|—||The World (via kateoplis)|
“I was diagnosed with a personality disorder for failing to adjust adequately to being raped.” —Jenny McClendon
What happened is this: One instructor has been convicted of rape and multiple cases of aggravated sexual assault of female trainees, and 16 other trainers have been charged or are under investigations for crimes ranging from aggravated sexual assault to improper sexual relationships with 42 female trainees.
That places Lackland atop an infamous list of military sexual-abuse scandals, including the Navy’s Tailhook convention in Las Vegas in 1991 (83 female and seven male victims of sexual assault by more than 100 Navy and Marine Corps aviation officers); the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1996 (12 Army officers charged with sexually assaulting female trainees); the Air Force Academy in 2003 (12 percent of female graduates reported having been victims of rape or attempted rape, and 70 percent said they had been sexually harassed); and the Marine Barracks in Washington in recent years, where the documentary The Invisible Warinterviewed five female Marines who reported having been raped (the Corps investigated and disciplined four of the women after they reported the rapes but punished none of the accused officers).
Two days after seeing The Invisible War, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta directed commanders to elevate all sexual-assault investigations to a reviewing authority headed by a higher-ranking colonel. He also began creating “special-victim units” in each branch. It was a start.
But the most alarming aspect of the Lackland story is its predictability, because the very values Pendleton is trying to inculcate (obedience, self-sacrifice, stoicism in the face of deprivation) are the ones that predators exploit in these scandals. The Defense Department’s own data suggest that, far from representing an isolated incident, Lackland is just the latest outbreak of what Panetta has called a “silent epidemic” of sexual assault in the ranks. Based on the Pentagon’s most recent survey on the issue in 2010, the epidemic affects more than 19,000 victims each year.
Meanwhile, according to annual Veterans Affairs Department surveys, 20 percent of female veterans screen positive for “military sexual trauma,” as do 1 percent of male veterans—many of them victims of male-on-male rape. Cumulatively, the data suggest that hundreds of thousands of current and former members of the military have been raped, sexually assaulted, or subjected to “unwanted” sexual contact. In 2010 alone, the VA conducted nearly 700,000 free outpatient counseling sessions to veterans suffering from military sexual trauma.
Ezra Klein believes that this was “the most devastating line in Romney’s speech”:
“If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama? You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.”
But I suppose it depends on who Klein thinks is on the receiving end of that line.
Is the line the most devastating when it comes to a Republican audience (who, of course, largely didn’t vote for Obama and thus never felt the excitement)? Or was it a devastating thing for Democrats and fence-sitters to hear (which is, I think, what’s implied in the line)?
Staunch Republicans surely liked this line. They put it on their Facebook pages. But, by and large, they didn’t vote for Obama in 2008.
As someone who did — and who felt legitimate excitement surrounding his candidacy and election — I felt that Romney’s line fell completely flat and, in fact, served the opposite purpose from its intention.
Listening to Romney’s speech — and to the speeches that preceeded it — I was actually reminded of my excitement at Obama’s candidacy four years ago. And while it’s true that I have felt very let down at times by the policies of the Obama administration, the same is likely to be true with regard to any administration. I suspect that there were some people who were excited to vote for isolationist George W. Bush in 2000 who became much less excited by his decidedly non-isolationist policies in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.
But the policies that have made me (and likely a lot of other liberals) less excited about Obama over the past few years are policies that Romney would either continue or expand if elected. The possibility of war won’t be lessened with Romney in the Oval Office; nor will the prison at Guantanamo Bay be closed; nor will human rights be better respected; nor will the death penalty be abolished; nor will drone strikes be brought to a halt; and on and on.
And the policies with which I have been at least moderately pleased (especially social policies but some fiscal ones too) — and some longer-standing policies, especially regarding women’s rights — are, in a possible Romney administration, likely be reversed or undone. He and Paul Ryan have made promises to this effect and their plans — such as they are — seem ruinous to me, not only of the relatively fragile economy but of the whole notion of an interconnectedness amongst a citizenry.
In this sense, Romney’s speech — and the Republican convention as a whole — succeeded in highlighting why I ought to feel excited about four more years with Obama in the White House. I won’t get everything I want from Obama, but I know that I won’t get that from anyone. There is no president who will do all of the things that I want. Or that you want. But it’s very clear that a Romney presidency will do just about everything that I don’t want. The GOP has set that out in very clear terms over the past weeks, months, and — really, at this point — even years.
“[It] may be worthwhile to look ahead a few generations to the millennium anniversary of one of the great events in the establishment of civil and human rights: the issuance of Magna Carta, the charter of English liberties imposed on King John in 1215. What we do right now, or fail to do, will determine what kind of world will greet that anniversary. It is not an attractive prospect – not least because the Great Charter is being shredded before our eyes.”
The first scholarly edition of the Magna Carta was published in 1759 by the English jurist William Blackstone, whose work was a source for U.S. constitutional law. It was entitled “The Great Charter and the Charter of the Forest,” following earlier practice. Both charters are highly significant today.
