Category Archive: Barack Obama

The Truth Is Out There, We Just May Never Find It

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.

Galileo Galilei

The American people and the world have been lied to so many times by government officials from the president on down that it’s hard to tell when they are telling us the truth. So the truth becomes subjective because we are denied the facts and evidence. The article written in the London Review of Books by Pulitzer prize winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who exposed the cover-up of My Lai massacre and the torture at Abu Grhraib, has serious cast doubt on the governments version of the assassination of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011 and the propaganda of the movie version of that event.

NBC News has now corroborated part of Mr. Hersh’s report regarding the advanced knowledge of Pakistani officials and the possibility the Pakistani intelligence service knew of bin Laden’s whereabouts.

The U.S. government has always characterized the heroic raid by Seal Team Six that killed bin Laden as a unilateral U.S. operation, and has maintained that the CIA found him by tracking couriers to his walled complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The new revelations do not necessarily cast doubt on the overall narrative that the White House began circulating within hours of the May 2011 operation. The official story about how bin Laden was found was constructed in a way that protected the identity and existence of the asset, who also knew who inside the Pakistani government was aware of the Pakistani intelligence agency’s operation to hide bin Laden, according to a special operations officer with prior knowledge of the bin Laden mission. The official story focused on a long hunt for bin Laden’s presumed courier, Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. [..]

The NBC News sources who confirm that a Pakistani intelligence official became a “walk in” asset include the special operations officer and a CIA officer who had served in Pakistan. These two sources and a third source, a very senior former U.S. intelligence official, also say that elements of the ISI were aware of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. The former official was emphatic about the ISI’s awareness, saying twice, “They knew.”

Another top official acknowledged to NBC News that the U.S. government had long harbored “deep suspicions” that ISI and al Qaeda were “cooperating.” And a book by former acting CIA director Mike Morrell that will be published tomorrow says that U.S. officials could not dismiss the possibility of such cooperation.

None of the sources characterized how high up in ISI the knowledge might have gone. Said one former senior official, “We were suspicious that someone inside ISI … knew where bin Laden was, but we did not have intelligence about specific individuals having specific knowledge.”

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, host of “All In,” interviewed Mr. Hersh and spoke with NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell about these new reports.

Again, this is all subjective. People will believe or disbelieve either version based on their own prejudices. Just remember this cold hard fact: many of the people who are disputing Mr. Hersh are proven liars.  

TPP: Absence of Currency Control Makes It Unacceptable

Wall Street biggest friend in the Senate Charles Schumer doesn’t like the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, not so much for what’s in it but what isn’t, currency controls. Because the secret agreement being negotiated by the Obama administration doesn’t contain a clause that would protect currencies from being manipulated, Sen. Schumer is free to discuss it and why it’s important. In an interview and article at Huffington Post, he goes into the details about his concern and how currency manipulation hurts international trade and manufacturing.

A decade ago, or perhaps a little longer, New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer had an epiphany during a visit to a Crucible Industries steel plant in Syracuse.

His realization has proved enduring, and a decade later, it threatens to derail the grand trade agenda of his fellow Democrat, President Barack Obama.

The lightning bolt that lit up Schumer’s imagination that day was delivered by managers at the specialty steel factory, who complained of a surprisingly simple and profound fact that few people ever consider if they don’t deal in international commodities. Steel fabricators in Schumer’s state were losing sales not because of any failing on their part, but because the government of China was using a trick of the international currency market to keep Chinese manufacturers’ goods as much as one-third cheaper.

The label for the practice is currency manipulation, and Schumer has harped on it ever since — in meetings with business leaders, on the Senate floor, in hearings, and with legislative offerings.

But what exactly is it, and why does does it matter? And why is it so important to many Democrats that if it’s not addressed in the ongoing push for massive new trade pacts, they’re willing to torpedo their own president’s agenda? [..]

The numbers of jobs lost from manipulation, and the flip-side potential gains from ending it, are what make it so important for many lawmakers, on both sides of the aisle. Republicans, such as Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.), have been strong proponents for legislation that would crack down on currency manipulation.

But for Democrats, many of whom support the goals Obama is striving for in his pursuit of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement with 11 Pacific Rim nations, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Europe, currency manipulation is especially important because many suspect Obama will be unable to enforce the stronger labor and environmental standards called for in those trade deals. [..]

But in a sign of just how important currency manipulation is to several countries that would be included Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama administration officials who testified on Capitol Hill last month almost universally warned that passing currency measures would be a trade-deal killer.

Why Free Trade Is Bad for America

President Barack Obama has asked congress to abrogate its constitutional responsibility to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) with little to no debate and no changes or amendments. At this time, the House does not have the votes to pass the fast track bill. He has met with resistance from his own party, going so far as to say that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was spreading misinformation and didn’t know what she was talking about, in other words, lying. In reality, it is the president who is lying to the American public to push a free trade bill, that appears to be worse than NAFTA which has nearly destroyed American manufacturing. Thanks to Wikileaks you can read some of the draft provisions here.

Sen. Warren has been a leader in the fight to stop the fast tracking of TPP, she is now joined by Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) to stop the TPP.

Watch This Democrat Make The Case For Why Obama’s New Free Trade Deal Would Be Awful For America

By Sam Levine, Huffington Post

After President Barack Obama accused critics of his proposed trade deal of being wrong on the facts, one member of Congress released a lengthy video explaining point-by-point why he believes free trade has hurt the United States and why a new deal would be even worse.

After facing vocal criticism from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other Democrats on his trade deal, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama accused the members of his own party of spreading misinformation. In a town hall last week, Obama challenged his critics, saying that he would be happy to debate them on the facts of the deal.

In a nine-minute video, which will be sent out to 1 million members of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee on Thursday morning, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) seems to try to meet that challenge.

Free Trade More Like Fake Trade

Americans are creating tens of millions of jobs in other countries with our purchasing power, and we are losing tens of millions of jobs in our country, because foreigners are not buying as much of our goods and services.

What are they doing? They’re buying our assets. So we lose twice. We lose the jobs, and we are moving further toward national bankruptcy. That is the end game.

Sign the petition to Stop the TPP at Treachery.com

The Game of Drones: The Deaths of Innocents

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

At news conference, President Barack Obama expressed “profound regret” for killing two civilians, who were being held captive by Al Qaeda, during a counter-terrorism strike in an attempt to rescue them along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border this past January. The operation involved a drone strike.

The US president spoke shortly after the White House announced that intelligence officials had concluded that the January counter-terrorism operation had “accidentally” killed Dr Warren Weinstein, a US government aid worker, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian aid worker. [..]

Separately, the White House also disclosed that it had mistakenly killed two other Americans, both of whom were suspected of being high-level al-Qaida members but had not been specifically targeted.

Obama did not mention the two American al-Qaida members in the statement from the White House, in which he sought to explain how his counter-terrorism strike could have take the lives of two hostages. Neither did he use the word “drone”. [..]

Yet the president struck a surprisingly defiant tone, insisting that his administration had acted on the best intelligence available at the time and claiming that his decision to declassify the operation and initiate a review was a sign of American exceptionalism.

He said he had decided to make the existence of the operation public because Weinstein and Lo Porto’s families “deserve to know the truth” and “the United States is a democracy, committed to openness, in good times and in bad”.

Also mentioned in the article by a team of reporters at The Guardian was that, despite the president’s claim of “transparency,” there is still a great deal of secrecy surrounding the use of drones and a lack of accountability for the number of civilian killed during these raids.

The American Civil Liberties Union in March sued the Obama administration, which has proclaimed itself the most transparent in history, for disclosure of critical legal documents underpinning what the administration calls its “targeted killing” program – including the criteria for placement on a list permitting the US to kill people, including its own citizens, without trial.

Obama’s admission regarding the deaths of Weinstein and Lo Porto is likely to intensify criticism of the president’s worldwide drone strikes, conducted by the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. A recent analysis by human-rights group Reprieve estimated that US drone strikes intending to target 41 men had killed 1,147 people as of November.

