Monday, February 27, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, a song-and-dance is performed before a bewildered House Subcommitee, Nouri and Moqtada al-Sadr are at odds again, Michael Ratner talks about the Bradley Manning arraignment last week, US Senator Patty Murray wants answers about whether or not the Defenseand more.
This afternoon the House Veterans Subcommittee on Health held a hearing that covered the issue of bridges between the VA and Community Organizations. Near the end of the hearing, Subcomittee Chair Ann Marie Buerkle declared, "I must say I'm a bit chagrinned and, more than that, concerned. I think we have a real big disconnect here in knowing what's avaialbe and what's out there."
More than anything, that summed up the hearing. Listening to panel two offer testimony was highly distressing. Chaplain John Morris, Reverend E. Terri LaVelle and Chaplain Michael McCoy Sr. were the primary witnesses on that panel and you really had to wonder about not just where the money goes but also who's watching it?
US House Rep Michael Michaud had a very basic question for Rev LaVelle and she explained that she'd have to speak to someone else about that, she was primarily focused on what went on in DC (she's with the VA Director Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships) but she would speak to the filed about this.
The obvious question would be: Why didn't you before you showed up for this hearing?
The obvious question wasn't asked. Instead, she noted she'd only spoken to the district once in her time in her current position. Michaud asked her how long she'd been on the board and she responded "two and a half years." That should have been a red flag.
There were many red flags throughout the hearing.
Michaud wanted to know if veterans were being charged by faith-based organizations for services? He never got a clear answer on that. LaVelle, for example, was happy to talk at length in response to what should have been a "yes" or a "no" question. Going on and on, at a fast clip, about how you're "more than willing to say that so many days a week, so many hours, we'll use our current transportation" might have seemed like a response to her but I'm not sure many others would feel the same.
Her comments also raised serious issues about qualifications. For example, I think many of us (I know I feel this way, you don't have to) feel that if a veteran seeks out a faith-based organization, he or she will be speaking about issues to do with religion and spirituality. And that doesn't bother me (I'm not happy that it's funded with tax payer dollars because I believe it chips away at the wall that's supposed to exist between church and state). But when you're selling your program to Congress on something other than that, we may have a problem.
So, for example, when LaValle wants the Subcomittee to know that they employ Phds and licensensed clinical social workers, it does matter to me if these people are trained in assisting veterans. LaVelle's people she brags about, these people with so much education and training, have never been trained in helping veterans. But, she insists, they will learn on the job.
Will learn. Haven't yet. What do they do all day? We're not talking about fresh recruits, we're not talking about a new program that just received start-up funding.
Sitting through that hearing was a non-stop exercise in frustration and, after awhile, it really appeared that most members of the Subcommittee just gave up. (Two appeared to walk out in frustration. And those two were Republicans and Republicans who support the idea of faith-based programs being funded by the government.)
US House Rep Silvestre Reyes is a very laid back and calm person. He doesn't lose his cool in hearings and generally has a smile and some comforting exchange at the start to set the witnesses at ease. Though he did not lose his good manners, even he seemed puzzled by what was taking place before the Subcomittee.
He noted what so many noted which was, why aren't veterans hearing anything about these programs? (I will add, why aren't veterans hearing anything about these programs that US taxpayers are forking over a small fortune for?) This was picking up directly on US House Rep Michael Michaud's questioning but also on just about every Subcommittee member's line of questioning.
And the song and dance was always, 'We try. We're contacting someone.'
Reyes noted that in his area (El Paso), Joan Ricard would be the best one to contact. She's the Director of the El Paso VA Health Care System. He wondered, "Why can't your programs be part of the services?" No real answer.
They're putting on events. They're spending money. But it doesn't seem like veterans are going to these events and that seems to be because they aren't getting the word out on these events.
In addition, rural veterans are being completey disregarded by these programs. They aren't doing any in, for example, West Texas. As Reyes pointed out, except for El Paso pretty much all of West Texas is rural. The witnesses rushed to tell him that his veterans could go to Waco, Texas where they're putting on programs and he explained to them that Albuquerque was closer to El Paso than Waco (El Paso to Waco, he said, was 386 miles -- still a huge journey, especially for a disabled veteran and especially for a veteran in need of services; while El Paso to Waco is over 670 miles). Chaplain McCoy wanted to insist, "We are cooperating with the Office of Rural Health and we are cooperating with the Office of Mental Health and others." The programs they represented to the Subcomittee did not appear to be serving rural veterans, regardless of whom they were "cooperating with."
