Welcome Juan E. Mendez (United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture), and Marjory Wentworth (Human Rights Activist, UN High Commission for Refugees, Poet Laureate of South Carolina), Hosted by Jason Leopold (TruthOut.org)

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

Taking a Stand: The Evolution of Human Rights

What could possibly make a human being torture another human being?

That’s a question that, as a young boy, I recall asking my grandparents—Holocaust survivors—after they described to me in vivid detail the torture they and other members of my extended family were subjected to by the Nazis during World War II.

It’s a question I returned to earlier this year when I had the opportunity to interview a veteran of the US Army Reserves who was torn up about the torture he says he witnessed and participated in against some “war on terror” detainees while serving as a guard at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility. [That guard, Pfc. Albert Melise, has since been barred from reenlistment for speaking to me.]

I found myself asking the same question again while reading Juan Mendez’s powerful new book Taking A Stand in which the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture and visiting professor of law at Washington College of Law recounts his life’s work as one of the world’s most prominent human rights activists.

Mendez’s book, co-written by Pushcart Prize nominated poet Marjory Wentworth, is a painful read, as should be expected when one documents crimes against humanity in countries such as Darfur, Argentina and Liberia. But what was especially difficult about the book was reading Mendez’s detailed description of the brutal torture he was subjected to following his arrest during Argentina’s Dirty War more than thirty years ago.

“In at least four different places in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, I was interrogated under beatings and the application of the electric prod called the picana on my genitals, other sensitive areas and ultimately all over my body,” Mendez wrote. “The picana was invented specifically for enhanced interrogation. The tool makes a whizzing sound before it is applied, and the operator regulates the intensity of the discharge as well as the length and frequency of each application. I was tied up, spread-eagled on a table (which they called the parilla or grill), nude but blindfolded and facing up the first time and down the next session, so as to ensure that not an inch of my body was spared. The pain I suffered with each discharge was so intense that my whole body tensed up; my muscles ached for days afterward. When applied to the mouth, face or head, the shock can cause the victim to black out. Needless to say, I screamed at the top of my lungs; the interrogators assured me that no one could hear me. I received five sessions of the electric prod, each lasting about a half hour or more, during what seemed to be twenty-four hours…More than once I begged my torturers to kill me. They said they would, but later.”

Mendez was working as a lawyer representing dissidents when Argentine Junta security forces jailed him. That he survived his 18-month incarceration is nothing short of a miracle considering that other politically minded lawyers and political activists he had worked closely with were systematically executed or disappeared.

But justice is poetic. Last month, a dozen former Argentinian military and police officials, including a Navy officer who earned the nickname “Angel of Death,” were sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping, murder and torture of leftist activists during the height of the country’s military dictatorship.

That decision by a court in Argentina underscores one of the key points Mendez makes throughout Taking A Stand: the “remarkable growth” of the human rights movement over the past three decades would not have been possible had local activists not demanded on accountability.

“Today, there is the possibility of bringing to trial individual perpetrators of the most serious crimes, and this change has transformed the goals and practices of the men and women fighting to end atrocities in a very positive way,” Mendez wrote in a chapter titled “Justice.” “The potential for international criminal prosecution also has engaged international decision-making groups and public opinion, thereby magnifying justice for victims, the cessation of violations and the prevention of future wrongs.”

Mendez has devoted an entire chapter of his book to accountability and states simply that “when it comes to mass atrocities, the appropriate response has to be the investigation, prosecution and punishment of those responsible.”

The same standard, Mendez said, also has to be applied to regimes that resort to torture. But human rights activists in the US and abroad have been unsuccessful, despite their best efforts, to hold Bush administration officials accountable for implementing a policy of torture against “war on terror” detainees nor have they had any success in urging President Barack Obama to exercise his responsibility as dictated by the Convention Against Torture to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the crimes of torture.

As former Amnesty International Secretary General Ian Martin notes in his introduction to Taking A Stand, the fact that the United States “has aspired to be a human rights leader” has been “undermined by its inability to rise above political alliances, and increasingly by its own direct violations of human rights.”

Yet, Mendez, Martin added, “is uncompromising in his insistence on holding his second country to universal standards.” And Mendez makes it abundantly clear that if the Obama administration continues to fail in its legal and moral, “it invites other nations to follow the U.S. example of impunity for torture and provides rogue regimes with a ready-made excuse for rejecting international community concerns about their own abuses.”

In his chapter on accountability, Mendez highlights the Obama administration’s hypocrisy in demanding transparency and accountability “from other governments in dealing with the past …,” yet, time and again, Obama and his appointees refuse to heed calls from human rights organizations to “confront its own mistakes and wrongdoings” in order to show “that they are, indeed, in the past.”

But, as documented in a report published by the Associated Press earlier this year about the torture of detainees at secret prisons operated by the US military in Afghanistan, these “mistakes” and “wrongdoings” are not “in the past” and perhaps that may explain, in part, the reasons why the public has never received the “reckoning” Attorney General Eric Holder said we were owed.

139 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Juan E. Mendez and Marjory Wentworth, Taking a Stand: The Evolution of Human Rights”

BevW December 3rd, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Juan, Marjory, Welcome to the Lake.

Jason, Thank you for Hosting todays’s Book Salon.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 1:59 pm

disregard this

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Thank you to Bev and the good people at Firedoglake for extending an invitation to me to host today’s book salon. It is truly an honor to be in the presence of Juan Mendez and Marjory Wentworth. Their groundbreaking book on the human rights movement, “Taking A Stand,” is so timely, given what continues to unfold in the Middle East as well as the flurry of activity that took place this week in the Senate pertaining to legislation on detainees and an amendment calling for a return to Bush-era torture, which ultimately failed.