These drone operations may get even more exposure due to the court on Germany that has allowed a law suit brought by families of Waleed bin Ali Jaber and Salim bin Ali Jaber, innocent civilians who were killed in a drone strike on August 12, 2012 in Yemen, to go forward. It may also put Germany in a awkward position

Salim and Waleed’s deaths sparked protests in their village, and the incident was later well-documented by international media and human rights groups. Their family representative, Faisal bin Ali Jaber, has met with Yemeni and U.S. national security officials and members of Congress. But the United States still has not formally acknowledged or apologized for the incident.

The previously unreported intelligence report, viewed by The Intercept, indicates that the U.S. government knew soon after the strike that it had killed two civilians. It could add fire to a lawsuit that Faisal bin Ali Jaber has launched in Germany, as further evidence that U.S. strikes put innocent Yemenis at risk.

Jaber will testify next month in front of a German court, alleging that Germany is violating a constitutionally enshrined duty to protect the right to life by allowing the United States to use Ramstein Air Base as part of its lethal drone operations.

It is the first time a victim of a U.S. drone strike will air his grievances in court, lawyers for the case told The Intercept. The lawsuit could put Germany in the awkward position of having to publicly defend its role in the U.S. drone program.

As The Intercept reported today, the U.S. military sees Ramstein as an essential node in the technical infrastructure for its armed and unarmed drone operations. A budget request for the Ramstein station stated that without the facility, “weapon strikes cannot be supported.”

The Obama administration has come under heavy criticism from international and human rights organizations over the legality of its drone program and the targeted assassinations of American citizens suspected of terrorist involvement without due process.

In a another case in Pakistan, a judge has ordered the [police to investigate the CIA for its authorization of drone strikes in 2009:

Last Tuesday, the Islamabad High Court ordered police to open a criminal case against former CIA Islamabad Station Chief Jonathan Bank and ex-CIA legal counsel John A. Rizzo for murder, conspiracy, terrorism and waging war against Pakistan.

The complainant is Kareem Khan, whose son Zahin Ullah Khan and brother Asif Iqbal were killed in an alleged December 2009 CIA drone strike in the mountainous Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan.

The case was lauded as the “first of its kind for directly implicating and naming a CIA official” by University of Hull international legal expert Niaz Shah. [..]

However, the case appears to rest on whether Pakistan’s political apparatus is willing to pursue a sensitive legal action that police say may imperil U.S.-Pakistan relations.

According to court documents seen by TIME, not only does Khan’s case implicate ex-CIA officials, it also calls for an investigation into the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, where Khan believes the drone strike was ordered. [..]

Even if the investigation receives the green light, bringing ex-CIA officials to trial will be an onerous battle in Pakistan. Should Bank and Rizzo fail to appear, one recourse is the international police body Interpol, which can extradite former CIA officials to stand trial, says Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the Pakistani attorney leading case. However, cases against CIA officials seldom succeed, even when Interpol is invoked, for reasons of diplomatic sensitivity. [..]

Even if the investigation receives the green light, bringing ex-CIA officials to trial will be an onerous battle in Pakistan. Should Bank and Rizzo fail to appear, one recourse is the international police body Interpol, which can extradite former CIA officials to stand trial, says Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the Pakistani attorney leading case. However, cases against CIA officials seldom succeed, even when Interpol is invoked, for reasons of diplomatic sensitivity.

Assassin and murder, this is Obama’s legacy.

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Venezuela – A”Threat” to US Imperialism by Geminijen

In Memory of Eduardo Galeano, 1940-2015.

At the 2009 Summit of the Americas, Hugo Chavez gave Barack Obama a copy of Galeano’s book Open Veins of Latin America which details the United State’s military aggression, economic exploitation and political coups or “regime changes” in Latin America.

In the 2012 Summit of the Americas, Obama’s reception by Latin American nations was noticeably cool – primarily because the United States refused to end its 50 year boycott of Cuba.

So at the 2015 Summit of the Americas, Obama walked in with a smile on his face and a proposal for a rapprochement with Cuba in one hand, and, in the other, his newly minted Executive Order 2015 which placed sanctions for human rights abuses on several  Venezuelan military leaders and  government officials. Under his emergency powers, Obama declared Venezuela a “threat to the United State’s national security.”

What was Obama thinking? Did he think people wouldn’t notice the bait and switch as he tried to appease Cuba and the Latin American nations while at the same time he applied the same old cold war tactics to isolate Venezuela as the more recent example of a Latin American country standing up to US imperialism? (To make matters worse, these particular military officers and judicial officials are those that many Bolivarians see as the most active in preventing a highly publicized attempt to destabilize the Venezuela government in February 2014 to set it up for another coup.)

The unanimous demand from the Latin American nations to repeal the sanctions against Venezuela show how disconnected Obama and the United States government are from changes in the balance of power in the Americas in the last decade. This includes  the failure of the United States to maintain its neoliberal hegemony and the rise of a left liberal block of nations (i.e., Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil among others).

Admittedly, much of the loss of US hegemony in Latin America is due to the United States over-extending itself in brutal and unsuccessful oil wars in the Middle East and Asia, but much of the impetus of this new left leaning block is due to the influence of the Bolivarian “21st century socialist revolution” of Venezuela. Beginning with the election of Hugo Chavez in the late 1990s and the drafting of a “socialist” constitution, Venezuela has been instrumental in establishing several inter-regional support groups such as ALBA, UNISUR and CELAC which exclude the United States.  The new left liberal block of nations has also benefited by Venezuela’s generous sharing of its oil wealth with its neighbors.

So even though most will scoff at the idea that Venezuela is a real military threat to the United States (given the size and nuclear capability and the fact that Venezuela recently reduced its military by an unheard of 34%), the spread of an ideology that challenges the United States’ right to exploit and impoverish its southern neighbors could be sufficient reason to consider Venezuela a “threat” to United States’ ideology of imperialism; thus causing the US to resort to its age old practice of “regime change.”

Seems Like We’ve Heard This Tune Before

For the past 150 years, the United States has treated Latin American as its own personal backyard to exploit.  Most of the exploitation has been accomplished through economic dominance and the support of right-wing dictatorships.  However, if we look at those countries that experienced actual “regime changes” involving military coups,  we can count, just since World War II,  a minimum of 11 countries (and I’m sure I’ve missed some) where the United States was either directly or indirectly involved with military regime changes in the Americas– either to protect specific multinational corporate interests or change regimes that promoted an ideology that was more generally in conflict with Capitalist interests (communism/socialism, nationalism, liberation theology): Guatemala 1954, Cuba1959, The Dominican Republic – 1961, Brazil – 1964, Chile – 1970-73, Argentina – 1976, Nicaragua – 1981-90, Panama 1989, Venezuela 2002, Haiti – 2004, and Honduras – 2009.

To learn some more about a recently published secret report that documents the United States plans for achieving regime change in Venezuela follow the discussion below …

War Crimes Charges Filed in Germany Against Bush Gang

In the wake of the release of the Senate’s Summary Report on the CIA torture program, a German human rights organization, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), has filed criminal charges in Germany against the architects of the program and the Bush administration.

17 December 2014 – The ECCHR has today lodged criminal complaints against former CIA head George Tenet, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other members of the administration of former US President George W. Bush. The ECCHR is accusing Tenet, Rumsfeld and a series of other persons of the war crime of torture under paragraph 8 section 1(3) of the German Code of Crimes against International Law (Völkerstrafgesetzbuch). The constituent elements of the crime of torture were most recently established in the case by the US Senate in its report on CIA interrogation methods. “The architects of the torture system – politicians, officials, secret service agents, lawyers and senior army officials – should be brought before the courts,” says ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck, who is appearing today in connection with the issue in front of the German Parliamentary Committee on legal affairs. “By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.” [..]

ECCHR calls on Federal Prosecutor Harald Range to open investigations into the actions of Tenet, Rumsfeld and other perpetrators and to set up a monitoring process as soon as possible. This would allow the German authorities to act immediately in the event that one of the suspects enters European soil and not have to wait until such point before beginning the complex investigations and legal deliberations. [..]

