The United States government had no respect for international law when it disclaimed any authority of the United Nations and waged an illegal war against the sovereign state of Iraq. It does not hold itself to any signed treaty which prevents it from exercising its own will in its quest to control the world. But we all remember how quickly they trotted out international law when five of its captured soldiers were shown on Iraqi television last March."It is against the Geneva Convention to show photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is humiliating for them," said U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
But at the prison camp in Guanta-namo Bay, Cuba, the US is guilty of breaching 15 articles of the convention that relates to prisoners. We saw the prisoners on television, kneeling on the ground with their hands tied behind them, wearing blinding goggles and earphones. They were stripped of their own clothes and had all of their belongings confiscated. They were then imprisoned without proper eating facilities, water containers, exercise area, and place of worship. They were not permitted to write letters or to receive the parcels of books and food to which they were entitled. And they were not informed of the rights provided them by the Geneva Convention.
And although those rights provide that they must only give their name, rank, number and birthdate to their captors, the US keeps them unlawfully imprisoned after the cessation of the war because one might, one day, reveal information about al Qaida. To this end (and also illegally) they have put prisoners in solitary confinement and abused them with sleep deprivation and constant bright light in their efforts to make them talk.
The US excuses this treatment by labelling the prisoners "unlawful combatants". But article 4 of the third convention provides that people detained as suspected members of a militia or a volunteer corps (as of the Taliban or al Qaida) must be regarded as prisoners of war.
When lawyers demanded a court hearing for a number of the prisoners, the US Court of Appeals declared that the prisoners had no constitutional rights because "Guantanamo Bay is not sovereign US territory."
Since many of the prisoners are said to have been working in Afghanistan as teachers, engineers or aid workers, a trial or exposure of any kind, with an accompanying lack of evidence, is expected to prove most embarrassing for the US.
And so these unfortunate prisoners remain separated from contact with the world and any kind of justice, living in a kind of limbo. How long is it to go on?
Mr. Rumsfeld, as the man at the head of the department responsible, is wide open to charges for crimes that could put him away in prison for all the rest of his days. This is just one of the reasons the US has fought the establishment of an international criminal court and claims US citizens are not in its jurisdiction.
Personally yours - taking the broad view
With the focus jumping from this extreme to that in the news in recent months, it's not easy to zero in on a topic for this space.
My trip to the PC Leadership Convention held in Toronto last May/June is now history. But it will never be too late to say how shocked we all were at the turn of events on the last ballot -- or how proud we were of David Orchard for the difficult decision he made, when push came to shove. It is no easy matter to turn defeat into the major win that he did, in fact, achieve. His strategy was not the route any of us expected. But it was an impeccable decision at the time, and it reinforced how really superb is his political acumen.
I hesitate to comment on Peter MacKay's activities these days. David asked us to support him and the PC Party, and I've done so. However, now that Peter appears to be being manipulated by one Brian Mulroney towards union with the Alliance, success with that nasty goal will certainly drive me (and a great many others) out of the PC Party. It was Mulroney that caused me to leave the PC Party the day he was elected leader -- and he may manage to do the job yet again.
David has always been totally loyal to the PC Party. What he will do if Peter MacKay knifes him in the back by joining forces with the Alliance, I've no idea. Those of you who are so inclined: let's unite our minds in prayer that David might finally decide to join forces with Paul Hellyer and whatever other parties and groups (NDP? Mel Hurtig?) might get together to provide a viable alternative to the Liberals. At the risk of becoming tiresome with repetition, I believe such a coalition would be unbeatable! There are a great many Canadians who are truly seeking such a viable alternative to the Liberals -- and believe me, a marriage of the PCs and the Alliance ain't it!
For too long, barely half the Canadian population even bothers to vote. They simply feel they've had nothing to vote for. And I suspect the seemingly great popularity of the supposedly shoo-in candidate, Paul Martin, is just so much smoke -- the product of a co-operative media that builds him up at the behest of their corporate bosses. How many times in the past have we been told things so often and so long that we've come to believe them? That's how they influence and control the minds of the many. If you doubt this at all, just look at how successful the media has been in the U.S. at helping Americans to believe all the lies coming from the White House. If they weren't so mesmerized into believing that black was white, the Americans would have run Bush out on a rail long ago. One need only see Schwarzenegger's inexplicable rise in the California polls to realise that something is very wrong.
The Premier of PEI is certainly doing something right. Battered and bruised by Hurricane Juan, 83 per cent of the population made it to the polls to ensure their premier was re-elected -- for an unprecedented third consecutive term! If someone would be willing to write up a piece explaining why, I think this would be an interesting and positive piece to publish in D&D. Any takers?
We had surprisingly few letters in response to our last issue. Are we printing what you want to read? Our mailbox receives a great many stories. Don't forget that we can't just reprint from other newspapers without permission and the payment of fees we cannot afford.
Having so far read only the first 30 pages of Mel Hurtig's book, The Vanishing Country: Is it too late to save Canada?, I must assure you that every Canadian should read this powerful book. Don't wait for the review in the next D&D. Check it out today and consider adding it to the list of books you will gift to others this coming holiday season. Some of the information you will glean from this book will blow your mind. And the first chapter is so compelling that it simply must grab the attention of even the most uninitiated. Like Paul Hellyer and David Orchard have been telling us, vocally and in their books, Canada is in seriously BIG trouble!!!
Exploring new territory
Great news! We've gone "on-line!" Discourse & Disclosure now has its own web site! For this we are indebted to long-time D&D supporter and contributor, Don Findlay of Kingston, Ont. He has contributed his time, talent and expertise to build an incredible vehicle for D&D to move forward in this 21st century.
It will be amazing to be able to go there and have access to all back issues of D&D. (This archive will take time to set up, so do have patience.) This and subsequent issues will be added as well.
You can search for articles by a particular writer or on a particular topic. You can print out copies of articles that have particular interest for you. And it's a great way to introduce everyone- on and off your e-mail list - to Discourse & Disclosure.
Don has created a unique introduction to the web site that I hope most of you will have the opportunity to see at some time or other. (If you're not on the Internet, ask a friend who is to show it to you.
Unfortunately, if your computer is slow or doesn't have enough memory, or if you use a dial-up modem to connect to the internet, you may have difficulty seeing the introduction part. High-speed subscribers will have no problem. Downloading "Flash" may help. If you do have trouble, click on "skip intro" and that will take you directly to our Home Page. Check it out at www.discourseanddisclosure.com or www.discourseanddisclosure.ca . Tell us what you think.
Subscriptions and finances
It's never fun to talk about money. It's even less fun to have to worry about having enough of it to get the next issue of D&D printed and mailed (about $1,500). In plain words, the coffers are calling out for help and we know you will respond. This occasional plea is made necessary because, unlike most newspapers, we don't finance D&D through advertising. Of course, this means that this 20-page paper has the reading content you would find in the average 40-page newspaper.
Filling these pages is a labour of love in this one-person operation. It is only made possible by the copy sent in by Sydney White, Eva Lyman and people like them who, like me, care so deeply about this great country of ours.
Sometimes the paper doesn't get out when you are expecting it. It doesn't take much to delay it when so much rests on so few. The summer issue did not make it to your mailboxes for a combination of reasons -- not the least of which were a lack of funds, as well as major computer problems (which culminated in cleaning off my hard drive and re-installing all programs last week). A bit of upheaval in other areas of my life and transferring material to guru Don Findlay for the website also distracted me. Hopefully things will soon be back on a more orderly course.
It's important to keep the new web site free of charge so that we can get the truth out to as large an audience as possible. Perhaps it will bring some new subscribers (who prefer reading at length from the printed word), as well as donations from those who appreciate our efforts.
The time has come for another change. For the first time since our birth in 1996, we are increasing the cost of subcriptions. Effective immediately, 4 issues will cost $12; 12 issues, $30; and 20 issues, $45. U.S. readers will pay the same rates, but in U.S. funds. (See form on page 20.) Of course, current subscriptions will be completed at the old rates.
Also, be sure to renew if you have a number on your address label that reads .32 or less!!! There are actually quite a few of you and I'll have no choice, with the next issue, but to delete those who have not renewed. How I hate doing that.
Hope to hear from you. Please. Before you forget.