(This is a slightly edited version of the speech I gave at the LA Town Hall Meeting on July 12, 2007.)
If you have a loved one on the verge of dying because they're unable to breathe, you won’t save their life by giving them more blankets and bandaging a wound that is bleeding slightly. You have to deal with the central problem or your loved one is going to die. You have to focus all of your energy and attention on what is going to save their life.
America as people have known it and to some extent as people have wanted to believe it as (because America has never been the America that so many Americans think it is), is going to die. Both the reality and the ideal, if you will, of America are going to die. We are going through a metamorphosis. Bush and Cheney and the movement that they lead are the cutting edge of this transformational process that began over thirty years ago.
What the Bush agenda represents is a rupture by our government from the historic social compact with the American people that included the Bill of Rights, freedom of speech, assembly, protections of your person, your property and your privacy from the intrusions and predations of government, innocence until proven guilty in a court of law, the right to see the evidence offered against you, the right to your day in court, the right to challenge your detention (habeas corpus), due process, the Geneva Conventions, international law, and so on. While the US has never been above torture and creating a pretext for invading other countries, they have never before attempted and succeeded, no government in modern times has even attempted, to make legal: torture, invasions of other countries that don’t pose a threat to you and haven’t attacked you, and indefinite detentions.
The new America, my friends, is Abu Ghraib. Abu Ghraib isn’t the work of some bad apples. It’s the inevitable and deliberate outcome of the policies of not just the Bush White House but that of Congress as a whole that permitted and, in fact, legalized Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and the numerous black sites where prisoners have been shipped to for torture and death. Barbara Olshansky, the brave attorney representing GITMO detainees, has seen the entire hard drive of Sgt. Grainer of pictures from Abu Ghraib. She told me recently that as terrible as the pictures are from Abu Ghraib that have been publicly released, the ones that remain hidden from the public are far, far worse.
Congress made Abu Ghraib the new America when it passed the horrific Military Commissions Act and when the Democrats who could have stopped this bill by filibustering it refused to do so. The Democrats, you see, have accepted the basic premises of the so-called “war on terror” that anything and everything is acceptable and necessary in this GWOT.
In 1945, Nazi Leader Herman Goering said the following while on trial at Nuremburg for crimes against humanity. I use it as the leading quote in my book: “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders . . . tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
The Bush regime is using the Nazis’ playbook and has played the “terrorism card” to great effect. They used it and are using it to justify their illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq and they are using it again in preparing for a military attack on Iran by falsely claiming that Iran is behind attacks on Americans in Iraq.
The leading Democratic candidates for president have all accepted this lie of Bush and Cheney’s. Obama, Edwards and Clinton have all publicly declared that a military attack on Iran, including the possible use of nukes, is acceptable and may be necessary. Meanwhile, “impeachment is off the table.” I’d like to know what the hell this table is that the Democratic leadership keeps referring to that allows nukes to sit on it but won’t allow impeachment! The same people who say that impeachment would be a distraction, a waste of time, and unwarranted, think dropping nukes on a country that’s not attacked us, and is not threatening us, is OK!! What kind of country is it that allows such mafia - no, that’s too good - fascist logic to pass for legitimate discourse?!
I was a speaker at a forum in Austin a few days ago and some of the audience got a little upset that some of the speakers on the platform were “bashing the Democratic Party.” I’m sorry if I upset anyone here, but anyone who advocates, defends and fails to stop crimes against humanity, which the attack and ongoing occupation of Iraq is, and an attack on Iran would be, deserves bashing!
Bush and Cheney's Trump Card
This terror card that Bush and Cheney have been playing, if it isn’t taken head on and exposed as an utter fraud, will destroy us. I don’t say this as mere rhetorical flourish. Unless and until we dismantle this lie, and the only way we can do this is through driving them from office, we are all in mortal danger.
Let me play out a scenario for you in which Bush and Cheney in one day could and would escape from their current troubles and fulfill their grandest wish. This scenario, unfortunately, isn’t unlikely. It’s likely. In constructing this scenario I’m going to cite as sources this country’s three leading counter-terrorism experts – Richard Clarke, Michael Scheuer and Clark Kent Ervin. Clarke, as you know, served as counter-terrorism czar under Clinton and Bush. Scheuer is a former senior CIA analyst who was in charge of tracking down and getting Osama bin Laden. Clark Kent Ervin is former Inspector General of DHS. All three of these people have warned that the Bush White House is losing their war on terror and all three left their jobs in frustration and went public because of this. Indeed, when you look at what they detail in their books, it’s clear that the White House is doing nearly everything one would do if your objective was to exacerbate the dangers of terrorism and expose America to another 9/11.
Ervin points out that the easiest way to smuggle a nuclear device into the US is through our seaports as only 6% of all shipments are inspected and customs is apparently not even using the one device, an RIID, that you need to detect radioactive isotopes. ABC News on the first and second anniversaries of 9/11 conducted an experiment to see if they could smuggle radioactive materials into the US from another country. They “succeeded” both times without US Customs detecting the radioactive items. Scheuer told 60 Minutes in 2004 that OBL got religious permission in 2003 to use nukes on the US, that OBL is biding his time, and that the chances of another 9/11-like attack are a virtual certainty.
