Archive for March, 2010

Marching in Protest of 7 Years US Occupation of Iraq

Protesting John YooSeven years of U.S. war and occupation of Iraq were marked with varied protests in the U.S. last weekend. There were more of us than last year, in 2009, when people widely believed the election of Barack Obama was going to end these wars.  It’s important we’re out there to go against the tide.

Today, Obama is in Afghanistan, on dark-of-night unannounced trip to twist the arms of Hamid Karzai, the president who didn’t win the recent election, but nevertheless is the US’ best hope to secure Afghanistan firmly under the domination of the U.S. empire.  Even Fox News notes today that

Both of Karzai’s vice presidents are former warlords whose forces allegedly killed thousands of people in the civil war of the 1990s that paved the way for the rise of the Taliban.

Few people, including those against the wars, are paying attention to the US offensive in Marja, Afghanistan, which is now being spread north to Kandahar.  The U.S. is already warning people there to leave, or else they will be considered Taliban sympathizers…in the second largest city in the country!  Where should people go? It’s impossible not to kill civilians in an occupation, as reported Friday in Tighter Rules Fail to Stem Deaths of Innocent Afghans at Checkpoints.

“The people are tired of all these cruel actions by the foreigners, and we can’t suffer it anymore,” said Naqibullah Samim, a village elder from Hodkail, where Mr. Yonus lived. “The people do not have any other choice, they will rise against the government and fight them and the foreigners. There are a lot of cases of killing of innocent people.”

Still Waitin on that ChangeYes, Obama and General Stanley McChrystal report the occupation is now “winning” even while they tell us to expect more casualties.  While the headline is US deaths double in Afghanistan as troops pour in, the news is that more people in the US support the offensive than in December 2009

After a summer marked by the highest monthly death rates of the war, President Barack Obama faced serious domestic opposition over his decision in December to increase troops in Afghanistan, with only about half the American people supporting the move. But support for his handling of the war has actually improved since then, despite the increased casualties.

The latest Associated Press poll at the beginning of March found that 57 percent of those surveyed approved his handling of the war in Afghanistan compared to 49 percent two months earlier.

The Washington Post today polls 53% in favor of Obama’s policy in Afghanistan, so Obama feels he can get away with telling the troops in Afghanistan that people at home support the war there.  I think that support is shallow, and temporary, and that we have a great responsibility to bring reality to people on why the U.S. is occupying Afghanistan.  See A War for Empire – Not a “Good War” Gone Bad by Larry Everest.

The Iraq War was Illegitimate from Bush’s Invasion On

The Bush regime’s war on Iraq was, and remains, completely illegitimate by all measures.  Yet, too few people, even those against the wars, stop to look at  how the Iraq war began.  As we said in Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime in 2005, “YOUR GOVERNMENT, on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in its sights.”  Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet and the whole cabal openly lied about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction and a link to al Qaeda and 9-11 in an attempt to bully other countries into joining the invasion.

The Bush regime carried out the destruction of civil society in Iraq.  The electrical, educational, sewage, water, and security systems.  In the process 1.2 million, displaced more than 4 million, tortured unknown numbers directly in detention, and made the country unlivable.  The Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war amounted to a war crime on its face, of aggressive war.

Should we stop talking about that?  Much of this country thinks the war is a) over or b) ending because Obama is withdrawing troops, even though private contractors are still pouring in for a permanent US military occupation.  Foreign policy is gone from the headlines, except for that minor problem Obama has with Netanyahu.

I am still thinking about the piece in the Christian Science Monitor by Michael Ollove, reporting on the war from York, PA

After seven years in Iraq and nine in Afghanistan, residents of York, Pa., talk about how the wars have become like a screen saver: always there but rarely acknowledged.

So, that’s why our visible protests are important. A survey of the ways in which people protested:

Washington, DC:

Stop the KillingCindy Sheehan set up Camp OUT NOW on the national mall as part of the ongoing Peace of the Action effort to have continuous protest in Washington until the wars end.  The action resumes April 6.

The Iraq War Memorial came to the Washington Monument, stopping thousands of tourists with the names of those killed in Iraq, both US military and Iraqis.

ANSWER Coalition 7,000 rallied and marched around the White House, depositing symbolic coffins at the offices of Haliburton (where an effigy of Dick Cheney was trampled); the offices of the Washington Post and Veterans Administration; and in the front of the White House.  Cindy Sheehan, Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux and 5 others were arrested for not moving from in front of the White House, held for 48 hours, and banned from the White House area for six months. Read AP report. Watch the AP video. Flickr Gallery.

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans marched along with military families.  While speaking at the rally, Elaine Brower, a leader of World Can’t Wait; Robynn Murray, an Iraq veteran, and Matthis Chiroux, an Afghanistan veteran and Iraq war resister, said the American flag stands for empire, and burned one. See The Nightmare Will End When We Wake Up! Watch the video.

Marches in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle:

Thousands marched.  See Stephanie Tang of World Can’t Wait: Obama’s War is Killing the Afghan People, not Saving Them.

In San Francisco, Daniel Ellsberg spoke to a rally of thousands on the importance of protest:

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers study of the Vietnam War and is the subject of the recent documentary film, “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” likened the protest and others like it around the country Saturday to a day of demonstrations organized against the conflict in Vietnam in 1969.

“They thought it had no effect,” he told the crowd in San Francisco, referring to the 1969 protesters. “They were wrong.”
Ellsberg said President Richard Nixon was planning to escalate the war around that time, but held off.

In Los Angeles, thousands also marched, including a We Are Not Your Soldiers contingent carrying a banner signed by many more youth pledging to resist military recruiters.

Charlottesville, VA:

Friday, March 19, John Yoo made two speeches at the University of Virginia, and was disrupted at both by questions and objections to his authorship of the Bush torture memos; his promotion of aggressive war; and his theory of presidential powers.  150 people protested outside.  See David Swanson, John Yoo: A President Can Nuke the United States for an account, photos & video.

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Fordham University: Prettifying C.I.A. Clandestine Operations

I”m not sure what was worse; sitting in an auditorium for a speech by the head of CIA clandestine operations, or having most of the audience give a standing ovation afterward.  There were some low points in between, too.

Michael Sulick, Direction of CIA Clandestine Operations

Michael Sulick, Director of CIA Clandestine Operations

Thursday night I went with my friend Ray McGovern, and some current and former Fordham students to a lecture at Fordham University by Michael Sulick, Director of the National Clandestine Service, the guy in charge of counter-terrorism and covert ops.  Ray and Sulick are both graduates of Fordham, and both worked for the C.I.A.  One difference between them is that Ray quit long ago.

Fordham, a Jesuit school, has a very active Peace and Justice program led by a tenured professor, which just the evening before had held a commemoration of the assassination 30 years ago of Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador.  It was noted that Romero was killed by graduates of the School of the Americas, with help from the CIA.

But that same university produces a lot of FBI and CIA agents. For Sulick, the student center was decorated with the kind of puffy, shiny balloon letters junior high schools use for birthday parties, with silvery “C-I-A” floating in the lobby.  I felt it was going to be a strange night.

Ray was tipped off about the lecture by anti-war students.  He offered himself as a “respondent” to the lecture, but the administration declined that offer.   Ten or 11 professors protested the CIA lecture, and around noon Thursday the administration invited one of them to respond to it on stage.  She declined, as she would have no time to prepare.  The lecture was off the radar; not on Fordham’s website, and a non-event as far as the Public Relations office was concerned.  They wanted no press.

The administration called the student leaders to find out if any protest was planned, with the intimidating implication that they would be held responsible for any disruption.

Ray invited me to meet with about 15 students before the speech.  We learned that, for the first time in public lectures at Fordham, questions would only be taken in writing, giving no one the opportunity to speak from the floor.  And you know what that means.

We discussed questions we’d like to ask:

* Director Sulick, Could you comment on the April 17, 2009 NBC News report that the CIA is paying Pakistani agents to identify targets for drone bombings in Pakistan, and that those agents were dropping electronic chips in farmhouses solely to get paid?

* Director Sulick, Could you comment on a statement by Georgetown professor Gary Solis in the Washington Post of March 12, 2010, that civilians working for the CIA in the drone program are unlawful combatants under international law?

* You resigned from the CIA in 2005 as world public opinion turned against the Bush administration’s use of “alternative interrogation methods.”  What do you know about the Agency’s destruction of video tapes of waterboarding that surfaced just after you returned to the CIA in 2007?

* Agence France Presse, covering Congressional hearings Tuesday March 23 on the CIA’s drone program, reported that American University law professor Kenneth Anderson testified that those who target for the drone operations “could face possible charges abroad.”  Would that include you and those you supervise?

Well, of course, none of these questions were read to Sulick by the student government leaders moderating the Q&A.

Sulick droned on (sorry) about the glories of public “service” and his distinction of being the first CIA officer to set foot in the Soviet Republics after 1991 — because he had taken Russian at Fordham.  We learned that the best thing about his doctorate in literature was that he could make small talk with Russian intelligence targets about Dostoevsky.  We learned that in the 1950′s the U.S. had “removed the regime and restored the Shah [of Iran] to his throne.”  That would be the elected Mossadegh government, overthrown by a CIA-led coup.  A little truth, spun as a positive achievement.

Most of the questions asked read from the audience were insipid.  “How does one join the CIA?”  “There’s a website.  You can apply online.”  Imagine that!  I found Sulick’s comments to be banally evil, obvious, shallow, and self-serving.

Ray McGovern answering for CIA's Michael Sulick "What is terrorism?"

But one question seemed to stump him. “What’s the definition of terrorism?”  From my seat in the second row, he looked like a deer in headlights.  For some unfathomable reason, Sulick invited Ray to come up on stage and answer the question, as Ray “used to work in analysis with the Agency.”

Ray told a story of that morning, having breakfast with two atheists who were questioning him about the front page New York Times story on the pope hiding child abusing priests, Memo to Pope Described Transfer of Child-Abusing Priest. “Why does the church care only about the first nine months of life?  And not for the living” who are being killed by the CIA drone program?

Ray was eloquent and sincere as always, and the mike was cut off at about the 60 second mark — after he was invited by the lecturer to the podium, and told by the administration that he would be welcome to ask a question!

About 20% of the audience clapped and cheered as he sat down.  The blue-blazered student government officer sitting in front of him — the one who weeded out the challenging questions — turned around and said to Ray, “you’re an asshole”.  Which was the only thing any of them said to him the rest of the evening.  We didn’t stand for the ovation.

It was good to be with the people at Fordham last night who are trying to stand for justice.  We sat til late talking with a couple of students about the silence of the Jesuits against the government, and the slickness of the school administration in co-opting students.

I can see from Fordham’s history (Father Dan Berrigan, the anti-war priest was on the faculty) and ties to liberation theologists in Central America, why they would commemorate Romero.  But when the same school brings a CIA director to lecture and there is no challenge posed, critical thinking is MIA. Faculty, alumni, and students applauded an operative responsible for civilian deaths by drone bombing, and for the torture of detainees, and probably more that we don’t know about yet.  I felt battered by spending two hours with them.

However, it was good to work with the anti-war students, and spend time with Ray McGovern, who left the CIA many years ago, and devotes his life to exposing and stopping much of what they do now.  Ray is not just an adviser to War Criminals Watch, he’s a genuine resister.  See Ray in action confronting Donald Rumsfeld May 5, 2006.

We need more of this response to war criminals!

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Damn, We Need a “Morning After the Health Care Bill” Pill

Thanks to scientists who studied female reproduction, there are women in the world fortunate enough to have access to the birth control pill.  Take a few of them after being raped, or any kind of unprotected sex where one fears pregnancy, and the “morning after pill” prevents implantation of any fertilized egg.

But what do you do the morning after you’ve been politically attacked so deeply you feel it in the gut and you’d like to vomit from the White House down the Mall to Congress?  We need a “morning after the health care bill” pill.

Because the so-called “health-care reform” passed by the Democrats yesterday rolls the bus over the bodies of women now, and in future, denied access to abortion, and the right to control their own bodies.  We knew this was coming, and yet, the way it was done twists “the change you can believe in” knife deeper into the wound of the body politic.

This whole “reform” process isn’t over at all, and I don’t think anyone can predict just what will happen.  Except that for sure, women are screwed, and there is no pill to save us.   Who should we be angry at?  Obama, Pelosi, all the Democrats, the Republicans, the tea-baggers, the health care “industry,” and some in the women’s movement.

For 4 months, we’ve been protesting the Stupak Amendment, the move by anti-abortion Democrats to further remove access to abortion under the guise of “reform.”  Stupak, et al, wouldn’t go for Obama’s health care bill without it.

If you missed the news because you’ve been protesting for immigrant rights or against the U.S. illegitimate wars all weekend, or otherwise not paying attention, the savior of the health bill is Barack Obama’s Executive Order “ensuring enforcement and implementation of abortion restrictions in the patient protection and affordable care act.”

An Executive Order has the force of a law, except…it does not need to be reaffirmed every year, as the restrictions on abortion for poor women in the Hyde Amendment, part of appropriation bills, have had to be.  In fact, it’s permanent.

Meaning, according to Feministing:

The status quo was terrible to begin with. The Hyde Amendment bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, restricting access for women on Medicaid, military personnel and families, those who receive care through Indian Health Services, and women on disability insurance. The Nelson “compromise” expands these limitations to the exchange set up through health reform. The use of private funds to pay for abortion will be restricted, with women having to write separate checks for abortion coverage and the rest of their health care. A George Washington University study and subsequent analysis suggest this will lead to the elimination of all insurance coverage for abortion services.

They conclude that “for U.S. women Barack Obama is an anti-choice president.”  Yes, from the “common ground” with the anti-abortion agenda last spring, to enforcement of their agenda this spring.

The Washington Post summarizes:

ABORTION: The bill tries to maintain a strict separation between taxpayer dollars and private premiums that would pay for abortion coverage. No health plan would be required to offer coverage for abortion. In plans that do cover abortion, policyholders would have to pay for it separately, and that money would have to be kept in a separate account from taxpayer money. States could ban abortion coverage in plans offered through the exchange. Exceptions would be made for cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother. [my emphasis].

According to Chris Hedges, we also have no “reform” of health care.  On Truthdig, he goes after the giant gift the bill represents to insurance companies:

The claims made by the proponents of the bill are the usual deceptive corporate advertising. The bill will not expand coverage to 30 million uninsured, especially since government subsidies will not take effect until 2014. Families who cannot pay the high premiums, deductibles and co-payments, estimated to be between 15 and 18 percent of most family incomes, will have to default, increasing the number of uninsured. Insurance companies can unilaterally raise prices without ceilings or caps and monopolize local markets to shut out competitors. The $1.055 trillion spent over the next decade will add new layers of bureaucratic red tape to what is an unmanageable and ultimately unsustainable system.

Passage of the bill consumed much of the progressive movement over the last year, as people’s aspirations shrunk from the demand of “single payer” to “public option” to well, whatever the Republican minority would allow.  The fact that some claim this bill as a victory only shows how low their sights have fallen in accommodating to attacks from the right.

The right is not going to be satisfied, no matter how far you cave in, anyway.  Bart Stupak was going to get a “Defenders for Life” award, but because he “caved in” to the “most pro-abortion” President in history, he lost it (!).  Another Congressman, Randy Neugebauer, from Texas, yelled “baby killer!” while Stupak was speaking in favor of the bill.  So, even though Stupak listens to “leading bishops, Focus on the Family, and The National Right to Life Committee” when drafting legislation, he is not far enough to the right for the anti-abortion movement which wants nothing less than women utterly subservient to men.  See Jodi Jacobsen’s Bart Stupak: I Don’t Listen To Nuns.

Tea Baggers Come out as the Racists They Are

Tea Baggers Come out as the Racists They Are; March 20, 2010 at the US Capitol

The right-wing “tea bagger” opponents of the health care bill –clearly orchestrated and led by forces for whom this is  about much more than just health care — were out by the thousands surrounding the Capitol on Saturday.

At least their white supremacist agenda came out very openly. Three Black US representatives, including John Lewis and James Clyburn, were called the “n” word, and one was spit on.  Rep. Barney Frank, who is openly gay, was called “faggot.”

McClatchy Newspapers quoted Clyburn,

“I heard people saying things today I’ve not heard since March 15th, 1960, when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus,” Clyburn said. “This is incredible, shocking to me.”

Republican Congressmen (and one woman) were on a Capitol balcony egging them on like frat-boys at a football game.  Check out The Right Wing Populist Eruption: Yes, It Actually IS Racism in Revolution newspaper for an analysis of where this movement comes from.

But this is not a game.  Reporters on MSNBC reported never having heard shouts inside the Capital while a vote was going on.  They may not have been there in the 60′s when there was fear from inside the government that student anti-war protests would destabilize the government.   But that was hundreds of thousands of righteously angry people back then, whereas these right-wingers gathered on Sunday in the thousands only (but were given much more physical access to the Capital than any recent anti-war, pro-immigrant rights or women’s rights protests).

I give credit to a few proponents of women’s rights who braved the tea-bagger crowd at the Capitol, getting attacked by them for opposing the health care bill for the “wrong” reasons, and for being “baby-killers.”  Had we not been at the other end of the mall protesting the illegitimate occupations of Iraq & Afghanistan at the White House, I would have been there with them.  But all of the organizations supporting abortion should have been out there, going toe-to-toe with the right wingers, and having OUR voices heard inside the halls of Congress.

Instead, we hear this kind of thing from Planned Parenthood, which hailed the health care bill as a “victory:”

we regret that a pro-choice president of a pro-choice nation was forced to sign an Executive Order that further codifies the proposed anti-choice language in the health care reform bill, originally proposed by Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska.  What the president’s executive order did not do is include the complete and total ban on private health insurance coverage for abortion that Congressman Bart Stupak (D–MI) had insisted upon.

But the people who raise money for young, poor, and rural women to get abortions, the National Network of Abortion Funds, said:

“At this very moment, a woman is rationing the food left in her pantry, further delaying her electricity bill, and facing heavy penalties on her late mortgage payment — all because she cannot pay for an abortion she needs. This is the cruel legacy of the Hyde Amendment, a legacy that President Obama renewed yesterday by signing an executive order to appease a handful of legislators who represented no one’s interests but their own. As a nation, we demanded that health care reform address the inherent inequality and unfairness in our existing system. But with the stroke of his pen, President Obama expanded the Hyde Amendment’s guarantee of inequality and unfairness. Because of the Hyde Amendment, every year nearly 200,000 women who cannot afford abortion care must make extreme sacrifices in order to pay for a basic health care procedure.

There is no pill that’s going to make the right-wing assault on abortion rights stop; nor one for the structural lopsidedness of our society causing the suffering from denial of health care benefits in this capitalist-imperialist economy.

There does need to be a decisive settling of what’s really in the interests of the people, both of this country, and of the world.  None of terms represented in this health care battle are what we should accept.  So we have to wake up and stop accommodating them.

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March 20: STOP these Wars & Torture Now!

Sisters & Brothers:

Seven years after shock and awe in Iraq, and 14 months into the “change you can believe in,” things are going in a terrible direction.

One outrage after another:

Obama’s expansion of the war in Afghanistan to 100,000 troops  is not saving Afghan civilians, but killing them.

His use of secret operations and unmanned drones in 5 countries is not only illegal, unjust, and immoral, but against all of humanity.  Revelations that the president claims the right to assassinate US citizens, and that private contractors are running black ops outside the chain of command.

His defense of the Bush era torture lawyers and war crimes in the name of “executive privilege” is unconscionable.

His refusal to allow more than 600 detainees in Bagram, Afghanistan to be identified, and to be denied habeas corpus rights or lawyers to challenge their detention put the lie to the claim he made a year ago that “we do not torture.”

Yes, the right wing IS breathing down Obama’s neck, questioning the legitimacy of his presidency because he’s Black.  The racist Tea baggers get more press for one convention of 600 than we’ve ever gotten for anti-war marches.  The neo-cons have all the intitiative, and the only promise Obama has kept is the one to spread the illegitmate occupation of Afghanistan.

But we have no skin in the game to save Obama, war president.

And there is no solution to this in Congress so don’t look there.   Changing the face in the White House only made the poison go down easier.

What we need — what only we can do — is make a change in what people in this country will accept being done in our names.  If people have gotten confused about whether the Iraq war is over, tell them, no — it’s becoming a permanent occupation!

If people are listening to the “Dick” Cheneys and John Yoos that torture is necessary to keep us safe, and thinking, maybe they agree, tell them, no — torture and aggressive war are never acceptable.

If kids you know are joining up with the military now because fighting for Obama sounds better than fighting for a president that hated, or because Don’t Ask Don’t Tell might finally be ended, tell them no!  Don’t join up for a military occupation where you will be trained and ordered to commit war crimes!

Want to stop the war?  Stop the recruiters!  Bring the We Are Not Your Soldiers! Tour bringing veterans to tell students the reality of the occupations, and help them resist the recruiters.  If you want to stop the wars, start at your school.  Wearenotyoursoldiers.org!  March with the contingent and sign up to bring the tour to your school.

Only we can reverse this dynamic.  The future is unwritten. Which one we get is up to us.  The world STILL can’t wait!

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John Yoo Confronted in VA Today

War criminal John Yoo got protested by more people than he attracted in two appearances today.  His presentations were
disrupted with questions at least six times, and a venue was wrapped in yellow “crime scene” tape.

150, maybe more, came out in Charlottesville to protest John Yoo’s appearance at the University of VA as part of a book tour on Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush.

Local peace and accountability activists did newspaper ads, posters, and lots of preparation so that students and others knew that Yoo was coming.  A small number of students joined the protest; but more came by to talk to us and see what the protest is about. Other youth did a “Funk the War” march on the STOP TORTURE theme.

While protesters gathered in a park across from a 3:30 pm lecture, a few went inside, and, one by one, called Yoo a war criminal, calling him out for promotion of aggressive war and torture as war crimes.  Yoo’s customary remark when he’s met by protesters that “Berkeley has followed me here” turned out to be true, as several of the protesters came from the Bay Area.

When I spoke to the crowd about our responsibility to the people of the world, who can’t wait to stop these crimes, two people in orange jumpsuits and hoods stood with me.  Afterward, police told them it was illegal to wear masks in the city, and threatened to arrest them if they weren’t removed.  Cindy Sheehan grabbed one of the hoods, and wore it when she spoke about having met men who had been detained in Guantanamo under harsh conditions.

David Swanson, Ray McGovern, Mike Ferner, Susan Harmon, Ann Wright, Shahid Buttar, and Mark Lane also spoke to the crowd, before we marched to the hall where Yoo was speaking, and attempted to enter.  A dozen city cops blocked the way.

More photos here! Video too.

Some rest now before the big protest tomorrow. You can join this movement: in the streets and through supporting the $10,000 fundraising effort underway now, that will fund the We Are Not Your Soldiers tour.

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Changing the Dynamic Because The World Can’t Wait

World Can’t Wait activists are intensely committed to stopping the “Bush” program.  Though we didn’t succeed in our collective efforts to drive out the Bush regime, we set a standard, on principle, for challenging the government not to carry out crimes in our names.

But having principles is only a start.  We want to stop the crimes.

Let me follow out one example.  We’re paying the price for not having forced Bush and Cheney from office in disgrace once the Abu Ghraib abuse became public. We were all against the shocking memos of the Bush legal torture team; the snarling Cheney refrain that water-boarding is a “no-brainer” and keeps “us” safe; the branding of every Muslim as a “terrorist”.  Torture opponents had the moral high ground during the Bush years.

Yet, we’ve allowed Bush to say, first, “We don’t torture;” then to get away with the legal cover-up.  And now the message from the neo-cons is open: “We must and will torture.”  14 months post-Bush, the Cheney approach sets the agenda, despite President Obama’s promises, and intentions, to shut down Guantanamo.

Obama himself is committed to indefinite detention, hence his refusal to allow habeas rights for detainees in U.S. detention in Bagram, and his defense of former Bush policies and CIA agents on the basis of “executive privilege”.  He’s a breath away from restoring military commissions as opposed to civilian courts, as the venue for trying Guantanamo detainees.

The most essential element to turning this climate and direction around, and getting back the moral high ground and political initiative, is a protest movement, coming from the people and the campuses.  The people who hoped that Obama would listen to us have been deeply discouraged and demobilized.  I would argue that he follows “national security” imperatives first, though he wraps the war-fighting in Nobel peace platitudes.

But for him to have to listen to the people’s demands, it’s imperative that the voices who oppose what was done under Bush back the demand to end the “global war on terror” with visible protest.  This is what World Can’t Wait is building.

You can join in and support this resistance now.

Arrow Sustain World Can’t Wait’s work!  Help spread this national movement.

ArrowJoin in protest Saturday March 20, marking the 7th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.  Washington DC, noon, The White House, or other cities nationwide.

Arrow Become a War Crimes Watcher; help bring the Bush era war criminals to justice by protesting wherever they appear publicly.

Arrow Get involved with the We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour, bringing Iraq & Afghanistan war veterans into high schools to help students resist recruiters.

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Today is Abortion Providers Appreciation Day!

Abortion Providers Are AppreciatedIt has been 17 years since Dr. David Gunn was shot and killed on March 10th.  He was the first abortion provider murdered by the so-called “pro-life” movement.

Begun by the group Refuse & Resist in 1996, March 10th: “Abortion Providers Appreciation Day” is marked by people who care about women and our continued right to control our reproduction.

I was marching this past weekend to commemorate International Women’s Day (actually on March 8th). It’s the year 2010, but there couldn’t be a better time to get in the streets and take a stand for women here and around the world. See the latest attack on women’s right to abortion in Nebraska: the “fetal pain” law being debated. What about the pain of the woman?? ABC Local Affiliate

Today, take a moment to call or write a postcard to your favorite abortion provider or local clinic. Listen to Dr. Susan Wicklund talk about how much it means to hear from people who respect her work.

Above, see the National Abortion Federation project where you can print one of their messages, upload a youtube, and get it to a provider in their network.  Feministing and Feminists for Choice are also promoting it.  Call or send a card to your local clinic, and remember to remind your own doctor that all physicians must protect choice.

ACLU: Every Day Should Be Abortion Providers Appreciation Day

Have you watched Abortion, Morality & the Liberation of Women yet?

Abortion Morality and the Liberation of Women

Comments from viewers:

Suburban mom/medical technician
I am sooo impressed with your documentary. I watched everything. It got me thinking in a way I never did before…lots to say really. The questions were valuable because they addressed what I was wondering about at that moment, so that was a helpful agent to keep me interested till the end. If I took anything away, it was the importance, and necessity to be more vocal, even if only in my circle (I know lots of women who have had abortions and don’t know how to talk about it). Or when any opportunity arises.

I didn’t realize the scope of this issue to be honest with you. I was especially surprised to learn how compromise was such a large part in keeping the topic mired. The fact that, ok some cases are permitted but not everyone can be considered. And how that, of course, is still the heavy hand at work that keeps us all subjugated to their will not ours. Is your documentary on YouTube only right now? I think it should be in libraries at least. Thanks for the information. You can never have too much of that!

Sandy Rapp, activist/musician
Abortion/Morality is a very wonderful and extremely important piece. All bases are covered and, for the sake of women’s choice worldwide, this film should experience WIDE distribution. Congratulations to World Can’t Wait. Two thumbs WAY up to the sky!!!

College student
I really enjoyed the video! Sunsara is an excellent public speaker with a lot of energy. I also thought Dr. Susan Wicklund’s experience as an abortion provider was very moving.

Send us your comments and feedback!

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Cheney Accuses Guantanamo Lawyers of Crimes

It’s outrageous enough that Obama’s Justice Department has declined to pursue criminal, or even professional misconduct charges, on Bush White House lawyers who cooked up “legal” justification for torture, indefinite detention, secret rendition, and the whole nasty suite of “legal” means by which the United States became a pariah.

Eric Holder hasn’t gone to court yet against the Bush crimes; in fact, he defends the Bush administration in cases involving detainee abuse on the basis of executive privilege, “national security” and the need for CIA agents not to have to fear prosecution.

But now we have “Dick” Cheney’s daughter, Liz, and her Keep America Safe neo-cons on a tear against attorneys who came into the Justice Department after defending Guantanamo detainees.  Calling them the “al Queda 7″, Cheney joined with Fox News and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in asserting that the attorneys “support terrorists” and are dangerous.  Keep America Safe ran an ad with creepy background music and an Investors Business Daily headline, “Department of Jihad.”

These are attorneys who won major cases in the U.S. Supreme Court during the Bush years.  One is Neal Katyal who argued Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, challenging the legality of President Bush’s military commissions.  Ironically, this is the same Neal Katyal who just argued for the government against habeas corpus rights for detainees held at Bagram, on the grounds of national security.

A lot of Bush-ite conservatives, even, are alarmed at the tone of the Cheney attack, which must be why the story has finally made the New York Times today.

But the Cheney group loves a different sort of attorney; the ones who made torture acceptable in the eyes of the CIA under VP Cheney.

Global “warriors on terror” John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury came out looking very bad in the Office of Professional Responsibility Report released on February 19.  Looking through the 600+ page report, one can only imagine what’s on the large number of redacted pages, presumably blacked out to cover for the the White House “principals” who commissioned the torture memos.

I attended a briefing by the Alliance for Justice, “After the OPR Report” where attorneys Scott Horton, David Cole, Bill Yeomans and Michael Frisch took apart the report, and spoke to how justice could be served on the torturers.  (It won’t happen through U.S. courts, said Horton, but because a Spanish citizen was tortured in Guantanamo, Spain is proceeding with war crimes prosecutions of Bush officials).

Demonstrators from the group "World Can't Wait" hold a mock waterboarding torture of a prisioner in Times Square 11 January 2008 to mark the sixth year anniversary of when the United States opened the camps at Guantanamo. Waterboarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing a person on his or her back, with the head inclined downward, and pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Internal CIA documents recently released give even more detail about the how the waterboarding was done to at least 3 detainees in Guantanamo, based on an authorizing memo drafted by one Stephen Bradbury (see above.) “Dick” Cheney famously smirked that water-boarding was a “no-brainer” and is still on the hustings arguing for it.

Mark Benjamin writes in Salon, Waterboarding for dummies, on the new documents, and relates it detail the practices the CIA used.

The CIA’s waterboarding regimen was so excruciating, the memos show, that agency officials found themselves grappling with an unexpected development: detainees simply gave up and tried to let themselves drown. “In our limited experience, extensive sustained use of the waterboard can introduce new risks,” the CIA’s Office of Medical Services wrote in its 2003 memo. “Most seriously, for reasons of physical fatigue or psychological resignation, the subject may simply give up, allowing excessive filling of the airways and loss of consciousness.”

One must ask, where are the investigations of health professionals in relation to these releases?  The principal role of CIA Medical Services seems to have been keeping detainees alive to be tortured longer.

Speaking to the levels of irony in this story, Liliana Segura says today on Alternet:

The broader, unfortunate reality is that many Bush-era conservatives have found little to complain about with Obama’s DOJ and so may be more inclined to defend it. Reports that the administration may do a major league flip-flop on its decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cohorts in civilian courts are only the latest potential example of Bush-era policies that the Obama’s Justice Department has kept in place, from warrantless wiretapping to denying habeas corpus rights to prisoners at Bagram, to its embrace of preventive detention for prisoners at Guantanamo. Were Obama’s record a real departure from that of the Bush administration, these conservatives may well have little to say against an ad like Liz Cheney’s.

But it’s the ideological defenders of torture in the name of “keeping America safe” — really keeping America on top through global empire — who refuse to rename or back down on the “war on terror” begun 9 years ago.  Remember Cheney himself saying this would be a war to last “generations?”

They will not accept civilian trials for anyone held in Guantanamo, won’t let it be closed,won’t allow people who provided legal defense to anyone there — never mind the Bush administration itself released most of the detainees because they had nothing to do with al Queda or attacking the U.S.

Who says they aren’t fascist?

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Join Me in Protesting Wars on Iraq & Afghanistan

US Troops Out of Iraq & Afghanistan NOW!
Stop the Wars & Torture for Empire!

See protest plans here

Saturday March 20, on the 7th anniversary, U.S. invasion of Iraq

CNN on February 23, 2010, more than eight years after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan:

Twenty-seven civilians died and 14 others were wounded in the incident Sunday in the central Daikondi province, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry.  Ground forces at the scene found women and children among the casualties, the Afghan government and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a joint statement.

