Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

A Little Torture

Posted in Barack Obama, law, politics, prison, torture, War on Drugs by allisonkilkenny on April 17, 2009

justice“There is no such thing as a little torture.” — Alfred M. McCoy, author of A Question of Torture

The Bush administration is really an impressive force of nature. Whenever I was absolutely certain that their dastardly deeds couldn’t possibly get any more nefarious, Dick Cheney shot a family friend in the face, or George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to invade another country. When they finally left office, I assumed they couldn’t harm America’s reputation ever again.

I was wrong. The Justice Department finally made the infamous memos that sanctioned torture public this week. The details are horrific. Not only are barbaric measures like “walling” (slamming a person into a wall,) and stress positions deemed acceptable by legal experts, but also more inventive interrogation methods like placing live bugs in a confinement box (and telling the prisoner they’ll sting him). 

Politicians repeatedly regurgitate the fairy tale that America is a Nation of Laws. Except, the laws get broken all the time, and the archetypes of anarchy usually aren’t held accountable. Barack Obama has sought to reassure CIA operates, who participated in torture, that they can use the same defense Nazis could not use during Nuremberg. Namely, that they were just “following orders.”

This doesn’t bode well for justice enthusiasts, who hoped that maybe (just maybe) the Big Guys would be help accountable this time. That maybe John Yoo, Douglas Feith, Jay Bybee, Dick Cheney, David Addington, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and William Haynes would have to stand before the American people and explain why they thought sanctioning torture was acceptable.

That maybe they would finally have to explain why a little torture was okay.

We are a nation of laws only if the people in charge get to benefit from the rulings. We are a nation of laws only up until Lynndie England, but justice stops short of Donald Rumsfeld. We are a nation of laws for thieves and crooks, but justice can’t touch Goldman Sachs CEOs. The hypocrisy is rampant. It infests every facet of the justice system, and has left us with a broken two-tier system of justice.

The debate over torture is frequently aimed at Guantanamo. However, the problem is also domestic, although the victims are still the unprivileged. While the United States is home to just five percent of the world’s population, it contains 25% of the world’s prisoners. More than one in 100 adults are in prison. Most of those prisoners aren’t homicidal sociopaths. They’re nonviolent drug offenders. America is the only western industrialized country to still use the death penalty, but apparently injecting someone will a chemical that paralyzes their organs doesn’t constitute torture, even though the Nazis used the same method. Those that live inside our prison-industrial complex experience a form of torture every day. Prisoners face the threat of rape and are more likely to contract H.I.V., hepatitis and tuberculosis. 

This kind of domestic torture is frequently overlooked because it’s the “right people” suffering. Bad guys. Bottom-tier justice types: poor people, immigrants, people of color. And after all, it’s only a little torture. Terrorists and criminals deserve whatever happens to them. Waterboarding doesn’t even count as torture! It’s just a light spritz in the face! (Of course, even Bush’s own legal team knew it was torture and expressed their concern in footnote form.)

This cartoonish, simplified scope of reality would be laughable had it not been the ideologies held by the Bush administration for eight years. Innocent people are accused of crimes all the time. That’s why our smart ancestors put in place that whole “justice system” in the first place. Ya’ know, that thing about being able to face one’s accusers and present evidence to defend one’s self.

If justice is to come to Guantanamo (and it should,) it must also come to the United State’s domestic prisons where draconian drug laws continue case overcrowding and strain stark resources, which then breeds inhumane conditions. If justice is to come to torture victims, it must mean than the archetypes of the torture memos will stand beside the CIA agents that carried out the orders.

The American two-tier justice system must end, and a good start would be for the Obama administration to recognize that a little torture is never okay, no matter who is doing it.

Drunken Politics Talks With Irish Comic/Lawyer, Keith Farnan, About the Death Penalty

Posted in comedy, human rights, politics by allisonkilkenny on February 11, 2009

Listen here: http://www.breakthruradio.com/index.php?show=6091.

