Archive for the 'terrorism' Category

Stop mass surveillance. Just stop!

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Stop Mass Surveillance.  Just stop!
By John Gilmore.  Friday, August 4, 2017
(Inspired by Paul Rosenzweig’s suggestion to “Stop Leaking”.)

I get it.  You don’t like the terrorists.  I don’t either, so I understand.  But you, whoever you are, are doing as much damage, if not more, to the United States than they ever will. Really.

I assume you think you are doing the world a favor.  I assume you have the best intentions.  But stop.  Just stop mass surveillance.  Really.

Though it may be fun to give the President transcripts of citizens’ calls and emails, you gravely injure America in incalculable ways by doing what you are doing.  For one thing, you are embracing norm-destruction in a way that is no less disturbing than the terrorists’ aberrational behavior.  And you don’t even have their excuse that you don’t know better — you do.  For another, think of how this plays with other people worldwide — will any foreigner or American ever again have a candid phone call with any other American?  Why should they assume that this type of domestic spying will stop after Hoover, Nixon, Bush, Obama, Hillary and Trump are all gone?

Yes, I get it, there is a prurient interest in this stuff; and yes, I know you think the unclassified public are jerks.  But in doing this you lower yourself to their level and beyond.  If you are a reader of the Lawfare blog, or know someone who is, you have your own agency’s interests at heart.  But, trust me on this one, you aren’t doing America a service.  Stop mass surveillance.  Just Stop.

Do we owe anything to the released Guantanamo innocents?

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Speaking of rights and remedies, let’s talk about the hundreds of people who have been released from Guantanamo over the years.  No credible judge or court has ever cleared them of the US Government’s allegations that they were “the worst of the worst” or that they “returned to the battle”.  None of them have, so far, been able to get even a declaration that their captors have wronged them — let alone any apologies or damages.  None of the US or foreign personnel who seized these innocents and imprisoned them for years, outside the fundamental protections of US and foreign legal traditions, have suffered anything but the pangs of their own consciences.  The designers of the Guantanamo regime deliberately strategized to escape a legal reckoning, and have so far succeeded.  When there is zero accountability for error, similar errors are likely to recur, harming further innocents, and harming centuries of painstakingly built legal protection cherished by every person who hasn’t yet been thrown into prison without hope, mercy, or reason.  There may be real terrorists in Guantanamo, and we can argue about whether those people deserved the treatment we’ve given them.  But it is undisputed that there are hundreds there who suffered, and yet were and are not terrorists.

What do we as a people owe to the innocent victims of our spasm of rage after 9/11?  An apology.

And we owe them what comes after a heartfelt apology:  restitution, and a commitment to not repeat the error.

My corrupt government refuses to admit error, apologize, or make these people whole.  Canada showed more honor.  But America is not merely our government.  America is a people and a society.  And frequently the American people uphold higher honor and morals than the American government.  The American people can do what their government won’t.

The American private legal profession has stepped forward and ably represented every prisoner in Guantanamo, for free, for years.  They came forward at a time when everyone else was drawing away.  These lawyers are among our proudest patriots.  If we have any remnant of rule of law rather than fiat dictatorship, it is because these people heeded their instinct to rise up in defense of the detainees.  But legal defense is only part of what the victims of Guantanamo need.

Many released former detainees are living in primitive conditions, in countries where they have no friends, no family, and frequently don’t even speak local languages.  Through coordination with their lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights, I have provided university scholarships to a few such detainees.  Universities provide a haven where you can focus your energies on the future rather than the past; where many people are newcomers and foreigners; where your time can profitably be spent in improving the remainder of your life.  Colleges come with social services and opportunities that are much better than sitting at home contemplating your mental illness, or morosely working at a menial job in a culture not your own.  But there are hundreds more detainees who nobody is sponsoring, who could use that apology and that restitution today.

If you or your readers believe that error has been done at Guantanamo, don’t wait for a statesman to show up and fix it.  The generous spirit of American philanthropy can go a long way to salve the wounds that official action has opened.  And it’s cheap.  You, yourself, can afford to support an undergraduate student in a third world country for a few years.  (Even the student who attended the London School of Economics only required a few thousand pounds per year from me.)  Ignore political stalemate.  Bypass quisling judges and spineless orators.  Transcend official secrecy, scumbag DOJ lawyers, and complicity in torture.  You can take a simple personal action to heal the ugliness of Guantanamo.  Donate to a former detainee’s education or living expenses today.

US is reaping what it sows in Pakistan

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

The death of a moderate politician, murdered by his own government security service, is part and parcel of what the US Government has been teaching Pakistan.  The lessons are pretty easy:  Lie, cheat, murder, and you’ll get away with it.

What made that politician moderate is that he supported “not killing” people who disagree with the tenets of Islam.

This is not how the US treats people in Pakistan who disagree with it, however.  We are not at war with Pakistan, and under the rules of war, the US can’t just go around killing people there.  Yet that’s the main activity of the US Government in Pakistan.  People who are not killed outright by unaccountable spooks flying unmanned drone airplanes, are permanently imprisoned on mere suspicion.  They are stuffed into covert prisons or Guantanamo, and never permitted to actually see a real judge or any real justice.

As long as the US continues its policies of lying (about the extrajudicial murdering it does every week in Pakistan) and indefinite imprisonment without trial, the US isn’t capable of teaching the Pakistani populace anything about how to run an honest government or a free society.  No wonder the extremists in their security services have learned to kill their perceived enemies first and deal with the legal issues later.  They’re doing exactly what George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld did, and nobody has even begun an investigation or prosecution of those war criminals.