Caged Citizen Will Test President Obama

If our new president intends to try to make America resemble what it was meant to be, he will have to deal with the noxious residue of the Bush-Cheney war against terrorism. Barack Obama will be confronted, as Harold Reynolds predicted in the October 29 New York Law Journal, with bringing justice to “thousands of . . . men and women cut off from access to their families, tortured, humiliated . . . and kept off stage to this day by Bush’s resistant administration.”

Among these purported menaces to national security are survivors, if they can be found, of CIA secret prisons (“black sites”); victims of CIA kidnapping renditions; and American citizens locked up indefinitely as “unlawful enemy combatants.”

We have one such pariah right here in New York at the Metropolitan Correction Center. He is 28-year-old Sayed Fahad Hashmi, whom I first told you about in this column last week. Confined in extreme isolation as if he were in a supermax prison, Hashmi was put away about a year ago by Bush’s Attorney General Michael Mukasey under what are euphemistically called Special Administrative Measures (SAMs).

Of the 201,000 prisoners presently in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, fewer than 50 are so dangerous to the state that they are held under SAMs, which can be imposed in one-year increments. Mukasey was supposed to inform Hashmi’s lawyer, Sean Maher, on October 29 whether those fierce conditions that were described here last week would be renewed for another year. But as of this writing, no word has come from the Justice Department, and the keys to Hashmi’s cell will soon be in the hands of Barack Obama’s attorney general. When Jeanne Theoharis—a professor of political science at Brooklyn College who has been leading the campaign to get Hashmi out of the cage where he’s been jammed for his daily one hour of “recreation”—asked a Bureau of Prisons staff member how Hashmi has been SAM’d without even being charged with violence, she was told curtly: “He’s being charged with terrorism, right?”

full article: www.insight-info.com

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FBI takes step back on civil rights

FBI Seal

FBI Seal

There are times when the U.S. government allows politics to interfere with policy and ends up shooting itself in the foot. Guidelines set to take effect Dec. 1 for the FBI may be a perfect example.

Issued by Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s Department of Justice, the new guidelines for FBI agents will be a dangerous step back into J. Edgar Hoover’s era of disregard for civil rights and civil liberties.

The guidelines permit agents to use criteria such as national origin, travel history, race or ethnic background as part of opening an investigation. Ironically, the attorney general’s original guidelines in this area were established to curb such profiling, after information surfaced about the unwarranted investigation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

These new guidelines represent a danger to the Arab- and Muslim-American community in particular, but to all Americans as well. In the era in which we live, it has almost become cliché — sadly — to point out that an attack on one American’s civil liberties is an attack on all Americans and the American ideal.

full article: www.insight-info.com

‘The US is not a republic anymore’

Press TV:We hear that Michael Mukasey is going to become the latest of the President’s Attorney-Generals to be subpoenaed, this time over his conversations with Bush and Cheney – does this show that Congress is serious about calling the executive to account?

Gore Vidal: No, Congress has never been more cowardly, nor more corrupt. All Bush has do is to make sure certain amounts of money go in the direction of certain important congressmen and that’s end of any serious investigation. After all, one of the bravest members of Congress is Denis Kucinich who brought the article of impeachment in to the well of the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives must then try the president, and then after that it goes to the Senate for judgment. However, none of these things will happen because there’s nobody there except for Mr. Kucinich who has the courage to take on a sitting president who is kind of a Mafioso.

Press TV: How can it just be one person among so many hundreds of Congressmen who wants the impeachment of George W. Bush in these circumstances?

Gore Vidal: Well it’s because we no longer have a country. We don’t have a republic any more. During the last 7 or 8 years of the Bush regime, they’ve got rid of the Bill of Rights, they’ve got rid of habeas corpus. They have got rid of one of the nicest gifts that England ever left us when they went away and we ceased to be colonies – the Magna Carta – from the 12th century. All of our law and due process of law is based on that. And the Bush people got rid of it. The president and little Mr. Gonzales who for a few minutes was his Attorney General. They managed to get rid of all of the constitutional links that made us literally a republic.

Press TV: You have often written about the US’s superpower status in terms of the history of previous superpowers. Do you think we’re witnessing the end of US power as some suggest. Will the White House be seen like Persepolis?

Full article: www.insight-info.com