This is exactly what wars of occupation are all about, and they must stop!

The U.S. is occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, and now has more combat troops there – 166,000, with 30,000 more on the way – than during the Bush years.  President Obama is using drones (pilot-less aircraft) on raids into Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, killing hundreds of civilians.  All of these attacks are against international law, because none of these countries attacked the U.S.

IRAQ: As U.S. troops switch from “combat” to “permanent occupation” one million Iraqis are dead, 4 million are refugees. George Bush invaded Iraq seven years ago on the basis of outrageous lies: that Iraq was responsible for 9-11, and had “weapons of mass destruction.”  There was never any evidence of either, but over a million people died as Iraqi civil society, schools, sewers, water, and electricity were destroyed by occupation.  President Obama still has 98,000 U.S. troops there, though most people voted for him because they thought he would end the war.

AFGHANISTAN: the world’s most powerful military is destroying one of its poorest countries, a horror for civilians. Afghanistan is not any more “just” than the Iraq war.  It’s a war of terror on the people, now being expanded by Obama.  During the current and largest U.S. offensive of the war, which is going to spread over the next year, innocent civilians are being killed by U.S./NATO bombs, driven from their homes, and innocent Afghans have been imprisoned and tortured in secret U.S. detention centers.

Is the US there to stop the Taliban and Al-Qaeda? The Afghan people say they want the U.S. to leave because its actions – such as killing innocents – drive more people to join the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban, and because the U.S. allies with the bullying Northern Alliance warlords.

Is the US there to “save the women” from the Taliban? The Karzai government of Afghanistan, only in power because of U.S. guns, passed a law last year governing the Shi’a population (10-15% of the total) giving men the right to starve their wives if they refuse their husband’s demands for sex. Maternal death rates (from childbirth) are nearly the highest in the world, eight years after the US took over.

VISIBLE PROTEST – marching to stop the crimes of our government – makes a difference because we show what we won’t accept, and we learn what we’re up against.  These wars are not legitimate.  People around the world must see that we don’t support them, and know that to us, American lives are not more important than their own.

JOIN WORLD CAN’T WAIT SATURDAY MARCH 20 IN PROTEST!

Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and many other locations.  Make your own protest known.

(866) 973 4463 worldcantwait.net

Print your own flier, with room for local info: pdf

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Mikael Rudolph, Activist & Mime, RIP

Mikael Rudolph 10-5-06

Mikael Rudolph 2006

Mikael Rudolph died at home in Minneapolis on Friday, after struggling with cancer for several years.  He was a well-known mime, traveling nationally to perform. He was a principal organizer of protests in Minneapolis to Drive Out the Bush Regime 2006 – 2008.  He posted many articles during that time on OpEd News.

I initially met Mikael the Mime in the Minneapolis airport when he was returning from a show, and I was changing planes. We were on cell phones, trying to find each other in the crowds.  He said, “I’m a mime.  I won’t be hard to find.”  And he was not hard to find.  He stood out as a unique, energetic,
passionate human being.

Mikael became a main organizer in Minneapolis for what were several of the
largest protests World Can’t Wait held in our efforts to pull out a mass of people into the streets, demanding the end of the Bush program.  Close to 1,000 people marched there on October 5, 2006, taking the street and making news with traffic stopped, street theater, and Democratic politicians joining in, along with many youth.

With others, he founded ImpeachforPeace, putting in place a strategy for
“do it yourself” impeachment, based on the conviction that the Constitution
allowed for people to replace tyrannical government through petitioning it.
We disagreed on whether that approach put too much faith in a mechanism
rather than mass, visible protest, while he remained a significant part of World Can’t Wait’s presence.  He pursued this strategy tirelessly, even as he went through cancer surgery and some level of recovery.

In September, 2008, World Can’t Wait/Impeach for Peace was in the streets protesting the Republican National Convention, bringing the spectre of the Bush regime’s torture into the march.  Jodin Morey, another Impeace for Peace leader, got the brunt of a police attack on the march, being forced into a pen and tear-gassed, while wearing an orange jumpsuit.  I arrived from the protests at the Democratic Convention just after that, for speak-outs Mikael and Jodin organized to show why we opposed the Bush program.  We experienced the next days of a police state, as protesters were swept off the streets, and arrested in homes.

Kathryn Stone wrote about Mikael this week,

“He won his first battle with cancer and made it the subject of his soulful, funny one-man play, “Cancer My Ass!” which debuted — or “de-butted” as Mikael called it — in Minneapolis one year ago.”  Sadly, Mikael had a secondary leukemia, related to cancer therapy, and died at home at the age of 51.

The work and mission of World Can’t Wait, and all who knew Mikael were enriched by his spirit and passion.  RIP, Mikael.

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