center survey were saying that torture was often or sometimes justified to gain key information. By 2009, 49 percent said so. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that public support for torture increased in the United States from 27 percent in 2004 to 42 percent in 2010. AP-GfK polling found U.S. public support for torture at 38 percent in 2005, increasing to 52 percent by 2009.

That was the society I left behind as I entered the conference rooms of AU’s Washington College of Law to join an international gathering of professionals who still viewed torture as the evil it had been considered by the authors of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which included an absolute ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Evidence of War Lies Public Pre-War This Time

When President George W. Bush was pretending to want to avoid a war on Iraq while constantly pushing laughably bad propaganda to get that war going, we had a feeling he was lying.  After all, he was a Republican.  But it was after the war was raging away that we came upon things like the Downing Street Minutes and the White House Memo

Un-Cheating Justice: Two Years Left to Prosecute Bush

Elizabeth Holtzman knows something about struggles for justice in the U.S. government.  She was a member of Congress and of the House Judiciary Committee that voted for articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon in 1973. She proposed the bill that in 1973 required that "state secrets" claims be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. She co-authored the special prosecutor law that was allowed to lapse, just in time for the George W. Bush crime wave, after Kenneth Starr made such a mockery of it during the Whitewater-cum-Lewinsky scandals.  She was there for the creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978.

Local Newspaper The Hook Makes Me Runner Up Person of Year for Chasing Dick Cheney Away - Gotta Love Charlottesville

Person of the year: The runners up

By Courteney Stuart | stuart@readthehook.com


DAVID SWANSON
When conservatives hear progressive political activist David Swanson coming, they might want to run away. But sometimes, they do so quite literally. After Vice President Dick Cheney announced plans to speak at the Miller Center on November 16, Swanson publicly called for Cheney's arrest for conspiracy to commit torture. "Were a local resident credibly accused of torture, I sincerely doubt you would hesitate to seek his or her immediate arrest and indictment," Swanson wrote in a November 14 letter emailed to Charlottesville and Albemarle law enforcement and posted on his website, warisacrime.org. Mere hours later, the Miller Center announced that Cheney's visit would be postponed for "personal reasons" and that he'd reschedule for early next year. Coincidence? Perhaps. But either way, Swanson will undoubtedly lead the welcome parade if the former Veep appears.

AUDIO: David Swanson and Coy Barefoot Discuss Dick Cheney's Chickening Out of Charlottesville Event

Charlottesville Right Now (Subscribe)
Charlottesville Right Now: 11-15-11 David Swanson
David Swanson joins Coy to discuss Dick Cheney postponing his visit to The University of Virginia and Occupy Charlottesville.


LISTEN HERE

Top 5 Reasons Dick Cheney Won't Speak in Charlottesville VA This Week

Number 5. When John Yoo came here, he got a good rowdy rule-of-law unwelcome, which no doubt made the Miller Center hesitate to promise Cheney a room free of decent human beings.

Number 4. Our brothers and sisters in San Francisco confronted Cheney with his crimes last week.

Number 3. It's a heck of a lot of crimes.

Number 2. Cheney just might have found himself face-to-face with a set of handcuffs.

And the Number 1 reason Cheney won't be seen at the University of Virginia this week: The first part of a Chicken Hawk is the chicken.

Protest Dick Cheney in Charlottesville, Va., November 16th

Open flyer: PDF.

Another year, another war criminal book-touring at the Miller Center.  This time, on Wednesday, November 16th, it’ll be Dick Cheney, who . . .

  • lied to the public and Congress to launch a war on Iraq;
  • pressured the CIA to assist in fraud;
  • threatened and worked to promote war on Iran;
  • lied to the public and Congress in an effort to launch war on Iran;
  • led a campaign of retribution against a whistleblower;
  • refused a Congressional subpoena;
  • obstructed DOJ investigations;
  • profited from his own war making;
  • led the creation of programs of warrantless spying, lawless imprisonment, and torture;
  • created a secret energy task force that violated open-government laws;
  • mishandled classified information and destroyed visitors logs;
  • suppressed evidence in the California energy crisis;
  • continues to make false claims and to openly brag about his offenses.


The Miller Center is making people contact dcforum@virginia.edu for permission to attend, and appears to be screening out those who oppose the policies listed above.

But the Miller Center cannot prevent us protesting outside.  
Bring posters.  

9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011
Lawn in front of Miller Center
2201 Old Ivy Road  
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Park at University Hall or Lannigan Field or in a nearby parking lot on Old Ivy Road.

Cheney Comes to Town

Another year, another war criminal book-touring at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.

This time, at 11 a.m. on November 16th, it'll be Dick Cheney.

The Miller Center is not allowing members of the public to attend on a first-come basis, as is the standard practice.  Instead, it is asking people to send an email to dcforum@virginia.edu and then wait for approval to attend.

Whether any or some or all people not known by the Miller Center to be welcoming of war criminals are being screened out we do not yet know. 

Reasons some might ask Cheney uncomfortable questions during his Q&A include:

--Cheney lied to and defrauded the public and the Congress to launch a war on Iraq.

--Cheney pressured the CIA to assist in that fraud.

--Cheney threatened and worked to promote war on Iran.

--Cheney lied to the public and Congress in an effort to launch a war on Iran.

--Cheney led a campaign of retribution against whistleblower Joseph Wilson, including the outing of a covert CIA operative.

--Cheney refused to comply with Congressional subpoenas and obstructed Department of Justice investigations.

--Cheney profited financially from his war-making through compensation from Halliburton.

--Cheney led efforts to create programs of warrantless spying, lawless imprisonment, and torture.

--Cheney created the secret Energy Task Force which operated in defiance of open-government laws.

--Cheney violated laws on the handling of classified information and destroyed official visitors logs.

--Cheney Suppressed Evidence in the California Energy Crisis.

--Cheney continues to make false claims as well as to openly brag about many of these offenses.

For more information, see http://warisacrime.org/cheneycrimes

Insider Tells Why Obama Chose Not to Prosecute Torture

Two Years Ago Obama Decided Not to Prosecute Torturers
Now We Get An Account of Why
By David Swanson

If you can think back all the way to January 2009, back when wars were ending, Guantanamo was closing, the Pentagon was getting oversight, employees were going to have free choice, the rich would start paying taxes, the air would be getting cleaner, and so forth, you'll recall that the Obama transition team was acting super populist and high-tech.

They had questions from ordinary people for the President Elect submitted on their website and voted up or down. The top question at the end of the voting had come from Bob Fertik of Democrats.com and it was this: