Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What Has Become of US?

by Andres Kargar (galileo19@hotmail.com)

"A dictatorship would be a heck-of a lot easier; as long as I'm
dictator." George W. Bush

Today, as we speak, human rights attorney Lynne Stewart is facing a 30-year prison sentence, accused of "helping Middle Eastern terrorists". Stewart, a true American hero, is being attacked by the Bush administration, for standing on the side of America's Muslim and Middle-Eastern communities and defending them.

While Stewart is being persecuted for her convictions, the US government is considering granting asylum to Luis Posada Carriles, an international terrorist who, just in one murderous act, took the lives of 73 people when he blew up the passenger plane belonging to Cubana de Aviacion in mid-air on October 6, 1976. This is a man who has, time and again boasted about his acts of violence to American journalists.*

Luis Posada's partner, Orlando Bosch** who was involved in the assassination of Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and US citizen Ronnie Moffit in Washington DC, in 1976 was given refuge by Bush the father. While Bosch lives freely in Miami, American activist Lori Berenson is serving a 20-year sentence in the dungeons of Peru. Lori was sentenced by a hooded military tribunal who accused her of "treason against the fatherland" and leading an "insurgent organization".

Despite the fact that Fujimori (Peru's fugitive former president), and in particular, his spymaster chief Vladimiro Montesino (who is currently in prison in Peru for murder, arms and drug trafficking) were closely connected to the US intelligence circles and the CIA, the United States government never made a serious effort to pressure the military in Peru to release Lori Berenson. Imagine, if Lori was a right-winger, in prison in Cuba or Venezuela instead of Peru, the Bush regime would have invaded those countries by now.***

When Sara Jane Olson was arrested in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1999, she was living a quiet life, married to a physician and taking care of their three daughters. Sara was arrested for her involvement with the SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army) and sentenced to a 14-year prison sentence.

By contrast, Emmanuel "Toto" Constant, a leader of the Haitian death squad FRAPH who was involved in torture and the murder of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Haitians (by testimony of human rights organizations), freely roams the streets of New York City.****

What has become of us? How can we sheepishly tolerate the fact that those whose actions were motivated by their deep sense of justice and sympathy for the common man spend lifetimes in prison while murderers and criminals, such as Posada Carrilles and Emmanuel Constant, not for a minute, have to worry about jail time?

Lynne Stewart never murdered a single human being. Lori Berenson never tortured a soul. Sara Jane Olson had to disapprear for more than twenty years, while Patty Hearst, the "heiress" to the Hearst Newspaper was let go - and all that while terrorists like Posada Carrilles and Constant, who have tortured and murdered hundreds, if not thousands of innocent people, are given protection.

Are we turning into a nation living on its knees, accepting lies and deception from our "elected" officials, calling their crimes mistakes? When they stain our honor and integrity with torture and repression, will we sit idly, hoping they will be voted out of office the next election? The very fact that Posada Carriles is being protected by the Bush regime clearly demonstrates the fact that this administration has NO qualms whatsoever about torture, murder, and acts of terror.

Today, our children are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Social services for the needy are being cut to nothing.
Over 40 million Americans lack the most basic healthcare coverage.
Our schools are falling apart for lack of funds, while money is being diverted to military contractors, the likes of Halliburton, Bechtel, ...
Those who brought us Vietnam, the Watergate, the October Surprise, Iran-Contra, and the Iraq war now have their eyes set on our last safety net which is Social Security.
This administration has militarized the society and keeps doing so more and more every day.
They even shamelessly declare their right to bulldoze our homes to make way for the wealthy developers. First they bulldozed the homes of the Palestinians and we did not scream loud enough. Now, our turn has come.

What has become of us? Are we are sitting by, hoping they will be voted out office?
Well, we are wrong. The neo-conservatives are going to be even more power hungry, much more desperate, and even more devious the next election. Nevertheless, even a Democratic electoral victory will not be able to reverse the damage done to the fabric of the society by the neo-cons. Imagine if the people of the world had just voted Hitler out of office.

So what is to be done? The answer is not so simple, but perhaps, each and every one of us has to come up with a solution of his/her own. What we cannot afford to do is to submit. We need to set the wheels in motion to bring about a revolution of ideas and of action. Remember, it is such a shame that the African-American writer and activist, Mumia Abu-Jamal is where Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles need to be. We need to free the Mumias, the Lynne Stewarts, and Lori Berensons. We need to honor and esteem the Leonard Peltiers and Ward Churchills.
How can we look into the eyes of the victims of Luis Posada Carriles (the ones who have survived) and tell them that the Bush administration is sweeping under the rug Carrilles' crimes?

How can we have Assata Shakur in exile when Kenneth Lay, the biggest criminal in America's corporate history, whose fraudulent schemes destroyed the livelihood of thousands, continues a life of comfort and luxury?

Daniel Ellsberg, the Vietnam-era activist and another true hero encourages people with access to relevant documents concerning the war to turn them over to Congress and the press.***** I believe, if you have access to any documents formulating repression of any people or corporate or political cover-ups, it is your duty to reveal those documents to the public. You owe this to the future generations of Americans and the foreign victims of the US aggression, the Iraqis, Vietnamese, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, ...

"I have no doubt there are numerous people who have access to such documents," Ellsberg says. "[Leaking them] may cost them their careers or even jail time, but it could save many lives."
Will the neo-conservatives, who have come to the office in a horrific corporate coup, willingly give up power? Unfortunately, our establishment liberals are still under such an illusion, while the neo-conservatives are further strengthening their position through repressive legislation, such as the Patriot Act and by taking over all branches of the government. In the meantime, their "War of Terror" will ensure our best and most dedicated citizens, such as Lynne Stewart or Mumia are put away while leeches, such as Karl Rove, Kenneth Lay, Posada Carriles, and Emmanuel Constant take a free ride on our backs. Will we let them?
Footnotes and references:
* 'In an interview in July 1998, The New York Times reported that Posada had said he ''organized a wave of bombings in Cuba last year at hotels, restaurants and discotheques'' and also that his chief supporters were leaders of the Cuban American National Foundation, including its founder, Jorge Mas Canosa, who died in 1997.' - http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/11663701.htm
*** Committee to Free Lori Berenson - http://www.freelori.org/
**** Human Rights Watch on Emmanuel Constant - http://www.hrw.org/press97/oct/haitialb.htm