Archive for February, 2010
Angie the Anti-Theist stirred up a lot of controversy by live-tweeting as she had a medical abortion last week, as a public service. Thank you Angie!
Angie says, “I found out about a week ago Saturday that I was pregnant. For a variety of reasons, including very high health risks for me, I’m having an abortion. Right now. They have abortion by pill now, RU 486. I went to the doctor, Planned Parenthood, had blood tests and everything else done. They did a sonogram to check the state of my pregnancy. I was at only four weeks one day when I went into the office on Thursday.
They sent me home with medicines, and I’ve taken those. It takes awhile to set in, and I ended up getting a second dose. I’m having an abortion right now. It’s not that bad, it’s not that scary. It’s basically like a miscarriage. I’m live tweeing my abortion on Twitter. Not for some publicity stunt, or attention, or to justify this to myself. I am at peace with my decision. I’m doing this to de-mystify abortion. I’m doing this so that other women know, hey, it’s not nearly as terrifying as I had myself worked up thinking it was. It’s just not that bad. This is nothing compared to childbirth, compared to labor, compared to for me, and my risks, late stage pregnancy. This is the best choice. It’s not that bad. And I want people to know that it’s out there. If you need this, there are non-surgical oprtions available, especially in the earliest stage of pregnancy.
Obviously, everbody use protection. Sometimes that doesn’t work. When it doesn’t, there’s the morning after pill (Plan B) and if you’re not in time for that, there’s RU-486. So, I just want to let everybody know that you too can have an abortion if you want one. It’s OK. It’s not shamefull, not secret, it’s not killing a child. I have a little boy. You guys have seen him on my video channel. He is my world. I want to stay alive and be his mom a lot longer, so I’m having an abortion. I hope everyone on Youtube has a great and godless day. Peace. ”
Postscript: Kathryn Joyce posted a fascinating piece on Angie’s history today on Salon:
Jackson, whose special-needs son was born after a grueling 98-hour delivery, says her motivation is to counter the stories of regret the anti-abortion movement has cultivated in recent years. As the controversy continues, one of the most interesting—and motivating—parts of her narrative has been largely overlooked: her intimate connection with a religious movement—one she now calls a cult—that glorified fertility and childbirth and demonized medical intervention even when mothers’ labors were going very wrong.
Their words and actions are enough to undo any illusions about the U.S. occupation.
Does anyone think we’re getting a true picture of what’s happening in Helmand Province during the US/NATO offensive in Marjah?
General David Petraeus, who runs the whole Euro/Asian military occupation “overseas contingency operation” as head of CENTCOM, says this battle is an “initial salvo” in a military campaign of 12 – 18 months. So much for U.S. forces leaving Afghanistan in mid-2011. This is just a start of the U.S. offensive.
Petraeus, on Meet the Press yesterday was being interviewed on the offensive, and made a fascinating digression into the military price the US military has paid for “expedient measures,” i.e. torture:
I have always been on the record, in fact, since 2003, with the concept of living our values. And I think that whenever we have, perhaps, taken expedient measures, they have turned around and bitten us in the backside. We decided early on in the 101st Airborne Division we’re just going to–look, we just said we’d decide to obey the Geneva Convention, to, to move forward with that. That has, I think, stood elements in good stead. We have worked very hard over the years, indeed, to ensure that elements like the International Committee of the Red Cross and others who see the conduct of our detainee operations and so forth approve of them. Because in the cases where that is not true, we end up paying a price for it ultimately. Abu Ghraib and other situations like that are nonbiodegradables. They don’t go away. The enemy continues to beat you with them like a stick in the Central Command area of responsibility.
So, in “living our values” so far, the US/NATO forces killed dozens of civilians during this offensive, including 27 yesterday when they bombed a truck convoy of people fleeing the fighting.
The Telegraph UK reported in Afghan government condemns Nato air strike that killed 27, and noted also that
Last Thursday, a Nato bombing raid in the northern province of Kunduz killed seven Afghan policemen, according to hospital and government officials.
On Feb 15, Natro acknowledged that five civilians were killed accidentally and two others wounded in an air strike in southern Afghanistan.
While Petraeus tries to prepare the U.S. public for increasing loss of U.S. troops’ lives, I must note that the loss of Afghan civilian’s lives is 1) much greater than the number of US troops killed, and 2) usually of no consequence at all to US war planners, except when they become “nonbiodegradable” (huh?) which the enemy “continues to beat you with a stick” over.