While criminal complaints against those most responsible for the crimes have been discontinued by the authorities, investigatory proceedings are ongoing in Spain and France in the case of individuals who were detained in Guantánamo. ECCHR is representing German resident Murat Kurnaz in the Spanish proceedings. There is no indication that legal action will be taken by US authorities in relation to torture in Guantánamo and in Iraq. For this reason, recourse will be had to all available legal mechanisms in Europe in order to establish legal liability and to lend support to calls within the US for independent investigations into those responsible at the highest level.

Other criminal complaints have been filed in Spain, Switzerland and France. So far, the only person involved with the CIA torture program who has been charged with a crime is the man who exposed the war crimes, whistleblower John Kiriakou.

Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman and Juan González spoke with Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and chairman of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, and longtime defense attorney Martin Garbus about the charges.

Even the New York Times Editorial Board agreed and, in a scathing editorial, accused President Barack Obama of failing his duty to prosecute the tortures and their bosses.

He did allow his Justice Department to investigate the C.I.A.’s destruction of videotapes of torture sessions and those who may have gone beyond the torture techniques authorized by President George W. Bush. But the investigation did not lead to any charges being filed, or even any accounting of why they were not filed. [..]

These are, simply, crimes. They are prohibited by federal law, which defines torture as the intentional infliction of “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” They are also banned by the Convention Against Torture, the international treaty that the United States ratified in 1994 and that requires prosecution of any acts of torture. [..]

No amount of legal pretzel logic can justify the behavior detailed in the report. Indeed, it is impossible to read it and conclude that no one can be held accountable. At the very least, Mr. Obama needs to authorize a full and independent criminal investigation. [..]

The question everyone will want answered, of course, is: Who should be held accountable? That will depend on what an investigation finds, and as hard as it is to imagine Mr. Obama having the political courage to order a new investigation, it is harder to imagine a criminal probe of the actions of a former president.

Actually, it’s not hard at all. Perhaps the president, after six years, has finely found the courage to do some of the things he promised when first elected, releasing the the innocent men tortured and held illegally at Guantanamo and normalizing diplomatic and some economic relations with Cuba, will find the courage to order his Attorney General to bring them up on charges and put this national disgrace to really behind us.

Spare Me the Lecture About the Law

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

If upholding the law is too hard for Barack Obama and Eric Holder, then they are among the ranks of the accused torturers and should just resign.

UN Expert Calls For Prosecution Over U.S. Torture

All senior U.S. officials and CIA agents who authorized or carried out torture like waterboarding as part of former President George W. Bush’s national security policy must be prosecuted, top U.N. officials said Wednesday.

It’s not clear, however, how human rights officials think these prosecutions will take place, since the Justice Department has declined to prosecute and the U.S. is not a member of the International Criminal Court.

Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said it’s “crystal clear” under international law that the United States, which ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1994, now has an obligation to ensure accountability. [..]

However, a Justice Department official said Wednesday the department did not intend to revisit its decision to not prosecute anyone for the interrogation methods. The official said the department had reviewed the committee’s report and did not find any new information that would cause the investigation to be reopened.

UN Official: Prosecute “Systematic Crimes and Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law”

Jim White, emptywheel

Ben Emmerson is the UN’s Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights. His statement released yesterday in response to the SSCI torture report points out the clear responsibilities that the US has under the Convention Against Torture and other international human rights laws to prosecute not only those who carried out torture, but those who designed the torture program and gave orders for its implementation. [..]

Emmerson doesn’t say that those responsible for the crimes should be brought to justice. He says outright that they MUST be brought to justice. Emmerson further points out that being authorized at a high level in the government gives no protection. Further, he notes a “conspiracy” to carry out the crimes.

Emmerson then goes on to destroy Barack Obama’s “look forward” bullshit and John Durham’s coverup disguised as an investigation:

   International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the US Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes.

   As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes.

Obama, Holder and Durham simply cannot grant immunity for these crimes. International law forbids it. More specifically, the Convention Against Torture, to which the US is a signatory, prohibits it. Similarly, the Convention on Enforced Disappearances also comes into play in the crimes committed by the US and also prevents the granting of immunity that Obama has tried to orchestrate.

(emphasis mine)

Mark Udall Says The CIA Is Still Lying

By Matt Sledge, Huffington Post

The CIA is still lying about its post-9/11 torture program, even in the face of a devastating Senate report, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said Wednesday.

