ACTION ALERT:Send a letter to President Obama and Congress telling them that any investigation must be backed by the full force of law and adequate funding.
If you agree, as I do, that we need a non-partisan, fully-funded independent investigation into the Bush Administration's role in torturing detainees, please read on and follow the links below to send an important letter to President Obama and Congress. -- Christopher Renner, Community Bridge host.
From Amnesty International:
Just as the volume of calls for investigations into the U.S. torture program reached deafening levels this week, another classified report came out Tuesday revealing new details about the military's role in torturing detainees.
The Senate Armed Services Committee report refutes claims by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that the military had nothing to do with the vile activities at Abu Ghraib and other military detention centers.(1) And it exposes the "few bad apples" argument as a complete farce, clearly showing that torture was sanctioned and even encouraged in military detention centers.
The momentum for investigations is snowballing. President Obama said last Friday this was a time for "reflection, not retribution"; less than a week later, the national press reports that the President is now open to an investigation.(2)
There's a growing risk that we may get an investigation that lacks independence, the legal authority and funding necessary to tell the full truth about the illegal, U.S. torture program.
Tell President Obama and Congress that any investigation must be independent, backed by the full force of law and sufficiently funded to uncover the full truth behind the U.S. torture program.
We're getting closer to seeing our government actually do the right thing.
Thanks for standing with us.
Counter Terror with Justice Campaign Director
Amnesty International USA
Obama Needs to Address Domestic Violence
Laura Finley comments for Truthout: "During his presidential campaign, President Obama pledged to make violence against women a priority. He promised to help expand programs and services for victims of domestic violence in the US and abroad, and to strengthen criminal laws. Although he is still in the early days of his presidency and is dealing with many serious issues, it is imperative that the public holds Obama accountable for these campaign promises."
Warrantless Tracking Of Suspects Using Cell Phone GPS
Lee Fang writes for Think Progress: "While serving as a U.S. attorney during the Bush administration, Christopher Christie, now a Republican candidate for Governor in New Jersey, tracked the whereabouts of citizens through their cell phones without warrants. The ACLU obtained the documents detailing the spying program from the Justice Department in an ongoing lawsuit over cell phone tracking."
Recommended Audio: Daily Show - A Brief History of Torture
John Steward rips apart the media's tortured logic on covering torture.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M - Th 11p / 10c|
|A Brief History of Torture|
CIA Official: No Proof Harsh Techniques Stopped Terror Attacks
Mark Seibel and Warren P. Strobel report for McClatchy Newspapers: "The CIA inspector general in 2004 found that there was no conclusive proof that waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques helped the Bush administration thwart any 'specific imminent attacks,' according to recently declassified Justice Department memos."
Recommended Audio: High Crimes?
April 22: Shedding new light on the birth of torture techniques in America, Rachel Maddow is joined by Ron Suskind, author of "The One Percent Doctrine," as they follow the trail of a carefully constructed interrogation program right to the top.
Killing Civilians: How Safe Do You Actually Want to Be?
Tom Engelhardt writes for TomDispatch.com: "Almost like clockwork, the reports float up to us from thousands of miles away, as if from another universe. Every couple of days they seem to arrive from Afghan villages that few Americans will ever see without weapon in hand. Every few days, they appear from a world almost beyond our imagining, and always they concern death -- so many lives snuffed out so regularly for more than seven years now. Unfortunately, those news stories are so unimportant in our world that they seldom make it onto, no less off of, the inside pages of our papers."
100 Down, 900 to Go
Katrina vanden Heuvel comments for The Nation: "As we mark the first 100 days of his presidency, it is staggering to consider the enormous challenges President Obama inherited from his predecessor, arguably the worst President ever. Can the devastation wrought by an eight-year nightmare be sorted out in 100 Days? Of course it can't. That's why Obama himself talked about needing to measure his accomplishments not by the first 100 days, but by the first 1,000."
