Posts Tagged iraq

Nakedness, Justice and Bradley Manning

Bradley ManningOn March 2, the U.S. military announced 22 more charges against Bradley Manning, the accused Army Private imprisoned in solitary confinement since May 2010.  One of the new charges, “aiding the enemy,” is potentially punishable with death.  This a most outrageous development, echoing the months of right-wingers screaming for his death. View the charges. Word comes that Brad is now held naked overnight, and forced to stand at attention that way.

The system holding him is nakedly unjust!

The charges themselves expose the extent to which the U.S. military is spread across the world is involved in actions with names like “Operation Hammer,” detailed in tens of thousands of reports stored in the internet.  I am not the first to point out the irony that the Obama administration offered praise — growing fainter by the day — to those protesting in streets in Egypt and Tunisia with outrage fueled by the very revelations Manning faces death for exposing.

These new charges only increase our anger at the treatment of Bradley Manning, as it grows clearer by the day how much blood is on the hands of those who accuse him.  The very same day charges were being signed, March 1, nine children were killed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.  As a high school student asked me yesterday, “why did they shoot and kill children?”  An apology was quickly issued by General David Petraeus, no doubt to quell protest in Afghanistan.  But these killings are part of a systematic pattern.  The Collateral Murder footage, which the Army specifically indicts Manning for leaking, “12 JUL 07 CZ ENGAGEMENT ZONE 30 GC Anyone.avi” is in reality, an indictment of U.S. rules of engagement and war-fighting.

Kathy Kelly, who goes to Afghanistan, wrote in Incalculable:

Families rely on their children to collect fuel for heat during the harsh winters and for cooking year round. Young laborers, wanting to help their families survive, mean no harm to the United States. They’re not surging at us, or anywhere: they’re not insurgents. They’re not doing anything to threaten us. They are children, and children anywhere are like children everywhere: they’re children like our own.

An 11-min. German documentary, just translated to English, captures both the horror of Collateral Murder, and the injustice done towards Manning, through interviews with a friend of Manning, and anti-war activist and former CIA briefer Ray McGovern.  Ethan McCord, who  can be seen in the leaked video rescuing children wounded by the 2007 Apache helicopter operation, talks about that day, and his support of Manning.

Video Still

It’s important to recognize the escalation represented by these new charges against Manning.  Glenn Greenwald in Bradley Manning Could Face Death compares Manning to Daniel Ellsberg, 40 years ago.  Greenwald was interviewed on Democracy Now March 3:

The charge of aiding the enemy is really quite disturbing, because what that requires is passing information or disseminating intelligence to, quote-unquote, “the enemy.” And although the charging document doesn’t say who the enemy is here, it’s only two possibilities, both of which are disturbing. Either, number one, they mean WikiLeaks, which is accused of giving intelligence to or classified information to, which would mean the government now formally declares WikiLeaks to be, quote-unquote, “the enemy,” or, number two, and more likely, what it means is that by disseminating this information to WikiLeaks and other news organizations that ultimately published it, it enabled the Taliban and al-Qaeda to read this information and to access it, which would basically mean that any kind of leak now of classified information to newspapers, where your intent is not to aid the Taliban or help them but to expose wrongdoing, is now considered a capital offense and considered aiding and abetting the enemy, in that sense. And that’s an amazingly broad and expansive definition of what that offense would be…

it’s now been 10 months where, despite being convicted of absolutely nothing, he’s been held in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement under the most repressive conditions, not being allowed to exercise in his cell. The one hour a day when he’s allowed out, he walks around shackled in a room by himself and is immediately returned to his cell when it stops. Although the commander of the brig was recently fired and replaced, those conditions have not changed. So they’ve gone on for 10 months. They’re likely to go on for many more months, because the court-martial proceeding is not likely to take place for at least another six months or so, while these proceedings work themselves out. And certainly, someone held under those conditions for that long is going to be seriously psychologically and physically deteriorated, perhaps irreparably so.

Democracy Now also reported newly abusive treatment of Manning:

New information has come to light about the prison conditions of accused U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning, who is being held at the Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia. According to his lawyer, Manning was stripped of all his clothes on Wednesday and then forced to remain naked in his cell for seven hours. Manning’s clothes were returned only after he was forced to stand naked outside his cell during an inspection. Manning’s attorney described the treatment as inexcusable and an embarrassment to the military justice system. The incident occurred just hours after the military filed 22 additional charges against Manning for having allegedly illegally downloaded hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. military and U.S. Department of State documents that were then publicly released by WikiLeaks. One of the new charges, “aiding the enemy,” could carry a death sentence.

All of this argues for a large and determined protest on Sunday March 20, outside the brig at Quantico, VA where Manning is imprisoned.  Join us! From Courage to Resist:

Rally at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia to support accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower Army Pfc. Bradley Manning on March 20th! Supporters will gather for a 2pm rally at the town of Triangle (map: intersection of Main St. and Route 1), then march to the gates of the Quantico Marine Corps Base. Bradley has been held at the Quantico brig in solitary-like conditions for six months. We stand for truth, government transparency, and an end to our occupation wars… we stand with Bradley! Event endorsed by the Bradley Manning Support Network, Veterans for Peace, Courage to Resist, CodePink, and many others. Buses from Washington DC have been chartered for this event (departing Union Station at 12:30pm)–reserve your seats today for only $10 RT. The day before, on Saturday, March 19th, in Washington DC, we will be joining the noon rally at Lafayette Park and march on the White House to “Resist the War Machine!”

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Walking4Choice in 60+Cities

Photos from Walk for Choice

New York City: I went on the very fast Walk that zoomed up Broadway from Foley Square, around Washington Square Park and back down in a little over an hour.  There were 101 people — I counted, with 2 older than me, and about 70% women under 25, a few younger guys.  They wanted to walk & scream with their home made signs.  They did really loud whoops under awnings that got attention, and generally favorable comments.  People wanted to talk to me about my sign, but we didn’t have time to stop and talk to anyone if we wanted to keep up.  The main chants they did were “We Have A Choice! We Have a Voice!”  and “What do you want? Choice! When do you want it? Now!”

Keep Your Boehner Away from My Body

Keep Your Boehner Away from My Body

Lots of spontaneous energy.  I would say the dominant sentiment was outrage — they can’t do this; we won’t let them.  A lot was attributed to Republicans being in power.  Those in the lead said they heard about it on tumblr.  I didn’t know anyone from that 100.

When we returned from the Walk, THE Planned Parenthood started. About 4,000 people came, mostly younger women.  Some of the union activists
and leftists from the “Save the American Dream” rally a few blocks away, which was also several thousand, joined in.  Most of the speakers were politicians, local, state and national.

The message was don’t cut funding for women’s health, Title X and PPFA.  Kathleen Turner spoke, but I missed her.  Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill talked about getting care at PP in Chicago in 1989.  Amanda Marcotte talked about her #thanksPPFA campaign on Twitter.

My sign (written by Richie M) was well received — probably 200 people took photos.  Memo to Congress, advertisers, and so-called pro “life”ers:

The most DANGEROUS place for a WOMAN is a country without ABORTION and BIRTH CONTROL.  worldcantwait.net

The most dangerous place...

Reports from other areas:

Chicago: I estimated 400 to 500 people, overwhelmingly under 30 years of age, very unapologetic. The weather was awful, snow and cold, and got worse as the afternoon went on. I know several of my older friends couldn’t come because of it. Lina can describe the one older woman who tried to tell them they shouldn’t say “abortion” – keep the rhetoric at “choice” – they weren’t buying it!

One woman, about 30 years old, made her sign, “Planned Parenthood saved my life.”  She said she was 20 years old; her Christian fundamentalist father drove her to the clinic, paid for her abortion, while her mother still hasn’t forgiven her.  She told me that one middle aged woman who was watching from the sidelines, came up to her, pointed to her sign, said “me too” and walked away.

Many creative signs, including one that said, “You screw us, we’ll multiply, and you’ll be in real trouble.”  Another young woman made this sign; it looked like a cartoon cell, with a woman in a bathing suit coming out of a body of water, with words, “I’m tired of swimming in a patriarchal sea.”  The two banners – Abortion Providers Save Women’s Lives and Abortion on Demand & Without Apology – brought by World Can’t Wait were the backdrop for the rally.

There were young women dressed for the occasion in bright orange, some with flowing skirts over their jeans, and this contributed to the mood of joyous determination.  Another woman had an outrageous huge wig of many colors, shaped like the hair of a pharoah — she said in honor of the Egyptian people.

A number of young women I spoke with thanked us veterans for continuing the battle for reproductive rights.

At the rally, one of the loudest cheers went up for the contingent from Medical Students for Choice from the medical school at U of I-Chicago.  One of the female medical students told the crowd of her abortion 3 weeks ago that was safe, with proper pain medication, and support from her pro-choice friends.  She pointed out that she became pregnant when she was using an IUD.

Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!

Chicago

[from another report] I was most struck by was the young people in the march. It was overwhelmingly young and they were not afraid to say exactly how they felt, whereas I felt some of the older people were too tempered or bothered by the frankness of the youth.

Seeing the youth among the crowd made me think of how hard we have worked to get youth to take the lead of a movement of resistance. I really saw the potential in this today…not just with standing up for Women’s Rights to abortion and birth control but, really taking the lead in demanding an end to wars/occupations and torture…so when I had the opportunity, I tied the oppression of women into the overall oppression of humanity in the wars/occupations and torture.  Many of the crowd were I think acutely aware of the need for consistent visible resistance and when Lina and I spoke of Egypt and Libya  and all the countries that are rising up against oppression they understood it…still though there was a tendency among some of the crowd to put the blame solely on the right wing fascist rather than looking at the fact that the Democrats don’t act in the interest of women either when they seek to find common ground with the antis…but we addressed this over and over and emphasized this why people had to take responsibility for fighting these viscous onslaughts and when we did most of the crowd got it and agreed. It was a really great day!

Champaign-Urbana, IL: We also had a Walk for Choice yesterday! Like the other walks, ours was also mostly all young women. On Monday, I met with the Gender Action Network (student organizers at the University of Illinois who have feminist student groups, such as NOW, Feminist Majority, etc.), and they said it was too late to get a Walk for Choice organized. However, I launched a Facebook invite on Tuesday and we did it!

Champaign Urbana Walk for Choice

Photo and report from Heather Ault (4000yearsforchoice.com)

On Friday evening, four young women (three who were sophomores from a sorority on campus) joined me in making banners and signs in the basement of the English Building on campus. The “sisters” shared that they didn’t talk politics in their sorority because it was too controversial, but they each
identified as liberal, had very progressive moms, and were concerned about Planned Parenthood.

The day of the walk, about 20 people came out – all women students (+two guys) plus two young non-students and one woman who was a counselor on campus who worked with students on sexuality issues. We met at Planned Parenthood on the sidewalk (which is located one block from campus). We read aloud summaries of each of the bills (HR358, HR3, HR217, South Dakota HB1171, and Georgia HB1). I thought this would be helpful to us in learning exactly what these bills said. We did a ceremonial “boooo” after each one. We also read a list of all the services PP provides and cheered.

We walked around Champaign, through the restaurant and bar district, over to campus, and back to PP again and chanted from a list of rally chants I found online (there were about 20 good ones!) About half-way through, I gave the megaphone over to the president of NOW and this gal did an amazing job! This was also my first time with a bullhorn, so I was a bit nervous (but the old high school cheerleader in me kicked in!) We had lots of waves and supportive honks during the walk!

At the end, we stood in front of PP and formally introduced ourselves and described how we could keep in touch (names of student groups, organizations we work with, etc.) The overall feeling was – YES! Let’s keep doing this!!! If we weren’t standing out in the cold, we could have hung out a while and chatted. There was the feeling of, is it over already!? So, it was a lingering departure.

Also, Planned Parenthood of Champaign recently put up a banner on their building reading “Stand with Planned Parenthood” and a number to text a message. I thought this was pretty interesting! Good for them, it’s time to bring it local and I think they are changing their tune.

Honolulu

Honolulu

Honolulu: Two organizations called for protests on Saturday noon at the State Capitol.  One, a rally and march to support the protests in Wisconsin was called by MoveOn.  A second rally and march was called by Planned Parenthood as part of the national “Walk for Choice.”

World Can’t Wait responded to the call made by Planned Parenthood and came to the Capitol with lots of Pro-Choice signs and banners  It was a good thing we did, because many Pro-Choice supporters hadn’t made their own signs, and picked up one of ours.  We have often brought banners and signs saying “Abortion on Demand, and Without Apology” to events, and people have generally backed off from carrying them – and have often expressed their disagreement with the slogan.  This time the slogan was welcomed.   The Planned Parenthood CEO gave us a thumbs-up as soon as she saw it. Two youth who had never met us before picked up another.

More than 150 people came to support the unions; about 50 to support a women’s right to choose.  The two groups merged the rallies, first one person from one group taking the mic, and then someone from the other group.   Liz Rees, spokesperson for World Can’t Wait-Hawai`i, gave one of the three talks supporting reproductive rights and received repeated applause.  She was the only one to boldly speak out for abortion, and to link the “Walk for Choice” with national events to defend the right to abortion.  Her call to be bold, and to refuse to compromise on a women’s right to choose was met with resounding approval.   For those who had come to support the unions, this may have been the first time they’d heard such a talk, and many people approached Liz after the rally to thank her.

The march was even more confusing than the rally, with pro-choice signs mixed in with a variety of signs reading everying from “Defend the American Dream” to “Defend Unions” and “Kill the Bill”.  A passer-by along the way obviously understood the pro-choice signs, but then asked why we were marching for civil unions, when the governor had signed the bill granting civil unions last week.    While the merging of the two groups was confusing to some, others linked the tea party attacks against both organized labor and choice.

In spite of the confusion, getting out more than 200 people on the Honolulu streets with less than 3 days notice was remarkable, and there seemed to be a renewed sense that the need for resistance is more urgent now than ever.

Seattle: Good day in Seattle! About 600 people, mostly young women, college students, came out.  We held a speakout on-stage. Some of the chants were “abortion on demand and without apology, without this basic right, women can’t be free!” and “a woman should decide her fate, not the church and not state!”

The speakout was very powerful.  We called on women to share their stories of having an abortion. Some other people said that we shouldn’t talk about abortion and that we should just stick to talking about “choice”. One older woman was saying that she was so happy she was able to have had an abortion, that she felt relieved because she didn’t have to take care of child she wasn’t ready for. There was another women who said that people shouldn’t feel shame about taking care of their bodies.

A woman talked about how on the march she had started to cry once she saw all the women on the sidelines who were clapping their hands and cheering, and when she saw their faces light up when they saw us coming down the street. People traveled from all parts of the state to come and the feeling of empowerment was really electric.

After the older woman started to speak about their experience, girls as young as 17 told their stories. One young girl said that she had a really cruel boyfriend, she got pregnant and was able to have an abortion. If she didn’t have the ability to do that, she would be in a really bad situation and she was glad that she has the life she has today. Some women were crying in hearing these stories.

It was very heartening to people who have been continuously fighting for abortion rights and the liberation of women to see women in the streets after years of being afraid, put on the defensive and kept out of the streets. Older people were also inspired by the young women that came out to show that they are not ashamed to talk about reproductive issues, birth control or abortion.

Philadelphia: About 200 walked, joined in with a rally for union rights.

Greensboro, NC: Between 70 and 80 people from various parts of North Carolina participated in protests today in Greensboro in support of abortion rights, and against the attacks against women’s rights in Congress and in state governments.Initiated by a blogger in Chicago and coordinated by a spontaneous network of volunteers on sites like tumblr and facebook, the walk for Choice took place in more than 50 cities in the US, with others occurring in Canada and the UK.

Abortion Providers are Heroes!

Greensboro, NC

Women, mostly 25 and under, made up the majority of participants in Greensboro, which also had significant participation of women who were brought into activism in the days before Roe v. Wade. Several men also participated, coming in with friends from Charlotte, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem. Drummers from the Cakalak Thunder Radical Drum Corps provided the beats along the march, which took place up the main downtown strip. All the placards were handwritten, with messages like “May the baby you save be gay,” “Abortion on demand without apology,” “I’m a woman, not a womb”, and a bright orange banner painted with the words, “Abortion providers are heroes: A fetus is not a baby, abortion is not murder, women are not incubators!”

On returning to the park where the march began, several marchers took part in an open mic and reflected on the serious situation we’re now confronting. A 60-year old marcher who had broad experience with women seeking abortion in the days before Roe told several stories of the horrors women faced and warned of the very real danger of going back to those days if we don’t oppose the rash of laws being put forward. A young woman told the crowd that she was going to be moving to Kansas soon, in spite of (or really because of) the fact that Kansas has been the site of massive anti-abortion activity, and that she is going to commit herself fully to the pro-choice movement there.

The organizer of the march, for whom this was the first protest that she had ever organized, talked about the attcks on Planned Parenthood, and emphasized the importance of taking action, even if you have no experience organizing or mobilizing people. Se added that social networking sites have become a very powerful tool in the hands of activists.

Another activist who supports the Revolutionary Communist Party emphasized the importance of fighting the lies of anti-choice forces with scientific understanding, adding that it’s crucial not to be afraid of using the word “abortion”, nor to apologize for being in support of full equality for women. Oranigzers with World Can’t Wait distributed the leaflet, “Stand up for women’s Right to Abortion and Birth Control in 2011!” and made the connection between the attacks on women and the fascist trajectory in the US, which includes the demonization of Muslims and immigrants, as well as the ongoing wars.

Los Angeles: 250-300 people gathered at Pershing Square in Downtown L.A.  Men and Women, students, families; splattering of orange. I spoke to students who came from over an hour’s drive to participate. Many of them representing community colleges, universities. People took the World Can’t Wait Abortion Statement readily and Abortion on Demand, without Apology. Of the 30+ people I spoke with, only one had heard of Dr. Sue Wicklund and loved the book. All said they would check out the website, the book and the DVD with Sunsara and Sue.

No Woman Can Call Herself Free

Los Angeles

No one had heard of World Can’t Wait and when I said WCW wears orange to stand against torture and to rally people to stand against Crimes of this Government; there was lots of agreement.  Asked people to join in the streets on March 19th Against the War. The majority were unaware of the march.

New Chant:
1 2 3 4 Open up the Clinic Door
5 6 7 8 You can’t make us Procreate!

and the standard:
When Women’s Rights
Are Under Attack,
What do we Do?
Stand Up Fight Back!

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More on Driving out a Regime

Last week, I posted this photo of masses of Egyptians in Tahrir Square in late January 2011 with the question, “Now do you know what we were talking about?”

Tahrir Square, Cairo, January 2011

Tahrir Square, Cairo, January 2011

I sent the message to tens of thousands of supporters of World Can’t Wait, established in 2005 as The World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime.  The photo and one line got a lot of response.

Almost half the response amounted to “yes — we knew what you meant then, and we’re with you!”  Some people didn’t recognize the photo, or guessed that I was calling for a new movement to “drive out” the current president.  One, who signed the Call to Drive out the Bush Regime online in 2007, announced she is Republican, and wanted no more mail from me.

So, for you all to whom the message was not clear, here’s what that photo is about:

Early 2005 was a time when people in this country who cared about basic justice and rights of the people were thinking of leaving because George W. had been selected as president, again.   Why should 4 more long years have to pass with him as president, when that was so clearly against the interests of people in this country, not to mention the rest of the world?

About 40,000 people signed the Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime online.  Clearly, the idea was appealing.  But people asked, what does “drive out” mean?  Some asserted that World Can’t Wait really, covertly, meant there had to be an all-out revolution to force Bush from office; that being impossible, they argued, we weren’t going to succeed.  Others could only conceptualize a movement utilizing the mechanism of impeachment, gaining critical mass in the Congress by winning over Democrats to lead it.

Here’s what we said in the Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime:

There is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush’s outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.

Driving out Bush & Cheney would not have been easy.  Clearly, it ended up being beyond the capacity of a great many honest, determined people who had right on our side.  But the idea of a mass movement of people independent of the Republican & Democratic parties, would have begun with people taking to the streets, and staying there for a prolonged period, with growing momentum.

World Can’t Wait and many anti-war leaders, including Cindy Sheehan, organized for several of the Bush years to get that sort of thing started.   We tried to find all those people who had been in the street, especially on February 15, 2003, when 15 million around the world — including probably one million in New York City — massed against the coming invasion of Iraq.  We knew that one day of protest was not enough, and also that what can happen once, could happen again.

Last week, as mass protests moved to Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Libya and now Wisconsin, I think a great many people are thinking more deeply about what good street protest does.  It’s really the only thing that’s ever made a government take notice, back off, re-think its actions.  It’s the only thing that brings out the true nature of a government.   And of course, yes, as in the case of Libya right now, unleash desperate brutality toward the people.

But that visible protest is a necessary factor for change.

Chris Floyd has been thinking about this. Worldcantwait.net often posts his thoughtful blog pieces from Empire Burlesque.  This one, Kairos in Cairo: Seizing the Moment of Moral Courage goes back to February 15, 2003, and considers what might have kept the U.S./U.K. alliance from being able to attack Iraq.  It’s worth reading as a whole.  To whet your appetite:

What if we, like the Egyptians, had gotten in the way of business as usual, and brought more and more pressure to bear on the system, forcing the issue of aggressive war on the public consciousness, unavoidably, day after day — and by this, as in Egypt, forcing officials of the system to declare where they stood?

So, where do we stand now?


Faith Voight: Having been here and seen it when thousands of East Germans risked their lives and their sanity to go on the streets and tell Erich Honeker that they were the people in his “People’s Democracy”. I understood what you meant at the time. But there are still many in the USA who honestly believe Saint Reagan brought Honny to his knees. Na, denn. Thank you for sharing, and for listening.

Take me off your list. I’m a Republican (!)

Nicolas Feden: Better that Bush was sent out through elected measures than a civil uprising with the military involvement.

Stephanie R: That’s a really good one.  More words are totally unnecessary.

Nicarangi: Why is not the credo now, “Drive Out the Obama Regime”? The wars have become protracted, the economic disparities have increased, and the police-state continues to expand. Please address what can none otherwise be called hypocrisy.

Rich Zubaty: Liberation Square on Wall Street! Obama is just a dumb puppet.

Vin Agemenone: definitely. I organized an ” IMPEACH BUSH ” rally in Reno in  2008. a friend & I put up  an ” IMPEACH ” banner ( 2.5 ft x 15 ft ) on a billboard in Carson City, NV. also, all year long in 2008, attended almost weekly rallies & protests in Carson & Reno with my favorite sign: [  BUSH must be THINNED from the herd  ] the actions felt good. these days feel like the gas went out of the balloon. if you ever come to northern Nevada, let me know.

Don Spark: LOL

James Carbone: Frankly, no I can see what you are talking about.  A picture says more than a thousand words — all contradictory. Please, explain.

Toni Jean: this email is confusing….are you suggesting we drive out the Obama regime? Its not clear what you want Americans to actually do- literally and what message?

If we want to end the war-  then shouldn’t a message be going out to our military to support the will of American citizens and stand down? go on strike?

Lynn Cardiff: What is this picture?

Vic Burton: Got it loud and clear.

Frank Hamilton: Yes, a non-violent peaceful protest without a need to be partisan- there were all kinds of people with different persuasions there-activists of the highest calibre, those who recognized that more important than the power struggle was the need to be recognized as genuine supportive citizens of their country. It could happen here if it could be inclusive, not about rage so much as action, and a united common cause. if the world can’t wait, then it must open it’s doors to all with peaceful intent.

Joellen Gilchrist: yes i do, except we are a nation of addicts, and will never get our shit together.

Carl Nigro: Don’t forget the Obama Regime!

Sally & Peter from Arlington West: debra,  do you think the egyptians are better educated to do this that the americans? paz, sally and peter

 
Elizabeth Rose: The events in Egypt are inspiring and amazing. However, is it appropriate to use those events to send a passive aggressive message to your list members?  Do you honestly think that those of us on your list would not for a moment want to be part of a movement like the one in Egypt to drive out ALL the Beltway Bobbleheads who are addicted the Kool-Aid of evil, immorality, and greed?
 
Think about it.  Now, can we focus on how to create such a movement?  Obama has failed.  (The budget release today is the last straw.)  It's a disappointment, and too many progressives are flailing, because we supported him so strongly.  But we need to get over it, and use this failure as leverage to move progressives into the streets and to push for a Democratic Primary in 2012.  Either that, or push for a national strike, preferably on Election Day on 2012.  It's a little hard for
corporations to steal our votes through ads if we refuse to let them influence us or, for that matter, settle for the "lesser of two evils."  Sure, it will throw Washington into maelstrom if the people who voted for Obama in 2008 vote with their feet for one election by refusing to vote, period.  Is their any place more deserving of a maelstrom?  And isn't about damn time we stop being afraid of a particular party being in power, when it is hard to imagine Washington being any worse than it already is?  
 
Have you read Margaret Atwood's *The Handmaid's Tale*?  If you have, you know what I mean when I say "welcome to Gilead." Let's be inspired by the courage of Egyptians and get some guts of our own.  It's hard, the corporate media makes us see everything through the lens of terror.  We need to message ACTION over FEAR.
 
If there's a better way to get attention, then there's plenty of room for ideas, so let's share them.  Bottom line:  The greedheads must understand that as they continue to kill us off, they are killing themselves.  Without us, there is no them.  No infrastructure for them to use, no consumers to buy their products, and ultimately a planet destroyed for human habitation.
 