Keith Farnan

Keith Farnan

Feel free to repost & tell your friends about the hilarity and all the KNOWLEDGE they’re about to get dropped on their heads.

Drunken Politics is on BTR (Breakthru Radio) every Wednesday.

Drunken Politics on Facebook.

Drunken Politics on Myspace.

“Reform,” Bobby Jindal Style

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on December 17, 2008

James Rucker

Albert Woodfox

Albert Woodfox


We may be on the brink of inaugurating a Black president, but the miscarriage of justice unfolding in Louisiana with the case of the Angola 3 tells a different story about race, power and accountability in our criminal justice system. At the top of the food chain is self-styled reformer and the GOP’s supposed answer to Obama,Governor Bobby Jindal.

Albert Woodfox has spent the last 36 years in solitary confinement — 23 out of 24 hours each day in a 6×9 cell — for the murder of a white prison guard, a crime he didn’t commit.

Despite increasing evidence of Woodfox’s innocence, the State of Louisiana is digging in its heels. They’ve pushed back against a federal judge who has overturned Woodfox’s conviction and ordered his release. The reason is becoming crystal clear: It’s not because they believe that Woodfox or the other two people referred to as the “Angola 3” murdered anyone. It’s because the three men were organizing within the prison for better conditions, an end to sexual abuses, and the fair treatment of inmates. Apparently, in Louisiana, seeking justice means you deserve to be framed for murder and locked away forever.

James “Buddy” Caldwell, the state’s Attorney General, has led the state’s fight and Burl Cain, the warden at Angola, is acting as Caldwell’s henchman. Ultimately, it’s Governor Bobby Jindal who is giving them cover despite being presented with all the facts and being asked repeatedly to intervene. So much for the promise of Jindal and his self-description as a “reformer.”

A look at recent proceedings shows that the desire to keep Woodfox behind bars has nothing to do with whether Woodfox is guilty or innocent. Cain has made it clear that he doesn’t care. Cain wants him behind bars for no reason other than the fact that Woodfox has been a force for reform from within the prison walls. Says Cain, “The thing about him is that he wants to demonstrate. He wants to organize. He wants to be defiant.” Cain has said that even if he knew Woodfox hadn’t killed the guard, he would still want the man isolated. “I still would not want him walking around my prison because he would organize the young new inmates,” Cain said. It’s not that Woodfox is dangerous. It’s that he is unrepentant in organizing inmates to achieve a basic sense of decency and livable conditions.

Several months before Judge James Brady overturned Woodfox’s conviction, more than 25,000 ColorOfChange.org members appealed to Governor Jindal to get involved. The head of the state legislature’s judiciary committee, Cedric Richmond, delivered the petitions to Governor Jindal and requested he intervene. Around the same time, Congressman John Conyers, chair of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, met with both Woodfox and Herman Wallace (one of the other Angola 3) and has publicly called for intervention. Jindal’s response has been utter silence.

In recent weeks, as pressure has mounted for Woodfox to be released, Caldwell, the Attorney General, has gone deeper in attempting to demonize Woodfox. He has taken to publicly referring to Woodfox as a “serial rapist,” a completely unsubstantiated claim. Once bail was ordered and it was expected that Woodfox would be released, Caldwell’s office clandestinely contacted members of the gated community where Woodfox was supposed to live, telling them that a murderer would soon be living among them. Woodfox had been planning to live with his niece. She and her family have now been subject to harassment, and the option of Woodfox living with her has been made virtually impossible.

We’ve seen unequal and unfair justice before in Louisiana. We can just look back at the case of the Jena 6 a year and a half ago. In that case, six black boys were charged with second-degree murder at the hands of a District Attorney who threatened that he could “take away [the students’] lives with a stroke of [his] pen.” The threat followed black students protesting the hanging of a noose above a “white tree” at their school, with the charges coming after a racially-charged fight characterized by some as a school-yard fight, where the victim was white.

