The Obama Administration recently underwent its first U.N. treaty body review, and the resulting concluding observations made public yesterday should be a cause for alarm. The observations, issued by independent U.N. experts tasked with monitoring compliance with the international treaty on the rights of children in armed conflict (formally known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict or “OPAC”), paint a dark picture of the treatment of juveniles by the U.S. military in Afghanistan: one where hundreds of children have been killed in attacks and air strikes by U.S. military forces, and those responsible for the killings have not been held to account even as the number of children killed doubled from 2010 to 2011; where children under 18 languish in detention facilities without access to legal or full humanitarian assistance, or adequate resources to aid in their recovery and reintegration as required under international law. Some children were abused in U.S. detention facilities, and others are faced with the prospect of torture and ill-treatment if they are transferred to Afghan custody.
By ratifying OPAC in 2002, the U.S. committed to guaranteeing basic protections to children in armed conflict zones, and to submit periodic reports on the implementation of its treaty obligations to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child. We wroteabout the latest U.S. report, released in November, which revealed that over 200 children have been held in U.S. custody in Afghanistan since 2008, some for lengthy periods of time. During its review of the U.S. on January 16, the Committee posed critical questions about the treatment of children by the U.S. military and issued recommendations to remedy these human rights violations.
It's really amazing when you sit down and catalog all the crap and crimes Barack has gotten away with. It really says a great deal about how craven we are, how willing to look the other way.
It's like Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report) said this week
It matters much less that black unemployment remains at record levels, that US wages have not risen in thirty years and that the first black president apparently forgot his campaign promise to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour almost as soon as he made it. And it certainly matters when racist Republicans diss our president.
But it matters very little that the black role model president conducts weekly “Terror Tuesday” meetings in the White House basement at which he dispatches drones to murder and special forces to kidnap and torture in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and across the African continent. It matters not at all that the First Lady is a shameless flack for Wal-Mart, that the Department of Justice prosecutes whistle blowers instead of war criminals, or that black military and diplomats like Susan Rice are up to their armpits in African blood.
Our black political class is utterly self-interested. It cannot begin to mobilize black communities to demand higher wages, a massive jobs program to relieve unemployment, a rollback of the prison state, a new paradigm of urban economic development that isn't just moving poor people out of neighborhoods and richer ones in. It can't begin to make these things happen because foisting itself and its own advancement off as “representing” the black oppressed masses is the beginning and the end of who they are and what they do.
For them, the election and and re-election of Barack Obama is the end of black history. Addressing black unemployment, pervasive economic injustice, cutting back the warfare and prison states, opposing the neoliberal agenda of privatization and austerity put forth not just by the black president, but by an entire layer of black officials are, in their language not pragmatic or “realistic.”
It really is pathetic.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Starting with War Criminal Colin Powell who, ten years ago, appeared before the United Nations (February 5, 2003) to 'make the case' for war on Iraq by lying. Lawrence Wilkerson worked under Colin Powell and has spent the last 8 or so years attempting to rewrite history. Yesterday, Norman Solomon appeared on Democracy Now! to debate Wilkerson. Kim Petersen (Dissident Voice) evaluates the claims put forward in the debate:
Wilkerson was evasive: “I don’t want to get into an on-screen argument with someone who makes comments as if he’d never been in government a day in his life or never been in—associated with power at this level.”
He looked for exculpation: “… when you look at the American people, who in polls showed 70 percent-plus agreed that Saddam Hussein had WMD, it’s not enough to say that Dick Cheney and Colin Powell and others failed in their responsibility to the American people or to their own government. There were a lot of people…”
Wilkerson, perhaps realizing the inference of his words, continued: “I’m not trying … to rationalize or excuse. I’m just saying that there were a lot of people who had the same view that Colin Powell basically presented at the United Nations.”
Many people were wrong. However, what was the point of Wilkerson stating that 70% of the American people believed the propaganda emanating from their government and the reporting of the corporate media? One obvious conclusion is that government administrations are not to be trusted and neither is the corporate media. A second conclusion is that 30% of the people outside the Bush administration loop were better clued in than the administration officials themselves, so it would be prudent to consider objectively all views, especially on life-and-death decisions as waging war.
