Thursday, August 11, 2011

  • U.S. Navy Vet Sues Donald Rumsfeld for Torture in Iraq, Court Allows Case to Move Forward

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    On Monday, a federal appeals court refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two U.S. citizens against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and unnamed others for developing, authorizing and using harsh interrogation techniques against detainees in Iraq. Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel were working for a private U.S. government contractor, Shield Group Security, in 2006 when they witnessed the sale of U.S. government weapons to Iraqi rebel groups for money and alcohol. After they became FBI informants and collaborated with an investigation into their employer, the company revoked their credentials for entering Iraq’s so-called Green Zone, effectively barring them from the safest part of the country. Shortly afterward, they were arrested and detained by U.S. troops, moved to the U.S.-run prison at Camp Cropper, and subjected to extreme sleep deprivation, interrogated for hours at a time, kept in a very cold cell, and denied food and water for long periods. They were eventually released and never charged with a crime. For more on his story, we speak with Donald Vance, a U.S. Navy veteran, and with Andrea Prasow, the senior counsel in the Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program at Human Rights Watch. [includes rush transcript]

  • Verizon Workers Strike over "Full-Scale Attack" on Wages, Benefits at Telecom Giant

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    Some 45,000 workers at Verizon have entered their fifth day on strike after negotiations between Verizon and two unions representing the workers broke down when the company attempted to cut health and pension benefits for workers and make it easier to fire workers. The workers on strike are employed in Verizon’s fixed-line division covering landline phones, DSL internet, FiOS, cable TV and internet. Workers at Verizon Wireless are not unionized. Verizon says the benefit cuts are needed because its wireline business has been in decline for more than a decade as more people switch to using cell phones exclusively. But union officials have rejected Verizon’s argument. As the nation’s second-largest U.S. phone carrier, Verizon earned $6.9 billion in net income for the first six months of the year. We speak with Robert Master, spokesperson for Communications Workers of America, one of the unions representing Verizon employees, and with Pamela Galpern, a striking Verizon worker and union activist. "Verizon has basically launched a full-scale attack," says Galpern. "Essentially, the company has said, 'Despite the fact that we're hugely profitable, we are going to take advantage of the economic situation in the company right now to try to roll back the wages, the benefits, the job security of our workers.’" [includes rush transcript]

  • Haiti: WikiLeaks Cables Expose How U.S. Blocked Aristide’s Return After 2004 Coup

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    A new exposé on Haiti reveals how the United States led a vast international campaign to prevent former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from returning to his country while he was exiled in South Africa. It’s part of a series of reports by The Nation magazine and the Haitian weekly Haïti Liberté that draw from almost 2,000 U.S. diplomatic cables on Haiti released by WikiLeaks. The cables show that high-level U.S. and U.N. officials coordinated a politically motivated prosecution of Aristide to prevent him from "gaining more traction with the Haitian population and returning to Haiti." The United States and its allies allegedly poured tens of millions of dollars into unsuccessful efforts to slander Aristide as a drug trafficker, human rights violator, and heretical practitioner of voodoo. Another recent exposé based on the cables details how Haiti’s unelected de facto authorities worked alongside foreign officials to integrate at least 400 ex-army paramilitaries into the country’s police force throughout 2004 and 2005. The WikiLeaks cables reveal just how closely Washington and the United Nations oversaw the formation of Haiti’s new police force and signed off on the integration of paramilitaries who had previously targeted Haiti’s poor majority and democratically elected governments. We speak to Haïti Liberté editor Kim Ives, whose latest article for TheNation.com is "WikiLeaks Haiti: The Aristide Files." [includes rush transcript]

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