Monday

US Seeks Death for Tortured Guantanamo Detainees

The United States is seeking the death penalty for six detainees that the government claims were involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks. The detainees will be tried before a military tribunal that was created under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which effectively created a justice system outside the realm of traditional American courts.

At least two of the detainees, Mohammed al Qahtani and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, are known to have been tortured. CBS News reported Monday, "Last week, for the first time, the Bush administration acknowledged that [Khalid Shaikh] Mohammed was among three suspects who were waterboarded." That was when CIA Director Michael Hayden told the Senate Intelligence Committee that "Waterboarding has been used on only three detainees. ... We used it against these three high-value detainees because of the circumstances of the time."

The American Civil Liberties Union says that the Military Commissions Act "permits convictions based on evidence that was literally beaten out of a witness, or obtained through other abuse by either the federal government or by other countries."

The Center for Constitutional Rights, the defense lawers for Mohammed al Qahtani issued a statement today saying,
"For the past six years, the United States government has refused to conduct traditional criminal trials or courts martial against Guantanamo detainees suspected of wrongdoing.

Instead, the military commissions at Guantanamo allow secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and evidence obtained through torture. They are unlawful, unconstitutional, and a perversion of justice. Now the government is seeking to execute people based on this utterly unreliable and tainted evidence: it is difficult to imagine a more morally reprehensible system. Executions based on secret trials and torture evidence belong to another century. These barbaric sham proceedings will likely to inflame the controversy surrounding Guantanamo and draw the condemnation of even our allies...

Mohammed Al Qahtani has been at Guant├ínamo for almost six years. He was subject to the ‘First Special Interrogation Plan,’ which consisted of a regime of ‘aggressive interrogation methods’ personally approved by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that constitute torture. These tactics, revealed in a government interrogation log for Mr. Al Qahtani, include:

• Beatings
• Severe sleep deprivation combined with 20-hour interrogations for months at a time
• Threats of rendition to other countries that torture
• Explicit threats made against his family, including female members of his family
• Strip searches, body searches and forced nudity, at times in the presence of female personnel
• Sexual humiliation
• Humiliation by forcing him to bark like a dog, dance with a mask on his face, and pick up piles of trash with his hands cuffed while he was called “a pig”
• Denial of the right to practice his religion, including prohibiting him from praying for prolonged times and during Ramadan
• Threats to desecrate the Koran in front of him
• Attacks by dogs
• Forcible administration of frequent IVs by medical personnel during interrogation
• Being placed in acute stress positions for hours at a time
• Being placed in tight restraints repeatedly for many months or days and nights
• Exposure to low temperatures for extended periods of time
• Exposure to loud music for prolonged times
• At least 160 days of severe isolation"

Thursday

Former Attorney General Approved Torture

Secret documents reveal that former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez authorized harsh interrogation techniques that may break international torture laws.

The New York Times reported today that during his first month as Attorney General in 2005, Gonzalez signed a secret memo that,
"for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures." (NYT 10/4/07)

CitizenLobby your Representatives:
Write the Senate: End torture at CIA prisons around the world.

Wednesday

Stop Arms Sales to the Mid-East

CitizenLobby your Representatives:
Petition: Oppose Bush's Weapons Deal
Write Congress: Don't Start War with Iran
Write the UN Security Council: Don't Let Washington Start War with Iran

The Bush Administration is selling $65 billion worth of weapons to nations in the middle east. The deals include $20 billion to the Arabian peninsula including Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Israel will receive $30 billion and Egypt an additional $13 billion over ten years.

Flooding the middle east with American made guns and missiles does not make Americans safer, does not make American troops safer, and certainly does not help to relieve the tensions in the region. It does not help pacify Iraq considering Saudis citizens have been helping to fund the insurgency for years, not to mention fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Two others were from Egypt and United Arab Emirates.

What it does is add fuel the fire in the worlds most volatile region and arm more nations for the next world war which begins when the US attacks Iran.

