Archive for the ‘Anti-War’ Category

Where Is Raed Now?

May 29, 2008

Where Is Raed Now?
Meet the Iraqi exile (and former Salam Pax blogger) who could foil Bush’s plans for permanent bases near Baghdad.” />

Jonathan Schwarz” />
May 01″ /> , 2008″ />
In 1998, 20-year-old Raed Jarrar watched from the roof of his family’s home in Baghdad as American Tomahawk cruise missiles struck government buildings close by, blowing out the windows and sending him scrambling for cover. Five years later, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, coalition planes targeted the same buildings, as well as the nearby airport and Saddam Hussein’s palace, killing and wounding dozens of people from Jarrar’s middle-class neighborhood.

This year, Jarrar quietly celebrated his 30th birthday outside Pasadena at a retreat he was attending for his job as a consultant for the American Friends Service Committee. He now lives in Washington, D.C., a short metro ride away from the White House, the Pentagon, and the various think tanks where his country’s future has been decided for much of his life. Yet Jarrar’s become something the war’s planners did not anticipate: an Iraqi who’s thwarted their efforts by using the tools of American democracy. Through a peculiar roll of history’s dice, the young exile has helped throw a monkey wrench in the Bush administration’s attempts to lay the groundwork for a permanent American presence in Iraq. “I’m just another small example of how Iraqis would rather end the occupation through talking to U.S. legislators and the public,” Jarrar explains.

Jarrar was born in Baghdad, the son of a Shiite mother and a Sunni father, and the oldest of three boys. He attended the University of Baghdad and began graduate school in Amman, Jordan, where he studied architecture, focusing on postwar reconstruction. As the world’s eyes turned to Iraq in late 2002, a friend and fellow architect who went by the nickname “Salam Pax” started an English-language blog. Because he often had trouble reaching Jarrar, he named it “Where Is Raed?” Jarrar started blogging there as well, and to the friends’ surprise, their musings on stockpiling food and the gyrating value of the dinar were read by people all over the world looking for a glimpse of the final days of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

After the American invasion, Jarrar started an ngo named Emaar (“Reconstruction”) to support Iraqis trying to rebuild their neighborhoods. His blog posts began to reflect his growing anger at the occupation. “American foreign policy is putting people like me in a very weak position,” he wrote in March 2004. “In extreme circumstances, extreme ideologies rule and dominate. And I am, unfortunately, not an extremist.”

While traveling in southern Iraq, Jarrar was kidnapped by a militia; he was released unharmed after a few hours. With normal life in Iraq becoming “impossible,” he decided to return to Jordan to complete his master’s degree. In Amman, he met and became engaged to an Iranian American woman. In September 2005, Jarrar arrived in the United States and made plans to become a permanent resident.

That summer, George W. Bush had assured Iraqis and Americans that the United States would stay in Iraq “as long as we are needed, and not a day longer.” But Jarrar—like many Iraqis—suspected that the administration had other ideas. After witnessing Iraq’s descent into violence, he became convinced that the only solution was for the United States to leave as soon as possible. “Only a complete U.S. withdrawal that leaves no troops, bases, or private contractors behind would create the safe space for Iraqis to deal with their problems and heal their wounds,” he says. “Iraqis will never be capable of starting the process of reconciliation and reconstruction with a foreign occupation taking sides.”

Five years on, American forces remain in Iraq under a United Nations mandate subject to annual renewal by the Security Council. Last June, Iraq’s parliament, asserting its constitutional duty to ratify treaties, passed a law requiring its approval of future extensions of the mandate. But the UN and Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki, under pressure from the United States, have ignored the MPs. Late last year the mandate was renewed until the end of 2008 without parliamentary approval.

In the meantime, the Bush administration has tried to bypass the UN altogether. In late November 2007, Maliki and Bush quietly signed a Declaration of Principles that outlined the United States’ ongoing political and military relationship with Iraq, including its commitment to “defending [Iraq’s] democratic system against internal and external threats.”

