Torture, racism, drones & unlawful killings: UN Human Rights Committee releases report on US government
March 28, 2014

The United Nations Human Rights Committee completed its review of the United States’ compliance with a major human rights treaty. It takes issue with the government’s interpretation that the treaty only applies to persons when they are inside the country and also expresses concern with drones, racism, gun violence, excessive use of force by police, Guantanamo, NSA surveillance, mandatory detention of immigrants and impunity for those who commit torture and unlawful killings.

It is the Obama administration’sposition that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the US is a signatory, does not impose any “human rights obligations on American military and intelligence forces when they operate abroad.”The treaty covers “individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction” so the committee refused to accept this position.

It expressed concern about the “limited number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of members of the Armed Forces and other agents of the US government, including private contractors, for unlawful killings in its international operations and the use of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in US custody, including outside its territory, as part of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” program.”

“The Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment that had been committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012 leading only to a meager number of criminal charges brought against low-level operatives,” the Committee added.

Torture victims, in general, are unable to claim compensation from the US government and its officials “due to the application of broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity.” The US lacks legislation prohibiting all forms of torture.

The review drew attention to “targeted killings” in “extraterritorial counterterrorism operations” with drones and criticized the “lack of transparency regarding the criteria for drone strikes.” It questioned the government’s “very broad approach to the definition and the geographical scope of an armed conflict, including the end of hostilities, the unclear interpretation of what constitutes an ‘imminent threat’ and who is a combatant or civilian taking a direct part in hostilities.”

On the continued detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the review lamented the fact that President Barack Obama’s administration has no timeline for the closure of the prison.

NSA surveillance was highlighted the body of secret law that has developed, which makes it possible for the government to systematically violate privacy rights. It expressed concern that non-US citizens receive “limited protection against excessive surveillance.”

This review acknowledged the “practice of racial profiling and surveillance by law enforcement officials targeting certain ethnic minorities and the surveillance of Muslims undertaken” by the FBI and New York Police Department in the “absence of any suspicion of any wrongdoing.”

When it comes to indigenous people, “insufficient measures,” the committee said, are being taken to protect  sacred areas from “desecration, contamination and destruction as a result of urbanization, extractive industries, industrial development, tourism and toxic contamination.”

The committee noted the significant racial disparities in the imposition of the death penalty. African-Americans are disproportionately affected and this is “exacerbated” by a rule that discrimination can only be proven on a case-by-case basis. Plus, a high number of individuals are wrongly sentenced to death and untested lethal drugs are being used to execute people.

It also called attention to the “high number of fatal shootings by certain police forces” like the Chicago Police Department and continued reports of excessive use force by law enforcement including “deadly use of tasers, which has a disparate impact on African-Americans.”

Also, as highlighted in the report’s findings, high numbers of “gun-related deaths and injuries” and the “disparate impact of gun violence on minorities, women and children” persist. There is a steady trend of “criminalization” of homeless people, who engage in “everyday activities, such as eating, sleeping or sitting in particular areas, etc.” Students in schools are being increasingly criminalized by administrators seeking to “tackle disciplinary issues” in schools.

In the criminal justice system, juveniles can be sentenced to life without parole for homicides and adults can be sentenced to life without parole for “non-homicide related sentences.” A number of states” exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions and thus juveniles continue to be tried in adult courts and to be incarcerated in adult institutions.”

Solitary confinement continues to be practiced in US prisons. “Juveniles and persons with mental disabilities under certain circumstances” may be subject to “prolonged solitary confinement” (which often amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment or torture).

Immigrants, the review found, are subject to “mandatory detention” in violation of the treaty. The “mandatory nature of deportation” is extremely troubling. It also is problematic that undocumented immigrants and children are excluded from the Affordable Care Act.

There also is “widespread use of non-consensual psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services.”

The Committee would like to see the US government “disclose the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal basis for specific attacks, the process of target identification and the circumstances in which drones are used,” which has been a top priority of human rights organizations in the country. The Obama administration has vigorously resisted this call.

Like numerous human rights groups, it urged the US to transfer detainees “designated for transfer” to countries, including Yemen. Provide detainees with a fair trial or immediate release and “end the system of administrative detention without charge or trial.” It suggested the US “ensure that any criminal cases against detainees held in Guantánamo and military facilities in Afghanistan are dealt with within the criminal justice system rather than military commissions.”

Furthermore, it recommended a federal moratorium on the death penalty, reforming surveillance so it does not violate privacy, impose strict limits on solitary confinement, enact legislation to prohibit torture. And, to address impunity, the recommendation that “command responsibility” be incorporated into criminal law was made, along with a call to “declassify and make public the report of the Senate Special Committee on Intelligence into the CIA secret detention program.

Source

~American excellence~

Rikers inmate “baked to death” in cell overheated at least 100 degreesMarch 19, 2014
A news report has raised questions about how New York City jail officials handle at-risk inmates after a troubled 56-year-old former Marine was found dead in a Rikers Island cell where the temperature at one point had reportedly exceeded 100 degrees.

“He basically baked to death,” one official with knowledge of Jerome Murdough’s death told the Associated Press.
The wire service reported that Murdough was mentally ill, homeless and had been arrested for trespassing after trying to curl up and sleep in an enclosed stairwell on a chilly winter night.
Murdough was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes but was instead discovered four hours after being locked in his cell on Feb. 14, the AP reported. His 75-year-old mother didn’t learn of his death until a month later — when an AP reporter contacted her last week about the case.
On Wednesday, in a brief phone interview, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Correction told a Los Angeles Times reporter to send an email with questions about Murdough’s case.
The spokesman did not immediately respond to the ensuing messages, which asked if jail officials disputed any of the facts in the AP’s report or had any reaction to the wire service’s findings. 
[Update, 2:23 p.m.: A department of corrections spokesman sent The Times a statement from Acting Commissioner Mark Cranston that was briefly quoted and referenced in the AP’s report. The full statement is below:
“The safety of inmates and staff is our top priority, and the death of an inmate under our supervision is never acceptable. The department is conducting a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Murdough’s unfortunate death, including issues of staff performance and the adequacy of procedures.  While we cannot comment on the facts surrounding his death while the investigation is underway, preliminary information suggests there were unusually high temperatures in Mr. Murdough’s cell. The department accordingly has taken remedial action to correct any mechanical problems in the immediate facility and to ensure that safe temperatures are maintained throughout the entire jail system, particularly in areas housing vulnerable inmates.”
The department also said that “several other” cells surrounding Murdough’s were found to be warmer than 80 degrees, and officials said they had taken steps to fix overheating issues, including turning down thermostats.]
Corrections officials previously told the AP in a statement that the incident was under investigation but acknowledged that the temperature in Murdough’s 6-by-10-foot cinderblock cell was “unusually high” and said they were trying to make mechanical fixes to ensure safe temperatures.
Murdough had a small vent in his cell that he did not open. The inmate had been prescribed antipsychotic and antiseizure medication that may have made him more susceptible to heat, officials told the AP. The medical examiner’s office called the cause of death inconclusive pending more tests, though officials said he had signs of extreme dehydration or heatstroke.
Allegations of overheated jail cells are not uncommon and have led to lawsuits in Texas and Louisiana.
Rikers Island has been the subject of heightened scrutiny over the past few months amid reports of a surge in violence and disorder at the large prison complex. At least 12 inmates have been slashed or stabbed since New Year’s Eve, the New York Times reported after reviewing confidential jail documents.

Source
So, a mentally ill man who was arrested for being homeless is tortured to death in a cell, AND his mother wasn’t even notified of her son’s death… Prison abolition NOW!

Rikers inmate “baked to death” in cell overheated at least 100 degrees
March 19, 2014

A news report has raised questions about how New York City jail officials handle at-risk inmates after a troubled 56-year-old former Marine was found dead in a Rikers Island cell where the temperature at one point had reportedly exceeded 100 degrees.

“He basically baked to death,” one official with knowledge of Jerome Murdough’s death told the Associated Press.

The wire service reported that Murdough was mentally ill, homeless and had been arrested for trespassing after trying to curl up and sleep in an enclosed stairwell on a chilly winter night.

Murdough was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes but was instead discovered four hours after being locked in his cell on Feb. 14, the AP reported. His 75-year-old mother didn’t learn of his death until a month later — when an AP reporter contacted her last week about the case.

On Wednesday, in a brief phone interview, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Correction told a Los Angeles Times reporter to send an email with questions about Murdough’s case.

The spokesman did not immediately respond to the ensuing messages, which asked if jail officials disputed any of the facts in the AP’s report or had any reaction to the wire service’s findings. 