In a dramatic floor speech during his final month in the Senate, Udall said the CIA’s lies have been aided and abetted by President Barack Obama’s White House and called on the president to “purge” his administration of CIA officials who were involved in the interrogation program detailed in the report.

“It’s bad enough to not prosecute these officials, but to reward and promote them is incomprehensible,” Udall said. “The president needs to purge his administration.”

Udall said the lies are “not a problem of the past,” citing the CIA’s response to the 6,000-page torture report. He said the agency took seven months to write a formal comment after the Senate Intelligence Committee approved the report in December 2012 — and when it did, it was full of lies and half-truths meant to justify the agency’s actions.

MSNBC’s “All In” host Chris Hayes questions Pres. Obama’s premise that we are a “nation of laws”

The United Police States of America

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

If you don’t think you aren’t living in one, you aren’t paying attention.

Shot in the chest by Cleveland police – then handcuffed and fined $100

John Swaine, The Guardian

Last year, Gregory Love was shot by a police officer through the window of his Range Rover. The only person prosecuted was Love himself – but now he’s suing a Cleveland force ordered by the government to change its ways

When a man pointing a Glock pistol approached Gregory Love’s car in downtown Cleveland late one night, Love did the only sensible thing possible, he says: he put up his hands and decided to let the man have what he wanted.

But Vincent Montague shot him in the chest anyway, according to Love, before having the 29-year-old forcibly removed from his silver Range Rover and his hands fastened together behind his back.

Blood from the bullet wound seeped through Love’s white T-shirt. He grew colder, despite the warm June air. “I actually thought I was going to die,” Love told the Guardian. “I felt faint. I saw blood coming from my chest. I thought he was just going to kill me right there.”

Eighteen months later, Love recalls his alleged assailant clearly: he was wearing the uniform of the Cleveland Division of Police. The only person prosecuted following the altercation was Love, who was fined $100 for a traffic violation. Montague was suspended from work for a day.

‘Chaotic and dangerous’ Cleveland police shamed in withering government report

Paul Lewis, The Guardian

Cleveland force accused of using excessive and unreasonable force in hundreds of cases as DoJ appoint independent monitor to oversee reforms

The Cleveland police department under fire over the recent fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy has engaged in “excessive and unreasonable force” in hundreds of other cases, according to a withering report by the Justice Department that lists examples of officers firing at people who pose no threat and striking them on the head with their weapons.

The cases documented in the report include that of a semi-naked hostage victim who was twice fired at by a police sergeant as he tried to escape his captors, and a 13-year-old who was repeatedly punched in the face while handcuffed in the back of a police car.

Another incident involved a man shot with a Taser while he was was strapped to an ambulance gurney after suffering from seizures. [..]

The report reviewed almost 600 incidents of use of force by Cleveland division of police over three years up to 2013. It detailed incidents of Cleveland police “firing their guns at people who do not pose an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury” and “hitting people on the head with their guns in circumstances where deadly force is not justified”.

The Justice Department said there were several incidents in which Cleveland police fired at suspects fleeing on foot or in vehicles when they who posed no danger to the officers or anyone else.

No Charges For Cop Who Broke Face Of Handcuffed Woman In Patrol Car

Ahiza Garcia, TPM Livewire

A local prosecutor announced on Friday he would not seek criminal charges against a Seattle police officer who was shown on video throwing a bone-breaking punch at a woman who was handcuffed in the back of a patrol car.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg (pictured above), whose office handles felony cases in the area, said he would not seek a felony charge against officer Adley Shepherd, 38, according to the Seattle Times newspaper. [..]

Despite the prosecutor’s decision on Friday, the case is set to be reviewed by the U.S. Justice Department for any possible civil rights violations, according to the Times.

St. Louis Police Pursue Assault Charge Against Youngest Member Of Ferguson Commission

Ryan J. Reilly, Huffington Post

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department this week convinced the local prosecutor’s office to charge a prominent young Ferguson protester with misdemeanor assault because he allegedly made fleeting physical contact with a law enforcement official blocking access to St. Louis City Hall during a demonstration last month.