Clarke, Ervin and Scheuer all point out that the war on Iraq is inflaming the Islamic world against the US and that it is what we’re doing and not who we are that is the problem. Now, consider what I’ve just said with the fact that Congress passed in September and Bush signed in a private ceremony in October 2006 the Warner Act. In May 2007, in a companion piece to the Warner Act, Bush issued a Presidential Directive (a form of executive order) entitled NSPD-51. I’ve spoken of these two items elsewhere, but in essence they are all the laws/rules that Bush needs to declare martial law and suspend the Constitution entirely. Under them he can, on his own say so, declare a “public emergency,” take over control of the National Guard and use them to conduct mass roundups, arrests and detentions, muzzle the press, and if another 9/11 occurs close enough to the 2008 election, suspend elections. OBL is likely to do this because he benefits from Bush and Cheney and their policies. When some concerned people have asked members of Congress about the Warner Act, NSPD-51 and the prospects of a suspended election, the answer they’ve been given is that Congress wouldn’t let this happen and the elections would never be cancelled.
Is this the same Congress that passed the Warner Act in the first place, hasn’t even raised the issue of repealing the Warner Act since the Democrats took back the majority, and the same Congress that has said not a word about NSPD-51? Is this the same media that hasn’t told people about the Warner Act? Is this the same Congress and the same media that have repeatedly knuckled under and accepted the basic premises of the GWOT of Bush and Cheney, the same Congress that was elected to end the war on Iraq but because they’re afraid of being labeled soft on terror and not “supporting the troops,” just gave Bush more money than he asked for to continue the war and attached no strings to that money?
Another 9/11 would overnight nullify Bush and Cheney’s huge unpopularity. The Democratic Party would rush to prove itself even more determined to fight terrorism than the GOP. If Bush and Cheney, in other words, fail once again to prevent a 9/11, they would get their fondest wish: unfettered, dictatorial powers.
We must confront the harsh realities of the situation we face and not act as if we’re operating under some other more conditions in kinder and gentler times. The only way forward, the only way that offers us a chance at success, is to rely on the one force that does not have a stake in the current policies and that is a force powerful enough to take on the radical right. I’m speaking here of the American people. The American people must wake from their twilight sleep, smell the sulphur, and declare themselves against tyranny, torture and war crimes. A majority of Americans are for impeachment but this majority has been invisible and this majority sentiment must become visible.
The Declare It Now campaign
Let me explain how I came up with the strategy that I named Declare It Now and that World Can’t Wait has adopted and that we would like all of the movement organizations to adopt. In order to do what must be done, Americans in their millions must enter into direct political engagement to drive the Bush regime from office, repudiate everything they stand for, and transform the whole political atmosphere. The numbers we have now are far too small. The radical right that has been riding high for so long now must be taken head on and this fight that we’ve been in must become two-sided. The only way to do that is if the American people are mobilized in large and determined numbers. You remember the analogy of the loved one who can’t breathe? The political leadership in this country and the mass media are holding a pillow over the mouth of America and trying to suffocate us. We have to rise up and throw them off.
DIN is designed to put us on a whole different level in this fight. We cannot continue to just do more of what we’ve been doing and get where we need to be in time. Even if we were able to get a million people to march in DC tomorrow in a traditional rally - this would be wonderful, but what would the mass media say about our demonstration? They’d say we’d mobilized a few hundred thousand and continue to dismiss impeachment as foolhardy and inappropriate.
We have to find a way to by-pass the jaundiced coverage mass media has given the impeachment movement, appeal to the people directly and produce a huge cultural shift. We need to move the social techtonic plates. A huge strategic factor in our favor is that we do have a majority of people who want to see Bush and Cheney impeached. But this invisible opinion has been suppressed. It must become visible and a material force.
The Wild Card: the People
If even 2% of the 58% + of the people who want to see Bush and Cheney gone already were to wear orange ribbons, t-shirts, bandanas, and so on, then we would have millions showing off their true colors. Then it wouldn’t matter whether the media cover us because we would be visible everywhere to at least tens of millions of others. This would hearten the millions who have wanted something to happen, have wanted to do something, but have felt disempowered by the unanimous opposition to impeachment by the political leadership class and the mass media. It would create new and dramatically different conditions if orange became what the peace symbol became in the 1960s – a dividing line.
Let me end by suggesting a modified version of the Milgram Experiment. I cite Milgram’s Experiment in the Preface to my book and refer to the situation we face in America today as the Milgram Experiment writ large. In the original Milgram Experiment, a man in a gray coat and clipboard stands next to the person who is administering the electrical shocks to the person in the other room. Milgram discovered, to his dismay, that it was all too easy to get people to obey authority and deliver what they thought might be life-threatening electrical shocks.
What if someone wearing an orange coat was to burst into the room where the man in the white coat and the experimental subject are and told the subject: “Stop! You’re killing the other person in the room! You don’t have to do it! Rebel! Walk Out!” The Declare It Now campaign is our modification of the Milgram Experiment.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
(This is a slightly edited version of the speech I gave at the LA Town Hall Meeting on July 12, 2007.)
Monday, July 23, 2007
Conyers today once again refused to move forward on impeachment and ordered Cindy Sheehan, Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Ray McGovern and others arrested and forcibly removed from his DC office. He told them, before arresting them, that their only recourse was the 2008 elections.
Before the Democrats took back the majority in Congress, Conyers did a number of wonderful things, including writing the forward to Steven Freeman's book, Was the 2004 Election Stolen? (the answer to which was, yes). So Conyers telling people that the only answer is voting is disengenuous in the extreme. Not only were the 2000 and 2004 elections stolen (see my Chapter Two in Impeach the President), but even when the vote was so lopsided that it was impossible to credibly get away with stealing the vote on the scale necessary in 2006, and the GOP's stranglehold was ended, look what we've got: a bunch of Democrats in chairmanships who still refuse to stop the Bush and Cheney dictatorship!
Many people are justifiably furious. In reading some of the comments on blogs about the situation, especially after today's shameful actions, I have never seen so much anger. Some people, in searching for an answer, are talking about running independents and about withdrawing their support for the Democrats. In short, they are talking about the electoral path as the solution. In so doing, they are inadvertantly following Conyers' terrible advice.
It is a precarious and frankly dangerous assumption to count on elections even being held in 2008 given the trouble that the GOP and Bush/Cheney are in. What is exactly the one thing that could rescue them from their straits? Yes, you already know the answer: another 9/11. They are in fact openly and brazenly talking about this, hoping for, even recommending, another 9/11. Consider the following partial list:
Dennis Milligan, new Arkansas GOP Chairman: “[A]ll we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [9/11], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country.” (June 3, 2007).
Rick Santorum, ex-Senator from Pennsylvania: "Between now and November, a lot of things are going to happen, and I believe that by this time next year, the American public’s going to have a very different view of this war, and it will be because, I think, of some unfortunate events, that like we’re seeing unfold in the UK. But I think the American public’s going to have a very different view." (July 7, 2007, speaking on the Hugh Hewitt Show).
Lt.-Col. Doug Delaney, War Studies Program Chair, Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario: "The key to bolstering Western resolve is another terrorist attack like 9/11 or the London transit bombings of two years ago.” (Delaney paraphrased by Toronto Star reporter, Andrew Chung)
"If nothing happens, it will be harder still to say this is necessary," adds Delaney. (July 8, 2007).
Michael Chertoff, Head of DHS: I have a “gut feeling” that another al-Qaeda attack will occur this summer. (July 11, 2007).
A Sacramento Democratic strategist, probably Bob Mulholland, paraphrased: “there will be another terrorist attack between now and next November…the public will run into the arms of the Republicans as a cause of that, and … Democrats are essentially helpless to do anything about that.” (July 17, 2007).
(Paul Craig Roberts recently posted an essay about this. I have also been trying for several weeks to get an essay of mine in a major publication regarding this danger and on the matter of the so-called war on terror. Wish me luck!)
I am frankly not surprised that Conyers is still refusing to impeach. It will take a powerful movement from below of the people to bring about impeachment. Nothing else and nothing less. Putting our energies into elections that may not even come would be a huge mistake. The war is now, an attack on Iran is a clear and present danger, and this regime is daily torturing people. Americans in the millions must show their determination and make visible their demands for impeachment!
Declare It Now! Orange Outrage must bloom everywhere! These tyrants must be stopped now.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 9:52 PM
Saturday, July 21, 2007
ITEM: "DeFazio Asks, But He's Denied Access" in the Oregonian.
Classified info - The congressman wanted to see government plans for after a terror attack
Friday, July 20, 2007
The Oregonian Staff
WASHINGTON -- Oregonians called Peter DeFazio's office, worried there was a conspiracy buried in the classified portion of a White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack.
As a member of the U.S. House on the Homeland Security Committee, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure "bubbleroom" in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House to see the secret documents.
On Wednesday, DeFazio got his answer: DENIED.
"I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack," DeFazio says.
Homeland Security Committee staffers told his office that the White House initially approved his request, but it was later quashed. DeFazio doesn't know who did it or why.
"We're talking about the continuity of the government of the United States of America," DeFazio says. "I would think that would be relevant to any member of Congress, let alone a member of the Homeland Security Committee."
Bush administration spokesman Trey Bohn declined to say why DeFazio was denied access: "We do not comment through the press on the process that this access entails. It is important to keep in mind that much of the information related to the continuity of government is highly sensitive."
Bush Approves New CIA Methods: Interrogations Of Detainees To Resume
By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 21, 2007; A01
President Bush set broad legal boundaries for the CIA's harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects yesterday, allowing the intelligence agency to resume a program that was suspended last year after criticism that it violated U.S. and international law.
In an executive order lacking any details about actual interrogation techniques, Bush said the CIA program will now comply with a Geneva Conventions prohibition against "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." His order, required by legislation signed in October, was delayed for months amid tense debate inside the administration.
"We can now focus on our vital work, confident that our mission and authorities are clearly defined," CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said in a statement to agency employees. Although human rights groups have alleged that CIA interrogators used torturous and illegal methods, Hayden said the program had gleaned "irreplaceable" information from terrorism detainees.
Two administration officials said that suspects now in U.S. custody could be moved immediately into the "enhanced interrogation" program and subjected to techniques that go beyond those allowed by the U.S. military.
Rights activists criticized Bush's order for failing to spell out which techniques are now approved or prohibited. It said instead that CIA interrogators cannot undertake prohibited acts such as torture and murder, and it barred religious denigration and humiliating or degrading treatment "so serious that any reasonable person, considering the circumstances, would deem" it "beyond the bounds of human decency." Detainees, it said, must be provided with "the basic necessities of life," including adequate food and water, clothing, essential medical care, and "protection from extremes of heat and cold."