[Update, 2:23 p.m.: A department of corrections spokesman sent The Times a statement from Acting Commissioner Mark Cranston that was briefly quoted and referenced in the AP’s report. The full statement is below:

“The safety of inmates and staff is our top priority, and the death of an inmate under our supervision is never acceptable. The department is conducting a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Murdough’s unfortunate death, including issues of staff performance and the adequacy of procedures.  While we cannot comment on the facts surrounding his death while the investigation is underway, preliminary information suggests there were unusually high temperatures in Mr. Murdough’s cell. The department accordingly has taken remedial action to correct any mechanical problems in the immediate facility and to ensure that safe temperatures are maintained throughout the entire jail system, particularly in areas housing vulnerable inmates.”

The department also said that “several other” cells surrounding Murdough’s were found to be warmer than 80 degrees, and officials said they had taken steps to fix overheating issues, including turning down thermostats.]

Corrections officials previously told the AP in a statement that the incident was under investigation but acknowledged that the temperature in Murdough’s 6-by-10-foot cinderblock cell was “unusually high” and said they were trying to make mechanical fixes to ensure safe temperatures.

Murdough had a small vent in his cell that he did not open. The inmate had been prescribed antipsychotic and antiseizure medication that may have made him more susceptible to heat, officials told the AP. The medical examiner’s office called the cause of death inconclusive pending more tests, though officials said he had signs of extreme dehydration or heatstroke.

Allegations of overheated jail cells are not uncommon and have led to lawsuits in Texas and Louisiana.

Rikers Island has been the subject of heightened scrutiny over the past few months amid reports of a surge in violence and disorder at the large prison complex. At least 12 inmates have been slashed or stabbed since New Year’s Eve, the New York Times reported after reviewing confidential jail documents.

Source

So, a mentally ill man who was arrested for being homeless is tortured to death in a cell, AND his mother wasn’t even notified of her son’s death… Prison abolition NOW!

The White House has been covering up the presidency’s role in torture for yearsMarch 18, 2014
The fight between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee over the Committee’s Torture Report – which Dan Froomkin covered here – has now zeroed in on the White House.
Did the White House order the CIA to withdraw 920 documents from a server made available to Committee staffers, as Senator Dianne Feinstein says the agency claimed in 2010? Were those documents – perhaps thousands of them – pulled in deference to a White House claim of executive privilege, as Senator Mark Udall and then CIA General Counsel Stephen Preston suggested last fall? And is the White House continuing to withhold 9,000 pages of documents without invoking privilege, as McClatchy reported yesterday?
We can be sure about one thing: The Obama White House has covered up the Bush presidency’s role in the torture program for years. Specifically, from 2009 to 2012, the administration went to extraordinary lengths to keep a single short phrase, describing President Bush’s authorization of the torture program, secret.
Some time before October 29, 2009, then National Security Advisor Jim Jones filed an ex parte classified declaration with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in response to a FOIA request by the ACLU seeking documents related to the torture program. In it, Jones argued that the CIA should not be forced to disclose the “source of the CIA’s authority,” as referenced in the title of a document providing “Guidelines for Interrogations” and signed by then CIA Director George Tenet. That document was cited in two Justice Department memos at issue in the FOIA. Jones claimed that “source of authority” constituted an intelligence method that needed to be protected.
As other documents and reporting have made clear, the source of authority was a September 17, 2001 Presidential declaration authorizing not just detention and interrogation, but a range of other counterterrorism activities, including targeted killings.
Both former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo have made clear that the torture program began as a covert operation. “A few days after the [9/11] attacks, President Bush signed a top-secret directive to CIA authorizing an unprecedented array of covert actions against Al Qaeda and its leadership.” Rizzo explained in 2011. One of those actions, Rizzo went on, was “the capture, incommunicado detention and aggressive interrogation of senior Al Qaeda operatives.”
As Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, noted  in 2009 – shortly after Hayden revealed that torture started as a covert operation – this means there should be a paper trail implicating President Bush in the torture program. “[T]here should be a Presidential ‘finding’ authorizing the program,” he said, “and [] such a finding should have been provided to Congressional overseers.”
The National Security Act dictates that every covert operation must be supported by a written declaration finding that the action is necessary and important to the national security. The Congressional Intelligence committees – or at least the Chair and Ranking Member – should receive notice of the finding.
But there is evidence that those Congressional overseers were never told that the finding the president signed on September 17, 2001 authorized torture. For example, a letter from then ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, to the CIA’s General Counsel following her first briefing on torture asked: “Have enhanced techniques been authorized and approved by the President?” The CIA’s response at the time was simply that “policy as well as legal matters have been addressed within the Executive Branch.”
Nevertheless, the finding does exist. The CIA even disclosed its existence in response to the ACLU FOIA, describing it as “a 14-page memorandum dated 17 September 2001 from President Bush to the Director of the CIA pertaining to the CIA’s authorization to detain terrorists.” In an order in the ACLU suit, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein confirmed that the declaration was “intertwined with” the administration’s effort to keep the language in the Tenet document hidden. When the administration succeeded in keeping that short phrase secret, all effort to release the declaration also ended.
Enduring confusion about this particular finding surely exists because of its flexible nature. As Bob Woodward described in Bush at War, CIA Director Tenet asked President Bush to sign “a broad intelligence order permitting the CIA to conduct covert operations without having to come back for formal approval for each specific operation.” As Jane Mayer described in The Dark Side, such an order not only gave the CIA flexibility, it also protected the President. “To give the President deniability, and to keep him from getting his hands dirty, the finding called for the President to delegate blanket authority to Tenet to decide on a case-by-case basis whom to kill, whom to kidnap, whom to detain and interrogate, and how.”

When George Tenet signed written guidelines for the CIA’s torture program in 2003, however, he appeared to have deliberately deprived the President of that deniability by including the source of CIA’s authorization – presumably naming the President – in a document interrogators would see. You can’t blame the CIA Director, after all; Tenet signed the Guidelines just as CIA’s Inspector General and DOJ started to review the legality of the torture tactics used against detainees like Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was threatened with a drill and a gun in violation of DOJ’s ban on mock executions.
Full article

The White House has been covering up the presidency’s role in torture for years
March 18, 2014

The fight between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee over the Committee’s Torture Report – which Dan Froomkin covered here – has now zeroed in on the White House.

Did the White House order the CIA to withdraw 920 documents from a server made available to Committee staffers, as Senator Dianne Feinstein says the agency claimed in 2010? Were those documents – perhaps thousands of them – pulled in deference to a White House claim of executive privilege, as Senator Mark Udall and then CIA General Counsel Stephen Preston suggested last fall? And is the White House continuing to withhold 9,000 pages of documents without invoking privilege, as McClatchy reported yesterday?

We can be sure about one thing: The Obama White House has covered up the Bush presidency’s role in the torture program for years. Specifically, from 2009 to 2012, the administration went to extraordinary lengths to keep a single short phrase, describing President Bush’s authorization of the torture program, secret.

Some time before October 29, 2009, then National Security Advisor Jim Jones filed an ex parte classified declaration with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in response to a FOIA request by the ACLU seeking documents related to the torture program. In it, Jones argued that the CIA should not be forced to disclose the “source of the CIA’s authority,” as referenced in the title of a document providing “Guidelines for Interrogations” and signed by then CIA Director George Tenet. That document was cited in two Justice Department memos at issue in the FOIA. Jones claimed that “source of authority” constituted an intelligence method that needed to be protected.

As other documents and reporting have made clear, the source of authority was a September 17, 2001 Presidential declaration authorizing not just detention and interrogation, but a range of other counterterrorism activities, including targeted killings.

Both former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo have made clear that the torture program began as a covert operation. “A few days after the [9/11] attacks, President Bush signed a top-secret directive to CIA authorizing an unprecedented array of covert actions against Al Qaeda and its leadership.” Rizzo explained in 2011. One of those actions, Rizzo went on, was “the capture, incommunicado detention and aggressive interrogation of senior Al Qaeda operatives.”

As Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, noted  in 2009 – shortly after Hayden revealed that torture started as a covert operation – this means there should be a paper trail implicating President Bush in the torture program. “[T]here should be a Presidential ‘finding’ authorizing the program,” he said, “and [] such a finding should have been provided to Congressional overseers.”

The National Security Act dictates that every covert operation must be supported by a written declaration finding that the action is necessary and important to the national security. The Congressional Intelligence committees – or at least the Chair and Ranking Member – should receive notice of the finding.

But there is evidence that those Congressional overseers were never told that the finding the president signed on September 17, 2001 authorized torture. For example, a letter from then ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, to the CIA’s General Counsel following her first briefing on torture asked: “Have enhanced techniques been authorized and approved by the President?” The CIA’s response at the time was simply that “policy as well as legal matters have been addressed within the Executive Branch.”

Nevertheless, the finding does exist. The CIA even disclosed its existence in response to the ACLU FOIA, describing it as “a 14-page memorandum dated 17 September 2001 from President Bush to the Director of the CIA pertaining to the CIA’s authorization to detain terrorists.” In an order in the ACLU suit, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein confirmed that the declaration was “intertwined with” the administration’s effort to keep the language in the Tenet document hidden. When the administration succeeded in keeping that short phrase secret, all effort to release the declaration also ended.