Rasheen Aldridge, a 20-year-old community activist, has been protesting in and around the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on a regular basis ever since then-police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9. Last month, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) named him to the Ferguson Commission, a task force intended to address problems in the St. Louis region that were highlighted in the wake of Brown’s death. On Dec. 1, Aldridge was at the White House to meet with President Barack Obama to discuss the relationship between law enforcement and local communities. (He later said he left the meeting “disappointed” with Obama, whom he used to consider his “idol.”) [..]

One video of the alleged misdemeanor assault appears to show Aldridge, in a gray cap, attempting to gain access to St. Louis City Hall along with a number of other demonstrators on Nov. 26, less than 48 hours after the grand jury decision was announced. At the time, the public building was on lockdown because authorities thought someone in the crowd may have had spray paint.

Aldridge — who is just 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds, according to court documents — seems to be trying to open a City Hall door as a much larger city marshal stands guard. The marshal then appears to shove Aldridge, and the protester’s hand touches and perhaps pushes the official.

Soon after the incident, police in riot gear wielding pepper spray would break up the demonstration around City Hall, claiming that the entire daytime assembly was unlawful because a few demonstrators “made contact” with law enforcement.

And if you think the the special task force created by President Barack Obama is anything but another farce, take a look at the history of Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey who Obama has selected to co-chair the committee

Obama Appoints Notoriously Corrupt Police Commissioner To Improve Cops’ Credibility

By Carey Wedler, AntiMedia

The task force has 90 days to prepare a report and recommendations for the “21st century” problems of policing. But if Obama’s appointment to the task force cannot curb corruption and excessive violence within his own department, it is unlikely he will inspire change at the national level.

This week, President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to deal with police brutality and militarization (which he helped to enable over the course of his presidency). He has ordered $263 million for 50,000 body cameras and called for restrictions and oversight on military equipment.

Though on its face the plan has good intentions, it has already been criticized by activists and the media.

One of the most disingenuous elements of Obama’s master plan is his appointment of Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Charles Ramsey, to chair the “Task Force on 21st Cenutry Policing.” Ramsey is co-chairing the task force with Laurie Robinson, a former assistant attorney general and professor at George Mason University. The force is allegedly responsible for restoring trust and good relations between police officers and communities. [//]

While body cameras and restrictions on military equipment are easy to spin as positive (though the practice of militarization will not be stopped, only “curbed”), it is not as easy to fake credibility for Ramsey. The officer, who is also the president of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, runs one of the most corrupt police departments in the nation.

He was once the police chief of Washington, D.C. and has presided over Philadelphia’s department since 2008. Ramsey worked for the Chicago police department for thirty years and is currently a member of the “United States Homeland Security Advisory Council.”

On his watch, a federal investigation into corruption was launched over conspiracy, robbery, extortion, kidnapping and drug dealing. The Philadelphia police were caught ignoring thousands of rape cases to keep their crime numbers low. Before marijuana was decriminalized, Philly police arrested African-Americans for marijuana at an even higher rate than the rest of the country (which is already grossly high). Even after a decriminalization bill was passed this June, Ramsey vowed to continue arrests pursuant to Pennsylvania law. Other cops stole half a million dollars of drug money from suspects.

Philadelphia police are also no strangers to harassment and murder on the job, which is what Obama allegedly seeks to diminish in appointing Ramsey. Ramsey’s cops threaten to beat teenagers. They actually beat all kinds of people – over and over and over. They also indulge in shootings, which occur all too often and shirk accountability.

Most telling, during the initial waves of protest in Ferguson this summer, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar sought frequent advice from Ramsey on how to handle the situation.

Could Obama have found anyone worse?  

Abusive Cop Co-Chairs Obama’s Reform Commission

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

By appointing a police chief with a history of overseeing an abusive police force, President Barack Obama has crested another farce of a commission much like his Cat Food Commission that was chaired by a corporate shill and a right wing curmudgeon.

Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey, one of two co-chairs apppointed by President Obama to head a commission on ways to demilitarize local police, is known for leading repeated bloody and abusive crackdowns on protesters when he was Washington, D.C.’s chief a decade ago, according to a civil rights attorney who won millions in damages for 100s of citizens attacked by D.C. police.  

