Will Joe Biden be any better on immigration? Probably not unless you believe the answer is "toss 'em out." I do not believe that. I believe we should welcome all. His two predecessors have an awful record. Meenakshi Jagadeesan (WSWS) reports:
On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) released a report highlighting the brutal and inhumane treatment by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of migrants who went on hunger strikes in various detention centers around the country. The report, based on over 10,000 pages of information released under the Freedom of Information Act, deals with ICE’s response to hunger strikes in its facilities between 2013 and 2017, a period that covers parts of the Obama and Trump administrations.
Apart from outright intimidation and threats of retaliation, the “involuntary and invasive medical procedures” detailed in the report include force feeding, forced hydration and forced urinary catheterization—which involves inserting a tube into the urethra to involuntarily collect urine from people on a hunger strike.
A hunger strike is often the last resort available to desperate detainees, who have no other means to draw attention to their plight.
As José Tapate, who was held in immigration detention and went on a hunger strike over poor food and medical care, told the authors of the report: “What we want people to know is that people go on hunger strike because something is happening on the inside… There are so many things happening behind closed doors that people are not aware of.”
Joe Mejia, a detainee who went on a five-day hunger strike with other detainees in Mesa Verde, California, to protest against poor conditions and lack of COVID-19 precautions, stated in an interview: “No one wants to starve, to feel their intestines move inside their body because of hunger … The housing, conditions, clothing, food, hygiene—they try to make individuals in ICE detention miserable.”
That conditions in ICE detention centers are dire does not come as a surprise. In April, an internal watchdog report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General found serious concerns regarding “detainee care and treatment”—including one case where a cancer patient ran out of leukemia medication after staff forgot to order a refill in time.
A peaceful protest by detainees to demand better Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the pandemic was met with a response that included the deploying of chemical agents from the ceiling and the firing of pepper spray from handheld devices.
The watchdog report was based on an unannounced, remote inspection of a single facility, La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, for a span of just four months between August and November 2020. One can only imagine what the results would have been had the sample included more facilities and a greater timespan. The ACLU-PHR report provides a version of this perspective.
Shame on the U.S. government. We should be appalled by what our public servants are doing -- and doing with our money and in our name.
And the shame continues. Meenakshi Jagadeesan (WSWS) reports:
Vice-President Kamala Harris visited El Paso, Texas on Friday in her first visit to the US-Mexico border since being designated by President Joe Biden to head up his administration’s efforts to halt the flow of refugees into the US.
The visit came on the heels of two major reports this past week detailing the horrific and illegal treatment of migrants by successive administrations, including the mass incarceration of children by the Biden-Harris government. Her trip to El Paso was a photo op staged to deflect Republican agitation about an “immigrant invasion,” while obscuring the continuity between the anti-immigrant policies of Trump and those of the current administration.
Joined by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat of Illinois) and Representative Veronica Escobar (Democrat of Texas), Harris spouted the usual banalities in her responses to reporters, claiming that the Biden administration had made great “progress” despite inheriting “a tough situation.”
Neatly sidestepping the question of why it had taken her so long to visit the border, Harris said she had done so multiple times (though not as vice-president), and added, “It was always the plan to come here.”
Her visit consisted of a quick visit to a US Border Patrol processing center, where she met five young migrant girls being held there; a stop at the Paso del Norte port of entry, across from the Mexican city of Juárez; a meeting with Walter Slosar, the acting deputy chief of the US Customs and Border Patrol’s El Paso sector; and a discussion with immigrant advocates.
Harris cynically told reporters that the stories she heard from the migrant girls reminded her of the importance of focusing on the “root causes” of migration. Earlier this month Harris, the daughter of immigrants, traveled to Guatemala and Mexico and met with their presidents to shore up the use of their security forces to suppress the flow of Central American migrants seeking to escape poverty and police and gang killings and reunite with family members in the US.
Touted as the first woman and first African/Asian-American to represent Washington in such a high-level state visit, Harris told desperate Central American migrants seeking refuge in the US, “Don’t come… If you come to our border, you will be turned back.”
Again, in El Paso, Harris sought to use identity politics to soften the stench of her anti-immigrant policies. Speaking of her interactions with the detained migrant girls, she claimed they had asked her, “How do you become the first woman vice president?”
She told reporters that her discussions served as an important reminder that “the issue [of immigration] cannot be reduced to a political issue. We’re talking about children, we’re talking about families, we are talking about suffering.”
Attempting to draw a line between the Biden and the Trump administrations, she declared, “It is here in El Paso that the previous administration’s child separation policy was implemented.”
The level of hypocrisy here is difficult to put into words.
In the past few months of the Biden administration, the number of migrants trying to cross into the United States has reached record levels. In May, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded 180,000 encounters, the highest number since March of 2000.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, June 25, 2021. US House Rep Ted Lieu has become a study in the abuse of power, an American who was stationed with the US military in Kurdistan is sentenced for revealing secrets, the United Nations meets with the mother of an Iraqi activist who was assassinated, and much more.
Starting with the shameful. US House Rep Ted Lieu Tweeted the following nonsense:
At issue is critical race theory which is a hypothesis that some believe and others do not. Some academic trends resonate with the public, some don't. Whatever your stance on critical race theory, it really doesn't have anything to do with hating America -- whether you are pro crt or anti-crt.
It really is shameful for a sitting member of Congress to pull that crap. When this site started, it was Republicans that we had to call out for saying crap like that. Sadly, this nonsense has drifted over. And Ted was one of the hysterics who pimped lies of Russiagate. So if he's got the time to question whether this or that American hates the country, he's certainly got the time to issue one apology after another for every false claim he repeatedly pimped regarding Russiagate.
A sitting member of the US Congress using his voice to condemn a citizen? I don't think that's appropriate.
But Ted's been so inappropriate for so long -- and there are far worse than him -- that it goes to how Congress is degrading the public discourse.
As for criticizing the military -- positively or negatively -- that's not just a right of the press, it's a right of every American. Maybe Ted needs to study up on American history before weighing in? Or better yet, maybe he needs to stop challenging someone's love of their country and stop using his post as a member of Congress to do so. That is a gross abuse of power and if we had a functioning Congress, there would be an ethical review of his Tweet.
I'm sick of the nonsense. I'm sick of this abuse of power.
And, Ted, you were in Congress when the below happened.
Where was your angry Tweet then, brave Ted?
Thug Recep Erdogen sicks his bodyguards on American citizens on US soil -- with at least nine having to be hospitalized and where were you ,Teddy?
You do realize the significant number of Kurdish-Americans in Los Angeles, don't you? Or are you too stupid to grasp demographics?
You didn't stand up for the country or for the American citizens and you weren't even smart enough to cover your own butt by standing up for your constituents so maybe just stop calling into question the commitment others have to their country?
Where's Ted's Tweet about Mariam Taha Thompson? It's funny who he slams as unAmerican -- and sad that he thinks he can sit in judgment on that issue.
We noted Thompson back on March 27th:
Mariam Taha Thompson. A US government employee who made money on the side via Iraq. Jerry Dunleavy (WASHINGTON TIMES) reports:
A female linguist who worked for the Pentagon in Iraq pleaded guilty to handing over classified information about on-the-ground human sources who were assisting the United States to a Hezbollah-tied foreign national with whom she was romantically linked, the Justice Department announced on Friday.
Mariam Taha Thompson, 63, was charged last May in federal court with “transmitting highly sensitive classified national defense information to a foreign national," who she believed would provide the information to Lebanese-based Hezbollah, a foreign terrorist organization tied to Iran. Court records show Thompson signed an extensive statement of facts in late January admitting to the covert plot, and she pleaded guilty on Friday. Thompson faces a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment.
During a Friday plea hearing, the Justice Department said Thompson “admitted that, beginning in 2017, she started communicating with her unindicted co-conspirator using a video-chat feature on a secure text and voice messaging application” and that she “developed a romantic interest in her co-conspirator.” Thompson “learned that the unindicted co-conspirator had a family member who was in the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior, and that the unindicted co-conspirator claimed to have received a ring from Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Lebanese Hizballah," the agency said.
Thompson began communicating with the man, whom she never met in person, in 2017 after being connected via social media by a family member, and she ultimately developed a romantic interest in him, prosecutors said.
After a January 2020 US strike that killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, the Lebanese man — who is not named in court papers — asked Thompson to provide “them” with information about the human assets that had helped the US target Soleimani. Hezbollah is backed by Iran and one of Israel’s main regional adversaries.
Investigators say Thompson accessed dozens of files about human sources, including their names, photographs, background information and operational cables that described the information they had gathered. She held top secret securing clearance, but did not need to access much of the information she shared as part of her job.
The US Justice Dept issued the following:
Defense Department Linguist Pleads Guilty to Transmitting Highly Sensitive Classified National Defense Information to Aid a Foreign Government
WASHINGTON – A Minnesota woman pleaded guilty today to one count of delivering national defense information to aid a foreign government.
According to court documents, Mariam Taha Thompson, 63, formerly of Rochester, Minnesota, worked as a contract linguist at an overseas U.S. military facility where she was entrusted with a top secret government security clearance. Thompson pleaded guilty to transmitting highly sensitive classified national defense information to a foreign national who she believed would provide the information to Lebanese Hizballah, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
“Thompson jeopardized the lives of members of the U.S. military as well as other individuals supporting the United States in a combat zone when she passed classified information to a person she knew was connected to Lebanese Hizballah, a foreign terrorist organization which intended to use the information to hurt this country,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department's National Security Division. “To describe this conduct is to condemn it. She will now be held to account for this disgraceful personal and professional betrayal of country and colleagues.”
“The United States entrusted the defendant with highly-sensitive classified information regarding one of its most critical tools — human intelligence in an active combat zone,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia. “The defendant’s complete betrayal of that trust placed the lives of American men and women on the battlefield, and their allies, in grave danger. Thompson’s arrest and prosecution demonstrate that those who intentionally compromise classified information that is entrusted to them will face swift and dire consequences.”
“It’s astounding that an American working for the U.S. military overseas would abandon her country in favor of terrorists,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. for the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “The FBI and its partners placed a high priority on this case because the defendant provided classified defense information to a foreign terrorist organization, information that put members of the U.S. military in harm’s way.”
“Today’s plea is an example of the FBI’s work and commitment to protecting the United States and our national defense information,” said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono for the FBI Washington Field Office. “Holding a top secret government security clearance bears a responsibility and commitment to our nation, and betrayal of that trust will not be tolerated. The FBI is charged with safeguarding our nation’s information and will work diligently, along with our partners, to protect intelligence and national security information and relentlessly pursue those who choose to betray their country."
During today’s plea hearing, Thompson admitted that, beginning in 2017, she started communicating with her unindicted co-conspirator using a video-chat feature on a secure text and voice messaging application. Over time, Thompson developed a romantic interest in her co-conspirator. Thompson learned that the unindicted co-conspirator had a family member who was in the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior, and that the unindicted co-conspirator claimed to have received a ring from Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Lebanese Hizballah.
In December 2019, while Thompson was assigned to a special operations task force facility in Iraq, the United States launched a series of airstrikes in Iraq targeting Kata’ib Hizballah, an Iranian-backed foreign terrorist organization. These airstrikes culminated in a Jan. 3, 2020, strike that resulted in the death of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani, as well as the founder of Kata’ib Hizballah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Following Suleimani’s death, the unindicted co-conspirator started asking Thompson to provide “them” with information about the human assets who had helped the United States to target Suleimani. Thompson admitted that she understood “them” to be Lebanese Hizballah, including an unnamed high-ranking military commander.
After receiving this request for information in early January 2020, Thompson began accessing dozens of files concerning human intelligence sources, including true names, personal identification data, background information and photographs of the human assets, as well as operational cables detailing information the assets provided to the U.S. government. Thompson used several techniques to pass this information on to the unindicted co-conspirator, who told her that his contacts were pleased with the information, and that the Lebanese Hizballah military commander wanted to meet Thompson when she came to Lebanon.
When she was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 27, 2020, Thompson had used her access to classified national defense information to provide her co-conspirator with the identities of at least eight clandestine human assets; at least 10 U.S. targets; and multiple tactics, techniques and procedures. Thompson intended and had reason to believe that this classified national defense information would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of Lebanese Hizballah.
Thompson faces a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only. The sentencing of a defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Today’s guilty plea was the result of the significant cooperation between law enforcement, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community in the successful resolution of this investigation led by the FBI Washington Field Office.
National Security Division Trial Attorneys Jennifer Kennedy Gellie of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and Jennifer Levy of the Counterterrorism Section, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia John Cummings are prosecuting the case.
Thompson's back in the news cycle. ALJAZEERA notes:
A Pentagon translator has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for passing the names of United States informants in Iraq to a person linked to Lebanon’s powerful Shia movement Hezbollah.
Mariam Thompson, 62, admitted transmitting the classified information to a Lebanese national in the belief that it was being passed on to the group – designated a “terrorist organisation” by Washington.
The US Justice Dept issued the following:
Defense Department Linguist Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison for Transmitting Highly Sensitive Classified National Defense Information to Aid a Foreign Government
Mariam Taha Thompson, 62, formerly of Rochester, Minnesota, was sentenced today to 23 years in prison for delivering classified national defense information to aid a foreign government. As part of her March 26 guilty plea, Thompson admitted that she believed that the classified national defense information that she was passing to a Lebanese national would be provided to Lebanese Hezbollah, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
“Thompson’s sentence reflects the seriousness of her violation of the trust of the American people, of the human sources she jeopardized and of the troops who worked at her side as friends and colleagues,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “That Thompson passed our nation’s sensitive secrets to someone whom she knew had ties to Lebanese Hezbollah made her betrayal all the more serious. Thompson’s sentence should stand as a clear warning to all clearance holders that violations of their oath to this country will not be taken lightly, especially when they put lives at risk.”
“The defendant’s decision to aid a foreign terrorist organization was a betrayal that endangered the lives of the very American men and women on the battlefield who had served beside her for more than a decade,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia. “Let today’s sentence serve notice that there are serious consequences for anyone who betrays this country by compromising national defense information.”
“This case should serve as a clear reminder to all of those entrusted with national defense information that unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic; it is criminal,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler, Jr. of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division. “By knowingly distributing classified information that would be passed onto a designated foreign terrorist organization, Mariam Thompson put our national defense in danger. The men and women of the FBI will continue to work tirelessly to defeat hostile intelligence activities targeting the United States and to hold those who assist our adversaries accountable.”
“Thompson was entrusted with highly sensitive information, and she chose to betray her country by providing classified defense information to a foreign terrorist organization,” said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI Washington Field Office. “Today’s significant sentencing shows the dedicated work of the FBI, the U.S. Intelligence Community and our global partners to work swiftly and diligently to safeguard our national security information and hold accountable those who break our nation’s trust."
According to court documents, Thompson worked as a contract linguist at an overseas U.S. military facility where she was entrusted with a Top-Secret government security clearance. Thompson admitted that, beginning in 2017, she started communicating with her unindicted co-conspirator using a video-chat feature on a secure text and voice messaging application. Over time, Thompson developed a romantic interest in her co-conspirator. Thompson learned that the unindicted co-conspirator had a family member who was in the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior and that the unindicted co-conspirator claimed to have received a ring from Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Lebanese Hezbollah.
In December 2019, while Thompson was assigned to a Special Operations Task Force facility in Iraq, the United States launched a series of airstrikes in Iraq targeting Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed foreign terrorist organization. These airstrikes culminated in a Jan. 3, 2020, strike that resulted in the death of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani, as well as the founder of Kata’ib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Following Suleimani’s death, the unindicted co-conspirator began asking Thompson to provide “them” with information about the human assets who had helped the United States to target Suleimani. Thompson admitted that she understood “them” to be Lebanese Hezbollah, including an unnamed high-ranking military commander.
After receiving this request for information in early January 2020, Thompson began accessing dozens of files concerning human intelligence sources, including true names, personal identification data, background information and photographs of the human assets, as well as operational cables detailing information the assets provided to the U.S. government. Thompson used several techniques to pass this information on to the unindicted co-conspirator, who told her that his contacts were pleased with the information and that the Lebanese Hezbollah military commander wanted to meet Thompson when she came to Lebanon.
When she was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 27, 2020, Thompson had used her access to classified national defense information to provide her co-conspirator with the identities of at least eight clandestine human assets; at least 10 U.S. targets; and multiple tactics, techniques and procedures. Thompson intended and had reason to believe that this classified national defense information would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of Lebanese Hezbollah.
Today’s sentencing was the result of the significant cooperation between law enforcement, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community in the successful resolution of this investigation led by the FBI Washington Field Office.
National Security Division Trial Attorneys Jennifer Kennedy Gellie of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and Jennifer Levy of the Counterterrorism Section, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cummings for the District of Columbia prosecuted the case.
Back in May, Salam Adel Algaim Tweeted:
Ihab was one of the many activists assassinated in Iraq -- assassinated by an arm of the Iraqi government since the government made militias part of the national military.
Louisa Loveluck and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST) reported:
That moment did not last: Iraq’s human rights commission says it has registered 81 assassination attempts against anti- government activists and journalists since the protests began. At least 34 have been killed, almost a third of them after the appointment of a new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who came to power vowing justice for the slain activists.
Mounting threats are now being made against their friends and associates. Disillusionment and fear have forced many into exile. “They came to my father two weeks ago and told him my name was on their list” said one photographer, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of concern for his family’s safety in Baghdad.
Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights' Ali al-Bayati told Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL), “Such ongoing killings are considered terrorist acts as they target the country’s national security, as well as impact the credibility of the coming elections. The state must end impunity by taking real steps to refer to security officials whose responsibility is to end the violence through investigation."
Sunday, we noted Ihab's mother was still fighting for justice:
The United Nations ignored her on Sunday. Yesterday, they visited with her. KURDISTAN 24 reports:
The head of the United Nations mission in Iraq, Jennine Hennis-Plasschaert on Thursday visited the mother of a murdered civil society activist in Karbala, offering her condolences and outlining the international organization’s efforts for ensuring accountability in Iraq.
Ihab Al-Wazni was assassinated in early May in front of his home in the southern city by two unidentified gunmen, allegedly for his prominent role in protests against corruption and foreign meddling in Iraq.
The activist’s murder is part of a series of killings targeting people who actively participated in protests that began in October 2019. More than 500 people have been killed and 7,000 injured since the start of the demonstrations as the result of excessive force by the security forces as well as militias.
Samira Al Wazni has been protesting for days outside a Karbala court building demanding accountability for the murder of her son, who has been a figurehead in the ongoing youth uprising against corruption, nepotism, unemployment and the rule of militias in Iraq. Ms Al Wazni has continued her protests despite threats against her life.
Many in Iraq showed support for Ms Al Wazni after a video was shared online this week showing her approach a UN vehicle whose occupants refused to speak to her before it drove off.
UN Special Representative to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert visited Ms Al Wazni on Thursday, expressing her heartfelt condolences. She “explained the UN’s efforts to promote accountability for the attacks targeting civic and political activists,” the UN’s office in Iraq said.
And THE NEW ARAB notes:
While reporters were at the house, Al-Wazni’s relatives pressed Hennis-Plasschaert on the UN’s role in Iraq’s security.
"We just want to live in a safe country… do something," one man pleaded off camera.
"The mother, like any mother, and brothers deserve the truth and nothing but the truth. So the United Nations will always be with the people searching for the truth," Hennis-Plasschaert said.
The UNAMI chief also met with the Governor of Karbala, and the two discussed "the need to ensure accountability for crimes against civic and political activists".
No one has been charged with Al-Wazni’s murder. Qasem Muslih, a commander from the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), was arrested in connection with the murder in May but was released two weeks later.
In this week's podcast by THE ECONOMIST, they address the topic of the miliitas and how some Iraqis believe that they will control the country.
The following sites updated: