Monday, January 31, 2011

Free the Cuban 5

This Saturday February 5th, LETS CALL, OR SEND FAXES, OR SEND E-MAILS, OR TELEGRAMS to the WHITE HOUSE to demand President Obama free the 5 Cuban Patriots imprisoned in the United States for defending their homeland.

Lets demand President Obama to make use of the rights conferred upon him by the US Constitution, as a lawyer, as a father, as a son, as a husband, as a decent justice loving person, and as a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, to END THIS COLOSSAL INJUSTICE AND TO FREE THE 5 NOW!!!

Youtube "the 5th day of each month for the 5"


By phone: 202-456-1111

Note: Do to the fact that February 5th is Saturday leave a message on the answering machine or if you want to talk to a person call the following Monday February 7th from 9 am to 5pm.

If calling from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-1111

By Fax: 202-456-2461

If fax is sent from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-2461

To send an electronic message write to:


To send a telegram

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500


Troy Davis Appeal Filed in US Supreme Court‏


On Friday, January 21, 2011, Troy Davis’ lawyers filed an appeal and a cert. petition with the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeals are available via ScotusBlog here and here. These two documents challenge the ruling of a federal district court in Savannah, Georgia that Davis did not meet an extraordinarily high standard required to prove his innocence. The federal district court held an evidentiary hearing, ordered by the Supreme Court, on Davis’ innocence claim in June, 2010 and ruled against him in September, thus denying Davis relief from his death sentence.

What is Davis arguing in his appeal?

First, Davis believes he ought to be able to appeal the district court’s ruling to the 11th circuit federal court (the court above the district court and below the Supreme Court). Davis holds that his case is clearly quite consequential as it involves an actual innocence claim and major, unresolved legal questions that could impact future cases; therefore, it is important that the case have access to full federal appellate review, including that of the intermediate court – the 11th Circuit.

And second, Davis asserts that the district court did not use the right standard to judge his innocence claim in light of standards used in other relevant Supreme Court cases, which used a “reasonable juror” standard. He also argues that more weight should have been given to new eyewitness testimony against the alternative suspect; to the testimony of three witnesses concerning the alternative suspect’s confessions; to the affidavits of witnesses who did not testify at the hearing; and to new analysis of the ballistics evidence that undermines the state’s theory of Davis’ motive. Davis asserts that a “reasonable juror”, given the totality of the evidence presented, could not have concluded that he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

What’s next?

The state of Georgia has until February 24 to file a response to the documents. Then the Supreme Court could either order the 11th Circuit to take the appeal, or it could review the case directly. Or it could close the door on the case altogether, putting Davis at imminent risk of an execution date. It is abundantly clear that the June, 2010 hearing did not settle the doubts in the Davis case and instead served only to illuminate them. To prevent Davis from facing execution, supporters should continue to educate people about the case and ask people to sign the petition and sign-on letters. Additionally, people can use the Death Penalty Action Weeks (February 21 – March 6) and March 1 Abolition Day as an opportunity to organize various activities on behalf of Davis and other emblematic cases.

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Daily Call-In for Oscar Lopez


DAILY CALL-IN CAMPAIGN FOR THIS WEEK (Jan 31-Feb 4): CALL the Parole Board in support of Oscar Lopez Rivera from 9:00am UNTIL 5:00 PM (EST) CALL and have others call. It only takes 5 minutes. THE NUMBER IS: 301-492-5990 hit 0 to speak to operator. Sample script is below.

Hi, I'm calling for the release of Oscar Lopez and I live in Chicago [NY, etc.] The Parole Commission should parole Oscar López # 87651-024 immediately, in spite of the hearing examiner’s recommendation to deny parole.

1) Oscar has the support of a broad sector of Puerto Rico’s civil society as well as Puerto Rican and Latino communities throughout the United States.
2) Oscar was not accused or convicted of causing injury or taking a life. He was never accused or convicted of participating in the 1975 Fraunces Tavern bombing or any other action that resulted in injury or death.
3) President Clinton’s determination that Mr. López Rivera’s sentence was disproportionately lengthy, and his offer that would have resulted in Mr. López Rivera’s release in September of 2009.

HRC Calls for Release of Oscar Lopez Rivera


U.S. Human Rights Network Working Group Demands the Release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, U.S. Political Activist Imprisoned Close to 30 years

January 28,2011

Contact: Stan Willis (312) 750-1950 or

Efia Nwangaza (864) 901-8627 or

Atlanta, GA- The Political Prisoner/State Repression Working Group of the U.S. Human Rights Network calls for the immediate parole of Oscar López Rivera, a Puerto Rican political activist who has served close to 30 years of a 70 year sentence on a COINTELPRO Era seditious conspiracy conviction. He was not accused nor convicted of causing harm or taking a life

Oscar Rivera Lopez, 68 years old and a model prisoner, is a decorated Vietnam veteran, who worked in Chicago as a community organizer for better housing, education, employment, and living conditions for Puerto Ricans and Latinos. He helped to found institutions which still thrive today. He is a father and grandfather, encouraging his daughter and granddaughter as they pursue higher education degrees.

In 1999, former President Bill Clinton commuted the sentences of Mr. Lopez Rivera's co-defendants. They, convicted of the same offense, had served between 16 and 20 years in prison, President Clinton determined that their sentences were disproportionately long and that they posed no threat to society. Applying the same standard, he said that Oscar López Rivera should be released by September of 2009.

Since the release of Mr. Lopez Rivera's co-defendants, including Carlos Alberto Torres who served 30 years and paroled in July of 2010, each person has established him/herself as a productive, law-abiding people contributing to the betterment of society. We believe this is and will be true of Oscar Lopez Rivera also.

We, the U.S. Human Rights Network Political Prisoner/State Repression Working Group, join the United Nations Decolonization Committee, the Ecumenical and Interreligious Coalition of Puerto Rico, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and other U.S. elected officials, civil society of Puerto Rico, and many other human rights, civic, religious, political and community leaders in the U.S. and Puerto Rico in the call for theU. S. government's immediate release of Oscar Lopez Rivera.

We urge all people of conscience to encourage the U.S. Parole Commission to grant Mr. Lopez Rivera immediate parole. We encourage participation in the continuing solidarity actions to call the Parole Board (301.492.5990), fax (301/492-5543) and mail support letters to the Parole Board UNTIL NOTIFICATION THAT THE PAROLE BOARD HAS REJECTED OR CONFIRMED THE EXAMINER’S DECISION. Contact to report the number of letters mailed/faxed.

See U.S. Human Rights Network Reports to the UPR Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council:

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Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council Demands Immediate Release of Leonard Peltier

Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council Resolution Condemning the Illegal Imprisonment of Leonard Peltier and Demanding His Immediate Release

January 29, 2011 – Prairie Winds Casino, Pine Ridge Reservation

WHEREAS, the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Nation Council assembled in quorum along with representatives of the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Nations present from January 27‐29 2011 at the Prairie Winds Casino on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and

WHEREAS, the United States has violated Article I and Article II of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, by failing to remove and, or, punish “bad men” who commit wrongs against the Lakota people and by failing to remove non‐tribal members illegally residing in the treaty territory, and

WHEREAS, Leonard Peltier was one of a number of warriors who came to the defense of the Oyate and the traditional government after repeated acts of violence by agents of the United States government and others subject to U.S. government jurisdiction, and

WHEREAS, Leonard Peltier’s conviction is built upon fraudulent affidavits coerced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and bolstered by falsified physical evidence from the F.B.I. lab, and

WHEREAS, Leonard Peltier has been illegally held as a political prisoner by the United States government since 1976,

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council
declares that the continued imprisonment of Leonard Peltier by the United States
government is illegal, immoral and unjust, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council demands the immediate release of Leonard Peltier.


I, the undersigned Secretary of the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council, do hereby certify that the above resolution has been approved by consensus of all delegations of the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council, effective January 29, 2011.


Chief Oliver Red Cloud, Itancan

Frederick Cedar Face, Secretary

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31 Jan 2011: Today's Democracy Now!

Democracy Now!’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous Live from Egypt: The Rebellion Grows Stronger

Massive protests in Egypt have entered their seventh day as tens of thousands pack into Tahrir Square in Cairo. Protesters are vowing to stay in the streets until President Hosni Mubarak resigns. A general strike was called for today, and a "million man march" is being organized for Tuesday. We speak with Democracy Now! senior producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who is in Cairo. "This is a popular uprising across all segments of society," Kouddous says. "People are so fed up with Mubarak, it’s hard to describe. They curse him. They want him to step down. And they will not leave the streets of Cairo, the streets of Egypt, until he does." [includes rush transcript]
Repression and Poverty Underpin the Uprising in Egypt

Recent events in Egypt could be an opportunity for the United States to support the people of Egypt, but no Obama administration official has recommended publicly that President Hosni Mubarak should step down. We speak with Samer Shehata, assistant professor of Arab politics at Georgetown University, about the U.S.-backed Mubarak regime and the record inflation and poverty that underpin the ongoing protests. "In Egypt, from 2004 until the present … the government and its reforms were applauded in Washington by the World Bank, the IMF and U.S. officials," Shehata says. "But what all of that masked was what was going on at the level of real people and ordinary lives."
Made in the USA: Tear Gas, Tanks, Helicopters, Rifles, and Fighter Planes in Egypt Funded and Built Largely by US Defense Department and American Corporations

The United States has given billion dollars of military aid to Egypt over the last decades. Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Electric have provided tanks, missiles, engines and more to the Hosni Mubarak regime. Following the massive popular uprising, U.S. foreign aid continues to flow to Egypt, although the Obama administration has placed the program under review. We speak with William Hartung, author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex and Samer Shehata, assistant professor of Arab Politics at Georgetown University.
Leading Egyptian Feminist, Nawal El Saadawi: "Women and girls are, beside the boys, are in the streets"

Renowned feminist and human rights activist Nawal El Saadawi was a political prisoner and exiled from Egypt for years. Now she has returned to Cairo, and she joins us to discuss the role of women during the last seven days of unprecedented protests. "Women and girls are, beside the boys, are in the streets," El Saadawi says. "We are calling for justice, freedom and equality, and real democracy, and a new constitution where there is no discrimination between men and women, no discrimination between Muslim and Christians, to change the system and to have real democracy."


•Massive Protests in Egypt Enter Seventh Day; General Strike Called
•ElBaradei Joins Street Protests, Calls for End of Mubarak Regime
•New Egyptian VP Tied to CIA Extraordinary Rendition Program
•Egypt Attempts to Silence Al Jazeera; Cuts Off Internet & Cell Phones
•Protests Spread to Jordan, Yemen and Sudan
•Sudanese Police Kill Student Protester
•California Man Arrested for Mosque Bomb Plot in Michigan
•Report: Pakistan Now Has More than 100 Nuclear Deployed Weapons
•25 Arrested at Protest Outside Koch Brothers Gathering
•Goldman Sachs Triples Salary for CEO
•Ohio Mother Jailed for Trying to Send Children to Better School
•Brooklyn College Professor Dismissed For Views on Israel

Friday, January 28, 2011

New from Censored News

Breaking News:

Lakota elders assaulted at secret council meeting Pine Ridge

Black Hills Treaty Council rejects US limited support UN Declaration

NCAI President 'Fat Taker' for address

No jail time for Kahentinetha Horn

See Censored News:

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FBI and SWAT teams show up at antiwar event‏

Memphis lawmen say high-profile visit to protest was to keep peace center peaceful
By Marc Perrusquia

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When a police SWAT team and an FBI anti-terrorism squad showed up Tuesday at a Memphis church where peace activists were staging an event, a scene reminiscent of the turbulent 1960s ensued.

The activists, members of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center who oppose the war in Afghanistan, characterized the encounter as police intimidation and a case of illegal surveillance.

FBI and Memphis Police Department representatives countered it was all a misunderstanding. They said they were there to protect the activists from potential harm by extremists who might oppose their views.

"We don't buy that at all,'' said Jacob Flowers, executive director of the nonprofit center.

"Never (before) have we encountered the situation where we've had eight to 10 marked and unmarked police cars, including tactical units, sitting there monitoring us. We find it too coincidental.''

About 15 to 20 activists gathered Tuesday afternoon at First Congregational Church, where the Peace and Justice Center rents office space, to fill out Freedom of Information requests aimed at discovering if the FBI or MPD is keeping surveillance files on the activists. Flowers said 16 individuals filled out FOIA forms at the event.

Activists grew alarmed when three members of the FBI's local Joint Terrorism Task Force stopped by the church, followed by MPD patrol cars and unmarked, black SUVs manned by TACT unit officers. The police units surrounded the church on South Cooper, and the black SUVs slowly crept through the church parking lot.

"Can you tell me why you're here?'' demanded Flowers, who led a group of activists who approached an SUV driven by Lt. Ernest Greenleaf.

"We're just here to make sure nobody bothers y'all,'' Greenleaf responded.

Speaking later by phone, Police Director Larry Godwin said his officers responded to help protect the activists and keep peace as part of routine law enforcement procedure.

"Any time we get word of a protest or any kind of demonstration ... we just ask our officers to drive through the area,'' Godwin said.

Godwin said MPD had received no specific threats of violence against the activists.

He said, however, that officers were mistakenly under the impression the event would be outdoors, where participants might be vulnerable. A press release promoting the event read, "Demand end to FBI harassment of peace, anti-war, solidarity activists. ... Who else is being watched by 'the thought police?' "

The officers were supposed to only pass by the church to check security, then move on, Godwin said.

"The next thing we know we've got four or five officers sitting down there. They weren't supposed to do that,'' he said.

Godwin said MPD's response wasn't coordinated with the FBI.

FBI spokesman Joel Siskovic said he, too, doesn't believe the two agencies coordinated their response. Siskovic said he wasn't aware of any specific threats, but confirmed that three anti-terrorism agents arrived at the church shortly before the event in an effort to promote security, citing a general concern about rising violence "against people expressing their opinions.''

"The last thing we wanted to do was to create some sort of misimpression that they're under investigation,'' he said.

­ Marc Perrusquia: 529-2545

Manning's Torture Commonplace In U.S. Prisons

Original Content at

January 26, 2011

Manning's Torture Commonplace In U.S. Prisons

By Sherwood Ross

The corrosive, solitary confinement being inflicted upon PFC Bradley Manning in the Quantico, Va., brig is no exceptional torture devised exclusively for him. Across the length and breadth of the Great American Prison State, the world's largest, with its 2.4-million captives stuffed into 5,000 overcrowded lock-ups, some 25,000 other inmates are suffering a like fate of sadistic isolation in so-called supermax prisons, where they are being systematically reduced to veritable human vegetables.

To destroy Manning as a human being, the Pentagon for the past seven months has barred him from exercising in his cell, and to inhibit his sleep denies him a pillow and sheet and allows him only a scratchy blanket, according to Heather Brooke of "Common Dreams" ( January 26 th .) He is awakened each day at five a.m. and may not sleep until 8 p.m. The lights of his cell are always on and he is harassed every five minutes by guards who ask him if he is okay and to which he must respond verbally. Stalin's goons called this sort of endless torture the "conveyor belt."

Not surprisingly, Manning is attracting global attention to the Pentagon's sadism. If anyone did not believe the Pentagon's ruthless treatment of Iraqi prisoners when the Abu Ghraib torture photos were released, they believe it now that it is torturing one of its own. In this assault upon the body and mind of a 23-year-old American soldier, all of the Pentagon's arrogance and clumsiness is revealed to the world. Perhaps not even the French military---when its frame-up on treason charges of Jewish Colonel Alfred Dreyfus was exposed---attracted to itself the global searchlights of opprobrium now bathing the walls of the Marine Corps brig at Quantico.

The kind of isolation torture Manning is enduring in recent years has spread itself quietly throughout U.S. correctional facilities like a deadly gangrene. According to one reliable report, by 2003 between five and eight percent of the prison populations of Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia were rotting in isolation. In some federal prisons the cells are referred to euphemistically as "Communications Management Units" and are, incidentally, "disproportionately inhabited by Muslim prisoners," according to an American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) law suit challenging them. In another suit, the ACLU has accused the Texas Youth Commission of "throwing children (girls) into cold, bare solitary confinement cells..." and told the TYC bluntly its "reliance on solitary confinement has to stop."

Dr. Stuart Grassian, a veteran of 25 years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, wrote in a law school journal of his interviews with prisoners in solitary. He said almost a third of them experienced impaired brain function. They "described hearing voices, often in whispers, often saying frightening things to them." In an article published in "The Long Term View" magazine of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, Grassian wrote that about a third succumbed to "acute psychotic, confusional states" in which they saw objects "becoming larger and smaller, seeming to 'melt' or change form." And this was only one of the syndromes experienced.

In a related article published in the same issue (Volume 7, No. 2), Dr. Atul Gawande of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, cited the findings of psychology professor Craig Haney of the University of California at Santa Cruz on isolation's impact. Some inmates in the Pelican Bay supermax, Haney found, even after just months of isolation, suffered "Chronic apathy, lethargy, depression, and despair often result...In extreme cases, prisoners may literally stop behaving, becoming essentially catatonic." This, of course, is what the Pentagon apparently seeks to inflict on Manning. In June, 2006, the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons recommended ending long-term isolation of prisoners but the so-called "House of War" wasn't listening.

In the 2008 presidential race, Gawande wrote, both Obama and McCain came out firmly for banning torture and closing Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds have been held in years-long isolation, yet neither "addressed the question of whether prolonged solitary confinement is torture." McCain spent two of his five years as a POW in Viet Nam in solitary, later stating: "It's an awful thing, solitary. It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment."

The U.S. willingness to hold prisoners in isolation for years "made it easy to discard the Geneva Conventions prohibiting similar treatment of foreign prisoners of war, to the detriment of America's moral stature in the world," Gawande wrote, adding, "In much the same way that a previous generation of Americans countenanced legalized segregation, our (generation) has countenanced legalized torture. And there is no clearer manifestation of this than our routine use of solitary confinement---on our own people, in our own communities, in a supermax prison..."

" This conduct (solitary confinement) by the U.S. Federal and State governments constitutes torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which are treaties to which the United States is a contracting party," says international legal authority Francis Boyle, professor of the subject at the University of Illinois, Champaign.

Boyle believes, "As citizens of America and human beings in the world, we must do all in our power to terminate such illegal and criminal practices that are daily perpetrated by our own governmental institutions in our name against our fellow citizens and human beings." Boyle is the author of "Defending Civil Resistance Under International Law"(Amazon).

Those supporting Manning need to recognize he is an icon for the bizarre, systemic destruction of tens of thousands of other human beings locked away in perpetual silence by their tormentors, often for mere infractions of prison rules, without the review of any judge or jury. As the ACLU told the TYC, this must be stopped. What action will you take in your community to put an end to it?

(Sherwood Ross is a Florida-based public relations consultant for good causes and director of the Anti-War News Service. Disclosure: he was editor of "The Long-Term View magazine cited in this article and is a media consultant to the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.)

Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public relations director for a major civil rights organization.

28 Jan 2011: Today's Democracy Now!

Uprising in Egypt: "This is the Biggest Political Challenge the Regime Has Yet to See from the Streets"

Protests have erupted across Egypt again today with the largest and most widespread anti-government demonstrations seen so far. In an unprecedented display of popular protest, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators are gathering in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura, Sharqiya and elsewhere. Intense confrontations are taking place with state security forces. The protests come amid a vast security clampdown. Earlier, the government blocked the internet, mobile phone and SMS services, with the hope of disrupting demonstration planning. We go to Cairo to speak with Ahmad Shokr, an editor at the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm. [includes rush transcript]
Juan Cole: "Egypt is a Praetorian Regime"

Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets across Egypt today in the fourth day of unprecedented protests against the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak. We speak with University of Michigan professor of history Juan Cole. "The Arab world has seen, in the last three decades, a series of Arab nationalist regimes, relatively secular, which have become increasingly sclerotic," Cole says. [includes rush transcript]
Global Call to Release Imprisoned Indian Human Rights Activist Dr. Binayak Sen

An Indian high court is hearing arguments to release the nation’s most famous political prisoner on bail and suspend his conviction. Last month, a trial court sentenced renowned physician and human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen to rigorous life imprisonment on the basis of an archaic colonial-era sedition law. Dr. Sen, along with two others, were found guilty of sedition and criminal conspiracy by a court in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh on allegations of helping a banned group of Maoists. On Sunday, Dr. Sen’s supporters around the world will mark a global day of protest against his conviction. Democracy Now!’s Anjali Kamat traveled to Chhattisgarh and filed this report on what lies behind the targeting and conviction of Dr. Sen.


•Egyptian Protests Escalate Amidst Gov’t Crackdown
•U.S. Continues to Back Mubarak
•Tens of Thousands Protest Yemeni Gov’t
•48 Killed in Iraq Car Bombing
•Inquiry: Financial Crisis "Avoidable," Causes Still Intact
•Dems, GOP Overhaul Senate Rules
•Journalist Tapped to Replace Gibbs at White House
•Anti-Drone Activists Convicted for Nevada Protest
•Jury Renders Verdict in Penn. Cover-up of Immigrant Beating Death
•FBI Targets Alleged WikiLeaks Supporters in Cyberattack Case
•Mandela Released from South African Hospital
•Funeral Held for Slain LGBT Rights Activist in Uganda
•Chile to Probe Allende’s Death in U.S.-Backed Coup
•New Ariz. Proposal Could Revoke U.S. Citizenship of Immigrant Children

Thursday, January 27, 2011

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2011 State of Indian Nations

Watch live streaming video from ncai at

27 Jan 2011: Today's Democracy Now!

Guardian Journalist Arrested and Beaten Alongside Protesters in Egypt Secretly Records Ordeal

In Egypt, running battles between police and anti-government protesters continued into the early hours of Thursday morning. Police have arrested up to 1,200 people, including a number of journalists. Among them was Guardian reporter, Jack Shenker. He was arrested and beaten by plainclothes police on Tuesday night and shoved into a truck with dozens of other people. He managed to keep his dictaphone with him and recorded what was happening as the truck carried them outside of Cairo. We play some of the dramatic audio and speak to him live by telephone. [includes rush transcript]
Guardian Reporter Jack Shenker on Egypt Protests: "Fear Barrier Seems to Have Been Broken"

Unprecedented protests in Egypt continue for a second day. On Wednesday, demonstrators defied a government ban on gatherings and took to streets in the biggest popular protests against President Hosni Mubarak in three decades. We go to Cairo to speak with Guardian reporter Jack Shenker. "That fear barrier seems to have been broken," Shenker says. "These are sort of middle-class people who are generally enjoying quite a comfortable standard of living... They’ve got a lot to lose, and yet they’re still being motivated to come out, to be beaten, to be hit by water cannons, to be carried off into the desert," he says. "There’s so much energy and so much momentum behind what’s going on ... I think we’ll still see a lot of people on the streets tomorrow." [includes rush transcript]
Egyptian American Activist: Hillary Clinton Forgets to Mention Tear Gas, Tanks, Concussion Grenades Used Against Egyptian Protesters Are Made in the U.S.

In Egypt, protesters faced tear gas, water cannon and beatings from security forces on the streets of Cairo on Wednesday. Up to 1,200 people were arrested, including a number of journalists. Six people have reportedly been killed since Tuesday. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not criticize the Egyptian government, saying only that the country was stable and Egyptians had the right to protest, while urging all parties to avoid violence. We speak with Mostafa Omar, an Egyptian American activist and writer. [includes rush transcript]
From Tucson to Virginia Tech: Shooting Survivor Calls for Gun Control

Thirty-two people died in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, six died in the Tucson attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and 34 people are killed by a bullet every day in the United States. However, President Obama made no mention of gun control during his State of the Union address Tuesday. White House advisers say he will soon unveil new gun control efforts to strengthen current laws that allow mentally unstable people, such as alleged Arizona shooter Jared Loughner, to purchase assault weapons without a background check. We speak with Colin Goddard, a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting massacre who, after recovering and finishing his degree, decided to work with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the nation’s largest gun control organization. His story is told in Living for 32, a new documentary that just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. We also hear from former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson about a bill passed Wednesday by the Utah House of Representatives to make the Browning M1911 pistol the official state gun. [includes rush transcript]


•Defying Gov’t Ban, Egyptians Protest Mubarak
•Clinton: Egypt Should Enact Reforms, Respect "Universal Rights"
•Thousands Protest Saleh in Yemen
•Tunisia Issues Arrest Warrant for Ben Ali
•Arizona Judicial Emergency Could Delay Loughner Trial; Giffords Condition Improves
•U.S. Deficit to Hit Record $1.5 Trillion
•Financial Crisis Panel Recommends Prosecutions
•Soldier Reaches Plea Deal in Afghan "Kill Team" Case
•Préval Protégé to Exit Haiti Race
•Thousands Protest U.S. Coca Stance in Bolivia
•Palestine Papers: Palestinians Acceded to U.S. Demand for Goldstone Delay
•Gay Rights Activist Slain in Uganda
•Accused Penn. Teen is Youngest Person Ever to Face Life Term

Stop FBI Repression: Call-In Day, 01 February

Committee to Stop FBI Repression
to Fitzpatrick, Holder and Obama
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Over 50 cities, hundreds of groups, and thousands of people protested against FBI and U.S. Grand Jury repression on Tuesday January 25. The protests are a response to ongoing and expanding repression originating from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's office in Chicago. On September 24th, the FBI raided anti-war and solidarity activists' homes and subpoenaed fourteen in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Michigan. All fourteen decided to not appear before the Grand Jury in October. The Grand Jury is a secret and closed inquisition, where the U.S. Attorney controls the entire proceedings, hand picks the jurors, there is no judge, and the activists are not allowed a lawyer.

The following month, three Minneapolis women had their subpoenas reactivated and they are still waiting in limbo. Then nine more Palestine solidarity activists, most Arab-Americans, were subpoenaed to appear at the Grand Jury on January 25, 2011, launching renewed protests.

Now we are asking you to call those in charge of the repression aimed against anti-war leaders and the growing Palestine solidarity movement.
We want your help in promoting the national call in day to demand:
-- Call Off the Grand Jury Witch-hunt Against International Solidarity Activists!
-- Support Free Speech!
-- Support the Right to Organize!
-- Stop FBI Repression!
-- International Solidarity Is Not a Crime!

Three calls:
1. Call U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300. Then dial 0 (zero) for operator and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk.
2. Call U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder 202-353-1555
3. Call President Obama at 202-456-1111

Suggested text: “My name is __________, I am from _______(city), in ______(state). I am calling U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (Eric Holder, President Obama) to demand he call off the Grand Jury and stop FBI repression against the anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements. I oppose U.S. government political repression and support the right to free speech and the right to assembly of the 23 activists subpoenaed. We will not be criminalized. Tell him to stop this McCarthy-type witch hunt against international solidarity activists!

**Please sign and circulate our new petition at

Visit or write or call 612-379-3585.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Habeas Corpus Appeal of Gerardo Hernández, One of the Cuban Five

The Habeas Corpus Appeal of Gerardo Hernández, One of the Cuban Five


“Gerardo Hernández never did receive due process of law either on the part of the prosecutors or his own defense.”
Leonard Weinglass

Attorneys for Gerardo Hernández, a Cuban citizen serving two consecutive life sentences plus 15 years in the maximum security wing of the US Federal Penitentiary at Victorville, California have filed his final appeal in the US legal system. The evidence supporting his right to a new trial is staggering.

Hernández is one of ten Cubans who, like the Russian agents arrested in the summer of 2010 in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, were arrested by the FBI in Miami in 1998 and charged with failing to register as agents of a foreign government, as well as conspiracy to commit espionage. Unlike the Russians, who were swiftly deported and never faced a trial, five of the arrested Cubans quickly pled guilty and were rewarded with reduced sentences and green cards, while the remaining five, including Hernández, were thrown into separate solitary confinement cells for nearly a year and a half to await their court date. All the evidence for, against, and irrelevant to their cases was locked away by federal authorities under cover of national security. The government’s manipulation of the evidence is one of the issues raised in the appeal.
During the 1990s, as rightwing Cuban Americans in Miami rejoiced at the toppling of Cuba’s principal sponsor, the Soviet Union, their actions against Cuba grew ever more provocative as they aimed for a similar result. Small Miami based boats and planes began buzzing in and out of Cuban seas and airspace, shooting at beachside hotels, dropping objects from the skies, and meanwhile, mercenaries were hired to plant bombs and bring weapons into the country, with tragic and lethal results. The Cuban agents were sent to Miami in order to report back to Cuba and thwart these actions, which Cuba quite understandably views as terrorist attacks.

Hernández was their leader.

As the trial date approached in 2000 for the “Cuban Five” (as they are known in the US), an additional count was suddenly added to the first two against Hernández. The third count was “conspiracy to commit murder by supporting and implementing a plan to shoot down United States civilian aircraft outside of Cuban and United States airspace.”
Nearly five years prior to the trial, on February 24, 1996, two planes belonging to one of the Miami paramilitary groups known as Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR) [Hermanos al Rescate] were shot down by Cuban fighter jets as they were flying toward Cuba, in restricted airspace they had violated many times before. BTTR was headed by José Basulto, an original member of the CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs mercenary brigade, who in 1962 had inaugurated the practice of attacking Cuban beachside hotels from an offshore vessel, when he attacked a hotel in the Miramar district with a 20 mm cannon which he shot from a speedboat.

Four people were killed in the destruction of the planes, three of them US citizens and the fourth a Cuban with US residency. A third plane escaped that day, containing Basulto, and his three passengers. It was the government’s contention that Hernández knew in advance about a Cuban government plan to shoot down the planes, that the plan was an illegal one by virtue of the charge that Cuba intended to shoot the planes down in international airspace – not Cuban airspace - and that Hernández agreed to help with that plan.

After a seven month trial that was marked by a media frenzy unusual even by Miami standards, the Five were convicted on all counts.

The initial appeals process

Hernández’s case, along with those of his compatriots, was appealed. In 2005, a three judge appellate panel unanimously reversed all the convictions due to community prejudice and the failure of the trial court to move the trial out of Miami.
The government sought a review of that decision before the entire 11 members of the Eleventh Circuit Court, called the En Banc court. Despite the previous unanimous decision overturning the convictions, the En Banc court reversed that decision, reinstating the convictions and sending the remaining issues, aside from venue, back to a three judge panel. That panel, composed of Judges Birch, Pryor and Kravitch, affirmed the convictions on a 2 to 1 decision, but ordered three of the defendants to be re-sentenced.

As for Hernández, his two life sentences plus 15 years were upheld. But Judge Kravitch wrote a very clear dissent on the issue of Hernández’s conviction. And Judge Birch, speaking specifically about Hernández’s conviction, called it a “very close case.”

Leonard Weinglass, one of the attorneys involved in Hernández’s appeal, urges the reading of Kravitch’s dissent. “Here you have a well-respected senior judge on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, who wrote an eloquent dissent against Hernández’s conviction, saying that he ought not to have been convicted, had no knowledge of what was going to happen with the planes that day, and that Cuba had the right to self-defense. This is not something we made up,” said Weinglass.
Weinglass also calls attention to the language in Birch’s opinion. Note, says Weinglass, “he did not say it was a ‘close’ question, but a ‘very close’ question.” Effectively, only Pryor, one of the most conservative judges in the entire country, did not express any doubts about Hernández’s conviction.

Habeas Corpus Appeal

A habeas corpus appeal cannot be filed until all other appeals are exhausted, and indeed, after the reconsideration by Birch, Pryor and Kravitch, the case of the Cuban Five traveled to the Supreme Court which, in June 2009, declined to hear it.

This is the kind of appeal that Hernández’s current legal team has now filed. With all its appendices, it is hundreds of pages long. It focuses at length on the errors made by Hernández’s public defender, Paul McKenna, which together with the violations by the prosecution, had the practical effect of denying him his constitutionally mandated right to due process. It also presents new evidence that has been discovered since the original trial, evidence which Weinglass calls “evidence of a constitutional dimension.”
Much of that evidence involves the 2006 discovery that many of the journalists producing incendiary stories on the trial in 2000/2001 were simultaneously on the US government payroll, reporting for Radio and TV Martí, anti-Cuba propaganda stations funded and operated by the US government. The struggle to obtain information about the reporters involved in the media manipulation of community attitudes during the trial is another interesting story all by itself.

Some of the new evidence also comes from the classified information that the government improperly tried to conceal in order to better make its case while simultaneously denying Hernández the opportunity to defend himself. The appeal shows how Hernández’s rights to due process were violated when the government excluded Hernández and McKenna from a private ex parte hearing where materials which included high frequency messages from the Cuban government to its agents were reviewed and decisions taken on which would be admitted at trial.

“Had [Hernández] known of the existence of these high frequency messages (it was later known that the government disclosed only 44 out of approximately 350 intercepted messages) and the additional classified communications, he would have sought to introduce them into evidence to show that he had no knowledge that the government of Cuba intended to illegally shoot down the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft.”[1]

Media mischaracterization of the appeal

It is practically impossible to explain the countless and often extremely technical due process violations outlined in the appeal, through the economical technique of quickly helicoptering into the documents, extracting selected sensational quotes, and then contacting sources on both sides for comment. Not that this hasn’t been tried. The Miami Herald gave it a go on December 26, 2010, in a story filed by Jay Weaver emblazoned with the headline: “Cuban Spymaster now claims Brothers to the Rescue shooting was outside Cuban airspace.”

The story is a perfect illustration of why hasty and selective reading is no substitute for real investigative journalism, though it may have perfectly adequate results as propaganda. [Also note the loaded language in the headline: “Shooting” in lieu of “Shoot down” and “Spymaster” instead of, for instance, “Cuban Agent”.]

The case made by the Herald is quite different from the one actually being made by Hernández’s attorneys.

Defense errors

Hernández’s habeas corpus appeal explains that one of the most grievous errors made in his defense was the failure to advise him that he had the right to ask for a severance, in order to be tried separately on the third murder conspiracy count, rather than at the same trial on the espionage conspiracy and foreign agent counts. The practical effect of this failure was that all five Cubans were tried and sentenced in a climate of guilt by association, but also that McKenna was so busy trying to deal with the third murder conspiracy count that he essentially abandoned his client on the other two.

As well, by failing to sever the trial, other witnesses who might have been able to testify to Hernández’s lack of knowledge about any shoot down, such as the other five Cubans who quickly pled guilty, and specifically, Hernández’s co-defendant René González, who had infiltrated BTTR and could have testified that Hernández had no special knowledge about any shoot down, were unable to testify in his defense. The problem of González being unable to testify might have been resolved to some extent in an un-severed trial through a legal instrument called a Byrd Affidavit, but McKenna did not utilize it.

“Had counsel evaluated and investigated such issues and consulted with his client, he would have been able to obtain a Byrd affidavit from Rene Gonzalez to show that whatever knowledge Hernandez may have had or conveyed regarding an impending confrontation of BTTR with Cuba was of the same general understanding as that in the public domain, that Cuba might attempt to shoot down aircraft if they continued to violate Cuban airspace and that he understood Cuba to have the lawful right to do so within Cuban territory. Hernandez was unaware of any plan to act unlawfully or to act in a manner that could legitimately provoke military retaliation.”[2]

How the Miami Herald got it wrong
Another serious defense error, and one that is perhaps easier understood in hindsight, at least for non-lawyers, was the defense effort to revisit the decision made at the UN Security Council which pinned the location of the shoot down in international airspace rather than Cuban airspace.
The decision was pushed through the Security Council by Madeleine Albright notwithstanding the fact that after months of investigation that were repeatedly extended when the US failed to meet deadlines for the submission of its evidence, the UN’s civil aviation arm - the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) - had found that the US and Cuban radar data had “significant and irreconcilable differences.” As a result of these differences and other irregularities, the ICAO Council refused to endorse its own investigative report. This did not present Albright with a particularly significant obstacle, and she and her diplomatic colleagues set the location themselves.

McKenna erroneously opted to try to convince the Miami jury that the UN Security Council had erred, and endeavored to retry its decision in the Miami courtroom. By this time though, the Security Council decision had already been used in another Miami court proceeding as a basis to obtain access to frozen Cuban assets in order to compensate the families of the downed fliers and their attorneys. In trying to persuade the jury of twelve non-aviation experts to revisit the ICAO investigation and decide that Cuba was right and the US government was wrong – a hopeless proposition in a community where the downed BTTR fliers had been cast as heroes – McKenna was slogging uphill against not one but two legal precedents. The only thing this kind of defense managed was to harden the jury’s antagonism toward his client. But more importantly, it was not the case he was asked to defend.

It’s worth re-examining the third count of the indictment to fully grasp this point.

“Conspiracy to commit murder by supporting and implementing a plan to shoot down United States civilian aircraft outside of Cuban and United States airspace.” [Italics added.]

In other words, a plan to shoot down aircraft within Cuban airspace would have been no crime at all – this was where McKenna set off down a doomed road paved with good intentions, by seeking to free his client on the basis of the argument that no crime had actually been committed.

Historical questions

Despite the legal precedents, as a historical matter, the shoot down location does remain an open question as far as factual evidence is concerned. The final appendix in the appeal makes this clear: US satellite data would be the most objective and definitive way to resolve the location question once and for all, but despite a recommendation from his aviation expert witness, George Buchner, McKenna never requested that data, nor has it ever been released. Buchner says that the ICAO investigative team also tried and failed to obtain this data.

Another appendix in the appeal, the declaration by Professor John Quigley, an expert in international law, makes clear that some of the questions McKenna sought to argue at the Miami trial, such as whether BTTR’s planes were actually military or civilian, were erroneous and irrelevant in light of established international law: “…the relevant inquiry was whether the territorial state might reasonably perceive an imminent threat from the intrusion, rather than whether the aircraft was civil or military in character.”

This particular argument had truly devastating consequences for Hernández, “difficult to fathom and painful to contemplate,” when the jury was incorrectly instructed to “deliberate whether Cuba’s fighter jets properly identified BTTR’s light Cessna aircraft as ‘military’ planes under ICAO standards, and, if so, whether those BTTR planes were in fact shot down as a ‘last resort’…”[3] It was an issue a world apart from and totally irrelevant to the actual conspiracy charge faced by Hernández.

Through the looking glass

On the face of it, a shoot down outside of Cuban airspace makes no logical sense whatsoever. Cuba was certainly aggrieved by the constant air incursions by BTTR – one of the most interesting parts of the appeal is the appendix which includes the ICAO investigative report, a document that has never been publicly revealed until now (ICAO Report Part 1, Part 2). BTTR planes had roared “at rooftop level” through downtown Havana, tossing leaflets and religious medals out the windows six months prior to the downings, something as dangerous as it is illegal, not only in Cuba, but everywhere. The planes enjoyed unusual access to the US Naval Base in Guantánamo, and used that access to buzz whatever Cuban territory caught their fancy “on the spur of the moment.” Cuba’s right to defend itself against such intrusions is unquestionable.

But a shoot down outside of Cuban airspace would, and did, result in international condemnation of Cuba, open the door to the seizure of Cuban assets frozen since 1961, and most damaging, provide the impetus to set the US blockade of Cuba in stone, through the anti-Cuba legislation known as Helms-Burton that was creeping through the US Congress in the mid-1990s. Before the shoot down, Clinton had been threatening to veto the bill, if by some miracle it were to pass. After the shoot down, the law passed easily. It may have been something short of the confrontation hoped for by Basulto, the self-confessed terrorist who was continually looking for a Bay of Pigs do-over and still asks why US fighter jets were not launched in retaliation on the 24th, but Helms-Burton has been destructive enough all on its own.

At Hernández’s trial, establishing the location of the shoot down was simply not the question at hand, and the government could simply point to the Security Council decision in any case. In order to convict Hernández, the government needed to prove that there was an illegal plan to shoot down BTTR planes in international airspace, not Cuban airspace, that Hernández knew about this illegal plan and that he agreed to support it.

It couldn’t be done.

It depends on what the meaning of “or” is

To overcome the leap of logic necessary to believe, counter-intuitively, that Cuba deliberately planned to shoot BTTR planes down in international airspace rather than Cuban airspace, the government presented the tortured argument that what was really bothering Cuba about BTTR’s aerial invasions was not their dangerous low-level cowboy flights over congested areas, nor Basulto’s jamming of radio frequencies used by commercial airliners traveling through Cuba’s air corridor with extemporaneous speeches about his rights to violate anyone’s restricted airspace as a “free Cuban.”

According to the US government, what Cuba really wanted to accomplish through a planned shoot down in international airspace was to stop BTTR from dropping leaflets from a spot just outside Cuban airspace where wind currents might carry them ashore. The ICAO report clearly showed how the leaflets had actually been dropped inside Cuban airspace, and Basulto himself had said on the radio in Miami that he’d dropped them from inside Cuban airspace, but suddenly all that was forgotten (and never rebutted by the defense).

Finally, in an argument that only lawyers could possibly make, the government pointed to “an alleged message that asked agents who penetrated BTTR to report any planned ‘leaflet dropping missions or incursions into Cuban airspace.’” [Emphasis added.]

Government lawyers pointed to the word “or” as “proof that the Cuban plan included confrontation in international airspace to stop the leafleting.”[4]

It was an exquisitely technical legal argument, but as far as Hernández was concerned, there was still absolutely no evidence that he had any inside information about a shoot down planned to take place anywhere, either inside or outside of Cuban airspace.

“A confrontation does not necessarily mean a shootdown.”
In her dissent, Judge Kravitch pointed out that at best, the coded messages submitted by the government as evidence showed that Hernández (like everyone, including BTTR) knew that there would be a “confrontation” of some sort.

She added, “A confrontation does not necessarily mean a shoot down.” The evidence that BTTR itself expected nothing more than a confrontation possibly resulting in a forced landing was contained in a homemade video deliberately left behind at BTTR headquarters on February 24th. In it, flight participants said they would either blink furiously or try not to blink as some sort of coded message to Miami, should they be forced to confess on Cuban television.

Kravitch explained further:

“It is not enough for the Government to show that a shoot down merely occurred in international airspace: the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hernandez agreed to a shoot down in international airspace. Although such an agreement may be proven with circumstantial evidence, here, the Government failed to provide either direct or circumstantial evidence that Hernandez agreed to a shoot down in international airspace. Instead, the evidence points toward a confrontation in Cuban airspace, thus negating the requirement that he agreed to commit an unlawful act.

…the fact that the intercepted communications after the shoot down show that Hernandez was congratulated for his role and that he acknowledged participation and called it a “success” does not clearly establish an agreement to a shoot down in international airspace. The Government cannot point to any evidence that indicates Hernandez agreed to a shoot down in international, as opposed to Cuban, airspace.”

Hernández has consistently maintained that the coded message he sent to Cuba after February 24th, where he said “the operation to which we contributed a grain of salt ended successfully”[5] was a reference not to the operation to confront BTTR planes, but to an entirely different one, that of returning another agent to Cuba. He says the government purposely created “a cloud…of confusion” about the two operations in order to use that particular message in its case against him. McKenna, beavering away at the shootdown location, failed to object to or counter the government’s cynical misappropriation of the message.

Even if one accepts the government’s mischaracterization of that particular message, Kravitch explained that this is still not sufficient for conviction – if Hernández had really referred to the shoot down of an enemy plane as a “success” that still does not mean he agreed to a plan to shoot it down in “international” rather than Cuban airspace.

Richard Gere’s Cuban double

The agent whose return Hernández was referring to in the “grain of salt”[6] message was Juan Pablo Roque, an intriguing character in the case. Often referred to as someone who bears a striking resemblance to Richard Gere, Roque snorkeled his way to the US base at Guantánamo and soon found himself in Miami, where he captured the hearts of Basulto and his clan with the tale that he was a Cuban military pilot who’d been grounded and therefore become disillusioned. The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) even facilitated a vanity press publication of his memoirs, while Roque began quietly moonlighting for the FBI, providing information about BTTR’s concealed, less savory, drug trafficking activities and weapons smuggling plans.

But practically as soon as he arrived in Miami, Roque suffered from unbearable homesickness and asked to be transferred back. Hernández was tasked with arranging the defector’s re-defection. “Operation Venezia” was planned as a way to get Roque back to Cuba and simultaneously capitalize on the intelligence Roque had gathered, through planned press conferences where he would reveal much the same information as he had given the FBI.
A top secret Cuban document contained in the appeal confirms that this denunciation was the main thrust behind Operation Venezia, and that Roque’s return was approved by Cuban intelligence headquarters for “either the end of February or beginning of March, 1996”[7] depending on commercial flight availabilities.

At the time of the trial, much was made of the fact that Roque had slipped away on February 23rd and arrived in Cuba either the day of the shoot down or the day after. But the timing was coincidental, based largely on Roque’s insistence that he be back in time for his son’s birthday on the 26th. Also, the shoot down on the 24th was demonstrably at odds with Operation Venezia’s objectives. Although Roque appeared on CNN with Lucia Newman on the 27th and again in an interview with the Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde on March 3rd, still maintaining his cover in order to protect the agents remaining in Miami, the tsunami of negative press about the shoot down largely overshadowed the negative information he revealed about BTTR in the interview.

Too little too late
Toward the end of the trial, Hernández’s defender seemed to have realized he’d been chasing a red herring. After six long months of painstaking efforts to convince the jury that the shoot down location had been erroneously decided, he suddenly changed course and told the jury that all the evidence he had presented to them over the previous six months was irrelevant. This surely did not endear him or his client to jury members anxious to get on with their lives.

What mattered, he said, was that the government could not prove that Hernández knew anything at all about an illegal shoot down plan. But it was too late. The damage had been done.

The appeal says that “to his credit” McKenna has recognized his errors in the original trial and agreed to testify at a habeas corpus hearing in order to provide evidence as to why Hernández should receive a new trial.

That evidentiary hearing is likely to be held once all the replies have been submitted in the case, sometime between March and June of this year, although according to Weinglass, it is still unknown whether Judge Lenard will hold onto the case and hold that hearing herself, or refer it to a magistrate, as frequently occurs in Miami.

An invisible force
In the meantime, in the desolate high desert of California, Hernández continues to be an active advocate in his own case and that of rest of the Five. This sometimes leads to peculiar resentments on the part of his jailers. “You get too much mail,” he is told, and in the upside-down logic of the federal prison system, the solution is to hold his mail captive on occasion until the excess becomes an avalanche. He continues to endure extra-judicial punishments such as the denial of a visa, 13 years running, for his wife to visit him. He is denied email access which, in contrast, is granted to hardened, proven violent offenders incarcerated in the same facility. Last summer he was suddenly, inexplicably, thrown into the prison “hole” and some weeks later, following an international outcry, released.

Regardless of whether Hernández is ultimately granted his right to due process through a new trial, he guards an undiminished sense of optimism, tempered with realism. Of the multitude of efforts to obtain his freedom he says, “It’s like water on a rock.” And even the hardest rocks give way over time.

I would like to thank Nelson Valdés, Manuel Cedeño Berrueta and Manuel Talens for their assistance in the preparation and translation of this report.


[1] Gerardo Hernández, Movant, vs. United States of America, Respondent - Memorandum in Support of Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Judgment and Sentence under 28 U.SC. § 2255, p. 79

[2] Ibid, p. 19

[3] Ibid, p. 37

[4] Ibid, p. 31

[5] Ibid, p. 83

[6] “Grain of salt” is likely to be a mistranslation of Hernández’s original Spanish language message. It is extremely improbable that Hernández would have written “granito de sal,” instead of “granito de arena,” which means “grain of sand.” The transcription of the Spanish language interview conducted with Hernández by Saul Landau confirms this.

[7] Ibid, Appendix B


Courtesy of Tlaxcala
Publication date of original article: 18/01/2011
URL of this page:

DC: Citizens' Hearing, 29 January


As you know our country is facing a serious challenge in the areas of civil rights and civil freedoms. Too many people and organizations have been targeted because of their ideology, religion or ethnicity. A few months ago the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) was established to address these challenges, educate the public, and unite the efforts of many good people and organizations around the country.

Please note that on Saturday January 29, 2011 (1:00-4:00 PM), the coalition will sponsor our first Citizens' Hearing under the title: The Loss of Civil Freedoms in America. It's of utmost importance that you attend this program in order to:

1) Understand the nature and scope of the challenges.
2) Learn what you can do to restore our civil freedoms.
3) Show support to the coalition and victims' families.

As you ponder on whether to attend or not, please answer these two questions honestly to yourself. If not you, then WHO? If not now, then WHEN?

Not only do we like you to attend but also to bring 2 people with you to this important event.

Let's pack this hall and show our support. We are trying to mobilize for this event.

NCPCF Steering Committee

Date: Saturday, January 29, 2011
When: 1:00 – 4:00 PM
Where: Washington D.C. – 901 G St., NW- (Between 9th and G streets)
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library- Room A-5

Panel I: Prosecuting Thought Crimes and Manufactured Charges


Prof. Sahar Aziz, Georgetown Law Center
Steve Downs, Project SALAM

Panel II: Profiling and the Erosion of Civil Freedoms


Shahid Buttar, Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Mike German, American Civil Liberties Union
Corey Saylor, Council on American-Islamic Relations

Panel III: Unequal Treatment and Victim Families Testimonies


Shaker Elsayed, Universal Justice Foundation
Padriss Kebriaei, Center for Constitutional Rights
Faisal Hashmi, Muslim Justice Initiative
A member from the Duka, Elashi, and Abu Ali Families

Free and Public Event. Please arrive by 12:45PM.


How Top Secret America Misfires; A Call for a 21st Century Church Commission

Original Content at

January 23, 2011

How Top Secret America Misfires; A Call for a 21st Century Church Commission

By Coleen Rowley

Why has Congress not yet awoken to the fact that since 9-11 we have been sailing into a perfect storm? Here are just some of the turbulent winds blowing and pushing officials in the wrong direction:

Politicians who stoke the fear of terrorism while forcing underling officials to promise they can protect the public by "pre-empting" all threats, hyped and unhyped;
The erosion of the prior legal safeguards, even the firmly entrenched ethical and legal (jus cogens) principles prohibiting torture;

The broad legal authority given to the executive by Congress in such laws as the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act, and also the abuse of "presidential war powers" through warrantless monitoring and authorization of offshore, indefinite detention;
Perverse, counterproductive job and profit incentives for the 854,000 agents, analysts, operatives and private contractors/consultants who staff the "Top Secret America" surveillance-security complex;

Lack of any effective, independent oversight (despite the 9-11 Commission's prescient and serious concerns enumerated years ago), as exemplified by the hobbled Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board;

And the basic need for war presidencies to maintain momentum in the face of popular disapproval of the ongoing conflicts and occupations in the Mideast.

Such systemic forces will always produce a similar bad result -- for our rights and our safety.

Even the rather conservative Washington Post is quite worried about what's likely to come of this clearly out-of-control pressure cooker called "Top Secret America." If it cannot be quickly reined in, we are almost certain to witness and suffer the worst of Cold War McCarthyism and Vietnam COINTELPRO abuses. That prediction is based on what has happened before when militarist forces turned inward on U.S. citizens. Even if government officials are well-intentioned, these forces increase the chances for error and opportunism. Some would say we've entered a perfect storm already, given the numerous examples of improper targeting of domestic advocacy groups, most recently the FBI raids on various anti-war activists' offices and homes in Minneapolis and Chicago.

Let's not forget how the "war on terror" was originally sold to the American public: as "Let's fight them over there so we don't have to fight them here." But Homeland Security now admits the "war on terror" is increasingly being fought at home.

FBI agents are motivated, for instance, to check off "statistical achievements" by sending well-paid, manipulative confidential informants into mosques and apparently also into various advocacy and anti-war groups. In the Iowa heartland, for instance, FBI surveillance, trash searches, terrorism database paperwork, and "statistical accomplishments" regarding a few student protesters in Iowa City before the 2008 Republican National Convention fill hundreds of file pages without providing any plausible justification for the operation.

These abuses attack our basic constitutional right to dissent without making us safer. Relatively simple ways to address and reduce each of these counterproductive forces do exist, however -- ways that preserve our liberties while actually enhancing our collective security. The list below outlines the most serious current civil liberties problems and the potential fixes. It is based on my years teaching constitutional criminal procedure to FBI agents and police officers, and also on my firsthand exposure to and understanding of some of the pre- and post-9-11 failures:

1) In the course of arguing the Holder v Humanitarian Law Project case in the Supreme Court (decided in late June of this year), Georgetown Law Professor David Cole warned explicitly that this law could be used to improperly target and prosecute a wide range of humanitarian, human rights and peace advocacy groups, and prevent them from exercising freedom of speech and other First Amendment rights. However, Cole failed in his arguments to overturn a few words in the Patriot Act that broadened "Material Support of Terrorism" to encompass "expert advice and assistance" to designated "foreign terrorist organizations." (For more information, see "How Easy Is It for Peaceful People to Violate the Patriot Act?") The problematic Supreme Court decision, which essentially makes advocacy of peace and humanitarian issues illegal with respect to 40-some groups designated by the State Department, is surely something that Congress never intended in hastily passing the hundreds of pages of Patriot Act revisions in October 2001. As a result, missionaries, fair election proponents and humanitarian workers could be placed in legal jeopardy. People like Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson, who had to meet with a variety of foreign nationals in war zones in order to forge a consensus to build schools for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan, could be in trouble, as could former president Jimmy Carter, who engages in pro-democracy efforts to monitor election fraud in many places in the world. The paradox is that true non-government-affiliated efforts aimed at furthering education, humanitarian assistance, free elections and non-violent conflict resolution in other parts of the world are widely recognized as more effective and beneficial than U.S. military or U.S. State Department-controlled efforts.

The simple fix would be to revise the phrase "expert advice and assistance" in the Patriot Act, clarifying that Congress never intended to define "material aid or comfort" to designated organizations so that it would chill or hamper the free speech rights of members of non-governmental humanitarian, peace and pro-democracy groups.

2) "Pre-emptive" security -- with its false promise of preventing all future acts of terrorism, and its accompanying pressures -- should be understood as a real Mission Impossible (not to say Mission Stupid). It led to the immediate erosion of the post-Church Committee Attorney General (AG) Guidelines that required varying levels of factual justification before targeting any domestic group. Shortly after 9-11, AG Ashcroft began by loosening the old guidelines and allowing FBI agents to go into churches, mosques and other public places. The final nail in the coffin was the decision by the Bush Administration, in one of its last official acts, to reverse the need to demonstrate some level of factual justification and promulgate a new and very low legal standard for all types of cases. This new standard means, in effect, that the FBI has only to deny that a group has been targeted based solely on its exercise of First Amendment rights. Civil libertarians were initially aghast at the prospect of this total erasure of any real investigative guidelines. But knowing of Obama's background as a constitutional lawyer, they thought it better to bring the issue to Bush's successor. It should be noted that the demise of the old AG Guidelines came after the Inspector General (IG) discovered that the FBI had served hundreds of thousands of mistake-ridden and unjustified National Security Letters, and also found many compliance problems in the FBI's opening of cases and handling of informants.

Simple fix: It's fine to create one set of guidelines for all crime programs. However, some reasonable level of factual justification should be required before the FBI or other federal law enforcement agency can target a group or individual. The Department of Justice (DOJ) IG should immediately undertake a review of all "terrorism enterprise investigations" begun by the FBI after 2006, when the IG's prior investigation ended.

3) The blurring of protest activities and dissent with terrorism dovetailed with the launching of U.S. wars after 9-11. For example, in October 2003, the FBI put out "Intelligence Bulletin 89," which focused on protesters' plans for the Free Trade Area of the Americas meetings in Miami and anti-war marches in Washington, D.C. I personally made an IG complaint to the DOJ IG about this blurring, but it was punted back to the FBI and then swept under the rug. New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau exposed the problematic Bulletin but the DOJ retaliated by yanking Lichtblau's press pass, and the FBI ordered its 56 field divisions to cease contact with the reporter. (The sorry episode is described beginning on page 122 of Lichtblau's book, Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice.) Perhaps if that overly defensive posture had not been taken, problems would not have reached the proportions later found in the September 2010 report, "A Review of the FBI's Investigations of Certain Domestic Advocacy Groups." The wrongheaded mindset that dominated law enforcement almost immediately after the launching of the Iraq War (and the larger "war on terror") is most clearly seen in what a spokesman for the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC) said when forced in 2003 to defend his agency's unjustified targeting of anti-war protesters without any factual evidence. CATIC Spokesman Van Winkle, apparently without thinking too hard, reasoned that evidence wasn't needed to issue warnings on war protesters: "You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that [protest]. You can almost argue that a protest against [the "war on terror"] is a terrorist act." In a similar vein, the Department of Defense (DOD) for years administered an annual mandatory anti-terrorism test that equated protest with terrorism. The test asked, "What is an example of low-level terrorism activity?" The correct answer was "protest."

Similarly, listen to the compelling testimony of anti-drilling activist Virginia Cody after she discovered she had been spied on by the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security by authorities who actively worked with industry officials to quash dissent.

News from Indianz.Com


Four Democrats on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee (1/26)
Blog: Article on sexual assault at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation (1/26)
BIA announces Eugene Virden as director of Alaska regional office (1/26)
Pauline Murillo, elder of San Manuel Band, passes away at age 76 (1/26)
Boy, 14, who was dependent of Yakama Nation jumps to his death (1/26)
Justice Department nominee has experience with Indian law cases (1/26)
Cherokee Nation asks top court to hear Freedmen citizenship case (1/26)
Opinion: Sacagawea is someone every North Dakotan should know (1/26)
Column: Wild bison deserve be restored to tribal lands in Montana (1/26)
Opinion: Indigenous peoples around the world struggle to survive (1/26)
Northern Cheyenne Reservation Boys & Girls Club awarded $143K (1/26)
Army Corps seeking public comments on Cortina Rancheria landfill (1/26)
Samson Cree Nation heads to the polls on Friday to choose a chief (1/26)
Bill against Tohono O'odham Nation off-reservation casino passes (1/26)
Clock ticks on Stockbridge Munsee off-reservation casino compact (1/26)
Casino compact for Wyandotte Nation faces significant opposition (1/26)
Anti-casino group urges California governor to fight Graton casino (1/26)
Las Vegas developers continue to make pitch to expand in Florida (1/26)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski to deliver response to State of Indian Nations (1/25)
Six Republicans on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee (1/25)
DOJ creates task force to address violence against Native women (1/25)
Turtle Talk: A critical time for Indian law cases and Supreme Court (1/25)
Dean Chavers: Indian Country loses a giant with Helen Scheirbeck (1/25)
DOJ opens investigation of Seattle police after Native man's death (1/25)
EPA issues another warning for Omaha Reservation water system (1/25)
Reznet: Chippewa Cree Tribe working to rebuild after major storm (1/25)
more headlines...

26 Jan 2011: Today's Democracy Now!

Obama Calls for Spending Freeze, Lowering Corporate Taxes in State of the Union

President Obama delivered his second State of the Union address last night. Speaking before a newly divided Congress, Obama said the United States was in a 21st century version of the space race and in a global competition to create jobs in science and research. Obama focused much of his speech on the issue of jobs and proposed a number of deficit-cutting measures, including a five-year freeze in spending on some domestic programs. [includes rush transcript]
Consumer Advocate Joan Claybrook and Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson Respond to State of the Union

President Obama began his second State of the Union address by paying tribute to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona but did not address the issue of gun control. He spoke about the need for clean energy but did not mention the word "climate" once in his address. He talked about the economy but never mentioned foreclosures. We get response on Obama’s the State of the Union speech with longtime consumer advocate Joan Claybrook and the former mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson, who is now director of High Road for Human Rights. [includes rush transcript]
Dr. Atul Gawande Compares Obama’s "Frustrating" Record on Healthcare Reform and LBJ’s Leadership in Passing Medicare

In his State of the Union address, President Obama defended his healthcare overhaul and invited Republicans to help him move forward with essential fixes to the law. We hear from Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston, staff writer at The New Yorker magazine and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. "There’s leadership needed to give meaning to the policies for the public and to explain what the value is," Gawande says. "Obama] allowed the opponents to brand every one of those policies as failures, even though they passed."
Harry Belafonte on Obama: "He Plays the Game that He Plays Because He Sees No Threat from Evidencing Concerns for the Poor"

We speak with legendary singer, actor, humanitarian and activist, Harry Belafonte. "I think [Obama] plays the game that he plays because he sees no threat from evidencing concerns for the poor," Belafonte says. "He sees no threat from evidencing a deeper concern for the needs of black people, as such. He feels no great threat from evidencing a greater policy towards the international community, for expressing thoughts that criticize the American position on things and turns that around. Until we do that, I think we will be forever disappointed in what that administration will deliver." [includes rush transcript]
Thousands Protest in Egypt in Largest Popular Challenge to Mubarak in 30 Years

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets across Egypt in the largest popular challenge to longtime President Hosni Mubarak since he came into office 30 years ago. Drawing inspiration from the recent uprising in Tunisia, an estimated crowd of 15,000 packed Cairo’s Tahrir Square. We go to Cairo to speak with independent journalist and blogger, Hossam el-Hamalawy. [includes rush transcript]


•Obama Calls for Spending Freeze, Lower Corporate Taxes
•Republicans, Tea Party Respond to Obama Address
•Dems, Republicans Sit Together in Bipartisan Gesture
•Anti-Gov’t Protests Sweep Egypt; Public Gatherings Banned
•Clinton: U.S. Backs Egyptian Gov’t
•Palestine Papers: PA, Israel Discussed Targeting Palestinian Militants
•British Intelligence Aided Crackdown on Hamas
•PA Negotiator Claims Palestine Papers Endangering His Life
•U.N. Coordinator: Palestine Papers Underscore Palestinian Compromise, Israeli Intransigence
•U.S. Deaths from Roadside Bombings Soar in Afghanistan
•Suit by Families of Slain Blackwater Contractors Dismissed
•Ex-Gitmo Prisoner Sentenced to Life Term
•Indonesian Soldiers in Videotaped Torture Sentenced to Less than Year
•Emanuel Wins Appeal, Back in Chicago Mayoral Race
•Probe: Bush White House Violated Law on Campaigning

Monday, January 24, 2011

News from Indianz.Com


Tim Giago: Indian Country Today denies readers the right to know (1/24)
Native Sun News: Blizzard can't stop Rosebud Sioux youth summit (1/24)
Vi Waln: Holding Indian Health Service accountable to its patients (1/24)
Charles Trimble: What Native journalism means in Indian Country (1/24)
Supreme Court requests DOJ brief in tribal court jurisdiction case (1/24)
Marc Simmons: Spanish expedition came through many Pueblos (1/24)
Erich Longie: Too many lies for too many years on Fighting Sioux (1/24)
Editorial: Resolve dispute for Coeur d'Alene law enforcement bill (1/24)
John Graham to be sentenced for role in Aquash murder in 1975 (1/24)
Skull Valley Band set to elect a new chairman and vice chairman (1/24)
Gun Lake Tribe announces February 11 grand opening for casino (1/24)
Column: Wisconsin off-reservation casino good for the economy (1/24)
Editorial: Mishewal Wappo Tribe casino a bad bet for community (1/24)
Editorial: Racinos could boost revenue in cash-strapped Arizona (1/24)
Native Sun News: Army to celebrate arrival of 'Lakota' helicopter (1/21)
Gyasi Ross: Native perspective on inquest of Native man's death (1/21)
Inquest split over fatal shooting of Native man by a police officer (1/21)
Rep. Young advances agenda for Indian and Alaska Native Affairs (1/21)
Column: City flunks history test in unearthing of Indian cemetery (1/21)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe once again lobbying for law enforcement bill (1/21)
Kickapoo man faces charges in tribal and state court for accident (1/21)
Crow Tribe discusses water rights settlement in advance of vote (1/21)
Robinson Rancheria to meet with county officials for gas station (1/21)
Editorial: Resolve dispute for women's shelter on Navajo Nation (1/21)
Young Saginaw Chippewa man cleared of federal assault charge (1/21)
Gamblers weren't deterred by a blaze at Shakopee Tribe's casino (1/21)
Hearing anticipated for Bay Mills off-reservation casino litigation (1/21)
Lawmakers target Tohono O'odham Nation off-reservation casino (1/21)
more headlines...

24 Jan 2011: Today's Democracy Now!

Rashid Khalidi: Leaked "Palestine Papers" Underscore Weakness of Palestinian Authority, Rejectionism of Israel and U.S.

Newly released documents show Palestinian negotiators agreed to give up large tracts of West Bank land, and nearly all of East Jerusalem, in peace talks with the Israeli government. The disclosure is among many contained in what is being called the "Palestine Papers"—over 1,700 files from inside Israeli-Palestinian negotiations dating from 1999 to 2010. The news network Al Jazeera began publishing details of the documents on Sunday. We speak with Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi. [includes rush transcript]
"The Black Power Mixtape"–Danny Glover Discusses New Doc Featuring Rare Archival Footage of Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton, Stokely Carmichael

We broadcast from Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival, the nation’s largest festival for independent cinema. One of this year’s selections that is creating a lot of buzz is a documentary called The Black Power Mixtape. The film features rare archival footage shot between 1967 and 1975 by two Swedish journalists and was discovered in the basement of Swedish public television 30 years later. We speak with renowned actor and activist Danny Glover, who co-produced The Black Power Mixtape. [includes rush transcript–partial]


•Attorney: Manning Abuse Worsens; 2 Visitors Detained at Base
•Fmr. Chicago Police Commander Sentenced to 4 ½ Years
•Obama Unveils GE CEO as Top Economic Adviser
•Rep. Giffords Transferred to Houston Rehab Hospital
•Leaked Files Show PA Offered Israel East Jerusalem Annexation
•Israeli Inquiry Clears Military, Gov’t in Flotilla Attack
•Thousands Protest U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan
•Tunisian Police, Army Hold Solidarity Rally with Protesters
•Anti-Gov’t Protests Held in Yemen, Algeria
•Duvalier Appeals for Public Support, Feels "Sadness" for Victims
•Philadelphia Abortion Doctor Accused of Murdering Babies, Patient; Lax State Oversight Faulted
•Drug Maker Stops Production of Anesthetic in Lethal Injections
•Days After Comcast Takeover, Olbermann Leaves MSNBC

Portland: Defend Free Speech and the Right to Organize!

Defend free speech & the right to organize!
Protest FBI and Grand Jury Repression

Join the National Day of Action

Tuesday January 25th 5:30-6:30
Federal Building- Downtown Portland
1220 SE 3rd (Between Jefferson and Madison)
Portland, Oregon 97204

In December 2010, under the direction of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald the FBI delivered nine new subpoenas in Chicago to anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists. Patrick Fitzgerald’s office is ordering the nine to appear at a Grand Jury in Chicago January 25. In response we are calling for protests on Jan.25 across the country and around the world to show our solidarity. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of people will be protesting at Federal Buildings, FBI offices, and other appropriate places, showing solidarity with the nine newly subpoenaed activists, and with all the activists whose homes were raided by the FBI. Fitzgerald’s expanding web of repression already includes the fourteen subpoenaed when the FBI stormed into homes on September 24th, carting away phones, computers, notebooks, diaries, and children’s artwork. In October, all fourteen activists from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Michigan each decided to not participate in the secret proceedings of Fitzgerald’s Grand Jury. Each signed a letter invoking their Fifth Amendment rights. However, three women from Minneapolis Tracy Molm, Anh Pham, and Sarah Martin are facing re-activated subpoenas. They are standing strong and we are asking you to stand with them-and with newly subpoenaed nine activists-by protesting Patrick Fitzgerald and his use of the Grand Jury and FBI to repress anti-war and international solidarity activists.