Enduring confusion about this particular finding surely exists because of its flexible nature. As Bob Woodward described in Bush at War, CIA Director Tenet asked President Bush to sign “a broad intelligence order permitting the CIA to conduct covert operations without having to come back for formal approval for each specific operation.” As Jane Mayer described in The Dark Side, such an order not only gave the CIA flexibility, it also protected the President. “To give the President deniability, and to keep him from getting his hands dirty, the finding called for the President to delegate blanket authority to Tenet to decide on a case-by-case basis whom to kill, whom to kidnap, whom to detain and interrogate, and how.”

When George Tenet signed written guidelines for the CIA’s torture program in 2003, however, he appeared to have deliberately deprived the President of that deniability by including the source of CIA’s authorization – presumably naming the President – in a document interrogators would see. You can’t blame the CIA Director, after all; Tenet signed the Guidelines just as CIA’s Inspector General and DOJ started to review the legality of the torture tactics used against detainees like Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was threatened with a drill and a gun in violation of DOJ’s ban on mock executions.

Full article

Immigrant hunger strikers threatened with force-feedingMarch 14, 2014
Immigrant detainees who started a hunger strike last Friday at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., are reporting increased retaliation by guards — including threats of force-feeding — according to a lawyer backing the group.
As the hunger strike entered its sixth day Wednesday, attorney Sandy Restrepo told Al Jazeera that the detainees have vowed to continue their strike in the face of threats until adequate negotiations take place between strikers and the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
ICE denied that it was retaliating against the strikers.
The detainees are demanding safer working conditions, better treatment by guards, more sanitary food options, and for President Barack Obama to sign an executive order halting deportations until the U.S. immigration system is overhauled.
As of Tuesday evening, five strikers had been placed under medical observation. ICE said that one of the detainees had broken the fast Wednesday morning and was allowed to “return to the general population.” 
Maru Mora Villalpando, an immigration reform advocate and founder of Latino Advocacy, told Al Jazeera that her group is in contact with elected officials to push for “a monitored negotiation process to prevent further abuse by detention center officials.”
Restrepo, who met with some of the hunger strikers on Tuesday, described guards as armed and dressed in riot gear. “Immigrants on hunger strike are being placed in solitary confinement, coerced into signing deportation forms, and threatened with forced-feeding if they continue their protest. Asylum seekers are being threatened with denial of their cases,” Restrepo said.
ICE rejected the allegations of retaliation. “There have been no punitive actions taken against individuals who are participating in the protest,” ICE officials said in an emailed statement. “ICE fully respects the rights of all people to express their opinion without interference.”
Although ICE did acknowledge that strikers were advised that they may be force-fed, it said that it was looking out for the strikers’ well-being.
“Detainees are being advised of the health consequences of remaining on a hunger strike,” the ICE statement said. “This includes the fact that going without food for a prolonged period of time could put their life in danger, and if that point is reached ICE may be forced to obtain a court order to force feed an individual.”
Villalpando, who has communicated with some of the strikers, said that guards were also threatening strikers with deportation, and in some cases forcing them to sign consent forms authorizing immediate deportation.
In one case, she said that a detainee was dragged into a room before guards and told to end his strike or sign a form authorizing deportation. “When he refused to do either, one of the guards pulled his arm and forced his fingerprint,” Villalpando said.
Strike leaders in particular, she said, are being targeted and placed in solitary confinement. “They are being told that they cannot rejoin the general population unless they end their hunger strike,” she said.
While ICE confirmed reports that some strikers were separated from the general population, it said that the basis for its decision to do so was “medical observation.”
The Washington state detainees are the latest to join a nationwide campaign to protest deportations, with similar actions recently taking place in Arizona, Illinois, California and Virginia. The coordinated protests represent a new strategy in the battle to halt deportations after a bipartisan immigration reform bill stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Immigration activists have shifted their focus from Congress to Obama, demanding that he issue an executive order to end deportations until the immigration system is overhauled for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
Under Obama, U.S. deportations have hit record highs, immigration advocates point out.
"For us, this president has been the deporter-in-chief," said Janet Murguia, a former Obama ally and president of the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic advocacy group in the United States. "Any day now, this administration will reach the 2 million mark for deportations. It is a staggering number that far outstrips any of his predecessors and leaves behind it a wake of devastation for families across America."
On Tuesday, family members of the Washington hunger-strikers attended solidarity rallies organized outside of the detention facility. Veronica Noriega, the wife of one of the hunger strike leaders, told Al Jazeera that her husband was placed in solitary confinement with three other strikers for his role in organizing the protest.
Noriega attended Tuesday’s rally with her three children, ages 5, 11, and 13. She is currently working three jobs to make ends meet following her husband’s detainment in September 2013, she said.
Restrepo said the government’s inability to pass immigration reform is taking its worst toll on families. “These are fathers and mothers in there, people who will one day be eligible to stay under any new immigration law. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to return to their families, to challenge their case from the outside,” she told Al Jazeera.
Source

Immigrant hunger strikers threatened with force-feeding
March 14, 2014

Immigrant detainees who started a hunger strike last Friday at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., are reporting increased retaliation by guards — including threats of force-feeding — according to a lawyer backing the group.

As the hunger strike entered its sixth day Wednesday, attorney Sandy Restrepo told Al Jazeera that the detainees have vowed to continue their strike in the face of threats until adequate negotiations take place between strikers and the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE denied that it was retaliating against the strikers.

The detainees are demanding safer working conditions, better treatment by guards, more sanitary food options, and for President Barack Obama to sign an executive order halting deportations until the U.S. immigration system is overhauled.

As of Tuesday evening, five strikers had been placed under medical observation. ICE said that one of the detainees had broken the fast Wednesday morning and was allowed to “return to the general population.” 

Maru Mora Villalpando, an immigration reform advocate and founder of Latino Advocacy, told Al Jazeera that her group is in contact with elected officials to push for “a monitored negotiation process to prevent further abuse by detention center officials.”

Restrepo, who met with some of the hunger strikers on Tuesday, described guards as armed and dressed in riot gear. “Immigrants on hunger strike are being placed in solitary confinement, coerced into signing deportation forms, and threatened with forced-feeding if they continue their protest. Asylum seekers are being threatened with denial of their cases,” Restrepo said.

ICE rejected the allegations of retaliation. “There have been no punitive actions taken against individuals who are participating in the protest,” ICE officials said in an emailed statement. “ICE fully respects the rights of all people to express their opinion without interference.”

Although ICE did acknowledge that strikers were advised that they may be force-fed, it said that it was looking out for the strikers’ well-being.

“Detainees are being advised of the health consequences of remaining on a hunger strike,” the ICE statement said. “This includes the fact that going without food for a prolonged period of time could put their life in danger, and if that point is reached ICE may be forced to obtain a court order to force feed an individual.”

Villalpando, who has communicated with some of the strikers, said that guards were also threatening strikers with deportation, and in some cases forcing them to sign consent forms authorizing immediate deportation.

In one case, she said that a detainee was dragged into a room before guards and told to end his strike or sign a form authorizing deportation. “When he refused to do either, one of the guards pulled his arm and forced his fingerprint,” Villalpando said.

Strike leaders in particular, she said, are being targeted and placed in solitary confinement. “They are being told that they cannot rejoin the general population unless they end their hunger strike,” she said.

While ICE confirmed reports that some strikers were separated from the general population, it said that the basis for its decision to do so was “medical observation.”

The Washington state detainees are the latest to join a nationwide campaign to protest deportations, with similar actions recently taking place in Arizona, Illinois, California and Virginia. The coordinated protests represent a new strategy in the battle to halt deportations after a bipartisan immigration reform bill stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Immigration activists have shifted their focus from Congress to Obama, demanding that he issue an executive order to end deportations until the immigration system is overhauled for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

Under Obama, U.S. deportations have hit record highs, immigration advocates point out.

"For us, this president has been the deporter-in-chief," said Janet Murguia, a former Obama ally and president of the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic advocacy group in the United States. "Any day now, this administration will reach the 2 million mark for deportations. It is a staggering number that far outstrips any of his predecessors and leaves behind it a wake of devastation for families across America."

On Tuesday, family members of the Washington hunger-strikers attended solidarity rallies organized outside of the detention facility. Veronica Noriega, the wife of one of the hunger strike leaders, told Al Jazeera that her husband was placed in solitary confinement with three other strikers for his role in organizing the protest.

Noriega attended Tuesday’s rally with her three children, ages 5, 11, and 13. She is currently working three jobs to make ends meet following her husband’s detainment in September 2013, she said.

Restrepo said the government’s inability to pass immigration reform is taking its worst toll on families. “These are fathers and mothers in there, people who will one day be eligible to stay under any new immigration law. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to return to their families, to challenge their case from the outside,” she told Al Jazeera.

Source

All I want is what President Obama promised – my liberty, and fair treatment for others. I have been cleared for five years, and I have been force-fed for seven years. This is not a life worth living, it is a life of constant pain and suffering. While I do not want to die, it is surely my right to protest peacefully without being degraded and abused every day

Emad Abdullah Hassan, a 34-year-old Guantanamo Bay prisoner who has been force-fed more than 5,000 times since 2007 as part of the military’s efforts to break his hunger strike. 

He is the plaintiff in a landmark lawsuit challenging the practice of force-feeding at the US military prison camp. The case represents the first time a US court will hear allegations of detainee abuse at Gitmo.

Today marks the 12th anniversary of America’s GITMO prison disgraceJanuary 11, 2014
Today, 11 January, the Guantánamo Bay prison “celebrates” its 12th birthday.
In case anyone needs a refresher, $4.7bn has been spent running Guantánamo. Nearly 800 men have been imprisoned, many losing over a decade of their lives. Nine have died. The world will never look at America in the same way again.
Barack Obama, who promised to close Gitmo in 2008, transferred out 11 men since the summer. These are men long since proven innocent, men too obese to walk and too schizophrenic to make any sense. These transfers are the first signs that the US may close a prison that exists to hold enemy combatants in the war on terror – a war whose battlefield, opponents, scope, and ending have never been defined. But the prison built to “protect our freedom” after 9/11 has made us no safer. According to Major General Michael Lehnert, Guantánamo’s first commander, many of the detainees should never have ended up there at all.
I’ve seen Guantánamo’s absurdities first hand. In the summer of 2012, I became the fourth artist to visit the facility. I saw the razor wire-ringed cellblocks in which we keep the 155 remaining detainees. According to a 2005 report by Seton Hall University (pdf), the vast majority of these prisoners were captured by Afghan and Pakistani forces, then sold to us for bounties. Of these, Guantánamo’s chief prosecutor General Mark Martins told me, only 20 were even chargeable with crimes.
Medics with Shakespearean psuedonyms showed me the chair where, at one time, 45 hunger strikers were strapped down and force-fed twice a day. They were refusing food to protest their indefinite detention. The US military had taken away their lives as they knew them. We would keep them alive by force.
Detainees are allowed to speak to their families, via Skype, only four times a year. The prison library bans many books, including Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago about Soviet forced labor. The librarian told me it might sow dissent. Instead, they offer handbooks on reducing stress. Military police showed me the room where hunger strikers were shackled, alone, to watch TV. A guard snickered about how the prisoners liked the show Top Model.
I visited Guantánamo twice, but I only saw detainees once, for seven minutes, through a one-way mirror. They were skinny, middle aged men, joking and praying. Detainees are forbidden to speak with the press. According to Rear Admiral Richard Butler, who is responsible for prison operations, this is to avoid “making a spectacle” of them, which is forbidden by the Geneva Conventions. But Brandon Davis, who served as a guard in 2002, told me that soldiers were instructed that the Geneva Conventions were not in effect.
Captain Robert Durand, a Guantanamo spokesman, assured me that detainees now attend interrogations in return for Happy Meals. In the past 12 years, all the information we have suggests that every detainee has been tortured. A 2002 memo by military lawyer Diane Beaverapproved waterboarding, beatings, extreme temperatures, and making a detainee believe his family was in danger of death. Mr Davis told me he and fellow guards beat detainees. At the start of every shift superiors told them “[the detainees] would kill you and your families in a heartbeat”.
In Guantánamo’s courtroom, I drew Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his 9/11 co-conspirators. He is being tried in a military commission system that has produced eight convictions out of the nearly 800 men who have been detained on the island. Though it is over a decade since 9/11, Mr Mohammed’s trial has not yet started. Lawyers are still hashing out the new legal system – half military, half civilian – that President George Bush created for Guantánamo. For a week, they fought over co-conspirator Mr Bin Attesh’s stomach problems.
Press watched the hearings through layers of bulletproof glass. Soldiers confiscated my opera glasses (brought to better see Mr Mohammed’s face) as “prohibited ocular amplification”. An official censor put stickers on my drawings before they were allowed to leave the room.
With several exceptions, Guantánamo’s detainees are not criminals serving a sentence. They are enemy combatants, held until the end of the war on terror. But terror is not a nation – it’s a concept. Colonel Morris Davis, who served as Guantánamo’s chief prosecutor from 2006 to 2007, told me, “We never really had a discussion about when the conflict was going to end.”
Meanwhile, we keep 155 men in cages, at the cost of $1.7m per man, per year. When they try to starve themselves in protest, we keep them alive with tubes shoved into their stomachs. Guantánamo Bay’s official slogan is “Honor Bound to Defend Freedom”. Like so much of Guantánamo, it is easy to mock. But freedom, like terror, is a slippery word. What is its meaning amidst Gitmo’s cameras and razor wire – where captives, cleared to leave the prison for years, are only flown home in shackles and hoods?
Clifford Sloan, Obama’s newly appointed envoy to transfer prisoners out of Guantánamo, recently told PBS that he was sure the prison would be closed in the foreseeable future. I suppose the 11 men that Obama released in recent months given some hope that this may come true.
But even if we close the prison, we must make sure we do not build new Guantánamos. America must never again start a war with no defined enemy. We must reject indefinite detention and offshore prisons. We must no longer use our fear of terror to inflict terror on the world.
America must no longer must no longer write “Honor Bound to Defend Freedom” on the walls of its most notorious prison. Instead, we must mean it.
Source

Today marks the 12th anniversary of America’s GITMO prison disgrace
January 11, 2014

Today, 11 January, the Guantánamo Bay prison “celebrates” its 12th birthday.

In case anyone needs a refresher, $4.7bn has been spent running Guantánamo. Nearly 800 men have been imprisoned, many losing over a decade of their lives. Nine have died. The world will never look at America in the same way again.

Barack Obama, who promised to close Gitmo in 2008, transferred out 11 men since the summer. These are men long since proven innocent, men too obese to walk and too schizophrenic to make any sense. These transfers are the first signs that the US may close a prison that exists to hold enemy combatants in the war on terror – a war whose battlefield, opponents, scope, and ending have never been defined. But the prison built to “protect our freedom” after 9/11 has made us no safer. According to Major General Michael Lehnert, Guantánamo’s first commander, many of the detainees should never have ended up there at all.

I’ve seen Guantánamo’s absurdities first hand. In the summer of 2012, I became the fourth artist to visit the facility. I saw the razor wire-ringed cellblocks in which we keep the 155 remaining detainees. According to a 2005 report by Seton Hall University (pdf), the vast majority of these prisoners were captured by Afghan and Pakistani forces, then sold to us for bounties. Of these, Guantánamo’s chief prosecutor General Mark Martins told me, only 20 were even chargeable with crimes.

Medics with Shakespearean psuedonyms showed me the chair where, at one time, 45 hunger strikers were strapped down and force-fed twice a day. They were refusing food to protest their indefinite detention. The US military had taken away their lives as they knew them. We would keep them alive by force.

Detainees are allowed to speak to their families, via Skype, only four times a year. The prison library bans many books, including Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago about Soviet forced labor. The librarian told me it might sow dissent. Instead, they offer handbooks on reducing stress. Military police showed me the room where hunger strikers were shackled, alone, to watch TV. A guard snickered about how the prisoners liked the show Top Model.

I visited Guantánamo twice, but I only saw detainees once, for seven minutes, through a one-way mirror. They were skinny, middle aged men, joking and praying. Detainees are forbidden to speak with the press. According to Rear Admiral Richard Butler, who is responsible for prison operations, this is to avoid “making a spectacle” of them, which is forbidden by the Geneva Conventions. But Brandon Davis, who served as a guard in 2002, told me that soldiers were instructed that the Geneva Conventions were not in effect.

Captain Robert Durand, a Guantanamo spokesman, assured me that detainees now attend interrogations in return for Happy Meals. In the past 12 years, all the information we have suggests that every detainee has been tortured. A 2002 memo by military lawyer Diane Beaverapproved waterboarding, beatings, extreme temperatures, and making a detainee believe his family was in danger of death. Mr Davis told me he and fellow guards beat detainees. At the start of every shift superiors told them “[the detainees] would kill you and your families in a heartbeat”.

In Guantánamo’s courtroom, I drew Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his 9/11 co-conspirators. He is being tried in a military commission system that has produced eight convictions out of the nearly 800 men who have been detained on the island. Though it is over a decade since 9/11, Mr Mohammed’s trial has not yet started. Lawyers are still hashing out the new legal system – half military, half civilian – that President George Bush created for Guantánamo. For a week, they fought over co-conspirator Mr Bin Attesh’s stomach problems.

Press watched the hearings through layers of bulletproof glass. Soldiers confiscated my opera glasses (brought to better see Mr Mohammed’s face) as “prohibited ocular amplification”. An official censor put stickers on my drawings before they were allowed to leave the room.

With several exceptions, Guantánamo’s detainees are not criminals serving a sentence. They are enemy combatants, held until the end of the war on terror. But terror is not a nation – it’s a concept. Colonel Morris Davis, who served as Guantánamo’s chief prosecutor from 2006 to 2007, told me, “We never really had a discussion about when the conflict was going to end.”

