The Legendary Champion For Non-Violence, Honesty, Justice, and Historical Awareness Has Left Us but His Legacy is Immortal1
May 13, 2016 by Alfred
Following the theme of “Non-Violence” of the last two AP articles, this is a tribute to Michael Ratner who dedicated his life to the most noble pursuit of non-violence, justice, honesty, and accountable and transparent participative democracy.
Michael Ratner died May 11, 2016 in a hospital in Manhattan.
No article can do justice to this noble, humanist, scholarly, gentle, man of the highest principled standards who contributed to humanity’s quest for prosperity via peaceful and harmonious cooperation. Books have and will be written about this phenomenal man.
Michael Ratner was a civil liberties lawyer and was the director of the highly prestigious Center for Constitutional Rights.
This writer had the honor and the pleasure to have met Michael Ratner on a couple of occasions and the last one was in course of presentation of his on the US occupied Cuban territory of Guantanamo, whereto the Cheney/Bush administration dispatched some 800 criminal as well as mostly innocent detainees in order for them to be out of the reach of the U.S. justice system and therefore would also be submitted to torture, all along while the top officials of the Cheney/Bush junta kept repeatedly lying about it, just as they lied when implying that Iraq had something to do with 9/11, or that Iraq had or was developing nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
Ratners’ legal work comprised, inter alia, tending to the legal rights of the victims of the bloody dictatorship of General Pinochet in Chile, who ordered the only state act of terrorism to be carried out in Washington, D.C. which was the assassination of ambassador Orlando Letelier who was killed by a bomb installed in his car which also killed Letelier’s American secretary Roni Moffitt, and severely injured her husband.
General Pinochet came to power via a bloody coup on 9/11 of 1973 during which the noble and honorable democratic President Dr. Salvador Allende, was killed. Thousands of innocent unarmed civilians were tortured and killed or “disappeared” during this criminal dictatorship, who later turned out to also have been unasked as a common thief who stole millions of dollars from the Chilean treasury and deposited them in the Riggs National Bank in Washington, DC.
Notwithstanding, and incomprehensibly, this horrific and sordidly outrageous monster and his right-wing extremist military and civilian acolytes, were literally embraced by none other, than President Nixon, by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who in a memo which was found by NSA Archives researcher and author, Peter Kornbluh, had the temerity to declare to Pinochet that he must not worry about the Congressional criticism leveled at him for his human rights violations, since, as Kissinger said “…we like what you are doing down there...” Incomprehensibly as well, when General Pinochet was indicted while visiting Europe, since his crimes resulted in the torture and deaths of Europeans living in Chile, the arch conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had the bizarre and repulsive audacity to also literally embrace this monstrous general and offer him temporary shelter from the prosecutors.
Ratner represented 54 congressional lawmakers who sought a court order barring President George H.W. Bush from taking the country to war on Iraq without a congressional authorization, and similarly challenged President Clinton’s authority to continue bombings in the former Yugoslavia, where a TV station, as well as the Chinese Embassy were bombed, and this in addition to Clinton’s bombing of Kosovo amid ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.
Ratner advocated strongly on behalf of the Palestinian human and civil rights violations by Israel.
Ratner also defended the Australian journalist Julian Assange for publishing the truths about wrongdoing which was not supposed to become publicly known.
Michael Ratner wrote or co-authored several books such as “The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld : A Prosecution by Book”, “Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in 21st Century America”, “Who Killed Che?: How the CIA Got Away With Murder”, and most particularly of interest to this writer, “Guantanamo : What the World Should Know”.
With respect to Guantanamo, Ratner was instrumental in lifting the curtains of ignorance and historical amnesia coupled to historical insidious revisionism as regards to the real history of this US invaded and occupied territory.
As confirmed by the Office of the Historian of the Department of State of the United States, the United States occupied Cuba before Cuba came into existence, and then later, as a condition for the U.S. to end said occupation and “allow” Cuba to become “independent” the Platt Amendment demanded that the Cuban Government relinquish claims on the Isle of Pines (now known as the Isla de la Juventud), and agree to sell or lease territory for coaling and naval stations to the United States. (This clause ultimately led to the perpetual lease by the United States of Guantánamo Bay.) Finally, the amendment required the Cuban Government to conclude a treaty with the United States that would make the Platt amendment legally binding, and the United States pressured the Cubans to incorporate the terms of the Platt Amendment in the Cuban constitution.
Later, as shown in a Cuban history timeline, segments of which are herein incorporated, on June 10 1898, U.S. marines landed on the Guantanamo bay during the Spanish-American War. Guantánamo “has been under unrivaled U.S. control since the Spanish-American war concluded in 1898,” writes Daniel P. Erickson in The Cuba Wars: Fidel Castro, The United States and The Next Revolution.
In 1903 U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt signed an agreement with Cuba’s new government, leasing the bay for 2,000 gold coins per year. The agreement was forced on the new Cuban government, and gave the U.S. navy permission to occupy the bay.
After the Platt Amendment was annulled in 1934, a new lease was negotiated between the Roosevelt administration and a Cuban government that included dictator Fulgencio Batista as one of three signatories. Batista emerged as the strong man on the island over the next twenty-five years.
When the popular Cuban Revolution triumphed in 1959, the new Cuban government requested that Guantánamo be returned to Cuba.
To this day the illegal occupation of Guantanamo remains so and this occupation remains a major obstacle to the progress that the establishment of relations with Cuba took place after 47 years, and to this day President Obama, who along with Pope Francis, deserve credit for beginning to end the abusive treatment of Cuba during said years, has been blocked by mostly neocon but as well neolib corrupted politicians of closing Guantanamo and ending the occupation. The closure requires the transferring of the remaining, inmates of Guantanamo, many of who have been tortured but not charged, to the United States for a due process trial or to allow said mostly “suspects” to return to their home countries or to countries willing to give them asylum.
The exception to such a transfer has been that of some six of the inmates to Uruguay.
The last time this writer briefly saw Michael Ratner was during the celebration of the opening of the Cuban embassy on 16th Street in Washington, DC at the same day the U.S embassy was opened in Havana.
Michael Ratner leaves a legacy which will be more fully recognized if the only qualified leader for the 2016 presidential election, obviously Bernard Sanders, will be recognized as the only one who can usher in a new era of governance without “perpetual wars”, governance without a budget which wastes 54% of it on the military which spends 1.2 million dollars per minute on the militarization of foreign affairs, and which thereby drains away and wastes our taxpayers resources intended for the health, education, equalization, modernization of infrastructure “we the people” need, demand, and deserve, and this will come about as soon as the intoxicating undue influence of money and special interest lobbies and super pacs are eliminated so that a genuine democracy will replace the plutocracy that has insidiously infiltrated itself into our system of governance rendering it utterly ineffective and thereby increasingly irrelevant.
The life’s work and legacy of such formidable Americans as Michael Ratner, as well as other aspects of the contributions of the Center for Constitutional Law, are so magnificently inspiring that they must be included in the curriculum of history in all of high schools.
Amen to that, Alfred.
And a heartfelt salute to you, Michael, for a job well done. You may have thought that your life
did not matter. But history will prove otherwise. True patriots are always recognized – and
remembered – by those like-thinking persons whom they leave behind to continue the job.