You would hardly know it from watching the news or reading the papers, but there's a two-month-old hunger strike going on at GuantÃ¡namo Bay. After more than three years of internment without charges or trials, approximately forty detainees are striking for the right to a fair hearing before a judge.
The Pentagon is in denial about its violations of the Geneva Accords; the mainstream media are oblivious. As Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) staff attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez says, "It is astounding that men in US custody are willing to engage in a hunger strike until they are afforded a fair hearing or they die of starvation." But it's happening with no one paying all that much attention--except in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, where, as Clive Stafford Smith explaines in the Nation magazine, any US claim to be the standard-bearer of the rule of law has dissolved.
It's so bad even Thomas Friedman has called for closing the prisoners' camp. But Friedman's column last summer aside, this hunger strike really does seem to be the story America doesn't care about. And the Gitmo authorities, mindful of the bad publicity a detainee death by starvation would cause, are apparently force-feeding the hunger strikers to make sure we don't see a Muslim Bobby Sands.
In a scathing report issued on September 30, the Government Accountability Office's investigators said the Bush Administration had broken the law by using taxpayer dollars to disseminate "covert propaganda" in the United States.
The case in question involves the buying of favorable news coverage of the White House's education policies in the form of payments to conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and the hiring of a PR firm to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party. (The GAO's ruling should lead the mainstream media to broaden its investigation: What other reporters and media outlets are on the government's payroll?)
But this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It's now clear that the Bush Administration represents a broad threat to a free and fair media. The bribing of journalists to report "friendly" news has to be put in the context of a decades-long effort by the right and its corporate allies to undermine journalists' ability to report fairly on power and its abuse--whether through consolidation, cutbacks in news budgets or by attaching the label "liberal bias" to even the most routine forms of news-gathering and reportage.
More than three decades have passed since a President nominated someone without judicial experience to serve on the US Supreme Court.
The last such nominations--those of William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell Jr.--were announced on the same day, October 20, 1971, by then President Richard Nixon. Nixon had run into problems getting sitting federal judges placed on the high court. His nomination of Clement F. Haynsworth Jr., chief judge of the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals, to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Abe Fortas, was rejected by the Senate in 1969. A year later, the Senate turned down Nixon's nomination of G. Harrold Carswell, a judge on the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals, to fill the same vacancy.
In the fall of 1971, with vacancies created by the resignations of Justices John Marshall Harlan II and Hugo Black, Nixon opted for Rehnquist, an Arizona lawyer with close ties to conservative icon Barry Goldwater, and Powell, a former president of the American Bar Association. And, while the Rehnquist nomination created a bit of a stir, both men were confirmed before the year was out--giving Nixon a pair of "wins" in his long wrestling match with an overwhelmingly Democratic and ideologically muscular Senate.
Here we go again. Another pick for the Supreme Court without much--or, in this case, any--judicial experience. And that will make it hard for senators--or a...
New Orleans did not die an accidental death--it was murdered by
deliberate design and planned neglect. Here are twenty-five urgent
questions from the people who live in a city submerged in anger and
In Washington, where it is exceeding difficult to get the political players or the press corps to pay attention to more than one story at once, no0 one would suggest that it was "smart politics" to deliver a major address on the day that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay being forced to step aside after being indicted on criminal conspiracy charges.
But sometimes the work of Washington involves more than political games.
Sometimes it involves life and death questions of national policy. And it is particularly frustrating in such moments to see vital statements about the nation's future get lost in the rush to discuss the scandal du jour. To be sure, the well-deserved indictment of DeLay merited the attention it received. But the indictment of President Bush's "stay-the-course" approach with regard to the Iraq War, which was delivered on the same day by U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, should have gotten a lot more attention than it did.
When you already have a fall guy, use him--especially if he's a dead man.
Could that be the legal strategy of I. Lewis Libby (a.k.a. Scooter), Vice ...
As Jonathan Kozol points out in his new book Shame of the Nation, the promise of Brown v. Board of Education remains unfulfilled. Thanks largely to a spate of Rehnquist Court decisions throughout the 1990s that limited the constitutionality of desegregation plans, policymakers across the country have abandoned efforts to integrate schools. As a result, schools have become rapidly re-segregated: today, Black and Latino students are more isolated from their white counterparts than at any other period since 1968.
Yet several school districts nationwide are tackling the problem of school segregation with socioeconomic integration plans. And the results, particularly in Wake County, North Carolina, have been profoundly positive. Wake County--which includes Raleigh and surrounding suburbs--made headlines last week when the New York Times reported that the performance of black and Latino students has dramatically improved since the implementation of a comprehensive socioeconomic desegregation program. According to the Times, the number of black and Latino students achieving at grade level has doubled in the last decade since the program has been put in place.
The tragic events in New Orleans once again illustrated that the fault lines of race and class are intimately connected in America. Consequently, class-based desegregation plans often have the dual effect of creating both racial and economic diversity in schools. And, as Wake County demonstrates, desegregation plans do more than simply mix students; they are a recipe for results.
The stampede to confirm Judge John Roberts as the 17th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court roared through the full Senate Thursday as the chamber voted 78-22 to give President Bush's 50-year-old nominee a lifetime sinecure at the head of the nation's highest and most powerful court.
Roberts's record of opposing expansion of the Voting Rights Act, unyielding allegiance to the corporate interests he served as an attorney in private practice and extreme deference to executive power he served as an aide to President's Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush drew broad grassroots opposition.
People For the American Way, the National Organization for Women, the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Human Rights Campaign, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Americans with Disabilities Watch, the National Council of Women's Organizations, the National Council of Jewish Women, Rainbow PUSH, the Fund for the Feminist Majority, Legal Momentum, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Abortion Federation, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and MoveOn.org all expressed strong opposition to the Roberts nomination.
With religious school vouchers and public displays of the Ten
Commandments on government monuments, the United States is following Europe's path to a melding of Christianity and the state. That's no way to instill
loyalty among Islamic immigrants.
Americans are becoming more hostile by the day to the war in Iraq,
the nation is demoralized over official abandonment of the victims of
the Gulf Coast storm, but the Democratic Party is missing in action.