SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
Leading figures in the Bush Administration — Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz — fancied themselves to be the new Vulcans. As in Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the forge, armorer for gods and mortals. In the aftermath of 9/11, they didn’t look to Darth Vader in their journey to “the dark side” — they looked to Ancient Rome. They believed that Rome had prospered because of its willingness to use force with unparalleled ruthlessness. As the “new Rome,” the new hegemon of the globe, America too would prosper if it proved willing to use brutal force.
Call it “shock and awe.” In the process, they sowed the dragon’s teeth of war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and indeed throughout the world. In attempting to intimidate the enemies they saw everywhere, they tortured widely as well.
With the holiday season underway and Eric Holder on his way out the door as Attorney General, many Puerto Ricans are stepping up their calls for President Barack Obama to pardon 71-year-old political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, who has spent the last 33 years behind bars for seditious conspiracy. The holiday season is a common time for Presidents to use their power to grant clemency, but this does not appear likely in 2014 for the President who has granted the fewest pardons in modern times. For Puerto Ricans, dismissal of their political demands is emblematic of their subjugation as colonial subjects.
Last week at a concert in San Juan, reggaeton singer René Pérez Joglar of the band Calle 13 brought López’s daughter Clarissa on stage to read a letter pleading for her father’s release.
The Brennan Center for Justice, The Constitution Project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the American Civil Liberties Union jointly filed a brief in this digital privacy case. O'Melveny & Myers LLP served as pro bono counsel.
The Fourth Amendment protects digital data the moment it is copied and seized by law enforcement, not just when it is searched, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and others argued in an amicus brief filed this week.
In the “Microsoft Ireland” case, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether the US-based Microsoft Corporation must comply with a government warrant to turn over the digital records of an individual stored on servers outside the United States. The government contends that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to copying data, only to searching it. In its brief, the Brennan Center and its partners hold that copying data constitutes “seizure” and warrants Fourth Amendment protection.
Almost without exception, Americans have had deep fears of confronting one particular truth about George W. Bush, and that is his sadism. But with the release of the CIA’s torture report Americans can no longer turn their backs on disturbing and shameful effects of the trickle-down sadism that was a central hallmark of Bush 43′s presidency.
Bush’s recent book publication and his numerous television appearances show our folksy ex-president lovingly writing about his father. Nowhere is there an inkling that he knew about the torture report that soon would reveal his administration in all its cruelty. He’s just a friendly ex-president turned portrait painter, whom no one would ever think of as the orchestrator of a most disturbing chapter in America’s history.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has released its long-awaited report investigation into CIA rendition, detention and interrogation techniques. The Number One finding of the Report is that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques was not effective at either: (1) obtaining accurate information; or (2) gaining detainee cooperation. Thus, the Number One finding of the Report is that "we tortured some folks" as President Obama has said, for no reason at all.
Senator Dianne Feinstein agrees with Obama that the USA tortured some folks. The Report contains Feinstein’s conclusion that "CIA detainees were tortured." (Report, Foreword pg. 4.) Most likely due to political pressure, it is only Feinstein’s personal conclusion that the USA tortured some folks, and not a finding of the Report.
I've been in Ferguson since November 22, and I don't think a day has gone by where there hasn't been a protest, most often multiple protests. There may be one at the Ferguson police station, and another in the St. Louis Shaw neighborhood, just south of the City Center, or perhaps on one of the campuses: Washington University, St. Louis University, the University of Missouri St. Louis, and/or out in Clayton or West County.
At 2pm, on Wednesday, December 10 - International Human Rights Day - 70 medical students at the Washington University Medical School conducted a moving protest and die-in, right in the main atrium entrance to the university. This was part of the nationwide #WhiteCoats4BlackLives protest that reportedly took place at some 80 different medical schools across the U.S.
Canadian academics discussed the origin of the current crisis and civil war in Eastern Ukraine and the larger geopolitical context of the Ukrainian crisis. They concluded that the reconciliation in Ukraine, if it ever happens, will be a very difficult and long process.
A very informative half-day conference on the current situation in Ukraine took place at the University of Ottawa on December 4, 2014. It was an occasion for the academic community and the public at large to analyze and discuss the origin of the current crisis and civil war in Eastern Ukraine and the larger geopolitical context of the Ukrainian crisis, involving the West and Russia.
The conference was titled "United Ukraine? The Euromaidan revolution and the Donbas rebellion in domestic and international perspectives." It was initiated and organized by Halyna Mokrushyna, part-timeprofessor of sociology at the University of Ottawa, with the support of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and The Sociology and Anthropology Graduate Students Association of the University of Ottawa.
Washington, D.C.- News that the Obama administration is "changing its relationship with the people of Cuba" is due to the leftward shift in Latin America that has increasingly isolated the United States politically in the region, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. The Obama administration announced the changes following Cuba's release of USAID contractor Alan Gross and an unnamed "intelligence asset," and the U.S. release of the three remaining members of the "Cuban Five" who were imprisoned for espionage after working to disrupt plots by Cuban exile extremists based in the U.S. Cuba is also reportedly releasing 53 other political prisoners.
"This historic shift is a direct result of the United States' increasing isolation in the region," Weisbrot said. "Relations between Latin America and the Obama administration have been the worst probably of any U.S. administration in decades. This will help, but new sanctions against Venezuela will also raise questions in the hemisphere about whether this is a change in direction or merely a giving up on a strategy that has failed for more than 50 years.
Spending Bill Allows Legalization of Marijuana Possession in Washington, D.C. to Move Forward, but Prevents Taxing and Regulating Marijuana like Alcohol
Momentum Builds Nationally to End the Failed War on Drugs
Washington, DC - The final “cromnibus” federal spending bill that Congress passed over the weekend contains historic language prohibiting the US Justice Department from spending any money to undermine state medical marijuana laws.
The spending bill also includes a bipartisan amendment that prohibits the DEA from blocking implementation of a federal law passed last year by Congress that allows hemp cultivation for academic and agricultural research purposes in states that allow it. It also contains an amendment allowing Washington, DC’s voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana possession and home cultivation for personal use to move forward, but prohibits DC policymakers from using any local or federal 2015 funding to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.
In February 2012, in Sanford, Florida, George Zimmerman killed unarmed black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder, but claimed he had acted in self-defense. Supporters of Zimmerman, including many self-identifying racists and hate groups, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on legal defense. The money worked. Zimmerman was acquitted.
The lawyer who helped Zimmerman get out of this charge was Mark O'Mara, a $400-per-hour criminal defense attorney. According to the Huffington Post, O'Mara "volunteered to represent Zimmerman at no charge just weeks after he was charged with the murder."