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I spent many years writing letters to support the release of Herman Wallace back in the 80s and 90s when I was very active with Amnesty.

Today, I read the news, Herman Wallace, the innocent man who sat in solitary confinement for the past 15000 days, died as a free man.

I was so happy the other day to hear about his release, I told my kids and my wife that it was like waking up from a bad dream, knowing that Wallace was still in solitary confinement after all these years that I left his case, but then I saw the news on CommonDreams, tears started falling off my eyes in an uncontrolled reaction.

He died as a free man! The bastards who took years of his life only released him days before his death, but the shame of keeping a man in shackles and in a small room, all by himself for 41 years, will stain the history of a country that sends 1000s of troops to far away countries to wage wars to “free” other nations, but fails to free innocent people in their own country from such barbaric punishment.

Rest in peace Herman Wallace, we all miss you, at least you proved them wrong and you died in freedom, you will be in our minds for ever.

 

“I Am Free. I Am Free.” Prisoner Herman Wallace Dies Just Days After Release

– Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Herman Wallace, the “Angola 3” prisoner who was released from jail earlier this week after being held in solitary confinement for 41 years, died early Friday morning after a battle with liver cancer.

Herman Wallace rides in an ambulance taking him away from prison. (Photo: Democracy Now!)Among his last words, according to those in attendance, were: “I am free. I am free.”

71-year-old Wallace, who was wrongfully accused of murdering a prison guard 41 years ago, maintained his innocence for that duration and finally had his case overturned Tuesday.

However, as he lay on his death bed,Wallace was re-indicted by a Louisiana grand jury on Thursday, according to District Attorney Samuel D’Aquilla who filed for the re-indictment.

Wallace died shortly after on Friday morning at 5:30 am Louisiana time.

“He passed away in my home,” saidAshley Wennerstrom, a long-time friend and program director at Tulane’s School of Medicine. “He was surrounded by friends and family and love in his last few days.”

“He completed that mission,” said longtime friend Parnell Herbert. “And he was able to see himself a free man. He passed away peacefully in his sleep.”

Following Wallace’s release from prison earlier in the week, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! wrote of Wallace’s final days:

As he lies dying, Herman Wallace knows that after a lifetime of enduring the torture of solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit, he is now a free man. […]

The Angola 3 were united for the last time Tuesday. The prison rules allowed King and Woodfox to say their final goodbyes to Wallace, not because he was leaving prison, but because he was dying. By sheer coincidence, that was when the judge overturned Wallace’s conviction, and they were the ones who gave Wallace the news. Robert King described their final moments together: “Albert’s last words were, ‘Herman, we love you, and you’re going to get out today.’” King described how Albert Woodfox leaned over, hands and feet shackled, and kissed Herman goodbye on his forehead. […]

Wallace was transferred to an ambulance and driven to the Louisiana State University Hospital in New Orleans. He has dreamed of his release for years, and describes it in “Herman’s House”:

“I got to the front gate, and there’s a whole lot of people out there. … I was dancing my way out. I was doing the jitterbug. … I turn around, and I look, and there are all the brothers in the window waving and throwing the fist sign—it’s rough, man. It’s so real. I can feel it even now.”

Herman Wallace was strapped into an ambulance, not dancing, as he left the prison, hanging on to life by a thread. But he was free, after almost 42 years in solitary confinement, longer than any other prisoner in U.S. history.

“Nothing can undo the authorities’ shocking treatment of (Wallace), which led more than 200,000 people to act on his behalf,” said Amnesty International USA Executive Director Steven Hawkins, in reference to an Amnesty campaign for the release of Wallace and the last co-defendant of the Angola 3 case who remains behind bars, Albert Woodfox. “The state of Louisiana must now prevent further inhuman treatment by removing Wallace’s co-defendant Albert Woodfox from solitary confinement.”

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I don’t know about anyone else, but I find this extremely humorous.
How many guys have not lied about their weight etc. when they date a person or even chat online? This is soooo ridiculous that makes me wonder if US is actually so safe that they have absolutely nothing else to go after than lying dudes or gals who are looking for a partner.

And this is from a country who’s leaders lied repeatedly in order to justify their illegal attack against Iraq. None of those guys EVER got in to trouble for trouble, it is FUCKED up isn’t it?
DOJ: Lying on Match.com needs to be a crime | Privacy Inc. – CNET News.

DOJ: Lying on Match.com needs to be a crime

by

The U.S. Department of Justice is defending computer hacking laws that make it a crime to use a fake name on Facebook or lie about your weight in an online dating profile at a site like Match.com.

In a statement obtained by CNET that’s scheduled to be delivered tomorrow, the Justice Department argues that it must be able to prosecute violations of Web sites’ often-ignored, always-unintelligible “terms of service” policies.

The law must allow “prosecutions based upon a violation of terms of service or similar contractual agreement with an employer or provider,” Richard Downing, the Justice Department’s deputy computer crime chief, will tell the U.S. Congress tomorrow.

Scaling back that law “would make it difficult or impossible to deter and address serious insider threats through prosecution,” and jeopardize prosecutions involving identity theft, misuse of government databases, and privacy invasions, according to Downing.

The law in question, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, has been used by the Justice Department to prosecute a woman, Lori Drew, who used a fake MySpace account to verbally attack a 13-year old girl who then committed suicide. Because MySpace’s terms of service prohibit impersonation, Drew was convicted of violating the CFAA. Her conviction was later thrown out.

What makes this possible is a section of the CFAA that was never intended to be used that way: a general-purpose prohibition on any computer-based act that “exceeds authorized access.” To the Justice Department, this means that a Web site’s terms of service define what’s “authorized” or not, and ignoring them can turn you into a felon.

On the other hand, because millions of Americans likely violate terms of service agreements every day, you’d have a lot of company.

A letter (PDF) sent to the Senate in August by a left-right coalition including the ACLU, Americans for Tax Reform, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and FreedomWorks warns of precisely that. “If a person assumes a fictitious identity at a party, there is no federal crime,” the letter says. “Yet if they assume that same identity on a social network that prohibits pseudonyms, there may again be a CFAA violation. This is a gross misuse of the law.”

Orin Kerr, a former Justice Department computer crime prosecutor who’s now a professor of law at George Washington University, says the government’s arguments are weak.

Kerr, who is also testifying tomorrow before a House Judiciary subcommittee, told CNET today that:

The Justice Department claims to have an interest in enforcing Terms of Use and computer use policies under the CFAA, but its examples mostly consist of cases in which the conduct described has already been criminalized by statutes other than the CFAA. Further, my proposed statutory fix (see the second proposal in my testimony) would preserve the government’s ability to prosecute the remaining cases DOJ mentions while not raising the civil liberties problems of the current statute.

Kerr’s testimony gives other examples of terms of service violations that would become criminal. Google says you can’t use its services if “you are not of legal age to form a binding contract,” which implies that millions of teenagers would be unindicted criminals. Match.com, meanwhile, says you can’t lie about your age, criminalizing the profile of anyone not a model of probity.

“I do not see any serious argument why such conduct should be criminal,” Kerr says.

The Justice Department disagrees. In fact, as part of a broader push to rewrite cybersecurity laws, the White House has proposed (PDF) broadening, not limiting, CFAA’s reach.

Stewart Baker, an attorney at Steptoe and Johnson who was previously a Homeland Security assistant secretary and general counsel at the National Security Agency, has suggested that the administration’s proposals to expand CFAA are Draconian. Uploading copyrighted YouTube videos twice “becomes a pattern of racketeering,” with even more severe criminal penalties, “at least if Justice gets its way,” Baker wrote.

In a kind of pre-emptive attack against Kerr’s proposed fixes, the Justice Department’s Downing says the CFAA properly criminalizes “improper” online activities.

“Businesses should have confidence that they can allow customers to access certain information on the business’s servers, such as information about their own orders and customer information, but that customers who intentionally exceed those limitations and obtain access to the business’s proprietary information and the information of other customers can be prosecuted,” Downing’s prepared remarks say.

Relatives of Spanish cameraman killed in Baghdad use WikiLeaks to press for justice – CSMonitor.com.

Relatives of Spanish cameraman killed in Baghdad use WikiLeaks to press for justice

After years of delays, the family of a Spanish journalist killed in a 2003 US attack on a Baghdad hotel turns to WikiLeaks documents that suggest the US and Spain colluded to prevent legal action.

Undated file TV image of Spanish TV cameraman José Couso who was killed during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Tele5/HO/Reuters/File

In what could be the first legal case to use filtered WikiLeaks documents as evidence, the family of a Spanish cameraman killed in 2003 by a US tank shell during the battle for Baghdad filed a complaint Monday. They seek to open an investigation into whether high-ranking officials here colluded with the US Embassy to stop charges being filed against three American soldiers, including a colonel.

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Javier Couso, brother of Spanish cameraman José Couso who was killed by US fire during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, holds up a legal document during a news conference in Madrid, Dec. 3.

Paul Hanna/Reuters

José Couso of Telecinco, the Spanish cameraman, and Taras Protsyuk, a Ukranian cameraman working for Reuters, died April 8, 2003, when a shell fired by an M1 Abraham tank hit the 15th floor of the Palestine Hotel, which scores of foreign journalist were using as a base and Pentagon-approved safe haven. Two other media locations were hit that day, also killing Al Jazeera correspondent Tareq Ayyoub. Four others were injured, leading to broad condemnation and demands to protect reporters.

Couso’s family has been fighting an uphill battle as it presses for criminal charges against the US soldiers. The US and Spain are, after all, close allies, and the US has taken the position that its soldiers are not liable to foreign jurisdictions, particularly when carrying out their duties in war zones.

The case has been dismissed twice at the request of Spanish prosecutors, only to be reopened by the Spanish Supreme Court. Currently, the country’s National Court is awaiting Iraqi entry visas to investigate the involvement of a sergeant, a captain, and a colonel in the incident seven years ago.

What the WikiLeaks documents show

According to the WikiLeaks documents posted by El País newspaper, former US ambassador in Madrid Eduardo Aguirre wrote in May 2007 that “while we are careful to show our respect for the tragic death of Couso and for the independence of the Spanish judicial system, behind the scenes we have fought tooth and nail to make the charges disappear.”

A month later, according to the documents, Mr. Aguirre told former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the Spanish government “has been helpful behind the scenes in getting the case appealed.”

Then in July 2007 another confidential embassy report summarized a lunch meeting between Aguirre and Attorney General Conde-Pumpido in which the Spanish official “said that he continues to do what he can to get the case dismissed, despite public pressure from the family, leftist group, and the press,” according to Aguirre.

The latest complaint from the family, filed at the Attorney General’s office, asks that US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks be used as evidence that Spanish officials conspired to unduly influence prosecutors to dismiss the case. The accused include former Foreign Affairs Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos, former Justice Minister Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Attorney General Cándido Conde-Pumpido, and National Court Chief Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza.

“The fundamental goal is to stop government meddling,” says Enrique Santiago, the Couso family’s lawyer. “The family could have filed this with the courts directly, but it wanted to make sure that the rule of law still exists.” The Attorney General’s Office did not return calls for comment.

US meddling?

“It’s certainly going to increase the pressure on the government to play it straight,” says Reed Brody, a Brussels-based lawyer for Human Rights Watch. “The implication that top Spanish officials did bidding for the US is very damaging and I think even without the lawsuit it may cause them to try to rectify [the situation].”

“Those of us who are pushing the Obama administration to undertake serious investigations were always hoping that Spanish cases would cause the US to act,” Mr. Brody says. “Nobody expects [former Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld in a court in Madrid, but it would be beneficial if these processes led to… answered questions at home.”

The Pentagon has publicly apologized for the deaths but found US troops acted within rules of engagement in the Palestine Hotel attack. US forces trying to capture Baghdad came under heavy sniper and rocket propelled grenade fire that day and intelligence suggested that a “spotter” was directing fire against US troops from the hotel, the US investigation said.

However, multiple journalists’ accounts disagreed. Reporters on the scene said there was no fire coming from the hotel and that the location was a known refuge for foreign media. An investigation into the attack led by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists concluded that while the attack “was not deliberate, it could have been avoided and may have been caused by a breakdown in communication within the US Army chain of command.”

“The most disturbing thing of the revelations,” says Brody, “is that the US was bullying other countries, not just Spain, to try to get officials to interfere with the judiciary. The US has built a wall of immunity and impunity for acts related to Iraq and Afghanistan and now it’s trying to get impunity extended abroad.”

“It’s the first use of Wikileaks information in a court,” he adds, “but I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last. It’s going to change the playing field.”

And even if the collusion complaint doesn’t prosper, few doubt Spanish public opinion will be a lot more vigilant now over the broader Couso case. “Spanish people get upset with interferences on their courts,” Brody said. “Part of this case is to hammer away at that point, that Spain should not be a lackey and should let the courts do its work.”

READ This, it is long but should not be missed.

J’Accuse: Sweden, Britain, and Interpol Insult Rape Victims Worldwide

How do I know that Interpol, Britain and Sweden’s treatment of Julian Assange is a form of theater? Because I know what happens in rape accusations against men that don’t involve the embarrassing of powerful governments.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is in solitary confinement in Wandsworth prison in advance of questioning on state charges of sexual molestation. Lots of people have opinions about the charges. But I increasingly believe that only those of us who have spent years working with rape and sexual assault survivors worldwide, and know the standard legal response to sex crime accusations, fully understand what a travesty this situation is against those who have to live through how sex crime charges are ordinarily handled — and what a deep, even nauseating insult this situation is to survivors of rape and sexual assault worldwide.

Here is what I mean: men are pretty much never treated the way Assange is being treated in the face of sex crime charges.

I started working as a counselor in a UK center for victims of sexual assault in my mid-twenties. I also worked as a counselor in a battered women’s shelter in the US, where sexual violence was often part of the pattern of abuse. I have since spent two decades traveling the world reporting on and interviewing survivors of sexual assault, and their advocates, in countries as diverse as Sierra Leone and Morocco, Norway and Holland, Israel and Jordan and the Occupied Territories, Bosnia and Croatia, Britain, Ireland and the united States.

I tell you this as a recorder of firsthand accounts. Tens of thousand of teenage girls were kidnapped at gunpoint and held as sex slaves in Sierra Leone during that country’s civil war. They were tied to trees and to stakes in the ground and raped by dozens of soldiers at a time. Many of them were as young as twelve or thirteen. Their rapists are free.

I met a fifteen-year-old girl who risked her life to escape from her captor in the middle of the night, taking the baby that resulted from her rape by hundreds of men. She walked from Liberia to a refugee camp in Sierra Leone, barefoot and bleeding, living on roots in the bush. Her rapist, whose name she knows, is free.

Generals at every level instigated this country-wide sexual assault of a generation of girls. Their names are known. They are free. In Sierra Leone and Congo, rapists often used blunt or sharp objects to penetrate the vagina. Vaginal tears and injuries, called vaginal fistulas, are rampant, as any health worker in that region can attest, but medical care is often unavailable. So women who have been raped in this way often suffer from foul-smelling constant discharges from infections that could be treated with a low-cost antibiotic — were one available. Because of their injuries, they are shunned by their communities and rejected by their husbands. Their rapists are free.

Women — and girls — are drugged, kidnapped and trafficked by the tens of thousands for the sex industry in Thailand and across Eastern Europe. They are held as virtual prisoners by pimps. If you interview the women who spend their lives trying to rescue and rehabilitate them, they attest to the fact that these women’s kidnappers and rapists are well known to local and even national authorities — but these men never face charges. These rapists are free.

In the Bosnian conflict, rape was a weapon of war. Women were imprisoned in barracks utilized for this purpose, and raped, again at gunpoint, for weeks at a time. They could not escape. Minimalist hearings after the conflict resulted in slap-on-the-wrist sentences for a handful of perpetrators. The vast majority of rapists, whose names are known, did not face charges. The military who condoned these assaults, whose names are known, are free.

Women who testify to having been raped in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Morocco face imprisonment and beatings, and being abandoned by their families. Their rapists almost never face charges and are free. Women who testify to rape in India and Pakistan have been subjected to honor killings and acid attacks. Their rapists almost never face charges, are almost never convicted. They are free. A well-known case of a high-born playboy in India who was accused of violently raping a waitress — who was willing to testify against him — resulted in a cover-up at the highest levels of the police inquiry. He is free.

What about more typical cases closer to home? In the Western countries such as Britain and Sweden, who are uniting to hold Assange without bail, if you actually interviewed women working in rape crisis centers, you will hear this: it is desperately hard to get a conviction for a sex crime, or even a serious hearing. Workers in rape crisis centers in the UK and Sweden will tell you that they have deep backlogs of women raped for years by fathers or stepfathers — who can’t get justice. Women raped by groups of young men who have been drinking, and thrown out of the backs of cars, or abandoned after a gang-rape in an alley — who can’t get justice. Women raped by acquaintances who can’t get a serious hearing.

In the US I have heard from dozens of young women who have been drugged and raped in college campuses across the nation. There is almost inevitably a cover-up by the university — guaranteed if their assailants are prominent athletes on campus, or affluent — and their rapists are free. If it gets to police inquiry, it seldom gets very far. Date rape? Forget it. If a woman has been drinking, or has previously had consensual sex with her attacker, or if their is any ambiguity about the issue of consent, she almost never gets a serious hearing or real investigation.

If the rare middle-class woman who charges rape against a stranger — for those inevitably are the few and rare cases that the state bothers to hear — actually gets treated seriously by the legal system, she will nonetheless find inevitable hurdles to any kind of real hearing let alone real conviction: either a ‘lack of witnesses’ or problems with evidence, or else a discourse that even a clear assault is racked with ambiguity. If, even more rare, a man is actually convicted — it will almost inevitably be a minimal sentence, insulting in its triviality, because no one wants to ‘ruin the life’ of a man, often a young man, who has ‘made a mistake’. (The few exceptions tend to regard a predictable disparity of races — black men do get convicted for assault on higher-status white women whom they do not know.)

In other words: Never in twenty-three years of reporting on and supporting victims of sexual assault around the world have I ever heard of a case of a man sought by two nations, and held in solitary confinement without bail in advance of being questioned — for any alleged rape, even the most brutal or easily proven. In terms of a case involving the kinds of ambiguities and complexities of the alleged victims’ complaints — sex that began consensually that allegedly became non-consensual when dispute arose around a condom — please find me, anywhere in the world, another man in prison today without bail on charges of anything comparable.

Of course ‘No means No’, even after consent has been given, whether you are male or female; and of course condoms should always be used if agreed upon. As my fifteen-year-old would say: Duh.

But for all the tens of thousands of women who have been kidnapped and raped, raped at gunpoint, gang-raped, raped with sharp objects, beaten and raped, raped as children, raped by acquaintances — who are still awaiting the least whisper of justice — the highly unusual reaction of Sweden and Britain to this situation is a slap in the face. It seems to send the message to women in the UK and Sweden that if you ever want anyone to take sex crime against you seriously, you had better be sure the man you accuse of wrongdoing has also happened to embarrass the most powerful government on earth.

Keep Assange in prison without bail until he is questioned, by all means, if we are suddenly in a real feminist worldwide epiphany about the seriousness of the issue of sex crime: but Interpol, Britain and Sweden must, if they are not to be guilty of hateful manipulation of a serious women’s issue for cynical political purposes, imprison as well — at once — the hundreds of thousands of men in Britain, Sweden and around the world world who are accused in far less ambiguous terms of far graver forms of assault.

Anyone who works in supporting women who have been raped knows from this grossly disproportionate response that Britain and Sweden, surely under pressure from the US, are cynically using the serious issue of rape as a fig leaf to cover the shameful issue of mafioso-like global collusion in silencing dissent. That is not the State embracing feminism. That is the State pimping feminism.