Pentagon Threatens to Revoke Security Clearance of Navy Nurse Who Refused to Force-Feed Guantanamo Prisoners

Creative Commons Licensed Photo from DVIDSHUB

Despite a decision to not pursue charges, the Department of Defense has threatened to revoke the security clearance of a Navy nurse, who refused to force-feed prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Physicians for Human Rights condemned this news and called it “backdoor retaliation for his refusal to force-feed Guantánamo detainees on hunger strike.” The advocacy organization also noted that the nurse was recently given an ethics award by the American Nurses Association (ANA).

“The military’s latest action against the nurse is backdoor retaliation for refusing to take part in an unethical and criminal activity,” said Dr. Vincent Iacopino, PHR’s medical director. “Even as we speak, the American Nurses Association is honoring him with an ethics award for refusing to force-feed detainees. It is extraordinary that the military would punish the nurse for conduct that his profession recognizes as exemplary ethical behavior.”

In May, the Defense Department declined to push for the discharge of the nurse, who has yet to be identified. However, it was unclear when the Defense Department made this decision whether records related to his act of resistance would at some point be used against him by promotion boards or in security clearance reviews.

The nurse was not permitted to perform medical duties while he faced potential prosecution. He was assigned to “inconsequential administrative tasks,” according to his lawyer, Ron Meister.

ANA defended the nurse in a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in October of last year.

“The ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses clearly supports the ethical right of a professional nurse to make an independent judgment about whether he or she should participate in this or any other such activity,” the ANA declared. “This right must be protected and exercised without concern for retaliation.”

A nurse’s primary commitment must be to the patient, and that means “acting to minimize or eliminate unwarranted, unwanted, or unnecessary medical treatment and patient suffering.” That is what the nurse did in this case.

The American Medical Association (AMA), which also has supported the nurse, condemned the Defense Department’s force-feeding of prisoners as a violation of “core ethical values of medicine” in a December letter [PDF].

“To ask physicians, nurses or other health care professionals to participate in forced feeding puts
professionals in an ethically untenable position,” the AMA stated. “Every competent patient has the right to refuse medical intervention, including life-sustaining interventions; every health care professional has an ethical responsibility to respect the patient’s decision in such situations.”

The nurse is someone, who has been in the Navy for 18 years, and sought to uphold ethical practices. He is the only known example of a conscientious objector to force-feeding of Guantanamo prisoners, which has been tortuously employed by military personnel.

If the nurse loses his security clearance, it could mean a potential discharged or even a loss of benefits. He may be severely limited in his ability to return to a job if he cannot work in a position considered to be “sensitive” by the Defense Department.

Revoking a government employee’s security clearance is a known tactic for silencing whistleblowers.

Removal from Guantanamo Bay and placement under investigation was punishment enough. It sent a message to other medical officers not to challenge the Pentagon over its unethical treatment of prisoners.

Unfortunately, the Defense Department finds it must protect itself from this nurse by revoking his security clearance because, if he is in any situation that may force him to fall back on his ethics, they know he will be on the side of the patient and not the Pentagon.

Chris Christie’s Presidential Announcement Came At Taxpayer’s Expense

Chris Christie by Gage Skidmore

When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stepped into his old high school in Livingston, New Jersey to officially announce his candidacy for president many assumed – given that it was explicitly a political event – that Christie’s campaign would pick up to the tab. But that would be wrong.

A public records request by Blue Jersey writer Steve Stern (who blogs under the handle Deciminyan) revealed that Governor Christie billed New Jersey taxpayers for his presidential campaign kickoff.

Much to my surprise, the facility was NOT rented by the Christie for President organization, but rather by the Office of the Governor. Jim Gilroy, who is listed on state databases as “Aide to the Governor”, executed the contract. The school district quoted a price of $2,992. You, the taxpayer paid for this, whether or not you are a Chris Christie for President supporter.

Of course, your cost was far more. The security, aides, communications, and other ancillary expenses that go with a governor running for public office may be unavoidable. But shouldn’t the campaign have paid for the facility?

The mixture of public and political business is illegal in New Jersey with Governor Christie already plagued by a scandal involving political acts by his staff and his appointees at the New York and New Jersey Port Authority. Christie’s deputy chief of staff was directly involved in shutting down the George Washington Bridge allegedly to punish the mayor of the town of Fort Lee for not endorsing Governor Christie for re-election.

If put to a vote it is unlikely the people who paid for the event would have been happy to do so. Polls show the people of New Jersey both do not want Christie to run for president and want him to resign now that he is.

The Roundup for July 23rd, 2015

I have returned. What did I miss?

International Politics


– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: I will “kill myself” to ensure the P5+1-Iran is stopped

– Journalist Nick Fillmore joins The Real News to explain the financial deficits behind the Pan-Am Games in Canada

– The U.N. envoy to Syria blamed the government for air strikes causing destruction in one Syrian town

Middle East

– Remember a few months ago how the U.S. built an extremely expensive facility in Afghanistan that was never used? Well, it was not the first time they did that

– The U.S. government is still covering up alleged sexual abuse of Iraqi children at Abu Ghraib (more…)

Over Easy: Around the World

Kensington Palace Orangery serves easy eggs, you see
Kensington Palace Orangery serves easy eggs, you see

(Picture courtesy of Herry Lawford at

Welcome to Thursday’s Over Easy, a continuation of Southern Dragon’s Lakeside Diner and its tradition of giving an overview of news our everyday media doesn’t cover, issues that we ought to consider outside the U.S. scene.   Now, I am back from that world and view, and glad of it though there are things I miss.

Greece has reopened the banks, with limits on the amount of withdrawal allowed and restrictions on transfers of money out of the country.

Athens reached a cash-for-reforms deal aimed at avoiding a debt default and an exit from the eurozone.

But many restrictions remain, including a block on money transfers abroad, and Greeks also face price rises with an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT).

Meanwhile, Germany has said it is prepared to consider further debt concessions to Greece.


Late Night FDL: Baltimore

Prince – Baltimore

Prince released his Baltimore video yesterday…

Prince’s “Baltimore” — honoring 25-year-old Freddie Gray, whose death incited protests in the city — now has a powerful video that drives home the song’s message about police brutality and the subsequent fight for justice.

The video lays the ballad’s thought-provoking lyrics over images of peaceful marchers and footage from the Rally 4 Peace concert in Baltimore on May 10, just one day before Prince debuted the song on SoundCloud. The song features Eryn Allen Kane.

Gray was arrested without probable cause on April 12 and died April 19 from spinal-cord injuries sustained while in custody. A grand jury on May 21 indicted the six police officers allegedly involved in Gray’s death, just weeks after Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office filed criminal charges against them on May 1, including manslaughter and second degree depraved-heart murder.

Prince ends his protest video with this message:

What’s on your mind tonite…?

The Spirit of Judy Miller is Alive and Well at the NYT, and It Does Great Damage

‘All anyone in government has to do,’ explains Greenwald, ‘is whisper something in [a NYT] journalists’ ears, demand anonymity for it, and instruct them to print it. Then they obey.’

By Glenn Greenwald

One of the very few Iraq War advocates to pay any price at all was former New York Times reporter Judy Miller, the classic scapegoat. But what was her defining sin? She granted anonymity to government officials and then uncritically laundered their dubious claims in the New York Times. As the paper’s own editors put it in their 2004 mea culpa about the role they played in selling the war: “We have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged.” As a result, its own handbook adopted in the wake of that historic journalistic debacle states that “anonymity is a last resort.”

But 12 years after Miller left, you can pick up that same paper on any given day and the chances are high that you will find reporters doing exactly the same thing. In fact, its public editor, Margaret Sullivan, regularly lambasts the paper for doing so. Granting anonymity to government officials and then uncritically printing what these anonymous officials claim, treating it all as Truth, is not an aberration for the New York Times. With some exceptions among good NYT reporters, it’s an institutional staple for how the paper functions, even a decade after its editors scapegoated Judy Miller for its Iraq War propaganda and excoriated itself for these precise methods.

That the New York Times mindlessly disseminates claims from anonymous officials with great regularity is, at this point, too well-documented to require much discussion. But it is worth observing how damaging it continues to be, because, shockingly, all sorts of self-identified “journalists” — both within the paper and outside of it — continue to equate un-verified assertions from government officials as Proven Truth, even when these officials are too cowardly to attach their names to these claims, as long as papers such as the NYT launder them.

Let’s look at an illustrative example from yesterday to see how this toxic process works. The New York Times published an article about ISIS by Eric Schmitt and Ben Hubbard based entirely and exclusively on unproven claims from officials of the U.S. government and its allies, to whom they (needless to say) granted anonymity. The entire article reads exactly like an official press release: Paragraph after paragraph does nothing other than summarize the claims of anonymous officials, without an iota of questioning, skepticism, scrutiny or doubt.

Read the full article at The Intercept.


© 2015 The Intercept / First Look Media

Since 2010, Police Misconduct Has Cost US Taxpayers Over $1 Billion

Creative Commons Licensed Photo on Flickr by Chris Wieland

This post was originally published at

As victims of police misconduct across the country file an increasing number of lawsuits, taxpayers are bearing the brunt of the financial burden.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the 10 U.S. cities with the largest police departments paid out over $248 million in settlements last year in cases related to police misconduct. That’s an increase of 48 percent from 2010, the first of five consecutive years for which the Journal obtained data through public records requests.

When totaled, the five years of police misconduct in 10 cities represented $1.02 billion in payouts to victims or their families, including “beatings, shootings and wrongful imprisonment.” If other forms of misconduct such as vehicle collisions and property damage are included, the total rises to $1.4 billion.

In their report last week, Zusha Elinson and Dan Frosch offer some insight into how that total breaks down:

“For most of the police departments surveyed by the Journal, the costliest claims were allegations of civil-rights violations and other misconduct, followed by payouts on car collisions involving the police. Misconduct cases were the costliest for New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, Dallas and Baltimore. Car-crash cases were the most expensive for Houston, Phoenix and Miami-Dade, a county police department.”

Taxpayers, not police departments, end up paying for police misconduct, the reporters continue:

“Cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia are self-insured, meaning any payouts come out of city funds. Others have insurance that kicks in at a certain payment level in each case. Smaller municipalities often pool risk with others, but the cost of premiums can increase after incidents occur, much like car insurance. It is almost unheard of that officers pay out of their own pockets, according to a 2014 study on police liability by Joanna Schwartz, a UCLA law professor.”

Experts interviewed by the Journal suggest that the availability of video recording is a major factor in the rise of successful lawsuits, a theory supported by two recent multimillion dollar settlements against police. On July 13, the City of New York and Eric Garner’s relatives agreed to a $5.9 million dollar settlement. Garner died a little over a year ago after NYPD officers put the 43-year-old black man in a chokehold. A video recorded by a bystander and widely circulated online shows Garner repeatedly crying out, “I can’t breathe,” as police pin him to the ground. (more…)

Sandra Bland was unlawfully arrested

I write to clear up confusion about Sandra Bland’s arrest.

Sandra Bland was unlawfully arrested.

An arrest is unlawful unless the arresting officer has probable cause (i.e., reasonable grounds) to believe that the person arrested committed a crime. Reasonable grounds means an objective set of facts and circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe that a crime was committed. The key phrase is ‘an objective set of facts and circumstances.’ A subjective belief based on a suspicion is not sufficient.

An arrest occurs when a person’s liberty is restrained and they are not free to terminate a contact with police and leave the scene. Whether a person is under arrest depends on the totality of the circumstances. It does not depend on whether a person has been told that they are under arrest.

If we apply these legal rules to Sandra Bland’s encounter with the Texas State trooper, we can see that she was arrested when he ordered her out of her car. She was not free to terminate the contact and leave the area. The apparent basis for the arrest was her refusal to put out her cigarette and her effort to videotape the encounter with her phone. Neither act is a crime. Therefore, the trooper lacked probable cause to believe that she had committed a crime and the arrest was unlawful.

He violated her civil rights and could have been sued pursuant to 42 USC 1983.

He put her on the ground out of view of the dash cam, but a passerby managed to record part of that. The video evidence does not corroborate the trooper’s claim that she kicked him. Nevertheless, he charged her with assaulting him.

Looks to me like he made a false accusation to cover-up a bad arrest and the assault that he committed against her. He should be fired.

Video Shows Iowa Cops Falsely Claimed Black Man Posed Threat When Shot Him 5 Times

Officer chases after Webb while firing his weapon

After Waterloo police shot Jovan Webb while he was driving his car, officers from the police department in Iowa claimed he struck a police officer with his car. This allegedly led two officers to shoot at Webb’s vehicle multiple times. However, security video shows no officer was ever in danger and one police officer, who shot at Webb, chased after Webb’s car while firing his weapon.

Webb, who is a black man, was severely injured after being shot by police on April 5. Bullets from one or more officers hit Webb “twice in his arm, once in his chest, and twice in [his] abdomen.” He had surgery, but there are two bullets that remain inside him because they could not be removed. Webb suffered a “painful collapsed lung and he still has a breathing machine.” Doctors had to remove part of his intestine.

According to his lawyers, who have filed a lawsuit [PDF], he drove himself to the hospital. Although police did not charge him with a crime, he was handcuffed on arrival. Medical personnel later requested the handcuffs be removed so he could have his injuries treated.

Webb’s lawyers allege he was targeted with deadly force because of his race.

At 1:30 am, police responded to reports of a fight at a bar. Webb was at the business. He came out to watch the fight but did not know anyone involved and did not participate. When police arrived, the fighting had stopped. (more…)

Chicago Police Investigator Fired for Resisting Orders to Change Findings Against Officers

CPD officer

The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) in Chicago, which is supposed to investigate complaints of brutality and misconduct against police , fired one of its investigators after he refused to change findings that suggested multiple police shootings were “unjustified.”

WBEZ reported, “Scott M. Ando, chief administrator of the city’s Independent Police Review Authority, informed its staff in a July 9 email that the agency no longer employed supervising investigator Lorenzo Davis, 65, a former Chicago police commander.”

“Davis’s termination came less than two weeks after top IPRA officials, evaluating Davis’s job performance, accused him of ‘a clear bias against the police,'” WBEZ additionally reported. The top IPRA officials “called him ‘the only supervisor at IPRA who resists making requested changes as directed by management in order to reflect the correct finding with respect to OIS,’ as officer-involved shootings are known in the agency.”

Over 19 months, Davis’ “performance evaluation” reportedly concluded that he displayed a “complete lack of objectivity combined with a clear bias against the police in spite of his own lengthy police career.” (During Davis’ career, he served as the head of multiple detective units, a district police station, and the public housing unit.)

Davis told WBEZ, “I did not like the direction the police department had taken. It appeared that officers were doing whatever they wanted to do. The discipline was no longer there.”

Several of his performance evaluations since being hired in 2008 show he was seen as an “effective team player.” If his team exonerated officers, top officials would be pleased. It was when he challenged shootings as being unjustified in six particular cases that he experienced pushback.

“They have shot people dead when they did not have to shoot. They were not in reasonable fear for their lives. The evidence shows that the officer knew, or should have known, that the person who they shot was not armed or did not pose a threat to them or could have been apprehended by means short of deadly force,” Davis stated.

Sarah Macaraeg, a journalist based in Chicago, has spent the past months investigating and exposing the IPRA’s role in protecting police officers from prosecution and punishment for violence and other crimes committed.

Since 2010, the IPRA has “conducted 272 investigations of officer-involved shootings over the last five years.” One case has been deemed unjustified.

Macaraeg’s investigation found, “At least 21 Chicago police officers are currently serving on the force, some with honors, after shooting citizens under highly questionable circumstances, resulting in at least $30.2 million in taxpayer-funded City of Chicago settlements thus far.” (more…)