In Texas, Reyes was told, the closest chaplain to his city of El Paso is Waco. (Again, that's over 670 miles -- at 60 mph the whole way, someone's going to have drive over 11 hours for an event that's for 'rural' veterans. That's ridiculous.)
Reyes was also very concerned about this issue where the events aren't known, where even the faith-based organizations providing some kind of services weren't known of by the veterans.
He noted that his office holds a veterans clearing house meeting every month. He attends when he's in his district but, even when he's not there, the meeting takes place. And it's where information can be passed on. He noted Joan Ricard attends every month's meeting. But he's never once seen anyone from these groups or heard any information about their programs, He again stressed that the faith-based programs were not getting the information out, "We've never heard the information about your programs. So is there a reason you can't designate the VA Directors in our respective areas to provide information?"
LaVelle insisted that if someone could tell her the faith-based liason to Congress, they could get information to them about services in their district.
You're taking taxpayer money to provide a service for veterans. Your events are poorly attended. The reason for that is you're not getting the word out on them. And your answer to that is to wait until you're at a Congressional hearing and treat a Subcommittee as if you just dialed 411?
Winding down the hearing, Subcommittee Chair Ann Marie Buerkle said, "In closing here today, I think that Chaplain [John] Morris said it best, that we really do need a community effort to make sure that our veterans have what they need."
Tomorrow should be a big hearing -- joint-hearing by the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee. That's a problem for one reason, I'm not really able to go into to today's hearing. It's one of those that I would prefer to have a night's sleep between covering just because I'm so upset by it. But with tomorrow's hearing, it won't be possible to pick up this Subcommittee tomorrow. So we've done the above, a thumb nail, and that may end be it for the Subcommittee hearing. I think it was an important one, I think we've provided a bit more than overview but that's all we can do today. Short of my issuing a non-stop string of curse words, that's all we can cover. What the Subcommittee learned was that the faith-based organizations being represented by the witnesses happily take money from the taxpayer to provide services but they hire people who are unqualified to provide the services and then they somehow repeatedly forget to get the word out on the services which explains the low turnout. On top of all of that -- and the lack of oversight of the way the taxpayers' money is being spent -- rural veterans aren't benefitting from the present system. A specific issue family courts have raised to House members is where are the clergy to provide family counseling to veterans whose families and/or marriages are struggling? And the answer, like every other 'answer' to a direct question in this hearing, was a long string of words that wandered around but never arrived at a point.
Let's stay on veterans issue and Congress for a bit more. Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Her office issued the following today:
FOR PLANNING PURPOSES
Monday, Februay 27, 2012
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
TOMORROW: Murray to Push Deense Secretary Panetta on Pentagon Oversight in PTSD Diagnoses
Murray will also question Panetta on proposed FY 2013 cuts and their impact on DOD
(Washington, D.C.) -- Tomorrow, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), senior member of the Senate Budget Committee, will attend a hearing on President Obama's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request for the Department of Defense. The Committee will hear testimony from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. Sen. Murray will question Secretary Panetta about the Pentagon's handling of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnoses, specifically as it relates to the recent controversy surrounding the Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington state.
WHO: Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey
WHAT: Examination of President's FY 2013 Budget Request for Dept. of Defense
Focus on PTSD Diagnoses Oversight, FY 2013 Cuts
WHERE: Dirksen Senate Office Building -- Room 608
When: Tomorrow -- Tuesday, February 28, 2012
9:30 AM EST/ 6:30 AM PST
Deputy Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
So what's going on? The press release refers to Madigan Healthcare System. As we've noted before, the US Army Medical Command has investigated complaints from soldiers who say that their PTSD diagnoses have been reversed and that there have been comments that these were administrative decisons made to save money. If you're late to the story, you can check out Hal Bernton's piece for the Seattle Times
. That is tomorrow. As the press release noted, if you can't be present but are interested, you can stream it online. For those who are saying, "I'm on dial up" or "My platform's too out of date for streaming" or something similar -- CSPAN Radio will broadcast the hearing live (and most who can't stream video due to being dial up or an older platform, can stream audio with few problems). I was under the impression (apparently wrong) that CSPAN (1,2,3) broadcast all the Senate hearings. If so, that's not going to happen tomorrow unless CSPAN2 is carrying the hearing. (CSPAN1 and CSPAN3 are both going to be covering the House and not the joint-hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.)
If you call the VA's suicide hotline, you have a right to believe your call is confidential. Christian Daventport (Washington Post) reported yesterday on Gulf War veteran Sean Duvall's troubles caused by seeking help. He called the hotline and now he's facing criminal charges and, if convicted of them, could spend as many as 40 years in jail. Sean Duvall called because he wanted to take his own life. The homeless man had a gun he'd made himself. He called for help and got that to a degree immediately (or that's how the story is being told). What happened after that is that he found himself charged for the homemade gun. That's what he could face up to 40 years in prison for.
Today, Christian Davenport provides an update
noting that "in a hearing Monday, the prosecution changed course and recommended that Duvall be admitted to counseling overseen by a new Veterans Treatment Court. If the counseling is completed, the charges, which carried a 40-year prison sentence, would be dropped." The US Attorney for the Western Distric of Virginia, Timothy Heaphy, stated the change stemmed from them re-examing the case.
Turning to Iraq where Aswat al-Iraq reports
that in the last months over 34 women in the city of Karbala attempted to take their own lives via "pills or medicine and some of them use rodenticides." (If you're not sure but thinking, "That 'rodenticide' looks like rodent posion," you are correct.) Women trying to take their own lives in Iraq since the start of the Iraq War usually do so out of some 'honor' issue. For example, they may have something recently take place that would be deemed an "honour" issue. They may fear it coming out or it may already be out and a close relative may be threatening to kill the woman if she does not take her own life. In 2007, for example, women and girls were showing up in Sulaimaniyah emergency room with burns caused by cooking fuel and blame the burns on an accident while cooking. Now it appears that women are once again attempting to take their own lives and the Iraqi system (thus far) hasn't demonstrated that it can address these sort of issues.
I've also seen quite a few women who've burned themselves. They're of a type: young, married and very poor. Their families, fearing disgrace, always deny that the women have tried to commit suicide. But as we press them, the story gradually changes. Burns, which often cover most of their bobides, are one of the toughest aspects of my E.R. work -- along with blast victims. I never really get over these things.
But what angers me most is that, if they survive, these women almost never get any counseling or psychiatric help -- though they are often abused, deeply angry and severely damaged even before they come to the emergency room.
These women are especially at risk in a health care system in which overworked doctors like me focus only on saving lives; healing their invisible wounds is another story. Even though Iraqis have been living in a violent, unstable environment for years, there is still no culture of mental health care here. It has little to no support from the state or haalth authorities, and people who do seek psychiatric help are stigmatized by their families and society: these two truths reinforce each other. Even blast victims, if they recover, don't get counseling.
That's distressing for women (and there's much more in her piece, please read it), but grasp that the Iraqi population is a young population. It's a country of widows and orphans. And the median age is 19.7 years old. In a country where that's the median age, there are a lot of people struggling already.
Last week, Parliament voted to spend over 50 million dollar buying 350 vehicles -- armored vehicles -- for themselves. There was an immediate uproar among many Iraqis over this move. The uproar has not yet died down (and may not). Aswat al-Iraq notes
that the head of the Iraqiya bloc in Parliament, MP Salman al-Jumaili, declared today that the money insted should be used to compensate Iraqis who are the victims of terrorism. Kitabat reports
that cleric Moqtada al Sadr (who controls approximately 40 seats in the Parliament and whose bloc is part of the ruling National Alliance) decried the move and has branded it a "disgrace." He states the money should instead be going to the Iraqi poor who are without water, food, I home, security and safety. He stated anyone who rides in them is betraying the Iraqi people. Al Rafidyan has
al-Sadr calling it a stain and those riding in them are traitors to the Iraqi people, to Iraq and disobeying Allah.