Blocking the Progressive Agenda
Think Progress writes: Since January, Congress has expanded access to health care for low-income children through the passage of SCHIP Expansion, laid the ground work for economic recovery with the passage of Obama's Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and passed a budget resolution that demonstrated the Obama administration's intention to push for real progressive changes in the tax code, the health care system, and environmental regulation. On health care in particular, congressional Republicans have worked hard to register their opposition to reform. As the Wonk Room's Igor Volsky explained yesterday, "Key Republicans voted against the popular SCHIP legislation, eight Republican senators (including health care heavy weights Grassley and Hatch) voted [in committee] against Gov. Kathleen Sebelius's nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services, misrepresented the intent of health information technology...in the stimulus, and have already taken the public option off the table." But both the Senate and House leadership are serious about making health care reform happen this year. Due to obstructionism, however, they may now have to implement health care reform through the budget reconciliation process, which would allow the reform measures to be "protected from filibusters and passed by a simple majority vote." Republicans used reconciliation to pass the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, key provisions of their signature legislative agenda in 1994, the Contract with America, and on many other occasions in the last 30 years. Now, however, the Republicans have developed a bit of "political amnesia" and are calling the use of reconciliation the "Chicago approach to governing" and "a declaration of war." Further, they are plotting retaliatory parliamentary tactics -- including refusing to attend committee hearings and demanding that the text of bills, often hundreds of pages long, be read aloud -- that would "grind the Senate to a virtual halt." Yesterday, however, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) conceded that Democrats have the "right" to pass health care reform using the reconciliation process.
Bernie Horn writes for the Campaign for America's Future: "When Barack Obama bails out failing banks but also calls for a restructuring of the banking system—when he proposes hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit spending but promises long-term fiscal responsibility—when the President insists on universal health care now but leaves crucial details in doubt—what is he thinking? How can we understand the Obama economic philosophy?"
Firms Infused With Rescue Cash Find Money to Fund Lobbying
Dan Eggen reports for The Washington Post: "Top recipients of federal bailout money spent more than $10 million on political lobbying in the first three months of this year, including aggressive efforts aimed at blocking executive pay limits and tougher financial regulations, according to newly filed disclosure records."
Education Gaps Create "Permanent Recession" Report Says
Stacy Teicher Khadaroo reports for The Christian Science Monitor: "Educational achievement gaps are typically measured in terms of test scores - across lines of race and income, or even across state and national borders. But what if they were measured in dollars?"
Recommended Audio: Truthdig podcast -U.S. Citizens Detained and Deported by Immigration
In its zeal to crack down on illegal immigration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is detaining and deporting American citizens. The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Andrew Becker talks about his investigation into this disturbing trend.
Why Somalis Seize Ships
Abayomi Azikiwe reports for the San Francisco Bay View: "After the execution of three Somalis and the wounding and capturing of another in the Indian Ocean on April 12, a leader of the so-called pirates vowed to avenge the deaths of these youth who held the U.S. captain of a cargo vessel known as the Maersk Alabama for five days. Capt. Richard Phillips was released while the U.S. military and the corporate media hailed the killings of the Somalis, saying the actions were justified. "
Rep. Shimkus Says Capping CO2 Is a Greater 'Assualt on Democracy' than 9/11:
Think Progress writes: On April 23, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) described President Obama's energy plan as "the largest assault on democracy and freedom in this country that I've ever experienced." Speaking at a hearing for the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy and Security Act -- which if passed, will introduce stricter regulations on greenhouse gas emissions in order to build a clean energy economy -- Shimkus made his intense fear of the legislation clear, saying, "I've lived through some tough times in Congress -- impeachment, two wars, terrorist attacks. I fear this more than all of the above activities that have happened." Shimkus's comments, however, are not the first nonsensical remarks he has made about environmental policy. Earlier this year, the congressman asserted that there is no need for a cap-and-trade system to limit CO2 emissions both because CO2 is "plant food" and because carbon emissions were much lower "in the age of the dinosaurs," therefore yielding a "theological debate that this is a carbon-starved planet, not too much carbon." He has also claimed that global warming is not an issue since "the earth will end only when God declares its time to be over."
Can We Afford to Eat Ethically?
Siobhan Phillips writes for Salon.com: "Last month, a report from England found sales of some organic food had fallen up to 31 percent. Ethical food advocates have been worrying about a similar trend in this country since the recession began: Just as the need for better food choices became more widely accepted, our economy fell apart, and consumers who once considered free-range, $5-a-dozen eggs a necessity may start eyeing the caged-hens carton for half that price. A recent National Review column argued that organic food was, in fact, 'an expensive luxury item, something bought by those who have the resources.'"