Finally, the most important proximate message we can share - and do so over and over again - is that the rich are REQUIRED to pay more taxes because the rich use more resources.  State Corporate Charters also make it ILLEGAL for corporations to put profit before the Commons.  Yet we let them get away with it constantly and it needs to STOP.  We need to start shutting down these businesses that are violating their charters.  If we do, it will have a HUGE positive impact on our political process. Food for thought.  Regards, Elizabeth Rose Lisbon, ND

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State of the Union: War on Terror Goes On and On, and On…

On Tuesday January 25, at the same moment Congress gathered for the State of the Union address from Barack Obama, almost a hundred people gathered to discuss “Torture, Guantanamo and Accountability” at DePaul University Law School in Chicago.  It’s been difficult over the last 2+ years to fill a room for such a discussion, so we were heartened by the participation of 40 law students and attorneys.  Dr. M. Cherif Bassiouni, a distinguished research professor emeritus at the law school, and founder of the International Human Rights Law Institute; and Candace Gorman, who represents two men imprisoned at Guantanamo, spoke with me on the panel.

Dr. Bassiouni described the “chasm” between the promises made by Obama while campaigning and the actions of Obama as president, regarding the rule of law as represented by the United States.  Candace told the story of one of her clients, still in Guantanamo.  He is apparently one of the 48 who will be detained indefinitely, bringing some of the students to tears of frustration.  We’ll have more on the program soon.  Listen to Dr. Bassiouni and Ms. Gorman in an excellent hour-long discussion on Chicago public radio WBEZ.

Guantanamo prisoners

Many of the men still imprisoned at Guantanamo may never be released

Our colleague Andy Worthington, about to tour Poland with former Guantanamo prisoner Moazzam Begg, took the time to describe the Obama’s administration’s plans for those imprisoned at Guantanamo in Obama’s Collapse: The Return of the Military Commissions:

This year the President’s bitter surprise for the prisoners (which has encouraged a widespread peaceful protest at the prison, as reported here) was two-fold. The first was his failure to veto a military spending bill passed by Congress, which contained cynical and unconstitutional provisions preventing the transfer of any prisoner to the US mainland, in which lawmakers also demanded the power to prevent the release of prisoners to countries regarded as dangerous…

The second bitter surprise for the prisoners was the announcement last week, first mentioned by the New York Times, that, although federal court trials have effectively been suspended, specifically derailing the administration’s stated intention to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks in federal court, the administration is preparing to push ahead instead with trials by Military Commission for at least some of the 33 men recommended for trials by Obama’s Task Force.

No, none of those plans were part of the State of the Union address.  Those of you listening for “real change” in Obama’s direction on the wars Tuesday night were disappointed.  Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City, and an opponent of torture, spoke on Democracy Now January 26 about the speech:

He didn’t mention human rights at a time when he has assassination lists for the first time in our nation’s history, that include U.S. citizens. No due process—we don’t just have indefinite detention anymore; we just go out, put their name on a list, and kill them. The invocation of state secrets, it’s absolutely obliterated any notion of checks and balances. Our courts have been removed from that equation, by and large, when it comes to torture, when it comes to warrantless wiretapping by our government. No discussion about that, of course. And we’re seeing, really, an institutionalization by this president of some of the worst abuses and what we, a lot of us, thought were just aberrations during the Bush years.

I’d like to note what Obama did say:

…because we’ve begun this work, tonight we can say that American leadership has been renewed and America’s standing has been restored.  Look to Iraq, where nearly 100,000 of our brave men and women have left with their heads held high. (Applause.) American combat patrols have ended, violence is down, and a new government has been formed. This year, our civilians will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq. America’s commitment has been kept. The Iraq war is coming to an end. (Applause.)

…We’ve also taken the fight to al Qaeda and their allies abroad. In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan security forces. Our purpose is clear: By preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al Qaeda the safe haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.

Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home. (Applause.)

Last I heard, the Defense Department is balking at even a 2014 pull out date of Afghanistan.  The unjust, immoral, illegitimate occupations continue, and with them, the “war on terror” against civilians across the region.  It’s up to us to bring out that reality to people.

I saw John Boehner pinch up his face when Obama obliquely mentioned the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  As much as the reactionaries howled against letting gays be out in the military, I have to say that any gay person who actually decides now to enlist has lost their mind.  Just because one can now serve openly does not mean the whole enterprise of occupying countries and killing civilians should involve you!  I say, “don’t ask, don’t tell….no — DON’T GO!”  It’s a bad thing, as several professors have written me, that because DODT is being repealed, colleges are now planning to open the doors once again to military recruiters.

I’ll see you in Washington D.C. on March 17-19 as we step up the visible protest on the anniversary of the Iraq war.

Crimes Are Crimes - No Matter Who Does Them

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March 17-19 Iraq War Protests

I’m listening to an MLK speech from 1967, where King says that the United States, at that point, had committed “more war crimes than almost any other nation.”

'Obey or Die' by Christopher Brown - more at Peace Vigil Paintings

This little girl’s parents were killed at a checkpoint in Iraq. Conservative estimates of Iraqi deaths are 76,000 to 94,000 verified media reported deaths. Separate survey techniques studies estimate 75,000 to 125,000 Iraqi deaths since 2003. Victory in Iraq is a mass media lie. The military presence continues to fuel violence. When the armed forces leave Iraq, Iraqis can begin to assert control over their own destinies, rebuild their country, reconstruct their social institutions and improve the security and welfare for all Iraqis.

Add 44 years of invasions, CIA-engineered coups, and occupations, from Vietnam through Afghanistan.  Add the development of weapons and training for modern counter-insurgency — night vision, drones, depleted uranium, cluster bombs — means that an even higher percentage of civilians are dying and suffering in these aggressive wars the U.S. pursues.

People, it’s time to put political opposition to these wars back on the map, in a mass, visible, and determined way. Veterans for Peace kicked off something very significant last December 16, with mass civil resistance at the White House, as Barack Obama gave his report on the war in Afghanistan.  Leah Bolger, Vice President of Veterans for Peace, captured the mood in Failure to Obey a Lawful Order:

Although it is we who were treated like criminals—handcuffed, arrested and charged, we are not the ones ordering drone strikes or sending in troops. We are not the ones using illegal weapons and poisoning the earth. We are not the ones with blood on our hands. The real criminals continue unabated, shamelessly claiming that they are “making progress,” and unabashedly announcing that they plan to continue their crimes for many years to come.

The next nodal point for our efforts to STOP these wars is the anniversary of the Shock & Awe on Baghdad, March 19, 2003.  A war begun on the basis of monstrous lies against a country weakened already by 15 years of sanctions, brought tremendous loss of civilian life.

Chris Floyd brings some of that home to us in A World in Flames: the Endless Echoes of America’s Atrocities where he continues his series on the American use of chemical weapons in the assault on Fallujah, just after George Bush was re-selected in 2004.

Even without the WMD, the attack itself was one of the most horrific events of the still-unfolding act of aggression in Iraq. Presented in the U.S. press as an old-fashioned, gung-ho, WWII-style “battle,” it was in fact a mass slaughter, largely of trapped civilians; almost all of the “terrorists” and “insurgents” in the city had long escaped during the months-long, oddly public build-up to the assault. It seemed clear that the intent was not to quash an insurgent nest, as stated, but to perpetrate an act of condign, collective punishment — primarily against civilians — in order to terrorize the rest of Iraq into submission…

Vets for Peace Leah Bolger at the White House fence December 16th

Vets for Peace Leah Bolger at the White House fence December 16th

Larry Everest, writing in Revolution, continues digging into the U.S. diplomatic cable releases in WikiLeaks Files Shine Light on U.S. Accountability for Torture in Iraq. One cable released in November shows

beyond doubt that the U.S. military in Iraq and the U.S.-controlled Iraqi army were given an official green light for the systematic use of torture, as well the cover up of those war crimes…The WikiLeaks files reveal that prisoners were also routinely burned with cigarettes, electrocuted, raped, and beaten with any available implement, such as steel rods, wire cables, television antennas, chains, water pipes, fan belts, and rubber hoses, as well as fists and feet. Some were executed.

Stepping out boldly in protest this March against this legacy is more important than ever.  We know from our work that many people living in this country think the Iraq war is “over” because some troops were moved to Afghanistan, and the trail of dead U.S. military has slowed.  The occupation, still 50,000 U.S. troops strong, with added combat capability of U.S. State Department troops, and tens of thousands of private contractors in 17 U.S. bases, is huge and permanent.  Unless it is exposed and stopped by U.S. public opinion and action.

On the 8th anniversary of U.S. war on Iraq, we strengthen our demand to end the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, and the secret bombing and black operations of Pakistan and Yemen.

In U.S. Raids: High Tech Terror in Afghanistan, Everest looks into what the U.S. diplomatic cables say about the US forces occupying Afghanistan. One example:

A January 19, 2009 cable describes the outcry after “at least six operations since mid-December” led to charges of “civilian casualties” and “wrongful detentions.” The cable also reports, “Two special operations missions in December 2008 in Arghandab district allegedly displaced up to 200 families, who fled to Qalat [a town of some 10,000 people and the capital of Zabul province].” (“WikiLeaks cables: Afghan elders threaten to display civilian victims’ bodies,” Guardian UK, December 3, 2010)

In case you missed the tremendously down-played Pentagon announcement, Obama just sent more troops to Afghanistan.  Ken Theisen, in Obama Escalates War in Afghanistan

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal on January 6, 2011, President Obama is planning on a further escalation of the U.S. war of terror in Afghanistan. Obama’s “surge” will bring the total of U.S. forces in this war ravaged nation to almost 100,000.  The Journal reports that, “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to send an additional 1,400 Marine combat forces to Afghanistan…”

Here are things you can do the next two months:

  • We Are Not Your SoldiersMarch 17-19, that’s a Thursday through Saturday, will be protest days in Washington D.C., organized by the ANSWER Coalition, Veterans for Peace, World Can’t Wait, and other groups.  Start making your plans now to mark that anniversary, in DC, or wherever you can be visible.
  • There are high school students to reach out to.  World Can’t Wait is putting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans on tour, leading up to the anniversary, and has resources available now through the We Are Not Your Soldiers tour.
  • Troops are being deployed to Afghanistan all this spring.  Don’t they and their families need to hear from us that they’re going to an illegitimate, unjust, immoral war, and they can resist!
  • Drones are being manufactured and controlled around the U.S.  Protests are ongoing against their use, and you can join them.
  • Bradley Manning may be put before a military court in March 2011.  Stay tuned for the ways in which you can support the person the U.S. charges as a whistle blower on these illegitimate wars of occupation.

Obey or Die

Obey or Die. This little girl’s parents were killed at a checkpoint in Iraq. Conservative estimates of Iraqi deaths are 76,000 to 94,000 verified media reported deaths. Separate survey techniques studies estimate 75,000 to 125,000 Iraqi deaths since 2003.

Victory in Iraq is a mass media lie. The military presence continues to fuel violence. When the armed forces leave Iraq, Iraqis can begin to assert control over their own destinies, rebuild their country, reconstruct their social institutions and improve the security and welfare for all Iraqis.

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“They Will Never Tell Us Every Day We Succeeded”

By Mike Hersh, PDA
Reposted from warisacrime.org

Monday, January 10, author/filmmaker Andy Worthington and World Can’t Wait National Coordinator Debra Sweet joined David Swanson for a “War Is A Lie” book event at the Barnes and Noble bookstore near Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The event was cosponsored by Progressive Democrats of America and several other peace and justice organizations. A crowd of 60 or more crammed into a narrow space between bookshelves to hear Swanson, a member of PDA’s National Advisory Board, and his special guests. Before the talk began, event organizer Diane Wittner—director of Chesapeake Citizens—led the speakers and other area activists in honoring independent media hero Bill Hughes, who has chronicled, video recorded and photographed countless events, including this one. With characteristic modesty, Hughes reluctantly accepted an award, then he took his usual place behind the camera.

After the Charm City Labor Chorus led the audience singing peace songs, PDA National Advisory Board member Swanson opened the panel with a quip about how the singing helped make up for Baltimore’s most famous musical legacy, the Star Spangled Banner. He then explained, “I wrote this book because so many smart people told me they were outraged by the Iraq War because a president lied about a war.” Swanson listed famous lies about wars and pointed out that every war is based on lies, including: propaganda falsely claiming Iraqis threw Kuwaiti babies from incubators (Gulf War); the Tonkin Gulf Resolution’s claim that the North Vietnamese attacked a U.S. ship (Vietnam War); similarly false claims that Spain attacked the U.S.S. Maine (Spanish American War); that Mexicans were attacking Americans (Mexican American War); and even that Americans would be welcomed as liberators by Canadians and would win in a cakewalk, leading up to the War of 1812.”

Rather than list lies by war, Swanson said he “organized the book by themes,” such as lies “depicting some enemy as evil beyond measure,” and lies in which “a religion, race or cultural group is depicted as evil.” These lies cast targets as so evil that “you can’t talk to these people, you can’t reason with them.” Swanson explained that his co-panelists working to free Guantanamo detainees must overcome claims that “it’s a threat to our nation to put [detainees] on trial.” Swanson recounted how descriptions foreign governments mistreating their people can quickly turn into pretexts for war: “Highlighting the domestic evils as in Iran turns into claims [that those who oppress their own people] can attack us, so it’s a defensive war. Every war is always a defense war.”

