ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

Home   ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)

Google
 

 

 

It boggles the imagination that a routine police function could be the instance

of a major challenge to the Constitution of the United States by the very people

whose  essential, constitutional obligation,  function, responsibility, and duty 

it is to defend the integrity of the United States of America.

 

 

 

 Book by John Maxwell

How to Make Our Own News: A Primer for Environmentalist and Journalists

*   *   *   *   *

Official: George Bush is Not God

By John Maxwell

 

The US Circuit Courts of Appeal are slowly but surely bringing an element of reality into the Bush/Rove/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz War on Terror.

This week the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the President of the United States has no power to deprive US citizens of their basic rights as citizens. This ruling  means that the  United States of America is still “One Nation under God” and not “One Nation under George Bush”

It seemed for a moment that things might have been going the other way. Since December 2000 when the US Supreme Court installed George Bush into the presidency of the US it was beginning to seem that the Republican Party and its PR managers could do things to the Constitution of the United States against which the Constitution itself offered no protection.  That little adventure now appears to be coming to an end.

The Sky is Falling? Really?

.Jose Padilla is the American citizen, who nearly two years ago, was arrested at Chicago’s O'Hare airport on suspicion of plotting to explode a "dirty bomb" in the United States. He was arrested by the FBI but transferred quickly to military custody. The military has held him for more than a year and a half in solitary confinement. Padilla has not been charged with any crime and has not been allowed to see an attorney.

The US administration has attempted to make the Padilla case seem to be an horrific, unprecedented threat to the safety and security of the United States.  Time described Padilla as “incarnating the sum of our fears …”  when Attorney General John Ashcroft, on a visit to Moscow, made everyone’s blood run cold as he described Padilla as determined to atomize some large portion of the American population. The reality  – which soon became apparent, was somewhat different.

Making Padilla its “person of the Week”  in a sarcastic touch Time magazine wrote: “According to the government's account, he approached [Al Qaeda] with the idea of detonating a "dirty bomb" in a U.S. city, and they obliged by teaching him to wire a bomb. The impression, in the government's own account, is of a former street hoodlum desperate to join a new gang — and being kept at arm's length.”

The Al Qaeda leadership, or whomever he saw, did not apparently laugh at Padilla, but seems to have told him to go and do something a little closer to his limited capacities.

On his return to the United States he was arrested and has been in solitary confinement since then.

No Defence

In a telling but understated remark on Thursday night, the CNN’s Aaron Brown remarked that although he and CNN had tried very hard, they could not find a single conservative lawyer prepared to defend the Bush administration’s position in the Padilla case.

Professor Jonathan Turley, a conservative legal expert, explained that there was simply  no defence for the government’s position. The government’s position, put crudely,  is that the President has the authority to override the constitution whenever his judgment told him to do so and to justify it by the allegation that the US is at war.

This contention has been challenged by a combination of legal experts from the left and the right of the US political spectrum. All of them, whatever their leaning, recognise that the Bush contention is a challenge to the very existence of the United States itself. If the US is to be a government of laws and not men, a government of free men and not of tyrants, there is no escape from the duty to challenge Bush and his cabal.

The American Civil Liberties Union argues that Jose Padilla is entitled to the full set of rights enjoyed by any other American, including the right to know who his accusers are, what he is accused of and the right to a public trial. In contrast, the Bush administration considers Padilla an “unlawful combatant”  a newly minted category  unknown to US or international law. By calling him an “unlawful combatant” the President has  somehow stripped him of all his rights and dignities as a human being and an American citizen. The description challenges the UN charter itself, and the UN Declaration of Human Rights which says that no one may be deprived of his citizenship. It also challenges common sense, since Padilla was at no time at war in a legal sense, with the US.

The US government believes Padilla betrayed his country by conspiring with Al Qaeda. Instead of charging him with treason – the correct course in such a case, they have instead chosen  a route which will deny him the rights he would have if he had been  charged as a traitor. The administration apparently believes that Padilla has important information about Al Qaeda and that if they keep him in their unmerciful custody they can soften him up sufficiently to make him disgorge that information. Unlike  several alien enemies of the US, he cannot be exported to Turkey, Syria, or Egypt where professional torturers would soon reduce him to jelly. He has to be kept in US custody.

And he can’t be taken to Guantanamo Bay because he was arrested in the US and is a citizen. In the case of other unlawful combatants, the US is claiming that Guantanamo Bay is outside the jurisdiction of the US courts, because Guantanamo Bay is not "US soil." But in its adverse dealings with Cuba, the US has duplicitously argued that it has a perpetual lease on Guantanamo Bay, which makes it, for all juridical purposes, a part of the US. In fact, military and other offences at Guantanamo Bay were formerly tried in US courts, a fact the government has conveniently chosen to forget. although American servicemen recently accused of spying and other offences at the base are to be tried in the US.

The essential worthlessness of the US case can be no better illustrated than by Paul Wolfowitz’   interview with Jane Clayson on June 11, 2002. In that interview, published in  “Washington File” on the State Department’s Web Site  (usinfo.state.gov) Wolfowitz was asked

“How worried should we be about the potential for someone to use a so-called dirty bomb in the US.?

WOLFOWITZ: We've got to be very concerned about a whole range of weapons of mass destruction. The president has pointed this out over and over again. This particular individual, Mr. Padilla, Mr. Muhajir, whatever you prefer to call him, was in the very early stages of his planning. I don't think there was actually a plot beyond some fairly loose talk and his coming in here obviously to plan further deeds.

CLAYSON: So it was nothing  --

WOLFOWITZ: The general problem is something  --

CLAYSON: -- beyond loose talk?

WOLFOWITZ: Oh, he was definitely working on trying to do it. But it's not as though this was a plan that was on the verge of being executed. The point, though, that the president has made over and over again is that there are countries that have weapons of mass destruction who work with terrorists, and that is really the greatest danger to the United States.

Wolfowitz makes it perfectly clear that Padilla is simply a pawn in the grand design to frighten Americans out of their wits – about external threats –countries with weapons of mass destruction – WMD.

He makes that point even more explicit later in the interview when Jane Clayson asked him about Padilla’s contacts with Al Qaeda .

CLAYSON: So how much contact did this man have with Al-Qaeda? And was he taking orders directly from them?

WOLFOWITZ: A great deal of contact, and clearly taking a great deal of instruction. If I might, though, just point out to your viewers where we are today; we're at the site of the Pentagon where the plane crashed in on the morning of September 11th. We made such extraordinary progress in rebuilding the building that we're about to lay the last piece of limestone in the building. And today we're going to put this time capsule in that's going to honour the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice that morning.

It's also a way of honoring the incredible determination and resolve of the workers who put this building back together so quickly. I think it's symbolic of the resolve of the American people to prevail over people like Padilla and Abu Zubaydah and their like.

In this exchange, Wolfowitz makes it perfectly plain that Padilla is a person of no real importance. In the middle of speaking about this potential mass murderer, Wolfowitz distracts himself to admire the rebuilding of the Pentagon, not the enormity of the threat to destroy a large number of Americans by means of a dirty bomb.

The hypocrisy and cynicism could not be clearer,  especially a little later when Clayson, determined to return to the subject of Padilla, asks Wolfowitz how long could Padilla, as an American citizen, be held without charge:

CLAYSON: And the fact that he's an American citizen, does that give him the right to a fair and speedy trial?

WOLFOWITZ: He is an enemy combatant. Enemy combatants, whether they are American citizens or not American citizens, are subject to the same provisions of the laws of war.

CLAYSON: Are there other suspects, either in this country or overseas, who are working with this man?

WOLFOWITZ: He clearly had associates. And one of the things we want to ask him about is who those associates were and how we might track them down.

What does Wolfowitz mean by "the laws of war"?  He obviously cannot be  referring to the Geneva Conventions.

It boggles the imagination that a routine police function could be the instance of a major challenge to the Constitution of the United States by the very people whose  essential, constitutional obligation,  function, responsibility, and duty  it is to defend the integrity of the United States of America.

It boggles the mind that high officials of the government which proudly describes itself as the greatest democracy on Earth, should care so little about the intrinsic importance of their fundamental law that they are prepared to sacrifice it so that they can intimidate some small time hoodlum whom even his co-conspirators obviously did not take seriously.

In my view, this case illustrates, more clearly than anything else, the intellectual incapacity and dishonesty of those who now rule the only superpower on Earth, the land of the free and the home of the brave. And it also demonstrates, more clearly than anything else, what uncivilised cowards they are.

Saddam Hussein

The capture of Saddam Hussein, whether by US troops or by the Kurds, whether by treachery, luck or science, is not a major factor in the future of Iraq.

In relation to law, the Americans are on very fragile ground, because the war which allowed them to capture Saddam was itself illegal and their occupation of Iraq is illegal. However, the main purposes of the war were said to be  (a) to find the weapons of mass destruction allegedly concealed by Saddam and  (b) to rid Iraq of Saddam himself on humanitarian grounds .They have found no  WMD. Hans Blix now believes that whatever WMD existed were destroyed after the Gulf War in 1991. And now that Saddam is in their hands, the  US could claim “Mission Accomplished” and leave the Iraqis to decide for themselves whatever they wish to decide. But as events continue to prove, those were never the real reasons for the war.

The American chief of general staff, Richard Myers says his troops will be in Iraq for several more years. Their aim, which has not been officially revealed, is quite simple:

•    Ensure that the Iraqi Shia do not combine with the Iranian Shia to produce an Islamic superstate.

•    Ensure that the Iraqi Sunnis and Shias do not combine to produce an Iraq united against American and Israeli imperialism.

•    Ensure that the oil wealth of Iraq is yoked to the US market and that Iraq remains tied to the dollar bloc, not the Euro-bloc.

•    Ensure the profitability of big US capital for as long as possible.

The remaining questions are simple:

Can Saddam get a fair trial when Bush keeps bawling for him to be hanged?

Would Saddam be allowed his day in court to expose the other war criminals (Americans and others) who helped him murder his own and other peoples?

Somehow, I wouldn’t bet on Saddam surviving long enough to face any court.

As we say in this country – "Jack Mandora, me no choose none!" which for centuries has been the closing line of all good Anancy stories.

Copyright 2003 John Maxwell maxinf@cwjamaica.com

*   *   *   *   *

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

*   *   *   *   *

 

Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues


1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

 

 

 

 

 

update 16 June 2008 

 

 

 

Home Maxwell Table