A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

Holding corporates to account for helping America torture

Posted: 20 Dec 2011

Centre for Constitutional Rights launches a necessary case:

Last night, attorneys for Iraqi torture victims abused in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison and other detention centers in Iraq challenged two private military contractors’ claims to immunity from being sued on the grounds that their alleged torture occurred during wartime. Today, a coalition of groups, including retired military officers and human rights NGO’s and experts, supported their claims by filing amicus briefs that argue that for-profit corporations cannot be considered equivalent to U.S. soldiers and should face justice under traditional legal principles governing any illegal conduct.

Said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Katherine Gallagher, “Our plaintiffs – innocent Iraqi civilians – were subjected to horrifying acts of torture because these multi-billion-dollar corporations violated military policies and U.S. law prohibiting torture and other war crimes. We are in no way challenging battlefield conduct, but rather, our plaintiffs seek accountability for gratuitous and sadistic acts of violence by private companies in Iraq for profit.”

The lawsuits charge that the two U.S. corporations directed and participated in illegal conduct at Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq, including subjecting plaintiffs to electric shocks, sexual assaults, forced nudity, broken bones, and deprivation of oxygen, food and water. Originally filed in 2008, the two federal lawsuits,Al-Shimari v. CACI and Al-Quraishi v. Nakhla, were brought on behalf of 76 Iraqis who were subjected to abuse and torture in Iraq by employees of the corporations, CACI and L-3. In both cases, the district court ruled the claims could proceed to discovery.

The two cases are now being consolidated for the Court of Appeals to assess whether corporate defendants can invoke the immunity available to the United States government and military in order to evade legal, moral and financial responsibility for their role in one of the most notorious episodes in recent American history. The corporations, which had been hired to provide interpretation and interrogation services, argue their actions are protected under the mantle of sovereign immunity and thus beyond review of the courts because they are “combatant military activities.” Court martial and other testimony from soldiers convicted of serious abuse in Iraq directly link both companies to instances of torture.

Said Shereef Akeel of Akeel & Valentine PLC, “A key principle is at stake here, which is that no one is above the law. It has been a 7 years struggle and these corporate defendants have not yet been held accountable for their involvement in the Abu-Gharib torture scandal.” 

Calling all McCarthyists; Zionism needs you now

Posted: 20 Dec 2011

Debate over Israel/Palestine is shifting. Can you imagine even five years ago a Palestinian-American such as Ahmed Moor (co-editor with me on a book coming out in 2012 called After Zionismtalking constructively to a Jewish Rabbi about the one-state solution?

Meanwhile, in mad Zionist land, where another Holocaust is always around the corner, the Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick (a woman who makes a good living scaring Jews about a litany of Muslim “threats”) is back today with another piece that praises the increasingly paranoid and aggressive tactics of hardline Zionists who want to shut down any debate over Israel/Palestine. This is her ideal future:

For decades New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman balanced his substantively anti-Israel positions with repeated protestations of love for Israel.

His balancing act ended last week when he employed traditional anti-Semitic slurs to dismiss the authenticity of substantive American support for Israel.

Channeling the longstanding anti-Semitic charge that Jewish money buys support for power-hungry Jews best expressed in the forged 19th century Protocols of the Elders of Zion and in John Mearshimer’s and Stephen Walt’s 2007 book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, Friedman denied the significance of the US Congress’s overwhelming support for Israel.

As he put it, “I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”

It would be nice if Friedman is forced to pay some sort of price for finally coming out of the closet as a dyed-in-the-wool Israel hater. But he probably won’t. As he made clear in his column, he isn’t writing for the general public, but for a very small, select group of elitist leftists. These are the only people who matter to Friedman. And they matter to him because they share his opinions and his goal of indoctrinating young people to adopt his pathologically hostile views about Israel and his contempt for the American public that supports it.

It doesn’t matter to Friedman that overwhelming survey evidence, amassed over decades, show that the vast majority of the American public and the American Jewish community support Israel. It doesn’t matter to him that the support shown to Netanyahu in Congress last May was a reflection of that support.

As he put it, “The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let’s say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away.”

Embedded in this statement are two key points. First, Friedman assesses that the prevailing view on US college campuses are his own radical views. And he is convinced that college students share his views.

As he sees it, if college students share his views, then it doesn’t matter that Congress supports Israel today. Through the youth, he and his anti-Israel colleagues will own the future.

The key question then is is Friedman right? Do he and his friends on the Israel bashing Left own the future? Are their efforts to convince young Americans in places like University of Wisconsin to embrace leftist dogmas, including rejection of Israel’s rights working? Is support for Israel diminishing? A plethora of data indicates that while the picture is mixed, the dominant trends do not favor Friedman’s views. This is true not only in the US but in Israel as well.

The final moments of Kim Jong-Il captured for eternity

Posted: 19 Dec 2011

The deadly risk of being a journalist in 2011

Posted: 19 Dec 2011

Committee to Protect Journalists offers a grim end of year report:

Pakistan remained the deadliest country for the press for a second year, while across the world coverage of political unrest proved unusually dangerous in 2011, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in its year-end survey of journalist fatalities. CPJ’s analysis found notable shifts from historical data: Targeted murders declined while deaths during dangerous assignments such as the coverage of street protests reached their highest level on record. Photographers and camera operators, often the most vulnerable during violent unrest, died at rates more than twice the historical average.

At least 43 journalists were killed around the world in direct relation to their work in 2011, with the seven deaths in Pakistan marking the heaviest losses in a single nation. Libya and Iraq, each with five fatalities, and Mexico, with three deaths, also ranked high worldwide for journalism-related fatalities. The global tally is consistent with the toll recorded in 2010, when 44 journalists died in connection with their work. CPJ is investigating another 35 deaths in 2011 to determine whether they were work-related.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *