Here's how Rush Limbaugh is reacting to McClellan's memoir: "he [Scott McClellan] doesn't know diddly-squat about what's in his book because he didn't write it." Limbaugh, trying to explain away the devastating criticism leveled at his hero, George W. Bush, is claiming that Peter Osnos, McClellan's publisher, ghost wrote McClellan's book.
But of course, not our Scotty! Not our loyal Scotty! How could he? Scotty, beam me up out of here and into the rapture, because I can't take it anymore!
Here's Rush doing his thing: "Peter Osnos... is a huge, far-left liberal. His publishing house is affiliated with The Nation magazine. His company has also published The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. This man's name is Peter Osnos, and so far six books have been bankrolled by George Soros. So there is a George Soros connection to the Scott McClellan book. In addition, this guy, Peter Osnos, has ripped me."A reporter and editor at the Washington Post during the 1970s and 1980s before going into book publishing, Osnos pens a weekly column for the left of center The Century Foundation. In a March column he denounced Rush Limbaugh as 'bombastic, aggressive, and mean,' bemoaning how the late William F. Buckley Jr. left behind 'a right-wing culture that tends to be as coarse and leaden as his demeanor could be buoyant,' charging Buckley provided 'unfortunate cover to others who followed with a spirit that was distinctly and consistently malevolent.' So that's the publisher. This is the guy who published McClellan's book. This is probably the guy who wrote McClellan's book." (DL: errors in the original).
Here is how PublicAffairs Book's website, publisher of McClellan's memoir, describes Peter Osnos:
FOUNDER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE
Peter Osnos was a correspondent around the world for The Washington Post [now there's a left-wing paper if I ever heard of one!] and the newspaper's foreign and national editor. He was Associate Publisher and senior editor at Random House and publisher of Random House's Times Books division [oh my, another huge left-wing publisher!]. In 1997, he founded PublicAffairs, an independent publishing company specializing in books of journalism, history, biography and social criticism. Among the authors he published at PublicAffairs are, Wesley Clark [left-wing radical that one!], Dorothy Height, Vernon Jordan, Wendy Kopp, Robert McNamara [another hero of the left-wing!], Andy Rooney [we all know that beneath all that folksy wisdom stuff that Rooney's actually a stooge of the commies], Natan Sharansky, George Soros, Boris Yeltsin, and Muhammad Yunus, and journalists from America’s leading publications and prominent scholars. He is executive director of The Caravan Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, which is developing a plan for multi-platform publishing of books. He is Vice Chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review [oh, please, another left-wing institution, I'm dying here!] and is active in a number of other journalism and human rights organizations. He writes a regular media column that is distributed by the Century Foundation (www.TCF.org). He is a graduate of Brandeis and Columbia Universities. He lives in Greenwich CT with his wife Susan, a consultant to human rights organizations [ah ha! Human Rights! Clearly a front group for left-wing radical types. Right thinking conservatives don't believe in human rights!]."
Here's NewsBusters' Brent Baker, echoing Rush's talking points and also trying to claim that McClellan didn't REALLY write his own memoir, but was manipulated (unlike what happened when he was Bush's press secretary when he was, of course, just speaking his own mind and telling it like it is):
"On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Ari Fleischer related that 'Scott told me that his editor did "tweak," in Scott's word, a lot of the writing, especially in the last few months.' In an 'Eat the Press' blog entry Wednesday, Rachel Sklar asked Osnos: 'Did you work directly on the book with McClellan? (Who was his editor?)' Osnos replied: 'The editor was Lisa Kaufman and yes, I worked very closely with them.'”
Has Brent Baker ever worked with an editor? (Apparently not, looking at his work, if this article is any indication). Does Baker know that "tweaking" a manuscript is what editors do? In fact, sometimes editors do more than "tweak."
Does Baker even read what he writes himself? "The editor was Lisa Kaufman." If you're going to claim that Peter Osnos ghost wrote McClellan's book, do you really want to reveal the fact that the editor wasn't Osnos but Kaufman?
Baker goes on:
"Amongst the authors Osnos has worked with at PublicAffairs and previously at Random House: Wesley Clark, Vernon Jordan, Robert McNamara, Andy Rooney, George Soros, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Rosalyn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Sam Donaldson, Morley Safer, Molly Ivins and William Greider. Hard to find more than a few conservative names in the PublicAffairs list of authors."
How remarkable! "Hard to find more than a few conservative names in the Public Affairs list." Imagine that! Rush and Baker slam PublicAffairs for being a liberal publisher and then Baker is surprised to find that they have only a few conservative authors that they've published!
I guess that right-wing publishing houses publish "more than a few" liberals! When my next manuscript is ready, I think I should send it to Regnery Publishing. They could use a few more "liberal" names on their list. From their website, touting some of their latest: "Newt Gingrich’s influential Real Change, which quickly vaulted to #3 on the list, and remained on the printed list for ten weeks running. Soon to come are books by rock legend and gun rights leader Ted Nugent; martial arts expert, actor, and political activist Chuck Norris; and several repeat Regnery bestselling authors, including Tony Blankley, Chris Horner, and Robert Spencer. We also have a blockbuster exposé on O.J. Simpson by his longtime agent and confidant, Mike Gilbert; as well as three new volumes in our bestselling Politically Incorrect Guide™ series."
Baker and Rush claim that PublicAffairs is linked to the ultra liberal Nation magazine (the actual "link" being that the Perseus Group, which owns Public Affairs, also owns a number of other publications of which the Nation is one).
I really should read the right wing's stuff more often. Everyone could use more humor in their life.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Here's how Rush Limbaugh is reacting to McClellan's memoir: "he [Scott McClellan] doesn't know diddly-squat about what's in his book because he didn't write it." Limbaugh, trying to explain away the devastating criticism leveled at his hero, George W. Bush, is claiming that Peter Osnos, McClellan's publisher, ghost wrote McClellan's book.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Scott McClellan, no doubt in an effort to assuage his guilty conscience about all of the lies he told as Presidential Press Secretary from 2003-2006, reveals some truths about this White House in his memoir.
The story he tells about the run up to the Iraq war - "manipulating sources of public opinion" and misleading people about why they wanted that war - is all being played out once again in relation to the Bush regime's plans for war on Iran.
The only difference is that the press secretary now is Dana Perino, but the game plan remains the same.
Will we be able this time to stop their vicious march to war and their plans to kill many, many innocent people, above and beyond the more than 1.2 million Iraqis they have killed to date in Iraq?
On April 21, 2008, CBS News reported that Dr. Ira Katz, the VA's head of Mental Health, in internal emails, admitted that there "are about 18 suicides per day among America's 25 million veterans." This, according to CBS, works out to 6,570 suicides per year. Since we have been in Iraq since March 2003, this translates to, conservatively, somewhere over 30,000 soldiers committing suicide. In other words, seven and a half times as many American soldiers have died by self-inflicted means than have been "killed in action."
If instead of killing themselves, these soldiers turned their anger and frustration on the people who are really responsible - the Pentagon, the White House, and the Congress - then they'd be doing not just themselves, but the whole world, a gigantic favor.
I do not know what the suicide numbers were during the Vietnam War, but I do know this: the anti-war movement created the conditions within which soldiers - who were confronting first hand the ugly truths about the war's real nature - could turn their experiences into fodder for anti-war resistance and rather than escaping a terrible personal agony by killing themselves, turn their fury against their officers and against the US government that was prosecuting that war.
GI resistance played a very big role in ending that unjust war. The anti-war movement at home (and abroad) in turn played a big role in making that GI resistance possible. The anti-war movement did this not by repeating ad nauseum that it "supports the troops" but by saying loudly and clearly that GIs should resist an immoral war. We do no service to soldiers by saying that we support them in carrying out the atrocities of this immoral government. We only do them a service by urging them to do the only right thing: fight AGAINST this war.
The painfully large numbers of suicides being committed now is the direct result of an immoral and unjust war being waged by this government that claims with so much self-righteousness that they are "supporting" and "honoring" the troops. What filthy rotten monsters they are!
Ex-Press Aide Writes That Bush Misled US on Iraq
Wednesday 28 May 2008
by: Michael D. Shear, The Washington Post
Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in a new memoir that the Iraq war was sold to the American people with a sophisticated "political propaganda campaign" led by President Bush and aimed at "manipulating sources of public opinion" and "downplaying the major reason for going to war."
For the rest of this article, go here.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Bush 'plans Iran air strike by August'
Asia Times 5/28/08
By Muhammad Cohen
NEW YORK - "The George W Bush administration plans to launch an air strike against Iran within the next two months, an informed source tells Asia Times Online, echoing other reports that have surfaced in the media in the United States recently.
Two key US senators [Diane Feinstein and Richard Lugar] briefed on the attack planned to go public with their opposition to the move, according to the source, but their projected New York Times op-ed piece has yet to appear.
The source, a retired US career diplomat and former assistant secretary of state still active in the foreign affairs community, speaking anonymously, said last week that that the US plans an air strike against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The air strike would target the headquarters of the IRGC's elite Quds force."
See link above for the rest of the article.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 8:20 PM
In preparation for the Republican National Convention, the FBI is soliciting informants to keep tabs on local protest groups
By Matt Snyders
Minn/St. Paul City Pages
They were looking for an informant to show up at "vegan potlucks" throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors.
Paul Carroll was riding his bike when his cell phone vibrated.
Once he arrived home from the Hennepin County Courthouse, where he’d been served a gross misdemeanor for spray-painting the interior of a campus elevator, the lanky, wavy-haired University of Minnesota sophomore flipped open his phone and checked his messages. He was greeted by a voice he recognized immediately. It belonged to U of M Police Sgt. Erik Swanson, the officer to whom Carroll had turned himself in just three weeks earlier. When Carroll called back, Swanson asked him to meet at a coffee shop later that day, going on to assure a wary Carroll that he wasn’t in trouble.
Carroll, who requested that his real name not be used, showed up early and waited anxiously for Swanson’s arrival. Ten minutes later, he says, a casually dressed Swanson showed up, flanked by a woman whom he introduced as FBI Special Agent Maureen E. Mazzola. For the next 20 minutes, Mazzola would do most of the talking.
“She told me that I had the perfect ‘look,’” recalls Carroll. “And that I had the perfect personality—they kept saying I was friendly and personable—for what they were looking for.”
What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant—someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”
Carroll would be compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered.
“I’ll pass,” said Carroll.
For 10 more minutes, Mazzola and Swanson tried to sway him. He remained obstinate.
“Well, if you change your mind, call this number,” said Mazzola, handing him her card with her cell phone number scribbled on the back.
(Mazzola, Swanson, and the FBI did not return numerous calls seeking comment.)
Carroll’s story echoes a familiar theme. During the lead-up the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, the NYPD’s Intelligence Division infiltrated and spied on protest groups across the country, as well as in Canada and Europe. The program’s scope extended to explicitly nonviolent groups, including street theater troupes and church organizations.
There were also two reported instances of police officers, dressed as protestors, purposefully instigating clashes. At the 2004 Republican National Convention, the NYPD orchestrated a fake arrest to incite protestors. When a blond man was “arrested,” nearby protestors began shouting, “Let him go!” The helmeted police proceeded to push back against the crowd with batons and arrested at least two. In a similar instance, during an April 29, 2005, Critical Mass bike ride in New York, video footage captured a “protestor”—in reality an undercover cop—telling his captor, “I’m on the job,” and being subsequently let go.
Minneapolis’s own recent Critical Mass skirmish was allegedly initiated by two unidentified stragglers in hoods—one wearing a handkerchief over his or her face—who “began to make aggressive moves” near the back of the pack. During that humid August 31 evening, officers went on to arrest 19 cyclists while unleashing pepper spray into the faces of bystanders. The hooded duo was never apprehended.