“If the president’s idea of reforming policing practices includes mass false arrests, brutality, and the eviscerating of civil rights, then Ramsey’s his man. That’s Charles Ramsey’s legacy in D.C.,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), speaking of the ex-D.C. chief and current Philadelphia Police Commissioner. “Obama should immediately rescind his appointment of Commissioner Ramsey, who is a mass violator of civil rights and civil liberties.”  [..]

More than a decade ago, when Ramsey was the D.C. police chief, he lead numerous crackdowns and mass arrests of protesters-starting in 2000. His most high-profile assault was in September 2002 at Pershing Park, where demonstrators protested World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings. The police locked down the park and arrested everyone there-400 people-including journalists, legal observers and bystanders.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund sued and won millions for protesters. The April 2000 protest settlements totalled $13.7 million and Pershing Park/2002 settlement was $8.25 million. Verheyden-Hilliard said the settlements highlight a larger and especially bloody pattern of police crackdowns on protesters ordered by Ramsey. She listed the following six events in an e-mail that “are demonstrative of his leadership and the force under his command.” The first example is an earlier three-day World Bank/IMF protest from spring 2000 in downtown Washington.

If this is Obama’s idea finding credible and transparent solutions to the militarization of civilian police forces, his thinking is warped, sick joke and a slap in the face to the Americans who expect the police to serve and protect not violate their civil rights.

Net Neutrality May Soon Be Dead, Thank You, Mr. President

Cross posted from the Star Hollow Gazette

The headline in the Washington Post, “Obama’s call for an open Internet puts him at odds with regulators“, is misleading. Yes, President Obama made one of his flowery speeches supporting a free and equal internet but he was the one who appointed  industry lobbyist Thomas Wheeler to head the Federal Communications Commission.

The dissonance between Obama and Wheeler has the makings of a major policy fight affecting multibillion-dollar industries. The president wants clear rules to prevent Internet service providers from auctioning the fastest speeds to the highest bidders, a scenario that could favor rich Web firms over start-ups.

Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable and telecommunications industry, has floated proposals that aim to limit the ability of service providers to charge Web companies, such as Netflix or Google, to reach their customers. But critics have argued that his approach would give the providers too much leeway to favor some services over others. [..]

But the move by the White House has put Wheeler in an uncomfortable spotlight. The two men have long been allies. Wheeler raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s campaign and advised the president on his transition into the White House. Obama last year appointed Wheeler to lead the FCC as it was poised to tackle its biggest issue in years – the rules that govern content on the Web.

A growing source of frustration for White House and congressional Democrats is that they have three of their own on the five-member commission at the FCC, a majority that should give them the power to push through a policy of their liking. But if Wheeler charts a different course, he could bring the other members along with him.

And, as Wheeler reminded participants at his meeting with Web companies Monday, the FCC does not answer to the Obama administration.

The article states that Obama campaigned on Net Neutrality and, according to aides, made the statement to energize his base of  young, tech-savvy progressives. Seriously? He does this now, after the drubbing in the mid-terms? Now Obama wants to curry support of the Democrats in Congress. What happened during the last six years?

And don’t forget, he appointed Wheeler because they’re friends.

Obama Calls for Net Neutrality, But His Own Industry-Tied FCC Appointee Could Stand in the Way

According to The Washington Post, Wheeler met with officials from Google, Yahoo and Etsy on Monday and told them he preferred a more nuanced solution. Wheeler reportedly said: “What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn’t affect your business. What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby.” On Monday, protesters called on Wheeler to favor net neutrality as they blockaded his driveway when he attempted to go to work. Protests also took place in a dozen cities last week after The Wall Street Journal reported the FCC is considering a “hybrid” approach to net neutrality. This would apply expanded protections only to the relationship between Internet providers and content firms, like Netflix, and not to the relationship between providers and users. We discuss the ongoing debate over the Internet’s future with Steven Renderos of the Center for Media Justice.



The transcript can be read here

There is only one person to blame if the FCC sides with the industry, Barack Hussein Obama, shill for the 1%.

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