Over the weekend, the big news from the Sadr camp was Moqtada al-Sadr likening Nouri to a dictator (and glory hog). Pakistan's The News noted
that Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement last night which declared of Nouri al-Maliki, "The dictator of the government is trying to make all the accomplishments as though they were his accomplishments, and if he cannot he will try to hinder these accomplishments and erase them." The paper notes that his bloc is a member of the National Alliance, as is Nouri's, and that this may "indicate a new round of political conflict" for Iraq. Now Aswat al-Iraq reports
that two State of Law stooges are insisting that relations are just fine, thank you very much, between Nouri and Moqtada and they doubt Moqtada even said what he's quoted as saying. They're like two children seeing Mommy and Daddy fight. Meanwhile Al Mada reports
that Ibrahim al-Jaafari is attempting to heal the rift between Dawa (Dawa is Nouri's political party; State of Law is his political slate) and the Sadrists. The former prime minister (al-Jaafari) is attempting to smooth over the differences which erupted after Moqtada declared Iraq had a new dictatorship. Some feel the statements are part of a negotiation strategy on the part of the al-Sadr bloc regarding the upcoming Amnesty Law which could allow many members of Moqtada's militia that were arrested nearly three years ago to be released.
Nouri really can't afford to have many more rifts these days. He already has the Kurdish Alliance, Iraqiya and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq calling for him to return to the Erbil Agreement which ended Political Stalemate I. Nouri started Political Stalemate II (the current crisis) when he discarded the Erbil Agreement. He's also demanded the Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post and that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested on terrorism -- al-Mutlaq and al-Hashemi are both members of Iraqiya which came in first in the March 2010 elections (his State of Law came in second). Dar Addustour notes
Nouri's again huffing that the Baghdad judiciary must be listened to (Nouri controls the Baghdad judiciary, they are not independent). In another report, they note
that Nouri's insisting (via surrogates) that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi is trying to inflame tensions between Nouri and Saudi Arabia by declaring that Nouri is targeting Tareq al-Hashemi because he is a Sunni. The government of Saudi Arabia is well aware that Tareq al-Hashemi and Saleh al-Mutlaq are Sunnis. They're also well aware of the fact that Nouri is Shi'ite. They don't trust Nouri because they see him as too close with the Tehran government (which is also Shi'ite). Ayad Allawi tends to stress the Iraqiya issue and not the Sunni aspect. (Allawi is Shi'ite.) And, as leader of Iraqiya, it would make sense for him to stress the Iraqiya aspect first and foremost.Al Mada also notes
Nouri's remarks and these come when various parties in Parliament thought they would be addressing the al-Hashemi issue and members of the prep committee for the national conference to resolve the political crisis thought the three presidencies (President Jalal Talabani, Nouri and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi) would be resolving it. Saturday Aswat al-Iraq reported
that MP Ahmed al-Massari, who serves on the prep committee, is declaring that al-Mutlaq's case will be decided by the "the three presidencies" (that's Talabani, Nouri and Osama al-Nujaifi). There's no unified opinion on al-Hashemi's case, the MP stated, but he noted "that the two working papers of Iraqiya and National Allaince blocs were unified, containing most of Arbil agreement items." Al Mada reported
that the issue of al-Mutlaq will be resolved by Parliament.
Nouri's paranoid. We've noted his intense paranoia since 2006. US State Dept cables note it beginning in 2008. There's really no denying it. Iraq's set to finally host the Arab Summit. It was postponed twice in 2011. (And may get postponed this year due to Iraqi violence.) Right now it looks like a go. But Nouri's paranoia swells and travels. So instead of encouraging the Arab Summit and talking it up, Alsumaria TV reports
Nouri declared today that Iraq is stillt argeted and that all sorts of external actors are trying to destroy it.
Al Mada notes
the paranoid whispers that Qatar is plotting to take over the Arab Summit, to steal it from Baghdad.
Today's violence included a Falluja bombing which left 1 Sahwa leader injured
. Sahwa, also known as "Awakenings" and "Sons of Iraq" are resistance fighters who stopped fighting when put on the US payroll. Nouri was supposed to integrate them into the security forces and other government jobs but has not.
Many fled from Baghdad starting in 2006 due to the violence, at least 300,000 according to the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy Martin Kobler. Aswat al-Iraq notes
that he declared in a Green Zone press conference yesterday that 1.3 million Iraqis remain internally displaced. The Boston Globe notes
UN diplomat Claire Bourgeois states that the Baghdad government has not done enough to assist the homeless in Iraq. The United Nations News Center quotes
Our collective responsibility is to ensure that the displaced are adequately cared for as long as they live in displacement, while measures are being taken to plan for their sustainable return, resettlement and local integration, the three key pillars of a durable solutions strategy. No durable solution can be achieved without the express consent of those on whose behalf it [the strategy] is being implemented.
By ensuring that those who fled the cruelty of violence that befell this country in the past years can safely return to their homes -- or, where return is not possible, that they are given a free choice of resettling or integrating in a place of their choosing -- we help restore their rights. We recognize them as citizens of this country, who are entitled to a life in dignity, like all other Iraqis.
Dignity is what the Iraqi youth called for on Saturday. Al Mada reported
Iraqis turned out in Baghdad's Tahrir Square today demanding reform on the anniversary of the wave of youth protests that began last year on February 25th. (If your new to last year's protests, click here for a CNN iReport
with links to various videos.) Banners carried had slogans on them such as "OIL FOR THE PEOPLE, NOT THE THIEVES" and "MALIKI'S GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED." Siham al-Zubaidi explained her view and that of her peers who were protesting: Nouri al-Maliki has had a year since Iraqi youths began making their demands and he has changed nothing, he has met none of the demands on safety, electricity or job creation.
An unidentified male protester states that crowd is smaller now because a number of people have sold their peers and conscience out for government money. He also noted that Nouri's security forces were present not to protect the peaceful demonstrators but to protect the Green Zone. Al Mada notes that Najaf also saw Iraqis protesting today. Dar Addustour added
that the demonstrators called for Nouri's government to resign and that banners denounced the decision of the Parliament to spend at least $50 million on the purchase of 350 armored vehicles for members of Parliament. Dar Addustour offers some idiotic statements by an idiot named Mohammed Chihod whom they wrongly identify with the National Alliance.
Yes, Chihod is with the National Alliance. But he's State of Law. And when he blathers on with lies to defend Nouri, it's the State of Law that needs to be disclosed to readers. So Liar Mohammed says that the protesters are wrong in their call for a resignation, that there can be no resignations because these leaders were elected by the people. Calling for Nouri and his cabinet to resign is perfectly acceptable and not one of them was elected to a Cabinet post or prime minister by the people. The people voted for members of Parliament. (And their will was ignored.) And even though they voted for MPs, they still have the right to call for their resignation. The one who's "wrong" isn't the Iraqi people, it's liars like Mohammed Chihod who apparently are also illiterate since he can't read and comprehend his country's Constitution. He's such a sweetheart for Nouri, you'd almost think the two men were engaged and planning a wedding.Aswat al-Iraq noted
, "Laith M. Redha, member of a youth group told Aswat al-Iraq that another group of demonstrators will hold their activities in Culture Street of Mutanabi. He added that the demonstrators will commemorate this occasion and demand the reforms which were promised by the government a year ago, eradicating corruption, availability of services and electricity."
Turning to the United States where the Academy Awards were just handed out last night so apparently it's now time to work ourselves into yet another tizzy over awards. Jarreau Joseph Weber (Death And Taxes) reports
that there are 231 people nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. It's not a prize we take seriously but one of the nominees is Bradley Manning. Weber notes that Bradley "was arrested in May 2010 after allegedly leaking more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, 400,000 U.S. Army reports about Iraq and another 90,000 about Afghanistan -- the biggest leak of classified documents in U.S. history. Manning was in solitary confienment for nine months before formal charges were brought against him last week. "
Michael Ratner: I went down to Fort Meade on Wednesday -- on Thursday for Bradley Manning's arraignment and, of course, getting into Fort Meade, it gives me the willies just going near the place because basically it's one of a thousand bases the US has all over the world -- a thousand bases that the US has all over the world. And I went to Bradley Manning's arraignment. You have to go through -- your car gets inspected, you have to have license, insurance, and you go into this really antiseptic courtroom where there were only 20 of us in the entire courtroom. There were ten press and ten spectators including some resister people, Bradley Manning Defense Committee. And Manning walked in wearing his dress uniform, very moving scene to see Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker, of the collateral helicopter -- Collateral Murder videotape, of the diplomatic cables and of hundreds of thousands of pieces of information from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Heidi Boghosian: How did he look, Michael?
Michael Ratner: He didn't look that bad. I mean, he looked quiet and everything. He only said a few words which was "Your honor." Arraignment is when you're supposed to plead guilty or not guilty. They deferred the plea till another time, they talked about motions. But, you know, I'll give you -- and then we'll go back to some hard pitching -- and I can talk more about this. But I'm sitting in that courtroom and it's a very antiseptic courtroom. It's like hospital room. It has a Celotex ceiling. It has sort of newish carpet, but, you know, sort of the thin, industrial carpet, some wooden benches. And we're sitting there and there's three of the guys with brass all over them at the prosecution table and then there's Manning's formerly military counsel but now he's a civilian so he doesn't wear a uniform and a couple of people next to him and there's Bradley Manning sitting there. And, you know, you sit in that courtroom and you say, "Here's the person who revealed probably more about US War Crimes -- if it's true what they allege -- than any single person in US history." And what I thought was present in that courtroom, was not the brass, was not the spectators, but what was really present and what was looking on was really the Reuters journalists who were murdered from the US helicopter, were the children who were killed, were the thousands of civilians watching who'd been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, those are the real people in that courtroom watching that trial. And the people who should be on trial are not Bradley Manning, are the United States government who authorized an utterly illegal war including every member of Congress who voted for it -- that's who should be there. Bradley Manning is a whistle blower and the real witnesses to that are the spirits of the dead who the US has murdered all over the world.
is political prisoner. She's an attorney, the people's attorney, willing to take the cases that weren't pretty or didn't have a big pay off. Because of the 'crime' of issuing a press release, she was put on trial -- a show trial in Manhattan which attempted to link Lynne and 9-11 -- under the Bush administration. Under the Barack administration, things got even worse. The judge sentences her to about two years. Not good enough decides the Barack administration, who made the judge 'review' the sentence. Lynne was then slammed with a ten year sentence. She's a breast cancer survivor and a grandma, she's over 70-years-old. She's been moved to a Texas prison (on a military base) far, far from her husband and partner Ralph Poynter. Tomorrow people gather at Tom Paine Park in NYC to show their support at sundown. Wednesday, supporters will be taking part at Occupy The Courts at 500 Pearl Street begining at nine in the morning. Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith addressed the targeting of Lynne on today's live broadcast.
Heidi Boghosian: Lynne, if you don't know, was made to be a poster child for the government's so-called War On Terror. They gave her a harsh sentence merely for issuing a press release for one of her clients who was held in maximum security.
Michael S. Smith: Well, they didn't even -- when she did it, nothing happened to her.
Heidi Boghosian: Exactly.
Michael S. Smith: Because nothing ever happened to anybody because of that.
Heidi Boghosian: [Then Attorney General] Janet Reno gave her a slap on the wrist but it wasn't until --
Michael S. Smith: The Clinton administration let it slide. When Bush --
Heidi Boghosian: Right, when Bush came in.
Michael S. Smith: They thought, "Well we're going to make an example out of her." And they turned around and they prosecuted her on some b.s. charges for something she had done years before. And they wanted to make sure that they scared attorneys so they wouldn't represent people accused by the United States of terrorism.
And that's why the government went after Lynne. To intimidate others. They're trying to turn her into the modern day equivalent of a severed head impaled upon a pike, to warn other attorneys not to take the difficult cases and challenge the government. The locking up of Lynne is an attack on democracy and an attack on our judicial system and all that we're supposed to stand for in the United States. Lynne needs to be set free. (And if Barack Obama had the character to do that, not only would I vote for him, I'd donate the maximum amount to his campaign and then donate more to his superpac. But he has no character and can't even feel for a woman who gave to her community, who gave to the law and who now sits behind bars for something as insane as issuing a press release.)