Swanson pointed out how lies used to start a war morph into a rationale against ending a war. He explained that claims that a war is really a “humanitarian” effort to rescue people from their own leaders turn into claims that “we can’t abandon the people of Iraq or Afghanistan.” We see “conflicting sales pitches” used to start a war, “new lies to keep the war going,” and then lies “after the fact” depicting wars as noble causes or necessary to preserve freedom help justify and used to sell the next war.

Swanson noted that, according to George W. Bush’s recent book, Senate Leader McConnell was privately demanding withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The Republican Senate Leader was warning that their party would lose the Congress unless that happened. Meanwhile, McConnell and other top Republicans were publicly mocking peace activists and Democratic war critics as favoring “cut and run.” Swanson noted that while we think “they’re not listening to us,” that’s only because “they never let on” how much they’re listening to us.” He added, “They’ll never credit us for every day our activism keeps preventing an invasion of Iran.” So, while “they will never tell us every day we succeeded,” we are making a real difference.

“We don’t say there is good or bad rape,” Swanson concluded. “Or justified slavery.” Therefore “we have to get to that full understanding that there couldn’t be a good war.” Once we do that, he says, we can “dismantle the war machine” that is “destroying our economy and political system” and “costing half of every income-tax dollar.” This “would change our society.” We “fetishize free speech for corporate media propaganda” but cannot afford healthcare or infrastructure while we’re spending so much on war. “If we don’t change the course on war-making, we will die,” Swanson added, “If we do, we will live much better.”

Andy Worthington is a British historian, journalist, and film director. He developed the most definitive annotated list of all Guantanamo detainees and the first annotated list of Bagram detainees. His most recent book is The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison. “The war on terror,” he explained, has a “novel twist” in that it has “involved an off-shore prison on a piece of Cuba stolen over a century ago,” where detainees are “not treated as POWs [and allegedly have] no rights under the Geneva Conventions.”

Worthington argues that because the 9/11 attacks “were criminal acts,” the detainees at Guantanamo captured in the aftermath “should have been tried in federal courts.” Even if officials considered the 9/11 events acts of war, detainees should be deemed “prisoners of war.” Instead, “the policy is to declare them the ‘worst of the worst’” and treat them as non-humans. On the event of the ninth anniversary of the prison opening, the record is: “599 released, 6 died, 1 put on trial, and 173 remain” in the prison which “didn’t close after a year as [Obama] promised.” U.S. officials have designated 48 of the 173 “too dangerous to release” even though there is no evidence to charge them, according to Worthington. President Obama is close to issuing an Executive Order to hold them indefinitely with “some sort of review process.” Worthington noted there already is “a review process: it’s called Habeas Corpus, and detainees have had their Habeas Corpus rights denied.”

Worthington said that “without concerted action by people such as those gathered at the event in Baltimore, these 173 people aren’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future.” The government task force Obama charged with advising him on Guantanamo says 89 shouldn’t be held. Progress toward releasing these detainees was halted when intelligence agencies traced terror plots and attacks—including the underwear bomber—to Yemen. In response, “Obama imposed a moratorium on release of Yemeni detainees.” Worthington called this “guilt by nationality,” which has made the detainees who’d been previously cleared for release “political prisoners.” The task force has found that 51 other detainees cannot return to their own countries safely. For these and other reasons, Congress, the Justice Department, Federal Courts in D.C. and Obama himself have “blocked the release” of cleared prisoners. In response, a group called “No More Guantanamos,” based in Amherst, Maine, passed a resolution offering to welcome cleared detainees to their town.

Debra Sweet announced several events in D.C. marking the anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo, including a week-long fast by Witness for Torture activists. She praised efforts “getting people like David [Swanson], Andy [Worthington], and Iraqi and Afghan War vets into schools” to counter recruitment efforts. Sweet said students brought into the military have an “85% chance they will be in a war zone.” She criticized the use of video games and dishonest, deceptive military recruitment tactics, saying it’s “extremely important that we demolish these lies.” Unless we counter recruiters’ efforts, Sweet cautioned, students “will be trained to commit war crimes.” She explained that the current situation pits “the strongest military in the world, the biggest economy” against “Islamic militants who also offer no future.” She praised her co-panelists and the audience at the event for “showing up, being visible, thinking and confronting people with the truth.”

All the panelists referred to ongoing actions and organizations, many of which can be found at WasIsACrime.org. Several audience members asked questions and engaged the panel in analysis of factors leading to war, the unsustainable costs of war, and what we can do about it. Many bought copies of War Is A Lie and lined up for David Swanson’s signature.

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Determination is Part of Stopping Unjust Wars

2003 NYC Protest

In 2002 and 2003 millions flooded the streets around the world, trying to stop the Bush regime

Since hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. marched against the Iraq war in 2002/2003, I’ve been part of hundreds of conversations with people who wonder: what happened?  Those mass mobilizations (which happened because the Democrats were so paralyzed they could neither get out in front of them nor offer a peep of resistance to the oncoming war themselves) were not futile.  Worldwide, that was the largest, quickest mobilization against a war in history. Our combined action deprived the Bush regime from having the coalition it wished for, when the “willing” nations dwindled in the face of world public opinion.

But yes, Bush & Cheney, surely the most unpopular leaders in generations, held on, wreaking havoc abroad and here.  We failed to mount to level of protest necessary to drive them from office in disgrace; instead, Bush was succeeded by an unlikely Democrat, elected largely to overcome the outrage at the Bush regime. Two occupations, and a couple of secret wars, continue – in the longest-running active military campaign by the largest-ever military (I know “combat” troops have left Iraq; yet 17 U.S. bases remain, along with 50,000 troops and uncounted private contractors).

All sorts of protest, from weekly vigils, to large street protests, civil disobedience, active duty military resistance, droves of soldiers going awol, high school walk-outs, protests inside Congress, dramatic die-ins, involving tens of thousands of arrests have not stopped them.  I know people are agonized, and wonder which tactics will work. If we avoid Saturday protests and focus on weekdays, will that get their attention?  If we put all our energies into one great Saturday march, will that be enough to get national media attention?  If we throw our bodies across arbitrary lines to get arrested?  Will they who make the wars ever be made to stop?

All those actions – and more – are part of what it would take to force the U.S. to withdraw from Afghanistan, and to abandon the ground war and drones in Pakistan.  It’s not a matter of protest tactics. We need controversy dividing every institution in society, from religious to educational, over whether these wars, and those who advocate them, are legitimate. We must find a way to bring in those under 18, who may not even remember the evil Bush regime, but who will be pressed into service for Obama’s successor.

We can’t rely on mainstream media to relate our demands; we can’t fail to challenge them to do so.  We’ve got to use every outrage as a way of educating people to understand that these wars are fundamentally against the interests of the people living in this country, and of those who are occupied… and that your government is lying to you.

narrating collateral murder

Veterans speaking to high school students: We Are Not Your Soldiers

All that said, World Can’t Wait will continue to be in the streets with visible protest, weekdays, weekends, and when it can make a difference.  We’re determined to expand the We Are Not Your Soldiers program, bringing veterans of Iraq & Afghanistan into high school classrooms.

There is nothing like coming face to face with someone who has “been there” to burst illusions about what being an occupier is like.  There’s an 85% chance that someone joining the military now will be sent to a combat zone.  They will be trained to follow orders that involve the commission of war crimes and violations of civilians’ rights, and not to question those orders. Someone who has seen what that training does to themselves and those they occupy can stop kids from going into the military.

That’s a worthwhile effort to stop the wars.  I hope you’ll donate to the World Can’t Wait end of year fund-raising drive.  Designate your donation for “We Are Not Your Soldiers” if you wish.

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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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“Cablegate” Raises Question: How Does a Superpower Dominate?

“Cablegate,” the huge leak of U.S. Embassy cables from 1966 to this year, began coming from Wikileaks.org Sunday.  This ongoing project, building on the leaks from earlier this year about the U.S. occupations of Iraq & Afghanistan, is huge not only for the amount of information released, but for its import.  I suspect we won’t know that fully until we have a chance to dig into more.  Wikileaks has helpfully organized the search by country, date, and topic.

What does the leak reveal?  More than just one administration’s practices; more than dirty tricks, individual opinions, “rogue” spies and diplomats, what I’ve seen already confirms a pattern, a system, of an un-checked superpower conducting “business as usual” behind secrecy, using diplomacy as yet another weapon.

Der Spiegel described it as “a political meltdown for American foreign policy” that leaves “the trust America’s partners have in the country … badly shaken.”  USA Today reports Hillary Clinton

“condemned the WikiLeaks release of once-classified diplomatic documents as nothing less than an attack on the United States and its allies.”

Private individuals are entitled to privacy, despite the actions of the Bush & Obama administrations, and governments may be entitled to secrecy.  But everything from “dirty tricks” ala Dick Nixon  to CIA assasinations are crimes by governments, and should be exposed.

Once again, we owe a debt to Wikileaks and the source of the leaks, for providing us the basis to see behind the lies. Bradley Manning is charged with these leaks, and sits in military prison at Quantico VA, awaiting a court martial. It is up to us to defend Manning, and do good with the revelations, by acting to stop the crimes through visible, vocal, public protest, just what World Can’t Wait exists for.

But the pro-war Congress leader Peter King wants Julian Assange tried for espionage as a “terrorist.”  Harold Koh, the State Department legal counsel who defends the Obama administration’s targeted assassination as compatible with international law, says the leaks will

“place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals,” and “place at risk on-going military operations.”

Nancy A. Youssef, in Officials may be overstating the danger from WikiLeaks, challenges that assertion.

“American officials in recent days have warned repeatedly that the release of documents by WikiLeaks could put people’s lives in danger.But despite similar warnings ahead of the previous two massive releases of classified U.S. intelligence reports by the website, U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date that the documents led to anyone’s death.”

Glen Greenwald wrote earlier today on damage to civilians,

“Many of the same people who supported the invasion of Iraq and/or who support the war in Afghanistan, drone strikes and assassination programs — on the ground that the massive civilians deaths which result are justifiable “collateral damage” — are those objecting most vehemently to WikiLeaks’ disclosure on the ground that it may lead to the death of innocent people.  For them, the moral framework suddenly becomes that if an act causes the deaths of any innocent person, that is proof that it is not only unjustifiable but morally repellent regardless of what it achieves.  How glaringly selective is their alleged belief in that moral framework.”

The danger to civilians is in being militarily occupied, economically controlled and dominated by an unchecked superpower.  Everything we can do to rouse people living in the United States to act to end these occupations is needed, now!

worldcantwait.net will be covering the ongoing revelations.

Wednesday December 1: 2pm EST/11 am PST

Live From Frontline Club, London, a webcast on Wikileaks: The U.S. Embassy Cables

Following the release this weekend of 251,287 confidential United States embassy cables, this month’s First Wednesday debate will focus on the revelations of this latest leak from whistle-blower website WikiLeaks. We will be joined by:  WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson; James Ball a data journalist who has been working with WikiLeaks; Nicky Hager, author and Investigative journalist; Additional panelists to be confirmed.

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United Response to George W. Bush Memoir

With the publication of George Bush’s book, Decision Points, we, the undersigned, set the record straight. Instead of being rewarded with a lucrative book contract and treated by the media as a distinguished statesman, Bush should be indicted and prosecuted for the crime of aggressive war, the supreme crime against peace in occupying Iraq and Afghanistan; devastation of the civilian population and civil society; the institutionalization of torture and denial of due process to detainees; massive illegal spying against people in the U.S.; and perjury before Congress and the people. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been sent to an early grave because of Bush. Thousands of people have endured the most gruesome torture and abuse because of Bush. Tens of thousands of US service members have either died or suffered horrendous physical and mental injuries because of Bush. Trillions of dollars have been spent in the commission of criminal acts, abroad and at home.

It is the responsibility of the people of the United States to demand the investigation, indictment and prosecution of crimes committed by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and other high officials.

It is up to each and every one of us to act. Unless high officials are held accountable for criminal acts, it sends a clear message to future administrations – including the current one — that they are not required to uphold the basic tenets of human rights and international law. Today, in fact, we see that many of Bush’s illegal actions have become codified as a new norm.

George W. Bush is recognized by the people of the world as a criminal. We, inside the United States, understand that too and thus we must demand that Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration uphold the law and appoint a Special Prosecutor for the prosecution of Bush and his principal accomplices. We also encourage individuals to take creative measures to stop Bush’s rewriting of history: speak out at his appearances, go to bookstores and move his book to the Crime Section, and challenge the media to cover our message.  War criminals may write books, but we—the people—must speak the truth.

Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition

Medea Benjamin, Code Pink

Elaine Brower, military mother, World Can’t Wait

Mike Ferner, President, Veterans for Peace

Susan Harman, Code Pink & Progressive Democrats of America

Nancy Mancias, Code Pink

Ray McGovern, Veterans for Peace

Stephanie Rugoff, War Criminals Watch

David Swanson, War is a Crime

Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait

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