Wednesday, January 30, 2008

U.S. Chief Legal Officer Can't Say Whether Waterboarding is Torture. Also Won't Say If the Sun is Hot.

Mukasey Won't Comment on Waterboarding
The Associated Press

Wednesday 30 January 2008

Washington - Attorney General Michael Mukasey still won't say whether waterboarding is torture, a stance that is upsetting Senate Democrats who had threatened to derail his confirmation over the issue.

Mukasey's refusal to define waterboarding as illegal could provoke hostile questioning during a scheduled appearance Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was to be his first appearance there since being sworn in Nov. 9 and comes on the heels of a letter sent to the panel's chairman signaling he will not ever publicly conclude that waterboarding is illegal.

"I understand that you and some other members of the (Judiciary) Committee may feel that I should go further in my review, and answer questions concerning the legality of waterboarding under current law," Mukasey wrote in a three-page letter Tuesday to the panel's chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. "I understand the strong interest in this question, but I do not think it would be responsible for me, as attorney general, to provide an answer."

The letter came as a response to senators' demands for Mukasey to clarify whether the interrogation tactic known as waterboarding should be banned by the United States. The tactic that involves strapping down a person and pouring water over his cloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning.

At his confirmation hearings in October, Mukasey refused to define waterboarding as torture because he was unfamiliar with the classified Justice Department memos describing the process and legal arguments surrounding it. His non-answer reply Tuesday infuriated Democrats who accused the attorney general of being incapable of what they called making a simple legal decision.

Mukasey "seems constitutionally incapable of rendering judgment on a simple and straightforward legal question," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who sits on the committee, said in a statement late Tuesday. "During his confirmation hearings, Mr. Mukasey promised repeatedly to end the stonewalling.... Let's hope he is more forthcoming in his testimony than he was in his letter."

In his letter, Mukasey concluded that current methods used by the CIA to interrogate terror suspects are lawful and that the spy agency is not using waterboarding on its prisoners. Beyond that, Mukasey said, it would be irresponsible for him to decide whether waterboarding is illegal since doing so could reveal details about the classified program.

Waterboarding was banned by the CIA and the Pentagon in 2006. Critics want the Justice Department to join other nations and outlaw waterboarding as illegal. But U.S. intelligence officials fear that doing so could make government interrogators - including those from the CIA - vulnerable to retroactive criminal charges or civil lawsuits.

Waterboarding is at the heart of a Justice Department criminal investigation over whether the CIA illegally or otherwise improperly destroyed videotapes in 2005 of two terror suspects being interrogated. The tapes showed harsh interrogations, including possible waterboarding, of suspected terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in 2002, when both suspects were held in secret CIA prisons overseas. They were destroyed as intelligence officials debated whether waterboarding should be declared illegal.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January 31st actions

There are actions being planned in your area - or if there aren't, get your friends together to do something that day - to show that we are not all "good Germans" and that we refuse to allow torture to go on in our names!

In Los Angeles, from 5-7 pm people are meeting at the Kodak Theatre, the Hollywood and Highland Red line stop, to demonstrate. When I checked a few minutes ago, the World Can't Wait website was again being maliciously hacked, at least the second time in the last few days. The top image is a banner that you can get that we are trying to get churches, office buildings, homes and apartment dwellers to hang for all to see. Contact for more information.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Obama: Reagan regained our greatness

I'd add to the following essay this: as bad as you think that Bush and Cheney are, and as alarmed as you should be about the fascist character to their actions and trajectory of their program - as David Addington has said "we're going to push and push and push until some larger force stops us" - Bush and Cheney are a logical extension of the path and program that Reagan/Bush Sr. initiated. If Reagan were alive today and were the president, he would be doing precisely the same thing that Bush/Cheney have been doing.

When he first attempted to get the GOP nomination for president, Reagan was derided by the mainstream media as a right-wing kook - which he was! Subsequently, when he successfully ran for the nomination and for the presidency, the manner in which he was treated by the mainstream media changed radically, but not because Reagan had changed. Reagan was the jocular old smiling face that made Americans feel good about being "great" - that is, "We're Number One!" as yelled out by the same kind of frat boy types who you see today declaring how much they love torture.

The "we're number one" yahoo chant is the heart of the problem because it's a concentration of the imperialist, Godfather attitude - "everybody in the world get back, 'cause here comes the U.S.A. with our bombs and our waterboarding, with God on our side!"

This is why the "America is great" argument that Obama's making is such a cesspool. Many Americans are understandably proud of being Americans, it's customary for people of any country to love their country. But where this all goes terribly wrong is when people in this country forget or overlook the fact that we are the sole imperialist superpower. The American way of life is purchased at the price of the domination and plunder of huge sections of the globe, a relationship that would not exist as it does now without the generous use of violence, including, most dramatically, torture on a daily basis.

What makes Americans better and more important than any other people on this planet? What gives our Navy the right to use the oceans for underwater communications that endanger the lives of the whales? What makes American lives more precious than those that are being killed by this government's policies? These are the hard questions that Americans who have a conscience need to ask themselves. If you think we're more important than other people, you're fair game for our government's ongoing and escalating deceit to justify committing crimes against humanity.

“American Greatness”—And Why Obama and Reagan Really DO Belong Together

by Toby O’Ryan

“But I think, when I think about great presidents, I think about those who transform how we think about ourselves as a country in fundamental ways… And, you know, there are circumstances in which, I would argue, Ronald Reagan was a very successful president, even though I did not agree with him on many issues, partly because at the end of his presidency, people, I think, said, ‘You know what? We can regain our greatness. Individual responsibility and personal responsibility are important.’ And they transformed the culture and not simply promoted one or two particular issues.”

—Barack Obama

“Regain our greatness”? How about we just bring a little bit of the fucking real into the discussion, okay?

Reagan promoted outright racism and “USA Number One” chauvinism. He began his 1980 election campaign with an appearance in Philadelphia, Mississippi where he praised “states’ rights.” And Philadelphia, Mississippi, you see, was where a mob of KKK murdered three civil rights workers—James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman—in 1964. “States’ rights” was the code word used by Klansmen and their more polite supporters to justify the lynchings, the murders, and all the rest of the terror they used against people fighting against segregation. And Reagan matched this with the so-called war on drugs that resulted in massive imprisonment of Black and Latino youth…all while he at minimum turned a blind eye to the dope that was pumped into the ghetto during the 1980s, some by CIA operatives and “assets.”

Reagan was also famous for threatening nuclear war—including with his infamous joke: “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” In actual policy, he not only rattled horrific nuclear weapons. He armed brutes and thugs to carry out terror from Nicaragua to Afghanistan, from El Salvador and Guatemala to Angola and Mozambique, and scores of places beyond. And in most of those places, the death toll ran not into the thousands, not into the tens of thousands, but into the hundreds of thousands of human beings that somehow got in the way of American empire…oops, I mean American greatness. He fostered the war between Iraq and Iran that took the lives of a million people. And, oh yeah, he also backed to the hilt the apartheid government of South Africa and the racist state of Israel—when both were dealing with serious internal rebellions of their oppressed by the most brutal means imaginable.

And these are just a few of his crimes. You could fill a hundred books with what he did to women, to workers, to gay people (including his vicious policies on AIDS)…with the way he brought Christian fascists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson into prominence…well, the list goes on. And yes, he did promote the idea that not only is there nothing wrong with the merciless dog-eat-dog ethos of America, it’s actually the only way to go—that’s what Obama means by the code words of “individual and social responsibility.”

“How We Think About Ourselves as a Country”

But here’s where Obama lets out a little bit of truth: that Reagan “transformed how we think about ourselves as a country.” You see, up to then you had people a little bit beginning to come to grips with the reality of America and, for once, not the storybook bullshit. So, yeah, Reagan’s great “talent,” as Obama lets on, was that he got people to think about all these crimes in different ways, especially after the ’60s generation had begun to bring out the undeniable truth about so-called “American greatness.” Reagan came out there with this shit-eating grin and salesman’s chuckle, and all the while he mobilized a fascist social base ready to bully anybody, and he narcotized those in the middle, and he effectively silenced and marginalized those who stood for anything decent.

Barack Obama is telling you what he thinks is great. Barack Obama is telling you how he plans to operate—to do a job of convincing people that the ugly shit that America does, all the torture and murder and arrogance that it carries out and that stinks in the nostrils of people all over the world, really smells like roses. Even as people in this country barely begin to come to grips with Abu Ghraib, and Fallujah, and all the rest, he wants to “transform how we think about ourselves as a country in fundamental ways.” And he wants to do it like Reagan did.

Now it’s up to you—do you want to convince yourself that he doesn’t mean it? Do you want to go along with the idea that thinking about something differently changes its character?

Or will you stare the truth in its face, repudiate any desire for any more so-called “American greatness,” and transform how you think and act on that basis?

Impeachment Statement by Presidential Candidate Senator Mike Gravel

Gravel: a candidate who has been willing to say what must be said about the need for impeachment and for that reason been excluded by the powers that be from serious consideration. Gravel, like Kucinich, has been barred from meeting in debates with the three Democratic Party candidates - the trinity of Obama, Clinton and Edwards - designated as the ones who we have to choose from.

"Change" and "hope" are apparently reserved for those who can say these words but whose intentions are empty of more than rhetoric and false promises. You cannot seriously claim that you will change things when torture and an unfettered executive are present day policy and you refuse to address these things NOW.

January 25th, 2008 by Senator Mike Gravel

While I’ve been outspoken in favor of the Impeachment of Vice President Cheney and President Bush since last July, today I’m announcing my very strong and unqualified support for Impeachment.

I want to very clearly and emphatically affirm the imperative of Impeachment as the Presidential Campaign begins to move into high gear and as the media is busy anointing the “front runners.”

As a Candidate for President, and most importantly as an American, I firmly believe that our most important and highest priority, both as individual American citizens and as a whole Nation, is to protect, defend, and nourish the foundation of American Democracy: the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Every other issue is of secondary importance.

I’ve chosen to run for President to effect what I consider to be much needed change. When people go to Internet websites that match them with the candidates that best reflect their own concerns and priorities, a very large number of voters find that I am the candidate best advocating the issues they most care about.

However, today I want to unequivocally state: without Impeachment first, what I or any other worthy Presidential candidate wants to accomplish is very unlikely to happen. Our words will in fact become another empty campaign promise and another sad political fantasy.

Why am I making such a statement?

Let’s review a few supremely important and disturbing facts:

Without Impeachment before we choose the next Administration, we as a Nation will be setting a legal precedent. We will be saying yes to the systematic destruction of the Constitution and Bill of Rights engineered by Vice President Cheney and President Bush, and will be formally agreeing to the end of American Democracy. We, as Americans, will be giving our approval and consent to the idea that the Vice President and President are indeed above the law, that they are in fact a law unto themselves.

Cheney and Bush have openly boasted about their supposed right to break the law. This administration has claimed that it has the right to spy on Americans without a warrant. This administration has decided that it has no obligation to respond to any lawful subpoenas from Congress, and that it may invoke Presidential signing statements to declare its right to ignore any Federal Law. This administration thinks it has the authority to arbitrarily strip any American of his or her citizenship.

This administration has illegally declared that it has supreme overriding authority. The Vice President and the President have accumulated and consolidated unprecedented power that has replaced the co-equal system of checks and balances mandated by the Constitution with a new Imperial Presidency. This imperialism has given the President far-reaching powers that our founding fathers would quickly recognize as tyranny.

The illegitimate authority of this newly constructed imperial Presidency – this Supreme Commander-in-Chief created by Cheney and Bush – has replaced the Rule-of-Law based on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Our system of co-equal branches of government, the unique and revolutionary principle of American Democracy, the great leap of faith that people could actually govern themselves, has been subverted. It is now almost dead.

America, the world’s oldest Democracy, is an astonishingly brilliant system of government based on carefully crafted and refined checks and balances between co-equal branches of government. The civil liberties given birth by this revolutionary form of government over 200 years ago are rapidly ending.

Our political elite, those we have entrusted to be the people’s representatives, have failed. Their oath of office, to protect and defend the Constitution, has been disregarded in the light of political power.

When we have a Vice President and President who openly declare they are above the law of the land, above the Constitution, how can we as Americans pretend that we live in a Democracy?

If We The People do not take action to demand accountability in the form of Impeachment, we become passive accomplices to the silent overthrow of American Democracy.

It is now time for the People to become leaders. We must teach our elected representatives to act in accordance with their oath of office and effect immediate impeachment of those who have committed these crimes against the Constitution.

If we do not act now we are all personally endorsing, sanctioning, and indeed celebrating, the end of the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus and all other fundamental civil liberties and democratic values. Such values have been the foundation of American Democracy for over 200 years.

The media-anointed “front-running” Presidential Candidates simply do not have the courage to tell the American public the truth.

If we elect any candidate from any party without first impeaching this outlaw Administration, we endorse and elect a new Imperial President of the United States. This cements into place a failed Democracy whose citizens have passively chosen to relinquish the cherished freedoms millions have fought and died to protect.

Do we really believe that we can trust the next President to give back the dramatically expanded power of the Unitary Executive? Once absolute power has been granted, it is never relinquished voluntarily.

We need to stop kidding ourselves. Let us summon 1% of the courage that those who landed on the beaches of Normandy had and recognize what is painfully obvious to the rest of the World: we are rapidly losing every fundamental freedom we thought we were fighting the “terrorists” to protect.

In six short years, the Vice President and the President have actively conspired to commit the most grievous crimes against our Constitution and the personal freedoms it guarantees. America has gone from being perhaps the most admired and respected nation on the planet to becoming the ultimate rogue state. The world’s only remaining superpower is now feared as the greatest threat to world peace.

The Constitutional system of checks and balances that are the foundation of our civil liberties have been gutted. America has become the only “civilized” state to declare its right to arbitrarily imprison, torture, and spy on anyone it chooses to, including its own citizens. We are also the only state to officially declare a right to wage lethal preemptive war on any nation that dares to threaten its exclusive superpower status.

Every democratic nation has the government that is created by active participation of its citizens. Impeachment is the only option for us, as Americans, to effectively wake ourselves up from this collective nightmare. It is the only way for us to demonstrate to ourselves and the rest of the world that we are the Americans we like to believe we are. We need to demonstrate that we actually can summon the courage to live up to our self-proclaimed ideals.

Enough is enough. This is NOT allowed.

There is a lot of very good news that makes me tremendously hopeful that we as a nation are starting to wake up and insist our Congressional representatives act to make Impeachment happen now.

Our corporate controlled media works very hard to portray impeachment as a fringe issue not worthy of serious consideration, even though polls show the negative approval ratings of this administration have surpassed all historic records. Reputable national polling shows that 54% want the Vice President impeached and 45% of voters favor Impeachment for the President.

We The People are indeed waking up – we have learned not to rely on the old top-down corporate media dinosaurs to tell us what they have decided is “the news.” Fortunately, We The People have an amazing network of online alternative information sources. These rapidly evolving reality-based, user-driven, independent media sites have made us our own news editors.

We The People are now realizing that we must act now to take the initiative to demand that our elected representatives in Congress initiate immediate Impeachment hearings. From the bottom-up, we have begun the process to restore the Rule-of-Law in America.

Here’s what we can all do now to take effective action:

Join your fellow Americans and Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), a member of the House Judiciary committee, by signing his petition that asks all other members of the Judiciary Committee to join his call for immediate hearings on the Impeachment of the Vice President.

Support and donate to these Impeachment Groups:

Impeach Bush

The World Can't Wait

Code Pink

Support and donate to my campaign and tell your friends.

Support and donate to the other Presidential candidates who are also publicly and courageously calling for Impeachment.

Let the other Presidential Candidates know why you are not willing to support or contribute to their campaign: that you refuse to support anyone who isn’t willing to tell the truth to the American people about what has happened to their Democracy.

Join together to organize and petition your Congressperson to be true to their oath office: to uphold their most fundamental and sacred duty to protect and defend the Constitution by Impeaching the Vice President and President. Together we will restore the Rule-of-Law in America.

Senator Mike Gravel
Candidate for President

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Exactly so young man."

The wisdom of our elders

By Geoffrey Stetson, Co-Chair Central Florida Veterans for Peace

I wore my new ARREST BUSH t-shirt tonight to my local Outback restaurant located next to The Villages retirement community near Lady Lake Florida for my monthly test of republican sentiment towards the Bush administration.

An old lady approached, a very old and very small and very determined lady who demanded to know “What will you do after you arrest Him?” To which I replied “We will try him for war crimes” and she replied “Exactly so young man.”

I’ve been aggravating the Republican denizens of The Villages with anti-bush t-shirts for years to both generate debate and judge the silent sentiment one may see in the eyes of those who won’t or can’t speak.

What occurred to me when the old lady said “exactly so” was not that she had changed her mind about Bush as so many of her fellow Villagers had but that she remembered the old days when the rules on war crimes were written.

She recalled the Nuremburg War Crimes tribunal wherein the Allied Powers tried the Nazi Government for crimes against humanity, establishing rules of conduct in future wars. With the United States as it’s guiding power.

She recalled the Geneva Conventions on War governing conduct of armies towards combatants and civilians during wartime. With some origins in the American Civil war the Geneva Conventions were formally adapted after World War Two for the protections of those caught up in war. Again with the explicit support of the United States.

She recalled The United Nations Charter obligating members to get permission before initiating aggressive warfare against another country. A Treaty signed by the United States in San Francisco, California as our government inaugurated its conception.

These three examples above contain the accumulated wisdom of thousands of years and thousands of minds dealing with war and the desire to abolish it and short of that to ameliorate the suffering.

These documents are Treaties of the United States and as such are the duty of every constitutional officer of the United States to obey.

Now then as to The Nuremburg War Crimes trials, Chief Justice Jackson a United States Supreme Court Judge ruled aggressive warfare to be the number one war crime, because that is the root from which all other war crimes spring. This is the United States speaking to the world and for violation of, we executed people.

The United Nations allows a member country to defend itself from imminent attack until the United Nations intervenes, but no member may initiate an attack without United Nations approval. This is another Treaty which requires all United States officers to comply.

As to the Geneva Conventions, they apply when the above restraints have failed.

George Bush et al have caused the United States to aggressively invade a foreign country against the vote of the Untied Nations in violation of United States and International law.

This is a war crime as defined by Justice Jackson at Nuremburg.

Every other incident of death from the invasion is a war crime.

Everything else pales in comparison.

Forget Pelosi, forget impeachment, this criminal cabal has clearly violated the law as it relates to war crimes which carry far more serious consequences than removal from office.

In summation, should the President be held to the rule of the law or shall he have in house lawyers write opinions unanswered absolving him and them of the responsibilities he took on when he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States?

The Laws are in place the violations are obvious where are the indictments?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

January 31st - OUR Time is Now

January 31: A Time To Act

from Revolution Newspaper

With Bush so widely despised, and with the Republicans in seeming disarray, day in day out you hear the authoritative voices of the talking heads of TV saying, “Calm down and don’t worry, Bush is over and done with.” And a lot of people do assume there is no way the present course can continue, and attach a lot of hope and expectations to the promises of change coming from the Democratic candidates.

Never mind that, hidden in the fog of wall-to-wall election coverage, Bush again tried to provoke an incident with Iran and fabricated evidence that could justify a war. Never mind that the regime still has a full year to push through more repressive legislation—like the new cyber initiative being called for by the director of National Intelligence that will allow the government to examine the content of any e-mail, file transfer or Web search. Never mind that the laws legalizing torture and overturning habeas corpus sit there on the books, unchallenged. Never mind the Klan in Jena, the Minutemen on the border, the torturers in Guantánamo, and the anti-choice majority on the Supreme Court. It’s all gonna go away soon.

But passively counting down the days ’til Bush’s term ends is not going to bring change that’s any good, folks—and it’s not going to bring an end to all the things people find so intolerable about the Bush regime. Bush and Cheney still have their ruthless hands on the levers of power, and are working those levers. They are nailing what they already did into place, and planning yet more. And the direction they have set things in with seven years of Democratic Party complicity is not easily reversed.

And a lot of people on some level know that. This winter’s movies and songs leave a record of the bitterness that is palpable after seven years of the Bush regime. The recent revelation that the CIA destroyed evidence of torture—and the indications that this was ordered by the highest offices in the land—won’t go away, even as it rumbles around in the bowels of Congressional proceedings, “investigated” by some of the very people, including top Democrats, who okayed it. This explosive revelation, like others, has the potential to bring down the Bush/Cheney presidency for the commission of high crimes; but whether or not that happens depends in large part on whether public repudiation succeeds in rising to the level where torture can no longer go on being committed in our name.

World Can’t Wait’s call for a day of No Business as Usual on January 31 takes place in this context. It can and must give expression to the urgent need for mass protest and resistance and do this up against the only story now being allowed in the media—the election frenzy that will supposedly change everything. The 31st stands out on this stupefying terrain as a pole of clarification—building on World Can’t Wait’s call to drive out the Bush regime, it puts forward again the horrors and atrocities still being committed by “your government” and states clearly the people’s huge responsibility in this light. And it stands out as a pole of attraction—a way to draw forward and galvanize all those agonizing and who sense the future cannot be left to politics as usual. The articles in this issue and last on the January 11 actions to close Guantánamo, which included mass wearing of orange as well as other actions against the regime, show the potential especially coming from the youth to bust out of the framework of paralysis and acceptance.

But What About the Elections?

In this election season—the earliest ever—lies an acute awareness on the part of the people who rule this country that there is a reservoir of restlessness and deep discontent among the people. The early and endless elections are attempts to sidetrack and politically contain that discontent lest it well up and become galvanized into the kind of political outpouring that threatens their ability to carry on with the brutal business of empire.

No Democratic candidate deemed viable by the media opposes the fundamental assumptions of Bush’s “war on terror.” Saddled with a war that has become one of the worst debacles in U.S. history—there is no easy resolution if you are an imperialist who one way or another has to maintain supremacy in the Middle East as foundational to maintaining an unchallenged empire. Even if they are “on record” as having opposed it before it happened, none of these candidates are for ending the war and occupation now. None of the Democratic frontrunners responded to the National Intelligence Estimate report that stated Iran was not making nuclear weapons by taking the option of bombing Iran “off the table.” None of them responded to the most recent CIA torture revelations by demanding an immediate repeal of the Military Commissions Act, which legitimized and legalized torture and set up a system of kangaroo courts for detainees.

Edwards may promise to pull all the troops out of combat and leave no permanent bases in Iraq—but his plan sits on the premise of pulling back in Iraq, but not pulling out of the region. He proposes basing troops that can be deployed as a quick-strike force in Kuwait and attempting to get NATO to play a bigger role in the rest of the war and occupation. Obama, for his part, has already made quite clear he would be willing to invade Pakistan and is urging stepping up the war in Afghanistan. And insofar as the “war on terror” goes, Hillary Clinton is just Cheney in a pantsuit.

The comprehensive nature of what has been concentrated in the Bush agenda—and the lasting implications of it—is still very little understood. The Call of World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime describes this as a fascist direction: it is an agenda that is bound up with endless war and torture; with the gutting of habeas corpus and the right to trial; with attacks on dissent and critical thinking and a many-sided assault on science and evolution; with the assertion of religion into public policy and patriarchal control over women’s reproductive lives. All that is not easily reversed—and the political terms of the ’08 elections are manufacturing consensus and consent for a continuation of this, and NOT putting a stop to and reversing all of that. And it is no mystery why this is happening—it is because these politicians work within a system that rests on the exploitation of literally billions of people around the world and within the U.S. If they were to take up policies that posed an obstacle to that system they would either be blackballed or else made into “object lessons”—set up to lose in order to show people why they must accept the terms, and the premises, put forth from on high. By the time someone rises to the top of such a system, they almost instinctively see their interests in terms of what serves the defense and extension of the imperialist system. If they have youthful histories of activism of one sort or another—as Clinton and Obama claim—these just become “back stories” that let them show how realistic they’ve “grown” and that can also allow people who still hope for real change to deceive themselves as to what these candidates will actually do.

In short, these candidates do not have the same interests or want the same things that the vast majority of people who will vote for them want. And if they did, they either would not be allowed to run or would be given the “Simon Cowell” American Idol treatment—as the media did to Mike Gravel, who mainly seemed to campaign to expose the warmongering character of his own Democratic comrades, and soon got denied a platform.

January 31—Act

It’s time to wake people up to grab hold of and remember what it is that they’ve been agonizing over and have found so intolerable these last seven years. It’s time to confront that the seemingly easier road of hoping that some politician will take care of the state of things for you is a dead end—that they will not do so in any way you want them to. It’s time for millions to act on what they almost certainly, on one level, know already—that what is seemingly safer is ineffective in making anything about the world safe from the kind of criminal mayhem now being committed in our name. There will be no change—at least change that is meaningful and positive for humanity—without taking courageous stands and engaging in mass political resistance. Real change comes from the mass initiative of ordinary people who accept the responsibility for taking the direction of history into their own hands.

Right now people in Iraq, in Iran, in Pakistan and all around the world are looking to the people of this country to see if the separation that people the world over have made since the 1960s—between the people and the U.S. government—is still valid. On January 11 people all over the world demanded that the U.S. shut down its torture center in Guantánamo. In the U.S. scores of people got arrested in protest, and high school students in several cities took initiative to politicize their fellow students. Teenagers and young revolutionaries embraced the polarization that resulted when other students tried to shout them down with chants of “USA! USA!” and openly supported torture. The vast majority of students did not know what waterboarding is or that it’s still being committed in secret prisons around the world; and when they found out, most were appalled. Hundreds of youth wore orange—and the actions of students who care about the world and its affairs lifted the lid off and opened up needed space for all those who care and want to be empowered to make history—to have a say in the kind of future they will have to live. And while the media in this country mainly censored news of the January 11 protests, people around the world heard about it.

This was a beginning. It must be taken further.

World Can’t Wait activists sometimes say, “It’s either up to those who rule or up to you—it’s time to choose!” This is true. And there are, to say it once again, high stakes. Continued paralysis and/or reliance on the Democrats will do nothing to halt the fascist direction of things, and the real and truly horrific crimes being committed—and justified, and established as the new normalcy—on the daily.

On the other hand, if the seeds of January 11 are nurtured quickly and if other people are reached, if a mass movement could begin to take shape—ranging in commitment from wearing orange every day, or institutions flying orange NO TORTURE banners, to acts daring to politically challenge “business as usual”—this could begin to change the dynamic in important ways. It could create more favorable conditions for further resistance to the crimes of this system. A visible outpouring could echo around the world, giving the lie in practice to the idea that the only choice is between U.S. imperialist rule and Islamic fundamentalism. And, from our communist standpoint, a major upsurge against the regime could create more favorable possibilities to repolarize society for revolution. January 31 can serve, if people throw their intelligence, imagination, and efforts into it, as an important step toward all that.

The January 31 Call to Action appears on the World Can’t Wait website at

The Economy and Impeachment

Want to Prevent a Depression? Impeach Dick Cheney

By Bob Fertik

As we all know, Nancy Pelosi's "Capitulation Congress" will do absolutely everything it can to avoid a battle with Bush over his utter contempt for the Constitution, the Rule of Law, and even Congress itself.

Remember Pelosi's 2006 campaign reason #1 for electing a Democratic Congress? "Subpoena power." So what about all those subpoenas Bush flagrantly and illegally defied in 2007? Never mind, says Pelosi.

House Democrats will postpone votes on criminal contempt citations against White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers, while congressional leaders work with President Bush on a bipartisan stimulus package to fend off an economic downturn, according to party leaders and leadership aides.

Senior Democrats have decided that holding a controversial vote on the contempt citations, which have already been approved by the House Judiciary Committee as part of its investigation into the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, would “step on their message” of bipartisan unity in the midst of the stimulus package talks.

Ah, "bipartisan unity." If that phrase means anything, doesn't it require compromise by both parties? So why is it that since Reagan came to Washington in 1981 - including the 8 years of President Clinton - "bipartisan unity" has always meant Democratic capitulation to Republicans? Every progressive knows what Republican Grover Norquist famously said: "Bipartisanship is another name for date rape."

At the moment, the Washington Establishment - and Democratic "leaders" - believe the slightest hint of Constitutional conflict would terrify financial markets and trigger a Depression. So if "bipartisan unity" is the issue-above-all-other-issues, why doesn't the Washington Establishment demand that Bush show some bipartisanship by respecting lawful (and entirely justified) Congressional subpoenas?

American business leaders arrogantly tell foreign leaders that economic growth is impossible without the "Rule of Law." Well without the basic legal tool of subpoenas, there is no rule of law - in the third world or in the U.S.

Just imagine what Bush would say if Vladimir Putin defied subpoenas from his Parliament. By refusing to hold Bush in contempt, Congress is allowing Bush to be more of a dictator than Putin.

Personally, I believe the single most important thing Congress could do to prevent a Depression and restore the pillars of our legal-economic system is to get to the source of all White House legal obstruction - by starting impeachment hearings for Dick Cheney as advocated by Rep. Robert Wexler. Why?

First, consider the alternatives. Financial markets around the world think a $150 billion economic stimulus is utterly useless in the context of the massive collapse of the U.S. mortgage industry and the banks that tried to milk it. That's precisely why global markets plunged 5-10% on Monday.

Why did the mortage industry collapse? Simple: Bush's government stopped regulating it and let the banks create a gigantic bubble by offering reckless and even criminal mortgages to people who could not afford them. Who in the White House waged war against all forms of economic regulation? Dick Cheney, of course.

And speaking of war, another major reason for our profound economic problems is Iraq. After predicting a cost-free war, Bush's disastrous occupation has already forced him to borrow $500 billion from China and the Arab oil monarchies, driving down the dollar and discouraging foreign investment. Who demanded the war in Iraq? Dick Cheney, of course.

Speaking of oil, the indirect economic costs of Iraq have dwarfed the direct budget costs. Oil was under $30 per barrel before Bush's invasion, but the political instability caused by the invasion has helped drive oil near $100 per barrel. This has driven up costs throughout the economy, cut business profits, and slashed consumer spending power.

Another drag on the U.S. economy is hard to measure but still large - corruption. Bush and his huge-donor "Rangers" brought crony capitalism to Washington and killed competitive bidding in favor of corrupt no-bid contracts. The result was predictable - massive waste and cost overruns. Who was the driving force behind Bush's crony capitalism? Dick Cheney, of course.

Bush's disastrous policies in all three areas - economic regulation, foreign/military policy, and government waste - have driven the U.S. economy to the verge of another Great Depression. Just as Karl Rove was "The Architect" of Bush's political strategy, Dick Cheney was - and remains - "The Architect" of Bush's economic and military policies. So as long as Dick Cheney controls these policies, absolutely nothing will change.

If Congress wants to prevent the coming Depression, they should forget about tax rebates and start impeachment hearings for the most catastrophic Vice President in history, Dick Cheney.

“Part of the big uncertainty,” Raghuram G. Rajan, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, said, “is where the bodies are buried.”

A helpful article. I'd add to this the fact, not deemed all that worthy of comment by the advocates of the "great moderation," that the reduced volatility during this last period has emphatically not been a reduced volatility in household or individual incomes among those who are not wealthy. Indeed, income volatility has risen sharply for most Americans over the last three decades. The nature of capitalism, and especially capitalism in the era of imperialism, is that the crises of capital do not disappear. They come less frequently, but the bundled up contradictions are all the more acute.

January 23, 2008
Worries That the Good Times Were Mostly a Mirage

So, how bad could this get?

Until a few months ago, it was accepted wisdom that the American economy functioned far more smoothly than in the past. Economic expansions lasted longer, and recessions were both shorter and milder. Inflation had been tamed. The spreading of financial risk, across institutions and around the world, had reduced the odds of a crisis.

Back in 2004, Ben Bernanke, then a Federal Reserve governor, borrowed a phrase from an academic research paper to give these happy developments a name: “the great moderation.”

These days, though, the great moderation isn’t looking quite so great — or so moderate.

The recent financial turmoil has many causes, but they are tied to a basic fear that some of the economic successes of the last generation may yet turn out to be a mirage. That helps explain why problems in the American subprime mortgage market could have spread so quickly through the world’s financial system. On Tuesday, Mr. Bernanke, who is now the Fed chairman, presided over the steepest one-day interest rate cut in the central bank’s history.

The great moderation now seems to have depended — in part — on a huge speculative bubble, first in stocks and then real estate, that hid the economy’s rough edges. Everyone from first-time home buyers to Wall Street chief executives made bets they did not fully understand, and then spent money as if those bets couldn’t go bad. For the past 16 years, American consumers have increased their overall spending every single quarter, which is almost twice as long as any previous streak.

Now, some worry, comes the payback. Martin Feldstein, the éminence grise of Republican economists, says he is concerned that the economy “could slip into a recession and that the recession could be a long, deep, severe one.” In Monday’s Democratic presidential debate, Barack Obama made the same argument: “We could be sliding into an extraordinary recession,” he said.

In the next breath, of course, Mr. Obama suggested that the right policies might still help, while Mr. Feldstein has said that a recession isn’t yet a sure thing. And much of the great moderation is real. Computers allow managers to run their businesses more efficiently and avoid some of the wild swings. The Fed and central banks in other countries have learned from their past mistakes.

But a recession is now more likely than not. It may well have started already. The Philadelphia Fed reported Tuesday that the economy shrank in 23 states last month, including Ohio, Missouri and Arizona, and was stagnant in seven others. California and Florida, with their plunging home values, may soon join the recession list.

The bigger question is how severe the recession will be if it does come to pass. The last two, in 1990-1 and 2001, have been rather mild, which is a crucial part of the great moderation mystique. There are three reasons, though, to think the next recession may not be.

First, Wall Street hasn’t yet come clean. Even after last week, when JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo announced big losses in their consumer credit businesses, financial service firms have still probably gone public with less than half of their mortgage-related losses, according to Moody’s They’re not being dishonest; they just haven’t untangled all of their complex investments.

“Part of the big uncertainty,” Raghuram G. Rajan, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, said, “is where the bodies are buried.”

As Mr. Rajan pointed out, this situation is more severe than the crisis involving Long Term Capital Management in the late 1990s. That was a case in which a limited set of bad investments, largely at one firm, had the potential to drive down the value of other firms’ holdings in the short term. Those firms then might have stopped lending money because they no longer had the capital to do so. But their own balance sheets were largely healthy.

This time, the firms are facing real losses, which will almost certainly curtail lending, and economic growth, this year.

The second problem is that real estate and stocks remain fairly expensive. This shows just how big the bubbles were: despite the recent declines, stock prices and home values have still not returned to historical norms.

David Rosenberg, a Merrill Lynch economist, says that the stock market is overvalued by 10 percent relative to corporate earnings and interest rates. And remember that stocks usually fall more than they should during a bear market, much as they rise more than they should during a bull market.

The situation with house prices looks worse. Until 2000, the relationship between house prices and rents remained fairly steady. The same could be said about house prices relative to household incomes and mortgage rates. But the boom of the last decade changed this entirely.

For prices to return to the old norm, they would still need to fall 30 percent across much of Florida, California and the Southwest and about 20 percent in the Northeast. This could happen quickly, or prices could remain stagnant for years while incomes and rents caught up.

Cheaper stocks and houses will benefit many people — namely those who don’t yet own a home and still have most of their 401(k) investing in front of them. But the price declines will also lead directly to the third big economic problem.

Consumer spending kept on rising for the last 16 years largely because families tapped into their newfound wealth, often taking out loans to supplement their income. This increase in debt — as a recent study co-written by the vice chairman of the Fed dryly put it — “is not likely to be repeated.” So just as rising asset values cushioned the last two downturns, falling values could aggravate the next one.

“What people have done is make an assumption that these prices could continue rising at the rate they had been,” said Ed McKelvey, an economist at Goldman Sachs. “And that does seem to have been an unreasonable assumption.”

Certainly, there are some forces to push in the other direction. Outside of Wall Street, corporate balance sheets remain remarkably strong, while the recent fall in the dollar will help American companies to sell more goods overseas.

But it’s hard not to believe that the economy will pay a price for the speculative binge of the last two decades, either by going through a tough recession or an extended period of disappointing growth. As is already happening, banks will become less willing to lend money, households will become less willing to spend money they don’t have and investors will become more alert to risk.

Welcome to the new moderation.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Nature Hates a Vacuum. Societies Tolerate Them.

It's dicta within the natural sciences that a vacuum is an unnatural state and that any vacuum will be filled instantly if the barriers to it are the least bit penetrable. In the social sciences, by contrast, it's dicta that vacuums (of leadership) can exist for quite some time. Social psychologists call it "pluralistic ignorance." If the customary leaders for a group do not act in the face of an emergency, individuals within a crowd will tend to adhere to the crowd's inaction.

We've been witnesses to this for more than seven years in the U.S. The Democratic Party and the mass media have been collaborators with the Bush regime in a pact that will go down in history as one of the most ignominious ever.

The opportunity - and necessity - for others to step forward to fill the vacuum of moral leadership that has been created by the Democrats and the mass media is great and pressing. When a society confronts a challenge as immense as this - where the very future of the planet may be at stake - it's critical that certain people rise to meet this challenge. They hold the fates of the world in their hands. Too many people are still waiting and hoping, while gnashing their teeth, for others to do what must obviously be done.

On the one hand, it IS frustrating that more have not stepped forward to do what needs to be done. So it is understandable that there are many who have done some things, or even a lot of things, to try to shake things loose politically - demonstrated, organized, spoken out, written, and so on - and have gotten discouraged and fallen back or resorted to blaming the people for their apathy. But what is not sufficiently appreciated here is that this vacuum of moral leadership is a most difficult situation to change. Busting people away from their normal enthrallment by the powers that be is very hard.

The fact remains, too, that a majority of people in this country are insufficiently informed about the gravity and monstrousness of what our government is doing - and this ignorance on their part is a major factor holding them back. (Out of 170 students in my classes this term, only a handful knew that we were torturing people and only a handful had even heard of waterboarding. As some of them have begun to learn otherwise, many of them are now spreading orange to their friends and family and acting concretely to be one of those who refused to remain silent in the face of their government doing unspeakable horrors.)

Our government's monstrous actions - and I mean the entire government, not just the White House, for they all know that we are torturing people daily - means precisely this: those who, no matter how small their number now, take a public stand against these horrors bring to bear immediately on their side the full-force of the moral high ground that they are occupying and claiming. This is no small thing. By stepping forward you are creating an opening for others to follow you and for the vacuum to be filled.

The situation we confront is highly unusual in world history and unprecedented in this country's history - at least since the genocide of the Native Americans and the slave trade of blacks. The only parallel to this in modern history is the Nazis' rise to power in Germany, in a country proud of its cultural traditions. "How could good Germans have remained silent in the face of fascism?" people have wondered ever since. "How could they have stood by while atrocities were committed?"

The answer is all around you in America 2008. The actions of any and all those who step forward now to declare themselves against the Bush regime and against all of the horrid things that this government represents and is doing is in the context of a situation in which the customary political and opinion leaders, with few exceptions, are irremediably bankrupt. The conscience-based actions of people from every walk of life, from the most unknown and humble to the most esteemed, can have and do have, therefore, a magnified effect. A spark in a forest that has just been soaked by torrential rains will not mean much. But a (social) spark in a forest that is bone dry can start a political firestorm. We need a political firestorm today.

We're dealing with two problems: a lack of awareness and pluralistic ignorance. In a situation such as this, the actions of a relatively small number of people can spell all the difference in the world. Even one person who is unknown to the larger society, someone only known to those in their immediate social circles, can make a very substantial difference in their immediate, everyday surroundings. Their actions can spread like a ripple throughout larger circles because the others around them who emulate their actions can act as ambassadors of a different way.

The bullies and moral monsters who we are fight are cowards. There is a reason why they've been dubbed "chicken hawks." There is a reason why they could not and did not anticipate the fierce resistance to their invasion of Iraq: they have a blind spot the size of the Milky Way galaxy when it comes to seeing that people will not just bow down before the might of the ruthless bully but will, in significant numbers, brave the terrorism being meted out to them and fight back.

Our adversaries are only able to get away with what they are doing if those who see most clearly what is going on fail to step into the breach and alter the calculus of everyday life. It doesn't take a lot people to start a seismic change. It starts with one or two people who decide they've had enough and won't be silent anymore.

Into the breach, into the vacuum, go, rush in.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Land of the Free, Home of the Brave" Joins a Distinguished List!

Canada puts U.S. on torture watch list: CTV

Updated Wed. Jan. :02 PM ET News

Omar Khadr's lawyers say they can't understand why Canada is not doing more to help their client in light of new evidence that Ottawa has put the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on a watch list for torture.

Khadr -- a Canadian citizen who was just 15-years-old when he was captured in Afghanistan more than five years ago and taken to Guantanamo -- has claimed that he has been tortured at the prison. Now, CTV News has obtained documents that put Guantanamo Bay on a torture watch list.

Khadr's U.S. military lawyer says the new documents contradict Harper's assurances that his client is receiving fair treatment.

"Omar has certainly been abused, his rights have been violated under international law, and apparently the Canadian government has reason to believe that's true, and yet, they've acted not at all to assist him," William Kuebler told CTV News.

Khadr's lawyers say suspicions of torture undermine claims that he can get a fair trial from the military commission in Guantanamo Bay. They want him sent back to Canada to face justice here. But the government has said he's charged with serious crimes and they are waiting for the U.S. judicial process to play itself out.

Canada's new focus on torture was ordered by the inquiry into Maher Arar's nightmare in Syria. U.S. authorities sent Arar -- a Canadian of Syrian ancestory -- to Syria after he made a brief stopover in New York in 2002. They wrongly accused him of having links to terrorism in large part because of information provided by the RCMP.

Arar was sent to a Syrian prison where he was tortured for nearly a year. An inquiry into the Arar affair ordered a new focus on torture, and CTV News has learned that, as part of a "torture awareness workshop," diplomats are now being told where to watch for abuse.

The aim of the workshop: to teach diplomats who visit Canadians in foreign jails how to tell if they've been tortured. It also listed countries and places with greater risks of torture. The list includes Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, and China. But surprisingly, it also included the United States, Guantanamo Bay, and Israel.

It notes specific "U.S. interrogation techniquies," which include "forced nudity, isolation, and sleep deprivation." The U.S. has repeatedly denied allegations by international groups that it tortures prisoners captured in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. However, U.S. officials have refused to comment on the Canadian list.

But international observers say they are heartened by the specificity of the Canadian list. Alex Neve of Amnesty International says he is surprised that Canada would risk offending allies by naming countries that potentially torture prisoners.

"These are countries where, sadly, the record is clear -- torture and ill treatment happens," said Neve.

But it appears that Ottawa may have had second thoughts about being so explicit. After the documents were released as evidence in a court case relating to Afghan detainees, the government tried to get them back. Sources say that Ottawa apparently wanted to black out sensitive parts that may anger allies.

Khadr -- who was born in Toronto -- was captured in 2002 after a battle with U.S. forces in which an American soldier died. He's accused of war crimes, but critics have alleged the U.S. military court that is trying him violates U.S. and international law. Khadr is the only Western citizen remaining at Guantanamo Bay.

A war crimes trial has never been held against anyone under the age of 18. International observers have questioned Ottawa's decision not to help Khadr, who many believe is no different than child soldiers victimized in Africa.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Op-Ed the NY Times Didn't Run

On 12/31/07 the New York Times published a scathing editorial charging the Bush White House ("Looking for America"), in effect, with high crimes and misdemeanors. After making a powerful case for impeachment, however, the Times failed to utter the word that dare not pass their lips - impeachment. The Washington Post on January 6, 2008 did broach the word, running an essay by George McGovern entitled "Why I Believe Bush Must Go: Nixon Was Bad, These Guys Are Worse."

The Times, the "paper of record," after roaring injustice to the heavens in their New Year's Eve editorial, ended like a lamb, with a mute and forlorn hope that the 2008 election would result in a president who would undo the wrongs committed by this White House.

I - and a number of others - took the Times to task for their ongoing failure to hold this criminal White House accountable. I pointed out, for example, that the paper never even mentioned in their coverage of the 2004 election exit polls, nor, of course the fact that those exit polls (before being "adjusted" to conform to the official tallies, showed conclusively that the election was stolen by Bush - by some nine million votes. Bush and Cheney would never have taken office in 2000 and again in 2004 and would not have gotten away with their crimes against humanity without the cooperation and compliance of Congress and the mass media. Their ongoing complicity in these terrible crimes such as torture as policy is deeply immoral. It has had - and will have - horrible consequences. The mass media and Congress's acts of omission and commission will go down in history in infamy.

The Times featured my comments on their editorial on their website - much to my amazement. In the hope that perhaps this meant that there was a tiny crack opening at the Times in its prior wall of refusal to broach impeachment, I submitted the following Op-Ed to them. They say that if you don't hear from them in two weeks, it means that they won't run your essay.

by Dennis Loo, submitted to the NY Times on January 1, 2008:

In 1960 social psychologist Stanley Milgram pilot conducted a study in the U.S. that he next planned to take to Germany. His hypothesis? There's something peculiarly obedient about Germans that allowed Hitler to rise to power. Milgram discovered - to his surprise - that he could obtain the same blind obedience to authority evident in Germany here at home. Americans were all too easily led to doing terrible things to strangers if directed to do so by men in white coats.

America today is the Milgram Experiment writ large.

Despite Bush’s disingenuous protestations to the contrary, our government has been and is still torturing people as official policy. These are not the actions of a few rogue agents; torture and rendition are being carried out upon the express orders of our land’s highest officials. In the most recent episode, we now know that the damning videotape evidence that the CIA was torturing people was destroyed. The trail of culpability for both the torture and the illegal destruction of the evidence lead to the White House.

As the New York Times editorialized on 12/31/07 (“Looking for America”) the crimes of this administration are legion and grotesque. But what is even worse than what Bush and Cheney have done and are doing - as difficult as it is to conceive of something more egregious - is that they have been allowed to get away with it by the silence and collusion of mass media and Congress.

The 2008 presidential race, placed on an extraordinary fast track this year, is in full throttle mode. Despite the unprecedented and extraordinary criminal commissions and omissions of this White House, the leading candidates for the presidency are not campaigning to end immediately the legalization of torture and abrogation of habeas corpus embodied in the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the martial-law enabling Warner Act, the earnest preparations for yet another war against Iran, the Iraq War, the express, illegal, warrantless spying upon all Americans, or the some eight hundred signing statements that Bush has issued that overrule Congressional laws. Moreover, the Democratic controlled Congress has said that they do not intend to do anything about the eminently hackable electronic voting machines until at least 2010. What are we to do? The question has been causing millions of Americans to agonize over our failure to end this regime, and our worrisome collective future.

There are moments in history when - as Tom Paine put it - our souls are tested. In such times, a generation either rises to the occasion and proves the valor and value of humanity, or falters in ignominy. This is such a moment. This is our Milgram Experiment. Eliciting disobedience to authority goes against social tradition and social logic. People do not like to break away from the crowd and the majority of people believe that authority knows what is best and that it is best to follow authority. Dissent can be dangerous and is always certainly, at the very least, difficult and uncomfortable.

Yet, disobedience to authority must happen when that authority has proven itself irremediably morally bankrupt and disastrous to the people and to the land. The Democrats, despite the multitude of messages from the people that they have received asking, pleading, and demanding that they hold the White House criminals accountable, have turned a deaf ear. They have, instead, given these White House criminals everything and more that Bush and Cheney have outrageously asked for. Bush and Cheney are like absurdly spoiled children who get everything they demand and then some. The Democrats are like the frightened and enabling parents of these exceedingly dangerous sociopathic children. The mass media are like the grandparents who can’t bring themselves to hold any in this family to real account.

Polls have indicated for two and a half years that a majority (the numbers have varied depending upon how the questions were worded) wants Bush and Cheney gone. Congress continues to defy this demand of the people. The mass media, including the New York Times, persist in refusing to call for impeachment. Yet the evidence could not be clearer: if what Bush and Cheney have done is not impeachable, then nothing is. If they are not impeached, if hearings are not commenced leading to impeachment, conviction and criminal prosecution of these felons, then the future of this country and this planet are bleak and frightening to consider. If, on the other hand, this generation rises to the occasion and shows its mettle, then a dramatically different and bright future can become possible. Which one we get is up to you and me. Let us not go down in history as infamously standing silent in the face of grave crimes the way the "Good Germans" allowed the Nazis to carry out their atrocities.

On January 11, 2008 Witness Against Torture, Amnesty International, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, ACLU and others have called for millions of Americans to wear orange demanding the closing of Guantanamo. This follows in spirit a campaign I started in the summer of 2007, adopted by World Can’t Wait, called Declare It Now: Wear Orange Daily Against the Bush Regime. The rationale for this campaign is that a vehicle needed to be found for the majority sentiment against the crimes and malfeasances of this White House to be expressed; for people in everyday life to alter the political atmosphere on the grassroots level; for THE PEOPLE to take the political stage; for people to take a public, political and moral stand; and for the millions who are dying to find an alternative to be able to express this in an endemic rather than episodic way. As the Hopi Prophecy eloquently put it: “We are the people we’ve been waiting for.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008

1/11: Initial Reports

Thousands in the US and many more around the world demanded that the Bush administration SHUT DOWN Guantanamo and END torture. (The first photo above is from Belgium. The other two are from the U.S.) Initial reports show a wide range of people wearing orange everywhere in a variety of actions.

January 11 at the Supreme Court
Amnesty International and Witness Against Torture Demand SHUT DOWN Guantanamo - World Can't Wait.

150 people aged 15 to 80 walked silently, wearing orange jumpsuits and black hoods across the rainy mall near the White House, and around the US Capitol. Their “handlers” in military fatigues kept them two by two, then lined them up in neat rows kneeling before the steps of the Supreme Court. A few were roughly yanked out of the line by stern men and women in black representing the civilian contractors and CIA who carry out the “enhanced interrogation methods.” These prisoners knelt holding signs saying “habeas corpus = fair trial” and “no torture”. Two rows of the prisoners marched slowly up the steps, with more civilians holding “SHUT DOWN Guantanamo” signs. Police stopped them, and they 35 were taken into custody.

Meanwhile, 41 people had entered the Supreme Court. According to Witness Against Torture, “a member of Witness Against Torture delivered a letter to the nine Supreme Court justices regarding Al Odah v. United States and Boumediene v. Bush, the two cases brought by Guantánamo detainees that they are now considering, along with a writ of habeas corpus for each of the 275 current detainees. Other activists attempted to unfurl a banner inside the Court building but were prevented from doing so by police, who began arresting them and shut the front doors to the building. Another group then started reading the names of the Guantánamo prisoners, but were prevented, whereupon they sat down and started chanting, “Shut It Down!” prior to being arrested.

Marchers came from across the U.S. to demand the closure of Guantanamo as the most notorious of US detention camps, but their minds were on ending the whole US torture state. They held signs against torture, secret detention, and the Military Commissions Act. They read poems written by detainees in Guantanamo, and demonstrated waterboarding. “We want the rest of the world to know that, even though George Bush is lying when he says the US does not torture, we are not a nation of torturers. It must stop now, with our actions,” said a college student who was being arrested in civil disobedience. High school student tourists were prevented by their teacher from watching for long, but proudly showed off their “no war” t shirts, and bought orange “no torture” stickers from World Can’t Wait. The action was part of a sustained worldwide effort by Amnesty International to shut down Guantanamo, and according to their website, there were similar actions in 83 places in 30 countries.

Quotes from Friday Jan 11 protest at the Supreme Court:

Amanda Daloisio, of Witness Against Torture, told how the group started in 2005, without professional skills, but knowing they must “bring hope to people held and abused in secret a mere 90 miles from our shores, but seemingly far outside the reach of our courts. Stories of the prisoners haunt and compel us. These accounts are brutal, vicious, difficult to hear, and almost impossible to comprehend. Stories too of families left behind, mothers pacing the floor, waiting for their babies to be returned, boys who are taken at 12, 13, 14 years of age. Parents weeping for their children, fathers wrenched from their families, and year after year, for six years, missing births and deaths, missing out on life.”

Jill Flores, from Psychologists for Social Responsibility, who traveled from Texas for the protest, said “I think that I represent lots of people who would like to be here today, but who are here in spirit, psychologists from all across the country that are withholding their dues from the American Psychological Association [for allowing their members to participate in US government interrogations], taking action, communicating what psychological torture is and educating people. I’m just one person out of many, a growing number of us. Psychological torture is different from physical torture. By design, it’s hidden and insidious in its effects. When we talk to victims of torture, they say that the psychological torture has such long lasting effects. The physical torture is something that’s identifiable and painful to outsiders. Psychological torture, on the other hand, leaves no marks and has much longer hidden effects that are trauma-ridden.”

David Swanson, said, “The US detention camp at Guantanamo needs to be shut down, not modified, tweaked, nor improved. The majority of the prisoners there are known to be innocent. Many of them were purchased for $5,000 in Afghanistan, as if you wouldn’t get the wrong people that way. They are being denied any hope of exit, of judicial process, of contact with the outside world. They are going on hunger strikes or killing themselves, and our government, when they kill themselves, says, ‘that’s an unfair act of war against us.’ These are people committing suicide because of what we’ve done to them.”

Press release from Witness Against Torture:


WASHINGTON, DC – Early this afternoon, 70 activists organized by Witness Against Torture delivered a message to the U.S. Supreme Court demanding the shut-down of the U.S. prison at Guantánamo and justice for those detained there. 35 activists were arrested inside the Court building and another 35 on the steps. The arrests followed a solemn march from the National Mall of 400 persons that included a procession of activists dressed like the Guantánamo prisoners in orange jumpsuits and black hoods – part of an International Day of Action that was endorsed by over 100 groups and that included 83 events around the world.

Inside, a member of Witness Against Torture delivered a letter to the nine Supreme Court justices regarding Al Odah v. United States and Boumediene v. Bush, the two cases brought by Guantánamo detainees that they are now considering, along with a writ of habeas corpus for each of the 275 current detainees. Other activists attempted to unfurl a banner inside the Court building but were prevented from doing so by police, who began arresting them and shut the front doors to the building. Another group then started reading the names of the Guantánamo prisoners, but were prevented, whereupon they sat down and started chanting, “Shut It Down!” prior to being arrested.

At approximately the same time, activists dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods representing the men imprisoned at Guantánamo, knelt on the steps of the Court building and eight others unfurled a banner on the steps. They were arrested as well. Each arrestee had previously surrendered his or her ID, and was taken into custody under the name of one of the Guantánamo prisoners.

“This group brought the names of the victims of Guantánamo right to the Supremem Court,” said Elizabeth McAlister, a member of the Jonah House community in Baltimore and the mother of one of the persons arrested inside the Court. “The Court has listened and listened to the views of the imprisoned, but has not heard them.”

Outside the Court, advocates read testimonies and names of prisoners, performed street theater, and handed out information. One performance was a simulation of waterboarding, one of the most controversial torture tactics used at Guantánamo and in other U.S. detention centers.

January 11, 2008 marks six years of detention without hope of release for nearly 300 men at Guantánamo. “Lawyers are working hard to bring the cases of the prisoners into the courts,”said Susan Crane of the Jonah House Community, who participated in today's action. “But lawyers can only do so much. These prisoners, who have been illegally detained, tortured, abused, and kept from their families for years, are not even able to communicate openly with their lawyers. Thats why we were here today to appeal to the Supreme Court justices to stand up now and end this abuse.”

Witness Against Torture is calling on the U.S. government to:
* Repeal the Military Commissions Act and restore Habeas Corpus;
* Charge and try or release all detainees;
* Clearly and unequivocally forbid torture and all other forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, by the military, the CIA, prison guards, civilian contractors, or anyone else;
* Pay reparations to current and former detainees and their families for violations of their human rights; and
* Shut down Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and all secret CIA detention facilities.

About Witness Against Torture
Tomorrow's action is the latest by Witness Against Torture, which came into being in December 2005 when a group of 24 friends walked to Guantánamo to visit the prisoners – an action following the nonviolent tradition of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker. Upon returning to the U.S., they continued the work with public education and community outreach, networking and resource sharing, and acts of nonviolent civil resistance to draw attention to the plight of prisoners in Guantánamo and victims of the war on terrorism everywhere.

The International Day of Action launches a concerted campaign to Shut Down Guantánamo. For more information, please visit

Honolulu, HAWAII

In an action called by World Can’t Wait, about 50 people from many organizations and perspectives came together Friday night in the heart of Waikiki holding signs and banners against torture and calling for Guantanimo to be shut down. New people whom we in World Can't Wait had never met before stepped forward to demonstrate and some of them donned orange detainee jumpsuits and black hoods and kneeled in front of the passing throngs. Participants ranged from people in their eighties to punkers in their teens. Several people from Friends of Sabeel (a pro Palestinian group), including a Muslim man were there, along with Amnesty International and a supportive off duty cop.

On one corner of the street, hula dancers entertained crowds of tourists. On the other corner, three hooded "prisoners" dressed in orange kneeled in front of a brilliant orange "Stop Torture" banner, flanked by protesters holding signs.

One of the wonderful things about Waikiki is that everyone is carrying a camera, video or cell phone, and you get the sense that your message is being instantly beamed around the world. Tonight was no exception, and the message was clear: "Stop Torture!", “Shut Down Guantanamo," "WaterBoarding is Torture."

The response from those who passed was mixed. Many, many stopped to thank us. Hundreds took leaflets and nodded agreement. But a surprisingly large number openly defended torture and made ugly and threatening comments. Organizers estimated about 60% of the passersby were against torture, and 40% seemed to be for it or think it was necessary.


Greensboro was back out on the streets for the nationwide SHUT DOWN GUANTANAMO actions, with large orange banners, orange jumpsuits, and a harrowing waterboarding demonstration. About 35 people took part in the downtown street corner demonstration, including students from UNC-Greensboro and Guilford Tech Community College, amongst whom were several international students. Also on hand were people from the
Greensboro chapter of World Can't Wait, Chapel Hill's Grass Roots Impeachment Movement (a.k.a. GRIM), the Winston-Salem Green Party and various others.

The response from passing cars was very positive, with lots of honks and thumbs up in support. There was also a pretty large contingent of cops gathered for the size of the crowd demonstrating, including the one demonstrators call "Taze" who tasered a non-violent protester exactly one year ago at this same intersection during a civil isobedience against the "troop surge." This time the cops caused no problems.

We were proud to be in the company of people like Witness Against Torture, who that day committed a brave act of civil disobedience at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC and others around the country (and the world!) who refuse to let the next generation inherit the US as a torture state.


On Thursday, January 10th in Los Angeles, seventy people gathered at the Echo Park United Methodist Church to hear Michael Rapkin, an ACLU lawyer who represents a Guantanamo detainee, Dennis Loo PhD. who is a member of the World Can't Wait national steering committee, Sunsara Taylor, writer for Revolution newspaper and member of the World Can't Wait advisory board, and John Heard, a noted actor and activist, speak about the horrors of codified torture and why we must all act to put an end to it and the Bush program that seeks to justify the unjustifiable.

Michael Rapkin shared his profoundly disturbing first-hand experiences in coming face to face with atrocities visited on detainees as they languish in inhumane conditions at the prison in Guantanamo, and have little legal recourse or hope toward a day of release and return to their homes and families. The depth of the cruelty that he has uncovered toward detainees as he has worked tirelessly for their release left the audience breathless with horror at times.

John Heard's reading of a poem selected from the recent compilation of writings of detainees, Poems of Guantanamo, was intensely delivered. People in the audience were visibly moved and some fought back tears as he finished and read the bio of the author: Al Anazi, a humanitarian worker who had been arrested by bounty hunters on his hospital bed after undergoing a leg amputation, who is forced to walk painfully on ill-fitting prosthetics held together with duct tape and has been suffering in that prison since 2002, with no hope of release.

Sunsara Taylor spoke about the importance of understanding this critical period in our history, finding opportunities to break through the din of the electoral process that immobilizes people, and pointed to the necessity of sharply truthful discussions throughout society about mobilizing a mass movement from below to break out and demand an end to all of this.

Dennis Loo PhD discussed the pivotal importance of 2008 (as the year in which either the monstrous acts of the Bush regime are codified or millions rise to the occasion and repudiate everything this despicable regime represents), the nature of group dynamics in the face of the abdication of moral leadership, and gave examples of the difference that even one individual can make in dramatically altering "pluralistic ignorance." He painted a picture of what "a scene seen by all" would look like, with orange evident everywhere, and counterposed traditional ways of looking at political organizing to the endemic change that DIN/333 reflect.

UCLA Campus: At noon on Jan. 11 at UCLA, the everyday rush between classes was pierced by the sharp shouts of two men, as they grabbed a student and accused him of being a terrorist. Despite his repeated insistence that he knew nothing of what they were talking about, and as a crowd gathered around, the men quickly forced him to wear an orange jumpsuit and threw the student onto a reclining board. To the crowd's shock, they then proceeded to pour water onto his face, causing him to choke and feel as if he were drowning.

This was, of course, a simulated waterboarding, conducted by 3 students from a nearby arts college. A local radio station covered the enactment, and reported it in the afternoon. The reporter asked students what they thought about the demonstration; the majority talked about how disturbing it was to see, adding that this was torture. While some students hurried past without missing a beat, others stopped to watch, and some took orange, and a few signed up. A German student thanked us for doing this, and was to get involved. A high school student who met us during IFAW Week came in orange tights and an orange scarf, and made plans to work toward Jan. 31.

Incredible black & bright orange stenciled pictures of a kneeling Guantanamo prisoner were seen around campus on banners hung from stairwells and buildings, on posters that read "Stop Torture" taped on walls, and on butcher paper on the sidewalk. Plans are being made to produce many more of these to transform the scene.


At 4:45 PM, a high-energy, yet somber “silent procession” of orange jumpsuits, starting from the steps of the Federal Courthouse – many in chains and wearing black hoods – began marching through downtown San Francisco as the commute traffic swelled.

This action was called for by Act Against Torture and supported/mobilized for by many others: the ACLU, Amnesty International, a number of religious groups, Code Pink, 911 Truth Alliance, and World Can’t Wait. This march was impressive, numbering about 200 at the start with over half wearing orange jumpsuits and our numbers grew along the way. Our demonstration down Market Street, in a fluid and diverse procession, 50
yards long, standing 5 abreast, was remarkably intense in spirit. We were of many backgrounds and all ages, carrying many homemade banners and signs.

At first, the procession was silent and very dramatic, as was the plan for the entire march. The energy coming from the folks in our demonstration was strong, and we sensed that we commanded the attention of the vast majority of onlookers. There were a lot of youth in the procession and some could not resist seizing this opportunity to make their stand against torture unmistakably clear. One young man with a bull horn was able to cite Act, after Act, after Act, by name and number, what rights have been obliterated, what dangers result, and that only us, the people, can set it straight. A few blocks later, some chanting began. By midway, the march was together in full blown chain-rattling chants, mainly “ACT AGAINST TORTURE, SHUT DOWN GUANTANAMO!” and “HEY-HEY, HOHO, GUANTANAMO HAS GOT TO GO!” Every so often the procession paused and “prisoners” staged a tableau, with c ostumed “guards and interrogators” holding cardboard cut-out military “weapons” to their heads.

As we made our way down Market, the busiest and most important street in San Francisco, we got bigger. Many passersby simply joined in -- freely walking and chanting along with us. There were ordinary shoppers and office workers, as well as some very well-dressed people. Suddenly, a stranger you’d never seen at this, or any other march was walking next to you, chanting as loudly as the organizers. There were other people who stopped, saw, and began to applaud, or to say thanks for doing this.

Of course, there was also some negative reaction, people complaining about traffic disruption, or bad mouthing the antiwar protestors. However, today, positive vibes far outstripped the insignificant. It was very exciting to see people’s startled faces as they caught sight of the 100 bright orange jumpsuits, their eyes and smiles lit up, their busy agendas just forgotten -- imagine the possible impact of 500!

Some of us were leafleting for World Can’t Wait, getting out several hundred flyers with the January 2008 Statement and a pitch for January 31. Also, another 100 original Calls went out as we talked to lots of new people in and alongside the procession. We heard some businessmen saying “Thank God somebody is saying this!” Passersby asked us, “Why orange?” “Where is Guantanamo?” “What is waterboarding, anyway? It’s on the news, yet they don’t say what it is . . .” This “Act Against Torture/Shut Down Guantanamo” march was so compelling, that every time we crossed a street, it snarled traffic. Many of our detainees were chained together, which necessitated crossing as a single unit. At four-way crosswalks, the prisoners would occupy all four streets - soon detainees were morosely walking in every direction. The patrolling police got increasingly antsy about this. There was a lot of honking, much of it positive, some negative, it wasn’t difficult to tell the difference. Some youth in jumpsuits would sit down or kneel in the middle of these intersections several times in this way, and the whole procession would stop traveling for ten or fifteen minutes. There were no arrests, as eventually everyone would move on to the next stop. The procession ended on the Embarcadero, at the foot of Market Street, with a final one of these “stops.”

Other related January 11 events:

1) High school outreach – at two or three schools, WCW student/youth organizers were distributing orange - we don’t have full reports from them yet. The biggest news was successful new organizing at one San Francisco high school, where one teenaged WCW organizer worked with teachers and students to organize an assembly two days before January 11. About 60 students came together from four teachers’ classes. They heard a presentation by author/journalist Larry Everest, breaking down the issue of torture and what is actually happening, and the importance of January 11. WCW brought jumpsuits and student volunteers tried them on as the discussion dug deeply into why the waterboarding, the detentions, and the torture are so wrong.

Many of the students had known little or nothing about all this before our program. By the end of the session: (1) when the question was posed: Do you think Americans’ lives are more important than the lives of other people? The answer was nearly unanimously NO. And (2) a whole lot of them asked their OWN question of us: “What can I do about this?”

On Friday at this high school, fifty students wore orange to school, all day. And seven of them made their way to the Market Street procession after school, and marched with the “prisoners.”

2) Right after the procession, World Can’t Wait had an organizing meeting at a nearby arts f acility. A good number of people came for their first time at a WCW program – again, very diverse and all ages. We screened an excerpt of the Bush Crimes Commission DVD, and the 2007 Nickelodeon News segment featuring high school World Can’t Wait activism against torture and the whole Bush trajectory. There was a good brainstorm over the new 2008 WCW plans for January thru March, and a lot of enthusiasm for joining into and building a movement to “bring all this to a halt,” both from new friends who have been politically active in their past, and others for whom this is a first.


In San Diego World Can’t Wait joined the Witness Against Torture rally held in front of the federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Representing the spectrum of participants is a California organizer for Dennis Kucinich, activists from Vets for Peace, S.D. Peace Resource Center and S.D. Coalition for Peace and Justice and an organizer of a chapter of SDS at S.D. State University.


Around 60 people at the height gathered with banners and orange jump suits at a busy intersection uptown Minneapolis. Highly visible banners were an orange one calling for the US to close Guantanamo and a one from Iraq Veterans Against the War. People had smaller signs saying “No Torture. About 10 people were in orange jumpsuits. This action was organized jointly by the ACLU and Impeach for Peace/Minneapolis WCW.


Actors from several off-Broadway theater groups, including Subjective Theater, LAByrinth Theater and Artists Network, joined with World Can’t Wait to stage an exhibition right on Broadway in Times Square. The victim, hooded and in an orange jump suit, was dragged in by black-suited “private contractors”, who demanded “Give us the names!”

In spite of a steady rain, a crowd quickly gathered as the screaming victim was forced onto the board, a towel thrown over his face and the water began to flow. The graphic demonstration made clear once again that waterboarding is not “enhanced interrogation”;it is torture.The action was covered by Reuters, Associated Press,and Agence France-Presse.

The actors enthusiastically took this up, all with a maximum of 48 hours notice, clearing schedules and urging others to join in. They applied their skills to working out how to do the demonstration in the most powerful way possible. Afterwards, they talked about how the intensity and inhumanity of torture, even though acting it, greatly effected them. They volunteered to do this again and want to remain in touch with WCW for its future plans.


In Atlanta on January 11, there was a small protest of about 20 people to say No to Torture and Shut Down Guantanamo. The ACLU partnered with a weekly anti-war vigil that has a presence outside a high rise in midtown every Friday at noon. World Can’t Wait Atlanta participated in and helped promote the protest.

Since the protest was held at noon, we were able to talk with many of the hundreds of people that walked by during the course of their lunch hour and were visible to the traffic passing by. The ACLU brought out orange armbands, Shut Down Guantanamo T-shirts and fact sheets. WCW brought orange jumpsuits, flyers, orange ribbons, and bracelets. We had four people dressed in the orange jumpsuits, always a provocative action. And we had a very large banner that said, ”Stop Torture Wear Orange on Jan. 11,”. This was intermixed with the regulars who came out with anti-war signs, and a couple regulars had Impeach Bush for War Crimes posters.

The crowd that walked by was very mixed. About 25% took flyers, and about ¾ of them took orange ribbons to wear, many of them attaching the ribbon to their clothes immediately, and about 2% were openly for torture. Several people we talked with were torn and wanted to know what will stop the terrorists from hurting Americans, many people didn’t know what Guantanamo was(!), and almost everyone did not know that the U.S. has made torture legal with the Military Commissions Act.

The most disturbing element of the day was that most of the people did not want to engage at all. They would rush by us, so they wouldn’t have to deal with it. We tried to do some agitation, because we had a captive audience when there was a crowd waiting for the light to turn so they could walk across the street, about living in a torture state and is that ok with everyone, don’t you think we should be debating this everywhere we go, what kind of world do we want to live in. This did provoke more people to take flyers and the pro war and torture side to speak out too. One guy asked us what to do with the terrorists, when he was asked if he thought everyone in Guantanamo was a terrorist, he replied that he didn’t know who was in Guantanamo. We pointed out that this was one of the problems with Guantanamo, and he said that he trusts the elected representatives to make sure there are not mistakes. We suggested that he do some research.

Even though it was small we were able to talk with lots of people in a short amount of time, confront them with the reality of the world we live in and break into their isolated lives if only for a few minutes.


The Seattle Chapter of World Can't Wait Jan 11th WE WON'T LIVE IN A TORTURE STATE event was attended by many organizations and about 150 people. Most people saw that torture was a shameful aspect of the Bush regime, that the Bush regime should be held criminally accountable, they should be driven out, and that the elections will not solve the problems we face because there has been no accountability. All agreed it is a moral imperative that the practice of torture needs to stop now, today.

The crowd was almost silent while the "waterboarding" demonstration was being enacted. The press was leaning in close for the best picture. People were very affected by this demonstration and their faces showed a variety of emotions: shock, shame, and sadness even though everyone knew that this was a demonstration only. The crowd listened intently as James Yee, former US Army Muslim Chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, and author of "For God and Country" spoke about the deplorable conditions at Guantanamo Bay. Many other speakers spoke out loudly against torture including: Representatives from Amnesty International, World Can’t Wait, Washington State Religious Campaign Against Torture, State Senator Eric Oemig, Judith Shadduck from Progressive Democrats of America*, Washington State NLG Chapters and Congressman Jim McDermott. Seattle WCW was joined by: Amnesty International, ACLU Close Guantanamo, Washington for Impeachment, EFOR, Neighbors for Peace, The Backbone Campaign, United for Peace of Pierce County, Witness Against Torture, Center for Constitutional Rights, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the Peace Corps and many others.