Hate Crimes Bill Clears Hurdle
Joshua Lynsen reports for the Washingotn Blade: "Hate crimes legislation cleared a hurdle Thursday, winning approval from the House Judiciary Committee. Committee members backed the bill, 15-12, following a second day of debate. The measure will next go to the House floor for a vote, something that Capitol Hill observers have said could occur as soon as next week."
Can Psychiatrists Really "Cure" Homosexuality?
Thomas Maier reposts in Scientific American: "A British survey published last month found that one in 25 therapists would assist gay and bisexual patients attempting to convert to heterosexuality. That's despite the fact that many medical groups, including the American Medical Association, have for years condemned such practices, saying they don't work and can actually cause harm."
Recommended Audio: NPR Examines Barriers to Contraception, Factors That Contribute to Unintended Pregnancies
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Monday, 20 April, examined various methods of contraception and barriers that can limit their effectiveness. According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintentional. Vanessa Cullins, medical director for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said that although society often portrays unintended pregnancies as the fault of the woman, it "should be a responsibility that society shares." Contraception must be used correctly and consistently to avoid unintended pregnancies and, although there are many methods available, several factors -- including culture, lack of information or barriers to access to care -- can hinder use, according to "Morning Edition." These barriers can be especially challenging for younger women, who might be more likely to face long waits at physician offices, providers who might not be up-to-date on the most modern methods of contraception and insurers who do not always cover birth control or only cover a one-month supply, "Morning Edition" reports.
NYT's Barstow: Pulitzer-Winning 'Generals' Story Has Made a Difference
Joe Strupp writes for Editor and Publisher: "One year after his blockbuster investigation into the links between retired military commentators and the Pentagon -- which won a Pulitzer Prize on Monday -- New York Times scribe David Barstow says the reporting has made a difference even if the television networks targeted in his coverage have not come clean."
Is Sean Hannity Hoping For Another Terrorist Attack?
Ellena at New Hounds writes: "As I recently wrote, you have to wonder about Sean Hannity's motives for screeching on national television, night after night, that our country is more vulnerable to attack now. I mean, if you really believe that the release of the torture documents has made us more vulnerable to attack, as Hannity claims, because it lets them know they won't be tortured if they're caught, then why would you further help the enemy by letting them know this is a good time to attack? After watching last night's (4/24/09) edition of Hannity, you now have to wonder whether Hannity isn't actively trying to make that happen. Hannity reiterated many times that our national defenses have been weakened, that President Obama doesn't like America, added that he couldn't believe Obama 'made it' to 100 days in office, then “sincerely” hoped the 9/11 Commission was wrong when they said another attack was inevitable – but if so, would Obama be responsible? Hannity was aided in his efforts by Mike Huckabee, a guest with absolutely no professional experience in this area, but who nonetheless opined that waterboarding is 'like a carnival ride.' Then, with tortured logic, the two agreed that banning those
US Lawmakers Target Deep Packet Inspection in Privacy Bill
Tom Gross, IDG News Services writes in PC World: "U.S. lawmakers plan to introduce privacy legislation that would limit how Internet service providers can track their users, despite reports that no U.S. ISPs are using such technologies except for legitimate security reasons. Representative Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat, and three privacy experts urged lawmakers Thursday at a hearing before the House Energy Commerce subcommittee to pass comprehensive online privacy legislation in the coming months. Advocates of new legislation focused mainly on so-called deep packet inspection (DPI), a form of filtering that network operators can use to examine the content of packets as they travel across the Internet."
Ruling Boost to Press Freedom, Reporters Rights Groups Claim
JOE SWICKARD, BEN SCHMITT, M.L. ELRICK and JIM SCHAEFER report for the Detroit Free Press: "Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter -- whose legal travails became a rallying cry for media groups seeking to create a federal shield law to protect journalists -- learned Tuesday he will not have to go to jail for refusing to reveal confidential sources. In a decision hailed by reporters rights groups, U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland said Ashenfelter could keep his silence by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in a civil lawsuit brought by former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino."