U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice - Rome Italy anti-war demonstration in Rome

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Latest News

Week of May 29 2006

by Becky Tavani

Amnesty Rebukes Secret CIA Prisons
Amnesty International condemned the US and Britain last week for use of secret prisons as well as for holding prisoners without trial in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan in a 238-page report. The report also catalogues abuses in dozens of countries, including China, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Russia.

Its focus, however, is on CIA secret detention centers in countries such as Afghanistan, Poland and Romania as well as the use of “renditions”, transporting persons forcibly without due process from one country to another where they risk being interrogated under torture or ill-treatment. Amnesty estimates that hundreds of persons may have been subject to renditions around the world.

Additionally the report states that the world’s poor and disadvantaged have bore the brunt of the war on terror and that the war on terror is simply provoking more terror.

Take Action: write the White House and demand Guantanamo’s closure.

Iraqi Civilians Slain Execution-Style
The Los Angeles Times has reported that investigators have concluded that marines went on the rampage, killing unarmed civilians, including women and children in the insurgent stronghold of Haditha, after a marine was killed by a roadside bomb in November. According to this account, up to a dozen marines were involved either in the incident, or covering it up afterwards. The LA Times says investigators are preparing to call for charges including murder, negligent homicide, dereliction of duty and filing a false report.

In a related NYTimes article on the fallout of the marine scandal, retired Air Force Col. Mike Turner states that 'What we're seeing more of now, and these incidents will increase monthly, is the end result of fuzzy, imprecise national direction combined with situational ethics at the highest levels of this government.''

Reuters reports that Republican Senator John Warner vowed to hold hearings on the Marines' role in the killings.

Maureen Dowd has an excellent editorial in Times this week covering the incident and relating the psychological stress of marines to the lack of a known enemy and true objective of the war.

Take Action: Call or write Congress and demand that this incident be brought to light through an independent investigation team other than the Marines.

Immigration Bill Weakens Due Process for Immigrants
Last Thursday saw the passage of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, a bill that plans to tighten border security, establish an immigrant guest worker program, and offer a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already in the United States. Supporters argue the measure recognizes the economic and social reality of immigrant populations in the United States and provides hope of legal immigration status and a path to citizenship for law-abiding immigrants who come to the U.S. to work.

But a coalition of civil rights, religious and legal groups contend that the bill would make it easier for the government to detain or deport immigrants -- whether in the country legally or not -- while making it more difficult for them to prove they deserve asylum or naturalization.

One provision would give federal courts less latitude to review the cases of immigrants who have applied for asylum or citizenship and been turned down by immigration boards. Currently, U.S. circuit courts consider such appeals from scratch. Another provision would give Border Patrol officers new powers to jail and deport, without a judge's review, immigrants suspected of having recently crossed into the country illegally. The provision would essentially cement in law a controversial policy that the Department of Homeland Security has phased in during the past few years. Read the full Washington Post article here.

Ironically, the NYTimes reports that the US Forest Service is benefiting from immigrant labour given that as many as half of the roughly 5,000 private fire-fighters based in the Pacific Northwest and contracted by state and federal governments to fight forest fires are immigrants, mostly from Mexico. And an untold number of them are working illegally.

Prosecution of Journalists Is Possible in NSA Leaks
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Sunday that he thinks journalists can be prosecuted for publishing classified information, stating that the First Amendment right of a free press should not be absolute when it comes to national security. The Attorney General was referring specifically to New York Times journalists who have been covering leaks to the Times of data about the National Security Agency's surveillance of terrorist-related calls between the United States and abroad.

“I can't imagine a bigger chill on free speech and the public's right to know what its government is up to — both hallmarks of a democracy — than prosecuting reporters," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Aside from this threat of covering the NSA surveillance, journalists have recently discovered that they are also the targets of federal surveillance operations. One in particular, ABC’s chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross, recently talked with CNN about the effect of unchecked spying on journalists. Full transcript found at ThinkProgress.

Class Action Suits Raised in Phone Record Scandal
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed complaints in more than 20 individual states demanding that their utility commissions and attorneys-general convene public hearings and call phone company executives to testify. Typically, state utilities commissions are mandated to regulate the activities of telephone and other electronic carriers operating in their respective states.

As the ACLU filed its state complaints, it also launched a nationwide campaign to encourage citizens to make their utility commissions aware of their privacy concerns. This campaign is being conducted through an online complaint form available at the ACLU website. The group is also running ads in eight large-city newspapers asking the public to join the complaints. The ads claim that "AT&T, Verizon and Other Phone Companies May Have Illegally Sent Your Phone Records to the National Security Agency."

The civil rights group has also asked the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reconsider its recent decision not to investigate the alleged provision of tens of millions of telephone records to the National Security Agency (NSA).

Take Action : Sign the ACLU’s “Don’t Spy on Me” petition it is sending to AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth demanding that they STOP helping the government to invade private lives in the name of security.

GOP Pressuring Bush to Talk Directly with Iran
A growing number of prominent Republicans, as well as Democrats, have been urging Bush to pursue face-to-face negotiations with Iran on a range of issues. At the same time, European allies, which have acted as the administration's surrogates in talks with Iran on its nuclear program for the last three years, are rapidly losing patience with what they increasingly see as U.S. intransigence.

Diplomats from Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China met with their U.S. counterparts in London this week in an effort to design new agreements that they hope will persuade Iran to halt its enrichment activities as a first step toward an agreement that would ensure that Tehran could not build a nuclear weapon. The agreements are likely to include providing Iran with light-water nuclear reactors, trade and other economic incentives, and discussion of a "framework" to address Iran's security concerns.

However, U.S. diplomats opposed inclusion of the last item on the agenda, apparently due to a continuing impasse within the administration between Cheney and his allies, who favor "regime change", and other officials, notably in the State Department, who believe that goal to be both unrealistic and possibly counter-productive.

Take Action: Tell congress to oppose any attack on Iran or covert military actions. Tell UN security council not to give in to rhetoric from Washington and instead to seek diplomatic solutions.

If you know of additional news items that should be listed, send them via email.


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Ongoing/Future Events

Our Eyes Wide Open Film Series is suspended; for further information click here.

Upshot of our Nov. 9th group discussion on current politics:

It wasn't the Russians that got us Trump. Or Comey. Or even the massive GOP election fraud. It was the DNC.*
*Dem National Committee

To learn how to stop the DNC from delivering us another Trump, read Autopsy: the Democratic Party in Crisis.

Photo of a school in Yemen bombed by Saudi Arabian jets supplied by the U.S. and fueled in the air by the U.S. Air Force. Tell Trump to STOP THIS CARNAGE, not fuel it! Click here.

Also participate in the CodePink email and/or phone initiative:

Click here to sign a petition, to put an end to the sanctions against Syria - their only effect is to take a terrible toll on the population, causing them to migrate! And click here to see the video by the Italian Committee to lift sanctions against Syria.

Iraq Deaths Estimator
Did someone tell you that U.S. military intervention in Iraq was over? Not true: we're at it again. This time the pretext to drop bombs is "curbing ISIS" (which was created by the U.S. in the first place, to overturn al-Malaki in Iraq and then Assad in Syria, and is now out of hand. Like what happened to "our" creature al Qaeda in Afghanistan). And the death toll continues to rise...
Write your senators and tell them: "Enough! U.S. out!! Iraq has shown it can curb ISIS by itself!"

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