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News

An Important Message to Our Readers

The Toward Freedom Board of Directors welcomes Charlotte Dennett as our Guest Editor.

Charlotte joins us as a seasoned journalist and editor who was recently hailed as “an expert in resource-based politics” by Time magazine for her coverage of politics and resource wars in the Middle East. Her latest book, The Crash of Flight 3804 : A Lost Spy, A Daughter’s Quest, and the Deadly Politics of the Great Game for OiI is an important piece of literature for its historical reporting and personal investigation into the death by plane crash of her father, America’s first master-spy in the Middle East. read more

No Picture
Summer 2004

Electronic Resistance

Young Iranians go digital in their quest for freedom

The fundamentalists’ landslide victory in Iran’s recent “free” elections disheartened Western observers. The CIA declared that the lopsided outcome points to a new era of repression by the country’s clerical regime. In blocking fair elections, clerical hard-liners drove dissent online, lighting up thousands of alternate channels of communication.

In Iran, the Internet is becoming the most successful way to work around oppression. It gives ordinary people access to real news and information. They can express their opinions freely and communicate with Iranians around the world. read more

No Picture
Summer 2004

Silence Is Brutal

Texas “solves” its prison problems by restricting contact with the media

In late March, a jailer at an Arlington, Texas, prison confessed that he helped another jailer rape a female inmate the previous evening. Israel Mouton, a prison employee since 2002, told police that he watched his colleague commit the assault from the jail control room. From there, he could alert his associate if anyone approached. According to both Mouton and the inmate, who was questioned later by investigators, Mouton afterward told the victim via the cell’s intercom, “Don’t say nothing. You don’t know nothing.”
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No Picture
Summer 2004

Military Misdeeds

Back from the fighting, a US vet tells all and refuses to serve

Camilo Mejia joined the Army in 1995 to get college assistance and new experiences. Following a three-year hitch, he joined the Florida National Guard, partly for promised tuition assistance at Florida’s state universities. Mejia, a Nicaraguan citizen, had moved permanently to Miami with his mother when he was 18 years old and is a permanent resident with a green card.


On March 15, 2004, after six months’ duty in Iraq, Staff Sergeant Mejia decided to leave the military and talk about what he saw. His first engagement was a public rally and press conference at the Peace Abbey near Boston, MA. The next day, he submitted a formal application for discharge as a conscientious objector (CO) to Maj. General William G. Webster, Jr., commanding general of Ft. Stewart, Georgia. Mejia provided details of the torture and abuse of detainees he witnessed at Al Assad prison, adjacent to Baghdad’s International airport, in early May 2003.
After his CO application was filed, no one from General Webster’s staff contacted Mejia regarding his allegations. Facing court martial for desertion of duty in Iraq, Mejia based his defense partially on international law violations he witnessed when his unit mistreated Iraqi detainees five months before the period covered by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba’s May 2004 report on Army torture at Abu Ghraib prison.
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No Picture
Summer 2004

Outsourcing Defense

The Quiet Rise of National Security, Inc.

 

Four years ago, candidate George W. Bush promised to make government more efficient, lean, and responsive by looking at whether some federal agencies should be privatized or abolished. On the record, the plan was to start with almost one million federal positions, those said to be “commercially replaceable,” and open them up for private bidding. Shortly after taking office, he took the idea a step further, stating his preference for privatized peacekeeping operations. read more