Monthly Archives: December 2010

2010: The Big Con Continues

by Ted Morgan, CommonDreams, 12/20/10

Despite the end-of-the-year upturn with Congressional ratification of the START Treaty and repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the United States remains stuck in a quagmire that has paralyzed our politics for 30 years. While the Republican party holds our government hostage, Democrats typically collaborate in public policies that don’t have a prayer of resolving the deeply serious problem we face.

Though Americans younger than about 40 have never experienced it, there was a time when government was seen as a vehicle the American people could use to resolve pressing societal problems. When government failed to address the needs of relatively powerless groups, it was possible for them to mobilize around their grievances and place them on the public’s agenda.

No longer. Today, protest has become routinized and all-but-impotent. Or, like the Tea Party, it has been coopted by the agenda of wealthy conservatives.

The dominant political message beamed at younger Americans for the past 30 years is that government is the problem, the market is the solution, and the United States must rely on aggressive military intervention to defend “our” interests.

And so, when the Democrats pledge to end the tax cuts enjoyed by the wealthiest Americans, the Republicans cry “class warfare,” and the Democrats cave….

keep reading at CommonDreams

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Filed under National govt & politics

US refuses cooperation with Poland’s CIA ‘black site’ probe

Polskie Radio, 12/28/10
The U.S. Department of Justice has rejected a request from prosecutors in Warsaw for assistance in the investigation into the alleged CIA prisons in Poland, where captives claim they were tortured.

The U.S. Department of Justice has rejected a request from prosecutors in Warsaw for assistance in the investigation into the alleged CIA prisons in Poland, where captives claim they were tortured.

On 18 March, the Prosecutor’s Office of Appeal in Warsaw filed a motion for legal assistance from the US Department of Justice into the probe.

On 7 October, reports the PAP news agency, the US informed prosecutors that the motion had been rejected on the basis of the international Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and that the U.S. authorities consider the matter “to be closed”.

According to the agreement, a country has the right to refuse to provide legal assistance if the execution of the request would encroach on this country’s security or another interest of this country.

The revelation that the US will not be cooperating with the investigation into the alleged black site, thought to have been in northern Poland near the Szymany air base, comes after a second man followed al-Qaeda suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in asking prosecutors in Warsaw to look into his case….

keep reading at Polskie Radio

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Filed under International - other, Rights, Justice, Law

WikiLeaks: How U.S. tried to stop Spain’s torture probe

By CAROL ROSENBERG, Miami Herald, 12/25/10 

MIAMI — It was three months into Barack Obama’s presidency, and the administration — under pressure to do something about alleged abuses in Bush-era interrogation policies — turned to a Florida senator to deliver a sensitive message to Spain:

Don’t indict former President George W. Bush’s legal brain trust for alleged torture in the treatment of war on terror detainees, warned Mel Martinez on one of his frequent trips to Madrid. Doing so would chill U.S.-Spanish relations.

Rather than a resolution, though, a senior Spanish diplomat gave the former GOP chairman and housing secretary a lesson in Spain’s separation of powers. “The independence of the judiciary and the process must be respected,” then-acting Foreign Minister Angel Lossada replied on April 15, 2009. Then for emphasis, “Lossada reiterated to Martinez that the executive branch of government could not close any judicial investigation and urged that this case not affect the overall relationship.”

The case is still open, on the desk of a Spanish magistrate, awaiting a reply from the Obama administration on whether it will pursue a probe of its own….

Read more: Miami Herald

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Filed under International - other, Rights, Justice, Law

Banks and WikiLeaks

By The New York Times | Editorial, 26 December 10

he whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks has not been convicted of a crime. The Justice Department has not even pressed charges over its disclosure of confidential State Department communications. Nonetheless, the financial industry is trying to shut it down.

Visa, MasterCard and PayPal announced in the past few weeks that they would not process any transaction intended for WikiLeaks. Earlier this month, Bank of America decided to join the group, arguing that WikiLeaks may be doing things that are “inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments.”

The Federal Reserve, the banking regulator, allows this. Like other companies, banks can choose whom they do business with. Refusing to open an account for some undesirable entity is seen as reasonable risk management. The government even requires banks to keep an eye out for some shady businesses – like drug dealing and money laundering – and refuse to do business with those who engage in them.

But a bank’s ability to block payments to a legal entity raises a troubling prospect. A handful of big banks could potentially bar any organization they disliked from the payments system, essentially cutting them off from the world economy….

keep reading at The New York Times

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Filed under Economy, Labor, Tax, Rights, Justice, Law