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Israel court throws out appeals of Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners

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1,350 prisoners have begun open-ended hunger strike
An Israeli military court on Monday rejected appeals by two Palestinian prisoners who have been refusing food for 55 days, their lawyer and a Palestinian prisoner rights NGO said.

"We just confirmed with Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla's families that both their appeals were rejected today," a spokeswoman for prisoner rights group Addameer said.

Diab, 27, and Halahla, 34, began refusing food on February 29 in protest at being held without charge under a procedure known as administrative detention, which means they can be held for renewable periods of up to six months.

They are being held in the hospital wing of Ramle prison near Tel Aviv, with their condition described as "rapidly deteriorating."

Their lawyer, Jamil al-Khatib, confirmed the military judge had rejected their appeals after holding a closed meeting with members of Israel's Shin Bet internal security service and the military advocate general.

USA

Torture Case of Padilla Comes Before the Supreme Court After Being Thrown Out By Lower Courts

Jose padilla

Jose Padilla - gang member - patsy
"It is hard to conceive of a more profound constitutional violation than the torture of a US citizen on US soil," wrote lawyers for Jose Padilla in a petition filed Monday with the US Supreme Court. A lawsuit brought by Padilla, who was illegally "disappeared," imprisoned and tortured by the US government for four years, was thrown out by lower courts on the grounds that the courts have no authority to subject the wartime actions of the executive branch to "judicial scrutiny."

Padilla's treatment constituted a test case for the incommunicado detention and torture of US citizens by the military without any judicial process. The Padilla case, as much as any other to date, illustrates the disintegration of democracy in the US and the erection of the legal scaffolding of a police state.

According to the precedent set by the Padilla case, federal authorities and the military may unilaterally abduct, imprison and torture a US citizen, in clear violation of the Bill of Rights, without anyone ever being held accountable. If this can be done to one individual, there is nothing in principle preventing the government from doing it to hundreds or thousands or millions of individuals.

Red Flag

Torture of US Citizens and the Complicity of Federal Judges

supreme court bldg
© AFP/Getty Images/File Win McNamee
The Supreme Court is asked to decide if government officials can be held accountable for torturing a US citizen

Two of the most under-discussed afflictions in American political life are inter-related: (1) the heinous, inhumane treatment of prisoners on American soil (often, though certainly not exclusively, Muslim political prisoners), and (2) the virtually complete abdication by subservient federal courts in the post-9/11 era of their duty to hold Executive Branch officials accountable for unconstitutional and otherwise illegal acts in the War on Terror context. Those two disgraceful American trends are vividly illustrated by juxtaposing two events, which I happened to be reminded of yesterday while looking for something else; first, from a January, 27, 2007, article in The Washington Post:
The prime minister of Canada apologized Friday to Maher Arar and agreed to give $9 million in compensation to the Canadian Arab, who was spirited by U.S. agents to Syria and tortured there after being falsely named as a terrorism suspect.

Arar, 36, a former computer engineer who was detained while changing planes at a New York airport in 2002 and imprisoned in a Syrian dungeon for 10 months, said after the announcement that he "feels proud as a Canadian". . . .

"We cannot go back and fix the injustice that occurred to Mr. Arar," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in issuing the formal apology in Ottawa. "However, we can make changes to lessen the likelihood that something like this will ever happen again." The head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police resigned over the affair, and the government has pledged to increase oversight of its intelligence agencies. . . .

The financial compensation settles a claim Arar made against the government for having provided exaggerated and false information to the United States that identified him as a terrorist suspect. Harper said the amount "is within this government's realistic assessment of what Mr. Arar would have won in a lawsuit." His attorneys also were awarded about $870,000 in legal fees.

"The evidence is clear that Mr. Arar has been treated unjustly. He should not be on a watch list," Harper said.
And then this Christian Science Monitor article from June 14, 2010:
A Canadian citizen has lost his bid to hold US officials accountable for their decision to label him an Al Qaeda suspect and deport him to Syria where he was held without charge for a year and allegedly tortured during US-directed interrogations.

The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up the case of Maher Arar, who was born in Syria but had lived in Canada since his teens. . . .

Arar filed a lawsuit in the US seeking to hold American officials accountable for their actions. . . . To date, the US government position on Arar has been to insist that Arar has no legal right to seek to hold American officials accountable for his ordeal.

In denying review of Arar's case, the high court lets stand a 7 to 4 ruling by the full Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. That court found that because of "special factors" involving national security, Arar's lawsuit should be dismissed.

Eye 1

Anonymous and OWS Join Forces Against Politicians Supporting NDAA

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© anonops.blogspot.com
America's most powerful protest groups are joining forces to warn elected officials that they will be held accountable for their actions. The campaign is called Our Polls and its being launched with help from both Anonymous and the Occupy movement.

The AnonOps Communications website revealed details early Monday this week regarding the hacktivist collective's latest campaign. Along with the nation-wide Occupy Wall Street movement, Anonymous says they are going after the politicians in America that supported legislation that both entities have largely advocated against.

"Elected officials serve one purpose - to represent their constituents, the people who voted them into office," reads a statement posted to the website. "Last year, many of our elected officials let us down by giving in to deep-pocketed lobbyists and passing laws meant to boost corporate profits at the expense of individual liberty."

The legislation in question include the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. In an act of retaliation aimed at those that supported these bills, the groups have released a roster of politicians that have not only expressed favor for the laws, but that are also up for reelection this year.

"You are one person. You have one vote. Use that vote on November 6 to hold your elected official accountable for supporting bills such as NDAA, SOPA and PIPA," reads their statement.

Handcuffs

Republicans want to repeal NDAA, indefinite detention without charge or trial

guantanamo
© REUTERS/Michelle Shephard/Pool
With opponents on Capitol Hill unable to keep President Obama from signing the controversial National Defense Authorization Act, lawmakers in Washington State are proposing a bill that would block its dangerous provisions from themselves.

Five Republican lawmakers in the state of Washington have proposed a bill that would keep the provisions that permit the president from indefinitely detaining American citizens from applying to state residents. Despite widespread opposition, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or NDAA, into law on December 31, 2011. In authorizing the bill, President Obama added a signing statement insisting that he would not abide by the provisions that permit the unconstitutional actions guaranteed under the law. Even with this addendum, however, critics fear that this president - and any future ones - will use the bill to break down the civil liberties of Americans.

Coffee

Fat Cats in Washington: Congressmen's incomes triple as the rest of America gets poorer

Capitol Hill
© AFP Photo / Karen BLEIER
If you feel like Congress fat cats can't relate to their fellow Americans anymore, the truth behind the matter might just be that they can't.

While Americans have seen a recession ravage savings accounts, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have only gotten richer.

Between the US Senate and House of Representatives, the median net worth for a member of Congress is around $913,000, reports The New York Times. That man in the middle is Ed Pastor (Dem-AZ), and although he makes a pretty penny nowadays, his income today is gigantic when gauged with what he was worth when he first came to Washington. Twenty years earlier, Pastor pulled in enough to have only $100,000 saved up, a figure he has magnified nearly tenfold in the two decades since.

Comparing the mean in 2009 with the mean for lawmakers' assets in 1984, the figure has tripled.

Comment: And still millions of people will continue to vote for them, as if somehow, this time, the super-rich will have a change of heart and suddenly give a damn.


Handcuffs

Guantanamo detainee could spend whole life behind bars, without charge or trial, thanks to NDAA

Guantanamo prisoner
© AFP Photo / John Moore
Not even a month after President Barack Obama signed his name to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, the US government is already using the legislation to justify its ongoing detainment of a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.

Musa'ab al-Madhwani had barely entered adulthood when he first arrived at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2002. But in the months between his capture in Pakistan and transfer to Gitmo, the Yemeni national experienced more than most would see in a lifetime. Before he turned 23, he says he was beaten and kicked, threatened with death and suspended by his hands in an underground torture chamber.

Now for the prisoner, about to celebrate the 10-year-anniversary of his arrival at Gimo, the rest of that lifetime looks to be spent behind bars thanks to the NDAA.

Eye 1

DHS Forwarding Federal Internet Data To Israel and India

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© Unknown
DHS documents reveal the programs set up in the wake of 9/11 are being used to forward federal network internet traffic to Israel and India without any oversight

A privacy compliance review of the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity systems has led to some stunning revelations about the framework that US is currently using which Congress plans on integrating with the private companies under new cybersecurity legislation.

Perhaps the most alarming information in the privacy compliance report is that the Einstein program, which is touted as Federal government's premier system for network intrusion detection and cyber threat prevention, is being used to intercept computer traffic that crosses federal government networks which is being forwarded to Israel and India.

While there are supposedly strict protocols in place for assuring the privacy of individuals in regard to data collected and shared among US agencies there are absolutely no such safeguards or oversight in place to monitor the information that is being forwarded overseas to India and Israel.

In what can only be described as doublespeak, the compliance report finds that cybersecurity system is complaint with privacy and sharing requirement only to later reveal that that program is complaint because there are no guidelines in place that must be complied to when the data is shared with external governments.

Info

Secret Service Expands Misconduct Probe to El Salvador

The U.S. Secret Service is examining a new report of alleged misconduct by agents at an El Salvador strip club ahead of a trip there last year by President Barack Obama, a senior lawmaker said on Thursday.
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© Reuters/Luis Galdamez
Men work in front of a billboard welcoming U.S. President Barack Obama, near the presidential house in San Salvador March 18, 2011.
Representative Peter King, a Republican who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement to Reuters that the review is part of an extensive investigation the Secret Service is conducting in the aftermath of an incident involving prostitutes in Columbia.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters the agency also is looking into the El Salvador allegations, aired Thursday in a report by Seattle channel KIRO-TV, part of the CBS-Cox media group.

In the television interview, an anonymous U.S. contractor described visiting a club offering sexual favors with some Secret Service agents and U.S. military specialists in advance of Obama's March, 2011, visit.

"Obviously, we will inquire of our embassy in San Salvador with regard to the conduct of our own employees. But the article alleges that they attended the establishment, not that they engaged in any illegal or unsanctioned conduct," Nuland said.

Southern Command was looking into whether investigation of the allegations was merited, a spokesman said.

Interest in the El Salvador allegations came a day after U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano assured lawmakers that no Secret Service misconduct similar to the recent carousing in Cartagena, Colombia, had been found in the last two and a half years.

Eye 2

Anatomy of a Psychopath: Norwegian Mass Murderer Breivik stuns trial by comparing grief of victims' families to his 'pain' at being shunned

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Anders Behring Breivik tells Oslo court on his last day of evidence that he lost contact with friends and family after attacks

Anders Behring Breivik has compared the pain he caused the families of his victims to his own situation, saying he lost contact with his friends and family after the 22 July attacks.

The 33-year-old rightwing extremist, who has admitted killing 77 people last summer, showed no remorse on Monday as he continued his shocking testimony about the massacre at the annual youth camp of the governing Labour party.

Calling the rampage "necessary", Breivik compared being shunned by those close to him to the grief of the bereaved. "The only difference was that for my part it was a choice," he said.