Attending the Senate Intelligence Committee today was an odyssey into the absurd. Senator Dianne Feinstein, you may remember, condemned the classic film Zero Dark Thirty. While some idiots rushed to echo her, we pointed out that of course the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee would condemn it -- Zero Dark Thirty is an indictment against Feinstein who has served on the Intelligence Committee and looked the other way on torture over and over. Feinstein was having a hissy fit as a man shouted something to the effect of, "You are betraying democracy when you assassinate justice!" She also whined about how, she did not feel, there were enough capitol police. She actually had it cleared twice. Medea Benjamin (of CODEPINK) yelled, "Why, Dianne, why?" as the room was being cleared.
The shouters were CODEPINKers -- not all CODEPINKers were shouting, however. Not shouting but in that section was Ann Wright. Some of the people around her had painted their hands pink, some held up signs -- and I would say they wree the size of construction paper, not big signs, 8 1/2 by 11 inches. There was one large sign calling Brennan a national security risk. DiFi had a fit about those as well insisting there would be no signs allowed in the hearing either. After wasting everyone's time clearing the room twice -- and scowling (sadly, her face has frozen like that), DiFi wanted to then lecture everyone present.
She wanted those present to know what good citizens didn't do. "They don't show signs." What a bully in a bad wig. And as she lost it repeatedly, it was hard not to think how lucky she is that so many of the Committee's hearings are closed to the public. Feinstein is the public servant who loathes the public.
Why were people upset? Because President Barack Obama nominated John Brennan to be the CIA Director.
And probably because they knew Feinstein was going to rubber stamp him. What else was she going to do? She served on the "Intelligence Committee" when torture took place. She was briefed on it and she looked the other way. She buried it and she mitigated it and she's part of the refusal to hold people accountable for torture. In a functioning government, she would have been forced to resign from the Committee. Instead, she tries to pretend she has the ethics to criticize a film that exposes the widespread use of torture.
In her ridiculous opening remarks, she pushed the lie that civilian deaths from drone strikes were minimal ("typically been in the single digits") and claimed that she and the Committee had provided strong oversight ("significant oversight") of The Drone War. She was lying again. When Feinstein lies, her voice goes flat and in the roof of the mouth. It's a weird sound but that's her tell. And she was lying in her opening statements. Those that don't know her tell had only to listen to Senator Ron Wyden's first exchange to grasp that there has been no oversight and DiFi was lying.
If you're new to The Drone War, The World (PRI) has created this folder of audio reports on the topic. Drones are robot planes. The operator isn't in the plane, they're elsewhere. The drones capture video. That's generally a live feed. When we speak of the drones involved in The Drone War, we're speaking of drones with more than video capability. These drones are weaponized. John Brennan is usually referred to by the press as the "architect."
DiFI and others would claim that they wanted to focus on CIA issues. But no one asked the obvious: Can you keep it in your pants or will you also sleep around making yourself a security risk? That is why the hearing was held in the first place. CIA Director David Petraeus had to step down because he couldn't keep it in his pants. When that happens, maybe the first question to the next nominee should be about the topic that forced a resignation?
Brennan noted he joined the CIA in 1980. That was about all the facts he could muster in his opening remarks but that was probably one more factual truth than Chair Dianne Feinstein managed in her long, long opening remarks. Brennan was yammering away about his family -- no, that really didn't belong in the opening remarks, when a man began shouting about a teenager (I believe he was referring to 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki who was an American and who was killed by a drone) when DiFi felt the need to pause the hearing. As the man was led away, he urged the Committe, "Stand up against torture, stand up against drones to not confirm this man."
Brennan then wanted to go on about his own three children. A woman stood, held a baby doll over her head and shouted, "Speaking of children, I speak for the mothers of children who are killed in the drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and anywhere else. And the Obama administration refuses to tell Congress. They won't even tell Congress what countries we are killing children in. Senator Feinstein, are your children more important than the children of Pakistan and Yemen? Are they more important? Do your job! World peace depends on it. We're making more enemies -- "
DiFi's not really good with children, never has been. And she only has one child, for the record. That's probably confusing because she's on husband number three, but she only has one child. (And that's obvious by her inability to handle anything that strays from a schedule.)
"The next time," Feinstein informed Brennan, "we're going to clear the chamber and bring people in one by one."
What a petty little tyrant. I've been at hearings at the height of the Iraq War. I've seen real outbursts, prolonged ones. No one had to call a recess, no one had to pout. (In fairness, DiFi's unhappy life has made the corners of her mouth sag so she forever appears to be pouting.) A woman then stood up with a list of the names of children killed in The Drone War.
It was too much for Dianne Feinstein. She insisted that the room be cleared and "that the CODEPINK associates not be permitted to come back in."
After a recess, the hearing started again and it wasn't good for Brennan. Without CODEPINK interrupting, it became obvious how like Arvin Sloane he was. He sounds like him, he looks like him. Arvin Sloane was the maniac and CIA baddie on Jennifer Garner's Alias. Ron Rifkin played him.
Despite yammering away forever, neither Feinstein nor Breenan noted the reality that Alice K. Ross, Chris Woods and Sarah Leo did in December with "The Reaper Presidency: Obama's 300th drone strike in Pakistan" (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism). None wanted to note that, in Pakistan alone, The Drone War has resulted in about 3,468 deaths -- with as many as 893 of those being civilians. 176 of those were children. So, no, DiFi's lie about each year's civilian killed are not in the single digit. Well they may be, the 'report' the Senate Intelligence Community gets may say that. But it's a lie if it does. DiFi also 'forgot' to mention that the United Nations
Vice Chair Saxby Chambliss: As Deputy Executive Director, you received the daily updates from the time of Abu Zubaydah's capture throughout his interrogation including the analysis of the lawfulness of the techniques putting you in the position to express any concerns you had about the program before any of the most controversial techniques -- including water boarding -- were ever used. Now we found a minimum of 50 memos in the documents within the 6,000 pages that -- on which you were copied. What steps did you take to stop CIA from moving to these techniques you now say you found objectionable at the time?
John Brennan: I did not take steps to stop the CIA's use of those techniques. I was not in the chain of command of that program. I served as Deputy Executive Director at the time. I had responsibility for overseeing the management of the Agency and all of its various functions and, uh, I was aware of the program. Uhm, I was uh-uh cc-ed on some of those documents but I had no oversight of it. I wasn't involved in its creation. I had expressed my personal objections and views to some Agency colleagues about certain of those EITs such as water boarding, nudity and others where I professed my personal objections to it. Uh, but I did not try to stop it because it was -- uh -- you know, something that was being done in a different part of the agency under the authority of others. Uh, and it was, uh, something that, uh, was directed by the, uh, the administration at the time.
So Brennan gave his silent approval. And he never took it to "the ones directly above you," as Chambliss pointed out by listing all those higher at the time than Brennan in the CIA. Confronted by Chambliss with AB Krongard's remarks that Brennan was more involved in the torture than he's letting on, Brennan fell back on "I don't recall." Buzzy Krongard was Executive Director of the CIA. Asked by Chambliss about the e-mails describing various torture techniques being sent to him, Brennan insisted he got ton of e-mails but he wasn't in the loop on torture.
Senator Ron Wyden started his first round of questioning by noting the meeting he and other senators had with Brennan last week.
Senator Ron Wyden: As we discussed then, I believe the issues before us have nothing to do with political party and have everything to do with checks and balances that make our system of government so special. Taking the fight to al Qaeda is something every member of this Committee feels strongly about. It's the idea of giving any president unfettered power to kill an American without checks and balances that is so troubling. Every American has the right to know when their government believes it's allowed to kill them. And ensuring that the Congress has the documents and information it needs to conduct robust oversight is central to our democracy. In fact, the Committee was actually created in response to lax oversight of programs that involved targeted killings. So it was encouraging last night when the President called and indicated that effective immediately, he would release the documents necessary for senators to understand the full legal analysis of the president's authority to conduct the targeted killing of an American. What the president said is a good first step towards ensuring the openess and accountability that's important and you heard that reaffirmed in the Chair's strong words right now. Since last night, however, I have become concerned that the Department of Justice is not following through with the president's commitment just yet. 11 United States Senators asked to see any and all legal opinions, but when I went to read the opinions this morning, it is not clear that that was what was provided. And moreover on this point, with respect to lawyers, I think what the concern is, is there's a double standard. As the National Security Advisor and you volunteered to your credit, you are not a lawyer, you asked your lawyers and your experts to help you and we're trying to wade through all of these documents and the reason I'm concerned is that it's not yet clear that what the president committed to has actually been provided. And finally on this point, the Committee has been just stonewalled on several other requests -- particularly with regards to secret law. And I'm going to leave this point simply by saying, I hope you'll go back to the White House and convey to them the message is not yet following through on the president's commitment. Will you convey that message?
John Brennan: Yes, I will, Senator.
Senator Ron Wyden: Very good. Let me now move to the public side of oversight, making sure that the public's right to know is respected. One part oversight is Congressional oversight and our doing our work here. The other is making sure that the American people are brought into these debate. Just like James Madison said, this is what you need to preserve a republic. And I want to start with the drone issue. In a speech last year, the President instructed you to be more open with the public about the use of drones to conduct targeted killings of al Qaeda members. So my question is: What should be done next to ensure that public conversation about drones so that the American people are brought in to this debate and have a full understanding of what rules the government's going to observe when it conducts targeted killings?
John Brennan: Well I think this hearing is one way because I think this kind of discourse between the legislative and the executive branch is critically important. I believe that there needs to be continued speeches that are going to be given by, uh, given by the executive branch to explain our counter-terrorism programs. I think there's a misimpression on the part of some American people who believe that we take strikes to punish terrorist for past transgressions. Nothing could be further from the truth. We only take such actions as a last resort to save lives when there's no other alternative to taking an action that's going to mitigate that threat. So we need to make sure that there's an understanding. And the people that were standing up here today, I think they really have a misunderstanding of what we do as a government and the care that we take and the agony that we go through to make sure that we do not have any collateral injuries or deaths. And as the Chairman said earlier, the need to be able to go out and say that publicly and openly, I think, is critically important because people are reacting to a lot of falsehoods that are out there and I do see it as part of my obligation and I think it's the obligation of this Committee to make sure the truth is known to the American people and to the world.
It's a damn shame idiots like Glenn-Glenn Greenwald were allowed and encouraged to hijack Zero Dark Thirty because Kathryn Bigelow's film demonstrates what a liar Brennan is. There is no mistaken impression (the real term, not "misimpression") on the part of the American people. What's really going on, and this is in Kathryn's film, is that "last resort" is not a last resort. These people making these decisions are declaring everything a "last resort." That's what the interrogation in the first act of the film is about. The prisoner has no knowledge of a bombing that will take place in 24 hours. He is tortured. Over and over. "Last resort" and "threat"? No, not in the 'ticking time bomb' sense that has taken up the bulk of the discussion of terrorism.
Should people torture?
No. It cheapens and deadens you, it destroys any real sense of a legal system. But proponents use the ticking time bomb argument. This argues that if you could stop Miami from being bombed in 24 hours if you were allowed to torture a suspect, you should do it. This ticking time bomb argument allowed for a lot of hiding. The torture was never about something in 24 hours. It was about getting information -- something interrogation has long done. Sometimes well, sometimes poorly. And as the film makes clear, torture was allowed because an attack today or an attack two years from now were all treated as an "immediate threat" and torture was the first choice while being presented as a "last resort."
