[Ppnews] San Juan - Human Rights Conference supports release of Puerto Rican political prisoner, Oscar Lopez Rivera
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Dec 17 18:47:58 EST 2012
>From December 7-10, at the Sacred Heart University in San Juan Puerto
Rico, a Human Rights Conference was held under the direction of the
/Comite ProDerechos Humanos de Puerto Rico ) and co-sponsored by the
Puerto Rico Bar Association and other organizations./ /
/The conference was dedicated to the memory of human rights attorney and
/independentista/J Juan Santiago Nieves, and organized for the purpose
of supporting the international campaign for release of Puerto Rican
political prisoner, Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has served over 31 years in
U.S. prisons for his resistance to the U.S. colonial domination of his
Human Rights activists from the Puerto Rico, the United States, Latin
America, and from the movement to end the occupation of Palestine,
presented testimony about the struggles for justice in their countries
and within their movements, and gave their unconditional support for the
immediate release of Oscar Lopez Rivera. A unanimous resolution was
passed by the conference plenary, calling on President Obama to exercise
his constitutional pardon power to order the immediate release of Oscar
In the midst of the Conference, elected officials from every electoral
party convened a press conference to express the broad consensus on the
island supporting his release, including the president of the mayors'
association and the president-elect of the Senate --- who promised a
resolution from the Senate supporting his release.
The conference resolution is attached. What follows is one of the panel
PRESENTATION OF MICHAEL DEUTSCH AT THE /DERECHOS HUMANOS/ CONFERENCE,
SACRED HEART UNIVERSITY, SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO.
DECEMBER 8, 2012
*CIVIL LIBERTIES, THE RULE OF LAW AND POLITICAL REPRESSION IN THE AGE OF
In talking about the state of civil liberties, the rule of law and
political repression today, I want to start by going back almost 35
years to a secret closed conference, entitled, "Special Seminar on
Terrorism" that was held here in Puerto Rico in 1978. The conference was
funded by the U.S. Justice Department, and attended by the FBI and
leading so-called experts on counter-insurgency throughout the world,
including military officers and advisers involved in suppressing
liberation movements in Ireland, Asia and Latin America.
Although the conference was highly secret, shortly after its conclusion,
I anonymously received, the planning documents for the conference. At
the time I was deeply involved with the legal representation of Puerto
Rican independence activists in the United States who were under
intensive surveillance by the FBI, whose community leaders were
subpoenaed to federal grand juries in Chicago and New York, and were
imprisoned for not collaborating with the U.S. governments
investigations into clandestine independence activities - and
subsequently, captured accused members of the FALN, charged with
"seditious conspiracy," used for the first time since the Puerto Rican
Nationalists were charged in the 1950's.
So the planning documents of this secret conference on "terrorism,"
which focused on methods, and strategies for dealing with what was
considered by the conference planners as a growing and potentially broad
insurgency in furtherance of Puerto Rican independence, was of great
interest to me.
The overarching thesis reflected in the conference planning documents
was that that the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies must
develop a "counter-insurgency" approach to dealing with the independence
movement. Counter-insurgency was defined (and still is defined by the
U.S. military) as:
Those military, paramilitary, political, economic , psychological and
civic actions taken by a government to defeat subversive insurgency,"
[and ] Insurgency was defined as "[a] condition resulting from revolt or
insurrection against a constituted government that falls short of civil war.
The planning documents quoted extensively from the writings of two
British military officers and leading counter-insurgency theorists, who
had commanded British occupation forces in Northern Ireland, Frank
Kitson, the author of "Low-Intensity Warfare" and Lt. Col. Robin
Evelegh, the author of "Peace Keeping in a Democratic Society."
Both Kitson and Evelegh's theories and strategy are based on the
principle that the resistance of oppressed sectors of a population is
inevitable and continuing, and therefore the strategy for the security
forces, rather than reacting to individual acts or periods of heightened
resistance, must be one of permanent repression directed at broad
sectors of the community from which the resistance will emerge.
Even in periods of calm and inactivity, the theory of counter-insurgency
posited by Kitson and Evelegh, as well as others, argue that it is
critical that the security forces actively identify potential leaders
and supporters of resistance. The CI strategy calls for the gathering of
information, surveillance, building dossiers and infiltrating political
and community organizations.
Evelegh writes that "population surveillance is essential, including the
right to question, photograph, fingerprint all members of a population
potentially affected by an insurgency and to use all technology
available to facilitate the surveillance and information gathering on
these targeted communities." Of course, you here are well aware of the
Puerto Rican police dossier keeping - /"carpetas"/ - on thousands of
/independentistas/, a program carried out with the full knowledge and
support of the FBI.
The other predominate feature of the secret conference planning
documents was the advocacy of the use of the law and the legal system to
attack and destroy potential insurgent movements while at the same time
maintaining the appearance of the law as impartial and non-political.
Kitson writes that, "[t]he law should be used as just another weapon in
the government's arsenal. . . For this to happen efficiently the
activities of the legal system has to be tied into the war effort in as
discrete way as possible."
Invoking this analysis, the planning documents called for, at the
earliest possible point, "the enactment of substantive laws making new
offenses, [and] revision and expansion of the existing laws related to
arrest, search, detention and intelligence gathering."
The documents specifically called for "increased police power of
intelligence gathering, harsh bail policies including internment for
"extremist leaders," special attention to venue, postponement of trials,
courtroom security and the expansion of the government's powers of
search and seizure. The documents also mention the use of highly
restrictive pre-trial detention, including solitary confinement, as well
as invading attorney-client meetings with police observers and the
opening of legal mail."
In addition, the planning materials also state the importance of control
of the media to discredit independence activists, referred to repeatedly
in the documents as terrorists.
"The media should never be permitted to demonstrate the terrorist as an
ordinary human. Briefing and orientation may be necessary in order to
focus terrorist coverage by the media."
Indeed, many of the ideas and counter-insurgence strategies discussed in
the planning materials were in some form being implemented by the FBI
and U.S. Justice Department against the P.R independence movement,
including the accused /Macheteros/ , whose homes and work places were
simultaneously raided under an FBI operation called "D Day," in August,
1985, during which thousands of books and political documents were
seized, and where, over a period of months prior to the raids, thousands
of hours of private and personal conversations were illegally
electronically overheard. Those arrested in the raids were transported
by U.S. military aircraft to Hartford Ct. to stand trial for the Wells
Fargo Depot robbery, where most spent years in prison before finally
The use of the grand jury to "intern" public independence supporters,
including the prosecution for criminal contempt, the expanded use of
electronic surveillance including the placement of cameras in
residences, prolonged pre-trial detention, trials with expanded
court-room security, and the refusal of the courts to allow evidence of
the colonial situation of Puerto Rico from being raised in the
courtroom, all were implemented following the counter-insurgency model.
*Fast Forward to Today*
I suggest to you that today, as a result of the global war on terror
(GWOT), begun by Clinton, but really implemented, with great bravado and
fanfare, by Bush after 9/11, and continued and expanded under Obama -
yes, continued and expanded under former constitutional law lecturer
Barack Obama - we have now in place - institutionalized in our legal
system -- all the elements of a domestic "counter-insurgency" strategy
with bi-partisan Congressional support. The Democrats have joined with
the Obama Administration to institute and approve policies, laws and
secret practices that they were up in arms about when Bush was in charge.
*Spying, Surveillance and Secrecy*
The Surveillance State has been secretly and greatly expanded under the
Obama administration which has now erected an impenetrable wall of
secrecy around open-ended massive warrant-less electronic surveillance,
the wholesale collecting of e mails and the tracking of cell-phones. NSA
whistleblower, William Binney asserts that the NSA is collecting all the
E mails of Americans, through the NARUS traffic analyzer technology
--15-20 trillion emails under the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" has
been seized without any judicial oversight and are housed in data bases
for retrieval at any time.
Under the OA, the U.S. Patriot Act, has been renewed with little debate,
which has been interpreted to allow, among other things, for secret
spying on U.S. citizens without a judicial warrant, the use National
Security letters which empowers the Feds to obtain all of one's phone,
financial and credit records, without even a claim of wrongdoing.
Between, 2003-5 over 150,000, National security letters were issue by
U.S. prosecutors. In addition under the Patriot Act the government is
empowered to carry-out secret warrantless searches, called "sneak and
The U.S. has over 16 agencies involved in intelligence gathering, with
major programs at the FBI, Dept. of Defense, the NSA and the Department
of Homeland Security. Each of these agencies are working with private
companies - including the telecom companies who have been given immunity
for cooperating with the Government -- involved in data mining personal
and private information including emails, phone calls and other
communications and illegally sharing it with law enforcement.
In a classic catch 22, the Obama Administration has opposed any court
challenge to these secret programs, arguing that unless a person can
show their conversations were actually overheard or their emails seized
they have no standing to challenge these secret program.
The U.S. in building a I million square foot center at the cost of 2
billion dollars in Bluffdale, Utah to store and retrieve all of the data
that has been obtained by the surveillance state.
Beyond this, hundreds of thousands of documents are unnecessarily
classified as secret and undiscoverable through the FOIA or court
litigation. In 2011 alone, 92 million documents were classified as
secret, double the amount classified in 2009. Even documents provided by
the government of Israel, detailing their programs and methods for
interrogating Palestinians, have been claimed as "classified" by the
U.S. government, and kept hidden from defense counsel in a case in which
a Palestinian man was tortured for 85 days by the Israeli secret police.
The federal government in conjunction with local law enforcement is also
now routinely carrying out massive spying operations against millions of
Americans, including the infiltration of Mosques and the use hundreds of
paid informers to spy upon and set-up, mostly young Muslim men.
I would say that the teachings of Kitson and Evelegh to surveil, monitor
and keep dossiers on people and communities from which potential
insurgency might arise, even in periods of utter calm, has been
implemented and totally accomplished by the U.S. government
*Detention without Trial and Military Commissions*
We have also legalized indefinite military detention without trial under
the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), for anyone "who it is
claimed to have "substantially supported Al-Queada, the Taliban or
"associated forces" that engaged in hostilities against the U. S. or
In a recent law suit challenging the law, the Government refused to say
that the law would not be used against reporters and others who met with
and report on the activities of such groups. When the District Court
enjoined the law as clearly overbroad in violation of the First
Amendment, the Obama administration filed an emergency appeal and got a
higher court to reinstate the law.
We are continuing to house men at Guantanamo, many who have never been
charged, going on 10 years. For the few who have been charged we are
continuing to use "military commissions," instead of federal courts.
These commissions presided over by military officers, prohibit the
defendants from raising claims of torture, have military personnel as
jurors, bar the use and access to classified evidence, and as a
practical matter are not public trials. So the counter-insurgency ideas
of preventive detention and special trial venues have been instituted.
The Obama administration has created an "impenetrable circle of
impunity" to torturers, their supervisors and their legal enablers,
refusing to investigate valid claims of torture, ignoring its
obligations under international treaties and covenants against torture.
Not only has it failed to prosecute torturers, it has charged a former
CIA agent with "espionage," with a potential life sentence, for
disclosing to the press the name of one of the CIA torturers. Another
government "whistleblower" has also been charged with espionage for
leaking information about the illegal warrant-less electronic
surveillance program to the New York Times.
In fact, these 2 men, and 4 other whistleblowers, have been charged with
espionage for leaking information to the media of government wrongdoing.
More people have been charged under this espionage law under Obama that
all the prior presidents combined. And many of you might also know the
case of soldier Bradley Manning who is accused of providing documents to
Wiki-leaks about the government's lies and cover-ups about the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan. He faces life in prison and has been held in
solitary confinement under cruel and degrading conditions, equivalent to
Obama has not only refused to prosecute torturers, but also freely used
a doctrine called the "States Secret Privilege" to prevent private civil
lawsuits alleging torture, illegal electronic surveillance and
rendition, claiming the programs and policies are classified and secret,
thus cannot be the subject of court review. Once this doctrine is raised
in court, the courts invariably dismiss the case, no matter how serious
the claims, or how much of the so-called classified information is
Even the challenge to the Obama assassination drone program secretly
implemented with a "kill list" which has murdered hundreds of civilians,
and which doesn't even always target specific persons, but executes
so-called "signature targets" -- people that fit a general profile --
has been subjected to claims under the States Secrecy Doctrine. At the
same time the Obama administration refuses to answer in court for their
Drone program as secret and classified, the Attorney General of the
United States proclaims in a U.S. law school that "due process" is
satisfied by an internal process of the Executive Branch that decides
who shall be eliminated without any review by the Courts.
Although the CIA was forced close its secret prisons in the last years
of the Bush administration, the Obama administrations still uses foreign
countries and the policy of "extraordinary rendition" to house and
torture arrested militants, who aren't eliminated by drones. It has been
recently documented that Somalia and Afghanistan house and torture
militants on behalf of the United States, who are denied access to
habeas corpus relief in the U.S. courts.
*Material Support and Other Special Laws*
We have passed new legislation which now criminalizes pure First
Amendment activities if it provides "material support" for an expansive
list of over 48 offenses that might be committed by terrorists, and for
designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).
In addition, the Government has also been given the power to designate
through the Treasury Department under the International Emergency
Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), organizations and individuals, without a
hearing or a finding of probable cause, to be a Special Government
Designated Terrorist (SDGT), and as a result the person or organizations
funds are blocked and the designee cannot carry out any economic
activities, without a special license.
The case of my client Muhammad Salah is a frightening example of this
awesome power. 17 years on the list, despite acquittal of all terrorism
related charges by a federal jury and only recently was delisted after
the filing of a federal law suit. After 9/11, 15 of the largest Muslim
charities were shut down and all their assets blocked, without any
showing that their charitable work was in support of terrorism.
In addition, the material support law has been used to criminalize
leaders of charities, as well as other First Amendment conduct,
empowering the Secretary of State, with little meaningful right to be
heard, to place foreign political organizations on a terrorist list. Of
course, many of the groups so designated are listed because they oppose
U.S. policies towards their country.
Once a group is listed, any knowing "support," which could be totally
unrelated to the use of force or violence, is made criminal under the
broad and vague terms of providing "expert advice or assistance",
"training" (designed to impart a specific skill), or "services."
Advising a listed group how to pursue human rights claims, initiate
peace discussions, or providing a group with legal advice, or providing
charity to social service agencies, allegedly affiliated with such a
designated group or a sub group, can result in a 15-year prison sentence.
Tens of young Muslim men have been targeted by the FBI, for travel to
Middle East or for writings on the internet, or entrapped into plans
that could never have reached fruition, have been imprisoned on material
The leaders of the Holy Land Fund, the largest Palestinian charity in
the world are serving long prison sentences up to 65 years for raising
money to provide help for the people living under occupation.
After a lower court held that the terms expert "assistance and advice",
"training or service" were unconstitutionally vague, would allow for the
punishment of pure speech, and could not be the basis for a material
support charge, the Obama Administration appealed this ruling favorable
to the Constitution. In 2010 the reactionary U.S. Supreme Court, in
/Holder v. The Humanitarian Law Project/, held that any act whether or
not pure speech, or advocacy protected by the First Amendment could be
the basis for a material support violation, if the act was "in
conjunction with or under the direction of a designated Foreign
Within months of this ruling, the homes of anti-war and international
solidarity activists, supporting the freedom of Palestinian were raided
by the FBI, all their books and papers confiscated, and they and 20
others were subpoenaed to a grand jury investigating "material support
"for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of the four
main Palestinian liberation organizations designated by the U.S. as an
FTO. These political activists' crime was sponsoring a speaking tour of
a Palestinian woman, writing articles in support of the rights of the
Palestinian people and public education about the treatment of
Of course, those who are convicted are sent to special prisoners, where
they are held in isolation, and denied contact visits with family. In
many cases their lawyers have to agree to special limitations on their
rights to confer or be prohibited from visiting. There is one Unit in
Terre Haute Indiana, where almost all the prisoners housed there are
Muslims, yet they are prohibited from gathering together to pray.
Through this list of "horribles," the mainstream media has stayed
silent. National Public Radio has a terrorism correspondent which simply
parrots the FBI and stay silent about all of these unconstitutional
abuses. The Democrats have also said nothing, since it's their standard
bearer who has expanded and developed these counter-insurgency methods.
Can you imagine if President McCain had done what Obama has done?
We have institutionalized changes in our most basic constitutional
rights -- a bi partisan wave of repression that violates international
law, ignores our most fundamental protections and is now a permanent
fabric of the U.S. judicial system. The politics of fear, ignorance and
official mendacity has allowed for this transformation of our legal
system in a way that would clearly satisfy the counter-insurgency
theorist of the 1970's. We must speak out at every opportunity to
explain and denounce what has happened to our basic human rights. To
stay silent makes us complicit in these crimes against the people.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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