Monday, March 17, 2008

But ... the United States does not torture ...

sTAOS, NEW MEXICO — Keith McHenry notes that the United States Congress has recently voted to allow torture.

Keith knows that torture has been used in the U.S. for a long time. "I thought I was going to die, but I didn't, so I'm writing my memoirs."

Keith McHenry has fibromyalgia.

Keith's malady comes from being tortured by the CIA.

"It was intense," says Keith.

He now runs the Taos Peace House.

Keith has been a foot soldier for the peace movement for over three decades.

It began as an art student in Boston where he and friends fed the needy.

He also ran an ad agency in Boston. His clients were the Boston Red Sox, Boston Patriots, Boston Celtics.

"It's wild, huh?" he says.

Keith is the co-founder of the worldwide organization Food Not Bombs. It's growing all the time. There are even fifty chapters in Russia.

In the '90s he received forty-seven felony charges in San Francisco for feeding the hungry. He was framed with three other convictions and was the first white person to face the three strikes life in prison law.

He spent months in prison going through trial on those charges and was on Amnesty International's victims list.

Keith says he was tortured in the San Francisco county jail by CIA agent Tom Gerard on four separate occasions, over a period of years. He know the name because he later went to court to sue, but did not win.

He says the torturers hung him up by his arms, and stuck him inside a little cage, thus the pain he suffers today.

He didn't talk about the torture, not publicly, until after Abu Ghraib.

Keith was also the one responsible for the WTO protests in Seattle. In the late '90s he took a tour of cities around the country talking about the WTO and the coming dominance of corporations over individuals.

"We said the minute the WTO announces a meeting in North America, we're going to start planning."

He also started Indymedia, coming out of the Seattle days.

He also ran Leonard Peltier's defense committee, in Lawrence, Kansas, for three years.

Keith says that after Clinton failed to pardon Peltier, Leonard got depressed and fired everybody.

I say that I just don't understand why Clinton didn't grant the pardon.

Keith says he thinks it was because "they," the FBI, CIA — they — threatened to kill Clinton if he did.

"That's the way this country works," Keith says.

He says he knows that because he heard the same — that they would be killed — from at least two judges in his cases regarding his torture, who would not admit certain evidence into the case. Once on an elevator one of those judges told Keith and his attorney, "I wish I could have
done something."

Keith lives in the mountains near Taos.

"At the base."

One of his neighbors is Donald Rumsfeld.

"Isn't that wild? A year and a half ago I was homeless."

And his bicycle? It's Julia Roberts' old bike. She lives across the
road from Keith.

Keith notes that Taos is in the poorest county in New Mexico and that New Mexico has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation. There are about equal number of Pueblo Indians, Hispanics and Gringos here.

Keith's local Food Not Bombs group serves meals out of the Peace House every week.

Food Not Bombs, with Keith driving one of the big buses, was also at Camp Casey with Cindy Sheehan outside President Bush's Crawford ranch.

Keith says the FBI infiltrated the group, trying to disrupt activities, move the protesters away from the main entrance to the ranch.

But it didn't work, not with Keith McHenry and FNB on the scene.

Four days after Camp Casey closed, Hurricane Katrina hit.

Keith and his Food Not Bombs buses and reinforcements from Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles were on the scene ASAP.

"FEMA and the Red Cross did not show up," Keith says.

So Food Not Bombs was the helping hands of Americans at the Katrina debacle.

Keith McHenry is only 50 years old. He has done more with his time than twenty folks.

May he have fifty more. Imagine what he would do with it.

We need him.

This week he's taking a train to San Francisco to be at the Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair.

He has agreed to let us "Cost of Freedom" folks share his table.

Keith is looking forward to the long train ride.

"I get two days to write," he says.

In two days Keith McHenry will probably write War and Peace II.


— Mike


March 18: Bisbee, Arizona

Location: St. John's Episcopal Church
Address: 19 Sowles Ave.
Time: 7 pm.

March 19: Tucson

Location: Northwest Neighborhood Center

Time: 6pm.

March 20: Las Vegas, Drinking Liberally

Location: Tenaya Creek Restaurant & Brewery
Address: 3101 Tenaya Way
Time: 630 pm.


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