Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

Georgia Brutalizes Inmates, Silences Families, Stonewalls Advocates, Justice Department Does Nothing So Far

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Nobody ever expected Barack Obama to be a savior or even a fighter for human and civil rights. Those, after all, are high standards. When it comes to protecting the rights of prisoners, the administration of the First Black President and First Black Attorney General barely if at all meet the much lower standard of showing up for work and answering their mail.

Twenty-one months ago Georgia prisoners reached across racial, religious and other dividing lines and staged a heroic strike. They remained peacefully in their cells, demanding education and recreational opportunities, timely parole and transparent disciplinary procedures, decent food and medical attention and wages for work. To this day, the state of Georgia continues to wage a campaign of brutal retaliation against inmates and their families.

Over these many months, prison authorities have routinely blocked mail and phone access, and denied medical care and showers and other essentials for weeks at a time to inmates it accuses of leading the December 2012 strike. Most of them still remain confined to solitary cells in the SMU unit of the same massive prison complex where Georgia murdered Troy Davis just over a year ago.

In recent weeks no fewer than ten federal lawsuits have been filed by brutalized prisoners, and two more by their advocates and family members outside. Though all the inmate suits are nearly the same, federal judges have allowed only one of them to proceed. They all allege that the state has violated its own procedures both by failing to state its reasons for putting prisoners in solitary confinement, and then refusing to review their status every thirty days.

One of the outside lawsuits is filed by Delma Jackson, the wife of Miguel Jackson alleging that her visits, letters and phone calls have been blocked by state authorities purely and simply because she spoke out publicly on behalf of her husband and others behind the walls. The other outside lawsuit against Georgia's Department of Corrections was filed by Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of TOPS, The Ordinary Peoples Society, accuses lawless state authorities of refusing, over a period of several months worth of inquiries, to provide documentation of exactly what their disciplinary and review procedures are.

Local activists, and attorneys representing the prisoners have asked the Obama administration's Justice Department to look into the many violations of civil and human rights bubbling on the surface of Georgia's campaign to brutalize prisoners in its care, silence their families and stonewall their advocates.

The Justice Department has responded to us,” Pastor Glasgow told Black Agenda Report, “but without saying they intend to do anything specific about our allegations. We're still waiting,” the pastor said, 1 “and although hope is not a plan, we do remain hopeful.”

In early September representatives of more than a dozen local organizations, ranging from Georgia WAND to Project South to the Green Party, activists from Occupy and formations of ex-offenders met at the Georgia state capitol to renew their resolve in fighting for the locked down and locked away. They'll be back at the state capitol this October 6 at 10 AM. If you're in Atlanta that day, that's the place to be. If you're not and want to help, contact the hopeful folks fighting for the human rights of Georgia prisoners at 334-671-2882. That's 334-671-2882.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com

Bruce A.. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com, or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20120919_bd_ga_prisoners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:41am EDT

Obama Wins A Round in His Quest to Imprison Americans Without Trial

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The lawyer for the American plaintiffs thinks Homeland Security is gearing up to make lots of arrests of U.S. citizens, in anticipation that Middle East protests will spread to American soil.”

It is not true that Barack Obama single-handedly destroyed the rule of law in the United States. The savaging of the Bill of Rights was, in effect, a tag team effort between Obama and his predecessor, George Bush, two presidents united in a single-minded quest to remove all barriers to the imprisonment, without trail or charge, of persons anywhere in the world, including U.S. citizens. George Bush did the initial groundwork, interpreting the 2001 congressional mandate to strike militarily against al-Qaida as giving the president the power to hold foreign prisoners without charge in Guantanamo, and, in theory, to treat American citizens the same way. But that was a stretch, and only a presidential opinion.

George Bush knew that it would be very difficult to get a preventive detention bill through Congress; Democrats would raise holy hell, and protesters would call for his head. But Barack Obama accomplished what Bush could not: On New Year’s Eve, Obama signed a preventive detention law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Under a Black Democrat, the rule of law ceased to exist within U.S. borders. Obama had already declared the rest of the planet a killing ground.

