Posts Tagged Daniel Ellsberg

December 16: Veterans Say Stop These Wars NOW!

Glenn Greenwald interviewed Nir Rosen today, on his book Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World.

Listen to it here.

I  urge people to think about the questions he’s posing here.  The reasons behind “Enduring Freedom,” for the US occupying two countries, has been that the population will be “saved” and safer; and will welcome its liberation.  The million + troops who’ve been deployed to those countries know that’s not true.  The people themselves know it. It’s reported now that the great majority of Afghans want the U.S. to leave, according to a poll in The Washington Post last week.

That’s why I’ll be outside The White House with Veterans for Peace on Thursday, for the “largest veteran-led civil resistance action” in years.

“I am shamed by the actions of my government and I will do everything in my power to make it stop killing innocent people in my name,” said Leah Bolger, a leader of Veterans for Peace.

Veterans plan to chain themselves to the White House fence on December 16 to deliver the message, “Mr. Obama: End These Wars. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Now!”

Daniel Ellsberg, a vocal defender of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and of Bradley Manning, who the U.S. military has charged with leaking documents, will speak and participate. Chris Hedges, author of Death of the Liberal Class, called on his readers to join him in going to the D.C. jail for the protest.

Join us!

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Hands Off WikiLeaks: Free Julian Assange

Julian Assange’s attorney, Mark Stephens, says that he’s learned there is a secret grand jury convened in Virginia, to consider charges against Assange, CNN reported today in Assange attorney: Secret grand jury meeting in Virginia on WikiLeaks.

Assange is being held in London on a Swedish warrant for questioning in relation to allegations of sexual assault there.  It’s widely believed that those charges – which should be carefully investigated, as should all charges of sexual misconduct – are a cover for the Swedish government handing Assange over to the U.S. government.

“I think that the Americans are much more interested in terms of the WikiLeaks aspect of this,” Stephens told Al-Jazeera. He said it was his understanding that Swedish authorities have said that if Assange is extradited there, “they will defer their interest in him to the Americans… It does seem to me that what we have here is nothing more than a holding charge.” The United States just wants Assange detained, he said, so “ultimately they can get their mitts on him.”

Amid a worldwide surge of protest against US government-sponsored attacks on Wikileaks by private companies, and the dangerous threats to prosecute Assange, TIME magazine announced that Assange has won the readers poll as Person of the Year.  In a TIME interview, Assange answers allegations:

Secrecy is important for many things but shouldn’t be used to cover up abuses, which leads us to the question of who decides and who is responsible. It shouldn’t really be that people are thinking about, Should something be secret? I would rather it be thought, ‘Who has a responsibility to keep certain things secret?’ And, ‘Who has a responsibility to bring matters to the public?’ And those responsibilities fall on different players. And it is our responsibility to bring matters to the public.

And,

This organization in its four years of publishing history — we don’t need to speculate, it has a history — has never caused an individual, as far as we can determine or as far anyone else can determine, to come to any sort of physical harm or to be wrongly imprisoned and so on. That is a record compared to the organizations that we are trying to expose who have literally been involved in the deaths of hundreds or thousands or, potentially over the course of many years, millions.

The threats to Assange have been given wide publicity in US media.  Revolution in U.S. Lashes Out at Wikileaks, summarizes

Leading U.S. political figures clamored for Assange’s capture, even his execution. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said Assange is a “high tech terrorist,” and Newt Gingrich said he is an “information terrorist” who should be arrested as an “enemy combatant.” Influential right-wing columnist William Kristol asked, “Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are? Why can’t we disrupt and destroy Wikileaks in both cyberspace and physical space, to the extent possible?” Sarah Palin, writing on her Facebook page, asked, “Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”

Ray McGovern took those charges on, appearing on CNN.  Ray writes in What’s Behind the War on Wikileaks about the motives of leakers of war crimes

WikiLeaks’s reported source, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, having watched Iraqi police abuses and having read of similar and worse incidents in official messages, reportedly concluded, “I was actively involved in something that I was completely against.”

Rather than simply look the other way, Manning wrote: “I want people to see the truth..  because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public,” adding that he hoped to provoke worldwide discussion, debates and reform.

