Guantanamo, Habeas Corpus, Torture and Military Contractors: The Roadmap to Accountability in the First 100 Days
AKA "Your Government Failed You, Reasons Number 2, 374 - 5, 649."
Now I'm at the Guantanamo panel, which is the most well-attended event I've been to so far. We've got someone moderating this but I can't see her name and Vince Warren who is the executive director for the Center for Constitutional Rights. Jameel Jaffer is the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. Jeremy Scahill is most well-known lately for his book Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, and having exposed Blackwater's being in New Orleans (hey Scahill, what about the 1st CavalryDivision being sent on patrols in New Orleans post-Katrina?). Finally, Dahlia Litwick is a senior editor and legal correspondent for Slate.com.
Jameel Jaffer mentions that he doesn't feel that all of the human rights violations that have gone on are solely because of the Bush administration. He also says it's dangerous to dismiss it that way, because only some of the issues will be fixable by Obama or McCain as President.
Scahill comes out swinging, saying that the Democrats in Congress have not been strong enough as an opposition party and Pelosi's only crowning achievement as Speaker was managing to get a lower approval rating than Bush. He points out there are more private contractors than there are soldiers in Iraq -- 180K private contractors, and 150K soldiers Iraq. In fact, the people who are currently hired to guard Obama while he tours around Afghanistan and Iraq, who make up the Worldwide Personal Protective Services contract, includes Blackwater, Triple Canopy and Dyncorp, three of the largest mercenary companies.
Litwick brings up the lawlessness of the presidency, and the "Nixonian notion" if the President does it, it's not illegal.
One of the points that Warren brings up is that there needs to be a special prosecutor who is elected to provide oversight and who isn't afraid to go after the people who are currently serving in office who are war criminals and and hold them accountable and that "when somebody decides not to show up for a hearing, you need To Throw. Their Ass. In Jail"
A few theories were discussed as to the spin that the administration uses to create confusion about torture that goes on, in both the nation and in Congress -- the "Rogue Soldier," "Modified Insanity," and the theory that that "it's just really complicated." A rather disgruntled man in the back interjects saying that all of these are just the government's way of saying "Fuck you" (his words) and I've got to agree with him.
One woman stands up and says "We are getting to the torch and pitchforks stage." Sounds a lot like banging on pots and pans. Scahill says, "that a lot of people spend too much time in front of their computer, and not enough time in the streets."