By Kiilu Nyasha
October 22, 2007
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
– The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5 (1948)
It’s clear to everyone paying attention these days that the U.S. Government sanctions the use of torture, despite continued denials made by President Bush, like, “We do not torture.”
The evidence is overwhelming both here in U.S. prisons and rendition abroad at so-called Black Sites (secret prisons) that captured individuals are severely tortured. Of course the word torture is never used. Instead, tortures such as waterboarding, stress positions, and other brutalities, humiliations are said to be “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
In fact, the Department of Justice authorized the use of extreme interrogation techniques not only in 2002 and 2003, but twice more in 2005. And the infamous “torture memo” written by White House legal counsel, John Yoo, stated that no interrogation tactics were illegal unless they produced pain equivalent to organ failure or “even death.” Another memo produced at the same time detailed how such practices would be applied, how often and how long.
I’m quite sure, however, that it doesn’t take DOJ authorization for the CIA, FBI, and local police to feel confident that they’ll suffer no consequences for their torture of prisoners deemed terrorists or enemy combatants, labels applied to freedom fighters.
The exception, of course, was the court martial of low-ranking U.S. military guards for the most egregious, abhorrent tortures at Abu-Graib prison in Iraq – once there was an international outcry following widespread dissemination of explicit photographs. Yet no one in position of authority was prosecuted.
Who raised any hell about the brutal torture and interrogation of three Black Panthers in New Orleans in 1973, namely: John Bowman, Harold Taylor, and Ruben Scott? Scott is a broken man; JB suffered pain and injury until his premature death in 2006; and Harold Taylor continues to suffer from physical pain, PTSD, and nightmares to this day. Has anyone been held accountable or suffered any consequences for their torture and injuries?
Hell no! In fact, the two San Francisco detectives, McCoy and Erdelatz, who conducted the interrogations and subjected these brothers to the vicious brutal tortures in New Orleans have since become Federal agents authorized to arrest and charge these elders all over again. In 1973, they tortured them into signing confessions of guilt (which they all later recanted) in the now 36-year-old case of the shooting of police officer, Sgt. John Young at the Ingleside Station in San Francisco, August 28, 1971.
On October 10, before a packed courtroom, Judge Philip Moscone denied Harold Taylor’s motion for collateral estoppel presented by his attorney, Randy Montesano. That’s a legal term that asks the court to honor prior decisions by judges on the same issue. In this case, two courts had refused to admit confessions rendered under torture. In fact, a San Francisco judge threw these same charges out in 1975. Att. Montesano noted what a waste of resources it is to do it all over again, forcing Taylor, still suffering the ill effects of the torture, to “relive those moments.”
Judge Moscone’s decision was based on the prosecution’s assertion that the 1974 Los Angeles proceedings (involving Harold Taylor) were pre-trial hearings and not final adjudication. However, the judge did leave the door open for the defense attorneys to enter a motion to suppress (the coerced statements) at future hearings.
In an interview with Richard Brown, one of the six defendants out on bail, he said, “Based upon three rulings that we’ve had already, including the Supreme Court, those forced confessions will be suppressed…and I’m very, very happy to say that he [Moscone] seems to be a judge. He doesn’t seem to be politically motivated or intimidated by anything or anyone…it appears as though he’s going to judge the case based on the merit of the case, the evidence; and that’s what we’re all hoping for.”
The next hearing is scheduled for Monday, December 3, when issues of discovery and the sealing of prejudicial documents will be litigated.
Be sure to encourage all your friends to help us pack the courtroom, as we’re quite sure that your continued presence and support are what made it possible for Richard Brown, Richard O’Neal, Ray Boudreaux, Hank Jones, Harold Taylor, and Francisco Torres to be released on bail, and return home to their families.
Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim (Bottom) remain in solitary confinement with no-contact visits at the San Francisco County Jail. Please write to them and learn more about the frameup that has kept them incarcerated in New York State prisons for 34 and 36 years respectively.
Power to the people.
Free ‘em all.
Please support these brothers by sending a donation. Make checks payable to CDHR/Agape and mail to the address below or donate online: www.freethesf8.org/donate.html
Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR)
PO Box 90221
Pasadena, CA 91109