Bad news to good news!
Last Friday, Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) proposed an amendment to the budget bill prohibiting use of any of its funds for assistance to refugees who resettle in the USA—if they happen to be from Gaza. When I heard of it, I thought, “What on earth? Why would he …?” And then, “Ohhh, no.”
Yesterday, it became clear that the amendment was heading for a vote. Amnesty USA emailed its network, of which I am proud to be a part. Here’s what we learned:
Now the good stuff. Today, I (along with many others) received this email message:
We wanted to send you a quick update on last night’s Gaza refugee vote. Thanks to your quick mobilization in which over 16,000 of you faxed letters in a span of just two hours, Senator Kyl withdrew his discriminatory amendment.
A bipartisan group of several Senators including Leahy (VT), Kerry (MA) and Gregg (NH) stood on the floor of the Senate and spoke out against the amendment. Your faxes together with our champions on this issue applied enough political pressure for Senator Kyl to just withdraw the amendment completely.
Again, this was one of those moments when together we really made the difference. Thanks again.
— Sarnata, Steve, Zahir, Edie and the rest of the team here at AIUSA
Ya – hoo!
Yes! We can make a difference!
Check out AmnestyUSA if you’d like to add your voice. Let’s make a nation that treats its neighbors the way we’d want them to treat us, were we in their shoes.
Tags: Palestinians, Omnibus+Appropriations+Bill, John+Kyl, refugees, discrimination, nativism, xenophobia, Amnesty+USA, Patrick+Leahy, Judd+Gregg, John+Kerry, US+Senate, activism, Monte Asbury
Or, the surprising story of how blue states subsidize red states
[UPDATE, 2-28-09: Turns out Gov. Jindal’s juiciest anti-government anecdote— how he and Sheriff Lee faced down a rescue-preventing bureaucrat during Katrina— wasn’t exactly true. See Jindal Admits Katrina Story Was False.]
Anything strike you as odd about the GOP’s choice of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to give the response to President Obama’s speech to Congress?
How about this: Republicans gave the task of making the anti- government pitch to the governor of the state that may well be the leading recipient of federal government largesse.
American taxpayers funded Louisiana’s Katrina recovery, to the tune of something like $300 billion dollars. Yet to hear Gov. Jindal tell it, you’d think Louisianans chose to go it alone. Crediting their admirable “spirit,” he scoffed at the kind of government assistance that flooded his state with cash from the rest of us.
Hang on to that thought for a moment—red state governor pitching self-determination while surviving on barge-loads of federal cash—and back up to 2005.
I have in front of me the latest report from the Tax Foundation showing how much each state gets back … for every dollar of taxes paid. And it shows that … the anti-government red states are the net winners in the flow of funds while the pro-government blue states are almost all losers. Read the rest of this entry »
You may remember Major General Antonia Taguba, USA (Retired); he headed up the Abu Ghraib abuse investigation, carefully and openly laying out the details before Congress in 2004. The Pentagon was not pleased; Taguba appears to have been coerced into retirement as a result.
Yesterday, Physicians for Human Rights released a new report, “outlining the medical evidence of torture perpetrated by the United States.” Maj. Gen. Taguba wrote the preface. His statements of fact—coming, as they do, from a top-level military investigator—are startling. Apparently, America is long overdue for a reckoning with justice.
By Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, USA (Retired)
This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.
The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted – both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.
In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. And the healing professions, including physicians and psychologists, became complicit in the willful infliction of harm against those the Hippocratic Oath demands they protect.
After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.
The former detainees in this report – each of whom is fighting a lonely and difficult battle to rebuild his life – require reparations for what they endured, comprehensive psycho-social and medical assistance, and even an official apology from our government.
But most of all, these men deserve justice as required under the tenets of international law and the United States Constitution.
And so do the American people.
Tags: torture, war, Iraq, Abu+Ghraib, Afghanistan, detainees, Guantanamo+Bay, justice, Geneva+Conventions, Bush, war+crimes, military+tribunals, Physicians+for+Human+Rights, Gen+Taguba, human+rights, terrorism, terrorists, Monte Asbury