Juan and Marjory, I’d like to start off by asking how your collaboration came about and whether there was any specific event that took place that resulted in the decision to write this book? Additionally, how did the narrative of the book evolve once you started to write it?

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Torture isn’t unique to empires, but isn’t torture (or cruel treatment of subjects more generally) one of the characteristics of empires? One thinks of Rome, Nazi Germany, U.S.

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Hello Jason. Thanks for inviting us to this salon. Marjory and I knew each other through Amnesty International a long time ago, then lost contact and regained it again about three years ago, at which time she persuaded me that we should write this book together. It has been a great experience, and I needed reassurance all along. Way beyond reassurance, Marjory also contributed ideas about organization, structure and so on.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Jason, Thanks for your great introduction. Juan and I met soon after he arrived in the US, when he was speaking at an Amnesty Conference at Amherst. I was still a college student. We reconnected in NYC through work with Amnesty. The collaboration started when Juan and I reconnected after many years. I was in NYC doing a poetry reading and I visited him in his offices at The International Center for Transitional Justice. It was amazing to consider the sweep of all the work that he’d done, and the story of his life seemed so redemptive and hopeful. I was meeting with my agent John Silbersack, at the time, and he was interested in working with us. The idea for a book was born, and the rest is history as they say.
Marjory

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 2:07 pm

One of the challenges reporting on human rights, whether its about the torture of “war on terror” detainees or the atrocities in the Middle East and elsewhere, is getting the public to care about and pay close attention to these important issues. That may be something unique to the US as of late, however, I’d like to know if you agree and if so why do you think that is?

BevW December 3rd, 2011 at 2:07 pm

As a technical note,
there is a “Reply” button in the lower right hand of each comment. Pressing the “Reply” will pre-fill the commenter name and number you are replying to and helps for everyone in following the conversation.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 2:08 pm

More generally, aren’t all human rights being trashed in countries with developed economies as the 1%ers loot & pillage 99ers? They are more clever & hidden today than they might have been in the past, but are becoming more open about it as the Occupy movement gains momentum.

After I read Shadow Factory several years ago, I decided that USG (with Israeli software for key word searches) stores every piece of electronic communication to/from U.S.ians, and many others around the world, and routinely searches them for words or phrases so that they can trump up charges against anyone whenever they want.

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 2:08 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 4

I can’t say whether torture is characteristic of empire. It seems to be so pervasive and used in so many different settings that, unfortunately, there does not appear to be a monopoly over it. But I suppose it appears when power needs to be retained and exercised with heavy use of force, and at one point or another empires need to do that.

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Thank You Bev and Jason!

Welcome Juan and Marjory.

Marjory, I am a fellow S. Carolinian. It is special to have you here. We are not all backwards or right wing sociopaths.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Regarding the narrative of the book – It started out as the story of Juan’s life and through the process of writing the proposal we developed the idea of interweaving his life and life’s work into human rights themes. Each chapter is around a particular human rights issue,Juan’s role in shaping the dialogue around the issue and ideas for the future.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 2:12 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 11

Greetings – we have to stick together here in SC and stick up for what is right, especially in terms of the new immigration law…

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Thank you so much, Marjory. Juan, can you describe what it was like for you to relive the torture you survived during Argentina’s Dirty War and if there was anything new you learned or discovered about that time during the course of writing?

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 2:12 pm

the United States “has aspired to be a human rights leader”

raising the age old Q of whether lip service is better than no service at all.

When did the U.S. ever respect the rights of anyone? (Channeling Zinn here.)

I was impressed by Kinzer’s description in Overthrow about U.S. torture of Philippino insurgents in the 1890s. Version of waterboarding. Stuck bamboo down prisoners’ throats, poured water in until their stomachs swelled, then jumped on their stomachs.

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 2:12 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 7

I certainly agree that much of the work of the human rights movement relies on raising awareness and moving ordinary citizens into action. For that you definitely need to insert human rights into public discourse and the best way to do that is through the media. It is not an easy task, but over the years organizations like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have mastered communications strategies to the point that they are the “go to” organizations for credible information about human rights, and journalists rely on them all the time.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 2:15 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 7

Thank goodness for journalists like you who pay close attention to these issues. Getting the public to notice and care is another matter. It’s one of the reasons we wrote this book. There seems to be a kind of pervasive indifference that is quite frightening.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 2:16 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 10

Torture is also common in authoritarian states of all sorts, I came to think, after my original comment. It’s an intimidation tactic, I suppose. It’s broader purpose, besides the obvious one of revenge on the direct victim, extracting false confessions that can be used in the pursuit of other goals, is to scare the nontortured part of the population into obedience. Torture, as mentioned in the introduction, is literally a fate worse than death.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 2:18 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 7

It’s worse than that. Audiences at R prez debates cheer at mention of torture & other cruelties.

ondelette December 3rd, 2011 at 2:18 pm

The International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent just concluded in Geneva and they spent a good deal of time and effort on proposals for strengthening IHL with regards to detention, spec. two issues: the use of indefinite internment during non-international armed conflicts by governments for “national security” reasons, and transfers that can violate non-refoulement.

Was wondering if you saw any of that and whether you have comments.

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 2:19 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 14

I had frequently talked about the torture I suffered, especially early on in my exile years and to AI audiences. I had never found it difficult to do it because I always thought there was a purpose in telling the story. But I have to say that writing it down was actually difficult, especially as I realized that when published this story would have some lasting life and might raise more questions. It was also hard to describe it realistically and yet avoid overly macabre details. I have occasionally read descriptions of torture that, in my mind, are over the top and even pornographic, and I was determined to avoid that. All in all, the experience of writing it all down was cathartic and positive for me.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Thanks for those kind words, Marjory. It seems that human rights has become a political/campaign issue, to some degree. That you would have presidential candidates willing to appear on national television and send a message to the world that, if elected, they would reintroduce waterboarding and other torture techniques is stunning, not to mention the audience who cheered such proposals. How did we get to that point?

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Greenwald, in his new book, argues that Ford’s pardon of Nixon was the turning point on accountability in the U.S. Before that, U.S. used to pretend to have a rule of law, even though rampant hypocrisy showed that was not true. But the locution of Ford’s pardon (for the good of the country or some mealy mouthed language) changed the pretense into no tense. After that, no one in power would be held accountable, and in the most blatant way.

Except for the occasional sacrificial lamb, who got a slap on the wrist (or is that hoof?).

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 2:23 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 19

Frightening, indeed, that you can actually find cheerleaders for torture. I believe we have gone backwards in the last ten years. Before 9-11 there was a general condemnation and abhorrence of torture, even if a lot of it was hypocritical. Nowadays the culture seems to push the public into acceptance of torture (if it happens to people we don’t know and whose names we don’t want to pronounce) supposedly because it makes us safer. I hope our book shows what terrible price societies pay when they tolerate or encourage torture.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 2:24 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 21

It is powerful, Juan, and it stuck with me for several days after I had read it. It made an enormous impact on me. I am wondering how your children responded to your book, in genera? You noted there were some things about your life and experiences they were unaware of.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 2:26 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 22

I think we reached that point after 8 years of listening to government officials say that torture was okay. It’s never okay and it’s never justified, but it was somehow “rationalized” in the mind of the public. These same officials have written books that have come out in the last year and they are still saying that torture was justified.

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 2:27 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 23

I suppose the Nixon pardon was a low point on accountability (I was not living in the US at that time). But the experience of other countries shows that there is no “end” to accountability; that conditions change and new, more enlightened leaders and better organized civil society bring back accountability. I don’t want to minimize the serious lack of accountability the US is living through just now, but I do believe that this is a momentary phase.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Marjory, Juan has spoken about this previously and its one issue that is a matter of controversy here and that is the treatment of Bradley Manning. Do you believe his treatment rose to the level of abuse? Additionally, Juan, have you had any further communication with US government officials about Mr. Manning?

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 2:28 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 27

I hope it is a momentary phase….

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Absolutely!

I’ve read several books on American Empire and have discovered that there are many venues of torture, just as there are abuse. One that sticks out front for me is the forced squalled living conditions in countries that serve corporations. The main example I have is the Nike Corporation. Americans do not know what they are promoting when they purchase those shoes. It is horrible in thought and sight.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 2:30 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 24

First they came for ….

Then they came for….
.
.
.
Then they came for me.

The first time I read that I understood completely. But most don’t.

On First Amendment, I used to say that Larry Flynt was the man we hate to love. IOW you’ve got to build the wall against erosion of rights so far away from the majority’s behavior as to assure most people of their human rights.

Odd how difficult it is to communicate that principle.

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 2:30 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 25

My children have read the book and their words to me could not be more encouraging. They knew parts of the story already, of course. As for the details, they have not really mentioned them. I don’t know if it is out of deference to me or because they feel they already know all they will ever want to know. But I do hope that, if they have questions, they will not leave them unasked (sorry, that is probably not a word in English…)

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 28

I do feel Bradley Manning’s treatment was abusive. I certainly don’t know as much as Juan about it, but I do know that he was held in solitary confiment etc. This is used throughout our prison system in ways that are quite terrifying. The response to Manning’s actions always seemed overblown in general.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 27

and Marjory.

Hope is a 4-letter word.

I am in the intellectual dilemma of trying to figure out whether all is lost for the U.S., Europe, like Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or King Leopold’s Belgian Congo, neither of which has recovered much to this day.

What say you? (Besides hope.)

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 2:35 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 30

It seems to be a matter of taking responsibility in terms of our actions, and part of that requires asking questions about the products we buy, who we work for etc

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 2:36 pm

One of the most important chapters in your book, Juan and Marjory, is the one on accountability. You both make a compelling case why there must be accountability for war crimes/torture no matter how long it takes. Is there anything you will do to further press the US government to hold officials accountable for the torture of detainees in the war on terror? Do either of you believe that the public will ever see that day of “reckoning” Attorney General Eric Holder said we were owed?

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 28

Re Pfc Bradley Manning, I engaged the US Govt as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture because of the allegation that he was being held in solitary confinement. I have to say that I had frank conversation with the Dept of Defense about the conditions of his incarceration. I was allowed to see him but with no guarantees of confidentiality, terms that I could not accept. I offered to see Manning nonetheless, through his lawyer, if he wanted to see me, but he prefered not to waive his right to a truly private conversation. In the meantime, when he was moved from Quantico to Fort Leavenworth, his conditions changed and since last April he is no longer in solitary confinement. I am still insiting on seeing him. In a few weeks I will release my views on the case, since the exchange of information with the USG is essentially over.

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 2:36 pm

That is a truth that cannot be told enough. My word for it is, “Twoop!”.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 34

I am heartened by the young people in our country. They seem very aware of human rights issues. I find this to be true everywhere I go. Amnesy is particularly good at mobilizing students. The Occupy movement has helped too, and I think that it’s really just getting started.

Jane Hamsher December 3rd, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Thanks so much for being here today everyone, and thanks so much for hosting Jason.

Second Jason’s question — what do you feel about Bradley Manning’s situation? And what does it say about the system that won’t let you see him?

Jane Hamsher December 3rd, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Don’t forget the “stripped naked for his own good” part.

tw3k December 3rd, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Jus cogens!

Thank you Juan.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 38

you should be a poet – great outlet for new words!

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 37

That is excellent news! If you did not know it, we all here at FDL are ardent supporters of Manning. We wish him to have his rights returned and for the government to share their “discovery” with his attorney. Otherwise, he cannot be rightly defended.

Kevin Gosztola December 3rd, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Hello, Juan & Marjory, thanks for being here.

My question goes along with both the questions Jane Hamsher and Jason Leopold have asked—

Why do you think it is so easy for the US to disregard or ignore any UN special rapporteur that wants to investigate torture or any significant human rights issue? What if anything could be done so it was harder for US officials to refuse allowing UN officials to conduct investigations and visit victims of torture/human rights abuses here in the US?

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 36

None of us can really hold our breath while we wait for the USG to live up to its obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish every act of torture committed by its agents. The lack of delivery on the promise to have a day of reckoning is truly disappointing. But again, experience shows that issues of accountability do not go away. Of course, it is preferable to have accountability in real time. But justice, even if it comes late, will come and be welcome.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 2:41 pm

There is no Q in my mind that Supermax confinement in U.S. is a form of torture.

And popular TV programs (forget 24, which I couldn’t stomach), like L&O, one of my guilty pleasures, routinely use prison rape as a ‘gimmick’ to extract confessions/plea agreements. This is normal behavior by U.S. standards.

At the initial capture of John Walked Lindh, I wondered why his lawyer didn’t argue more strenuously for his rights. He was nothing but a hapless flower child captured on the battle field who knew nothing about what was going on, treated in the cruelest possible terms, and put in prison for 20 years.

Years later I understood the wisdom of Lindh’s lawyer. He knew he couldn’t win & convinced his client’s parents (Lindh himself sounded too naive to unnerstan anything) that 20 years in prison was better than the alternative of the even crueler torture than he had already suffered.

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I’ve actually pondered on that. You see, I’m not that great with grammar and prefer lots of runon sentences and such that overcrowd an English teachers mind with havoc. (grins) With poetry, there is not too much to worry over.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 2:42 pm

That’s such an important point, Marjory: solitary confinement throughout our prison system here in the US. What was remarkable about the response to Manning is that the public said his treatment wasn’t any different than other prisoners in maximum security prisons and therefore it was not a “big deal.” In Pelican Bay (if I am not mistaken) prisoners recently went on a hunger strike to protest conditions of their confinement. Have you given thought to the types of reforms that need to take place within our prison system?

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 2:43 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 36

Please use real words for those held by U.S. rather than made up USG words. They are prisoners without rights, not detainees.

ondelette December 3rd, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I guess not then.

How do you feel about indefinite detention, then, in and of itself? Since a sentence has a definition, even if it’s life imprisonment, and since combatants in war are held for duration of conflict, which has a definition, doesn’t indefinite detention produce something new, psychologically, and isn’t it a form of cruelty?

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 47

Interesting. I wonder what happened to that young man? Out of sight out of mind…

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 37

Thank you, Juan. I am wondering whether the government provided you with a reason for not providing you with confidentiality? Moreover, could you provide any details about the substance of your report on Bradley Manning?

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to Kevin Gosztola @ 45

International law, and particularly international human rights law, relies a lot on voluntary compliance. The strength of the human rights movement is to force that compliance when States are not wlling to comply. It is particularly disheartening when powerful countries believe the rules are for the others but not for them. I see this as a twisted version of “US exceptionalism.” What is worse about it is that it creates a disincentive for other States to comply; why would they if the most powerful countries get away with human rights violations? But I have to believe that we need to apply the same rules to all, and that we can force compliance by shaming all states, large and small, into compliance. It may not seem that way when you live in the US, but elsewhere the failure of leadership by the US is seen also as a decline in influence and moral authority. And that hurts other foreign policy interests as well.

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 2:47 pm

How can the government get away with, or not do what they are supposed to do in regards to sharing evidence with Mannings attorney? Is that another issue you see in torture within your research?

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 2:49 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 49

Juan has been working on this issue and he will probably comment. You’re right about Pelican Bay, where solitary confinement was being used to get gang members to talk etc. Given the fact that a large percentage of imprisoned Americans suffer from some kind of mental illness, it the practice is particularly horrifying. It’s one of the grossest human rights violations in the US right now.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Question for Marjory and Juan: what are some of the challenges the human rights movement is presently confronting and how do you see the movement evolving?

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to ondelette @ 51

Prolonged detention without trial has long been considered a very serious human rights violation, including by consensus among US jurists (see Restatement of Foreign Relations law). I am concerned that the policy on detention may go beyond the detention of enemy soldiers “until the end of hostilities” that the Geneva Conventions allow. It is not clear because, as far as I know, the details of the policy have not been made known. And the details of how and why it is applied to each person affected are also not disclosed. If it is not strictly limited to enemy combatants caught in a theater of war, I believe it constitutes arbitrary detention. And prolonged arbitrary detention at that. The proposals made in Congress to force the Administration to hold prisoners without any kind of trial are even more frightening.

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 3:00 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 55

Just to clarify: because my mandate is narrowly drawn to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, my interest in Manning (in my capacity as UN Special Rapporteur) was limited to his conditions of detention. Whether he should be charged and under what terms is more the province of other UN mandates, like the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, or the Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges, and so on. As human rights activist I am of course concerned about other issues involved in the case, but I am sure you will understand that in order to be effective I need to refrain from comment on those other aspects.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Juan can speak about the challenges, but I see the movement evolving to include socio-economic issues. This makes a lot of sense to me. If someone doesn’t have enough to eat or access to medical care and decent housing, they do not have basic human rights. I also have seen how the human rights movement has benefited from social media. We’ve witnessed how quickly information has spread during the Arab spring. It’s really a new tool at the disposal of all human right’s activists. Earlier this year, at Amnesty’s request, Kim Kardashian (sp) sent out a comment about Troy Davis’s pending execution. It reached millions of people. Amazing.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Juan and Marjory, you touched on Israel’s own human rights abuses in your book and were critical of the fact that the US condemned the report of the UN team led by RIchard Goldstone regarding Israeli action in Gaza. Do you believe on matters related to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in general and the US response is purely political or is it more complex than that?

ondelette December 3rd, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 58

The details largely have been made known, however. The detainees are not combatants, they are not being held “until the end of hostilities” because civilians may only be held as internees for reasons of national security under Geneva, and must be reviewed every 6 months. The reviews are cursory and done without the detainees present. In essence, they are being held as “national security threats”, not combatants being held from the fight. The policy, like other policies, as you mentioned in comment@54 is spreading to other nations.

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 3:03 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 57

Challenges: there are many, of course. In addition to the already mentioned battle for hearts and minds on torture, I would say that we need more and better mechanisms of redress when states violate their obligations. Some of those mechanisms are being built but the process is slow and not always uniformly forward-moving. I also feel we need to deepen our commitment to fight for the rights of persons in particularly vulnerable situations: members of racial and religious minorities, women, children, indigenous peoples.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 3:04 pm

a comment about the challenges… It’s already been mentioned, but I do think we are still dealing with the damage done in terms of the US’s moral authority in the area of human rights.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 3:06 pm

In January 2003, Lindh was sent to the U.S. Penitentiary, Victorville, a high-security facility northeast of Los Angeles. On March 3, 2003, Lindh was tackled by inmate Richard Dale Morrison, who assaulted Lindh as he knelt in prayer and then ran away, leaving Lindh with bruises on his forehead. On July 2, 2003, Morrison was charged with a misdemeanor count of assault.

Lindh was held in Federal Supermax ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado for a short time. He is currently serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution at Terre Haute, Indiana[31] in the Communication Management Unit.[32] In April 2007, citing the reduced sentence for the Australian prisoner David Matthew Hicks, Lindh’s attorneys made a public plea for a Presidential commutation to lower his 20-year sentence.

In January 2009, the Lindh family’s petition for clemency was denied by President Bush in one of his final acts in office. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, all “special administrative measures” in place against Lindh expired on March 20, 2009, as part of a gradual easing of restrictions on him.[33]

In 2010, Lindh and Syrian-American prisoner Enaam Arnaout sued to lift restrictions on group prayer by Muslim inmates in the Communication Management Unit.[32]

Link.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 3:07 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 65

Thanks for this information

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 59

I do understand and thank you for giving us the correct institutions that address those issues!

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:10 pm

With that said, I am wondering if either of you can tell us what the reaction is from other governments or citizens of other countries, if there is any, to the continued refusal by the US government to respond to calls for accountability?

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 61

I can’t explain why Israel is generally shielded from effective action on human rights; I suspect the USG’s reasons are complex and not just political expedience. But complexity is no excuse in this case, especially because the US could use its influence positively and, in general, I don’t think it does. Israel is by no means the worst offender in the region, nor are some forces innocent of abuse on the Palestinian side either. But the human rights issues are real and Israel’s ability to fend them off with support of the US and other Western governments is not only a problem for the victims of abuse; it is also an obstacle to peace.

spocko December 3rd, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I have read several books on the issue of torture, Phillipe Sands, Mark Danner and others.

I too lament at the acceptance of torture in popular culture and in the RW media. Is there anything we can do to impact the views of the RW pro-torture people?

Rush Limbaugh calls it “blowing off steam” and Frat hazing. Michelle Bachmann she would use waterboarding because it “does not kill anyone.”

I see the RW media over and over use the “ticking timebomb” scenario to justify torture. I’ve suggested that people on the left learn how to bust this scenario. The effort to bust up this metaphor and show it to be a lie might be useful to take to the right but I also think people on the left need to know how to bust it.

Some have tried to educate the RW media, but have been been shouted down. (I’m thinking of Hannity arguing with Gov. Jesse Ventura about waterboarding. And how John Nance, the Fox News military analyst who wrote, “Waterboarding is Torture, Period” was stopped from testifying on the topic and stopped going on Fox News to discuss it.)

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 68

Or, put more bluntly, why is the U.S. not a laughing stock everywhere else around the world.

Do foreign govts think they have to kowtow to lawless, but powerful U.S.

Are 1%er in kahoots around the globe?

99ers in other countries despise the U.S., no?

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 68

Great question. I don’t know about other governments calling for accountabilty but it would be most heartening.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 69

U.S. needs at least one country much worse than U.S. to hide behind & Israel is it.

Among other despicable reasons.

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 69

Jason, excellent question.

response:

But the human rights issues are real and Israel’s ability to fend them off with support of the US and other Western governments is not only a problem for the victims of abuse; it is also an obstacle to peace

Juan,

That sent cold chills. Thank you for confirming what I was thinking.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Juan and Marjory, it truly seems poetic that your book was released shortly before a dozen military and police officials were sentenced to life in prison in Argentina for crimes against humanity during the country’s military dictatorship. I am wondering, Juan, if you are concerned about whether these war criminals will be treated humanely during their imprisonment? Given what you endured, how do you balance and confront the feelings you may have for these individuals and others like them with your principles regarding human rights?

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 3:18 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 68

I think colleagues who are in daily contact with other governments may be able to answer more completely. In my experience as SRT (and it is only in the last year), I would say that there is seldom an official response that alludes to US non-compliance. But the unofficial or implied references are frequently there. Of course, there are also governments that are human rights violators AND vociferous critics of the US that raise this issue all the time. In their cases, hypocrisy aside, US non-compliance gives them a powerful argument for their own non-compliance.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to spocko @ 70

We actual comment on the ticking time bomb argument in the book (see pages 42-42) in the chapter on Torture. The Israeli Supreme Court declared torture illegal and rejected the ticking time bomb scenario as justification for torture.

It’s one of those invented ideas from “24″ or something. I don’t know of any examples where the scenario occured.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:21 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 69

The most insightful and honest answer about the issue I believe I have ever heard. Thank you.

EdwardTeller December 3rd, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Ms. Wentworth,

Your poem, Nocturne 2006, is on my list of poems I hope to set as a song lyric.

(real name – Philip Munger)

The work you did on this book with Juan Mendez is just as important as your art, I suppose. Does your involvement in human rights issues help bring out your muse as much as it might frustrate it?

Siun December 3rd, 2011 at 3:23 pm

What an honor to have you both here Juan and Marjory and to have this amazing book.

I was a member of AIUSA1 back in those days back in those days and the reports were always haunting.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to spocko @ 70

Ticking bomb is trivial to diffuse. If there really were a ticking bomb, the incentive would be for the interrogee to lie & send cops/army on a wild goose chase until the bomb exploded. False info under threat of torture would be de rigueur in these circumstances and I’m sure that high ranking insurgents are trained to provided false info under such circumstances. [Oh, plz plz don’t hurt me. Person X (the highest ranking USG spook who interrogee can name without being laughed at) is really a double agent & as we speak is speeding toward the WH gate.

Meanwhile the bomb goes off in front of Blair House where Benji Nety is ensconced.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 3:26 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 76

Lowest common denominator.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 3:26 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 75

It’s also a reminder about accountability – no matter how much time has passed. My friend Robert Cox, former editor of the Buenos Aries Herald, has gone to Argentina to testify at some of these trials. The horror of what happened there doesn’t go away, and thousands of families still don’t know what happened to their loved ones. It’s deep wound, and the recent sentencing is profoundly important.

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 75

In Argentina there are 1,770 former torturers and murderers (and thiefs of babies) under indictment. Almost two hundred have been convicted and about 300 other ones are in detention pending trial. (the figures are similar for Chile, by the way). They are treated humanely in prisons, in all cases in cellblocks that are not shared with the general prison population. As for trials, they have recieved every guarantee of fair trial. About 40% are in house arrest pending trial, either because of old age or health reasons or because the initial period of pre-trial detention (generally 2 years) has expired without having been tried. I have no fear that they would ever suffer ill treatment or lack of due process because these trials are carefully controlled by the Argentine courts and scrutinized by a very interested press and public opinion. At last count, survey indicate that 80% of the population favor accountability through trials, and you can bet the figure would not be that high if there were real concerns about their fairness.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:28 pm

You hit on another important point, Marjory. We were told by Bush administration officials that torture became a policy in order to gain intelligence to fend off impending attacks. But later, and I reported this along with my colleague Jeffrey Kaye, who is a psychologist that treats torture victims, we discovered that the true reasons behind the torture program was exploitation, false confessions, compliance. During the course of your research, did you find that to be the case other regimes resorted to a policy of torture?

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 79

That is AWESOME! Your work, “The Skies are Weeping” is a gift to us.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 84

Thank you, Juan.

spocko December 3rd, 2011 at 3:29 pm

That “24″ scenario is very, very embedded in the mind of the RW media. Rush Limbaugh vacationed in the Dominican Republic with the producer of “24″. They are very close. When actual people from the military went to the writers and producer of “24″ telling them to stop with their torture scenarios because they were messing up the new recruits interrogating skills, you KNOW that there is a problem.

How embedded in to the mind of the right wing media?

Here is talk radio host Brian S ussman of K S F O talking about how he would torture people in Iraq if he got a chance. Audio link

In the clip he talks about how if the guy didn’t talk he would cut off his finger and then if he still didn’t talk he would cut off his penis.

Oh, and this guy calls himself a Christian.

http://www.spockosbrain.com/cutofffinger12152005H18M13.wma

edit, that is the link. I have it in MP3 somewhere too.

EdwardTeller December 3rd, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 86

Thanks, peasantParty.

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 3:31 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 82

Good rebut to the ticking bomb scenario. But I am not sure I understand what you mean by “lowest common denominator” in your other response.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 3:32 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 79

Philip,
What an honor. I do hope that you work with that poem; it is the strongest of my poems about humans rights abuses. The human rights work and the writing are intertwined. They always have been. Telling the stories about people I have met and worked with over the years has a redemptive quality. I think a writer has to bear witness. For someone like me it’s part of why I write. I have a children’s book out called Shackles, which has to do with slavery. I think of this as a human right’s book too.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 3:35 pm
In response to spocko @ 88

It’s a lot worse than that. As I mentioned above, in ‘regular’ TV shows like L&O, using threat of prison rape to extract (false) confessions is used as though it were commonly acceptable. Which it is.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I have that book, Marjory :) My son is only three years old but my wife and I read it to him.