In the case of the Jena 6, there was an outcry from across the country, culminating in a march of more than 20,000 in the town of Jena. While leaders across the country decried the injustice in Jena, surprisingly, Jindal called those protesting “outside agitators” — a phrase that echoed racist Southerners’ response to Civil Rights-era organizing efforts.

While Governor Jindal claims to be a reformer and has his eyes on the White House, his silence in the Angola 3 case and his language around the case of the Jena 6 tell a different story. His idea of “reform” seems more like an empty slogan and catchy rhetoric than something he’s willing to put into practice. Perhaps it’s time to confront Jindal and ask him what his idea of reform looks like.

The Least Worst Trap: Talking with Ralph Nader

Posted in Barack Obama by allisonkilkenny on October 28, 2008

On Sunday, the War on Terror spilled into Syria, and the only people more surprised than the Syrians are Americans. See, the war has already spilled into Pakistan. It’s unclear where the United States will be heading next, but I hear Kazakhstan is hunkered down and braced for an attack at any moment. Sure, they’re a member of NATO and the UN, and have nothing to do with any of this, but their funny-sounding name and population of foreigners is working against their innocence. All it will take to gain popular support for an air assault is the presence of American ignorance regarding Kazakhstan’s people, policies, and culture. Bad news Kazakhstan: we have no idea who you are. Head for the hills!

Even as the war expands, the definition of victory remains opaque. Though the Bush administration has no long-term vision of what a stable Middle East looks like (Bush has said something about an Iraqi ‘Mickey D’s being a ‘sweet idea’)several senior American officials simply expressed hope that the unwise war policies of preemption and perpetual, borderless war would “be embraced by the next president as well.” And these policies will be embraced unless the American people demand something different from their leaders.

At home, people are losing their jobs and their homes, while their tax dollars go to bailing out corporate crooks who base their livelihoods on speculative lending, shady mortgages, and outsourcing American jobs overseas. The policies of corporate socialism (where tax dollars go to bailing out huge corporations) will also continue unless the American people stand up and say no more.

In desperate times, the American people have a history of embracing the least worst politician, but it’s time they demand more from the next president of the United States. It’s time to transcend pretty rhetoric and empty promises. The new president must aggressively embrace a Progressive agenda or it will be impossible to reverse the damage committed over the past few decades.

Ralph Nader, Independent Party presidential candidate, has been pleading with the American people to demand more from their leaders. Unsurprisingly, the corporately sponsored Commission on Presidential Debates did not permit Nader into the debates, even though a majority of the American people supported opening the debates to other party candidates.

Regardless of how one feels about his presence in the 2008 election, Ralph Nader is undeniably the leader of the last real Progressive wave in this country. It was because of his uncompromising vision that Congress passed the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Just during the 5-year period between 2002 and 2006, seat belts have saved over 75,000 lives (PDF). His list of Progressive accomplishments includes the Clean Air and Water Acts, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the Freedom of Information Act.

Ralph Nader and his army of conscientious citizens were the last organized, serious movement that demanded accountability from Washington.

The so-called Progressives today are allowing Barack Obama to compromise on everything from FISA to the anti-war movement. But even as he votes for telecom immunity and talks about Afghanistan as the good war, Obama has never lied about being a Progressive. In fact, he seems rather confused that any of his followers think he’ll be anything but a centrist in the White House. Progressive groups that score Obama with a 50% approval rating seem confused by this as well.

The Progressives have pinned their hopes and dreams to a man they have asked nothing of, and they’re going to be sorely disappointed when he, in turn, does nothing for them.

When I interviewed Ralph Nader, he explained what will happen if Barack Obama is elected president:

You take the 20 leading groups supporting him in the liberal-progressive pantheon: labor, anti-poverty, civil rights, women’s rights, gay-lesbian rights, environment, consumer – you name it – not one of them is putting any demands on him. Unconditional voting for the least worst of the two parties means that your vote has no political leverage whatsoever. It allows Obama to take it for granted, and not give the anti-war people anything because he knows he has the anti-war vote. Then they go to the right wing and slice off a few votes there by going more corporate and flip-flopping on offshore drilling. This is the same merry-go-round every four years. The liberal intelligentsia is doomed unless they solve this problem of unconditional voting for the least worst candidate.

Closed debates and apathetic, naïve voters will result in a continuation of Bush’s policies, and Americans will be told to wait another four years for single payer health care, a living wage, the end of the Iraq war, cutting the bloated military budget, ending the death penalty, ending the wasteful War on Drugs, investing in solar power, and the end of nuclear power.
When neither party is talking about any of the above issues, the American people are screwed because they’re at the mercy of a winner-take-all system. Nader explains:

The people are in a two party prison. There can be something like a Green Party in Germany because if you win 5% of the vote you get 5% of the parliament. Here, you’ve got to win 51% or a plurality, which is why people don’t support small starts to make them build into larger movements because they think: well, they’re only 4 or 5% in the polls and I don’t want to waste my vote. It’s time to break out of the prison.

A 4-5% Progressive voice won’t be enough to create real change. And Americans are ready for real change. They don’t want to triangulate and compromise. Compromise results in, as Nader puts it, “a macho competition” between Democrats and Republicans, who disagree on if abortion is a matter of killing babies, but agree on bombing foreign babies every chance they get. The 2008 US military cash-burning extravaganza is currently hovering around the $623 billion mark. That’s more than the rest of the world’s military budgets, combined.

It’s time Progressives stop playing defense and start setting the agenda. They can do that by putting real pressure on Barack Obama if he is elected president. They must organize and demand a stop to the wars, and not settle for, as Obama is suggesting, the continued presence of U.S. bases and private mercenaries. They also must demand publicly funded elections, and an open system that allows the American myth that anyone can run for president to become reality.

Currently, the Military-Industrial Complex, which feeds on war and suffering, controls America. Progressives claim to be the blockade between greedy politicians and federal tax dollars, and yet they are continuing to let Obama get away with catering to the middle.

They make this unforgivable compromise because they’re certain Obama is a radical Progressive simply spouting some centrist rhetoric until he can get into the White House. And then it’s free health care and peace for everybody!

I’m paraphrasing what a California lawyer told me at the Nader-Gonzalez Wall Street bailout rally a few weeks ago. Michelle, the lawyer, and a minority Obama supporter (she came to the rally because she was curious,) said she was absolutely 100% certain that Barack Obama was a Progressive, and he is only saying he’s pro-death penalty and for the bailout because he needs to get elected.

I asked her what evidence she had of this claim. She had none. She just felt it in her heart.

Progressives need to stop acting on what they feel in their hearts and look at what is happening to their leadership. If they don’t collectively demand real, sweeping reform from the next president, then the president will bow to the only real pressure he feels – the pressure from corporations and war hawks.

For more information on Ralph Nader, visit: Votenader.org.

Ralph Nader: Stop Voting for the Least Worst

Posted in Barack Obama by allisonkilkenny on October 28, 2008

Transcript taken from Ralph Nader’s interview with Drunken Politics

More info is here: Votenader.org

On Corporate debates

Every major poll since 2000 has registered that a majority of the American people want Ralph Nader on the debates.

[In order for a third party candidate to get into the debates] five major polling companies have to poll 15% or higher that people want Nader/Gonzalez on the ticket. But the Commission on Presidential Debates won’t release the names of the polling organizations. And they won’t name the media conglomerates that owns the polling organizations. So if the media isn’t covering third party candidates, they obviously don’t poll well.

So we called Gallup, and asked if they are one of the five. They are. But Gallup said they don’t poll Nader/Gonzalez. This is classic deception. The whole thing is a commercial corporate rigged system designed to keep us off the debates. The game is corporate fascism.

 Only a multi-billionaire like Michael Bloomberg could buy his way onto the debates by purchasing air time. It’s like what FDR said to Congress in 1938 “When government is controlled by private economic power, that’s fascism.”

So we know what the diagnosis is. The question is: what is the prescription?

In 2012, starting in early January, major national and local citizen groups in a massive coalition should get on a letterhead, lay out the entire schedule of 25 debates from Boston to San Diego, Miami to Seattle, for all the presidential candidates who have enough theoretical electoratal college states to win the election. That way, the dynamic shifts from the two parties, who control the agenda and have the photo opportunities, and sweep through certain states and ignore most of the states because they’re slam-dunk Republican or slam-drunk Democrat, and shift the entire power to shape the agenda into citizen groups, who then become participators, and not spectators.

 On the Progressive Platform

What’s going on here is the concentration of too much wealth and power in the hands of the few. And they make decisions for the many. So it’s not surprising that the Nader/Gonzalez campaign and the agenda, which is supported by the majority of the American people: Single payer health, living wage getting out of iraq, cutting the bloated military budget, solar power first, no to nucleur power, is opposed by the minority of power brokers. That’s why we’re exluded from the debates.

It’s not our agenda, it’s your agenda.

The people are in a two party prison. The system is rigged, electoral college, winner take all. There can be something like a Green party in Germany because if you win 5% of the vote you get 5% of the parliament. Here, you’ve got to win 51% or a plurality, which is why people don’t support small starts to make them build into larger movements because they think: well, they’re only 4 or 5% in the polls and I don’t want to waste my vote. It’s time to break out of the prison.

Unfortunately, the only person who could do that is a mega-billionaire with liberal tendencies, who will blow the two parties into a three-way race. That’s coming. Mayor Bloomberg could have done that this year.

On Afghanistan Being Portrayed as the “Good War”

Afghanistan will be Obama’s Vietnam. He’ll sink in that quagmire. Just putting more soldiers in there controlling a high-tech attack on a low-tech resistance will kill a lot of civilians. And it already has and it’ll be more: wedding parties blown up, villagers blown up, children blown up, and that enflames and vastly expands the resistance in those rugged mountains. Nobody conquers those people. The British Empire tried twice and failed, the SU poured everything it had and failed, and the US will fail.

The finance Administrator for Karzai and head of the Afghan national university said you don’t do it that way. You do it through negotiation with tribal chieftons, by public works, by creating jobs, by getting these tribes that have a stake in passifying the area, but Obama, who’s father was an African from Kenya, he should know better, says to pour the soldiers in so he can show he’s more macho than McCain.

It was a macho battle in the third debate. Obama matched him in supporting the militaristic repression and exploitation and colonization of Palestine and its people, in being beligerant toward Iran, and in being beligerant toward Russia. This man is going to be the biggest disappointment ever. He’s a brilliant tactician and he’s pulled something off that nobody could have predicted, but he is going to be the biggest disappointment for Liberals and Progressives that they have ever seen. This is the biggest political con job in the last century, the Barack Obama victory. There’s no mandate. He just floated in. He had an easy act to follow. The Wall Street collapse opened the gap with McCain, who isn’t the greatest campaigner, and who wanted to be a clone of Bush, a disastourous tactical mistake for a so-called Maverick.

You take the 20 leading groups supporting him in the liberal-progressive pantheon: labor, anti-poverty, civil rights, women’s rights, gay-lesbian rights, environment, consumer – you name it – not one of them is putting any demands on him.

Unconditional voting for the least worst of the two parties means that your vote has no political leverage whatsoever. It allows Obama to take it for granted, and not give the anti-war people anything because He knows he has the anti-war vote.  Just like Kerry turned his back on the anti-war movement. Then they go to the right wing and slice off a few votes there by going more corporate and flip-flop on offshore drilling. The same merry-go-around every 4 years.

The liberal intelligensia is doomed unless they solve this problem of unconditional voting for the least worst candidate.

On the Death Penalty/War on Drugs/ Cynthia McKinney

I’ve been against the death penalty since I was a student at Harvard Law school in the 1950s when I saw what kind of defense accused people of impoverished means got when they were prosecuted. They got the most incompetent lawyers, that meant a lot of innocent people got executed just for lack of effective defense. Some of these laywers are so bad they fall asleep in the middle of proceedings.

The death penalty doesn’t deter crime. And it’s much more expensive to proceed on a capital case toward execution than it is life imprisonment without parole. It’s always the poor and minorities who have the huge proportion of people that are executed. Finally, there’s a moral issue. Even Bill Clinton executed a retarded prisoner. Other western states don’t have the death penalty.

We’re for a national amnesty for all non-violent drug offenders. Let them out of jail and use the empty cells and fill them with convicted, corporate crooks. That will also improve prison conditions because powerful convicts just won’t stand for the food.

We don’t send nicotine addicts to jail, and cigarettes take 400,000 lives a year, 40 times what hard drugs do. And we don’t send alcoholics to jail. Why do we send drug addicts to jail? We’re not talking about kingpins. This isn’t a criminial issue. This is a health issue.

800,000 young people in this country are arrested every year in this country for possession mostly of small amounts of marijuana. This is madness, not to mention the billions of dollars this costs taxpayers.

On if Nader’s Raiders Would Be Possible Today

It would possible to form it, but the doors (in Washington) have slammed shut. That’s why I’m running for office. I’m trying to mobilize civic energy. Most of those citizen groups, and many of them I’ve started, just don’t like to admit that they are working harder and harder for virtually nothing. It’s corporate occupied territory. There isn’t one department agency, including departtment of labor that isn’t controlled by corporate influence inside and out. Look at the Treasury, Goldman Sachs veterans going to Washington to bail out their buddies, department of defense, deptartment of agriculture, interior, and so on. Either we organize new institutions, political institutions, or shut down and go watch the whales in Monterey.

The liberals and progressives just don’t want to face reality.  It’s over, and it’s over with the Democrats, too.

The Democrats just thumb their noses at the groups that say you can’t pass the $700 billion bailout like this with a little Barney Frank and Chris Dodd window dressing. You’ve got to have reregulation now. This is when Washington had Wall Street over a barrel. You give authority to shareholders to control their out-of-control bosses, you make the speculators pay for their own bailouts with a 1/10 of 1% of a derivatives’ transaction sales tax. People pay 6-8% sales tax on necessities in stores as we’re speaking and there’s no sales tax on billions of dollars traded every day. It’s $500 trillion traded this year, so 1/10 of 1% would produce $500 billion. We need a speculation tax. But they’re too cowardly to even do that.

So they gave a blank check and said: ‘oh, we’ll look at it next year.’ These people are cowards. Aside from Kucinich and one or two other people, they’re cowards.

Help Save Troy Davis’s Life!

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on October 17, 2008

Amnesty International:

Help Save Troy Anthony Davis’ Life

Troy Anthony Davis has been languishing on Georgia’s death row for over 15 years for purportedly killing an off-duty police officer. There are serious questions about his guilt given that:

  • There is no physical evidence linking him to the offense, and no murder weapon has been found.
  • Eyewitnesses have recanted their stories.
  • There are accusations of police intimidation of witnesses.

On Monday, October 13, 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to review his appeal, and a warrant of execution has been issued.

Take Action: Urge the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to Commute the Death Sentence of Troy Anthony Davis.

Here are excerpts from the affidavits of witnesses who changed the testimony they had given at Troy’s trial:

“[The police] were telling me that I was an accessory to murder and that I would … go to jail for a long time and I would be lucky if I ever got out, especially because a police officer got killed…I was only sixteen and was so scared of going to jail.”

