Posts Tagged Obama

Obama Wants U.S. “Comfortable” with Vast Surveillance

Barack Obama pulled out the “we’re not Big Brother” line again Friday in the ongoing to effort to bamboozle people alarmed about the vast National Security Agency surveillance of whole populations exposed by Edward Snowden.  The important thing to him is not that the surveillance is curtailed, but that you feel comfortable with it.

Tech Crunch outlined Obama’s program to make you comfortable:

1) a new independent NSA review board that will publish recommendations on protecting civil liberties 2) a new website detailing the surveillance activities 3) changes to the Patriot Act authorizing the spying, and 4) a new public advocate to argue cases in the secret court that grants the NSA spying requests.

Reviews, public advocates, and a website (!) all with the intention of making you accept the illegal busting down of virtual walls breaking any remaining protection promised by the Fourth Amendment. Obama straight up lied when saying that

all these steps are designed to ensure that the American people can trust that our efforts are in line with our interests and our values. And to others around the world, I want to make clear once again that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people.

Obama was especially pissed off that Snowden’s revelations continue to be published via Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian, and in other media.  These include irrefutable evidence – from the horse’s mouth — of ongoing NSA programs which collect all metadata from very large sections of people, including Stellar Wind, Boundless Informant, and X-KEYSCORE.

Plainly put by The Guardian:

Nothing Obama announced Friday is likely to materially alter the NSA’s ongoing mass collection of phone data and surveillance of internet communications in the short term.

* Legal disclaimer: "Torture" here is defined as anything the United States does not do, and conversely anything the United States does, including waterboarding, forced feeding of hunger strikers through nasal tubes, long-term solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, and the barbaric atrocities at Abu Ghraib are, by definition, not torture, not withstanding any international laws or treaties the United States is party to or has refused to sign. Furthermore, "murder" here is also defined as anything the United States does not do, and again, anything the United States does, including the execution of innocent people, the killing of over 200 children in drone attacks, and the deaths of millions around the world through coups, repression and war, is not murder.

* Legal disclaimer: “Torture” here is defined as anything the United States does not do, and conversely anything the United States does, including waterboarding, forced feeding of hunger strikers through nasal tubes, long-term solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, and the barbaric atrocities at Abu Ghraib are, by definition, not torture, not withstanding any international laws or treaties the United States is party to or has refused to sign. Furthermore, “murder” here is also defined as anything the United States does not do, and again, anything the United States does, including the execution of innocent people, the killing of over 200 children in drone attacks, and the deaths of millions around the world through coups, repression and war, is not murder. 
Revolution — August 18, 2013 revcom.us

The Wall Street Journal, which mostly supports Obama’s spying, spoke plainly to Obama’s chief goal; to

gain public trust in the NSA programs and engage in a national debate about surveillance. But he also has said he was comfortable with the current programs. So he could say he spurred a debate and tried to address privacy concerns even if no changes result.

The New York Times editorialized, mildly, against the spying, apparently not satisfied with Obama’s sales effort:

The programs themselves are the problem, not whether they are modestly transparent. As long as the N.S.A. believes it has the right to collect records of every phone call — and the administration released a white paper Friday that explained, unconvincingly, why it is perfectly legal — then none of the promises to stay within the law will mean a thing.

Obama’s rhetoric rang like the May 23, 2013 address when he said he “wants” to close Guantanamo and would remove an obstacle to prisoners’ release — which he created — by putting a moratorium on releasing prisoners to Yemen.

Exactly ZERO prisoners have been released since his comments.

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Holder Promises Snowden Won’t be Tortured?

In arguing that Russia should send Edward Snowden back to the U.S. to face charges for exposing, from inside the NSA, a vast surveillance network on whole populations, Attorney General Eric Holder was in the ironic position of alleging that:

“I can report that the United States is prepared to provide to the Russian government the following assurances regarding the treatment Mr. Snowden would face upon return to the United States,” Holder wrote. “First, the United States would not seek the death penalty for Mr. Snowden should he return to the United States.” In addition, “Mr. Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States.”

Here are layers of irony, in brief:

1) Most countries in the world don’t have the death penalty, oppose it, and know the U.S. kills by far more people per per capita than any country, even including the countries which also use the death penalty.

So, for Holder to have to pledge that the U.S. won’t seek the death penalty for Snowden is quite an admission, but one masking the real horror of 1,340 killed since the 1976 when the U.S. Supreme Court made the death penalty legal again.

2) “Torture is unlawful in the United States,” says Holder, which shows you what the law is good for.

Right now, 80,000 people every night are in solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and detention centers, whether they have been convicted, or not, as in the case of Bradley Manning.

3).  “Torture is unlawful in the United States,” says Holder, which is exactly why the Bush regime set up Guantanamo and a whole system of indefinite detention and torture outside U.S. borders.

Edward Snowden explained on June 10 that he knew what could happen at the hands of the U.S. and then elaborated on his knowledge of what had been done to Bradley Manning while in pre-trial custody, and before a huge outcry that forced the Obama administration to move him out of solitary confinement.  We all fear for Snowden’s future, regardless of where he finds refuge, because as he said:

“You can’t come forward against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and be completely free from risk, because they’re such powerful adversaries that no one can meaningful oppose them. If they want to get you, they will get you in time.”

Here is someone who knows the risks, and chose to come forward so that the public could be informed about illegal surveillance by the U.S. government.  In the process, over and over again, that same government must be exposed for illegitimate suppression of dissent and protest.

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Does the U.S. and its Commander in Chief Operate like a “Global George Zimmerman?”

Last Friday, President Obama, apparently responding to pressure, made an unexpected statement about the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. He expressed understanding that Black people feel “a lot of pain around what happened here.” He promised no systemic remedies, saying that such decisions are left up to the states, and putting the responsibility of “each of us to do some soul-searching.”

Cornel West, on Democracy Now! Monday, went right after Obama’s statement:

“President Obama has very little moral authority at this point, because we know anybody who tries to rationalize the killing of innocent peoples, a criminal—George Zimmerman is a criminal—but President Obama is a global George Zimmerman, because he tries to rationalize the killing of innocent children, 221 so far, in the name of self-defense, so that there’s actually parallels here.”

It’s well worth watching, or reading the whole exchange. Immediately Dr. West caught all kinds of criticism, for criticizing the President — a situation I personally identify with. I heartily support and agree with Dr. West’s comments. I would like to hear what you think.

Watch

Food for Thought & Action:

Expanded U.S. Targeted Killing, Drone War & Secret Operations.
See the leaked Pakistani document detailing many more civilian deaths in US drone strikes in Pakistan, released Monday by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

“Drawn from field reports by local officials in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the document lists over 70 drone strikes between 2006 and late 2009, alongside a small number of other incidents such as alleged Nato attacks and strikes by unspecified forces.

“Of 746 people listed as killed in the drone strikes, at least 147 of the dead are clearly stated by the leaked report to be civilian victims. Some 94 of these are said to be children.”

A Promise Two Months Ago to Release Prisoners & Close Guantanamo.
No prisoners released since the President said he would relax restrictions on cleared Yemeni prisoners. Federal court decisions in favor of the prisoners’ rights against the government practice of force-feeding and genital searches have brought no relief. Joe Nocera, noticeably anguished, wrote Tuesday morning in The New York Times:

“There is one person who could get them out tomorrow — if he chose. That same person could stop the military from force-feeding the detainees. I am referring, of course, to President Obama. Yet despite decrying the Guantánamo prison, the president has refused to do anything but stand by and watch the military inflict needless pain and suffering, much of it on men who simply shouldn’t be there. Indeed, in many of the legal briefs filed on behalf of Guantánamo prisoners, the defendant is Barack Obama.”

An Expanding System of Mass Incarceration in the U.S.
In the Democracy Now! interview, Dr. West said,

“we’re talking about legacy of the white supremacy. We’re talking about a criminal justice system that is criminal when it comes to mistreating poor people across the board, black and brown especially…I just never forget Brother Carl Dix and others…we protested [stop-and-frisk by NYPD] and went to jail and then went to court and was—had a guilty verdict, right? That week, the president came to New York and said, “Edward Koch was one of the great mayors in the last 50 years,” and then said, “Michael Bloomberg was a terrific mayor.” Now, this is the same person saying we’ve got to care for black boys, and black boys are being intimidated, harassed, humiliated, 1,800 a day. It’s just not a matter of pretty words, Mr. President. You’ve got to follow through in action. You see, you can’t use the words to hide and conceal your mendacity, hypocrisy and the support of criminality—or enactment of criminality when it comes to drones, you see.”

Prosecution and Persecution of Whistle-Blowers

“Will you press for the justice of Trayvon Martin in the same way you press for the prosecution of Brother Bradley Manning and Brother Edward Snowden?” So you begin to see the hypocrisy.”

Glenn Greenwald writes,

“The Obama White House yesterday told Russia that it must not persecute “individuals and groups seeking to expose corruption” – as Bradley Manning faces life in prison for alerting the world to the war abuses and other profound acts of wrongdoing he discovered and as the unprecedented Obama war on whistleblowers rolls on. That lecture to Russia came in the context of White House threats to cancel a long-planned meeting over the Russian government’s refusal to hand over NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to the US to face espionage charges.”

Vast Government Surveillance on Whole Populations

Remember when Obama said that he doesn’t want people to feel like “Big Brother” is watching us?  “in the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential, you know — you know, program run amok. But when you actually look at the details, then I think we’ve struck the right balance.” And we find out, as this scandal unfolds, that all date is being vacuumed up and held, forever,  in a global “Stand Your Ground” justiication, because “it keeps us safe.”

All of the above, and more, are why we drafted indictments against the US government for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Read and share with others.

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Why Should We Have Any Confidence in a Justice Department Investigation Bringing Justice?

Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin

“I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son” said Barack Obama a day after the verdict of “not guilty” in the George Zimmerman trial.  “we are a nation of laws, and the jury has spoken.”

Attorney General Eric Holder assured the NAACP that he is concerned about the case, and that “the Justice Department has an open investigation into it.”

The message here is that we — those righteously outraged at the stalking death of a black youth being justified by a jury — should remain calm.  And we are told to wait on justice at the hands of a system built on slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and the New Jim Crow of mass incarceration.  Our protests are the problem, not the underlying injustice, particularly according to Democratic Party leaders, whose purpose is to keep us passive, while they appear to “handle” the problem.

Turning your attention back to 2009, Barack Obama took office in the wake of — and because of — the disaster of the Bush regime laying waste to whole countries, attacking civil liberties, and establishing a system of indefinite detention, black sites, rendition and torture which affected tens of thousands of prisoners.  Obama famously said he wanted to “look forward, not backward,” and starkly disappointed people who were under the illusion that justice would be served on the Bush regime — or at least someone in charge of torture — by the new administration.

Protesting

Above, protesters in San Francisco react to the news that Black teenagers can be murdered with impunity.

Obama and Holder did make some promises which turned out to be aimed at pacifying critics.  The Justice Department “investigated” the CIA torture in Guantanamo, captured on videotape, allowing the perpetrators to get away with destroying the tapes.  They decided not to release the photos of the military torture at Abu Ghraib.  The Justice Department, presumably, looked into the legal justification, practice, and individual orders and responsibility for a wide range of illegitimate actions, known to be against international law, involving thousands of victims.

And then, snooze, they found nothing really wrong, or at least nothing they would prosecute. See Justice Department Ends Investigation on Alleged Use of Torture by CIA.

It’s the same old story.  The rights of people under the empire don’t matter.  And Trayvon Martin, to quote the 1857 Dred Scott Decision of the US Supreme Court, will likely be found to have “no rights the white man was bound to respect.”

I am not exaggerating here. WHEN has a federal investigation brought justice in a situation where crimes have been carried out, supported, or excused by government?

Relevant reading:

We indict the U.S. government.  Example:  For the mass incarceration of over 2.4 million people in the United States, mainly Black and Latino, a program with a genocidal impact against these groups, including torture, solitary confinement, and unjust executions.

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Talking about Guantanamo and Bradley Manning in front of the White House

Interview by April Watters, in front of the White House June 26.

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Obama to Give Delayed Speech on Guantanamo, Prisoners Still Starving for Justice

President Obama will give a major speech Thursday at the National Defense University in Washington, reportedly about drones and Guantanamo.  The Washington Post reports that

“Obama was prepared to deliver the speech earlier this month, but it was put off amid mounting concerns over a prisoner hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay and more recently the Justice Department leaks investigation — both of which the revised speech may address.”

The Post also reports that an anonymous White House official says the President

“…will discuss the policy and legal framework under which we take action against terrorist threats, including the use of drones. And he will review our detention policy and efforts to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.”

World Can’t Wait has been pondering hard on what more we can do to create a political situation where Obama has to back down, release at least some of the men at Guantanamo, and be forced into closing the prison.  The use of indefinite detention and targeted killing is an affront to generally recognized precepts of international law.  Usually, the administration answers, as Eric Holder did last year, makes a claim that “we can do whatever we want,” essentially, when “national security” is at stake.

Obama promised to close Guantanamo more than four years ago.  We have been led to expect, over the last four years, that it’s really not that important to him to do so.

But along comes the prisoners’ hunger strike — a dynamic factor neither Obama’s people, nor the millions of us outraged at Guantanamo’s continued existence expected.  Their action could bring a possible change in the administration’s plans to maintain indefinite detention, at least for some of the men in Guantanamo.

A major missing ingredient in this moment, though, has been the collective voices of artists, intellectuals, politicians, religious and cultural figures who are respected and beloved for being voices of conscience, speaking as one to demand that the torture of Guantanamo be ended. It’s time and past time, as more than 100 days of the prisoners’ hunger strike have passed, that we provide a way for them to speak out together, and for that message to be seen.

Dennis Loo of Cal Poly Pomona drafted a message which will run this week as a full page ad in The New York Times  this week which could serve as such a vehicle. Demanding “Close Guantanamo,” it has been  signed by  1100, including John Cusack, Alice Walker, Wallace Shawn, Junot Diaz, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Eve Ensler, Kara Walker, Dave Eggers, Glenn Greenwald, Paul Haggis, Bianca Jagger, Ariel Dorfman, Erica Jong, Michael Moore, Ron Kovic, Tom Morello, Mark Ruffalo, Coco Fusco,  Peter Selz, James Schamus, Carl Dix, Oliver Stone, Cindy Sheehan, and Cornel West, joined by attorneys for the Guantanamo prisoners, law professors, clergy and academics.

The message powerfully challenges us to look at Guantanamo as “part of larger, alarming developments” including the NDAA, targeted killing by executive order, and the prosecution of whistle-blowers, “most flagrantly in the torture, slander and draconian legal charges against Bradley Manning.”

It says, “It is up to people to stand up for principle and morality when their institutions and public officials refuse to do so. The fates of those who are maimed or killed by our government’s policies are inextricably intertwined with our own: we must listen and respond to their cry for justice. We demand the release of the cleared Guantanamo prisoners now, and an end to indefinite detention without charge for the others, before they lose their lives.”

SIGN

DONATE

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Protecting Humanity from US Drones

The April month of protest against US drone warfare and surveillance ended very strongly in Syracuse Sunday with a protest of hundreds of us at Hancock Air Force Base, where drones — unmanned aerial vehicles — are piloted over Pakistan, Afghanistan, and perhaps Yemen, Somalia and other countries.  Picture the starkness of the political clash:

  • On the empire’s side, the richest, strongest, most dangerously armed military in world history.  A worldwide network of perhaps 1,100 bases and hundreds of thousands of troops with the most sophisticated weapons of mass destruction, extending from space; networks of surveillance, secret operations, indefinite detention, with political cover of compliant politicians justifying more and more.  At Hancock, this power was expressed through police forces arrayed around us, photographing from every angle, threatening arrest and prison terms for stepping over an arbitrary line on the street.
  • On the side of humanity, in opposition to the war OF terror, a few hundred people, many with white hair, deploying the means of song, speech, costumes, music, symbolism, and appealing for justice, at pains to recycle and not harm the grass. The protesters carried the names and photographs of people actually killed by the drones, reading their names aloud, and symbolically dying on the street. Their weapons, the truth that the war on terror is illegitimately destroying whole countries and people.

The serious and dignified march of people wearing black, carrying mock coffins representing the countries attacked by the U.S. was staged to dramatize the gap between what the U.S. promises — “democracy” — and what it delivers: domination and destruction.  As a press release from the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and Stop the Wars said:

People who participated in the demonstration, including some who were arrested, came from all over the country to raise an outcry against the proliferation of drone strikes abroad, including countries with whom the US is not at war. Drone use violates the US Constitution, Article 6, and International Law, which the U.S. has signed on to. Demonstrators also object to the militarization of the police and the growing domestic use of drones.

For crossing the arbitrary police line in the street by the base, 31 people were arrested and charged mostly with Obstructing Government Administration, a Class A misdemeanor often used against protesters, which carries 12 months in jail, and with Disorderly Conduct, another catch-all anti-protest charge.  Almost all were given bail, up to $3500, and forced to sign “order of protection” which disallows them from returning to the base.  Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, shared the content of the order that protesters:

“refrain from assault, stalking, harassment, aggravated harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, forcible touching, intimidation, threats or any criminal offense or interference with the victim or victims of, or designated witnesses to, the alleged offense and such members of the family or household of such victim(s) or witness(es) as shall be specifically named Greg Semmel.”

Greg Semmel is commander of Hancock AFB.

AS IF the Air Force needs the same type of protection from peaceful political protest that a battered woman needs from her abuser(!)

What does the US military and the government fear from political protest at the gates of the base, such that people engaged in non-violent speech and actions would be banned from being on the street near it?  Likely, they fear that thousands will come with the same message.  But nothing they do can make the US war on terror, with its drones and concentration camps, legitimate, just, or moral.

One way to support the protest is to contribute to the bail fund from wherever you are:

 The thirty-one arrestees were arraigned in De Witt Town Court before Judges Benack, Gideon, and Jokl, who imposed bails ranging from $500 – $3500, totaling $34,000. Some of the defendants were released with appearance tickets   Others are refusing to post bail and will be held in jail until the next court date of May 7th & 8th. Donations may be sent to the Syracuse Peace Council, with checks made out to Syracuse Peace Council, note: Upstate Drone Action Bail Fund.  2013 E. Genessee St., Syracuse, NY 13210.

 

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Being GTMO Prisoners for a Moment

Saturday was the first time it felt like spring in NYC, and crowds of people filled Union Square Park watching jugglers and musicians, and just hanging out.  It was so heartbreakingly pleasant, one felt bad bearing the news to tourists that out of many things wrong in this class-divided world, we were about to challenge them to take notice of one very important thing.

Union Square Park, New York City March 30, 2013, marking 51 days of hunger strike by Guantanamo prisoners.

Union Square Park, New York City March 30, 2013, marking 51 days of hunger strike by Guantanamo prisoners.  Photo: Witness Against Torture

Ten of us put on orange jumpsuits to mark the 51st day of the potentially deadly hunger strike by men imprisoned by the U.S. at Guantanamo.  Witness Against Torture activists have been fasting for a week in solidarity; this was a public way and place to end the fast, and have visual impact.  Often I am doing public relations at events like this.  Today I wanted to experience the time under the hood, and be able to listen for peoples’ comments.

90% of those seeing us walked on by.  Hundreds took flyers.  Many took photos, though oddly, most didn’t really stop to find out much.  Several said “thank you” to those of us in jumpsuits.  Comments ran from “they should burn that place down with everyone in it,” to “they should free all those guys, and then burn it down!”  A few people ranted that “they” were all terrorists.  One said, “the prisoners are lucky; they could of all just been shot.”  Some people were just confused, saying Obama had closed down the prison.  Memorably, one hipster told another, “I think they’re monks, protesting Easter.”

One of the people flyering commented that all the Black people who stopped for a flyer “got it,” recognized what the problem is, and expressed compassion.  A people who has suffered oppression is maybe most able to empathize, notwithstanding that the current President and Attorney General are responsible for no prisoners leaving Guantanamo in the last 18 months alive.

At this point, so far into the fast, we hear men are suffering terribly, possibly being deprived of water they see as safe to drink, some force-fed and some hospitalized.  Clive Stafford-Smith, attorney for Shaker Amer, tweeted “90mins on phone with Shaker Aamer today; 130 detainees on hunger strike; situation in #Gitmo as dire as General ‘Miller Time’” referencing Geoffrey Miller, who ran Guantanamo in 2004, and then went to Abu Ghraib, running torture at both.

How do we close Guantanamo and save the lives of the prisoners?  Without the men taking this action, the White House would not have been finally forced to acknowledge the hunger strike, and major media would not be now covering Guantanamo.  Their action is decisive, and desperate, as their attorneys report.  There is no way out of Guantanamo now, absent a mass demand that it be finally closed and the prisoners charged and tried, or released, as most of them have been already cleared for.

But our action is decisive also.  Find out what you can do where you are.

Connect with others through Facebook.

Support World Can’t Wait’s work to make Guantanamo visible in the U.S.  Materials (flyers, signs); websites, travel cost $$.  Our work is 100% supported by direct donations from individuals.  Donate now.

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The Price for Protesting War at U.S. Military Academy

Richie Marini, Alison Beth Levy, Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux, Gideon Oliver and Tarak Kauff after sentencing for 2009 anti-war protest

Richie Marini, Alison Beth Levy, Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux, Gideon Oliver and Tarak Kauff after sentencing for 2009 anti-war protest

Six anti-war activists and leaders, aged 30 through 75 were sentenced on March 19 to eight hours “community service,” and $125 court costs for a disorderly conduct conviction arising from a protest 300 people made December 1, 2009, when Obama announced, inside the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a huge expansion of US troops to Afghanistan.

Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux, Tarak Kauff, Alison Beth Levy, and Richie Marini agreed to serve the time, washing Highland Falls, NY, ambulances and police cars, and pay the fee.  Beverly Rice asked that she be able to send funds instead to the National Lawyers Guild, and when that was denied, she took jail time, on the basis of conscience.  Her sentence was ten days at the Orange County jail, where she was taken immediately.  The sheriff says Bev, 75, will be released early.

The case had gone on for more than 3 years.  After one of two disorderly conduct convictions was overturned on a pro se appeal, a new judge delayed sentencing because court records were “lost” in Hurricane Irene.  He then forced the defendants to appear two more times with an attorney before sentencing.  The courtroom in Highland Falls was packed with mostly young people charged with traffic and other violations, at least one in an Army uniform.  Everyone listened quietly as most of the defendants made pre-sentence statements to the judge.

Elaine Brower said she had been outside the gate at West Point to “petition my government” to stop the war.  “My son did ten years in the Marine Corps, two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.  He has done horrible things” as part of the U.S. war on those countries. She said “I am seeing that injustice in the eyes of my son who is emotionally wounded.”

Elaine went on to say that “we have no recourse” to get the government’s attention except our legally permitted right to assemble.  “They keep sending young men and women to kill.  We protested at West Point when Bush was president, and we had to be there when Obama expanded the war on Afghanistan.  And we’ll be here when the next president invades a sovereign nation.  Humanity and the planet come first.  Crimes are crimes, no matter who does them.”

Richie Marini’s statement included:

The United States has an incredibly violent history as we stand here today on land acquired through Genocidal means and can claim title to the only country to ever use an atomic weapon of mass destruction against another. The United States government continues down this trajectory of violence today with it’s use of torture, extraordinary rendition and drones that murder innocent civilians every day. It commits these violent acts to sustain itself by creating new markets, obtaining resources and enslaving people into it’s system in order to prevent itself from collapsing at the expense of innocent lives abroad…

Despite the penalties imposed upon me here today I will continue to work effortlessly to organize the citizens of Highland Falls and elsewhere to put stop the crimes of this government. As an Humanitarian, this is the greatest service that I can do for the citizens of Highland Falls, the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere… Read more

Beverly Rice being transported to jail, 3+ years after anti-war protest at West Point

Beverly Rice being transported to jail, 3+ years after anti-war protest at West Point

Bev Rice said she would not apologize for the protest:

A total of 2177 American soldiers have been killed during the eleven years we have been fighting in Afghanistan.