BevW December 3rd, 2011 at 3:36 pm

With the Arab Spring in the Middle East, do you foresee more cases of human rights abuses being filed, identified, from the victim and records that are available now?

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:37 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 93

In addition to the fascinating story, the illustrations are superb.

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 3:37 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 85

All regimes claim they need to interrogate in order to gain intelligence and to protect national security. In other versions they may complain that rules of criminal procedure are too lax and serious criminals are allowed to go free, etc. I suppose the need to gather intelligence is real, especially for countries facing terrorism. But the damage done even to “good” intelligence by resorting to torture is seldom discussed. I suspect the reasons why regimes torture are multiple: cutting corners, need to show results, etc. The reasons why individuals torture have to do, first and foremost, with impunity. Also, the need to exercise dominion and control over the victim, including control over life and death.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 3:37 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 90

Meant that as U.S. races to the bottom of civil rights, it provides a level that can justify any bad treatment of anyone in any other country. The U.S. becomes the lowest common demoninator of human behavior.

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Marjory and Juan,

I’ve watched many documentaries on Rape as an Act of Warfare. I think the Tahir Square rape of a US journalist finally hit home for some Americans. The Congo war rapes were more than rape, they were body altering, painful and lifelong. Do you consider that type of warfare torture?

bmaz December 3rd, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Aiyeee, I am late to the show, and I apologize. I hope my questions have not been covered, but have not time to read first:

Juan and/or Marjorie – Obviously, the UAS is effectively observer status at best as to formal participation with the ICC. As lame as it is to posit, the US is still the 800 lb gorilla in the world room; what definitive jurisdiction can the ICC ever have ultimately without the US being not only a participatory member, but a member willing to submit its own attached to the jurisdiction of the ICC? I submit the ICC can have little ultimate patina of justice until the biggest force in the world is under its jurisdiction; until then it is hollow and shallow justice for the secondary and teriary powers that be, and that is no justice at all.

EdwardTeller December 3rd, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I looked at the poems in Shackles, too, at the college library at UAA. I thought, “I might set these as a gift for my grandkids – when that happens.”

I think a writer has to bear witness.

You do. Poets do that far, far more than “classical” composers these days, I fear.

I used to cry, thinking about Los Desaparecidos, listening to Astor Piazzolla.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to BevW @ 94

Or the exact opposite, i.e., will Arab spring bring massive oppression out into the open like Krystallnacht, pograms, ghettos in Nazi Germany.

At this early stage, I think it could go either way, esp with global hegemon U.S. weighing in heavily on side of oppression.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 3:41 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 98

Absolutely – and the International Cirminal Court has viewed it as such. This is enormously important and will hopefully work as a deterrant.

DWBartoo December 3rd, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Thank you for joining us, Juan.

You suggest that this era, of torture and what are nothing less than crimes against humanity, in the US will, eventually, end.

Might you share how you imagine that such change, and the necessary accountability which must, reasonably, accompany such a turn-around, could come about?

DW

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to BevW @ 94

Hi Bev. The Arab Spring is in full swing and it is difficult to know how it will evolve. But the important thing is that it is, in all aspects, a “human rights revolution.” The rallying cry is to shake off oppressive regimes and exercise liberty, and the response of the regimes has been such that they have actually shown their true face (no matter the varying degress in which they were supported by the West for reasons of expediency). In places like Tunisia one can see already some positive human rights outomes. The fact that the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction in Lybia arguably will allow for serious accountability. But there are also great dangers. In addition to undertain outcome in Syria and possible backtracking in Egypt, I would mention the need for the new Lybian government to come clean and investigate thorughly the murder of Khadaffi and some of his supporters, and to prosecute whoever may be responsible.

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Much Love to You! That is torture not only meant for the woman, but to drive the men and children crazy too.

Siun December 3rd, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to Juan E. Mendez @ 84

It is heartening that these trials are going forward, that justice becomes possible in time … I hope we can find ways to make these trials known here as perhaps a reminder to our own torturers that future trials remain possible.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 3:45 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 100

Philip, I must listen to The Skies are Weeping. I wanted to write about Rachel Corrie. We are kindred spirits for sure. Let’s try and stay in touch. Interestingly enough, I was just approached about writing a libretto. My email is [Note - edited so spambots do not capture; information sent to Phil.]

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 3:46 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 98

Yes, of course. Rape is torture under all circumstances: in custody, as an interrogation technique, and even by non State actors if the State is passive or tolerant because of gender bias. And in the case of armed conflict, rape is not only torture but also a war crime.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I would really like to encourage everyone here to pick up a copy of Juan and Marjory’s book, “Taking A Stand.” This book educated me on the enormous progress the human rights movement has made thus far and how much work still needs to be done. Juan and Marjory’s book made me feel that my own reporting on these issues is still very important, despite the fact that the public has become somewhat disinterested. Furthermore, although Juan is often described as a victim of torture, this book made me think differently: Juan is a torture survivor.

Marjory Wentworth December 3rd, 2011 at 3:50 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 109

Thank you so much Jason. I would like to add that Juan has worked for decades as a leader in the human rights field, and his life’s work has literally shaped the human rights movement around the world.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Juan, what are you currently investigating for the UN?

DWBartoo December 3rd, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Great Book Salon, everyone.

I have to leave, now, but would like to thank Juan and Marjory, for the book and what you both stand for.

DW

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 3:52 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 103

Accountability will not happen by itself or by default. It will only happen because of consistent, indefatigable pressure by civil society. I have faith that it will happen because I have admired the way in which American organizations reacted to the violations on the “war on terror” from day one. The ACLU, AI, HRW, Human Rights First, the Center for Constitutional Rights, people like David Cole and Phillippe Sands, and many others, of course, have stood up to power. They continue to insist on accountability and, even though in the meantime some battles are undoubtedly lost, the few that they have won constitute the platform from which we will eventually get to accountability.

BevW December 3rd, 2011 at 3:52 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon,

Juan, Marjory, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book, and Human Rights and Torture.

Jason, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Juan’s website and book

Marjory’s website and books

Jason’s website and at FDL – The Dissenter.

Thanks all, Have a great evening.

If you want to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 3:53 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 109

I definitely have to support a fellow Carolinian! Besides, the topic is something that we all need to become more familiar with. Our government is not hiding it much anymore and only gave 30 minutes of discussion on the latest infringement bill.

EdwardTeller December 3rd, 2011 at 3:53 pm

The music was taken off the web about 15 months ago. I’ll find a way to get a copy to you soon. Thanks.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Indeed and what Juan has done in the name of justice and accountability and to ensure the victims of atrocities are not forgotten is Nobel Peace Prize-worthy. Truly inspiring.

EdwardTeller December 3rd, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 109

Thank you, Jason for hosting this salon, and for the important work of your own!

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 111

As it happens, I have one foot on a plane to Kyrgystan on a fact-finding mission. I hope to visit Bahrain early next year. Thematically, I am working on solitary confinement (trying to give longer shelf life to the report I presented to the UN General Assembly in October) and I am preparing a new report on Commissions of Inquiry and the minimum standards for them to comply with international law.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:55 pm
In response to BevW @ 114

Thank you, Bev. I am so grateful to you and Jane for affording me the opportunity to host today’s book salon.

Juan E. Mendez December 3rd, 2011 at 3:55 pm

It has been exciting and a real pleasure. Thanks to all for your comments. Good bye

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 116

Oh, No! I hope I didn’t cause that. Please forgive me. :-(

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Safe travels, Juan. I look forward to reporting on your important work!

tjbs December 3rd, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Torture Murder Treason, one and the same.

A match starts the flame that grow to a fire that consumes all, locking up the bush punk would do wonders for our National soul.Cheney ,the coward , would take the cyanide like the german guy that couldn’t face his truth or he’ll shut the pump off

Someone will be that match.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 3:57 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 118

Thank you so much! I appreciate that.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I have been impressed on how it had always been possible, even easy, to find the right scenario, under all lying govt pravadanda, no matter what. I was in HS, college during VN, not politically aware, but it still was obvious to me that the war was so wrong, so perverted.

And of course Halberstam & Hersh & others were writing about it in real time, not to mention Ellsberg’s brave release of PP.

Today we have the list of truth tellers named above including those here tonight.

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Oh, Man! I only wanted Edward to know how much I appreciated his work. I certainly hope I didn’t cause a problem.

eCAHNomics December 3rd, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Good luck on solitary confinement. I have been bothered by that long before 9/11, but no one else (seemingly) was, and since then other more blatant abuses have arisen.

bmaz December 3rd, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Wait – Twenty minutes was not enough time to get an answer to the seminal question of the whole ICC??

Can I presume there is not a good answer in your possession to the question I posed @99 above??

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 4:03 pm
In response to bmaz @ 129

Hey, B!

Your question was also a good one.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 4:05 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 130

it was! I will pose it to Juan and Marjory as I am also writing a story for Truthout.

ondelette December 3rd, 2011 at 4:09 pm
In response to bmaz @ 129

There were some questions he seemed not to want to answer, he didn’t answer mine about the RCRC conference either.

PeasantParty December 3rd, 2011 at 4:11 pm
In response to Jason Leopold @ 131

Jason, thanks. Oh yeah, and thanks for the work you do. You’ve been through some tough times with the PTB over your reporting. Stand Tall.

Jason Leopold December 3rd, 2011 at 4:14 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 133

Thank you so much. I’m very grateful for the support and encouragement.

bmaz December 3rd, 2011 at 4:15 pm
In response to ondelette @ 132

Yeah, and I know we have different views on this stuff, but those ARE the truly germane questions (including yours).

Crickets.

bmaz December 3rd, 2011 at 4:16 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 130

Hey!! Miss you!

bmaz December 3rd, 2011 at 4:21 pm
In response to ondelette @ 132

What makes it worse is, that so long as the only true military power, and its disciple Israel (or is it the other way around?) is under the jurisdiction of the ICC, the ICC is nothing but a sad joke of justice for the weak and dispossessed of power. That is a formula for no credibility whatsoever to the intellectually possessed. Justice imposed on the powerless is not justice at all. Again, I know we have had differences here, but that is why I hate this shit.

ondelette December 3rd, 2011 at 4:47 pm
In response to bmaz @ 137

The answer that some at the ICC would give is that were the U.S. under ICC jurisdiction it would make little difference, because it is a court of last resort. It functions when a country will not or cannot function itself. Since “will not” takes forever to prove, it only comes into play when a country asks it to, or when a country doesn’t have a functioning judiciary. The only other time it’s been used is when a regime is losing legitimacy, which means conditions of civil war exist, in all instances so far.

And the U.S. has been gradually moving into a position of accepting and acquiescing to its existence and authority. That has taken 9 years since it started to function. It took 106 years to bring the Court into existence (it was first proposed in 1893). So from their point of view, the inevitability of the Court is taking hold with the speed of wildfire.

JClausen December 3rd, 2011 at 5:34 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 126

Have I told you lately that I ALWAYS read book salons where you “cut to the chase” on the subject at hand?

You are a treasure.

I have read Zinn several times and have taught from his text, but damn, you kick ass on applying his concepts!

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