Brennan grasps what idiots like Glenn-Glenn didn't. And Brennan is playing word games with a Committee that's either too stupid to grasp that or honestly doesn't care. And that's very important because if you're going to infer that Americans can't be targeted on US soil and Brennan's playing word games then we're being denied the reality that, as with torture, the never-ending supposed threat (labled "immediate threat" always by the government) will mean US citizens can be targeted with government killings while on US soil. Anything else is lie and Brennan told a lot of lies in the hearing. We're going to again note Jameel Jaffer's "The Justice Department White Paper Details Rationale for Targeted Killing of Americans" (ACLU):
Michael Isikoff at NBC News has obtained a Justice Department white paper that purports to explain when it would be lawful for the government to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen believed to be affiliated with a terrorist organization. Many of the white paper's arguments are familiar because Attorney General Eric Holder set them out in a speech at Northwestern University in March of last year. But the white paper offers more detail, and in doing so it manages to underscore both the recklessness of the government's central claim and the deficiencies in the government's defense of it.
The 16-page white paper (read it here) is said to summarize a 50-odd page legal memo written in 2010 by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel to justify the addition of U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi to the government's "kill lists." That legal memo is one of the documents the ACLU is seeking in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Needless to say, the white paper is not a substitute for the legal memo. But it's a pretty remarkable document.
The paper's basic contention is that the government has the authority to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen if "an informed, high-level official" deems him to present a "continuing" threat to the country. This sweeping authority is said to exist even if the threat presented isn't imminent in any ordinary sense of that word, even if the target has never been charged with a crime or informed of the allegations against him, and even if the target is not located anywhere near an actual battlefield. The white paper purports to recognize some limits on the authority it sets out, but the limits are so vague and elastic that they will be easily manipulated.
Moving from the hearing, Salah Nasrawi (Ahram) explores the current trends in Iraq:
The protests raised speculation about the future of the violence-torn nation amid the worst political deadlock and sectarian divisions seen since the US troops departed.
The seven-week demonstrations seem to be a sign of regained Sunni confidence in the face of Shia domination since the US-led invasion that toppled the Sunni regime of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Iraq has remained gripped in its worst political crisis as the leaders of its divided sectarian and ethnic communities have failed to reach agreement on how to share power and government revenues.
The country’s Sunni and Kurdish leaders have accused Al-Maliki of violating the terms of a power-sharing deal he signed with rival political parties following inconclusive parliamentary elections in 2010.
As the political crisis in Iraq deepens, Baghdad has been embroiled in a long-running dispute over political participation, oil and land and revenue-sharing with the Kurds in the north.
Tensions between the central Iraqi government in Baghdad and the Kurdish region intensified following reports of a military stand-off between Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers and the Iraqi army.
Iraq Body Count notes 80 violent deaths so far this month through yesterday which was only the sixth day of the month. Violence continues today. All Iraq News reports a Mosul roadside bombing has claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers, three homes in nothern Diyala Province were bombed leaving eighteen people injured, a Baghdad car bombing has injured an employee of Irbahim al-Jaafari's -- al-Jaafari is the head of the National Alliance and 1 government employee was shot dead in Baghdad. Al Rafidayn identifies the government employee as the Director General of the Ministry of Housing and Construction and Al Rafidayn identifies the location on the home bombings as Wajihiya ("north of Baquba").
On the topic of violence, Nouri's flunky Muqdad al-Sharifi was insisting to AFP yesterday that the protests were a security threat. Today the gabby al-Sharifi is telling AP and anyone else who will listen (or anyone who'll practice stenography) that the electoral commission are receiving death threats from Sunni areas. Code for "Sunnis be crazy." It's good to see that al-Sharifi's not interested in even pretending to be objective. Better the reality of Nouri and his flunkies be exposed early on. Interestingly enough, he's now just "a member of the election commission" -- that's how AP bills him today. (He is actually, as AFP noted, "the chief electoral officer of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission.") While Nouri and his cronies try to dismiss and attack the protesters, All Iraq News notes Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, has issued a call for the legitimate demands of the protesters to be heeded. The outlet notes that al-Hakim has been in contact with some of the southern tribal leaders and they are calling for the protesters to be listened to. Al Rafidayn notes that al-Hakim declared that the protests are a Constitutional right and that the government must listen to the legimate demands. Meanwhile Kitabat reports that protesters are being targeted for assassination and that in Baghdad alone 13 protests have been assassinate.
Al Mada notes the sit-in in Mousl continues and that belongings of the protesters were stolen from their tents. Sheikh Saeed Lafi states that Friday's demonstration will rally the people and see tribal leaders and elders taking part in the demonstration and calling for the Federal Court to honor the mandates passed by Parliament (limiting the Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister to two terms only -- as the president is already limited). The Sheikh notes that the Federal Court is biased towards Nouri and under the control of Nouri's Dawa political party. He also states that it is clear that Iran is influecing events in Iraq. Kitabat adds that Friday's slogan is "NO to the Tyrannical Ruler." The protesters state that Iraq is headed towards the abyss and they will not assist in the making of a new dictator or in helping the dicator exploit the people.
Like the protests, questions surrounding a billion dollar deal just won't go away. From the December 26th snapshot:
October 9th, Nouri was strutting across the world stage as he inked a $4.2 billion weapons deal with Russia. The deal is now iffy if not off (an Iraqi delegation went to Russia at the start of the month to see if the deal could be salvaged) and it went down in charges of corruption. Among those said to be implicated in the corruption is Nouri's own son. All Iraq News reports that State of Law is attempting to remove Nouri's name from the list of those Parliament is investigating for the corruption in that deal. In addition, Al Mada reports that Nouri is refusing to answer questions from the Parliament relating to that arms deal.
You may remember that when the rumors started to really swirl, Nouri and his cronies turned on Ali al-Dabbagh, Nouri's spokesperson. Thing is, they turned to late. Ali al-Dabbagh had already seen the writing on the wall and left Iraq. Not before making it clear that he knew a great deal about the Russian arms deal -- and repeatedly maintaining that he hadn't made a cent off it. He's currently in the UAE. All Iraq News reports today that Ali's gotten chatty with the Russian press. Who made money off the corrupt deal? Ali says it was Nouri's advisors and Nouri's son.
Cindy Sheehan is calling on people to write political prisoner Lynne Stewart. Lynne Stewart early on in her career became the people's attorney. That means her clients were often not the ones who could afford to pay for legal representation. It means also that she represented all of the people. Not just the cuddly types. This became a problem during the so-called War on Terror -- a never-ending war. You can't have a Lynne Stewart out there. Not someone who stands up. You need cowards. And they're always in wide supply. In 2005, Lynne Stewart was found guilty. Elaine Cassel (Find Law) explained what was taking place:
Prior to September 11, 2001, many attorneys might have sided with Stewart. They would certainly have seen a blatant Sixth Amendment violation in both the SAMs and the eavesdropping regulations - and possibly seen First Amendment violations when it came to the SAMs. And they might also have agreed that to honor the right to counsel, an attorney ought to try to resurrect the traditional attorney-client relationship despite these unconstitutional constraints.
Now, however, the First and Sixth Amendments have been gutted--at least in terms of the attorney-client relationship. Indeed, as I argued in the first article I wrote about Stewart, the government seems to be conducting an all-out assault on the right to counsel.
Defense attorneys who represent alleged terrorists - or even detainees who are merely suspected of some connection to terrorism -- now know that the government may listen in on their attorney-client communications. They also know that this eavesdropping may give rise to evidence that may be used in their own prosecution for terrorism if they cross the imaginary line drawn by the government.
How can these attorneys be zealous advocates with this government-inspired fear overshadowing their every word?
If the attorneys are prosecuted, they can expect, at trial, to be conflated with their clients - just as Stewart was. The prosecution showed an old tape of Osama bin Laden promising revenge if Rahman were not released. In a courtroom only a short distance from Ground Zero, the tape must have meant a great deal. But it related to Rahman, not Stewart. Though Rahman may be a Bin Laden confederate, that does not mean his attorney is.
Lynne is guilty of nothing. She broke no law. She broke a Special Administrative Measure. That's not a law. She broke it by giving Reuters a press release from her client. That happened when Bill Clinton was president. Janet Reno was Attorney General. The Justice Dept looked into the matter. They didn't file charges against Lynne because Janet Reno knew the law and knew breaking a SAM is not breaking a law. Life went on. Then the Supreme Court gave the presidency to Bully Boy Bush and he picked John Ashcroft to be his Attorney General. Ashcroft went gunning for Lynne and he should have been reigned in by judges. Instead, he was allowed to let his crazy run free.
Falsely linking Lynne to 9-11 and holding the trial at Ground Zero allowed Ashcroft to get a conviction -- he linked her to 9-11 the same way the administration linked Iraq to 9-11 when trying to sell the Iraq War. In October of 2006, US District Court Judge John Koetl sentenced Lynne to 28 months. He noted, in his remarks, her years of work, her public service. Lynne began serving her sentence on November 18, 2009. The delay had to do with medical care for breast cancer. Bully Boy Bush was gone from the White House. Barack Obama was President of the United States. A Constitutional professor, he claimed. Surely, this would be good for Lynne. Maybe, as our Elaine's noted, Lynne reminded Barack too much of his own mother? Whatever the reason, Barack becoming president wasn't good for Lynne. Under Barack, Lynne's 28 month sentence was replaced with a 10 year prison sentence.
As Lynne's husband Ralph Poynter noted on Black Agenda Radio, week of January 21st, Lynne's cancer has returned.
Ralph Poynter: For months, we have been worried about a spot that's shown on Lynne's lung -- one of her lungs. And we did not want to go public with it until we were sure what was happening. What is happening is her breast cancer is spreading. It has spread to the other lung and to parts of her back. We feel that it is a death sentence in the prison. We fought in the beginning to keep Lynne out of jail, to make them take her from a local hospital with the doctor's objection because we could see the hand writing on the wall. This was not taken up as a legal issue and Lynne went to prison and now the other shoe has fallen. Her cancer is spreading. She is in Fort Worth, Texas subjected to the regulations of a prison between her and health care. From the greatest center of health care probably in the world from New York to Fort Worth, Texas and we know cancer is spreading. And as our daughter the doctor says, cancer has to be nipped in the bud. But first it has to go through regulations of Fort Worth Texas -- not knowing when you go to the hospital, not knowing who's going to be there. So we're working on that.
Lynne's now served over 38 months in prison. Her original sentence was 28 months. Stephen Lendman (San Franciso Bay View) explains, "She requested transfer to a New York hospital. She's been successfully treated there before. She was denied." Brenda Ryan (Workers World) reports, "The re-emergence of Stewart's cancer was first detected in a PET scan. [Lynn and Ralph's daughter Dr. Zenobia] Brown noted that it took two months from the time of the scan until Stewart was able to see a doctor. Stewart's hands and feet are shackled every time she goes to the hospital. While there she is cruelly shackled to a bedpost by her ankle and wrist." This is ridiculous. She's served the original sentence. She's now dealing with cancer again. She needs to focus on her treatment. She cannot do that behind bars. She is a 73-year-old woman who has never been a threat to herself or others, she needs a medical release right now. The US Justice Dept allows what is known as a "compassionate release" and it includes criteria such as "extraordinary or compelling circumstances which could not reasonably have been foreseen by the court at the time of sentencing." That would include the return of Lynne's cancer. There is no risk to the public in Lynne being released under a "compassionate release." It is in Lynne's best interest for her to be released, it is in the government's best interest to release her. On the latter, as University of California San Francisco's Dr. Brie Williams pointed out, "Current compassionate release guidelines are failing to identify seriously ill prisoners who no longer pose a threat to society, placing huge financial burdens on state budgets and contributing to the national crisis of prison overcrowding."
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