Archive for September, 2010

Obama Argues State Secrets to Protect Assassination Order

It was President Obama’s announcement that Anwar al-Awlaki was to be assasinated wherever he as found that move us to write and publish the Crimes are Crimes – No Matter Who Does Them statement last May.

In August, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the ACLU filed suit against the order, for Nasser al-Awlaki, the targeted man’s father, who lives in Colorado.  Late Friday, the administration answered with a brief arguing, according to the Washington Post, that the case had to be dismissed because of “state secrets.”

UHHH…where have we heard that before?

Sign NOW!

Crimes are Crimes – No Matter Who Does Them!

to be printed in the NY Times the week of October 3 to protest the 9th anniversary of the US war on Afghanistan.

Glenn Greenwald ripped into this today:

“Obama’s now asserting a power so radical — the right to kill American citizens and do so in total secrecy, beyond even the reach of the courts — that it’s ”too harsh even for” one of the most far-right War on Terror cheerleading-lawyers in the nation.  But that power is certainly not “too harsh” for the kind-hearted Constitutional scholar we elected as President, nor for his hordes of all-justifying supporters soon to place themselves to the right of David Rivkin as they explain why this is all perfectly justified.  One other thing, as always:  vote Democrat, because the Republicans are scary!”

The Washington Post noted,

“The Obama administration has cited the state-secrets argument in at least three cases since taking office – in defense of Bush-era warrantless wiretapping, surveillance of an Islamic charity, and the torture and rendition of CIA prisoners. It prevailed in the last case last week, on a 6 to 5 vote by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU issued a statement saying

“The idea that courts should have no role whatsoever in determining the criteria by which the executive branch can kill its own citizens is unacceptable in a democracy.

“In matters of life and death, no executive should have a blank check.”

People can be killed on the orders of a president with no trial, no sentence, no due process — not even an indictment?  I don’t want to live in any country that allows such actions.

Another reason to protest visibly and publicly.  Help get the protest statement into the New York Times the week of October 4, which begins the 10th year of the US occupation of Afghanistan.

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Army “Killing Club” Uncovered But No Justice for Aafia Siddiqui

A federal judge in New York sentenced Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to 86 years in prison today.  Her trial earlier in  2010, on charges of assault against U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, was a travesty.  Obviously mentally distraught, having suffered isolation and alleging torture at the hands of her American captors, but remarkably perceptive and witty, Dr. Siddiqui was convicted of attempting to shoot U.S. special forces who were interrogating her.

Convicted murderers in the U.S. get 25 years, sometimes life.   People who shoot others get years in prison.   Those who commit war crimes generally don’t even get prosecuted, but that’s another story.  Aafia gets 86 years, but was not even charged with actually harming anyone, and certainly did not, as the defense showed in the trial.  She was shot in the stomach, and brought to the U.S. while still recovering form her wounds.  She is a victim of the Bush regime’s so-called “war on terror, ” as I wrote at the time in Victim of the War of Terror: Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.

There were mass protests in Pakistan, Siddiqui’s country of origin, at her prosecution, forcing the Pakistani government to pay for her defense in U.S. courts.  We probably will never know the intrigues behind the scenes, as the U.S. dominates and threatens Pakistan, while it’s also dependent on Pakistan’s ISI to contain the Islamic fundamentalist movement along the border with Afghanistan.  The U.S. bombs civilians in Pakistan — a country with which it’s not at war, but supplying huge amounts of weapons to — while, according to Seymour Hersh, important sections of the Pakistani military support the Taliban.

In the midst of all this, thousands of Pakistanis are disappeared, and a woman like Dr. Siddiqui, herself disappeared for several years, has no chance of justice from either government.

Dr. Siddiqui asked supporters not to raise funds for an appeal.  The Guardian reports

Before the sentencing, Siddiqui repeated her claim that she had been abducted and held at a “secret prison” for several years. She said she only wanted peace in the world. “I do not want any bloodshed. I do not want any misunderstanding. I really want to make peace and end the wars.”

“Killing Club” in Afghanistan

While Dr. Siddiqui’s trial went on in New York, with the prosecution bringing in her military interrogators to say how traumatized they were by her actions, their compatriots back in Afghanistan were preparing the “surge.”   Civilian and US military deaths began increasing; indeed 2010 already has more military deaths than any year of the U.S.’ longest war.

Part of that story is beginning to come out with the prosecution of U.S. Army Stryker Brigade members for targeted murders of Afghani civilians.  Real News interviews the Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton who is following the case.

U.S. Soldiers Charged with Targeting Afghan Civilians: Did U.S. Soldiers Create Afghan Killing Club?

Only because one soldier had misgivings about what his unit was doing, the military started a criminal investigation in May 2010.  5 soldiers are charged with killing civilians, and 7 with covering up the killings.  The Washington Post reported earlier this month, Members of Stryker Combat Brigade in Afghanistan accused of killing civilians for sport.

BBC reported in US troops ‘murdered Afghan civilians and kept body parts’:

In charge sheets obtained from the US Army, Staff Sgt Calvin Gibbs, Cpl Jeremy Morlock, Pte First Class Andrew Holmes, Specialist Michael Wagnon and Specialist Adam Winfield are accused of murdering male Afghan civilians with grenades and firearms.

Other soldiers were accused of stabbing an Afghan corpse, taking or possessing photographs of casualties and beating other men in an effort to keep them from talking to investigators.

The soldiers were attached to the Army’s Fifth Stryker brigade, which deployed to Afghanistan last year and has seen heavy fighting around Kandahar. They were based in Washington state.

The reports get worse.   The Army Times, in a candid piece on September 13, describes rampant hashish consumption and alcohol binges in the unit, while writing these crimes off essentially as “isolated incidents”.

The charges only came about because a member of the unit complained to his father that he was being threatened because he opposed the killings.  In the New York Times blog today, his father, Chris Winfield, charges that the Army ignored his warnings, made before some of the later killings in May 2010, just as General McChrystal was being replaced. Father: Army Ignored Complaints Of Afghan Slayings

Emma and Christopher Winfield at their home in Cape Coral, Fla., on Sept. 3. Their son, U.S. Army Spc. Adam Winfield reported the "killing club," and is now himself accused of murdering civilians during his deployment to Afghanistan, a charge he and his family firmly refute.

The whole U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is illegitimate, unjust, and immoral.  The U.S. military is being led to commit war crimes.

The population of the United States is being directed to fear Muslims, who face political targeting and prosecution.  See Project SALAM.

As the anniversary of the U.S. attack on Afghanistan approaches, October 6, we should step up the loud and visible protest, demanding that the U.S. get out now.

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Outdoor screening of Collateral Murder Tonight – After Daniel Ellsberg film

The award-winning documentary, “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” was shown today by Resistance Cinema and will be shown twice more in the next few weeks. The film chronicles Ellsberg’s transition from a war hawk to a principled critic who risked prison to spread the truth about US-Vietnam relations.

The release of the Pentagon Papers can be compared, indeed should be compared, with Wikileaks’ recent release of the Afghan war logs: new revelations, smear campaigns, state suppression, and a complex role by corporate media.

The next showing of the Ellsberg film is at 7:00 pm, Monday, September 20 at the Conference Room, NYU Dept of Sociology, the Puck Building at 295 Lafayette St. (at Houston), 4th Floor, and will be free and open to the public (with photo ID). Another showing will be on PBS October 5.

World Can’t Wait will follow up the NYU event by showing “Collateral Murder” outdoors in Washington Square Park following the Ellsberg film.

It is important that as many people as possible see the video–to reach beyond the internet.  A specific purpose of the showing is to Support Bradley Manning, accused of leaking the video on which “Collateral Murder” is based. Brad is currently in the brig at Quantico, VA and is faced with a court martial for being a hero, as great or greater than Ellsberg–for these are different times. He will surely face prison if the charges against him are sustained.

World Can’t Wait showed “Collateral Murder” indoors last Thursday, on that very stormy night.  The crowd was small but EVERYONE said how important it was to see it. It is video to see with others–to discuss its implications, and to provide finacial and moral support for Brad.

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The Newspaper of Record…and The Truth

Monday evening, Daniel Ellsberg was at The New York Times in a discussion with Times editors and reporters on the Pentagon Papers.  The evening was sponsored by POV, the PBS program which will air The Most Dangerous Man in America, the film about Ellsberg’s action, on October 5.

Max Frankl, who was in the Washington bureau of the Times in 1971, talked about the intense struggle within the Times on whether to publish the Pentagon Papers.  The paper’s outside lawyers were against publication, but courageous editors went ahead, making the history gripping.

The smugness of The Times’ position — “aren’t we fine to have done the right thing back then?” — was infuriating to some of us in the audience, given what they’ve done through the last 9 years in complaining about how the Bush and Obama administration have waged wars, but helping create legitimacy for them.

Dan challenged the Times on its responsibility, bringing up Wikileaks four times.  “We need a lot more of that!” he said, referring to the 2010 leaks of Collateral Murder and the Afghan War Diary.  “We’ll get to that,” said the Times Managing Editor.  But her only comments were about how hard the Times worked to vet the Wikileaks information.

The Times risked money, and perhaps could have been shut down by the Nixon administration when it published the Papers.  But Dan risked his life and a long prison term.  He thought the Papers might have “only a small chance of helping” stop the war, but considered the risk worthwhile.  He reminded us that he spent 22 months waiting on Congress to get the story out, his biggest “mistake.”  “Timing matters.”  If he had leaked what he knew in 1964 and 1965 when people in the military knew the Vietnam war was a disaster, and that the Gulf of Tonkin justification was a lie, “many deaths could have been avoided.”

Dan was very critical of the Times for sitting on the NSA spying story for a year, before printing it in late 2005.  But the Times representatives mainly would not go there, except to say there’s a “great burden of conscience” in having such information and knowing whether to publish it.  Dan pointed out that the burden functions to keep secrets “too well.”

We didn’t get to hear debate over the Times’ role in pushing the “official story” of the Bush regime on Iraq in 2003.  So much defense of imperialist wars…and so little time.

Matthis Chiroux, Janis Karpinski, and Ray McGovern, who have all taken  responsibility to end the wars and torture of the Bush regime, were in the audience.  Ray stood up for the first question.  He told the panel that, as of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, Iran has no nuclear weapons in production.  He asked the panel what an intelligence analyst should do if the 2010 Intelligence Estimate were to be cooked in the same way the NIE on Iraq was changed in 2003, paving the way for war.  Should that analyst leak the truth to The New York Times…or to Wikileaks?  The implication was clear, and again, the Times did not answer.

We were all seated together, and I told those around me of World Can’t Wait’s plans to publish Crimes are Crimes – No Matter Who Does Them as a full page ad in the Times around the anniversary of the war on Afghanistan.  The longest running war in U.S. history, and getting bloodier.  You won’t hear it condemned by The Times.

But you should be able to read what many of us know to be true!

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Where Do People Get These Ideas?

In the last few days I’ve been interviewed by reporters, mostly from outside the U.S. who are struggling to understand what people living in this country think about 9/11, and where the ugly atmosphere of making Muslims the enemy came from.  I brought up the internment of people of Japanese descent, as a war-time example of a whole people scapegoated, and argued that these sentiments are consciously stoked, and not at all “spontaneous,” meaning that they can be changed.

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Grief is No Reason for Bigotry & Unjust Wars

I’ve just been asked by a reporter what “good” came out of 9/11/01.  She was pushing me to give viewers in the Middle East a sense that not everyone living here hates them because they are Muslim.

Most people living in the U.S. don’t hate people because they are Muslim, despite the destruction on 9/11/01.  But there’s a dangerous movement, nurtured by Fox News, much of the Republican Party, Glenn Beck and others who believe 1) the president is Muslim and/or hates white people; 2) Muslim=terrorist and not “real” American, or in other words, not “white Christian.”

This movement has brought screaming mobs outside sites of planned mosques in New York and Tennessee. Weeks ago, a taxi driver in New York was slashed with a knife by a passenger who asked, “Are you Muslim?”  Construction equipment at a mosque under construction in Mufreesboro Tennessee was burned, and shots were fired near the site, where a protester said, “We’re at war with these people.”

A Tea Party Rally 2010

This dangerous atmosphere began the day after 9/11/01 when thousands of Muslims were swept off the streets of NY and detained without charges, and accompanies the two longest wars of U.S. history with terrible killing & dislocation of civilians.

The movement against Muslims and mosques and the “Islamization of America” has as its core demand a “white, Christian America” and for a US empire dominating the world.  With their ideological brethren waving guns at immigrants in Arizona, and Glen Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally on the site of Matin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, this right-wing movement is neither “spontaneously” coming up from the people, nor is it going away.

While a preacher in Florida threatens to burn the Koran today, we, as people who want an end to the wars, and who care about humanity, have to come to grips with the reality that our government has spent nine years and $3 trillion dollars burning readers of the Koran.  The United States has been building ‘ground zeroes’ near mosques since 2003.

We need to stop these unjust occupations, stop killing civilians, and send a different message to the people in the Muslim world.

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Attacking Muslims Inside & Outside the U.S.

Time magazine asked last week, “Is the U.S. Islamophobic?” They covered screaming mobs outside sites of planned mosques in New York and Tennessee.  Since then, a taxi driver in New York was slashed with a knife by a passenger who asked, “Are you Muslim?”  Construction equipment at a mosque under construction in Mufreesboro Tennessee was burned, and shots were fired near the site.  A supporter said the vandalism “‘takes it to a whole new level… Everyone in our community no longer feels safe.”

According to the New York Times yesterday, “A group of teenagers in western New York has been accused of harassing members of a mosque by yelling obscenities and insults during evening prayers for Ramadan, sideswiping a worshiper with a vehicle and firing a shotgun outside, the authorities said Tuesday.”

No, most people living in the U.S. don’t hate people because they are Muslim.  But there’s a dangerous movement, nurtured by Fox News, parts of the Republican Party, Glenn Beck and others who believe 1) the president is Muslim and/or hates white people; 2) Muslim=terrorist and not “real” American, or in other words, “white Christian.”

The group massed in front of the so-called “Ground Zero” mosque on August 22; the armed crowd at the Arizona border to Mexico threatening people who provide aid to immigrants; and the large crowd parked at the Lincoln Monument to hear Glenn Beck Saturday share these sentiments, and are being led to act on them.  See Glenn Beck Could Happen Here and Glenn Beck, the “Founding Fathers” …and A REAL Radical Alternative.

Meanwhile, not based on the demands of the people, our government is waging war on countries which are primarily Muslim; has held thousands of Muslims in indefinite detention and under torture; singles out Muslim prisoners in special “Communications Management Units” in the federal prison system.  Both this president and the last repeat that they are not at war against Islam…but government actions and “grassroots” sentiment from the right say otherwise.

On 9-11,  a flag-waving rally to stop the  “Islamic supremacist mega-mosque at Ground Zero” will feature Bush’s former ambassador to the UN John Bolton and Geert Wilders, the Dutch fascist member of Parliament who wants a ban on mosques in The Netherlands.  World Can’t Wait will is part of a coalition opposing the attacks on Muslims and mosques, Stop Islamophobia in the U.S.

Only one U.S. citizen, so far, is on the Obama administration’s t0-be-killed list, as we noted in the Crimes are Crimes – No Matter Who Does Them statement published this spring.  We are heartened that the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights has filed suit against the U.S. government, on behalf of the man’s father, Nasser Al-Aulaqi, to stop the targeted killing.

Civil Rights Groups Challenge Targeted Killing By U.S.

“The United States cannot simply execute people, including its own citizens, anywhere in the world based on its own say-so,” said Vince Warren, Executive Director of CCR. “The law prohibits the government from killing without trial or conviction other than in the face of an imminent threat that leaves no time for deliberation or due process. That the government adds people to kill lists after a bureaucratic process and leaves them on the lists for months at a time flies in the face of the Constitution and international law.”

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