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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Can you handle the truth? Ex-U.S. prosecutor at Gitmo speaking out Thursday, Friday at a college near you.

Posted by on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Col. Morris (Moe) Davis was chief U.S. prosecutor for military trials at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba until he quit in protest over orders to allow so-called evidence gained via enhanced interrogation techniques, the methods formerly known as torture.

Col Morris Davis
  • Col Morris Davis

Davis will be speaking at UNC and Duke during the day on Thursday (tomorrow), at Johnston County Community College Thursday evening, and on Friday, noon, at N.C. State. All are free lectures open to the public.

(Here's a column I wrote about anti-torture efforts in the Triangle a couple of weeks ago, centered on Johnston County Airport and its tenant, Aero Contractors.)

This is from our friends at N.C. Stop Torture Now:


(all events free and open to the public)

Jan. 31, noon: UNC School of Law, 160 Ridge Road, Chapel Hill, Room 5042. “Confronting Torture: How It Makes America Less Safe.” Sponsor: Prof. Deborah Weissman, UNC School of Law.

Jan. 31, 4 pm: Duke University, East Duke Parlor, 210 East Duke Building. Sponsor: Prof. Robin Kirk, The Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute.

Jan. 31, 7:30 pm: “Torture Puts U.S. Service Members at Risk,” Johnston Community College, Graphic Arts Building, 245 College Road, Smithfield. Sponsor: NC Stop Torture Now.

Feb. 1, noon: NCSU, Caldwell Hall G-107. Sponsors: NCSU Political Science Dept., NCSTN.


More background on Davis from N.C. Stop Torture Now —

Confronting Torture: Former Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo to Speak at Four North Carolina Schools

RALEIGH, NC — A major figure in the international debate over the U.S. policy of using torture on its “war-on-terror” detainees will speak publicly in four Triangle-area communities on January 31 and February 1.

Col. Morris “Moe” Davis, a 25-year Air Force veteran, served as chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay from 2005 to 2007. He resigned that position because he objected to the use of evidence obtained by torture, and in protest against political interference in the trials.

Col. Davis writes: “More than 4,000 American troops died and more than 30,000 were wounded after we invaded Iraq on the false claim that Saddam Hussein supported al Qaeda, a claim based on a lie a man told his torturers so they would stop torturing him. Condoning torture does not just sanction torturing American troops if they are captured, it can put their lives at risk for no good reason.”

He described his disillusionment at Guantanamo here:

Col. Davis has strong North Carolina ties: he received his B.S. in Criminal Justice from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and his Juris Doctor (JD) from N.C. Central University School of Law in Durham, NC. He is a member of the North Carolina and Washington, DC, bars, and is now a professor at the Howard University School of Law.

“The United States cannot stand up for justice and the rule of law when it sits idly on its own record of torture,” Col. Davis wrote in March 2011. “It diminishes the weight of its moral authority to influence others around the world when it treats its binding legal obligations as options it can choose to exercise or ignore.”

Col. Davis argues here that it is time to make Guantanamo testimony public and to declassify the new Congressional report on Bush-era interrogation methods:

Col. Davis’ North Carolina tour comes amid increasing controversy over harsh U.S. interrogations. The film “Zero Dark Thirty” is playing nationwide, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is considering whether to release a massive and allegedly shocking report on detainee treatment. The report is said to conclude that the torture program has damaged the U.S. in multiple ways.

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    Col. Morris Davis was chief U.S. prosecutor for military trials at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until he quit in protest over orders to allow torture.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mansfield out of race for Dem Party Chair, leaving Voller or ???

Posted by on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Former state Sen. Eric Mansfield is out of the contest for state Democratic Party chair, citing the ill health of his mom. That leaves Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller unopposed at this point — nine days before the Feb. 2 election meeting of the party's State Executive Committee

To read Mansfield's statement, click on the link in the tweet embedded below. Bob Etheridge is said to be considering a run in Mansfield's place. I gather this is the party establishment, such as it is, squirming unhappily at the prospect that Voller could prevail?

By the way, it would seem like the door would be open to a woman candidate, except that — someone correct me if I'm wrong about this — both candidates for first vice chair are women ... in part because until Mansfield dropped out, both candidates for chair were men. Is there a party rule that the two posts can't be the same gender?

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Monday, January 14, 2013

[Update: Wins by 5-3 vote] Raleigh Council asked to back "Return Our War Dollars" campaign

Posted by on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 3:29 PM

[Update, Tuesday: The measure passed by a 5-3 vote, albeit with a friendly amendment to remove the words " ... troops and ..." from the text — as shown below. Voting yes: Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Councilors Russ Stephenson, Eugene Weeks, Thomas Crowder and Mary-Ann Baldwin. Voting no: Councilors Randy Stagner, John Odom and Bonner Gaylord. The amendment, offered by Crowder, was addressed to Stagner's distaste for any implication that the troops were the problem for our wasteful wars (Stagner is a retired Army colonel). Stagner wasn't won over. Odom objected on grounds that there are no "war dollars" to be used at home, "it's all borrowed." Gaylord said he objects to voting on issues over which Council has no control.

[Some of the ROWD contingent were in the room for the vote, including Joe Burton, who coordinated the campaign. Betsy Crites, director of N.C. Peace Action, said she was unsure how the resolution would fare and "delighted" that it was approved.]

The original post from Monday —

Return Our War Dollars (ROWD), a coalition of Triangle area social justice and peace activists led by the leaders of N.C. Peace Action, presented a resolution to the Raleigh City Council two weeks ago and asked for its support. The resolution is on the Council agenda at tomorrow's 1 p.m. session.

After a number of whereas clauses, here's the punchline:

“BE IT RESOLVED that the Raleigh City Council call upon the U.S. Congress and President Obama to end our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring our troops and war dollars home, and use those and other savings in military spending to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy.”

According to the group, the U.S. Council of Mayors passed a similar resolution, as have several dozen city councils from L.A. to Cleveland to, in North Carolina, the Durham City Council.

There are eight Council members in Raleigh, including Mayor Nancy McFarlane. For the resolution to pass, it needs at least five affirmative votes.

Bring our troops home, cut military spending and use the savings to rebuild our domestic economy— with a focus on renewable energy?

Seems uncontroversial to me.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

From wars to schools to transportation: New DOT Sec. Tony Tata, renaissance man!

Posted by on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 11:43 AM

(Updated to include McCrory press release, below, with bios of Tata and three other appointments, including two with extensive Duke Energy backgrounds — like McCrory himself.)

Tony Tata, ex-Army general turned ex-Wake schools superintendent, will be DOT secretary in the McCrory Administration. Puts me in mind of the "Welcome Back, Kotter" theme song.

Ironic, in that bus transportation snafus led to Tata's ouster by the current Wake school board. Or, at least, they were the stated reason for ...

Now I wish I'd gone to the press conference :(

p.s. I'm tweeting away about it, nonetheless. Tata's basic problem in Wake schools was (IMHO) a 100-lb. choice plan in a 50-lb. budget. In other words, the plan couldn't be executed given the parsimonious Wake County Commissioners and their refusal to appropriate enough money to run a first-rate school system.

That said, Tony let his critics get under his skin more than he should've. But he did work his tail off and, as I said more than once, his intentions were good.


From McCrory's press folks:

Raleigh, N.C. — Today, North Carolina Governor-Elect Pat McCrory announced that he will appoint Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata (U.S. Army, Retired) as Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Sharon Decker as Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Bill Daughtridge as Secretary of the Department of Administration. Additionally, the Governor-Elect announced Neal Alexander will serve as Director of the State Office of Personnel.

With these appointments, Governor-Elect McCrory has filled all eight of his cabinet secretary positions with a diverse, bi-partisan group of people representing all portions of the state. Half of Governor-Elect McCrory’s cabinet secretaries are Republican and half are either Democrat or Independent.