"All the order really does is to have the president say, 'Everything in that other document that I'm not showing you is legal -- trust me,' " said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch.
The CIA interrogation guidelines are contained in a classified document. A senior intelligence official, asked whether this list includes such widely criticized methods as the simulated drowning known as "waterboarding," declined to discuss specifics but said "it would be very wrong to assume that the program of the past would move into the future unchanged."
Posted by Dennis Loo at 6:39 AM
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
"Barack Obama, to his discredit, said on June 28 that he opposes impeaching either Cheney or Bush.
'I think you reserve impeachment for grave, grave breaches, and intentional breaches of the President’s authority,' Obama said."
See Matthew Rothschild's article at the Progressive.
What country has Obama been living in? What presidential actions has he been following? What is more grave a breach of authority than torturing people and making this policy? Launching an immoral, illegal, unjust war based on lies? Refusing Congressional subpoenas, issuing hundreds of signing statements that negate Congressional acts, spying on hundreds of millions of Americans without warrant and without cause? Savaging FEMA, undermining New Orleans' levee system by slashing funds for repairs, allowing private interests to destroy necessary marshlands that are natural protectors against storms, allowing a fabled and storied city to be ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and not coming to people's aid in a timely fashion, then lying about what you did and knew? Military threats based on lies against Iran? Censoring science, breaching the Church/State divide?
What more do you need?
Posted by Dennis Loo at 9:14 AM
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
(This was originally published as the Declare Yourself! Campaign. That name, however, turns out to have already been reserved by Norman Lear's group to sign up young people to vote. To avoid confusion we've renamed it Declare It Now!)
(Please go to World Can't Wait's website to find out how you can participate in the campaign and end the rule of these tyrants, torturers and war criminals!)
How do we get from where we are to where we need to be? We know that there is a big gap between here and there. The people of this country need to act in the millions in visible and unmistakable ways if we are to have a chance at driving Bush and Cheney from power, repudiating what they stand for, and creating a wholly different political atmosphere.
What is standing in our way? The situation we confront grows partially out of the people’s passivity, but it isn’t mainly that. If John Kerry or the New York Times were to call tomorrow for impeachment, the “people’s passivity” wouldn’t be a topic for discussion anymore because the outpouring of support for impeachment would be dramatic and immense.
The primary obstacle to impeachment right now is our government’s unanimity (except Kucinich et al) in opposing impeachment. Both the mainstream media and the political leadership are against opening up the Pandora’s Box of Bush and Cheney’s crimes (in part because they are implicated in it). (More on this later.) The people recognize that acting against the Bush regime without the (leading) support of this country’s opinion-leaders and political leaders is going to be extremely hard and highly unusual.
Because most of what Bush and Cheney have done (and what the Congress et al have colluded in) has been systematically hidden from the people, the public as a whole doesn’t recognize just how momentous the situation is. The very inaction of the rest of the political leadership and media on impeachment also means to many in the public that the actions of the Bush regime must not be all that bad because if it was, our leaders would do something. Their drawing this conclusion obviously dovetails with the mistaken but widely and strongly held view that representative government is all that there is to politics: politics = supporting or lobbying various politicians and not anything more than that.
There are obviously exceptions to this – many, many people are disturbed by what’s been going on. The war, of course, is central to their dissatisfaction, but it isn’t just the war. Very many people are distressed at the different aspects of the Bush agenda – the torture, detentions, Katrina, the revocation of abortion rights, the lying, the spying, the rampant corruption, the attacks on science, the breaching of the Church-State divide and the moves towards a theocracy, the decline in social services and governmental protections, the revocations of civil liberties, the know-nothingism, intolerance and bigotry that emanate from the highest office in the land, the screaming demagogues like O’Reilly who dominate the public discourse and have eclipsed reasoned discourse (to the extent that it did exist previously in public discourse), and so on.
But these sentiments of distress remain overall inchoate: diffuse, widely and deeply felt, but unorganized and unrealized except among the fraction that have become politically active. And even among these activists, much questioning and searching is going on about what is the road forward, and why we are in an increasingly more and more alarming and horrid situation. David Lindorff (co-author of The Case For Impeachment) describes it this way by naming his website “This Can’t Be Happening.”
Except that it is happening. And it’s going to keep on happening unless and until we stop it. Our situation calls for innovative thinking and methods. We aren’t going to convince the Democrats that they should impeach by appeals to logic or morality and we aren’t going to make a dramatic breakthrough by trying to convince media to give us a fair hearing. Not one of the numerous impeachment books have been reviewed in a mainstream media outlet and all the authors have been shut out of TV, with the exception of Elizabeth de la Vega who did a short stint on the Colbert Report. We have to find a way around the media and appeal to the people directly.
If we do that and succeed in mobilizing the people in large enough numbers, we will manage thereby to wrest away a larger breakaway section of the political leadership than the handful we have now (Kucinich, Waters, Lee, Woolsey…) and garner some decent media attention. This will in turn help us to get closer to critical mass and force hearings in Congress, open, appreciative, serious talk in media of impeachment and so on. We could reasonably anticipate under those circumstances a cascading effect, likely to lead to Bush and Cheney leaving office, or possibly, a showdown in a huge clash of forces. There’s no telling who would win such a battle, but at least it will be two-sided and we will have a chance to win instead of surely losing.