In the scuffle’s wake, conspiracy theories swirled that the unprecedented surveillance—squad cars from multiple agencies and a helicopter hovering overhead—was due to the presence of RNC protesters in the ride. The MPD publicly denied this. But during the trial of cyclist Gus Ganley, MPD Sgt. David Stichter testified that a task force had been created to monitor the August 31 ride and that the department knew that members of an RNC protest group would be along for the ride.
“This is all part of a larger government effort to quell political dissent,” says Jordan Kushner, an attorney who represented Ganley and other Critical Mass arrestees. “The Joint Terrorism Task Force is another example of using the buzzword ‘terrorism’ as a basis to clamp down on people’s freedoms and push forward a more authoritarian government.”
Posted by Dennis Loo at 4:53 PM
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Hillary's "Final Solution" to the Persian Problem
By ROBERT WEITZEL
"To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it . . . An evil unchecked is the prelude to genocide."
Dr. Mordechai: The Ezekiel Option
There are over 70 million human beings living in Iran, 17.5 million of whom are under the age of fifteen. Hillary Clinton vowed to attack Iran and "totally obliterate" the majority of the Persian race in a furnace of primordial fire should the Iranian government attack Israel with nuclear weapons, which they do not now possess or are likely to for some time—if ever.
Hillary's "final solution" to the Persian problem bests Adolf Hitler by a magnitude of ten.
Missing in Clinton's campaign trail pandering to America's pro-Israel lobbies and the mushrooming evangelical Christian Zionist movement is the "inconvenient truth" that Israel has the most modern and most deadly army in the Middle East thanks to an annual $3.5 billion in American aid—one third of the U.S. aid budget.
Israel is also a major nuclear power in the region—though it refuses to admit it—with up to 200 nuclear warheads and the inter-continental-range ballistic missiles to deliver them and, according to the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment, also has an undeclared offensive chemical and biological warfare program.
Israel, along with India and Pakistan are the only three nations not to have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran is a signatory of the NNPT, by the way. The most inconvenient truth, however, is that Israel has a 60-year history of attacking— with American-supplied armaments—any Arab country it perceives as a threat, nuclear-armed or slingshot-armed alike. Israel's bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear facility in 1981 comes to mind as an example of the former, its shelling of Gaza the latter.
Israel can and will " preemptively defend" itself against Iran, the country that a February 2008 International Atomic Energy Agency report concluded has not diverted nuclear material to non-peaceful purposes. Unfortunately for the 70 million Persians in Hillary's bombsight, Iran's biggest liability is its president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—but then the U.S. is equally burdened.
So the real truth behind Clinton's "final solution" to the Persian problem or John McCain's "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran" off-key hyperbole is not simply a "David and Goliath" struggle for survival, but is instead a cynical exploitation of the unholy marriage of convenience between fanatical Jewish Zionists who want a Muslim-free Eretz Israel in order to fulfill Old Testament prophecy and bring about the first coming of their Messiah and fanatical Christian Zionists who want the entire Middle East in flames to fulfill New Testament prophecy and bring about the Second Coming of their Messiah.
Jewish Zionists need the money and the political clout of the Christian Zionists. Christian Zionists need the Semitism and the chutzpah of the Jewish Zionists. Politicians need the votes that both groups can deliver, which in religion-drenched America is a hefty consignment.
According to a 2006 Pew Research Center poll, fully 44 percent of Americans believe that "God gave the land that is now Israel to the Jewish people" and 36 percent believe the "creation of the state of Israel is a step toward the Second Coming of Jesus."
Depending on which poll is the most accurate, there are between 105-135 million evangelical and born-again Christians in the United States. Of these Christians, a 2004 International Fellowship of Christians and Jews poll found that 31 percent identified U.S. support for Israel as their "primary consideration" in selecting a presidential candidate, while 64 percent cited it as an "important factor."
Predictably then, when Hillary Clinton or John McCain threaten to obliterate Iran, or any predominately Muslim country in the Middle East, with nuclear weapons, the primary audience for their saber rattling is not the Muslim "evildoers" but is, instead, the pro-Israel lobby and the Christian Zionist muscle in America who are willing to see the "ultimate evil" committed to further their ideological and eschatological agenda.
Nowhere does "ultimate evil" play a more prominent role than in the End Time machinations of two well-connected Christian Zionists, Tim LaHaye and John Hagee.
Tim LaHaye is best known as the coauthor of the blockbuster Left Behind series, which has sold over 60 million copies worldwide. The pulp fiction series takes the Book of Revelation as its inspiration and chronicles the tribulations that will occur between the Rapture of born-again Christians and the Second Coming of Jesus. The blood and viscera of millions of infidels and heretics—unrepentant Atheists, Jews, Muslims, and Catholics—are spattered on every page.
Tim LaHaye is least known as the founder and first president of the secretive Council for National Policy. The CNP was formed in 1981 as an umbrella organization to advance an ultra-conservative, right wing Christian agenda. LaHaye's particular agenda items include replacing U.S. secular law with Old Testament biblical law and a Middle East foreign policy that expedites the Second Coming.
According to the New York Times, the CNP consists of "a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country" who meet "behind closed doors at undisclosed locations…to strategize about how to turn the country to the right." Though the membership of the CNP is a guarded secret, a list of those known to have been associated with it reads like a who's who of Christian Zionists and neocon ideologues whose passion is to see the Middle East in flames and in chains.
A short list includes: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former Attorney Generals John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, the late Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Phyllis Schlafly, and Oliver North—the guy who sold weapons to Iran using Israel as the middleman.
Do not be blindsided. The CNP is a major player in domestic and foreign policy decisions and the "evil" that results.
John Hagee, televangelist and pastor of the 19,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, is the founder of Christian United for Israel. Hagee formed CUFI in 2005 following the publication of his book, The Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World, which sports a mushroom cloud on its cover and argues for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West.
Hagee's theology—and vision of the future—focuses on selected apocalyptic passages from the Old Testament. He believes that a nuclear strike against Iran will cause Arab nations to unite under Russian leadership, as outlined in the Book of Ezekiel, leading to an "inferno [that] will explode across the Middle East, plunging the world toward Armageddon." Consequently, CUFI exists to set the fires of the Apocalypse and bring about the Rapture and the Second Coming, but it needs Jewish Zionists to strike the match.
Christians United for Israel is the evangelical equivalent of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobby courted and placated by every American politician who has national aspirations. John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barak Obama have each pledged their fealty to AIPAC.
John Hagee is not without his own short list of beltway benefactors. The list includes, but is not limited to: George W. Bush, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, Senator Joe Lieberman—who called Hagee an "Ish Elokim," a man of God—and John McCain who was "very honored by Pastor John Hagee's endorsement [for president]."
When Christian Zionists with the stature of LaHaye and Hagee shill for fanatical Jewish Zionists who are promoting the ethic cleansing of Eretz Israel for biblical or nationalistic reasons or the pre-emptive "defensive" nuking of Iran, politicians with the stature of Hillary Clinton and John McCain, along with a hefty consignment of the electorate, are their willing dupes. It's just the politics of religion as usual in America.
But Jewish Zionists need to understand that the difference between Christian Zionists and Muslim suicide bombers is scale, a nuclear warhead versus a backpack bomb, and a willingness to let others do the killing—and the dying—for them. Jewish Zionists should also keep in mind that Christian Zionists have no intention of being around when the sands of the Middle East are turned to glass in a furnace of primordial fire. They will have been Raptured and out of harm's way in Paradise. Their Bible tells them so.
Robert Weitzel is a contributing editor to Media With a Conscience. His essays regularly appear in The Capital Times in Madison, WI. He can be contacted at: email@example.com
Posted by Dennis Loo at 9:28 PM
Saturday, May 17, 2008
It would be very helpful for me to know more about those of you who come to check out my weblog. I don't expect to hear from all of you, but even a small sample of readers would be useful, including from those of you who I already know.
You can either post a comment here, or send me an email (if you go to my Profile and click on the Contact via email button), and to the extent the spirit is willing, if you could respond to the following questions, that would be wonderful:
1) How did you hear about my site? How often do you come to visit? What do you like most to read about?
2) What else do you read regularly and who else do you read? (e.g., NY TImes, Maureen Dowd; Truthout; World Can't Wait, Kenneth Theisen; CommonDreams; DailyKos; Salon.com; OEN, etc.)
3) What essays of mine have you found most engaging and/or useful? Why? If you are one of those who come here and strongly disagree, then I'd also like to know what you do/don't like.
4) How would you describe your views on the Bush White House, the Democratic Party leadership, the GOP, the 2008 presidential election, the Iraq war, the prospects of a war upon Iran, the "war on terror," terrorism, the anti-war movement, the impeachment movement, the mainstream media, your attitudes and sentiments about the near term and long term future of this country and planet? (Just a few questions here!) I'm really interested in how you see the world and how you see your role within it.
5) What initiatives do you support through your contributions to them either in your activity and/or your donations?
6) Anything else you want to comment on - feel free.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 7:35 AM
Friday, May 16, 2008
Bush Administration: We're Working on the Legalities
by John Halliwell
Mon May 12, 2008 at 07:30:44 AM PDT
While the Bush Administration has, from time to time, done things which are – ahem – ethically questionable, it has usually made at least a half-hearted attempt to cover them with a veneer of legality.
Occasionally, however, it will throw aside any such pretensions. Take Sami Al-Arian, a man who should never have been imprisoned in the first place, who has spent the last five years in jail under conditions decried by Amnesty International as "gratuitously punitive," whose prison term ended on April 11th, and who is nevertheless still being held behind bars.
On what basis can he still be held in jail? Well...the government hasn't quite sorted that one out yet. I called the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the other day (since April 11th, Dr. Al-Arian has been under their jurisdiction), and asked them what the deal was. "We have some procedures to take care of which might take up to 90 days." (Mind you, the ICE has known since December that Dr. Al-Arian was scheduled to be deported in April) Right...because it takes 90 days in addition to five full months of preparation to unlock a man's cell, get him on a plane, and wave goodbye. In all fairness to the ICE, though, they are probably preparing a surprise going-away party and need that extensive period to find a date that suits all of Dr. Al-Arian's closest friends – you know, John Ashcroft, Paul I. Perez, and – last, but not least! – the Presidente himself. (if you don't believe me, check this out)
So at this very moment, Dr. Al-Arian is sitting in jail without a prison term, without a charge, without any serious attempt at any sort of legal justification. Just sitting there - no particular reason.
If you fear that the Bush Administration is trying to undermine the rule of law, fear not! It is working hard to come up with a new charge that will provide legal cover for Dr. Al-Arian's continued incarceration: last month, a federal judge in Virginia summoned Dr. Al-Arian to testify before a third grand jury; Dr. Al-Arian refused to testify, and can accordingly be charged with criminal contempt, a charge which carries a minimum sentence of five years.
Never mind that Dr. Al-Arian's plea agreement with the government from 2006 clearly exempts him from having to testify; never mind that the government attorney who sought his testimony essentially put a neon sign above the court room that read "Perjury trap"; never mind that this same attorney revels not only in his hatred of Muslims but also in his alleged right to use legal loopholes to punish people he dislikes but can't find guilty in a court of law. NEVER MIND. What's important is that, in a few days or less, the government will have the legality it needs to lengthen Dr. Al-Arian's sentence for at least five more years, possibly a decade, possibly longer. (I discussed these irrelevant trivialities in a previous post)
OK, granted that Dr. Al-Arian never supported terrorism, that he never broke any laws, that he never should have been in jail in the first place, or that he is being punished solely for exercising his First Amendment rights. What's important is that the Bush administration will soon have this covered by a legality so that us law-abiding citizens can sleep soundly at night knowing that we don't have to worry about the rule of law being threatened in any way.
The Case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian: A Timeline
February 20, 2003: After nearly eight years of government harassment due to his activities on behalf of Palestine and his political activism and leading stance on civil rights in America, Dr. Sami Al-Arian is arrested by federal authorities on spurious charges of supporting terrorism. Three others are also arrested and detained at a local jail. To protest his political incarceration, Dr. Al-Arian embarks on a hunger strike.
February 27, 2003: Only one week after Dr. Al-Arian is charged, the President of the University of South Florida, with pressure from the Board of Trustees, fires Dr. Al-Arian from his position as an award-winning tenured professor, after over a year of trying to do so, in the aftermath of the post-9/11 hysteria surrounding his constitutionally protected activities.
March 20, 2003: The bail hearing for Dr. Al-Arian and his co-defendants lasts four days and features over thirty-five witnesses in defense of their character, with the prosecution providing no witnesses and no evidence, and failing to show that any of the men are flight risks or threats to national security. Weeks later, Magistrate Mark Pizzo denies bail to Dr. Al-Arian and Sameeh Hammoudeh. Hatim Fariz and Ghassan Ballut, two American citizens, are granted bail.
March 27, 2003: The men are moved from the local jail in Tampa, Florida to a maximum-security federal penitentiary in Coleman, Florida, 75 miles away. There they are placed in solitary confinement and denied basic privileges, given limited visitations and access to attorneys and subjected to strip searches and the harshest conditions of confinement. Dr. Al-Arian and Mr. Hammoudeh are the only pre-trial detainees in a facility full of hardcore criminals.
April 8, 2003: Unable to raise enough funds for private attorneys, Dr. Al-Arian is appointed attorneys by Magistrate Thomas McCoun. In the months ahead, little progress is made under their services.
April 10, 2003: Dr. Al-Arian and Mr. Hammoudeh are denied bail, while Hatim Fariz and Ghassan Ballut are released from Coleman federal penitentiary. Also, a new civil rights organization, the National Liberty Fund (NLF) announces it will be taking on the case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian and organizes a number of events across the country in the following months.
June 5, 2003: Judge Moody announces the trial date to be no sooner than January 2005, nearly two years following the arrest.
June 15, 2003: In its annual meeting, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) condemns the University of South Florida, stating that it violated the rights of Dr. Al-Arian to due process and academic freedom.
June 18, 2003: Upon making a phone call to his home and then to his son who was studying abroad, Dr. Al-Arian is punished for violating the Coleman penitentiary's ban on three-way calling. He is given a six-month ban on all phone calls.
July 17, 2003: Respected human rights organization Amnesty International writes a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons condemning the conditions under which Dr. Al-Arian is kept, including the 23-hour lockdown, strip searches, use of chains and shackles, severely limited recreation, lack of access to any religious service and denial of a watch or clock in a windowless cell where the artificial light is never turned off.
July 25, 2003: Dr. Al-Arian is allowed to fire his court-appointed attorneys following months of little progress in his case or improvements in the conditions of confinement. He chooses to act as his own attorney. In preparation for his self-representation, he ends his hunger strike after 140 days and losing 45 pounds.
September 12, 2003: Following a frustrating few months of little development for Dr. Al-Arian's case or improvement in his confinement, Judge Moody rules that the 21,000 hours of taped conversations classified by the government must be released to defense attorneys, but they are barred from releasing them to the public or discussing them with anyone other than their clients. The process of providing these tapes to the defense is slow and tedious.
October 29, 2003: After three months of representing himself, Dr. Al-Arian hires respected Washington DC attorney William B. Moffitt and the experienced local lawyer Linda Moreno to represent him.
December 9, 2003: A Chicago Tribune article reveals that key evidence in the case was destroyed by federal authorities. The search warrants and other related materials from the early searches of Dr. Al-Arian's home and office were mistakenly shredded by court officials.
January 20-22, 2004: Sameeh Hammoudeh is denied his request for bail. A judge also orders the government to release more of its evidence. The government narrows its use of wiretapped conversation from the 21,000 hours to 200 hours of relevant material. Defense attorneys argue for motions to dismiss the indictment on grounds that it criminalizes free speech and First Amendment protected activities.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 2:38 PM
It's quite a sight in the following NYT story to see Bush calling anyone who would negotiate with Iran and Syria a Nazi appeaser. In fact, there is truth to this, except in a very perverse, reverse sort of way.
Will the real Nazis please stand up? Certainly there are the Aryan Nation sorts that are Nazis.
But who has the power today and who has demonstrated the power today of carrying out mass murder and, going beyond what the Nazis themselves ever did under Hitler, dared to LEGALIZE torture and use it as daily, official policy?
Who has systematically lied about the grounds for carrying out unprovoked aggression on other peoples and countries? Who is now systematically lying about the grounds to attack yet another country that has not attacked them and does not pose a threat to them?
Anyone who thinks that negotiating with Bush and Cheney is worthwhile is in fact, the Nazi appeaser. Bush is complaining about and criticizing those who would appease HIM.
He is, indeed, accurately describing the Democratic Party here, as he intended, but not in the way he intended.
If you read through the following story to the very end, you see Obama, about whom Bush's remarks were aimed, state in summary form his foreign policy: he likes Bush Sr.'s foreign policy. He has no real complaints about Desert Storm, the first gulf war, based on what in criminological terms would be called "entrapment" - luring the other party into committing a crime.
“I have enormous sympathy for the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of complaints about their handling of Desert Storm. I don’t have a lot of complaints with their handling of the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
So there you have it: a vote for the most liberal Democrat still in the race in 2008 will be a vote for the foreign policy of the GOP president in the late 1980s.
Doesn't that make you feel a whole lot better? Isn't that a relief off our collective backs?
You can either vote for the GOP of today with McCain, or you can vote for the GOP of yesteryear with Obama or Clinton.
Reminds me a little of the famous Henry Ford comment about the Model T Ford: You can have any color you want, as long as it's black.
Isn't American style electoral politics a wonder?
Bush Assails ‘Appeasement,’ Touching Off Storm
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and JIM RUTENBERG
JERUSALEM — President Bush used a speech to the Israeli Parliament on Thursday to liken those who would negotiate with “terrorists and radicals” to appeasers of the Nazis — a remark widely interpreted as a rebuke to Senator Barack Obama, who has advocated greater engagement with countries like Iran and Syria.
Mr. Bush did not mention Mr. Obama by name, and White House officials said he was not taking aim at the senator, though they were aware the speech might be interpreted that way.
The comments created an angry tussle back home, as Democrats accused Mr. Bush of breaching protocol by playing partisan politics overseas.
The episode placed Mr. Bush squarely in one of the most divisive debates of the campaign to succeed him, as Republicans try to portray Mr. Obama as weak in the fight against terrorism. It also underscored what the White House has said will be an aggressive effort by Mr. Bush to use his presidential platform to influence the presidential election.
“Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” Mr. Bush said, in a speech otherwise devoted to spotlighting Israel’s friendship with the United States.
“We have an obligation,” he continued, “to call this what it is: the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”
Mr. Obama delivered a quick and pointed response, saying in an e-mail statement to reporters that he had no intention of dealing with terrorists and accusing Mr. Bush of using his visit, timed for the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence, to “launch a false political attack.”
In an interview this week with a New York Times Op-Ed columnist, David Brooks, Mr. Obama addressed the criticism more directly. “I constantly reject this notion that any hint of strategies involving diplomacy are somehow soft or indicate surrender or means that you are not going to crack down on terrorism,” he said.
On Thursday, other Democrats leapt to the Illinois senator’s defense. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, called Mr. Bush’s remarks “reckless and irresponsible.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said Mr. Bush had behaved in a manner “beneath the dignity of the office of president.” Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic caucus, accused Mr. Bush of violating the unwritten rule against playing politics overseas.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Obama’s rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, joined him in taking issue with Mr. Bush. Weighing in from South Dakota, Mrs. Clinton said: “President Bush’s comparison of any Democrat to Nazi appeasers is offensive and outrageous, especially in the light of his failures in foreign policy. This is the kind of statement that has no place in any presidential address.”
For Mr. Obama, the stakes are high. Many American Jews and Israelis view him with some suspicion, for several reasons. First, he has said he would be willing to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the leader of Iran, who has called Israel “a stinking corpse” and denies its right to exist.
Second, an official of Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, has expressed hope for the Obama candidacy. (Mr. Obama has rejected that statement, and refers to Hamas as a terrorist group.) In addition, Mr. Obama’s advisers include Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser, who some Jews believe has an anti-Israel tilt.
Mr. Obama has sought to counter the concerns with actions intended to telegraph his support for Israel, like appearing last week at the Israeli Embassy with a promise to “not only ensure Israel’s security but also to ensure that the people of Israel are able to thrive and prosper.”
In recent weeks, Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has been playing on those worries by suggesting that Mr. Obama has received the “endorsement” of Hamas, a suggestion the Obama campaign hotly denies. On Thursday, Mr. McCain jumped into the fray over Mr. Bush’s remarks and wholeheartedly endorsed the president.
“Yes, there have been appeasers in the past, and the president is exactly right, and one of them is Neville Chamberlain,” Mr. McCain told reporters on his campaign bus after a speech in Columbus, Ohio.
Asked if he thought Mr. Obama was an appeaser, Mr. McCain sidestepped the question and said: “I think that Barack Obama needs to explain why he wants to sit down and talk with a man who is the head of a government that is a state sponsor of terrorism, that is responsible for the killing of brave young Americans, that wants to wipe Israel off the map, who denies the Holocaust. That’s what I think Senator Obama ought to explain to the American people.”
Thursday was not the first time the term “appeasement” has cropped up in the Bush administration lexicon. In 2006, in advance of the midterm elections, Vice President Dick Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld invoked the analogy as a line of attack against critics of the war in Iraq. Then, as now, it was controversial.
Speaking with reporters here, Dana Perino, the White House press secretary, said that Mr. Bush’s comment was not a reference to Mr. Obama and that the president was simply repeating his longstanding views.
“I understand when you’re running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you — that is not always true and it is not true in this case,” Ms. Perino told reporters here.
While campaigning for Congressional Republicans in 2006, Mr. Bush did similarly imply that Democrats believed they could “negotiate with these folks,” that is, terrorists.
Mr. Obama’s foreign policy aides said any high-level talks with Iran would have the primary intention of persuading it to end its support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, to end its aggressive stance against Israel and to cease its uranium enrichment program. Unlike Mr. Bush, however, Mr. Obama would not make the end of that program a precondition for talks.
(Speaking on Fox News Channel, an Obama foreign policy adviser, Susan E. Rice, said his openness to meeting with Iranian leadership was not necessarily restricted to Mr. Ahmadinejad.)
As for Hamas, Mr. Obama’s aides said his position on engagement was not different from that of the administration; the group would have to renounce terrorism, recognize Israel and agree to abide by all pre-existing Palestinian treaties with Israel.
And as Mr. McCain and Mr. Bush drew historic parallels to Chamberlain, Mr. Obama and his aides drew some of their own — to President Richard M. Nixon’s cold-war reaching out to China and President Ronald Reagan’s reaching out to the Soviet Union.
Mr. Obama has likened his foreign policy approach to that of the so-called pragmatists in the administration of the first President George Bush, which carried out the first American invasion of Iraq, in 1991, and he has shared those sentiments recently as he has sought to woo independent voters in swing states.
“I have enormous sympathy for the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of complaints about their handling of Desert Storm. I don’t have a lot of complaints with their handling of the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
Posted by Dennis Loo at 8:09 AM
Thursday, May 15, 2008
In the category of utterly laughable statements, see this one from a Republican trying to recover from the third Congressional special election loss in a row, this time in Mississippi in a "rock solid Republican district:" "Another Republican who spoke at the meeting, Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, said, 'We need to, No. 1, prove that we are listening to the American people, and, No. 2, show that we have a plan of action to respond to what they are telling us.'”