1230 have been killed since we were arrested three years ago? How many more have been wounded? How many more have been sent home suffering emotional and mental illnesses? Consider, 22 veterans commit suicide each day! Consider also the sorrowful loss for the family and friends of our dead and wounded soldiers. I consider these each and every day.

I am proud to have been involved in the protest, and to have participated in the defense of the West Point Six.  We need more people willing to speak the truth, and put themselves on the line to stop the crimes of our government.

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The “American” War Isn’t Over for the Iraqi People

Iraqi school destroyedYes, I know it wasn’t all of the  countries of the Americas which made war on Iraq.  It was the United States of America, as Barack Obama is so fond of saying, dragging along with it the coalition of the bribed and coerced.  Just as it was for the Vietnamese people an American war, while we called it the Vietnam War, this one is known in Iraq as the American War.  We have to accept that.

It was the U.S. government that heaped crippling economic sanctions, and lots of missile strikes, on Iraq, through the 90′s, leading to the deaths of an estimated 500,000 children.  Using the 9/11 attack as an opportunity, George W. Bush, “Dick” Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the rest of the regime concocted their “yellow-cake uranium” and “secular Saddam Hussein befriending al Qaeda” stories, with the aim of rolling through Iraq toward Iran, strengthening U.S. control of the strategic Middle East.

The 2003 war, says Larry Everest, author of Oil Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda

was not waged to eliminate “terrorism,” destroy weapons of mass destruction, or liberate the Iraqi people.  Instead, it was an unjust war of aggression, conquest and greater empire.

We know this, but sometimes we forget that this war destroyed the infrastructure, cultural history and morale of an advanced, literate society with a long history, in the name of removing a despotic ruler the U.S. at one time supported heavily.

The American war on Iraq was our war to stop — had people living in this country responded as we should have, with sustained protest, making the prosecution of the war, and the legitimacy of the Bush regime itself, a fundamental question for tens of millions. Indeed, the mass protests denied Bush the coalition he wanted, and weakened the U.S. efforts globally so much that the war went very badly for the U.S. But at what a price for the people of Iraq!

Michael Otterman’s book Erasing Iraq: The Human Cost of Carnage, written with Robert Hill and Paul Wilson, is one of the few to look at what the U.S. did to Iraq. Otterman was interviewed in the Washington Report on the Middle East Affairs:

A study published in October 2006 by the prestigious medical journal Lancet provides the most reliable estimate to date. Their methodology, Otterman explained, “was the same the U.S. government uses to count the dead in conflict areas, including Kosovo.” The study’s findings were that approximately 655,000 excess Iraqi deaths had occurred, including both militants and civilians.

But much violence has occurred since then, Otterman noted, and by extrapolating the data through to the present, a rough estimate of one million deaths can be made.

Injured Iraqi children“When you combine this figure with the more than five million displaced since 2003,” he said, “you begin to get a sense of the deep, permanent level of destruction the United States has unleashed.”

Describing the level of trauma as “truly incalculable,” Otterman asked: “How do you quantify this human toll? The answer: Simply by reading and accessing the narratives of Iraqis that have lived through this very real sociocide. In Erasing Iraq, we quote dozens of refugees in Syria, Jordan, and Sweden, plus a slew of Iraqi bloggers who lived through the carnage in real time. These narratives exist in sharp contrast to the bland, misleading, or propagandistic accounts of war featured heavily in the mainstream news outlets. Only by engaging directly with Iraqi narratives can outsiders get a true sense of the human costs of war in Iraq.

See The Fallujah Project, which writes:

The U.S. occupation has had horrible effects on the Iraqi population, but Fallujah has suffered more than any other Iraqi city. Fallujah is to the Occupation of Iraq, what My Lai was to the Vietnam War, and what Hiroshima and Nagasaki were to World War II.

In the video below, which World Can’t Wait posted to YouTube in 2006, and which has been viewed more than 700,000 times since then, a scene much like that captured in the notorious Collateral Murder is seen from the gunsights of a US F-16, as a crowd of people in Fallujah is gunned down:

As we mark 10 years since the “shock and awe” beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a massive assemblage of war crimes carried out in our name, let’s fully look at what was done.

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