Bringing Forth a Competing, Legitimate Authority
“It is up to the rest of us to rouse ourselves and rouse others, to bring forth from the grassroots new social movement leaders to constitute an alternative and powerful counter-force that fundamentally alters the overall political atmosphere, providing a competing legitimate authority to the bankrupt and illegitimate authority now leading this country. The existing establishment has left us no other choice.” – Preface, Impeach the President
When I wrote the above I meant it literally. We need to create a counter, legitimate leadership. This is key to getting people to move in more determined and larger ways. And it is key to driving Bush and Cheney from office and creating a very different political atmosphere overall.
There are three main dimensions to this that the Declare It Now! campaign is designed to help us address. All three have to do with pitting our particular strengths against our adversary’s weaknesses. The first has to do with a particular approach to mobilizing the people. The second has to do with morality and ideology. The third has to do with bringing forth models. All three are designed to wrest the people away from the influence of the existing leadership.
As to the first leg: DIN! is based on the fact that a majority of people already want to see Bush and Cheney impeached. This is a strategic factor very much in our favor. 58% said they wanted to see Bush and Cheney “gone already” in a January 2007 Newsweek poll. In Newsweek’s October 2006 poll, 51% said they wanted to see Bush and Cheney impeached (Revealingly, this isn’t how Newsweek presented the figures. They couldn’t bring themselves to add the percent who wanted impeachment to be the new Democratic majority’s top priority to the percent of those who wanted it to be a priority but not the top priority). The October and January polls are consistent with what pollsters have recorded since June of 2005.
We have a majority despite the fact that most people don’t know but a fraction of what Bush and Cheney have been doing and despite the determined, implacable, continuous opposition of the political leadership and opinion-makers.
How is that even possible? How can there be such a huge gap between where the public is at and where the political and opinion-leaders are? It’s possible because what Bush and Cheney have been doing is so egregious, so blatant and so drastic that it’s impossible to cover it up entirely.
What Bush and Cheney represent is not an aberration but the cutting edge of a rupture from the historic social compact in the U.S. The dominant forces in the government are building a new compact in a fascist-like state. Fascism, it should be recalled, as Sinclair Lewis put it in 1935, “will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a bible” when it comes to America. The government as a whole is headed in this direction. Things have come an exceedingly long way at a breathtakingly rate. What was unthinkable several months ago is now an accomplished fact.
The rationale for martial rule (the “global war on terror”), the requisite laws (the Warner Act, NSPD-51), the propaganda machine (especially Fox News, Limbaugh, etc.) and the “soldiers in their army of God” are all in place. The only element lacking now is a precipitating incident/pretext such as another, more devastating 9/11: a nuclear device being set off in a major American city, an avian flu epidemic, or Iran retaliating after a military attack upon it by Israel or the U.S. All of these scenarios are not only possible: they are likely. Michael Scheuer, former top CIA analyst in charge of hunting down Osama bin Laden and author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, told 60 Minutes in 2004 that another 9/11 attack is virtually a certainty.
Bush and Cheney’s huge unpopularity now would be rendered moot overnight after another major 9/11-type incident. Moreover, OBL wants the neocons in power, profits from it, and would likely time an attack to have maximum impact on the next presidential election and thereby assist Bush and Cheney and the forces they represent. He has done this before – e.g., his message on the eve of the 2004 election the CIA concluded was designed to help Bush. We have no assurance that an election in 2008 will even be held.
The Voiceless Need to Find Their Voice
The people need to find their voice. The invisible needs to become visible. Too much is at stake not to find a way to resolve this conundrum and barrier. We in this country have a profound responsibility to the country and the world. What we do or fail to do over the next several months and year or so will have enormous repercussions.
We might compare our situation to that of a group of people who are struggling to prevent a levee from collapsing by rising floodwaters and heavy, thunderstorm rains. Our group has set up a line moving sandbags hand-to-hand to the levee, but because the numbers in the rescue group are very small, we are not going to be able to succeed unless a whole lot of other people join our line and participate. Those others need to join the rescue effort and if they do the levees will hold. But the time is growing short and the water is rising rapidly.
The orange everywhere (ribbons, bandanas, T-shirts, etc.) theme of DIN! is designed to make the invisible a visible, material force. If only 2% of the 58%+ who want to see Bush and Cheney gone were to wear orange we would literally have millions demonstrating their opposition to this regime. Tens of millions, at least, would see all around them the color of mass sentiment and then it wouldn’t matter if the media covered us or not! People would be seeing it live and in person.
Demonstrations and rallies, while they are important, are not going to suddenly or incrementally grow to the magnitude that we need. Even if we got say 500,000 to come to DC, and even if we got 1,000 to stay camped out indefinitely - I’m not saying these aren’t worthwhile things to do, but even if we did this, what kind of media coverage could we realistically expect? The same kind of jaundiced media coverage we’ve gotten in the past. Tactics that depend for their success on media attention need to be supplemented by tactics that don’t rely heavily for their success on media attention.
It’s important to recognize the level of unanimity that is at work within the government today and the stakes involved. To illustrate: the New York Times had the same or even more information as did the anti-war movement about how fraudulent the arguments and “facts” were that were being bandied about prior to the Iraq invasion. The Times refused, however, to oppose the war and in fact played an extremely important role in legitimizing that war. Likewise, the Times and other papers had access to the reports that were available about the exit polls and other glaring facts proving that the 2004 election was stolen. Yet they refused to take these data seriously and in fact the Times never once mentioned exit polls in their reports and commentary on the election results. Instead they spread the false notion that the so-called “moral values” voters turned the tide in Bush’s favor.