If the GOP (and the Democrats) were "listening to the American people," the war on Iraq would never have happened in the first place (the majority, even in spite of all the lies they were told - and to a considerable extent believed before the war - still wanted the UN to sanction an invasion before any invasion took place), and in the second place, that war would be over.
If they were "listening to the American people," the Bush regime would never have taken office in the first place (in 2000) or in the second place (in 2004).
If they were "listening to the American people," the Bush cabal would have been impeached long ago.
Wait a minute, come to think of it, they have been "listening to the American people," that is, the NSA has been, since February 2001!
Can you hear me now, GOP and Dems, can you hear us say: Begone with you, begone with your lying and spying!
Posted by Dennis Loo at 7:51 AM
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The NYT article below speaks of the TSA's letters telling students that they "pose a security threat." I am reminded in reading this of - do you want to guess which country? - Germany in the 1930s.
I think that we should draft a similar letter to our beloved president, who revealed yesterday that in honor of all the people he's sent to kill and die in Iraq and Afghanistan, that he in turn gave up golf! What a sacrifice! What a guy!
Dear Mr. President:
We have determined that you pose a security threat to the planet and all living beings. We ask that you give up not only golf, but your job.
We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Blunt Federal Letters Tell Students They’re Security Threats
By SCOTT SHANE
NY Times May 13, 2008
WASHINGTON — A German graduate student in oceanography at M.I.T. applied to the Transportation Security Administration for a new ID card allowing him to work around ships and docks.
What the student, Wilken-Jon von Appen, received in return was a letter that not only turned him down but added an ominous warning from John M. Busch, a security administration official: “I have determined that you pose a security threat.”
Similar letters have gone to 5,000 applicants across the country who have at least initially been turned down for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential, an ID card meant to guard against acts of terrorism, agency officials said Monday.
The officials also said they were sorry about the language, which they may change in the future, but had no intention of withdrawing letters already sent.
“It’s an unfortunate choice of words in a bureaucratic letter,” said Ellen Howe, a security agency spokeswoman.
Ms. Howe and Maurine Fanguy, who oversees the new ID card program, said that most foreign students did not qualify for the identity cards, but that the letters were not intended to label the recipients as potential terrorists. (Some applicants are also turned down because of criminal records.)
Mr. von Appen, 23, one of at least four oceanography students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who received identical letters, said he was stunned by its language.
“I was pretty much speechless and quite intimidated,” said Mr. von Appen, whose research is supported by a $65,000-a-year grant from the National Science Foundation.
A British student at M.I.T. who was rejected, Sophie Clayton, 28, said that at first she was amused at what appeared to be a bureaucratic absurdity. But as she pondered the designation, Ms. Clayton said she grew worried. “The two words ‘security threat’ are now in the files next to my name, my photograph and my fingerprints,” she said.
Institute officials were also disturbed. The agency controls airport security, and “our students travel in and out of the country a lot,” said Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook, associate dean and director of the international student office at M.I.T.
And the agency is part of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration matters, including student visas.
Ms. Guichard-Ashbrook said the security agency should remove the misleading language from all files and issue new letters formally withdrawing the “threat” label.
But Ms. Howe, the agency spokeswoman, said that the letters were legal, if flawed, and that there were no plans to send replacements.
She said she did not believe the denial letters would cause students any problems with visa renewal or airport security checks. They will even be able to enter secure ports and ships for their work as long as they are accompanied by someone with the new ID, Ms. Howe said.
The Transportation Worker Identification Credential requirement is being phased in starting Oct. 15. The cards cost the applicant $132.50 and have been issued to 275,000 people so far of 1.2 million people expected to receive the credential, officials said.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 8:25 AM
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
by Emma Kaplan
posted at worldcantwait.org
Throughout the last two years, the more that is exposed about the cruelty of the Bush program, the more sharply it rests on those of conscience to speak the truth at the top of our lungs. The times of being polite or speaking in reasoned tones to those around us who are not acting was over yesterday. If we don't do this, we don't stand a chance. Sometimes this can mean ruining family dinners and risking friendships. Sometimes this can mean being unpopular or losing a job. For me, the contradiction of wanting to be polite and wanting to change things politically became polarized in about five minutes. As people have probably heard, down in Tacoma, WA, World Can't Wait – Drive Out The Bush Regime, along with other groups, shut down a military recruiting center. The scene was very heated. Pro-war fascists stood waving their flags, yelling at us and calling us terrorists. We held graphic pictures of the truth, of wounded children and Iraqi parents holding the bodies of their dead babies killed by U.S. military forces.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman in our group holding up a picture and talking to a guy who looked familiar to me. I walked up to them. She said, "Don't talk to that guy. He is totally for the war."
But I went up to him as I had immediately recognized him as Andy. We went to high school together and traveled in some of the same circles. When we knew each other we never talked politics or, honestly, about anything really of any substance.
I asked him what he thought about the people protesting the recruiting center. He said, "Well, I respect people's right to protest but we don't need to be getting down on the military. I was over in Iraq. People should blame the government. We don't need people spitting on us or calling us baby killers."
I said, "Look, we don't believe in name calling or spitting on people. But let me ask you, did you guys kill any babies?"
He said, "Well yeah, but we were just following orders. We had to do what we were told. It’s part of the job." This took me aback and my stomach dropped. How could somebody I know actually be a part of mass murder? How could somebody I know not even take responsibility for putting a stop to this?
I said, "You are telling me that you were a part of killing people and somehow that is justified because you were just following orders? I'm sorry man, but I think that is kinda bullshit. Come on, man, I know you know how horrific this war is. I mean, we have all seen the pictures, Fallujah, Guantánamo, denying medical aid, bombing hospitals. Can you understand why people wouldn't want to support that? I mean do you look at the Nazis who committed atrocities against the Jewish people as just following orders and so it was OK?”
He said, “No, I guess not. Iraq is a huge mess right now. We shouldn't even be there. But it’s not up to us, it’s really up to the government. That’s who sent us over there."
I said, "What would it mean if hundreds of thousands of people in the military refused to carry out these crimes anymore? You should watch “Sir, No Sir” because it talks about how when people create a situation where people don't go along with this anymore, they can really change things. Have you heard of Ehren Watada? He is a lieutenant in the military who recently refused to fight. More and more people are going AWOL. There was a Winter Soldier event in D.C. where Iraq veterans testified to committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. You need to check it out and you need to get with this. I support those people, the ones that resist. I can't support people who go along with this."
I gave him a flier about Winter Soldier. He asked where he could find the testimony. I pointed to the website. When I turned around he was still reading it pretty intensely. Our conversation was very non-antagonistic, no raised voices, no yelling. He was very much thinking about what he said and what I said.
I don't know if he will become an activist. I don't know if he will speak out against this war.
I do know that if we don't have these conversations that challenge people's "conventional wisdom" we are by default capitulating to the terms that have been set by this illegal monstrous Bush Regime and the complicit Democratic Party. The world, Iraqi families, and even the people carrying out these crimes, need much more from us and in many ways are counting on us, whether they know it or not. If veterans come home, and, on some level they know what they did is fucked up, and they have people patting them on the back saying "We support the troops" we are not going to give them a chance to become part of a movement that can truly bring all of this to a halt and ultimately bring them forward as emancipators of humanity, capable of bringing into being a far better world. This is what a movement of resistance needs and this is what we must still fight for as the character of our movement.
Emma Kaplan is a young organizer with World Can’t Wait, Seattle chapter.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 7:17 PM
Monday, May 12, 2008
Something I just spotted at a website called vietnamwar.com:
“Over the course of his first term, President Nixon charted a course which did not yield to the demands of a vocal, disruptive, and sometimes violent majority.”
I didn't realize that the majority all got violent! : )
I must have been high!
But it is certainly a Freudian slip of truth: Nixon did not yield to the demands of the majority until he absolutely was forced to. It was a long, hard struggle to end that war.
We face an even bigger task today with a president (and vice-president) who also, and in this case, openly, repudiate majority opinion.
This time, it is almost entirely up to us.
The Democratic Party as a whole and its leadership in particular, and the mass media to boot, are shielding (even while carping at the edges) this regime from the people's wrath. Their role in protecting these war criminals cannot be overestimated in its importance. The Democratic Party leadership and the mass media are the political equivalent of the levees that New Orleans didn't have because the Bush regime wouldn't give the Army Corps of Engineers the money to repair them. Without the active collusion of the Dems and the mass media, this hated gang, who spark demonstrations everywhere they go, would be brought to justice.
We must mobilize people in the millions in a political hurricane that breaches these political levees - a process that doesn't happen overnight. It happens in stages and must be built piece by piece. This is not, however, the same thing as saying that it happens only gradually and incrementally: there is an interpenetration of quantitative changes and qualitative leaps.
Critical mass comes together through a combination of quantitative increases - individuals here and there in a lot of different locales pitching in to build a mass movement that relies on the people's independent voice and independent political actions (e.g., wearing an orange ribbon daily) - and from qualitative leaps: certain events and certain actions can precipitate a dramatic shift.
Cindy Sheehan's decision, for example, to stand outside the Crawford Ranch to demand answers from Bush about why her son Casey had to die in the Iraq War, singlehandedly galvanized the anti-war movement and pushed it to another level.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 9:50 AM
Sunday, May 11, 2008
If you were buying a car and the auto salesman told you "This car’s great, there’s only one problem: you can only steer it every four years, in between it's out of your control," what would you think?
Wouldn’t you look at the salesman and think he was crazy? Wouldn’t you go looking for another form of transportation?
The car that we’re in right now – the Bush and Cheney mobile - is a death trap.
Many people are checking out the new models, hoping they can trade in Bush and Cheney for a better car: the Obama, the McCain or the Clinton. They’re kicking the tires, checking out the interior, looking under the hood. The car lot is full of balloons and banners, promising all kinds of things.
The problem is: these new models are also not subject to being steered but every four years.
At least, that is, if you believe the version of politics that many people do in which the people’s political role is exercised exclusively in the electoral arena and via the ballot box specifically.
As an impeachment activist put it recently:
“This period before the election is when our power to cause accountability via impeachment is at its strongest. Our power will diminish nearly to zero after the election. The individual Congressmen will after the election have no reason to fear us.”
What kind of “democracy” is it where the people have no power after Election Day and where they only have power in the months leading up to the next Election Day?
If this is the case, what kind of political system do we have, really?
This isn’t power “of, by and for the people.”
This is “offend, buy off and force the people.”
Contrary to popular belief, public officials do not mainly worry about their constituents’ votes. They do, of course, want to gain and hold onto office, but they know that the constituency they must please first and foremost is a) their party’s leadership and b) the mass media. If they don’t please their party’s leadership and the mass media, then it doesn’t matter how popular they are among their constituents, they will either be severely marginalized or their political career will be outright extinguished.
When impeachment activists lobbied Congress this past fall and winter, senatorial and house staff told them that their legislators already knew that the people wanted impeachment: members of Congress weren’t supporting impeachment because they “were listening to their party’s leadership.”
Hearing from more and more of their constituents within the framework of lobbying isn’t changing politicians’ minds. These “representatives” continue to tell us transparently false things such as that impeachment is “reserved for extraordinary circumstances” and “I haven’t seen any impeachable offenses.”
If these august leaders can’t see that Bush and Cheney have committed towering crimes that far exceed the standards for impeachment and actually constitute crimes deserving of trials at the Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity, then why would these same perspicacious and sage leaders be woken up by constituents’ redundant entreaties?
If the torture of innocents isn’t sufficient grounds for these public officials, these leaders of the people, to be stirred into action, if illegal, immoral, and unjust wars - based on lies - that have killed 1.2 million Iraqis and thousands of Americans to date aren’t enough, if the intensifying threats and obvious moves to the launch of yet another unjust and immoral war, this time on Iran, based again on lies, and likely to provoke a worldwide firestorm of unpredictable ferocity, aren’t enough, if the debacle of Katrina and the sight of Americans bodies floating face down in the flood waters and a legendary city in ruins isn’t enough, if the express and felonious violation of FISA with warrantless spying on all of us seven months before 9/11 isn’t enough, if the White House’s refusal to even accept Congress’ subpoenas for White House staff and Vice-President Cheney to testify before Congress isn’t enough, then what pray tell, would be enough?