The first, the Charter of Liberties, is widely recognized to be the cornerstone of the fundamental rights of the English-speaking peoples – or as Winston Churchill put it more expansively, “the charter of every self-respecting man at any time in any land.”
In 1679 the Charter was enriched by the Habeas Corpus Act, formally titled “an Act for the better securing the liberty of the subject, and for prevention of imprisonment beyond the seas.” The modern harsher version is called “rendition” – imprisonment for the purpose of torture.
Along with much of English law, the Act was incorporated into the U.S. Constitution, which affirms that “the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended” except in case of rebellion or invasion. In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the rights guaranteed by this Act were “(c)onsidered by the Founders as the highest safeguard of liberty.”
More specifically, the Constitution provides that no “person (shall) be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law (and) a speedy and public trial” by peers.
The Department of Justice has recently explained that these guarantees are satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch, as Jo Becker and Scott Shane reported in TheNew York Times on May 29. Barack Obama, the constitutional lawyer in the White House, agreed. King John would have nodded with satisfaction.
The underlying principle of “presumption of innocence” has also been given an original interpretation. In the calculus of the president’s “kill list” of terrorists, “all military-age males in a strike zone” are in effect counted as combatants “unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent,” Becker and Shane summarized. Thus post-assassination determination of innocence now suffices to maintain the sacred principle.
This is the merest sample of the dismantling of “the charter of every self-respecting man.”
The New York Times is pretty clear in its opposition to the death penalty.
Here’s the conclusion from the editorial the paper printed after Connecticut’s legislature voted to repeal the death penalty:
Any careful evaluation leads to what the American Law Institute concluded after a review of decades of executions: the system cannot be fixed. It is practically impossible to rid the legal process of biases driven by race, class and politics. The growing number of states reconsidering this barbaric system is a welcome sign. Capital punishment, by overwhelming evidence, should be abolished throughout the United States.
I’m always curious what people who support the death penalty think when they read paragraphs like this one. When faced with the evidence of obvious bias (which the editorical cites), how does one ignore it? Is it possible to tell oneself — and believe it too — that the mountain of evidence must be false?
It reminds me of children — fingers in their ears, trying to drown out parents or siblings — repeating “I’m not listening, I’m not listening, I’m not listening …” in a voice that gets increasingly shrill.
Today, I encourage everyone to take a moment to read the text of President Obama’s proclamation, and to honor Cesar Chavez and all those who organize, who advocate, and who dream of and achieve better livelihoods for their families and communities.
The International Criminal Court has just this morning handed down it’s first ever verdict, finding Thomas Lubanga guilty of conscripting child soldiers. Lubanga was the leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots and stands accused of being the military authority behind the abduction of children as young as eleven to serve the Patriotic Forces of the Liberation of Congo in the 1998-2003 war. Lubanga was handed over in 2006, the first suspect to be detained by the ICC, and has been on trial since 2009.
This guilty verdict is great for the DR Congo and wonderful for the International Criminal Court. Last year former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz told ICC judges: “Let the voice and the verdict of this esteemed global court now speak for the awakened conscience of the world.”
In a stunning order Monday, the U.S Supreme Court essentially said it had been looking at the wrong issue in an Alien Tort Statute case called Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. It called for new briefs that reframe Kiobel as an examination of the extraterritorial application of the ATS. Given the justices’ reluctance to extend U.S. jurisdiction beyond our borders, expressed so fatefully in their 2010 ruling in Morrison v. National Austrialia Bank, the recasting of Kiobel has the potential to devastate U.S. human rights litigation based on overseas conduct.
The comparatively narrow question Kiobel originally presented to the Supreme Court was whether corporations can be held liable under the ATS, a once-obscure 1789 law that human rights advocates revived in the 1980s to address international atrocities against non-U.S. citizens. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled in Kiobel that corporations are immune under the ATS; three other federal appeals courts had held otherwise. The Kiobel merits briefing by Shell and the Nigerian claimants (available here) mostly addressed the corporate liability question.
But barely had Kiobel oral arguments begun last Tuesday when Justice Anthony Kennedy interrupted plaintiffs lawyer Paul Hoffman of Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris Hoffman & Harrison to point out that the United States appears to be the only country in the world to “exercise universal civil jurisdiction over alleged extraterritorial human rights abuses to which the nation has no connection.” (Kennedy was reading from an amicus brief Chevron filed in support of Shell.) Other justices picked up and amplified Kennedy’s point. Justice Samuel Alito put the question most bluntly, asking Hoffman, “What business does a case like this” — a suit by foreign nationals against a foreign-based corporation for its alleged complicity in state-sponsored torture and murder in Nigeria — “have in the courts of the United States?”
In other words, as the court put it in Monday’s order recasting Kiobel, “whether and under what circumstances [does] the Alien Tort Statute [allow] courts to recognize a cause of action for violations of the law occurring within the territory of a sovereign other than the United States”?
They don’t want to have to examine corporate personhood….
Until now, there has been no internationally recognized symbol for human rights - unlike the peace or anti-nuclear movements - and even recycling.