“After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it because I cannot read … I was totally unsure whether he was the person who shot the officer. I felt pressured to point at him … I have no idea what the person who shot the officer looks like.”

“The police came and talked to me and put a lot of pressure on me…. They wanted me to tell them that Troy confessed to me about killing that officer. The thing is, Troy never told me anything about it. I got tired of them harassing me …. I told them that Troy did it, but it wasn’t true.”

“[T]here was and is no doubt in my mind that the person who shot the officer had the gun in and was shooting with his left hand.”  Davis is right-handed.

Take Action: Urge the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to Commute the Death Sentence of Troy Anthony Davis.

Severe cuts to Georgia’s legal defense resources meant that two lawyers represented close to 160 people on death row, including Davis, when he needed critical work done for his appeals.  Also, in 1996, Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which increased restrictions on appeals.  No court would hear the new evidence – the witness recantations.  Davis was turned down throughout his appeals, including at the US Supreme Court.

Davis came within 23 hours of execution in July, 2007. Then, the Georgia Supreme Court said it would consider his “extraordinary motion for a new trial” appeal in August, 2007 and held a hearing in November.  On March 17, 2008, the court rejected his appeal on “overly rigid” (dissenting Judge Sears) technicalities setting an impossibly high bar for the recantations to be considered.

Troy needs your help!  Please send a message to the Georgia Department of Pardons & Paroles, and urge your friends to do the same.

Amnesty International Decries U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Deny Troy Davis Petition

Posted in racism, Supreme Court by allisonkilkenny on October 14, 2008

Amnesty International Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, October 14, 2008        

Amnesty International Decries U.S. Supreme Court Decision
to Deny Troy Davis Petition
—-
Failure to Consider the Evidence Is “Shocking,” Says Human Rights Organization

Contact:  Wende Gozan at (212) 633-4247 or Jared Feuer at (404) 876-5561 x14

(Washington, D.C.) –Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) decried today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to deny a new hearing for Georgia death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis.  The Court had granted Davis a stay of execution just hours before he was scheduled to be put to death while it decided whether to hear the case.  In denying Davis’ petition for a writ of certiorari, the Court has effectively ended a longstanding battle to have new evidence in Davis’ favor heard in a court of law.

“The Supreme Court’s decision is truly shocking, given that significant evidence of Davis’ innocence will never have a chance to be examined,” said Larry Cox, executive director for AIUSA.  “Faulty eyewitness identification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions, and the hallmark of Davis’ case.  This was an opportunity for the Court to clarify the constitutionality of putting the innocent to death – and in Davis’ case, his innocence could only be determined with a new hearing or trial.”

“It is disgraceful that the highest court in the land could sink so low when doubts surrounding Davis’ guilt are so high,” Cox added.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Davis’ petition for writ of certiorari that was submitted on constitutional grounds of due process and cruel and unusual punishment violations if an individual is put to death despite significant claims to innocence.   Davis’ attorneys filed the petition after the Georgia Supreme Court’s narrow 4-3 ruling to deny Davis an evidentiary hearing last March; the ruling was based on technicalities rather than basic questions of guilt and innocence.

Davis was convicted in 1991 of killing Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail.  Authorities failed to produce a murder weapon or any physical evidence tying Davis to the crime.  In addition, seven of the nine original state witnesses have since recanted or changed their initial testimonies in sworn affidavits.  One of the remaining witnesses is alleged to be the actual perpetrator.

Since the launch of its February 2007 report, Where Is the Justice for Me? The Case of Troy Davis, Facing Execution in Georgia, Amnesty International has campaigned intensively for a new evidentiary hearing or trial and clemency for Davis, collecting well over 200,000 clemency petition signatures and letters from across the United States and around the world.  To date, internationally known figures such as Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter have all joined the call for clemency, as well as lawmakers from within and outside of Georgia.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

# # #

For more information about the Troy Davis case, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org/troydavis.