Friday, July 19, 2013

Times They are a-Changin

The judicial system is not what it used to be in the United States. Any notion that the US judicial system had any independence or neutrality has been eviscerated. The judiciary is clearly a weapon in the hands of the government.

Blowing holes in the Constitution

The government has been making "exceptions" to the Bill of Rights under the guise of keeping us safe from terrorism. The war on terror is a rouse as the government strips the people of their civil liberties, busts up their unions and reins down austerity on the people. It's a modern day witch-hunt as a part of larger neoliberal agenda. On July 17, 2013 the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturned an injunction against the 2012 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) Sectiom 1021. Chris Hedges, the lead plantif, had this response:
This is quite distressing. It means there is no recourse now either within the Executive, Legislative or Judicial branches of government to halt the steady assault on our civil liberties and most basic Constitutional rights. It means that the state can use the military, overturning over two centuries of domestic law, to use troops on the streets to seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers. States that accrue to themselves this kind of power, history has shown, will use it. We will appeal, but the Supreme Court is not required to hear our appeal. It is a black day for those who care about liberty. —Source: Truthdig
The government will go any length to to label someone a terrorist, associated force or someone who committed a belligerent act. With that breadth, it could be anyone. For more, read this. Moving on...

The court marshal of Bradley Manning

It's been a one-sided affair. Of course, it has —it's a court marshal. It's the government versus a whistle-blower and a warning to anyone who challenges government authority.
The military trial of Bradley Manning is a judicial lynching. The government has effectively muzzled the defense team. The Army private first class is not permitted to argue that he had a moral and legal obligation under international law to make public the war crimes he uncovered. The documents that detail the crimes, torture and killing Manning revealed, because they are classified, have been barred from discussion in court, effectively removing the fundamental issue of war crimes from the trial. Manning is forbidden by the court to challenge the government’s unverified assertion that he harmed national security. Lead defense attorney David E. Coombs said during pretrial proceedings that the judge’s refusal to permit information on the lack of actual damage from the leaks would “eliminate a viable defense, and cut defense off at the knees.” And this is what has happened.

Manning is also barred from presenting to the court his motives for giving the website WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, and videos. The issues of his motives and potentially harming national security can be raised only at the time of sentencing, but by then it will be too late.  —Chris Hedges (The Judicial Lynching of Bradley Manning)
  • No justice for Bradley Manning: The US government has made an example of Bradley Manning to prevent others from challenging the American empire. —Charles Davis
  • Bradley Manning Court-Martial: Secrecy and Injustice on Trial by Stephen Lendman
  •  Lack of transparency means tainted justice for Bradley Manning: Military obfuscation and compliant media make for an Orwellian trial of managed misinformation against the WikiLeaks source —Alexa O'Brien
  • Journalism On Trial as Bradley Manning Case Nears Moment of Truth Many of the trial’s crucial issues won’t be hashed out until the sentence phase—and the press and public may be shut out, reports Alexa O’Brien.
  • "[T]he military judge in Manning’s trial decided not to drop the most serious—and least supportable—charge against him, “aiding the enemy.” The government shouldn’t have brought this charge in the first place. Whatever you think of Manning, it sets a terrible precedent for whistle-blowers. And the only gain is the possibility of a life sentence for a 25-year-old who has already pled guilty to charges that could put him in prison for 20 years. This is about revenge, not justice." —Emily Bazelon (This Is Vengeance, Not Justice: Allowing the government to charge Bradley Manning with “aiding the enemy” is a dangerous precedent.)
It didn't always used to be this way. Daniel Ellsberg, after being a fugitive running from the law for 12 days, surrendered himself to authorities and was released on a personal recognizance bond. He was allowed to speak to the media and public engagements. Now, whistle-blowers are denied bail, kept in isolation, deprived of clothes and bedding, sleep deprived and other cruel and unusual punishments. Ellsberg's enlightening op-ed in Washington Post regarding Edward Snowden and why he had to leave the US can be read here.

Government lifts propaganda ban
For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government's mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts. So what just happened? —U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans
Bob Dylan's Times They are a-Changin