A dramatic shift has been underway (which is analyzed more in Impeach the President overall but especially in the Preface, the second half of Chapter 2, in Chapter 5, 6 and 14). The neocons represented by Bush and Cheney have the decisive upper hand. The opposition to this (e.g., embodied in Gore’s The Assault on Reason) is by comparison feeble and, even more importantly, unwilling to unleash the masses because it would possibly spell their own demise as elites and also because they can’t think outside the parameters of imperialism and the U.S. as the “leader” and unrivaled superpower. The only way to really take on the radical right, of course, is to unleash the people.
The government is making an historic and decisive move to restructure the fundamental bases of unity in the U.S. and to rupture with key provisions of the Constitution (due process, habeas corpus, innocent until proven guilty…) and international law and institutions (Geneva Conventions, the UN, et al). This presents us with extraordinary danger as well as an extraordinary opportunity. They are in the midst of what I would describe as analogous to what happens when a crab is shedding its old shell. Its new shell is still soft and the crab is vulnerable to attack. The rupture that they are engaging in is shocking to the conscience of anyone who isn’t completely jaded and who is not blinded by right-wing faith. Our leaders are in deep trouble in Iraq. They are, as a result of doing what they’ve been doing, and the difficulties that they are encountering because of resistance (by Iraqis, for instance), more and more unpopular. They are, after all, taking us in a dramatically different direction.
This is a truly radical move on their part. They haven’t yet consolidated their new terms of rule and we’re in a transition period fraught with danger, for them and for us. (What we are seeing in terms of the weaknesses among the people in terms of their arousal level and willingness to come out into the streets in protest is in part due to the fact that this country’s never really been all that much of a democracy and in part due to the fact that Americans are, compared to the citizens of other countries, politically unsophisticated.)
Because the right still commands the heights of power institutionally and because of the influence and clout of their right-wing media empire, the co-operation, cowardice and narrowness of the mainstream media and the Democratic Party, Bush and Cheney are being shielded from the people’s wrath. How do we overcome this problem?
This is where the Declare It Now! campaign idea comes in. Ordinarily, in political governance (and also in movements) the relationship between leaders and the led is one in which the leaders overall have the initiative and the led cannot move further than where the leaders are able and willing to take them. The “pull” that this country’s current political leadership is moving things in is of course away from impeachment and down the wretched, ugly road of more horrors. What we need to do is curry a “push” from below that helps to give heart to the people who feel so frustrated and disheartened today and that creates the conditions within which a competing leadership can emerge.
The people cannot move absent leadership. This applies as much to political systems as it does to movements. We in the movement have not yet become the kind of competing legitimate authority/leadership that the broad sections of people would look to and follow against the existing leadership. The fact that the government is solidly against impeachment and solidly against (and/or afraid of) real thoroughgoing exposures of the despicable moves underway (torture et al) has created a situation in which the people feel confused, suffocated and unable to act. Obviously some people have broken with this confusion and paralysis – and this is all to the good. But if we expect millions to do so then we have to realize that it is more than our exposures, analyses and exhortations that will be necessary. We aren’t going to get there by calling for that next big demonstration. We just aren’t going to tilt the balance of forces this way – not at this time and under these conditions. It’s a huge leap for people in large numbers– in the millions – to step forward and act as leaders.
We do not have a repeat so far of the crucial elements that were present in the 1960s in which the level of social upheaval we need is occurring and reverberating back and forth: international → domestic; domestic → international. To name just a few of those elements: there aren’t national liberation struggles breaking out all over the world; there isn’t a section of the Democratic Party and media that is being supportive to some degree of the social insurgency (at least to try to conciliate it); and there isn’t a civil rights movement. In order to do what we must do we have to accomplish a kind of raising ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Doing so will not only change conditions within the U.S. It will alter conditions worldwide. Imagine the electric effect this could have internationally when people in other countries see people in this country in the millions standing up against tyranny!
We have to arm people broadly with an understanding of what our strategy is so that they can act within that strategy, contribute to it, and be catalyzed into enthusiastic action because they recognize that our strategy CAN WORK. A major obstacle today is that while many, many people want to see Bush and Cheney gone, they don’t see any way to make headway against a stubbornly resistant Democratic Party and corporate media. DIN! can help us overcome both the problem of the government and opinion-leaders’ suppression of the people and the fact that we have the majority, but that majority is unorganized and disoriented. If this majority sentiment is expressed then we can do an end-run around the media’s hostility and attack our adversary’s soft underbelly. Their horrible acts are extremely vulnerable to being exposed precisely because their acts are so despicable.
DIN! isn’t the same thing as a traditional demonstration/rally. Some people have raised objections to it on that basis. It’s important that we not underestimate what DIN! means in terms of mass participation and independent action. We are asking people to declare themselves, to take a visible, out there, public, in the streets, stand. This IS a mass mobilization we’re talking about. People will be “in the streets” with it, anywhere and everywhere else they go. The fact that it doesn’t require the same level of commitment as attending a demonstration doesn’t make it less significant. If this works, we will have people everywhere showing off their true colors. DIN! has a very potent ideological component to it. This leads to the second leg of DIN!
The Moral High Ground
The second leg of DIN!: One of the ways that small forces and non-elite forces can overcome their disadvantaged position and challenge elites for leadership and influence is by seizing the moral high ground. To the extent that the existing leadership class is exposed as morally bankrupt, we can wrest sections of the populace away from their enthrallment by the existing political elites. In order to accomplish their aims and this historic move, our leaders are making de facto practices into de jure practices: torture, unprovoked aggression on blameless countries, indefinite detentions, warrantless spying, et al. They cannot accomplish their wild ambitions otherwise.
But as they do this, they are rather openly doing horrific things before the eyes of the world. They are only getting away with this because they haven’t been properly called on the carpet for it. Our leaders (the whole establishment) are extremely vulnerable to this exposure. We need to draw the lines of morality very sharply and unsparingly. The question needs to be put to people as a stated in World Can't Wait’s slogan: Torture + Silence = Complicity. You must choose. Which side are you on? Are you for torture, war crimes, and tyranny? Or are you against it? Are you for the ripping away of a woman’s right to abortion? For a theocracy? And so on. To the extent we win people to speaking out/showing off against our leaders’ immorality, we can overcome to a significant extent the disadvantages we face today. As Henry Kissinger points out in his biography, there was a period in the 1960s when small forces (SDS) exercised very broad influence, way beyond their actual numbers, because very broadly throughout society people came to see that what the government was saying was a lie.
Bringing Forth Models
The third leg: We need to pay special attention to bringing forth models among the unknown (youth who step forward to stir other youth to follow their example) and among the famous – celebrities/leaders in entertainment, sports, arts, literature, academia, armed forces, Nobel Prize winners, etc. These people are leaders and people will follow them. They can play an extremely important role in making this campaign happen and develop legs. These are people who command respect now and whose public stands (being photographed wearing orange and making a statement about why) can help us unhinge the people from the mystique of the existing political leadership. One of the key factors in the righteous action at UC Santa Barbara when 2,000 people walked out and blocked the highway was the fact that numerous professors cancelled classes for that day and called for students to participate. This is the kind of thing we need to broaden.
On Implementing This Campaign
We are only just starting this campaign and undoubtedly there will be much to sum up and adjust as we acquire more experience. What appears to be the experience so far is that some people when told of the campaign react with great enthusiasm. Barbara Olshansky, for example, reacted by saying “What an excellent idea!” and put on a big orange ribbon immediately. Activists who’ve been wearing ribbons or bandanas report having strangers and co-workers ask them what the orange is all about. Passing out orange ribbons, if they’re already pre-made, is relatively easy on the streets. It is also apparent, however, that making this campaign a success will require persistence and substantial effort. People out there don’t mostly immediately recognize the potential for this campaign and what difference it will make if they themselves wear orange. DIN! isn’t just some gimmick. We need to bring this campaign to them with verve and conviction, win them to understanding the strategy and press people to do it. It will not happen spontaneously. Youth and famous people will have to be especially focused on as central to turning this campaign viral. We must also do our best to win the rest of the movement organizations to adopting the orange campaign. We have, after all, a responsibility to the whole movement. If we do these things, then our chances of success will be multiplied several fold.
Here is how a political organizer (not of WCW) put it in describing it to his fellow organizers:
“Breakout sessions comments:
#1 idea presented - As discussed in the Authors' session - Small Orange ribbons worn on lapel or pocket as direct appeal to resist, and not allow American people to be made prisoners in our own country.
Dr. Dennis Loo, WCW and others propose that we use this method to get people to ‘declare yourself’ and it’s something people can wear all day long, at work, and running errands, etc, where they interact with the largest quantities of people.
This is one very simple way of taking the control away from politicians and media and putting it back into our hands to show our numbers. No one can stop enough individuals from doing this to slow it down. If enough people do this we can have our own Orange Revolution. When asked what it stands for, I say - it’s about restoring our constitution, returning our rights - Habeas Corpus, Free Speech, the end of Torture agenda and Guantanamo. (or the short form – ‘This is where Dick Cheney shot me’)
I raided some of the Michael’s craft stores here for orange ribbon, they have 1/8 in thin orange ribbon for 50 cents a ten yard roll and _ inch wide in basket outside the store for $1, so with every book sold at 26 Jun event, we were giving away a roll of orange ribbon and an envelope of about 20 safety pins.”
Posted by Dennis Loo at 8:10 PM
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Commuting Scooter by David Swanson
George Mason (1725-1792), the father of the Bill of Rights (1791-2002), argued at the Constitutional Convention in favor of providing the House of Representatives the power of impeachment by pointing out that the President might use his pardoning power to "pardon crimes which were advised by himself" or, before indictment or conviction, "to stop inquiry and prevent detection."
James Madison (1751-1836), the father of the U.S. Constitution (1788-2007), added that "if the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty."
Of course, Bush has long been connected in a suspicious manner to Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and others. Madison would probably have called for Bush's impeachment when Bush first refused to investigate or hold anyone accountable for leaking Valerie Plame's identity, or rather when Bush lied us into the war in the first place, or when he confessed to illegal spying, or when he detained people without charge and tortured them, or when he overturned laws with signing statements or refused to comply with subpoenas, and so on and so forth. Madison wouldn't have wanted to see his Constitution tossed aside until the moment Bush commuted Libby's sentence. But he certainly would have acted now if not before.