“I am incredibly proud of the strong team we’ve assembled,” said Governor-Elect McCrory. “These individuals are pragmatic problem solvers and leaders that will help me run the government in the most effective way possible while seeking long-term solutions for our state.”

Governor-Elect McCrory has outlined broad objectives for his cabinet and leadership team, including: (1) instituting a culture of customer service to state government, (2) identifying and implementing efficiencies in state government, (3) collaborating and sharing resources across departments and agencies and (4) instituting the highest ethical standards while serving in government.

Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata (U.S. Army, Retired) joins Governor-Elect McCrory’s cabinet after most recently serving as Superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, leading the state’s largest school district of 18,000 employees, 150,000 students and a $1.25 billion budget. Prior to serving as Superintendent, General Tata was in Afghanistan where he served as the Deputy Commanding General of U.S. forces from 2006-2007. Throughout his career, General Tata has planned and implemented multiple operations involving complex transportation and infrastructure challenges ranging from multi-mode operations involving ports, airfields, rail, and highways to designing and implementing extensive infrastructure plans in developing countries. Among his many military assignments, General Tata served two tours of duty in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. He also served as a brigade commander in the 101st Airborne Division and as the Deputy Commanding General of the 10th Mountain Division. General Tata graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1981.

Sharon Decker enters the McCrory Administration with extensive private sector experience. She was the CEO of the Tanner Company, a large textile company based in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. In 2004, Decker created the Tapestry Group, a non-profit that helps individuals lead healthy lives in body, mind and spirit. Decker has served on the boards of three Fortune 500 companies. She also has more than 17 years of experience with Duke Power Company, now Duke Energy. She began working with the company in consumer services and moved rapidly through the ranks to become the youngest and first female vice president in Duke Power’s history. Her work at Duke Power led to the creation of its 24-hour customer service center, an organization that still serves as a model for the industry.

Bill Daughtridge is the President of Daughtridge Gas & Oil Company based in Rocky Mount and currently is on the UNC Board of Governors, where he serves on the Budget Committee. From 2002-2008, Daughtridge served in the North Carolina House of Representatives, where he chaired the Commerce Committee and focused his efforts on promoting economic growth and development in North Carolina. Daughtridge is also a former President Area Seven (VA and NC) on the Southern Region Board of Directors for the Boy Scouts of America and is a former member of the North Carolina Travel and Tourism Board, the Nash County Board of Travel & Tourism, Carolinas Gateway Partnership and the Rocky Mount Community Foundation. Daughtridge also held other statewide and local leadership positions including President of the North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association, Rocky Mount Area United Way and Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to three Cabinet appointments, McCrory also announced that Neal Alexander will serve as the Director of the State Office of Personnel. Alexander joins Governor-Elect McCrory's leadership team with 40 years of experience in various Human Resources roles at Duke Energy. Most recently, he served as Vice President for Human Resources for Duke Energy’s US Franchised Electric and Gas Service, and has won awards for excellence in Human Resources such as the Duke Power William S. Lee Leadership Award and The Employers Association Babcock Award. He also currently serves as chair of the Gardner-Webb University Board of Trustees and The Employers Association, which provides human resources and training services to organizations.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thank you, New Raleigh: After five good years, NR blog says good-bye

Posted by on Wed, Jan 2, 2013 at 1:40 PM

New Raleigh lived up to its name. Its founders and its many contributors and readers publicized, advocated for and otherwise hopped up and down about every nifty new thing that happened in downtown Raleigh over the last five years, helping to create the vibe that would bring on the next nifty new thing.

Great work, David Millsaps and Jed Gant. I'll look for your next nifty new thing.

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As is Chavis Park, Doug. But both are relatively small compared to Umstead, NCMA and, when it happens, Dix Park.

by Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist on Dix Park: The Deal is Done (Citizen)

Let the debate begin on the Parks future. Horace Greeley, viewing recent improvements to Central Park in The 1870's, observed …

by Doug Johnston on Dix Park: The Deal is Done (Citizen)

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