Meanwhile, we keep 155 men in cages, at the cost of $1.7m per man, per year. When they try to starve themselves in protest, we keep them alive with tubes shoved into their stomachs. Guantánamo Bay’s official slogan is “Honor Bound to Defend Freedom”. Like so much of Guantánamo, it is easy to mock. But freedom, like terror, is a slippery word. What is its meaning amidst Gitmo’s cameras and razor wire – where captives, cleared to leave the prison for years, are only flown home in shackles and hoods?

Clifford Sloan, Obama’s newly appointed envoy to transfer prisoners out of Guantánamo, recently told PBS that he was sure the prison would be closed in the foreseeable future. I suppose the 11 men that Obama released in recent months given some hope that this may come true.

But even if we close the prison, we must make sure we do not build new Guantánamos. America must never again start a war with no defined enemy. We must reject indefinite detention and offshore prisons. We must no longer use our fear of terror to inflict terror on the world.

America must no longer must no longer write “Honor Bound to Defend Freedom” on the walls of its most notorious prison. Instead, we must mean it.

Source

the-uncensored-she
aljazeeraamerica:

Guantanamo inmateL ‘We will remain on hunger strike’


Editor’s Note: The following is by Moath al-Alwi, a Yemeni national who has been in U.S. custody since 2002. He was one of the very first prisoners moved to Guantánamo Bay detention camp, where the U.S. military assigned him Internment Serial Number (ISN 028). The article was translated from the Arabic by his attorney, Ramzi Kassem.


I write this after my return from the morning’s force-feeding session here at Guantanamo Bay. I write in between bouts of violent vomiting and the sharp pains in my stomach and intestines caused by the force-feeding.
The U.S. government now claims that, among the 164 prisoners at Guantanamo, there are fewer than two dozen hunger strikers, down from well over 100 back in August. I am one of those remaining hunger strikers. I have been on hunger strike for almost nine months, since February.



Read more
Photo: Chantal Valery/Getty Images


On a hunger strike since February.

aljazeeraamerica:

Guantanamo inmateL ‘We will remain on hunger strike’

Editor’s Note: The following is by Moath al-Alwi, a Yemeni national who has been in U.S. custody since 2002. He was one of the very first prisoners moved to Guantánamo Bay detention camp, where the U.S. military assigned him Internment Serial Number (ISN 028). The article was translated from the Arabic by his attorney, Ramzi Kassem.

I write this after my return from the morning’s force-feeding session here at Guantanamo Bay. I write in between bouts of violent vomiting and the sharp pains in my stomach and intestines caused by the force-feeding.

The U.S. government now claims that, among the 164 prisoners at Guantanamo, there are fewer than two dozen hunger strikers, down from well over 100 back in August. I am one of those remaining hunger strikers. I have been on hunger strike for almost nine months, since February.

Read more

Photo: Chantal Valery/Getty Images

On a hunger strike since February.

Death row inmates now executed with drug cocktail used to euthanize animalsOctober 11, 2012
Facing a shortage of supplies for lethal injections, US law enforcement officials have begun executing prisoners with an animal anesthetic that has not been approved at the federal level, with the first such execution coming this week.
European pharmacies, citing a moral issue with capital punishment, have stopped sending certain drugs to regions of the US that still carry out the death penalty, areas that include Ohio, Missouri, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and Arizona.
States are still using pentobarbital, intended to euthanize animals, while local supplies last but those without that option have begun “making changes in their lethal injection process,” Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told Agence France Presse.
Missouri began using propofol, the anesthetic that killed pop star Michael Jackson, but when the German supplier discovered how the drug was being used it ceased distribution to Missouri. The same happened when Denmark found out other states were using drugs produced there to execute prisoners.
“This is a continuing theme: every time a state starts to use a new drug, the company that makes that drug stops selling it,” said Deborah Denno, a law professor at Fordham University and expert on the subject.
Compounding pharmacies, which create specialized pharmaceutical product meant to fit the needs of a patient, have begun producing the drugs for state authorities.
But because of the lack of transparency around the production process – one compounding pharmacy was responsible for a fatal meningitis outbreak in 2012 because of poor hygiene – prisoners argue that risky drug cocktails put them at risk of being subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment,” which is prohibited under the US Constitution.
Earlier this month three Texas-based death row prisoners filed a lawsuit arguing this type of pharmacy is ”not subject to stringent FDA regulations” and is ”one of the leading sources for counterfeit drugs entering the US,” the lawsuit reads, as quoted by AFP.
"There is a significant chance that [the pentobarbital] could be contaminated, creating a grave likelihood that the lethal injection process could be extremely painful, or harm or handicap plaintiffs without actually killing them," it adds.
“Nobody really knows the quality of the drugs, because of the lack of oversight,” Denno told AFP.
Michael Yowell, who was convicted of murdering his parents 15 years ago, was executed in Texas Wednesday. He became the first inmate to be executed in Texas with pentobarbital since European nations halted production for this purpose. His lawyers unsuccessfully tried to stop him from being killed, saying the compounded factors in pentobarbital make the drug unpredictable and there have not been enough trials to guarantee the death is painless.
Source

Death row inmates now executed with drug cocktail used to euthanize animals
October 11, 2012

Facing a shortage of supplies for lethal injections, US law enforcement officials have begun executing prisoners with an animal anesthetic that has not been approved at the federal level, with the first such execution coming this week.

European pharmacies, citing a moral issue with capital punishment, have stopped sending certain drugs to regions of the US that still carry out the death penalty, areas that include Ohio, Missouri, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and Arizona.

States are still using pentobarbital, intended to euthanize animals, while local supplies last but those without that option have begun “making changes in their lethal injection process,” Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told Agence France Presse.

Missouri began using propofol, the anesthetic that killed pop star Michael Jackson, but when the German supplier discovered how the drug was being used it ceased distribution to Missouri. The same happened when Denmark found out other states were using drugs produced there to execute prisoners.

“This is a continuing theme: every time a state starts to use a new drug, the company that makes that drug stops selling it,” said Deborah Denno, a law professor at Fordham University and expert on the subject.

Compounding pharmacies, which create specialized pharmaceutical product meant to fit the needs of a patient, have begun producing the drugs for state authorities.

But because of the lack of transparency around the production process – one compounding pharmacy was responsible for a fatal meningitis outbreak in 2012 because of poor hygiene – prisoners argue that risky drug cocktails put them at risk of being subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment,” which is prohibited under the US Constitution.

Earlier this month three Texas-based death row prisoners filed a lawsuit arguing this type of pharmacy is ”not subject to stringent FDA regulations” and is ”one of the leading sources for counterfeit drugs entering the US,” the lawsuit reads, as quoted by AFP.

"There is a significant chance that [the pentobarbital] could be contaminated, creating a grave likelihood that the lethal injection process could be extremely painful, or harm or handicap plaintiffs without actually killing them," it adds.

“Nobody really knows the quality of the drugs, because of the lack of oversight,” Denno told AFP.

Michael Yowell, who was convicted of murdering his parents 15 years ago, was executed in Texas Wednesday. He became the first inmate to be executed in Texas with pentobarbital since European nations halted production for this purpose. His lawyers unsuccessfully tried to stop him from being killed, saying the compounded factors in pentobarbital make the drug unpredictable and there have not been enough trials to guarantee the death is painless.

Source

The Guantanamo Money Pit: Debating billions of dollars in even more wasteful new construction
October 4, 2013

Last week, the Department of Defense rejected a proposal from U.S. Southern Command for some $200 million in wasteful new construction at the detention camp. But some in Congress want to force the Pentagon to move forward with the costly construction.

The Pentagon’s decision does not guarantee that these new facilities – including a new 848-bed barracks and dining hall for staff that would have together cost $100 million – will not be built. Strangely, the House of Representatives has already authorized $247 million, almost $50 million more than U.S. Southern Command requested for new construction in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year that starts this week.

Congress of course must ensure that facilities at Guantanamo meet our obligations under the Constitution and international law for adequate medical care and conditions of confinement. But less than 5 percent of the funds for new construction would go to detainee medical support, with the vast majority of funds allocated for new living quarters and amenities for staff.

The new construction provisions are likely to become a critical piece of the defense budget debate coming later this fall. The bill out of the Senate Armed Services Committee did not authorize funds for the new construction, and it will be critical to ensure it stays that way when it reaches the Senate floor. Not only would these unwanted projects throw more money down the Guantanamo money pit, they would further establish indefinite detention as a permanent fixture of our national security policy.

Axing GTMO 5.0

The proposed construction project would be the fifth in a series of construction projects at the base since its opening in 2002, doubling the total construction expense from $193 million to $389 million for the life of the facility.

The details of the proposed construction show just how exorbitant the costs would have been. One proposed military barracks for DoD personnel was projected to house 848 staff members. In total, the House of Representatives budgeted it to cost $160 million. Per person, that comes to $190,000 for construction. To put that in perspective, that is roughly $30,000 more per occupant than the soon-to-be-finished four-star Marriott Marquis in downtown Washington, D.C. The hotel – eagerly awaited after financing concerns and development delays – will be complete with a grand ballroom, retail outlets, and other luxurious amenities. And yet it will still come in cheaper per expected occupant than the proposed staff barracks at Guantanamo Bay.

Wasteful from the Start – Construction at Guantanamo

Costly construction rates at Guantanamo are nothing new. In fact, exorbitant costs have been a hallmark of construction projects at the detention center since it first opened in 2002.

All told, publicly disclosed construction for the facility so far is nearly $200 million for approximately 1,200 beds. Certainly not a huge line-item relative to the DoD’s other initiatives, but the cost premium becomes obvious when compared to construction for comparable federal prisons. Compared to the recently-constructed Aliceville, Ala., federal prison — which cost taxpayers an astounding $250 million for almost 1,800 beds — the detention center at Guantanamo Bay is even more costly. If each of these beds at Guantanamo was actually usable, construction alone would be more costly by more than 10 percent.

The trouble is many of these beds are not usable, suggesting that even a 10 percent cost premium at Guantanamo is a serious underestimate of the wasteful spending at the detention facility. The first cells at Guantanamo were often nothing more than wire mesh walls and tin roofs. Of the originally constructed cells, many have been abandoned.

But even more permanent facilities have fallen short. In fact, Gen. John Kelly, who oversees Guantanamo, testified recently that the Guantanamo prison is a “thrown together operation” that is now “falling apart.”

The Guantanamo waste thus comes in a one-two punch. First, each individual project at Guantanamo has comes at a huge expense. But in addition to that, many of these expensive projects had to be scrapped due both to poor planning and the forever-temporary nature of Guantanamo Bay.

The DoD was right to stop throwing good money after bad. But even with this step from the Pentagon, there is still much to be done to cut wasteful spending. And Congress is not helping.

Full article

Herman Wallace , the “Muhammad Ali of the criminal justice system,” passes onOctober 4, 2013
On October 4th, 2013, Herman Wallace, an icon of the modern prison reform movement and an innocent man, died a free man after spending an unimaginable 41 years in solitary confinement.
Herman spent the last four decades of his life fighting against all that is unjust in the criminal justice system, making international the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement, and struggling to prove that he was an innocent man.  Just 3 days before his passing, he succeeded, his conviction was overturned, and he was released to spend his final hours surrounded by loved ones.  Despite his brief moments of freedom, his case will now forever serve as a tragic example that justice delayed is justice denied.
Herman Wallace’s early life in New Orleans during the heyday of an unforgiving and unjust Jim Crow south often found him on the wrong side of the law and eventually he was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for armed robbery.  While there, he was introduced to the Black Panther’s powerful message of self determination and collective community action and quickly became one of its most persuasive and ardent practitioners.
Not long after he began to organize hunger and work strikes to protest the continued segregation, endemic corruption, and horrific abuse rampant at the prison, he and his fellow panther comrades Albert Woodfox and Robert King were charged with murders they did not commit and thrown in solitary.  Robert was released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary but Herman remained there for an unprecedented 41 years, and Albert is still in a 6x9 solitary cell.
Herman’s criminal case ended with his passing, but his legacy will live on through a civil lawsuit he filed jointly with Robert and Albert that seeks to define and abolish long term solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment, and through his comrade Albert Woodfox’s still active and promising bid for freedom from the wrongful conviction they both shared.
Herman was only 9 days shy of 72 years old. 
Source
Rest in power, Herman.

Herman Wallace , the “Muhammad Ali of the criminal justice system,” passes on
October 4, 2013

On October 4th, 2013, Herman Wallace, an icon of the modern prison reform movement and an innocent man, died a free man after spending an unimaginable 41 years in solitary confinement.
Herman spent the last four decades of his life fighting against all that is unjust in the criminal justice system, making international the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement, and struggling to prove that he was an innocent man.  Just 3 days before his passing, he succeeded, his conviction was overturned, and he was released to spend his final hours surrounded by loved ones.  Despite his brief moments of freedom, his case will now forever serve as a tragic example that justice delayed is justice denied.
Herman Wallace’s early life in New Orleans during the heyday of an unforgiving and unjust Jim Crow south often found him on the wrong side of the law and eventually he was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for armed robbery.  While there, he was introduced to the Black Panther’s powerful message of self determination and collective community action and quickly became one of its most persuasive and ardent practitioners.
Not long after he began to organize hunger and work strikes to protest the continued segregation, endemic corruption, and horrific abuse rampant at the prison, he and his fellow panther comrades Albert Woodfox and Robert King were charged with murders they did not commit and thrown in solitary.  Robert was released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary but Herman remained there for an unprecedented 41 years, and Albert is still in a 6x9 solitary cell.
Herman’s criminal case ended with his passing, but his legacy will live on through a civil lawsuit he filed jointly with Robert and Albert that seeks to define and abolish long term solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment, and through his comrade Albert Woodfox’s still active and promising bid for freedom from the wrongful conviction they both shared.
Herman was only 9 days shy of 72 years old. 
Rest in power, Herman.
Faces from GITMO: As hunger strike continues, detainee stories challenge us to remember their history & humanitySeptember 3, 2013
America wants to forget about Gitmo.
Sure, we gloat about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. When I visited Guantanamo in June to cover the 9/11 military commissions for VICE, I drew him through three layers of bulletproof glass. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a mass murderer, and we caught him. U-S-A Number One.
But KSM-style terrorists are rare at Gitmo. Out of the 164 men held in the island prison, the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Military Commissions, Brigadier General Mark Martins, told me that 144 would never be charged with any crime.
During the invasion of Afghanistan, the United States offered locals $5,000 bounties for turning in terrorists. Instead, we got a mixture of Taliban draftees, guys who shot rifles at Islamic training camps in the 1990s, Uighurs fighting China and, above all, Arabs in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Now, branded by Bush as “The Worst of the Worst” they are to be held until the end of the “War on Terror.” But wars on concepts seldom end.
Of the 144 men who will never be charged, 84 have been cleared to leave for years. But they live in a Kafkaesque legal limbo. In what a Guantanamo spokesman claimed was a concession to the Geneva Conventions, they’re banned from speaking to press.
As of September 2, 35 prisoners are on hunger strike. Thirty-two are being force-fed, a brutal process that involves Ensure being pumped through a tube snaked into their stomachs.
One night, I drank beer with a press officer at Guantanamo’s jerk chicken joint. She described herself as a pacifist in camo. As she spoke about the hunger strike, her tanned, pretty face drew tight. “I don’t know if they’re innocent. I don’t know if they’re guilty,” she told me. “I don’t even know their fucking names.”
This is by design. Guantanamo’s guards refer to prisoners by numbers rather than names, and are banned from reading their Joint-Task-Force Guantanamo detainee assessments, which WikiLeaks made public. The U.S. government refused to release prisoners’ names until 2006. When I returned to Cuba in August to write a follow-up article for VICE, I visited the prisons for the first time, but I was not allowed to draw detainees’ faces. Americans see bogeymen in orange jumpsuits—not men with PTSD, favorite soccer teams and back problems; families and dreams; loves and legitimate hates.
For a journalist, trying to piece together the life of a Guantanamo detainee involves staring into the bureaucratic unknown. You have JTF-GTMO assessments, filled with feverish claims and torture-induced accusations. (One former detainee, Binyam Mohamed, comes up repeatedly as a source of accusations against fellow prisoners – accusations he made during C.I.A. rendition in Morocco, while interrogators allegedly sliced his genitals with razors. The U.K. government awarded him a million pounds in damages for their role in his torture.) You have their lawyers. If you’re lucky, you have blacked-out intelligence reports. Thanks to a Freedom of Information suit filed by Miami Herald journalist Carol Rosenberg, you know the names of the indefinite detainees.
But why some are approved to leave while others will be held as long as the prison exists? That’s hidden behind a wall of classification.
Since media are not allowed to photograph prisoners at Guantanamo, the only recent images come from photos taken by the Red Cross. The British legal charity Reprieve shared these photos of seven of their clients. Each of these men has been cleared years ago to leave Guantanamo. None has been charged with any crime. Here are their names, faces and, as best I could figure out, their stories.
Pictured: Guantanamo press officers hate Shaker Aamer. Though they are not supposed to speak about individual detainees, they roll their eyes at his complaints of abuse. Believing anything Aamer says, they seem to hint, is for chumps.
Aamer, a Saudi-born British resident who worked as a translator for the U.S. army during the first Gulf War, is married to a British woman. On February 14, 2002, the day Aamer was transferred to Guantanamo, the youngest of his five children was born. Aamer has never met his son.
Aamer is also Guantanamo’s most vocal detainee. As organizer of hunger strikes, he writes scathingeditorials for the Guardian. He is a cause celebre in Britain.
Ramzi Kassem, Aamer’s U.S. attorney and a law professor at the City University of New York, told me, “Shaker believes that only through constant civil disobedience and peaceful protest can he retain and assert his dignity and autonomy as a human being imprisoned at Guantanamo.”
“I sometimes feel sorry for these young prison guards at GTMO,” Aamer told Kassem. “They have been trained not to be kind, even where their instincts tell them to be kind. They have been told lies and absurdities about the prisoners to the point that they are shocked that I can speak English and they are still in disbelief that I know bands like AC/DC and that I listened to that band before the guards were even born.
“The guards check the soles of prisoners’ shoes as part of their body search protocol. They ask me to lift up my shoes behind me while I am standing up, like a mule. I have rejected this procedure for years. Instead, I insist on being brought a seat, I sit down, then I stretch out my foot and make the guard get down to the ground on his knees to check the soles.”
For more stories & portraits, click here.

Faces from GITMO: As hunger strike continues, detainee stories challenge us to remember their history & humanity
September 3, 2013

America wants to forget about Gitmo.

Sure, we gloat about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. When I visited Guantanamo in June to cover the 9/11 military commissions for VICE, I drew him through three layers of bulletproof glass. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a mass murderer, and we caught him. U-S-A Number One.

But KSM-style terrorists are rare at Gitmo. Out of the 164 men held in the island prison, the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Military Commissions, Brigadier General Mark Martins, told me that 144 would never be charged with any crime.

During the invasion of Afghanistan, the United States offered locals $5,000 bounties for turning in terrorists. Instead, we got a mixture of Taliban draftees, guys who shot rifles at Islamic training camps in the 1990s, Uighurs fighting China and, above all, Arabs in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now, branded by Bush as “The Worst of the Worst” they are to be held until the end of the “War on Terror.” But wars on concepts seldom end.

Of the 144 men who will never be charged, 84 have been cleared to leave for years. But they live in a Kafkaesque legal limbo. In what a Guantanamo spokesman claimed was a concession to the Geneva Conventions, they’re banned from speaking to press.

As of September 2, 35 prisoners are on hunger strike. Thirty-two are being force-fed, a brutal process that involves Ensure being pumped through a tube snaked into their stomachs.

One night, I drank beer with a press officer at Guantanamo’s jerk chicken joint. She described herself as a pacifist in camo. As she spoke about the hunger strike, her tanned, pretty face drew tight. “I don’t know if they’re innocent. I don’t know if they’re guilty,” she told me. “I don’t even know their fucking names.”

This is by design. Guantanamo’s guards refer to prisoners by numbers rather than names, and are banned from reading their Joint-Task-Force Guantanamo detainee assessments, which WikiLeaks made public. The U.S. government refused to release prisoners’ names until 2006. When I returned to Cuba in August to write a follow-up article for VICE, I visited the prisons for the first time, but I was not allowed to draw detainees’ faces. Americans see bogeymen in orange jumpsuits—not men with PTSD, favorite soccer teams and back problems; families and dreams; loves and legitimate hates.

For a journalist, trying to piece together the life of a Guantanamo detainee involves staring into the bureaucratic unknown. You have JTF-GTMO assessments, filled with feverish claims and torture-induced accusations. (One former detainee, Binyam Mohamed, comes up repeatedly as a source of accusations against fellow prisoners – accusations he made during C.I.A. rendition in Morocco, while interrogators allegedly sliced his genitals with razors. The U.K. government awarded him a million pounds in damages for their role in his torture.) You have their lawyers. If you’re lucky, you have blacked-out intelligence reports. Thanks to a Freedom of Information suit filed by Miami Herald journalist Carol Rosenberg, you know the names of the indefinite detainees.

But why some are approved to leave while others will be held as long as the prison exists? That’s hidden behind a wall of classification.

Since media are not allowed to photograph prisoners at Guantanamo, the only recent images come from photos taken by the Red Cross. The British legal charity Reprieve shared these photos of seven of their clients. Each of these men has been cleared years ago to leave Guantanamo. None has been charged with any crime. Here are their names, faces and, as best I could figure out, their stories.

Pictured: Guantanamo press officers hate Shaker Aamer. Though they are not supposed to speak about individual detainees, they roll their eyes at his complaints of abuse. Believing anything Aamer says, they seem to hint, is for chumps.

Aamer, a Saudi-born British resident who worked as a translator for the U.S. army during the first Gulf War, is married to a British woman. On February 14, 2002, the day Aamer was transferred to Guantanamo, the youngest of his five children was born. Aamer has never met his son.

Aamer is also Guantanamo’s most vocal detainee. As organizer of hunger strikes, he writes scathingeditorials for the Guardian. He is a cause celebre in Britain.

Ramzi Kassem, Aamer’s U.S. attorney and a law professor at the City University of New York, told me, “Shaker believes that only through constant civil disobedience and peaceful protest can he retain and assert his dignity and autonomy as a human being imprisoned at Guantanamo.”

“I sometimes feel sorry for these young prison guards at GTMO,” Aamer told Kassem. “They have been trained not to be kind, even where their instincts tell them to be kind. They have been told lies and absurdities about the prisoners to the point that they are shocked that I can speak English and they are still in disbelief that I know bands like AC/DC and that I listened to that band before the guards were even born.

“The guards check the soles of prisoners’ shoes as part of their body search protocol. They ask me to lift up my shoes behind me while I am standing up, like a mule. I have rejected this procedure for years. Instead, I insist on being brought a seat, I sit down, then I stretch out my foot and make the guard get down to the ground on his knees to check the soles.”

For more stories & portraits, click here.

"The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.
I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.
In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.
Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.
Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.
As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.
If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.”
- Statement by Pfc. B. Manning as read by David Coombs at a press conference after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Coombs also said this was Manning’s reaction after the sentence was read: “Hey, it’s OK. It’s all right. I know you did everything you could for me. Don’t cry. Be happy. It’s fine. This is just a stage in my life. I am moving forward. I will recover from this.”

"The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.”

- Statement by Pfc. B. Manning as read by David Coombs at a press conference after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Coombs also said this was Manning’s reaction after the sentence was read: “Hey, it’s OK. It’s all right. I know you did everything you could for me. Don’t cry. Be happy. It’s fine. This is just a stage in my life. I am moving forward. I will recover from this.”

Depressed and driven to the point of desperation, Nabil joined a hunger strike in February. This was not Gitmo’s first hunger strike, but it has attracted the most attention. As it gained momentum, and as Nabil and his fellow prisoners got sicker, the Obama administration was backed into a corner. The president has taken justified heat as his bold and eloquent campaign promises to close Gitmo have been forgotten. Suddenly, he was faced with the gruesome prospect of prisoners dropping like flies as they starved themselves to death while the world watched. Instead of releasing Nabil and the other prisoners who have been classified as no threat to the United States, the administration decided to prevent suicides by force-feeding the strikers.

Nabil has not been the only “mistake” in our war on terror. Hundreds of other Arabs have been sent to Gitmo, chewed up by the system there, never charged and eventually transferred back to their home countries. (These transfers are carried out as secretly and as quietly as possible.) There have been no apologies, no official statements of regret, no compensation, nothing of the sort. The United States was dead wrong, but no one can admit it.

Indefinite solitary confinement violates human rights by Dr. Angela Davis
August 13, 2013

California prisoners are now in their 33rd day of a hunger strike; what they are risking their health and possibly their lives for is basic: an end to indefinite solitary confinement, a practice that most countries recognize as a violation of basic human rights.

Yet both Gov. Jerry Brown and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Jeffrey Beard are intransigent in their refusal to engage in honest negotiations with the prisoners.

Theirs is a system deep in crisis, mired in decades of lawsuits challenging numerous violations of the legal rights of prisoners that have yielded relatively little in terms of fundamental change. Headlines from the last month alone reveal the inability of current leadership to respect the most basic rights of California prisoners:

On Aug. 2, in spite of assertions by Brown that prison conditions have improved, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to delay a court order for California to release nearly 10,000 prisoners by year’s end to improve conditions in state prisons.

The three-judge panel overseeing the state’s prisons ruled that California must cut its prison population to deal with unconstitutional prison conditions such as substandard medical and mental health care caused by overcrowding. The CDCR is appealing this decision yet again.

On July 29, medical experts filed a report to a federal court monitor documenting substandard health care at Corcoran State Prison that represented “an ongoing serious risk of harm to patients” that results in preventable deaths. There was no comment from the Governor’s Office.

On July 7, the Center for Investigative Reporting broke a story about the fact that 148 women in state prisons received tubal ligations without required state approvals from 2006 to 2010. Former prisoners say doctors pressured women into being sterilized and targeted those whom prison officials deemed likely to commit crimes in the future. Brown offered no comment.

On July 1, California corrections officials reluctantly agreed to move up to 2,600 prisoners at risk of contracting valley fever out of Pleasant Valley and Avenal state prisons after being ordered to do so by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson.

The judge was critical of the department’s handling of valley fever outbreaks within its prisons, saying the death of 36 prisoners over the last six years “clearly demonstrated (the state’s) unwillingness to respond adequately to the health care needs of California’s inmate population.”

Again, no comment from the governor or the CDCR.

Instead of closing the prisons because of high health risks, Asian prisoners are being transferred to those prisons because of statistically lower “risks.”

Those with the power to make changes have dug in their heels, insisting that there is no crisis.

It comes as no surprise that we are asked to believe that the CDCR does not really hold prisoners in solitary confinement because they may have access to radios or televisions. We shouldn’t be surprised that the death of Billy Sell, a participant in the hunger strike for two weeks until the day before he died, is officially considered a death “unrelated to the hunger strike.”

We shouldn’t be shocked when Beard attempts to cover up the inhumanity of keeping prisoners in solitary for decades with no hope of release by calling the hunger strike “a gang power play.”

It’s important to remember that the United States stands alone in its extensive use of indefinite long-term solitary confinement; in Britain, solitary is banned for more than three weeks. In Pelican Bay, more than 500 people have been held in solitary for more than 10 years, and more than 78 have been held in solitary for more than 20 years.

There is a growing human rights movement across the country, led by prisoners and their families, that names this practice for what it is: torture. Some states like Illinois and Mississippi have closed or drastically downsized their solitary confinement units without any threat to institutional safety.

The California prisoners’ hunger strike is a courageous call for the California prison system to come out of the shadows and join a world in which the rights and dignity of every person is respected.

Source

Top Ten ways Pfc. B. Manning changed the worldAugust 1, 2013
Pfc. B. Manning will be sentenced today, having been found guilty of 20 counts on Tuesday, including espionage (despite the lack of evidence for intent to spy and the lack of evidence that their leaking ever did any real harm). Whatever one thinks of Manning’s actions, that we deserved to know some of what they revealed and that the revelations changed the world are undeniable.
1. Manning revealed the Collateral Murder video of a helicopter attack in Iraq on mostly unarmed non-combatants (though some of those struck may have been armed), including two Reuters journalists, whose cameras were taken for weapons, and children. The army maintains that the video does not show wrongdoing, but the killing of unarmed journalists is a war crime, and the callousness of video gives an idea of what was going on in Iraq during the years of the US occupation. When the Bush administration asked the Iraqi parliament for permission to keep a base in the country, the parliamentarians said, absolutely not. The US military was forced to withdraw from Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.
2. Manning revealed the full extent of the corruption of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidin Ben Ali, adding fuel to the youth protest movement of late 2010, which translated the relevant US cables into Arabic. Manning contributed to the outbreak of powerful youth movements demanding more democratic governance in the Arab world.

3. Manning revealed to the US and Yemeni publics the secret drone war that Washington was waging in that country. That the cables show then dictator Ali Abdallah Saleh acquiescing in the US strikes on his country probably played into the movement to remove him as president, which succeeded in early 2012.
5. His leaks show that then Senator John Kerry pressed Israel to be open to returning the Golan Heights to Syria as part of a peace negotiation. This item suggests that Kerry might be more of an honest broker in the current negotiations than some observers give him credit for.
4. Manning revealed that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered US diplomats to spy on their United Nations counterparts. The UN spy requests included cables that “demanded detailed intelligence on the UN leadership including forensic detail about their communications systems, including passwords and personal encryption keys,” foreshadowing later revelations of extensive US spying on even allies like Germany via the NSA.

6. Revealed that Afghanistan government corruption is “overwhelming”. This degree of corruption, which has shaken the whole banking system and caused US funds to be massively misused, is still a factor in our decision of whether to stay in Afghanistan in some capacity after December 2014. The US public is in a better position to judge the issue with these documents available.
7. Manning revealed the degree of authoritarianism and corruption of the Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak, which was subsequently swept away.
8. Manning revealed that hard-nosed realist, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, was against striking Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities because it would only slow their program down slightly, but would inevitably cause Iranians to be angry and mobilized in the aftermath.
9. Manning revealed that the Israeli authorities had a secret plan to keep the Palestinian population of Gaza on the brink of food insecurity and poor health, in among the creepiest military operations in history: “Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.”
10. Manning’s act of courage encouraged hackers to leak the emails of Bashar al-Assad and his wife, showing their jewelry buys in Europe and gilded style of life while al-Assad’s artillery was pounding Homs and other cities with no regard for the lives of noncombatants. In fact, Manning inspired numerous leakers, including some who blew the whistle on PLO corruption and willingness to give away most of Jerusalem to Israel, and, likely, Edward Snowden, who revealed to us that our government has us all under surveillance.
Source
Along with this list, I would add: 
11. Iraq War Logs, which revealed widespread prisoner abuse, torture & sexual assault against the Iraqi Security Forces. These logs also revealed Frago 242, an order implemented not to investigate these human rights abuses & torture accusations.
12. The Guantanamo Files, which revealed that the United States holds prisoners without charge or trial for years at a time. The cables also showed that most prisoners have been cleared for release under the Bush & Obama administration but are still being held in the prison.
13. Both the Iraq & Afghanistan War logs contain an official count of civilian deaths, which the US military denied having. Between 2004 and 2009, the U.S. government counted a total of 109,000 deaths in Iraq, with 66,081 classified as non-combatants.

Top Ten ways Pfc. B. Manning changed the world
August 1, 2013

Pfc. B. Manning will be sentenced today, having been found guilty of 20 counts on Tuesday, including espionage (despite the lack of evidence for intent to spy and the lack of evidence that their leaking ever did any real harm). Whatever one thinks of Manning’s actions, that we deserved to know some of what they revealed and that the revelations changed the world are undeniable.

1. Manning revealed the Collateral Murder video of a helicopter attack in Iraq on mostly unarmed non-combatants (though some of those struck may have been armed), including two Reuters journalists, whose cameras were taken for weapons, and children. The army maintains that the video does not show wrongdoing, but the killing of unarmed journalists is a war crime, and the callousness of video gives an idea of what was going on in Iraq during the years of the US occupation. When the Bush administration asked the Iraqi parliament for permission to keep a base in the country, the parliamentarians said, absolutely not. The US military was forced to withdraw from Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.

2. Manning revealed the full extent of the corruption of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidin Ben Ali, adding fuel to the youth protest movement of late 2010, which translated the relevant US cables into Arabic. Manning contributed to the outbreak of powerful youth movements demanding more democratic governance in the Arab world.

3. Manning revealed to the US and Yemeni publics the secret drone war that Washington was waging in that country. That the cables show then dictator Ali Abdallah Saleh acquiescing in the US strikes on his country probably played into the movement to remove him as president, which succeeded in early 2012.

5. His leaks show that then Senator John Kerry pressed Israel to be open to returning the Golan Heights to Syria as part of a peace negotiation. This item suggests that Kerry might be more of an honest broker in the current negotiations than some observers give him credit for.

4. Manning revealed that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered US diplomats to spy on their United Nations counterparts. The UN spy requests included cables that “demanded detailed intelligence on the UN leadership including forensic detail about their communications systems, including passwords and personal encryption keys,” foreshadowing later revelations of extensive US spying on even allies like Germany via the NSA.

6. Revealed that Afghanistan government corruption is “overwhelming”. This degree of corruption, which has shaken the whole banking system and caused US funds to be massively misused, is still a factor in our decision of whether to stay in Afghanistan in some capacity after December 2014. The US public is in a better position to judge the issue with these documents available.

7. Manning revealed the degree of authoritarianism and corruption of the Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak, which was subsequently swept away.

8. Manning revealed that hard-nosed realist, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, was against striking Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities because it would only slow their program down slightly, but would inevitably cause Iranians to be angry and mobilized in the aftermath.

9. Manning revealed that the Israeli authorities had a secret plan to keep the Palestinian population of Gaza on the brink of food insecurity and poor health, in among the creepiest military operations in history: “Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.”

10. Manning’s act of courage encouraged hackers to leak the emails of Bashar al-Assad and his wife, showing their jewelry buys in Europe and gilded style of life while al-Assad’s artillery was pounding Homs and other cities with no regard for the lives of noncombatants. In fact, Manning inspired numerous leakers, including some who blew the whistle on PLO corruption and willingness to give away most of Jerusalem to Israel, and, likely, Edward Snowden, who revealed to us that our government has us all under surveillance.

Source

Along with this list, I would add: 

11. Iraq War Logs, which revealed widespread prisoner abuse, torture & sexual assault against the Iraqi Security Forces. These logs also revealed Frago 242, an order implemented not to investigate these human rights abuses & torture accusations.

12. The Guantanamo Files, which revealed that the United States holds prisoners without charge or trial for years at a time. The cables also showed that most prisoners have been cleared for release under the Bush & Obama administration but are still being held in the prison.

13. Both the Iraq & Afghanistan War logs contain an official count of civilian deaths, which the US military denied having. Between 2004 and 2009, the U.S. government counted a total of 109,000 deaths in Iraq, with 66,081 classified as non-combatants.