Kevin Gostzola takes this on in The Lying Language of Occupation: Murdered Civilians in Marjah are Human Beings, not “Human Shields”
military commanders claim civilian deaths are happening because the Taliban are using civilians as “human shields.” They are framed as purveyors of evil despite evidence and reports from organizations like Amnesty International which indicate that U.S. and NATO forces engage and have engaged in indiscriminate attacks (which are just as bad as using civilians as “shields”).It is uncertain how long this “surge” will last. The U.S. and NATO seem to be taking action to create the illusion that there is, in fact, justification for waging war and occupation in Afghanistan.No matter how long this lasts, civilians will pay the highest price.
Larry Everest gives the history of the US occupation in Surge of Violence: U.S. Launches Massive Offensive in Southern Afghanistan and concludes that
The U.S. position in Afghanistan is precarious. The war has bled into neighboring Pakistan, a key U.S. ally, which now faces its own growing Islamist insurgency and other deep and volatile internal and external contradictions. And the U.S. is facing real obstacles and challenges to its dominance in the Middle East (such as Iran) as well as globally. It is responding to these challenges by escalating its violence against the people.
Where’s the outrage in the U.S. for civilian casualties? Some of it should be on display this week when anti-war groups mark the 1,000 U.S. death in Afghanistan. (The total today is 999).
The best gift to humanity would be to create the situation the people of the Netherlands have. The Dutch government collapsed this weekend because of mass opposition to Dutch troops being in Afghanistan at all. Their troops are leaving by the end of this year.
Even as President Obama is pressuring European governments to send more troops, people around the world are fed up with this occupation. And we should be, too!
Friday, after 5 delays, the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility finally issued its report on whether John Yoo and Jay Bybee are guilty of crimes associated with their role providing legal cover for torture while working in the Bush White House. Since the findings were leaked weeks ago, no one was surprised that the DoJ’s answer is: NO. They are not very competent lawyers; they engaged in “professional misconduct: says the Department of Justice, but they are not criminals.
NO crimes were committed, no one will be held accountable, says Attorney General Eric Holder. Every major newspaper in the country echoed this message Saturday in its coverage, as did the New York Times, DOJ Review Finds No Misconduct by Memo Authors.
Yet, some groups who have opposed and worked very intently to stop U.S. torture state are looking for the “best” in this report (see the ACLU for example) as the basis for Congress to act. Congress has held dozens of hearings going back to the abuse and torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib, and shown itself willing to look into, and then tolerate and accept the little bit of the reality that came out when lawyers, human rights workers, former guards and ex-detainees testimony was heard.
It barely qualifies as hand-wringing to call for next week’s Congressional hearings as any sort of real response to the OPR findings. Hearings on a Friday?? Without subpoenas?? And really: a single day of hearings? Is anyone supposed to take this seriously? The OPR report was over 5 years in the making.
The report’s findings deserve the strongest and most substantial opposition. See World Can’t Wait’s response to the report.
These are men covered with the blood of countless victims of unspeakably cruel torture, rendition, and imprisonment without any recourse to trial in hell hole dungeons across the planet. The OPR report essentially exonerates Yoo and Bybee – and those who ultimately called the shots for them, Bush, Cheney, Rice, and the rest of the criminal gang – and clears the way for embedding the practices of torture as an integral, condoned element of U.S. policy. These practices are, in fact, continuing today under the administration of Barack Obama, as they did in the years of the Bush Regime.
I looked around the internet to find condemnation of the DoJ’s “let them off the hook” report, and found:
Raw Story pulled out the most passage in the report most damning of John Yoo in Bush had the power to massacre an entire village: Torture author Yoo by quotin Michael Isikoff in Newsweek:
Pressed on his views in an interview with OPR investigators, Yoo was asked:
“What about ordering a village of resistants to be massacred? … Is that a power that the president could legally -”"Yeah,” Yoo replied, according to a partial transcript included in the report. “Although, let me say this: So, certainly, that would fall within the commander-in-chief’s power over tactical decisions.”
“To order a village of civilians to be [exterminated]?” the OPR investigator asked again.
“Sure,” said Yoo.
David Swanson, in Yoo, Bybee, and Disinformation goes after the need for war crimes prosecution:
How many villages could a president “legally” massacre? You’re missing the point. John Yoo’s president cannot be limited in any way when it’s war time, and it’s always war time. And can other nations’ presidents potentially “legally” massacre our villages? Again, you’re missing the point. The ONLY way to prevent them from doing so is to massacre enough of their villages first. And the only way to do that is to empower presidents. Thus think these psychopaths, and so will our children think like this if we do not put a stop to it now.
Yoo and Bybee are openly guilty of conspiracy to engage in aggressive war, banned by the U.N. Charter and Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, and of conspiracy to torture, a felony under 18 U.S.C. § 2340A-c and § 2441, and to spy without warrants, banned by the Fourth Amendment. Their memos are public. The fact that everyone waited for years to do anything about it, until they could see the Justice Department’s own report on the matter doesn’t change the absolute irrelevance of such nonsense. Yoo’s and Bybee’s actions, no matter what you make of them, consist entirely in authorship of a series of written documents available for all to read. And those documents constitute overwhelming grounds for impeachment and indictment.
Allison Kilkenny, on True/Slant goes to the irony that President Obama (We Do Not Torture!) now says Yoo can’t be prosecuted. Yoo argues president has authority to massacre entire villages.
This man teaches law at Berkeley and was hired as a columnist for the Philly Inquirer. He recently wrote a book, which will earn him lots of money. He gets to walk around every day, a free man.
Rest assured, if a government employee is another country — let’s say Iran — argued that massacring entire villages and using poisonous beetles on prisoners of war was acceptable behavior, President Obama would rightfully denounce that behavior as criminal.
Of course, since Cheney and Yoo are American former government employees, the law doesn’t apply to them.
World Can’t Wait, War Criminals Watch, FireJohnYoo.org, Code Pink and others have been protesting and disrupting Yoo’s book tour. See
A full schedule of protests at his tour in on WarCriminalsWatch.org. Join in! The biggest protest of John Yoo will be Friday March 19 in Charlottesville VA, just before the major march in Washington DC against the Afghanistan & Iraq Occupations.
This event supported by After Downing Street, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, CODE PINK: Women for Peace, Peace of the Action, Progressive Democrats of America, War Criminals Watch, and World Can’t Wait.
March 19, 2010, Charlottesville, Va.: Year 8 Begins in Iraq War, as Afghanistan escalates
2 p.m. meet on grass across from Corner for Funk the War musical march.
3 p.m. meet in front of Minor Hall at the University of Virginia for rally to protest John Yoo, who speaks in Minor Hall at 3:30.
Why you should join protests on March 20, wherever you are:
If you can find news of the largest U.S./NATO offensive of the past 8 years in Afghanistan last week, it’s likely to be profiles of the soldiers and Marines who are up against tough odds, but “sure to prevail.” Those odds described by the US command, and repeated endlessly on FOX News, are that the “Taliban uses civilians as cover” and that the Afghan military and police really aren’t ready to “step up” and run their own country.
This offensive on Marja in southern Afghanistan is led by General Stanley McChrystal, the counter insurgency expert brought into Afghanistan by Obama last year to address U.S. military debacle, and who led widespread secret operations, reported by Esquire last year to include torture, under General Petreaus in Iraq.
“We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in,”says McChrystal, now worried about avoiding civilian casualties. As I wrote last week, in Why the U.S. is (and should be) Losing in Afghanistan.
How is the occupation going? Reminders: Obama kept Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has promoted the expansion into Afghanistan. He’s expanded Bush’s quiet drone war, and is now has two unmanned drone programs (run by the military and the CIA), making far more attacks than Bush ever did. The administration endorsed the “election” of Hamid Karzai over widespread, incontrovertible evidence of massive fraud in it.
The operation in Marja has killed up to 20 civilians, even though many thousands fled the area. The airstrike which killed 12 civilians is now claimed as not a mistake. NATO Commanders on Afghan Civilian Deaths: Rockets “Hit Their Intended Target.”
In the war in Iraq, and in Afghanistan until recently at least, the American war-fighting style has been for troops to go into an area, seeking to draw enemy fire, and then to call in long-range artillery or air support, and simply blow up the area with heavy explosives, devastating anti-personnel bombs that shower an area in flesh-shredding flechettes, burning white phosphorus projectiles, and a brutal rain of machine-gun fire from fixed-wing and helicopter gunships. Inevitably with such tactics, countless innocent men, women and children get killed and maimed.
Iraq, where US troops have just now dipped under 100,000 strong are not leaving. President Obama promised during the campaign that they would leave in 2010, then 2011. But a base force of 50,000 at least, will stay indefinitely, fitting into the plan of permanent U.S. occupation. They are still killing civilians, as Jason Ditz reports on antiwar.com.
|JOIN World Can’t Wait in Washington March 19/20 with Peace of the Action and the ANSWER Coalition. Friday March 19 is a day of action & outreach. Saturday is a mass march on the White House. World Can’t Wait is also supporting the marches in Los Angeles and San Francisco on March 20. More here.|
Without the build-up and the context of CBS breaking its own ban on “political” messaging, the Focus on the Family ad which ran during the Super Bowl was itself not so remarkable. The explicit message: Pam Tebow is tough, and decided to carry a pregnancy that could have killed her and the fetus, then gave birth to a Heismann trophy winning college football star she calls “Timmy.”
But look at the Focus website to which viewers were directed. A discussion with Tebow’s parents and Jim Daly (James Dobson’s replacement at Focus on the Family) ends with Robert Tebow intoning into the camera, “DON’T KILL YOUR BABY.”
The back story, you learn in the film, is that the Tebows decided to have a fifth child who would become a preacher. The parents and children named the fetus “Timothy.” When Pam had a medical contraindication of pregnancy, she did not consider abortion, and says in the film that if she would have died, it would have been “worth it.”
So OK, that was her choice, given that she thinks god would have cared for her 4 live children, because she made such a sacrifice. This Dark Ages approach to the role of women — as incubators of children before any other social role — is all over the Focus on the Family website. Sunsara Taylor took it on in a video protesting the ad.
Go a few more clicks into the Focus on the Family site, under unplanned pregnancy, and you get to the “Know Your Options” link which is designed to appear as if it’s an actual source of information on options. But no, the first paragraph of “Considering Abortion?” is
Abortion is not just a simple medical procedure. For many women, it is a life changing event with significant physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. Most women who struggle with past abortions say that they wish they had been told all of the facts about abortion and its risks.
Which the site, of course, proceeds to do, repeating the lies that abortion causes breast cancer and that “death” is a complication of legal abortion in the U.S. No information on the risks of pregnancy are given, for comparison.
There are more fake clinics, i.e. “crisis pregnancy centers” in the United States now, which provide no medical care or correct information to women with unplanned pregnancy – over 4,000 – than there are clinics which provide abortion and birth control. To understand the damage these “clinics” do, see Crisis of Deception: Fake Clinics Spread Misinformation on the Federal Dime.
This network, which receives federal “abstinence-only” funds, and gobs of private funding, has more sophisticated imaging equipment than many medical offices responsible for women’s health. They use fetal ultrasound images to convince women to continue pregnancies, whether they came into the facility seeking abortions, or genuinely wanted information on all the options.
Rosemary Candelario, in “Focusing on Families: Behind the Tebow Super Bowl Ad” asks
Is this ad, and its supporting web videos and pages, the Trojan horse of a new, slick, public relations attack on abortion? Coupled with the murder of Dr. George Tiller less than a year ago and increased threats against always (literally) embattled abortion providers, Focus on the Family’s ad could indeed prove quite dangerous.
This whole package of indoctrination, forced motherhood, and disinformation on women’s health is what CBS and Focus on the Family served up to Super Bowl watchers.
As people who follow World Can’t Wait know, we’ve been opposed to Barack Obama’s plans to expand the US occupation of Afghanistan since the 2008 campaign began. Now that Obama has expanded the US occupying forces beyond 150,000 (not including all the contractors outside the US military) and is pressuring European allies to send more troops, how is the occupation going?
Reminders: Obama kept Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has promoted the expansion into Afghanistan. He’s expanded Bush’s quiet drone war, and is now has two unmanned drone programs (run by the military and the CIA), making far more attacks than Bush ever did. The administration endorsed the “election” of Hamid Karzai over widespread, incontrovertible evidence of massive fraud in it.
So how is all that working? I had a chance to hear Anand Gopal speak Monday night, at a Brooklyn for Peace event. I hope his talk will be broadcast, but in the meantime, I’ll report from my notes.
Anand Gopal gave us important information with “America’s Secret Afghan Prisons,” a piece based on 24 interviews with detainees and families of those held at Bagram Air Force Base, called “Obama’s Gitmo.” See a ten minute interview by Russia Today (who surely has an interest in counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan) with Gopal.
Gopal stated that the Taliban had virtually been removed from Afghanistan in 2001-02 with the US invasion, relatively easily. Now, they once again dominate 1/2 of the country.
The main reason for this he cited was the civilian casualties caused by US/NATO attacks. He said that the Taliban also kills civilians, directly or indirectly, but that the civilian population thinks the US occupation is what’s responsible for the deaths. There have been major protests in all the cities, and every time that a group of civilians are killed by NATO or US forces, with American flags and effigies of Obama burned. People are very angry.
Another reason the US occupation will fail, Gopal said, is that they are supporting the “corrupt and predatory” Karzai government, which is viewed as the enemy by much of the country. During the 1990′s civil war, the Northern Alliance, and other warlord groups now allied with Karzai were responsible for horrific treatment of women. In areas they controlled, girls not married by the age of 12 were raped,
When the people protested the treatment of women, so bad that in 2003 hundreds of women drowned themselves rather than be raped by the Northern Alliance, the Karzai government did nothing, because Karzai needs the warlords to hold onto power. Because people in the country are preyed upon by the warlords, get no help from the Karzai government or the U.S. government, they have turned increasingly to the Taliban, despite the crimes against people they have committed.
Another reason for the U.S. lack of success in “winning hearts and minds” of the Afghan people Gopal cited is the “lack of reconstruction.” He said that 85% of the billions marked for reconstruction goes to US contractors. Of the remaining 15% much goes to the warlords. He said the major Kabul-Kandahar highway built by the Bush regime a few years ago is falling apart from shoddy construction.
Gopal said the only solution for the people of Afghanistan is the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The Toronto Star reported Sunday February 7 in Afghans flee ahead of planned NATO offensive
Mohammad Hakim, a 55-year-old tribal leader in Marjah, said fear has risen over the past two weeks and he knows at least 20 families who had left. He himself planned to take his wife, nine sons, four daughters and grandchildren to live with relatives in Lashkar Gah.
“Everybody is worried that they’ll get caught in the middle when this operation starts,” he said in a telephone interview.
Hakim said he was worried about the length of the operation.
“I can stay for one or two weeks,” he said. “But if I have to leave my agriculture land for months and months, then how will I feed my family?”
Since March of 2009, Barack Obama’s administration is no longer using the term “Global War on Terror.” The phrase the Defense Department replaced it with is “Global Contingency Operation.”
The Obama administration has ordered an end to use of the phrase “Global War on Terror,” a label adopted by the Bush administration shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
In a memo sent this week from the Defense Department’s office of security to Pentagon staffers, members were told, “this administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror’ [GWOT.] Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’”
World Can’t Wait has always referred to the actual impact of the GWOT as the global “war of terror” on the people of the Middle East. It occurs to me that we are missing a huge opportunity if we don’t parody Obama’s new term in the cause of bringing out the truth of what’s being done to the world.
So…”overseas genocide operation”? “overseas conquering operation”? I’m sure you can do better. I think we need a contest…
This question of terminology came to me today as a I read today’s very good editorial in the Tufts Daily, “A Policy with Troubling Implications.“ It begins
For those who have been following the U.S. government’s War on Terror, or “Overseas Contingency Operation” as it is now called, it should be apparent that President Barack Obama has not thus far initiated the drastic changes that many of his supporters believed he would, based on promises he made during his campaign. For example, in his first year in office, Obama ordered more drone missile attacks in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region than former President George W. Bush ordered in his last three, and he added 30,000 more troops to the area. In addition, America has continued to abduct foreign suspects and transfer them to prisons in countries that allow torture without charging those suspects of any crime.
Whatever it’s called, the long, global war of occupation and torture on the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, now spreading to Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen…is illegitimate, and wrong. And we, the people living in the United States, must raise our voices and take action to stop it.
Emma Kaplan’s been blogging about her case and has been picked up by Michael Moore. Check it out!
So the trial has been re-scheduled for April 20th (readiness hearing is on April 16th). The judge has agreed to allow the “necessity defense”. The rationale behind the necessity defense is that sometimes, in a particular situation, a technical breach of the law is more advantageous to society than the consequence of strict adherence to the law. The defense is often used successfully in cases that involve a Trespass on property to save a person’s life or property. It also has been used, with varying degrees of success, in cases involving anti-nuclear or anti-war protests. During the 1980s, for example, the Necessity Defense was used by protesters who blocked trains (called “White Trains” because they were painted white to keep their radioactive contents cool) carrying nuclear warheads to military bases in the U.S. The rationale was that the danger of nuclear war far outweighed any trespassing or blocking of the trains. One infamous example of a ‘White Train” action was in the 1980s, when anti-war activist and Vietnam veteran Brian Wilson was hit by a “white train” during an action at the Concord Munitions Depot in California.