Archive for the ‘Frame-ups’ Category

by John Pilger

Julian Assange has been vindicated because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted. Her obsession with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but exposed the Swedish state’s collusion with the United States in its crimes of war and “rendition”.

Had Assange not sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he would have been on his way to the kind of American torture pit Chelsea Manning had to endure.

This prospect was obscured by the grim farce played out in Sweden. “It’s a laughing stock,” said James Catlin, one of Assange’s Australian lawyers. “It is as if they make it up as they go along”.

Serious purpose

It may have seemed that way, but there was always serious purpose. In 2008, a secret Pentagon document prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch” foretold a detailed plan to discredit WikiLeaks and smear Assange personally.

The “mission” was to destroy the “trust” that was WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”. This would be achieved with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”. Silencing and criminalising such an unpredictable source of truth-telling was the aim.

Perhaps this was understandable. WikiLeaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs, including its epic crimes, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale, often homicidal killing of civilians and the contempt for sovereignty and international law.

These disclosures are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistle blowers as “part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal”.

In 2012, the Obama campaign boasted on its website that Obama had prosecuted more whistleblowers in his first term than all other US presidents combined. Before Chelsea Manning had even received a trial, Obama had publicly pronounced her guilty.

Few serious observers doubt that should the US get their hands on Assange, a similar fate (more…)

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download-1While Trump is obnoxious, we should should keep in mind the Obama record when it comes to deportations.

This is from ABC News:

“How many people have been deported under Obama?

“President Barack Obama has often been referred to by immigration groups as the ‘Deporter in Chief’.

download“Between 2009 and 2015 his administration has removed more than 2.5 million people through immigration orders, which doesn’t include the number of people who “self-deported” or were turned away and/or returned to their home country at the border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). (more…)

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Barbara Gregorich and Phil Passen were members of the US Socialist Workers Party from 1965-72, and key figures in the Proletarian Orientation tendency within the SWP and then in the Class Struggle League 1972-74.  While maintaining their anti-capitalist views, Barbara became a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry and Phil  is a musician on the hammered dulcimer.  In the interview below they talk about growing up in 1950s America, the winds of change of the 1960s, their politicisation and activity in that era, their involvement in the US SWP an how and why they began questioning its politics and organisational methods, how they came to a parting of the ways with it, their subsequent political activity, the decline of the left and the fate of the original new social movements of that era, and their assessment of politics in the United States today.

Philip Ferguson: Could you tell me a bit about your backgrounds?  What was it like growing up in the States in the 1950s and early 1960s?

Barbara Gregorich: I grew up in a small town in Ohio. My mother and father worked in my uncle’s bar as bar tenders until I was ten, then my father worked as a millwright in a steel mill and my mother worked at home. One of my uncles had a dairy farm less than half a mile from our house, and I spent much of my time there, with my cousins. I loved being outdoors and helping with milking and other farm chores. After I graduated from high school I attended Kent State University, which was maybe 35 miles away. I graduated with a degree in American Literature and also one in American History. I received an MA degree from the University of Wisconsin, in Literature, and I did post graduate work at Harvard, in the History of American Civilization.

I worked as an Instructor of English at Kent State University and Cuyahoga Community College while living in Cleveland, Ohio. Then Phil and I moved to Boston and I worked as a typesetter, first for a small job shop, then at the Boston Globe. We moved to Chicago, Illinois, and I worked as a typesetter for the Chicago Tribune, then as a postal letter carrier for the U.S. Post Office. I had always wanted to be either a baseball player or a writer. Baseball is closed to women, so I became a writer. In 1979 I went freelance,  which I’ve been to this day.

download (3)What it was like growing up in the States during the 1950s and 1960s is an interesting question, because of course one doesn’t think, “I’m growing up in the ’50s . . . and now I’ve transitioned to the ’60s!” But a person is definitely aware of the characteristics of the decade he/she grows up in, if not at the moment, then in retrospect, or in contrast to the next decade. Living in the 1950s, I was aware that I didn’t like many things about society. I hated fashion, especially as it applied to girls and women. I hated petticoats and crinolines, the latter “required” for the felted poodle skirts fashion of my junior-high years. I hated popcorn socks and pencil skirts and I refused to put my hair in curlers: torture!

What I wanted to wear was t-shirts and jeans, clothes I could function in. I also wondered why my fellow students flocked to and embraced each fashion that came along.  I can’t say that I was aware of politics when in junior and senior high, but standing in the early 1960s and looking back on the 1950s, I felt that it was a very conservative, unquestioning decade, and I was glad to be out of it.

Compared to the ’50s, the 1960s were a blast a fresh air, with people my age questioning what was right and wrong in society, and acting to make changes.

download (2)Phil Passen: I grew up in a small town in Michigan. My father, whose father had been a bricklayer who died from a fall on the job, owned a children’s clothing store in Monroe, Michigan, a small town between Detroit and Toledo. My mother’s parents had died when she was an infant, and she was raised by an aunt and uncle. I don’t know what their class background was, but I assume skilled workers or lower petty-bourgeois. My parents declared bankruptcy in 1960, and lost the store and our house primarily because of medical expenses for my mom’s various illnesses. I remember that this was the first time I thought about anything political, even though I didn’t realize at the time that it was a political question. But I wondered how medical expenses could be so great that they could cost people something they had worked so very hard for. My father was an Eisenhower Republican, and my mother was a Stevenson Democrat, and none of that made any sense to me.

passncon2I remember a palpable difference between the ’50s and ’60s. At some point early in the ’60s I realized that the stodgy, uninteresting, unexciting coat-and -tie atmosphere of the ’50s was gone — replaced by rock and roll, the Beatles and Stones, Bob Dylan, beats, greasers, art films, and an air of excitement. Hard to explain, but I remember feeling the change very strongly. And in the background, at least for me, but something I was very conscious of, was the Civil Rights Movement. I knew something was different.

Phil F: What made you first begin to question the existing state of things?

Phil P: Unquestionably, (more…)

51fQv6-t5VL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy, Spiegel & Grau, New York, 2015 (paperback), 368pp,  reviewed by The Spark

Just Mercy is a showcase for the U.S. injustice system, particularly but not only, toward poor black people. His book looks back over some incredible cases he took during the past 30 years.

Stevenson, near retirement, has spent his entire career helping people on death row, particularly in Alabama, which has no public defenders! He quickly understood the U.S. system of incarceration, with the highest rate in the world.

Eventually he and others created the Equal Justice Initiative as a way to fight the death penalty, especially as it is applied to poor black prisoners in the U.S. If a victim of murder is white, most states give the death penalty five times more often to a black person convicted in the crime, even ten times more often, than a white person convicted of a similar crime.

And it would be his organization that finally got the Supreme Court to end life imprisonment without parole for (more…)

Leonard Peltier was an activist in AIM (the American Indian Movement) in the early 1970s.  At Pine Ridge reservation in the early-mid 1970s dozens of AIM activists and local residents were murdered by goons hired by a corrupt tribal authority leader.  Peltier was involved in organising defence against the murderous goon squads but on June 26, 1975 about 150 FBI agents, goons and local ‘law enforcement’ surrounded the ranch that Peltier and other activists were staying at.  In the resulting shoot-out one AIM activist and two FBI agents lay dead.  Peltier was framed up on murder charges and, despite a wealth of evidence calling the verdict into question, Peltier has been held in prison ever since and denied parole. 

As the International Leonard Peltier Defence Committee records, “Native American activist Leonard Peltier has spent nearly 40 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Prosecutors and federal agents manufactured evidence against him (including the so-called “murder weapon”); hid proof of his innocence; presented false testimony obtained through torturous interrogation techniques; ignored court orders; and lied to the jury. People are commonly set free due to a single constitutional violation, but Peltier—innocent and faced with a staggering number of constitutional violations—has yet to receive equal justice.”

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Poster-LeoPelti-2TSeptember 12, 2015

Greetings everyone,

Well, today is another b-day for me — my 71st. I had hoped I would not be here at this age, but that’s not to be. So, I have to take a deep breathe and slowly let it out… and prepare myself for yet another day in here.

February 6th marks my 40th year in prison. How many of you know that when I was indicted a life sentence was 7 years? I was sentenced to 2 life sentences, so with good time I have served 6 + life sentences. I suppose all of this time has taken its toll on my body. I have a number of different health issues that come with old age. The one I’m most concerned about is my prostate.

Otherwise, I’m still getting compliments on how good I look for my age (smile). People can be nice and say things that make me feel good once in awhile. But I’m told this so often that I’m starting to believe it (smile).

Hey, did you know that the last time I went before the Parole Commission (2009), I was denied because I looked (more…)

imagesThe article below is another in our series of reprints from the Christchurch-based magazine revolution (1997-2006), one of the precursors of this blog. The article discussed seven books and concluded that America’s quest for a new world order was revealing its weakness rather than its strength in the post-Cold War world. The article appeared in issue #7, August/September 1998. It actually seems to have been reprinted from the British journal Living Marxism, but we can’t work out which issue. In the near two decades since the article was written, the Western powers have had more success in talking up the threat of ‘Islamic extremism’, but this has come at the cost of the destruction of much of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. And the West is no more united now that when the article was written. Moreover, the hunt for an external threat to cohere Western societies has cost hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of lives. . .

Burgessby Adam Burgess

Looking back from today, ‘1989 and all that’ seems a long way off. Back then, somewhat to its surprise, capitalism found itself triumphant over the old Soviet enemy. Everybody was invited to join the celebrations, with Francis Fukuyama’s End of History eulogy to the wonders of liberal democracy as the main party piece. Yet within a few years, although still without any challengers, red or otherwise, the mood among the political and intellectual defenders of the capitalist system became decidedly downbeat. Since the early 1990s their ‘New World Order’ has been widely derided as a new world disorder, and history, ignoring Fukuyama’s notice that it is at an end, has gone careering off into a chaos of local passions and conflicts. (more…)

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Renewed imperialist interventionism in the Third World has been a characteristic of global politics since the end of the Cold War. Crucial to this new era of intervention has been a propaganda offensive that the Third World is full of bloodthirsty leaders and tribes who are continually carrying out war crimes. The main part of the article below was written in 1997 when this trend was still relatively new. It appeared in the Christchurch-based revolution magazine, #3, August/September 1997.  The section on napalm has been added today.

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Top: Hiroshima; Above: The USA dropped 8 million tons of napalm in Vietnam. Western war criminals will never be brought to trial.

by Sharon Jones

War crimes, it seems, are pretty common these days. They seem to be breaking out virtually everywhere – except in the West. For instance, every time some repressive regime in the Third World carries out the kind of policies which Western governments encouraged in the past, during the Cold War, they are now denounced by those same Western governments as perpetrating ‘war crimes’.

Have the Western elites turned over a new leaf and become humanitarians? Or is ‘war crime’ fever in the West an indication of a sickness within the Western body politic?

Let’s begin by looking at the latest example of the obsession with war crimes, the American government’s attempt to get Pol Pot extradited to face a war crimes tribunal in the United States. (more…)