Weekly Letter to President Obama
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INAUGURATION,   January 20, 2009

Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape

To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.

The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.

Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.

--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
---  Native American proverb
May 3, 2013

Mr. President:  You have again articulated the case for Guantanamo closure.  It is
expensive.  It is bad for the U.S. image, made worse by over a 100 prisoners (out of
177) being on a hunger strike that began in February.  Their protest is against
indefinite detention without conviction.  That's the crux of the issue -- indefinite
detention.  But between 47 and 50 of the prisoners are considered to be too
dangerous to release by the government.  Thus their indefinite detention without trial
will continue at another location according to your plan.  As the hunger strike is
against indefinite detention -- not the balmy weather in Cuba, it is difficult to
understand the logic of closing Guantanamo only to transfer the prisoners to another
location, a gulag within our shores.

It was refreshing to have an American president stand up before Mexican university
students, and identify U.S. demand as a principal cause of the drug problem.  Mexico
has suffered severely with record numbers of killings.  What was left unsaid was the
main reason for them -- the militarization of the war on drugs and the hand of the U.S.
in excluding the police (thought to be too corrupt) and focusing their training on the
military.  The heavy hand of the military raised the stakes and the cartels also
became heavily armed in response.  We have since observed the result, and the
Mexicans are tired of it.

Pakistan, too, has a problem with violence.  Before the 'war on terror', bomb attacks in
the country were a rare occurrence; now these as well as assassinations have
become a language of communication.  Today, a prominent lawyer leading the
prosecution in the
Benezir Bhutto murder case, fell victim to a hail of bullets from a motorcycle assassin
who rode up along side his car as he drove to court.  Religious extremists are
commonly believed to have been behind Benazir's killing, but the kingpins in such
cases are never brought to justice, only the minions who carry out orders.

It reminds me, why would the feudal regimes of Qatar, which boasts a huge U.S.
military presence, and Saudi Arabia, be playing such a leading role against the Syrian
regime?  We need to look ourselves in the mirror and ask if the dead now well past
70,000, the refugees at a million and increasing -- with heaven knows how many dead
children from the cold this winter -- and the destruction of a country, have been worth
it.  This week there were two bomb attacks in the middle of Damascus killing scores.  
The media bypassed the word terrorist -- after all they are ours -- and provided
justification instead by repeated reference to the rebels delivering a message to the
regime that they could attack the heart of government power.  By the way, on
chemical weapons, the Syrians have asked the obvious question as to why they
should resort to them when MIGs with bombs are much more effective.  Meanwhile,
our handiwork in Fallujah with phosphorous and depleted uranium is still bearing fruit
in deformed children and skyrocketing cancer rates.

On the drug question?  Isn't it high time we legalized drugs, removing the vast profits
incentive.  As with the repeal of prohibition, the murder and mayhem of
gangland/cartel wars will disappear, and we can focus our current wasted 'drug war'
resources into addressing the social and medical problems related to drug use.