Jesurgislac’s Journal

January 22, 2010

Omar Deghayes: seeing clearly into Guantanamo

In response to a post by Eric Martin of Obsidian Wings about the denial of legal rights to people accused of terrorism, regular/right-winger Marty quotes Scott Brown: “And let me say this, with respect to those who wish to harm us, I believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation – they do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them.”

and claims that “for better or worse” this answers the question about why people who have been accused of terrorism ought not to receive the same legal rights as people accused of any other crime.

Here’s one of the “enemies in wartime”: Omar Deghayes, a refugee from Gadaffi (his father was executed in Libya in 1980) who was a legal British resident since age 10, whose wife and son are British citizens, who was taken in Pakistan when he took his family there to escape the war in Afghanistan after “the Americans began paying large amounts of money to find Arabs who had been in Afghanistan”.

In Guantanmo Bay:

It is not hot stabbing pain that Omar Deghayes remembers from the day a Guantánamo guard blinded him, but the cool sen­sation of fingers being stabbed deep into his eyeballs. He had joined other prisoners in protesting against a new humiliation – inmates ­being forced to take off their trousers and walk round in their pants – and a group of guards had entered his cell to punish him. He was held down and bound with chains.

“I didn’t realise what was going on until the guy had pushed his fingers ­inside my eyes and I could feel the coldness of his fingers. Then I realised he was trying to gouge out my eyes,” Deghayes says. He wanted to scream in agony, but was determined not to give his torturers the satisfaction. Then the officer standing over him instructed the eye-stabber to push harder. “When he pulled his hands out, I remember I couldn’t see anything – I’d lost sight completely in both eyes.” Deghayes was dumped in a cell, fluid streaming from his eyes.

The sight in his left eye returned over the following days, but he is still blind in his right eye. He also has a crooked nose (from being punched by the guards, he says) and a scar across his forefinger (slammed in a prison door), but otherwise this resident of Saltdean, near Brighton, appears ­relatively ­unscarred from the more than five years he spent locked in Guantánamo Bay.

read the rest

The “evidence” against Omar Deghayes, aside from the US having paid the Pakistani authorities a lot of money for him (apparently the Libyans and the Americans were competing in the auction) is that someone spotted someone who looked like him in an “Islamic terrorist” videotape: a Chechnyan rebel called Abu Walid, who is dead. His lawyers were denied access to the videotape by the American authorities: they eventually obtained a copy via the BBC and were able to show that the tape was of a different person.

Omar Deghayes is one of at least eight hundred of the US’s kidnap victims who suffered illegal imprisonment for years. He’s one of eight hundred people that Scott Brown claims are “enemies in wartime”. He’s a legal British resident whose brutal treatment Scott Brown defends because he’s not a US citizen and so was not entitled to any of the legal rights of a US citizen – including the right not to have your guards stick their fingers in your eyes and half-blind you: including the right for your lawyers to be able to see the evidence for the charges alleged against you.

Omar Deghayes did not take up arms against the US: he did not engage in criminal activity: he went to Afghanistan to do charitable work for some of the poorest people on Earth, and he fled to Pakistan to save his family when the US attacked. Yet Marty repeats this lie – that Omar Deghayes is an “enemy in wartime” and so this brutal treatment is justified – and will not explain why he thinks the lie answers the question.

Why is that?

A year ago, President Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay within 12 months. Even though his intent was to move many of the prisoners to another illegal prison camp in Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan, he has not yet managed even the face-saving exercise of closing down the US’s best known prison camp: the Cuban oubliette.

December 30, 2009

You need the NHS…

Filed under: Uncategorized — jesurgislac @ 8:33 am
Tags: , , ,

At Dead Horse (via):

Was anti-Hillary ad by Obama campaign in Feb 2008

Aneurin Bevan, then Minister of Health, speaking on the founding of the National Health Service a year after its introduction.

Sixty years ago, the UK already had a better health service than the US does today. And all Obama’s accomplished is produce the same health care “plan” his campaign derided Hillary Clinton for supporting.

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December 22, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize Winner & War Criminal

Someone needs to remind President Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize winner extraordinaire, of a plain fact that Fred at Slacktivist likes to point out: You’re not allowed to kill civilians: “It’s been awhile so it seems again it’s time for a helpful reminder that noncombatant immunity isn’t just a good idea, it’s the law. In other words: You’re not allowed to kill civilians. Killing civilians is against the law. Killing civilians makes you a criminal.”

Planning to kill civilians – even if your stated plan is to kill al-Qaeda operatives by launching military strikes at a civilian population where you believe al-Qaeda operatives may be located, you are by that planning to kill civilians – is a war crime. (Via, worth reading.)

It’s not the first time the Nobel committee have awarded the Peace Prize to a war criminal, of course…

January 24, 2009

Global Gag Rule: GONE

From IPAS:

First implemented in 1984 during the Reagan administration, the policy bans any organization receiving U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds from using their own, non-U.S. funds to provide any abortion services or to lobby their own governments to make abortion laws less restrictive. (The Helms Amendment, passed in 1974, made it illegal to use USAID funds for any abortion activities.)

President Clinton repealed this: President George W. Bush reinstated it. When Bush’s staffers complain that Bush didn’t get the “credit” for financing work against AIDS in Africa, they prefer not to consider that in November 2005, the Bush Administration formally expanded the Global Gag Rule to U.S. global AIDS funding under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), according to the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). The restrictions appeared as part of a five-year, $193 million request for applications (RFA) for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in Kenya: the RFA, entitled, “HIV/AIDS & Tuberculosis, treatment, care and support” referenced the gag rule twice in stating eligibility criteria, stating that all consortium partners must “agree, to abide by the Mexico City Policy [the official name of the global gag rule], the Tiahrt Amendment, and all USAID policies and regulations.” cite

From How a US policy restricting family planning funding is hampering efforts to fight HIV and AIDS by Kathambi Kinoti (Resource Net Friday File Issue 254, December 2005):

The global gag rule has disrupted the crucial HIV/AIDS intervention role of FPAK, Marie Stopes and numerous other organizations. Just as it is impossible to separate family planning services from efforts to fight HIV and AIDS, it is impossible to separate family planning services from abortion-related issues. When an anti-abortion muzzle is put on reproductive health providers, all the other beneficial seivices that they provide are eroded. Without adequate access to contraception and reproductive health care and education, the rate of both safe and unsafe abortions will increase. Most family planning centres also have to deal
with the after-effects of underground, unsafe abortions.

Pretending that the war against HIV/AIDS will be won when sex takes place within the confines of marriage is counterproductive, and restricting funding solely to organizations that promote the myth is lethal. It will result in a waste of money and the victory of HIV and AIDS.

There’ll be a lot of pro-lifers angrily protesting the repeal of the global gag rule across the right-wing blogosphere. Today, tomorrow, all year. They’ll call Obama the “pro-abortion President”. What these complaints about this repeal reveal is: these are people who do not give a damn about the lives of some of the poorest women in the world. They do not care if women in Ethiopia, Nepal and Nigeria lost access to family planning clinics. They do not care about the sixty thousand or more women each year who die from illegal abortions.

All they want is to sit in their safe little houses rubbing themselves up with their sense of superior morality that, by God, their taxes don’t go to pay for clinics that also provide abortions! They are, in the classic sense, Pharisees: indifferent to anything but their own feelings of moral superiority.

Dr Gill Greer, the director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, estimated the gag rule had cost the group more than $100m for family planning and sexual and reproductive health programmes during the eight years of the Bush administration, which she said amounted to 36 million unplanned pregnancies and 15 million induced abortions. These pro-lifers will try to claim they support the global gag rule because they oppose abortion… proving them either liars, or stupid.

“The gag rule has done immense harm and caused untold suffering to millions around the world. It has undermined health systems and endangered the lives and health of the poorest and most vulnerable women on the planet by denying access to life saving family planning, sexual and reproductive health and HIV services and exposing them to the dangers of unsafe abortion.”cite

The global gag rule is gone. Nothing can undo the damage Bush did by reinstating it and enforcing it, especially in Africa where his extension took so much money away from useful anti-AIDS programs – how many people became infected with HIV because Bush wanted to pander to the Christian right? – but it’s gone, and the world is better for it.

January 23, 2009

Transition Tells Tales

Apparently, as Bush and his crew left for Texas as the inauguration crowds booed (it has to be the first time in 8 years that Bush had been at an event where the “crowd” wasn’t either/or US military, reporters, or checked/confirmed Bush supporters), there were some complaints on the plane about how Obama’s inaugural speech had criticised the Bush administration.

And now, as far as some of them were concerned, the new president had used his inaugural lectern to give the back of the hand to a predecessor who had been nothing but gracious to him.

Karen Hughes: “There were a few sharp elbows that really rankled and I felt were not as magnanimous as the occasion called for. He really missed an opportunity to be as big as the occasion was and, frankly, as gracious as President Bush was as he left office.”
Dan Bartlett: “It was a missed opportunity to bring some of the president’s loyal supporters into the fold.”
Marc A. Thiessen: “It was an ungracious inaugural. It was pretty clear he was taking shots.”

Karen, Dan, Marc: I want to tell you a story, kids. About a really ungracious transition.

A new President came in, with a new staff. Damaging rumours were spread in Washington that the White House had been left trashed. Computers had been filled with pr0n downloads. Pr0n had been pasted on walls. Cables and wires had been slashed. The new White House press secretary told reporters that the damage included the removal of the letter “W” from 100 computer keyboards, five missing brass nameplates with the presidential seal on them, 75 telephones with cover plates missing or apparently intentionally plugged into the wrong wall outlets, six fax machines relocated in the same way, ten cut phone lines, two historic door knobs missing, overturned desks and furniture in about 20 percent of the offices, obscene graffiti in six offices, and eight 14-foot loads of usable office supplies recovered from the trash, and a photocopy machine that had copies of naked people hidden in the paper tray so they would come out from time to time with other copies. The new President wouldn’t confirm or deny the reports, saying he just wanted to “move on”.

Eighteen months later, after an official investigation, the Government Accounting Office published a report: it had all been lies. There had been no campaign of wilful damage, no pr0n pasteups, graffiti, slashed cables: the condition the White House and associated offices had been left in had been usual and expected.

This was the Bush administration’s “gracious” transition, Karen, Dan, Marc: your team began, in January 2001, by trashing your precedessors. Your President, whom you were touting as an example of “graciousness”, sat back as lies ran about Bill Clinton’s administration, and smirked a “let’s just move on”. You complain that Obama’s inaugural speech was “sharp-elbowed”? You’ve got nothing.

January 19, 2009

The chief exercise of privilege

Privilege: an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks. (Unpacking the invisible knapsack – the original, on race privilege, straight privilege, class privilege, male privilege, cisgender privilege.)

The chief exercise of privilege is to ensure that people who do not have your privilege are ridiculed or condemned for speaking up, when the privileged can speak up on their behalf so much better.

I am thinking in part of the silencing of Gene Robinson, whose last-minute invite was supposed to symbolically content LGBT people for the center-stage honor of Rick Warren, but who was never to appear on the HBO broadcast of the event, nor even (apparently) on stage at the same time as Barack Obama himself. Obama will, we have been told, speak up for LGBT people: we needn’t worry our little heads about the silencing of our own. (Pam Spaulding confirms that silencing Bishop Robinson was planned by the Inauguration Committee, who specifically told HBO that the “pre-show” wasn’t part of the broadcast.)

And of other circumstances, other times, other exercises of privilege, which all amount to: Let me silence you. For your own good. You don’t frame the discussion right. I know what ought to be said, and you don’t.
(For the current example I was thinking of: the Great Cultural Appropriation Debate of DOOM.)

January 16, 2009

Rick Warren wants to be an inspirational leader of a movement that will change the world…

…just like Adolf Hitler was.

No. Not kidding. The two most oppressive problems the world suffers from, apparently, are ‘spiritual poverty’ and ‘egocentric leadership’.

Via, Bruce Wilson, Huffington Post:

“In 1939, in a stadium much like this, in Munich Germany, they packed it out with young men and women in brown shirts, for a fanatical man standing behind a podium named Adolf Hitler, the personification of evil.

And in that stadium, those in brown shirts formed with their bodies a sign that said, in the whole stadium, “Hitler, we are yours.”

And they nearly took the world.

Lenin once said, “give me 100 committed, totally committed men and I’ll change the world.” And, he nearly did.

A few years ago, they took the sayings of Chairman Mao, in China, put them in a little red book, and a group of young people committed them to memory and put it in their minds and they took that nation, the largest nation in the world by storm because they committed to memory the sayings of the Chairman Mao.

When I hear those kinds of stories, I think ‘what would happen if American Christians, if world Christians, if just the Christians in this stadium, followers of Christ, would say ‘Jesus, we are yours’ ?

What kind of spiritual awakening would we have ? “

One like Rick Warren’s? Apparently, during his 2005 speech in the Anaheim stadium, Warren revealed he’d received a message from God. which led him to Psalm 72, “Solomon’s prayer for more influence… in Psalm 72 [Solomon] says ‘God, I want you to make me more influential. God, I want you to give me more power. I want you to bless my life more. God, I want you to spread the fame of my name through other countries.’”

In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.

“What kind of spiritual awakening would we have ?” What indeed?

January 13, 2009

Two days separation makes it safe

I don’t know whether it disturbed me worse: whether Rick Warren’s invitation was a classic mistake on the lines of “we’re BFF, I don’t need to vet him” or if Obama had Warren vetted and either didn’t care or approved of Warren’s beliefs about effective AIDS work, torture, and same-sex marriage.

For example: this interview in which Warren compares same-sex marriage to child molestation, incest, and polygamy; or Warren’s championing of Martin Ssempa, whose notion of fighting AIDS in Uganda is to burn condoms and preach abstinence – either of which should have been enough to eliminate Warren as a choice for this honour.

As Michelle Goldberg notes, same-sex marriage isn’t the only thing that one hopes Warren and Obama don’t agree on:

Meanwhile, while Warren says he opposes torture, he doesn’t treat the subject with anything like the zeal he accords gay marriage and abortion. As he recently told Beliefnet.com, he never even brought up the subject with the Bush administration, where he had considerable access. Just before the 2004 election, he sent out an e-mail to his congregation outlining the five issues that he considered “non-negotiable”. “In order to live a purpose-driven life – to affirm what God has clearly stated about his purpose for every person he creates – we must take a stand by finding out what the candidates believe about these five issues, and then vote accordingly,” he wrote. The issues were abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, cloning and euthanasia. Torture, apparently, is something that decent Christians can disagree on.

Was Obama genuinely ignorant of this? Was Warren’s selection just the first failure of the Obama administration to vet candidates?

Or did Obama know that Warren opposes effective AIDS campaigning in Africa, thinks torture is an issue that Christians can agree-to-disagree on, and that Warren is the kind of Christian homophobe decent people should want sidelined as a radical, not given this kind of central honour – and just not care?
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Tuesday Recipe Blogging: griddle cakes

I own a family griddle. It’s a flat piece of cast iron, quite heavy, with a wooden handle in a metal socket riveted to one side. There is a slight rim around the edge, to keep melted grease from running off. (You never pour large amounts of oil on to a griddle: you grease it, and wipe it off after use.) I don’t know how old it is: I inherited it from an elderly cousin who died a few years ago.

This week’s Tuesday Recipe Blogging is inspired by this video at Ezra Klein’s, in which Barack Obama (then a very junior state senator) extols the virtues of Dixie Kitchen, and warns of the dangers of corn cakes.

Which are griddle cakes: there’s a shot of someone cooking them. Sure, you could fry them, if you don’t have a griddle. Different technique, though. Frying is cooking something in hot oil – even a shallow fry is the process of heating oil until it is hot enough to cook whatever you have put in the oil.

Griddle cooking uses grease only to keep whatever you put on the griddle from sticking to it. What cooks the food is the heat from the metal: a cake placed on a griddle is cooked through from the bottom up, and you turn it over only briefly to brown the top side (if you want). It’s a very basic kind of cooking. I have cooked popadoms and chapattis, oatcakes and drop scones and singin’ hinnies, tortillas and tacos, on my griddle. All of them are made with some basic combining of ground grains, water, fat, and flavour.

(more…)

January 7, 2009

Dig up your moral standards, Von…

…now you’ve got a use for them.

In which Von discovers he cares about the misapplied use of the death penalty.

Faced with Democratic majorities in Senate, House of Representatives, and the White House, Von has dug up his moral standards and is polishing them for use.

Curiously enough, Von’s declared concern for the misapplication of the death penalty apparently did not apply with regard to 152 executions authorised by George W. Bush. At least, not to the extent that would have led Von to actually blog about these actions by his white Republican President, as he has just done about a black Democrat appointed to be junior Senator for Illinois.

I wonder how long it will take after Barack Obama is inaugurated, before pundits who considered Bush and Cheney’s crimes too trivial to pursue, are calling for President Obama to be impeached?

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