Here's what Jon Stewart of the Daily Show had to say:
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Seed Newsvine

Saturday

Priorities in the "Land of the Free"

CitizenLobby your representatives!
Petition: Stop prison expansion in CA
Write congress: Support Mental Health in America
Write congress: Reduce numbers of non-violent offenders in prison

Our inept state legislature in California this week finally passed the state budget, two months overdue. Lawmakers were squabbling over things like public transportation and health care. It basically came down to republicans wanting to cut programs and democrats saying 'no' so nothing was accomplished until democrats eventually caved to the minority -- which has Governor Schwarzenegger's veto power -- and made the cuts.

In the end it was mental health ($55 million), state parks ($30 million), and funds for senior citizens ($17 million) that got the ax. Ultimately it's prisons which get the boost. California spent more than $500 million on overtime alone to correctional officers in 2006. Since the state will spend less money taking care of mental health patients it will instead spend more incarcerating many of those patients in the states overcrowded jails.

People with mental illness are not expendable. Winston Churchill lead the British through WWII with bipolar disorder.

California currently houses more inmates than any other state, including Texas. Since California has more inmates than any other state in a nation that leads the world with it's prison population that would make my home state "The Prison Capital of the World."

So why is California spending an additional $7.9 billion on construction of 53,000 new beds? One of Sacramento's most vocal and powerful lobbies is the prison guards union. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) has big money and they use it. According to the SF Chronicle, they cut a check to former-governor Pete Wilson's campaign for $425,000 in 1994. Recalled former-governor Gray Davis received $2 million from the union and used his first veto to kill a bill that could have saved the state $600 million by creating an alternate punishment program for some non-violent offenders.


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Friday

If you think logging is bad, check out Mountaintop Removalhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

CitizenLobby your representatives:
Write Congress: PUT AN END TO MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL.

Write Congress: Stop Govt. Subsidties for Coal


The Bush Administration seems eagerto destroy our environment in as many ways as possible. In this case, they handed a victory to the coal industry by expanding mountaintop removal. This a controversial form of coal mining in which mountains are blasted apart for bulldozers to retrieve the coal underneath.

Coal is a fossil fuel and is extremely harmful to the environment. By exploding the tops of mountains the coal industry is 1) destroying the natural landscape including wildlife habitat, 2) contaminating the watershed by dumping excess waste into flowing rivers and streams, 3) contributing to global warming by increasing use of fossil fuels.

Those are only a few environmental effects but the economic effects on local communities has also been disastrous forcing many families to move.

It's not surprising that the administration is expanding mountaintop removal considering these facts published yesterday in the New York Times:
"The Bush administration has been much friendlier to mining interests, which have been reliable contributors to the Republican Party, and has worked on the new rule change since 2001.

The early stages of the revision process were supported by J. Stephen Griles, a former industry lobbyist who was the deputy interior secretary from 2001 to 2004. Mr. Griles had been deputy director of the Office of Surface Mining in the Reagan administration and is knowledgeable about the issues and generally supports the industry.

In June, Mr. Griles was sentenced to 10 months in prison and three years’ probation for lying to a Senate committee about his ties to Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist at the heart of a corruption scandal who is now in prison."
The coal industry has their guys in Washington do we? Click the links at the top and write congress!


Learn more about mountaintop removal through a tour on GoogleEarth. All you have to is select the fallowing from the 'Layers' menu in GoogleEarth and then fly to Kentucky.




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Thursday

Welcome to CitizenLobby

Hello and welcome to CitizenLobby. This is a blog where you can expect to see news and opinion coupled with "Take Action" links which encourage readers to be active and vocal about the issues facing our world and the United States. With this blog, I am seeking to make reading the news an activity which is less passive. I want to make it easier for progressives take action and lobby their represenatives on the state and federal level.

So often, these days, I read the news and I'm so shocked with what is happening that I feel I must take a stand. On some issues, like loss of habeas corpus in America, the stakes are too great not to say something. The same thing goes for environmental policy especially relating to global warming and to the current state of health care in America.

The issues covered on CitizenLobby will be wide ranging and will challenge it's readers to not only have an opinion on the matter but to speak out and let their representatives know their position.