The trial of Scooter Libby produced overwhelming evidence that Vice President Cheney personally led the campaign to attack Joe Wilson through the media. This "get Wilson" campaign included telling numerous reporters that Wilson was sent to Niger by his wife Valerie Plame, a CIA operative. Cheney was told by the CIA that Plame worked as a covert agent in the CIA's Nonproliferation Division, which is the critical division of the CIA responsible for stopping the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Cheney's efforts to expose Plame actually exposed her entire covert network, at tremendous cost to the CIA's secret war against terrorism. If Plame's work had been exposed by a double-agent in our government like Aldrich Ames or Robert Hanssen, that person would face prosecution for espionage and treason. The evidence of Cheney's role is more than enough to start an impeachment investigation. And, of course, a hand-written note from Cheney, introduced as evidence in the trial, implicated the President.
The Libby trial also exposed the lead role of Vice President Cheney's office in manipulating pre-war intelligence to defraud Congress into authorizing the invasion of Iraq. Sworn testimony revealed that Cheney's office managed the evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, all of which proved to be lies. Cheney personally visited the CIA several times before the invasion to pressure the CIA to distort pre-war intelligence. And Cheney exerted "constant" pressure on the Republican former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee to stall an investigation into the Bush administration's use of flawed intelligence on Iraq, according to the new chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller.
Libby's crime was obstructing an investigation that appeared to be headed for Cheney and possibly Bush. The proper course of action for Congress, in the face of Bush commuting Libby's sentence, is to begin impeachment hearings against Cheney and then Bush. With the White House openly disobeying a stack of subpoenas, it is finally clear that impeachment is the only possible check on Bush-Cheney power remaining to Congress. In fact, in the wake of Bush's Scooter commuting, the following people all released statements condemning Bush's action and recommending that Congress and the public do absolutely nothing about it: Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson. In contrast, Joe Biden recommended that the public phone the White House and complain. That ought to show them!
Bush has just obstructed justice. His act of commuting Libby's sentence itself adds one more small item to the pile of impeachable offenses. Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), had the right reaction, releasing the following statement:
"In her first weeks as leader of the Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi withdrew the notion of impeachment proceedings against either President Bush or Vice President Cheney [actually she did that 8 months earlier, and Jackson began parroting her line right away, but who's counting]. With the president's decision to once again subvert the legal process and the will of the American people by commuting the sentence of convicted felon Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, I call on House Democrats to reconsider impeachment proceedings. Lewis Libby was convicted of lying under oath to cover up the outing of active, undercover CIA agent, Valerie Plame. It is beyond unthinkable that the president would undermine the legal process to protect a man who engaged in treason against the United States government, threatening the security of the American people. In November's election, voters put Democrats in charge of Congress because they believed our pledge of oversight and accountability. Now it's time for us to honor that pledge. The Executive Branch should be held responsible for its illegalities. Our democratic system is grounded in the principle of checks and balances. When the Executive Branch disregards the will of the people, our lawmakers must not be silent. Today's actions, coupled with the president's unwillingness to comply with Senate and House inquiries, leave Democrats with no other option than to consider impeachment so that we can gather the information needed to achieve justice for all Americans."
Very well said. It's tremendous to see Jackson come around. There's only one problem. Congressman Dennis Kucinich has introduced articles of impeachment against Cheney. Ten other Congress Members have signed on. And Jackson isn't one of them. Rep. Jackson and every other member of Congress needs to do one of three things now: Sign onto Kucinich's bill, H Res 333, www.impeachcheney.org , or introduce new articles of impeachment against Cheney or Bush, or crawl out of town in fear and eternal shame.
Now, the articles that Kucinich has introduced focus on war, and some Congress Members, terrified as they might be to fight in a war, are equally terrified of NOT sending other people to kill and die. Now would be the moment to introduce new articles of impeachment against Cheney for his role in the retribution against Wilson, for illegal spying, for torture, and for refusing subpoenas. Or take your pick of the available menu of offenses and choose your three favorites: www.impeachcheney.org
And now would be the time for Nancy Pelosi to announce that she could not possibly have meant that impeachment would stay off the table no matter what, that she meant it was not on the table at that time. Numerous crimes and abuses have come to light since that table clearing moment. Pelosi is in the clear. She can renew her oath to uphold the Constitution. Or she can go down in history as the appeaser of the new dictatorial U.S. regime, as the person who looked fascism in the face and said "That looks worth allowing to happen as long as we win in 2008," and whose party went down in bitter flames in 2008 because the American people still cared about their democracy.
Now is the moment for members of the public to act. Go to your Congress Member's office. Sit down. Read the U.S. Constitution aloud. Do not leave until they take you to jail. Or come to Washington, D.C., and do the same thing – but do it in the office of Congressman John Conyers, who is in the position to save this Republic in a week, who has the knowledge and the skill to do it, and who has absolutely no constitutional duty to step and fetch or bow and scrape for Miss Nancy.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 9:07 AM
Monday, July 2, 2007
My talk with "Radio Active" host Alex Ko on KPFK 90.7 FM will air on Tuesday, July 3, 2007 from 4 - 5 pm PST. You can also go to http://www.kpfk.org/ and listen online. If you can't access the radio show or get to the website when the show airs, it will also be archived subsequently and you can access it then.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 7:45 PM