When Vichy* Nancy Pelosi declared that “impeachment is off the table,” she was giving the Bush regime the green light to do whatever they pleased because she was telling them that the one Constitutional remedy for holding the White House accountable would not under any circumstances be used.
This is like going into a fight with another boxer and saying ahead of time, “I will not use my best punch against you. I will not try to knock you out. Now let’s fight and see who ends up winning!” Which fighter would you put your money on?
When the people confine themselves to lobbying and threatening to not vote for someone as their sole bargaining chip, they are likewise saying that they will not do the one thing that public officials do actually fear and will actually respond to: when the people go beyond politics (and business) as usual, embracing and gladly expressing their independent power to create a political atmosphere and dynamic in the society where their sentiments and demands are something to be reckoned with!
As long as the relationship between public officials and the people remains one in which the people restrict their actions to that of appealing to public officials, the people will be relinquishing the heart and soul of their real power.
In Michael Moore’s film “Sicko,” an expatriate American living in Paris, trying to explain why social programs and job benefits are so superior in France to that of the U.S., says: “In France, the government fears the people. In America the people fear the government.”
Governments in France fear the people because the people are willing, seemingly at the drop of a hat (or beret in their case), to take to the streets and demonstrate.
The people of this country will forever be held in the thrall of the powers-that-be unless and until we free ourselves of the mistaken belief that our only role is to vote every four to six years for our representatives. As our earlier quoted impeachment activist interprets it, the people’s power “drops to zero” after an election.
Demonstrating at the DNC
In response to World Can’t Wait’s statement that demonstrating in Denver at the August 2008 Democratic National Convention would not principally be to “pressure Congress,” this same impeachment activist said: “If our purpose is not to be ‘pressuring congress,’ what on earth could it be? Demonstrating for the sake of demonstrating?”
Demonstrating isn’t merely an expressive exercise – although what would be wrong with that? What could be wrong with the people showing how they feel and voicing their minds? How could that be a waste of time? Isn’t this the people’s right?
The people acting as an independent political force on the scene, the popular will being exercised and expressed in material and symbolic form - these are extraordinarily powerful and all too infrequent events. In the 1960s, the ubiquitous peace symbol, long hair and protest music were signs of a society-wide repudiation of the policies and practices of those in power.
When President Nixon began withdrawing U.S. troops from Vietnam in 1969, he didn’t do it because he wanted to - precisely the opposite. He wanted desperately to continue to prosecute that war. He had had, in fact, plans to use nukes on Vietnam, plans that he quashed when he saw the size of the anti-war demonstrations on October 5, 1969, the Vietnam Moratorium, when two million people around the country - on a weekday - walked out.
Nixon was forced to withdraw from Vietnam by the fact that the Vietnamese people were winning the war, U.S. troops were increasingly refusing to fight and even killing their own officers, the anti-war movement in the U.S. and abroad was determined, powerful and massive, and the credibility of the government was perilously low, with people more likely to believe the anti-war movement than their own government. (At one point in the Sixties, a national survey of college students found 80% thought some kind of revolution was needed.)
Civil rights for blacks were not won through the election of compassionate and liberal politicians. Civil rights were paid for by sweat and blood in the face of insults, rocks, police dogs and billy clubs, fire hoses, tear gas, fists, bullets and bombs. They were won through the powerful grassroots struggle of blacks and their allies in the streets, at the lunch counters, in the buses, in the schools, in Church, and everywhere, demanding change and refusing to accept anything less. They were won in the songs of the times, the attitudes of people in everyday life, folks raising their chins and steeling their nerves: the brave actions of those who risked their lives – with some losing their lives - to fight for change. They were won in spite of those in the White House and Congress who didn’t want to make concessions, but who were forced to do so lest much greater upheaval and even revolution ensued instead.
Greater equality for women was won not through saviors on high in the Democratic or Republican Parties. It was won through the mass struggle of women and their male allies who refused to allow the oppression of women to continue on the level of everyday life and due to their willingness and daring to breach conventions and insist on radical change. Women said: "No, I will not be Harriet to your Ozzie!"
The Eight Hour Day, unions and work safety laws weren’t secured through the sympathy of liberal politicians. They were secured through the determined and heroic struggle of workers and their allies striking, picketing, sitting in, a willingness to stand up in the face of intimidation, beatings and even murder, in the face of machine guns and 2 x 4's, demanding recognition, the right to organize, and the right to a safe working place.
Social security, welfare, unemployment compensation and other New Deal measures didn’t come into being because FDR was such a grand fellow. (Indeed, he did what he did because the very system of capitalism was in danger of being toppled: “I wish that capitalists would see that what I am advocating is … really in the interest of property, for it will save it from revolution.” (The American presidency by Alan Brinkley, Davis Dyer, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994 at p. 277).)
The New Deal came into being because the people in the thousands, hundreds of thousands and millions pitched tents in protest on lawns, marched in the streets, spoke out and sat in, refusing to accept the status quo and the faint promises and threats from on high. And because there were supporters for this internationally and there was a rival, genuinely socialist country in the world at the time that the U.S. imperialists had to compete with and deal with.
Consider how bad things are becoming as the New Deal is systematically being dismantled by both major parties under the aggressive leadership of the GOP and the right wing more generally. Imagine how much worse things would have been if the New Deal had never even happened.
Imagine what America would look like today if workers had never fought for the eight hour day, never battled for a union and for what became the New Deal, anti-Vietnam war activists hadn’t fought to end that war, blacks had decided never to leave the back of the bus, and women had accepted that the bedroom and the kitchen were where they belonged.
Imagine what America will become – as bad as it has already become - if the intolerable tyranny and fascistic moves of this government are allowed to continue.
“These Are The Times That Try Men’s Souls.” (Tom Paine)
The Democratic Party and especially its leadership are not colluding with the Bush regime because they are unaware of what the White House is doing and what it is planning. If they were that credulous and stupid, then they shouldn’t be in office in the first place! Nancy Pelosi knew in 2002 that the Bush White House was waterboarding and torturing prisoners. She also knew that they were carrying out warrantless wiretaps on all Americans. She said nothing then, and since ascending to the House Speakership, has done nothing about these egregious activities.
The Democratic Party is complicit in these towering crimes because they are playing the same murderous and cynical game that the GOP is playing: profits over justice, empire above the people and at all costs.
Legislators are privy to more grisly details about what the Bush regime is doing than the rest of the country. Yet they are steadfastly refusing to act against the moral monsters in the White House. Their failure to act now will go down in history in infamy.
Senators Obama and Clinton know – and knew for years - that torture was and is going on and they know - and knew - that innocents are being indefinitely detained and murdered, but they have not and will not call out these practices and act to end them. This has been their responsibility to put a halt to, legally and morally - and within their power - as members of Congress.
When Bush admitted to ABC News on April 11, 2008 that he approved of torture, the candidates for president did not call for Bush and Cheney’s immediate resignations. Instead, they continued to carry out a sleight of hand trick in which they hope to fool the people into thinking that “change” will come about when one of them takes office in 2009. These same pretenders to the throne could have and should have stopped the torture and illegal, immoral wars, through, if necessary, filibuster, for the last seven years.
For those who might say: “But if they had done so then their political careers would be over,” I have a question: "So?"
Is this the measure of a leader, someone who dodges doing the unmistakably moral, legal and right thing? If they did these things as senators, what do you think any of them will do as president when they have the whole empire to defend?
Torture is the most grotesque, barbaric and immoral act that any person can do to another human being. It is, in certain respects, even worse than killing someone. Yet this is what this government is doing and defending.
How can anyone of conscience know that this is happening and not do everything in their power to stop it immediately?
How dare the Democratic candidates for president tell Iraqis, Afghanis and Americans that we must wait another eight months to see any of this brought to a halt!
What kind of world do we now live in where torture is an accepted and openly practiced policy? What kind of world is it when one of the major candidates for president – Hillary Clinton - threatens to “obliterate” a country – Iran - that does not pose a threat to us and she is not immediately condemned as a warmonger?
What kind of world is it when the most liberal candidate left in the race – Barack Obama - threatens to bomb Iran and Pakistan
and who refuses to hold torturers to account NOW? When Obama speaks of bringing us all together, he means Americans. He doesn’t mean Americans and Iranians, Iraqis, Afghanis or Pakistanis. To Obama, Americans and Empire come first and any one who gets in the way of that, well, they can be bombed with impunity.
We don't need the "Audacity of Hope." We need the audacity of moral truth.
How dare Obama speak of hope and change when atrocities are being committed in our names everyday and he can't see them because the White House's paint shines too brightly in his eyes. The White House should be repainted blood red if truth be told.
A Different Path, A Different Future
Look beneath the pretty paint job on these cars and see them in their essence. If we are to wrench a different future from the hands of these criminals and co-conspirators with criminals, then the people must act and declare it now that we will not go down their road to hell.
The DNC in August 2008 in Denver is where the Democrats will try to convince the American people that they are the one and true way ahead in the face of the monstrosities of the Bush regime.
This is a lie. It must be exposed as a lie. As the World Can’t Wait’s Call puts it – “That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn - or be forced - to accept.”
What will YOU accept? Will you accept it that torture may go on for at least the next eight months? Will you accept it that a war on Iran will be permitted over the next six months? Will you accept the pittance, misdirection, lies and commission of crimes against humanity that the Democratic Party and the GOP are purveying?
The whole world is watching. What will it see? What will YOU do? What kind of world will you live in?
For those who continue to fear the government: take heed of what history instructs us. Those who are driven by fear will come to no good ends. You will be and are being run roughshod over by those who know no other than brutality and who have no regard for truth, facts or justice. They will make you sully yourself in shame as you participate in crimes against children, women and men who have done no wrong and intend you no harm.
Those who, despite their fear and despite their worries, gather themselves and stand up to fight for what is right, no matter what comes, will have the eternal gratitude of present and future generations.
For those who fear the reactions of those around you: remember two things.
First, in the moral vacuum created by the two major parties and mass media in this country, your actions to openly declare for another way will visibly and materially impact those around you. The majority of people will perk up and be gladdened by what you have done. Your willingness to step forward will break the ice and help others to step forward themselves.
Second, the criminals in the White House are more unpopular than any gang in polling history. You have lots and lots of company, but individual people need to shatter the illusion of invincibility by those in charge.
Declare it now. Spread the Resistance. Wear Orange Daily.
Fly the NO TORTURE banners at your places of worship.
Shut down the military recruiters in your town.
Be in Denver in August 08.
Let us demonstrate for another world and another way.
Let it not be said that we stood by in infamous silence while atrocities were committed in our names.
*I owe the very apt comparison of Pelosi to Vichy France to Sophie de Vries.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 7:41 AM
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
[To anyone who has not been completely jaded and frightened out of their gourd by the Bush regime's scaremongering, the following story is alarming. The US government is clearly spying on attorneys and their clients, breaching a fundamental principle of the law and of civil rights and civil liberties.
If you think that this is bad, consider the fact that this is only a way station on the trip to hell that these monsters are taking us on. Can anyone wonder if this by itself isn't reason enough to rise up in righteous rebellion against these monsters? - DL]
Lawyers for Guantanamo Inmates Accuse US of Eavesdropping
By William Glaberson
The New York Times
Wednesday 07 May 2008
One lawyer for Guantánamo detainees said he replaced his office telephone in Washington because of sounds that convinced him it had been bugged. Another lawyer who represents detainees said he sometimes had other lawyers call his corporate clients to foil any government eavesdroppers.
In interviews and a court filing Tuesday, lawyers for detainees at Guantánamo said they believed government agents had monitored their conversations. The assertions are the most specific to date by Guantánamo lawyers that officials may be violating legal principles that have generally kept government agents from eavesdropping on lawyers.
"I think they are listening to my telephone calls all the time," said John A. Chandler, a prominent lawyer in Atlanta and Army veteran who represents six Guantánamo detainees.
Several of the lawyers, including partners at large corporate law firms, said the concerns had changed the way they went about their work apart from Guantánamo cases. A lawyer in Chicago, H. Candace Gorman, said in an affidavit that she was no longer accepting new clients of any type because she could not assure them of confidentiality.
The new filing, by the Center for Constitutional Rights, came in a 2007 lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act in which Guantánamo lawyers are seeking records to determine whether they have been targets of surveillance.
The Justice Department declined to comment Tuesday. But in a legal response in March, its lawyers said they could neither confirm nor deny that detainees' lawyers had been targets of such surveillance "because doing so would compromise the United States Intelligence Communities sources and methods."
Justice Department officials have said in the past that they had not used their terrorist surveillance powers to single out lawyers but that telephone "calls involving such persons would not be categorically excluded."
Since 2001, lawyers representing terrorism suspects not being held at Guantánamo have said they suspected government eavesdropping. Justice Department officials have said they intercepted such lawyers' conversations rarely and inadvertently.
But some detainees' lawyers say they believe there may be a comprehensive effort to monitor their communications at Guantánamo and elsewhere.
In the Tuesday filing in United States District Court in Manhattan, Thomas B. Wilner, a partner at Shearman & Sterling, said government officials insisting on anonymity had told him twice that he "should be careful in my electronic communications."
In addition to being a leading Guantánamo lawyer, Mr. Wilner is an international trade law specialist. "You need to be very careful in what you say on the telephone," he said in an interview.
Ms. Gorman's court filing said that during a visit to the Guantánamo naval base in Cuba, her military escort "referred in conversation to personal information about my family that I had not disclosed to him," leaving her to wonder how that information had been obtained.
Several of the lawyers said a program of surveillance would be consistent with obstacles they had encountered in representing detainees. In 2004, officials proposed "real-time monitoring" of lawyers' interviews with Guantánamo detainees.
A federal judge barred that, saying that listening to lawyers' meetings failed to recognize "the exceptional place in the legal system of the United States" for attorney-client communications.
Guantánamo officials say they monitor attorney-client meetings for the safety of lawyers with video cameras but that meeting areas are not wired for sound.
But several lawyers said their clients had told them that shortly after detainees met with lawyers, interrogators had asked the detainees about topics that had been discussed.
The Guantánamo spokeswoman, Cmdr. Pauline A. Storum, said interrogators were trained not to inquire about attorney-client meetings.
Shayana Kadidal, the lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights handling the freedom of information case, said there were many practical consequences of surveillance concerns. For example, he said, lawyers challenging the Bush administration's detention policies must travel worldwide for meetings with witnesses to avoid potential telephone or e-mail monitoring.
Jonathan Hafetz of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University represents two brothers from Qatar, Jarallah al-Marri, who is held at Guantánamo, and Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, who is held at the navy brig in Charleston, S.C., the only person on the American mainland known to be held as an enemy combatant.
After 16 months during which Ali al-Marri was held incommunicado, Mr. Hafetz was permitted to discuss the case with him. In 2006, Mr. Hafetz said, a guard commander told Mr. Marri that he had to speak in English during a conversation with his lawyer.
Mr. Hafetz wrote government officials asking whether the English-only requirement indicated that his conversations with his client were being monitored.
Mr. Hafetz said the commander of the brig later said there was no military surveillance. Mr. Hafetz said he never received a response about whether other agencies had listened to their conversations.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 1:54 PM
[From Consortium News.
The reason why the Congress and Judicial branch are not resisting Bush and Cheney's obviously illegal and unconstitutional power grab is because Bush and Cheney are simply the logical extension, and spearhead of, the general direction of the executive branch over the last several decades.
This process was interrupted and reversed for a time during the 1960s and early 1970s and came to a head in the Watergate scandal, but this scandal only reached the prominence that it did because there was an atmosphere of political insurgency society-wide and challenge from without - an international situation of upheaval and revolution.
Cheney, in particular, and those around him, are continuing the process begun in earnest under Reagan, to seize back and push further an executive branch not beholden to anyone or anything. They do so not because they are power hungry dictators, although they are that, but principally because they personify the forces of capital in the sole remaining imperialist superpower with no national rivals to contend with.
They are like the predator that has no other predators to control its growth and they are feasting on the planet. That is why they are bound by no scruples or principles that the rest of us take for granted, such as being restrained from employing torture and murder by "quaint" ideas such as humanity, decency and justice.
It's critical to note that the 2008 presidential candidates are not standing up against this and when the next president takes office, they will, as Bill Clinton did after taking over after W's dad, largely adopt the executive privileges that their predecessors used such as signing statements.
While there may be, if a Democrat gets elected and actually takes office, some modifications in a fashion similar to the difference between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, the overall framework and direction of things are such that any next Democratic president will be to the right in many respects to where George H.W. Bush was in the 1980s. - DL]
By Ivan Eland
May 7, 2008
Editor’s Note: Lost amid the U.S. news media’s focus on important matters, like Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s latest outburst, has been any interest in trivial questions, such as how George W. Bush has trampled the U.S. Constitution, stampeded the nation into a disastrous war and walked all over Congress.
In this guest essay, the Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland takes a stab at getting the American people to pay some attention to the future of the Republic:
More memos recently have surfaced that were written early in the Bush administration by John C. Yoo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel -- the man who gave us the administration's horrifyingly narrow definition of torture.
As difficult as it is to believe, the recently released memos are even scarier than the original torture memo.
Yoo boldly asserts that the president's power during wartime is nearly unlimited. For example, he argues that Congress has no right to pass laws governing the interrogations of enemy combatants and the commander in chief can ignore such laws if passed, and can, without constraint, seize oceangoing ships.
The memos also argue that military operations in the United States against terrorists are not subject to the Fourth Amendment requirement for search warrants or the Fifth Amendment requirement for due process.
This broad interpretation of executive power and the president's commander-in-chief role would make the nation's founders jump out of their graves.
Purposefully, the Constitutional Convention enumerated the large number of Congress's powers in Article I, and gave most powers related to defense and foreign affairs to the people's branch.
In particular, the war power was given to Congress. The chief executive, whose powers were enumerated in the much more brief Article II, was given the commander-in-chief role, but this was intended narrowly, only as commander of U.S. troops on the battlefield.
Instead of declaring war, which has fallen out of fashion, the Congress, after 9/11, passed a resolution authorizing the president to go after al-Qaeda overseas but deliberately omitted domestic activities from that authorization.
Democrats and Republicans alike declared that they were not endorsing a broad expansion of the president's authority as commander-in-chief.
An important example from the nation's infancy shows how narrowly the founders regarded the president's role as commander in chief.
During the Quasi-War with France in the last years of the 1700s, Congress authorized President John Adams to seize armed ships sailing to French ports. Adams exceeded the congressional authorization by ordering the seizure of vessels sailing to or from French ports.
The Supreme Court, in the case Little v. Barreme, ruled that Adams had exceeded the authority Congress had delegated to him. So much for Bush's supposed intrinsic authority to seize all oceangoing ships without congressional authorization.
In 1952, President Truman, the first imperial president, seized the steel mills under his alleged "inherent power" as commander in chief -- supposedly to prevent paralysis of the national economy and using the rationale that soldiers in the Korean War needed weapons and ammunition.
By a wide margin, in the case Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, the Supreme Court struck down Truman's executive order to seize the mills because it had no statutory or constitutional basis. Essentially, the court ruled that the president may be commander in chief of the armed forces but not the country.
Yoo's assertion that Congress has no right to pass laws that impinge on the president's claim to a broad interpretation of his role as commander in chief violates the core of the constitutional system of checks and balances, and for which the United States regularly criticizes despots in foreign countries.
Finally, the Fourth Amendment (requiring warrants for any search) and the Fifth Amendment (the right to due legal process) contain no exceptions for wartime. In fact, in a republic -- where the rule of law should be king -- crises and wartime are exactly when people's rights are most likely to be endangered and when safeguards are especially needed.
Even more tragic and dangerous than the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan have been President Bush's usurping of power from the other two branches of government and the creation of the "hyperimperial" presidency.
Ivan Eland is Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute. Dr. Eland has spent 15 years working for Congress on national security issues, including stints as an investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. His books include The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, and Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 11:36 AM
Friday, May 2, 2008
by Debra Sweet
With six months until the presidential election and eight months left in Bush's term, it's time to hold an important discussion and assessment of what we've been able to accomplish with the World Can't Wait's mission to drive out the Bush Regime and what the future of this movement should be.
We have not been able to achieve the level of mass resistance and public repudiation needed to drive out the Bush Regime. The huge reservoir of people who are deeply distressed over the direction in which the Bush regime is dragging the country -- and the world -- has not risen to the kind of widespread political revolt needed. Yet its existence is widely being recognized as a potential political force and factor, one that is being appealed to by the Democrats and mobilized in particular by the Obama campaign as people demanding a change from the horrible course of the Bush years.
This level of discontent would not exist without what we and others have done to mount resistance. The debacle this regime has created is clearly part of the political flux going on in the country. But the sea change of sentiment on the war, and the disgust and shame people feel about torture and war crimes and the hatred people feel for a president caught lying who then keeps on lying, would not be at all what it is without us.
The debate in World Can't Wait over the Obama campaign is an important one to have. I think that the kind of change people are looking for won't be found with Obama, and that elections are never the way decisions about matters of substance are made. Others in World Can't Wait are supporting Obama for a variety of reasons. But all of us in this debate think that the direction this society has gone is extremely dangerous, and that unless there is massive and public repudiation from the people of this country, much of this direction will be continued, and even if reshaped, maintained and normalized. We can't in our name allow torture, rendition, pre-emptive wars of aggression, attacks on civil liberties and civil rights, assaults on women and immigrants to continue. The WORLD STILL CAN'T WAIT to bring all of this to a halt.
It's not time to count us out! There are factors that may well make possible driving out the Bush Regime even in this last year: the possibility of Bush bombing Iran, the potential of “torture gate,” opening up, just to name things that are already on the landscape. Even on the last day Bush is in office, it would make a world of difference if the PEOPLE were able to effect “a political situation where the Bush regime's program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed”.
But as we move into these last months of the regime, we also have to look soberly at the fact that politics in the US are increasingly dominated by and being corralled into the Presidential election.
I am still convinced that politics as usual will not meet the enormity of the damage that has been done. We will not reverse it, or stop the Bush program from being codified and sanctioned by the next administration without the people acting independently of the kind of politics being defined and allowed by an election. As we said in January, “George Bush is unrelenting in his determination to drive the savageness of his agenda into the next administration."
The World Can’t Wait. Is that still true?
This month the world - and most acutely the people of Iraq - will have suffered five full years of an illegitimate occupation based on lies, perpetrated by the proven liars of the Bush regime. According to a British study in September over one million Iraqis have been killed in the mass destruction and dislocation of the occupation, and 4.5 million are displaced from their homes. Half of those have been forced from Iraq. This is going on NOW.
But what are the parties in this election talking about? John McCain has adopted the Bush scheme to “win,” with a surge that has temporarily lowered death tolls by walling in and emptying neighborhoods, setting the scene for a civil war that is beginning to erupt. U.S. commanders and their Iraqi puppets can’t even leave the Green Zone. The puppet Prime Minister Maliki is making deals with Bush, around the will of Iraq’s elected body, for unlimited US presence in Iraq. McCain is threatening Iran and joking about it.
What do Obama and Clinton say about the region? They will “re-deploy” troops in the region and keep the huge US Embassy and bases open in Iraq. Everything Obama says is in service of domination of the US empire over the Mideast, and has nothing to do with justice or sovereignty of the countries involved. In the Texas debate Obama said that staying in Iraq “is going to distract us from Afghanistan. That was a mistake,” echoing Joe Biden, in the New York Times, who warned that Afghanistan is “the real central front in the war on terrorism.” Obama says “We should be going after al Qaeda and making sure that Pakistan is serious about hunting down terrorists,” and that all the focus on Iraq keeps the US “diverted from focusing on Latin America,” so they can’t suppress the influence of Hugo Chavez and other leaders who criticize the US.
Obama says the US has to keep the “strongest military in the world,” and his campaign acknowledges that he would have to increase the numbers of private contractors like Blackwater in Iraq to do so, and add 100,000 troops to the U.S. military. The 1996 Solomon Amendment, which both Obama and Clinton recently voiced their continued support of, provides for the Secretary of Defense to deny federal funding to institutions of higher learning if they prohibit or prevent ROTC or military recruitment on campus. That's the kind of politics being defined by and allowed by the political process, politics that go after suppressing any actions of the people that might meaningfully stop this war.
None of the Obama or Clinton plans to withdraw troops in 60 days ends the war, but only reshapes it in the service of a broader reach for empire. Let’s just be for real. None of the substantive questions of policy are even up for discussion in the election. The differences among all the candidates are taking place within very narrow margins: every potential president is pledged to use military force against al-Qaeda, Iran, and Afghanistan, and to an unbending alliance with Israel.
Torture at Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and at the secret “black sites” of the CIA was approved and orchestrated by the Bush administration since early 2002. When the news that some tapes had been destroyed was leaked, the CIA was forced to admit the torture. Now Bush and Cheney and the replacement attorney general Mukasey are upholding torture as a necessary part of the ”war on terror.” Six detainees from Guantanamo are to be tried in military commissions under the threat of death, and we find out from the horses mouth, Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for the military commissions, that “no acquittals will be allowed,” causing him to quit in protest and testify for the defense. This is going on NOW.
But NO candidate is making the obvious moral call for impeachment based on lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and for war crimes, or insisting on the repeal of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which made harsh interrogation methods legal, gave the president arbitrary powers to designate who could be held without charges or access to lawyers, and provides amnesty from prosecution in international courts for torture or those who authorize it, going back to 2001. Both Obama and Clinton voted for re-authorizing the USA Patriot Act, with even less burden on the government to justify searches and surveillance. Neither Obama nor Clinton voted at all when the recent law against the CIA using torture came up, while McCain voted against it, because, while he says he’s against the military using torture, he doesn’t want to stop the CIA from using it.
This is NO break with the torture state put together by Bush.
A whole U.S. city was rapidly emptied of Black and poor people; first because of a natural disaster and refusal by the Bush regime to rescue those hurt by Katrina, and then through federal destruction of public housing and schools and deliberate exile of 40% of the city’s population by government decree and private development. A wave of threatening “nooses” were hung across the country, as if reverting one hundred years in the culture to commonplace lynching is still the way to keep Black people “in their place.” This is going on NOW.
McCain recently refused to distance himself from supporter John Hagee, a radio preacher who says the cause of Hurricane Katrina was the “homosexual sin” in New Orleans. In the face of open white supremacy, and white supremacists screaming about his former minister’s condemnation of the ongoing effects of slavery on Black people, Obama says, “we’re all one nation.” Clinton supports what she calls the “smart” way to police the fence being built along the Mexican border. Where is there any condemnation of the ICE raids breaking up families, the detention centers where people without papers are held like criminals for months?
In The Democrats’ Sleight of Hand Dennis Loo wrote that the Democrats “will not take on and repudiate, they will not fight against and expose, the fundamental lie of the Bush White House - that anything and everything is acceptable, including torture, massive, illegal spying, indefinite detentions, and mass murder - in the name of "defending American lives" and in the name of "national security." In fact, the Democrats will not take on anything that vaguely hints at challenging the rightness of American Empire and American dominance and plunder. No civil liberty, no civil right, no law, nor Constitutional provision, no international law or institution (e.g., the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the Geneva Conventions), no common human decency, and no scruple is safe from their aggressive and immoral assertions that it's OK to do monstrous things as long as you wrap it in the garb of ‘protecting Americans' lives and property.’”
THE WORLD CAN'T WAIT has been out in front of everyone else, setting the pace, the mood, the anger, for the national indignation against the war, for impeachment, against all the Bush policies. Howard Zinn, February 2008
Being able to examine what is still needed has to be looked at from the perspective of why we came together to begin with. One way of seeing this is to try and imagine what things would be like if World Can’t Wait had not ever existed. What would the political atmosphere be like without us? What kind of example did we set? Would things be better or worse if we had not attempted to do what we set out to?
In July 2005, we issued a Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime, at a time when many people were feeling hopeless about Bush’s reelection, and even questioning whether there were people who could act to stop him. World Can’t Wait became a vehicle and voice for the people who refuse to be ruled in this way. This system has never been just. But we are not just looking for a strategy to get a lot of people together. We came together with a concrete mission and objective to seize every opportunity to build mass opposition to the crimes of the Bush regime in order to actually drive it from power. We built it to “join in with and give support and heart to people all over the globe who so urgently need and want this regime to be stopped.“
Have we been proven right or wrong in the analysis made in our Call?
Our Call says, “The Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come.” We put all of what was happening into a comprehensive understanding of the whole direction and first raised the warning, “that which you do not resist and mobilize to stop you will learn - or be forced - to accept”. Some people said that using the “f” word was “too extreme,” and that we were saying things in our Call that shouldn’t be said. The secret and illegal violations of the FISA law were revealed in December of 2005, and suddenly saying that “People look at Bush and think of Hitler” wasn’t such a stretch.
In the last year, two books with “fascist” in their titles sold well. Chris Hedges sounded the alarm about the fascist movement being built by the Christian Right and Naomi Wolf traced the fascist shift taking place in government. Anyone who thinks that the Christian Fascists are gone is wrong in dismissing the Huckabee campaign, the fascist social movement it continues to build, and the homage and dues McCain is paying them.
What if there was no mass opposition building resistance and challenging the people to act against all this being done in our names? What if there had been no focus on the moral challenge this whole package puts before us? And if we hadn’t backed it up with concrete political action? World Can’t Wait and others who have been working to change the very bad dynamics at work in this society, where an ethos that anything goes - torture, pre-emptive war, scuttling legal norms that protect the rights of people not to be spied upon, arrested with out cause, right to a lawyer and hearing the charges against you - were given legitimacy in the name of keeping Americans safe from the “terrorists”. Without what we and others have done to resist this, we would not be seeing this kind of massive sentiment for a change among such a broad swath of society. There would not be the mass discontent trying to find a vehicle through the elections.
Thousands of people joined in mass mobilizations, raised public awareness and started a needed discussion on what YOUR Government is doing and the responsibility of people to stop it. Not enough did. But were we wrong in anything we said about the disaster caused by the Bush regime?
If anything, it’s gone further than many who signed our Call expected. The Democrats have been accomplices in much of this, from voting in their majority for every single fund request from Bush to kill Iraqi civilians, re-authorizing the USA Patriot Act, passing the Military Commissions Act, to approving two Supreme Court justices who have already tipped the Supreme Court further in favor of corporate rights over persons, white supremacy over the goal of desegregation, and upheld the first ban on abortion.
What would be the situation now if the Democrats had really opposed and filibustered just one Supreme Court nomination? They would have had the backing and support of millions. But they didn't because they share, at the most fundamental level, the objectives and interests of their opponents in government, and not the objectives and interests of the people at the base of the party they lead. Back in 2001, we were told by the liberal Democrats not to get upset about the PATRIOT Act’s broad attacks on civil liberties, because those provisions would expire in 2006. What happened then? It was re-authorized with more powers for the government to sneak and peek and repress people, with the support of all the Senators who ran for president.
They have disgusted and disheartened millions who are still looking for a savior from the Democratic Party.
“That which you do not resist and mobilize to stop you will learn - or be forced - to accept.” We often, in taking out the NO TORTURE banners, find people who still have no idea that the US government tortures people, or even that the war in Iraq is still going on. And you wouldn’t know any of this either if your only reference was the presidential debates or FOX News.
So, even though people said, “you shouldn’t do that”, we stepped in to the debate among the torturers over whether waterboarding is torture, and did public, professionally acted demonstrations of what the technique is. Would anyone know this if courageous people hadn’t set out to make the wearing of orange jumpsuits, the black hoods and shackles detainees are forced to wear, real? Two years ago people were stepping over us as we knelt on the ground in orange jumpsuits and hoods. Today, torture became a featured subject at the Academy Awards, seen by one billion people, when Taxi to the Dark Side won, and its director spoke out. Professional associations like the American Psychological Association divided over participation in torture, a crisis among the writers of the TV show “24” that made torture acceptable and examples that something is shifting in public sentiment.
Along with the dozens of witnesses, researchers, the judges and organizers of the Bush Crimes Commission, we pursued and proved an indictment of the Bush administration on the basis of international standards, concluding that, on five counts, they are guilty of crimes against humanity. Some counseled that you can’t talk this way if you want impeachment. But the evidence is there and continues to come forward for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Even George McGovern, in his January 2008 call for impeachment giving torture, war crimes and Katrina as grounds for impeachment, quoted a political commentator speaking on Katrina, who said that he had “never seen anything has badly handled and mismanaged.”
World Can’t Wait, through our consistent identification of the Bush program as a package of extreme danger, has contributed to changing the way millions of people see the Bush regime as criminals who should have “been gone”. Before we came together, people thought there was nothing that individual people could do on a scale that millions could see a newspaper ad or a protest so directly saying what they think themselves. World Can’t Wait represents something the world needs.
David Swanson writes that World Can’t Wait is “willing to take consistent principled positions based on listening to the concerns of a wide segment of the population, with no hint of contamination by money, power, or partisanship. Rarely do you find an organization able to consistently mobilize significant numbers of people into action. Very rarely do you find groups able to work well with other groups in coalitions. Rarest of all is a campaign that unites all three of these things and does so consistently and unrelentingly over a period of years, bringing inspiration to people struggling against defeatism and resignation. The best example of this on the national scene is the World Can't Wait.”
John Nichols awarded us “most valuable crusade” because when “no one else seemed to be getting serious about challenging the Bush-Cheney administration's taste for torture, THE WORLD CAN'T WAIT movement developed an orange campaign… a smart, uncompromising challenge to untenable practices and an untenable status quo.” And James Abourezk: “When most of the country was trying to decipher what was wrong with the direction to which America was heading, Debra Sweet and her organization had already figured out what was wrong and what to do about it. They believed in organizing like-minded people to build a resistance to the Bush onslaught of stolen elections, unnecessary wars, torture as a policy.”
Yes, people are hoping the elections will bring an end to all the outrages visited upon the world and the country by the Bush regime. Whether all that hope gets channeled into the elections and into candidates who will continue the war on terror, or if the intense politicization that is bringing people into activity can also bring people into mass resistance.
Is it still true the world can’t wait for such action? Or can it? What we do matters
There are openings now for civil repudiation that must unfold and blossom and peak this year if we want theses crimes against humanity to actually be brought to a halt.
Are we willing to go along with any of this? What will the world - people in Afghanistan, in Guantanamo, in the Lower 9th Ward - think if we allow it? A lot depends on what WE do.
Where will the hopes of the WORLD rest if we sit back and wait on Obama or Clinton to reverse the Bush program? What will things look like the day after the elections if we were to sum up we’ve been wrong and abandon bringing this whole disastrous direction to a halt?
When I hear people in World Can’t Wait say “I’m tired,” I understand the difficulty we are confronting, and the desire for things to be easier than they have been. But I look at why we are doing this, and look at how tired of this war the whole world is, not to mention how desperate the people who have taken the brunt of it are. We do have a choice, from the
When someone says, “I want to believe the soothing words of Obama and hope there is a savior,” I can’t get with that. Will there be a savior, or will there not? Even people in World Can’t Wait who disagree with me on Obama -- this is something we should discuss and debate as we go forward -- see the need for people to not be passive observers and victims, but to act themselves to make history.
I’ve been looking at what different people I respect are saying about the elections:
Dennis Loo asks again, “Are we willing to follow the immoral sleight of hand trick that the major candidates are purveying? Even if you feel that getting someone else into the White House in January 2009 is critical, are you willing to say that the daily torture and the daily new outrages of shredding any legal protections against dictatorial and fascistic actions are something that can be allowed to continue every single day for the next year?
Paul Haggis, who helped spread orange ribbons at the Oscars last month, said in 2006, “As heretical as this may sound, I am more afraid of the wrong Democrat winning the White House than I am the wrong Republican -- because then we will feel the need to support ‘our’ president, and his or her ‘difficult decisions’ on how to ‘do the right thing for Iraq’ and ‘withdraw with honor.’ We will divide, and conquer, ourselves.”
The revolutionary Bob Avakian: “If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not, and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are.”
Cindy Sheehan: When she quit the Democratic Party almost a year ago – the second time the Democrats voted to fund the occupation of Iraq after they pledged to end the war, sher wrote of them “You have bought yourself a few more months of an illegal and immoral bloodbath.”
What if in the hundred or so years it took to abolish slavery in this country, the Abolitionists had stopped half way, and said, some slavery is really OK in some states? Were the people who defied Hitler right, even if they were a minority, or were the people who went along with Nazi rule right? And does the outcome show that if they did not succeed in stopping the final solution, they were wrong? Was it not worth it to put their lives on the line to attempt to stop it?
Because the majority of people in Iran went with Khomeini when he captured the leadership of the Iranian Revolution in 1980, did that make the people who were fighting for a secular society and against imperialism wrong, and the Islamic fundamentalists right? Has the measure of any moral position ever been that it must gain a majority - or a big following - to stand the test of history?
In 2005, a lot of people said, nice idea removing Bush, but it’s never going to happen. “You can’t say drive out the Bush regime. You’ve got to work through the established political processes.” We said those politics as usual have proven to be a disaster, leading to political demobilization and passivity that allows all this to go on. If the people don’t stop it, why do you think those in power will?
Were we wrong in what we said was needed?
And, how do we go forward?
1. We still have a lot of work to do among the people. World Can’t Wait has dared to identify and challenge some of the “conventional wisdom” in this society that has tended to retard political resistance to Bush’s crimes:
The shared assumption of many people that the “war on terror” is justified and needed, and that the war on Iraq was a mistaken diversion from it.
Invading and occupying Iraq is a major piece of the Bush regime’s strategy to seize control of the Middle East, as an unchallenged and unchallengeable superpower. Bush’s strategy of 5 countries in 5 years hit a big obstacle in Iraq, but that hasn’t kept him from planning regime change in Iran, putting together the network of secret prisons, rendition and torture that created a war of terror. It’s been the anti war sentiment around the world and the debacle of the Iraq war that have prevented them from moving forward with their whole agenda and mission.
Within the US, people have allowed the country to get used to level of surveillance and repression of dissent that would shame Big Brother. Where even ten years ago, courts gave the edge to privacy for citizens, and openness to government, this has been dramatically reversed. The Bush regime has spied on citizens’ private email and phone calls, against US law and constitutional protections.
2. An acceptance that Islamic fundamentalists are the “enemy” to be feared, providing tacit support for openly racist campaigns such as “Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week” and the erosion of civil liberties. What happens if, as some conservative pundits hope, Obama becomes the face to unite youth and others more effectively against the Islamic countries of the Middle East?
3. A shared assumption in much of the anti-war movement that “we support our troops.” Therefore, we must accept continued funding in the war to show that support. We place more value on American lives than Iraqi lives. 70% of the population wants the war over now, and a big portion of those would never have sent the US military to Iraq, and don’t want their children to go. But, contrary to conventional wisdom that the starting place is “we all support the troops,” I say we should ban the phrase “support our troops.”
The troops are being recruited into an institution waging an unjust war, trained and ordered to carry out war crimes as a matter doctrine and course. What part of any of that do we support, and what makes them “ours?” If the military has the “right” to recruit, what about the “rights” of people in Iraq to live? Everyone in the US military has the responsibility to decide where they stand, just as Americans do when their government is waging an unjust war, and refuse to commit such crimes.
Don’t we have to go further on challenging these shared assumptions, and stake out a more radical position of conscience to clarify matters? Where will people be after the election if the “anti-war” movement has not created an alternative for people from “you’re either with us or with the terrorists,” even if said in a kinder tone and with a different spokesman than Bush?
The clarifying role of resistance
The dramatic difference between the course the Bush regime has bullied ahead on, and the interests and felt needs of the majority of the people is stark. The latest poll shows Bush has a 19% approval rating, which must be a historic record low. But being alienated, and thinking how wrong it all is, is not enough. And many people who are against the war have accepted these crimes passively.
We-millions and millions of us-need to stand up against the crimes going on NOW. The question of whether torture continues legally is being decided now. Will those, even in the Bush regime, who are against the use of torture insist that it now go on; refusing to go along with the program? Will the inner workings and cover-ups be exposed? This will happen only if our people shake up the world, demanding that torture stop and Guantanamo and secret renditions are ended.
What could things look like and how could things change if the organized forces of opposition succeed in opening the pathways for mass resistance to really take hold - setting much different terms for society than the elections are. Students who have been feeling impotent as a political force in society and anaesthetized, find their voices and a way to stand up directly against the war, even those filling up the Obama rallies, can find a meaningful and immediate way to act.
These outrages are happening NOW. The people have to act now.
1. Taking on the Military Recruiters & Their Pro-War Supporters in Berkeley & Spreading Across the Country
A new military recruiting office in downtown Berkeley CA, near the high school, became a flash point this year because of what the recruiters do. While we aren’t experiencing the war directly, we have a clear cut example of the war machine and Bush agenda right in the schools. It’s not remote for high school students, it’s every day real. And we hear constant reports of students around the country having to pass by recruiters on the way to the cafeteria, outside on the corner, or in the subway.
The Berkeley City Council, who really started the controversy by taking a brave stand that the Marine recruiters were “unwelcome intruders” in Berkeley, caved in when right wing bloggers howled, and US and California officials threatened to take funds away. Had they stood firm against the recruiters, whatever the short term consequences, they could have done a lot of good towards stopping the war. Vermont Law School is the only one to refuse cooperation with military recruiters, and lost one million in federal funds because of the Solomon Amendment. How can we get cities and universities and institutions persuading people not to be the supply of cannon fodder for an endless and criminal war?
Outside City Hall as the debate with pro-war demonstrators raged, the students from Berkeley High, and others, came into the battle and changed the political atmosphere as they confronted the pro-war protesters. Their message, as they debated all day, and into the evening, got arrested for arguing, and in one case, punched out, was basic: the war in Iraq is wrong, and you’re trying to force youth into it. Leave us alone. We don’t want to fight in that war.” They asked “Where are the weapons of mass destruction?” “What about the one million dead Iraqis and five million who had to flee their homes?”
Is the question settled of whether military recruiters will be able to run rampant in high schools and colleges across the country? No. What we say and do has everything to do with whether the next generation gets suckered in to serving in an illegitimate war of empire.
2. Unrelenting Opposition to the US Torture State.
One of the enduringly true statements in the Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime is “that which you do not resist and mobilize to stop you will learn – or be forced – to accept” If there is any aspect of the Bush program to which this applies more than the torture state they’ve created, I don’t know what it could be.
What part of the structure of secret detentions, destruction of habeas corpus, “enhanced” interrogation methods will go away when Bush leaves office? The whole apparatus has been given a new justification from the Justice Department: even if particular methods or practices are illegal on international law, that’s irrelevant because the president of the U.S. has the authority to override those laws based on the US national interest, as he/she defines it. According to Antonin Scalia, “no one likes torture” but Scalia, who is likely to be writing the majority opinions for the Supreme Court, won’t define torture as “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Constitution.
Obama promised to close Guantanamo and restore habeas corpus. But when the vote came to ban the CIA from using waterboarding, he didn’t show up to vote.
Illegitimate occupation for empire requires a cowed population. Torture is used, openly, by the Bush regime, to scare people in the MidEast who are immediately subject to it. But it’s done to affect people here, too, sending a message that political opponents can be crushed and disappeared. When it becomes “standard operating procedure” it’s already part of the law as it’s practiced. Will the legal system fix that? Many people in the legal arena think not, given the fascist remaking of the courts already completed, although every effort should be made to expose the international laws broken.
The principals in the torture scandal are worried they are liable for torture, legally and politically. That’s why John Ashcroft expressed concern back in 2002 that discussions over choreographing interrogations in the White House were dangerous. That’s why the Military Commissions Act was written with retroactive immunity for anyone carrying out or ordering enhanced interrogation techniques. It’s why the principals are not allowing their underlings, and refusing themselves, answer Congressional subpoenas. The mainstream media is beginning to talk about “war crimes” prosecutions and international law as if there might be a problem for the Bush regime.
Since more has been released about John Yoo’s memos justifying torture for the White House, more people have stepped forward to hold him accountable. The National Lawyers Guild is calling for him to be fired from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall, the law school where he has tenure and teaches a course in ethics. Law students and professors, as well as people in the community, are strategizing on how to make UC Berkeley a hotbed of opposition to torture.
We should spread that spirit, spread the color of orange as resistance to torture, continue and step up the orange jumpsuits and waterboarding demonstrations. Through media coverage these protests are impacting many people, and implanting the idea that torture is being opposed. And, specifically, World Can’t Wait should join in working to have Yoo removed from his teaching post as a way of de-legitimizing the torture state.
3. Preventing an attack by the Bush regime on Iran.
We have warned for more than two years that the Bush administrations’ threats on Iran should be taken seriously. The arguments against an attack are: 1) The US is having too much difficulty militarily subduing Iraq; 2) the finding in the National Intelligence Estimate that Iran is not actively pursuing nuclear weapons capability; 3) George Bush as a lame duck president can’t get the political support to make such an attack. But, as Iran has only been strengthened by everything the US has done in Iraq, the necessity the Bush regime, and whoever follows him, faces to control the Middle East may mean that they can’t not attack Iran.
We don’t know, and may not know until the orders have already been given, when or if such an attack will actually occur. Certainly, military preparations are occurring, whether for real or for political show. Many observers, including in articles posted on worldcantwait.org, think the likelihood increases of an attack as the election gets closer. That’s 70 million people, a huge portion of them under 30 years old, sitting in the cross hairs of a military commanded by someone who believes he’s on a mission from God.
The comments by Hillary Clinton, auditioning to be accepted as a tough commander in chief, that she would “obliterate” Iran with nuclear weapons if they attacked Israel, point to the issue not being settled by Bush leaving office.
Everyone with a conscience living in this country has got to be alarmed, and on alert. World Can’t Wait should reach out to everyone in the antiwar movement, and beyond, to be read to act to prevent such an attack.
Bush and Cheney are committing war crimes in Iraq,
We refuse to be silent.
Bush and Cheney are readying another war on Iran,
We refuse to be complicit.
As people of conscience, we declare now:
We will do everything possible to stop a war on Iran.
We pledge to bring business as usual to a halt if the US bombs Iran.
We will draw forward many others to act.
We pledge our resistance now because the world cannot wait.
Iraq - Get Out!
Iran - Stay Out!
Bush and Cheney - Drive Out!
4. The Democrats Meet in Denver: NO to more of the Bush program
August 25-29 Stay tuned for information on protest plans.
Posted by Dennis Loo at 1:49 PM