Then, back in August, a federal district judge in New York, Katherine Forrest, slapped a temporary restraining order on preventive detention, ruling on behalf of a group of activists and journalists who said the they could be thrown in prison permanently simply for speaking or writing about groups targeted by the United States. What, precisely and under the law, constituted providing “support” for al-Qaida or related groups? Obama’s Justice Department lawyers refused to say, claiming they had not thought the question through. Clearly, President Obama, like President Bush, wanted leeway to interpret the law any way he sees fit, so he can lock up whoever he wants, whenever he wants, for whatever reason, or for no stated reason at all. But Judge Forrest wasn’t having it. On September 12, she made her injunction permanent, ruling that Obama’s preventive detention law was unconstitutional.

Under a Black Democrat, the rule of law ceased to exist within U.S. borders.”

For less than a week, the Bill of Rights returned to U.S. soil. But, this past Monday, a federal appeals court judge put the Constitution back on hold, removing Judge Forrest’s injunction on preventive detention. The entire three-judge appeals court will begin hearing the case on September 28. Obama’s lawyers say the government needs to be allowed to detain certain prisoners without charge or trial in Afghanistan. But Bruce Afran, the lawyer for the American plaintiffs in the case, thinks Homeland Security is gearing up to make lots of arrests of U.S. citizens, in anticipation that Middle East protests will spread to American soil.

That’s the evil beauty of these Bush-Obama laws: they cut across international borders and render all the people’s of the world equal in one important respect: President Obama claims the right to kill each and every one of them, or lock them up forever, on his own say so. In that sense, Obama recognizes no legal difference between U.S. anti-war protestors and anonymous targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, or Somalia. All of our lives and freedom are subject to the whims of an American president.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20120919_gf_NDAA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If the Arab and Muslim “street” came to power, the United States would be run out of that whole section of the planet – and Washington knows it.”

The United States and its allies have set the stage for the Mother of All Blowbacks: a long period of convulsions in the Muslim and Arab world that will ultimately lead to America’s expulsion from much of the region. The reason it is so easy to read the handwriting on the wall, is that we have been watching the scenario unfold for three decades, ever since the last years of the Jimmy Carter administration, when the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan spent billions to create a worldwide Muslim jihadi army and unleashed it on the Soviets and their allies in Afghanistan, plunging that country into endless war.

When these Muslim warriors turned on the United States – or, depending on your vantage point, when the United States turned on them – we experienced the first blowback. The American public, shocked and traumatized, gave first, a Republican, and then a Democratic president all the guns and money and extra-Constitutional powers they demanded to push back against the Muslims who had not long ago been U.S. allies. The war planners in Washington figured they could live with the way events had turned out. After all, al-Qaida and its Salafist brethren were in no position to challenge U.S. dominance in the world – not anyplace that really counted – and their mere existence provided the U.S. war machine with a purpose in life, an excuse to subvert and wage low-level war against those nations that refused to tow the U.S. line.

And then came the so-called Arab Spring, and with it the terrifying prospect that Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East might take control of their own destinies – and the oil and natural gas that goes with it. Democracy means death to U.S. imperialism. Pew Research pollsters report that, on average, only 15 percent of Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Pakistanis and Turks have a favorable view of the United States. That’s down from 25 percent in 2009, when Barack Obama came into office. If the Arab and Muslim “street” came to power, the United States would be run out of that whole section of the planet – and Washington knows it.

On average, only 15 percent of Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Pakistanis and Turks have a favorable view of the United States.”

When Tunisia and Egypt erupted, the U.S. and Europe played the only cards they had: they brought in massive air power and called out the jihadi dogs of war in an unprovoked attack on Libya. Almost simultaneously, the Euro-Americans and the royal criminals of the Persian Gulf armed and financed a jihadi assault against Syria, as Washington and Israel stepped up their low-level war against Iran.

As Temple University’s professor Tony Monteiro has pointed out, the whole rationale for the U.S. war on terror is a lie – the facts turned backwards. Washington claims it is engaged in a long, twilight war against non-state actors, terrorists, who seek to subvert and overthrow existing governments. In reality, it is the Americans who deploy non-state, jihadi actors to overthrow governments that Washington doesn’t like. However, in doing so, the West has once again empowered fundamentalist forces that will inevitably turn against Washington, the Greatest Infidel of all. Last week’s protests are only a small foretaste of what is to come: a blowback of such intensity that the foundations of Empire will crack, and crumble. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20120919_gf_Jihadis.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 8:47am EDT