But the organizers of the Logo for Human Rights Initiative say they hope the new logo will “make a peaceful contribution towards the global spread and implementation of human rights.”
Eugene Robinson writes:
There was a chilling moment in a recent GOP candidates’ debate when Texas Gov. Rick Perry was asked about having authorized 234 executions, more than any other governor in modern U.S. history. The crowd, drawn largely from Tea Party ranks, cheered this record as if it were a great accomplishment. “I’ve never struggled with that at all,” Perry said, referring to execution as “the ultimate justice.” But he should struggle with it. We all should.
How long before they devolve all the way back to the bad old days. I’m sure they could dredge up some throwback legal experts to say “the United States doesn’t do cruel and unusual punishment’:
The Texas prison system abolished on Thursday the time-honored tradition of offering an opulent meal to condemned prisoners before their executions, saying they will get standard prison fare instead.
“Enough is enough,” state Senator John Whitmire wrote in a letter on Thursday to prison officials, prompting the move. “It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege. It’s a privilege which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim.”
The letter was in apparent response to the dinner requested, but not eaten, by white supremacist Lawrence Brewer before he was put to death on Wednesday night for the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr.
Brewer requested an elaborate meal that included a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a meat-lover’s pizza, a big bowl of okra with ketchup, a pound of barbecue, a half a loaf of bread, peanut butter fudge, a pint of ice cream and two chicken fried steaks.
When it arrive around 4 p.m.at Brewer’s cell, he declined it all, telling prison officials he wasn’t hungry.
Whitmire, who chairs the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, threatened legislation if the prison system didn’t put an end to the practice, which rarely results in the inmate getting exactly what is requested anyway.
But a new law won’t be necessary. Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, replied that Whitmire’s concerns were valid and the practice would halt immediately.
The prisoners will be served “the same meal served to other offenders,” Livingston’s statement said
The idea of giving the prisoner a last meal of his choice is a nod to his humanity, acknowledging a little bit of basic compassion for him as a fellow human being, however guilty he may be. And when you lose that it’s a very short trip to the kind of killing spectacles we don’t see anymore in so-called advanced democracies.
But then capital punishment leads to barbarity in any case. If you’ve ever stood outside a prison when an execution is scheduled, you’ll almost always see total strangers hanging around, singing and joking —- and cheering when the death is announced. It’s not personal. They just enjoy it. This primitive impulse still resides in a whole lot of people.
A lot of people have been mobilized by the Troy Davis case, especially in the past few days. You called and emailed elected officials; you petitioned political appointees; you demanded that people be held accountable for a decision that put proper procedure ahead of anything else. But what will all of you do tomorrow? Will you dedicate yourselves to putting an end to the system whose flaws became so apparent to so many tonight? Or will you forget about the continued injustice of the death penalty until the next Troy Davis is moved to the death house? You have many other legitimate concerns in your daily lives and many other important issues that demand your attention. But you cared so much this time; do you think you can continue to care about the brokenness of our justice system as you do right now, tonight?
When he had a pain in the butt, he had to wait until early in the morning of December 3rd to present himself at the ER of Highland Hospital, the Alameda County medical facility. There are guards at Highland, and a football field full of plastic chairs for the indigent to use while they wait treatment. He was sent home with a handful of Vicodin and a suggestion to follow up with a pulmonologist for the 3 cm spot the Xray showed on his lung. The soonest appointment was Feb 25.
He was in so much pain that he could not stand up for more than a few seconds at a time. He got Vicodin. And steroid suppositories.
His buddies came up with the $2000 a proctologist wanted to do an outpatient surgery. But the hospital wanted $20,000 for use of the room for the brief procedure because he was uninsured. Because the pain didn’t matter half as much as the profit.
For six weeks he suffered at home. You bastards, you would have liked to watch that, wouldn’t you? Too bad there were no cameras to catch him as he collapsed when he tried to microwave his oatmeal. No microphones to catch his cries of pain or despair.
He was finally admitted to Highland after his heart started to fail in the emergency room one night early in February. The staff there are dedicated, caring, compassionate people who work their hearts out trying to save the sickest and poorest Americans. They have only limited resources with which to do that. And they make every one of those resources count.
By then, of course, the cancer from his lung had spread to his buttock where it attacked the bone. It wrapped itself into the nerves that travelled up his spine. The pain was indescribable. Perhaps his medical records could serve as pornography to sate your sick lust for the pain of others…
I cannot, for the life of me fathom why he is only ashes today and you are walking this earth.
But then, I am not the hero my brother was. He would have forgiven you. He would have understood the source of your fear that caused those cheers. I don’t want to.
I think you are scum.
Just to remind you that this isn’t hyperbole, the below is an actual exchange from the GOP Presidential debate:
BLITZER: A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it.
Who’s going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that…
PAUL: That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks…
BLITZER: Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?
This is a country of sick, disturbing human beings. We cheer putting hundreds of people to death and letting millions more suffer due to lack of health insurance. What kind of twisted people think this is stuff worth cheering over?
Tea bagger republicans, that’s who.
This is so sad and we call ourselves humans.