There is nothing to suggest that WikiLeaks/Assange’s motives were any different.

Daniel Ellsberg appeared on The Colbert Report last week, disputed claims that Assange is “not a journalist” and that journalists shouldn’t report the actions of governments.

Those action of governments are What Wikileaks Reveals: Cables, Lies & Murder, writes Larry Everest:

Wikileaks’ trove of secrets offers vivid, direct, and unassailable evidence that the U.S. routinely carries out all manner of crimes across the world, from torture and rape in Afghanistan, to mass murder in Yemen, to illegal spying at UN headquarters. They show the U.S. involved in a no-holds-barred capitalist-imperialist rivalry with powers they are allied with, as well as their more direct rivals. They document how the U.S. manages a global network of brutal client regimes as key links in their empire of oppression and exploitation. And these secret cables show that the U.S. lies about all of it. This is the nightmare world the U.S. dominates, and is viciously trying to maintain.

Finally, intellectual activists in the UK made this statement, printed in The Guardian:

We protest at the attacks on WikiLeaks and, in particular, on Julian Assange (Report, 9 December) The leaks have assisted democracy in revealing the real views of our governments over a range of issues which have been kept secret and are now irreversibly in the public domain. All we knew about the mass killing, torture and corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan has been confirmed. The world’s leaders can no longer hide the truth by simply lying to the public. The lies have been exposed. The actions of major corporations such as Amazon, the Swiss banks and the credit card companies in hindering WikiLeaks are shameful, bowing to US government pressure. The US government and its allies, and their friends in the media, have built up a campaign against Assange which now sees him in prison facing extradition on dubious charges, with the presumed eventual aim of ensuring his extradition to the US. We demand his immediate release, the dropping of all charges, and an end to the censorship of WikiLeaks.

John Pilger, Lindsey German Stop the War Coalition, Salma Yaqoob, Craig Murray, Alexei Sayle, Mark Thomas, Caryl Churchill, AL Kennedy, Celia Mitchell, Ben Griffin (former soldier), Terry Jones, Sami Ramadani, Roger Lloyd Pack, David Gentleman, Miriam Margolyes, Andy de la Tour, Katharine Hamnett, Iain Banks

Join in world-wide protests to say Hands Off Wikileaks!

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12/3/1970: Confronting Nixon 40 Years Ago

There’s a longer story to be written here, but for now I’m glad to put this off because there are contemporary heroes making immediate contributions to stopping the current wars, and we are busy defending them and digging into what’s coming out every day in the leaked US cables from Wikileaks.  So, today– the brief version of what happened to me 40 years ago, tomorrow…

Nixon Told to Get Out of War by Madison Girl

Face to face with Nixon in 1970

I was an activist in my high school years, for which I got a series of awards, leading up to receiving the Young American Medal for Service of 1970, annually given by the US President.  I learned of that in June, 1970, while I was at The Hague in Holland, attending the World Food Conference, as part of a rag-tag US youth delegation. We had just disrupted a US event there with an anti-Vietnam war protest, “embarrassing” the ambassador and getting us nearly booted.  At first I thought the letter from The White House must be a joke, but no, the Department of Justice had called my parents, and was trying to set up a date for the family to come to Washington.

My immediate response was “hell no…I won’t go!  Why would anyone take an award from a war-monger like Richard Nixon?”  I was conflicted, ambivalent, and irritated to be put in that position.  As the months went by, and the event kept being re-scheduled, I thought I might get to skip it.  But suddenly, on December 3, 1970, me, my family and friends were flown to Washington.  We were escorted into the office of the Attorney General John Mitchell where there was small talk.  In shuffled J. Edgar Hoover, and the whole strange experience got very real, very quickly.

Back into the limo and up to the door of the White House, into the Blue Room with what seemed to be the entire world press corps and a million cameras.  For the kids getting the awards?  No, because this was the first time the press had gotten to see the (well-hated) Nixon in months.   I still didn’t know what to say.  Then Richard Nixon made it easy.  He went on a rant about how these kids are the “good” ones, they’re not out protesting, they’re for America.  I thought, with my 19-year-old brain, “Oh no, you just slandered my generation.  We are about changing the world, and taking it away from people like you.”

The drill was a simple hand shake with Nixon, present the medal, pat the kid on the arm, smile for the cameras.  I was the last of 4 recipients, and it was almost over, when he grabbed my hand.  What came out of my mouth: “I can’t believe you’re sincere in giving this award for service, when you’re killing millions of people in Vietnam.”  We weren’t miked, and I spoke quietly.  Nixon, despite make-up, turned completely white, and stammered, “We’re doing the best we can.”  Then he pivoted, looked at his watch, muttered something about an appointment, and walked out.

J. Edgar Hoover, standing right behind me (another factor that oddly made me more bold than I knew), patted me on the arm, and said — I swear — “that was lovely, dear.”  Everywhere else in the room there was chaos.  The press saw Nixon’s reaction, and some caught the word, “Vietnam.”  I was interviewed for hours, the planned White House tour was cut short and we were hustled out.  Being back in the day when there was no 24-hour news cycle, this was front page and main story on the networks.

The fact that someone got right to Nixon (before he was Tricky) and, however naively, confronted the leader of the “Free World” was a confirmation that the system was vulnerable.  We got lots of mail, some just addressed to “Debra, Madison, Wisconsin” from people who were truly moved, and in a world hostile to the U.S., some of it was thanks from people in other countries.  We also got death threats, and attention from not very undercover agents who immediately rented the hotel room next door, followed us around D.C., and later investigated my wonderful, supportive, parents.

The back story: I went to high school in Madison, Wisconsin, about a mile from the University of Wisconsin, close enough that during the students’ 1967 Dow Chemical protests against the use of napalm in Vietnam, tear gas drifted into the windows.  I sought out that story, and wrote a paper at 15 against the war.  Because Freedom Riders came back to the UW from the South and built an organization, Measure for Measure, to support Fannie Lou Hamer and the struggle against Jim Crow, I had a range of freedom fighter “movement” role models, including Mrs. Hamer, who stayed at our house.  Because I knew them, and was in college near Chicago, I heeded the call to tour the shot-up apartment of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, the Black Panther leaders who were killed in their beds December 4, 1969 by Hoover’s FBI and Chicago police.  A few months later, I was part of the largest student strike ever, in response to Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and the killing of students by the National Guard at Kent State and by the state police at Jackson State.

All these experiences taught me about who had power, and who was oppressed, exploited, lynched and killed, and formed me further into someone who was “for the underdog.”   I sought more, and began to shape a life focused around a different future for humanity.

Nixon and J Edgar Hoover Hear the Truth

My favorite photo of J. Edgar Hoover!

Right after the Nixon experience, honestly, I was embarrassed for not having seized the moment with a brilliant speech, and for not really having risked a thing in my protest.  But as a few decades have gone by, I’ve come to realize that, through an accident of history, it was good thing that I was part of puncturing the legitimacy of the Nixon presidency, as Dan Ellsberg, Vietnam veterans and student protests, and the Watergate scandal would continue to do.

In writing this, I looked up Nixon’s daily schedule for 12/3/70, and found that immediately afterward, he met with his press secretary; then called Hoover and Mitchell.  There was turmoil in the Oval Office. The next day Hoover wrote Mitchell, saying essentially, “why the hell didn’t we investigate more carefully? She was from Madison! This will never happen again.”

Unfortunately, that kind of protest hasn’t happened enough since then. Cindy Sheehan, a TIME magazine Face of the Decade this week, stands out for challenging Emperor Bush, leaving him naked, and I don’t want to leave out the couple who streaked through the 2004 inaugural with anti-war messages; thousands have been arrested trying to deliver the antiwar political messages.

In the wake of four major WikiLeaks this year, all instructive as to the rules of engagement of these imperialist occupations, the basic injustice of the so-called “war on terror,” and all completely against the interests of humanity — provided you stop looking at everything through “American” eyes — there is no better time than now for mass, visible, protest against all this.

I so know the world can’t wait, and am so glad to be involved with the World Can’t Wait.  This is all really needed, 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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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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