In the many countries where its troops are based, the United States maintains Status of Forces Agreements, or sofas, which may be signed by the president without congressional approval. But until now, only treaties, which require Senate ratification, have authorized the use of force by American troops in host countries. No sofa has given American troops the leeway implied in the Declaration of Principles. The administration “does not want this to go to Congress,” explains former assistant secretary of defense Lawrence Korb, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “They’d never get the votes.”

That’s where Jarrar stepped in. He had already spent months trying to get members of Congress to make contact with Iraqi members of parliament who opposed extending the UN mandate. (More than half of Iraqi MPs have called for the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal.) Shortly after the Bush-Maliki agreement was signed, Jarrar was introduced to Caleb Rossiter, an aide to Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight. In Jarrar, Rossiter recognized a unique resource. Just as Arabic-speaking American officials are a rarity in Baghdad, so too are Iraqi anti-war activists in Washington who speak fluent English and can navigate the intricacies of the Iraqi government.

Rossiter took the issue to Delahunt, who has since held more than five hearings on the legality of the Bush administration’s plans for Iraq. Jarrar testified at the first hearing and is now helping Delahunt bring a handful of Iraqi MPs to the States to meet their counterparts and discuss their shared oversight role. As Rossiter explains, “Never underestimate the bonding power of legislators learning they’re both being constitutionally insulted by the same people in the same way.”

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee in February, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates backpedaled on the Declaration of Principles, stating it was “not considered by our government to be a security commitment.” Gates also suggested that any future security agreements with Iraq would be subject to congressional review, although the White House is intent on finalizing its agreement with Maliki before the end of Bush’s term.

Rossiter credits Jarrar for tipping off Congress to a situation that the administration was not eager to publicize. “Without Jarrar, who knows where we’d be,” he says. “He’s been crucial in helping us think through our inquiry into this. What makes him so valuable is he understands the coin of the realm on Capitol Hill is good information. We know from experience that we can count on anything he brings us.” Congressman Delahunt concurs. “Raed’s been simply invaluable,” he says. “There’s so much about Iraq we can miss: the domestic political forces, the diversity of the society. He’s given us outstanding objective analysis on all of it.”

The secret of Jarrar’s success may be that unlike most people walking the halls of Congress, he never wanted to be there in the first place. He’d rather be back in Baghdad, putting his training rebuilding cities to use.

“I still sometimes dream that there will be opportunities after the war, like in Chicago after the great fire,” he says. “But I’m not an architect now. I didn’t have the privilege to decide that. What decided were the bombs that fell on my neighborhood.”

Moles Wanted

May 22, 2008

In preparation for the Republican National Convention, the FBI is soliciting informants to keep tabs on local protest groups

Moles Wanted

By Matt Snyders

They were looking for an informant to show up at

They were looking for an informant to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors.

Paul Carroll was riding his bike when his cell phone vibrated.

Once he arrived home from the Hennepin County Courthouse, where he’d been served a gross misdemeanor for spray-painting the interior of a campus elevator, the lanky, wavy-haired University of Minnesota sophomore flipped open his phone and checked his messages. He was greeted by a voice he recognized immediately. It belonged to U of M Police Sgt. Erik Swanson, the officer to whom Carroll had turned himself in just three weeks earlier. When Carroll called back, Swanson asked him to meet at a coffee shop later that day, going on to assure a wary Carroll that he wasn’t in trouble.

Carroll, who requested that his real name not be used, showed up early and waited anxiously for Swanson’s arrival. Ten minutes later, he says, a casually dressed Swanson showed up, flanked by a woman whom he introduced as FBI Special Agent Maureen E. Mazzola. For the next 20 minutes, Mazzola would do most of the talking.

“She told me that I had the perfect ‘look,’” recalls Carroll. “And that I had the perfect personality—they kept saying I was friendly and personable—for what they were looking for.”

What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant—someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”

Carroll would be compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered.

“I’ll pass,” said Carroll.

For 10 more minutes, Mazzola and Swanson tried to sway him. He remained obstinate.

“Well, if you change your mind, call this number,” said Mazzola, handing him her card with her cell phone number scribbled on the back.

(Mazzola, Swanson, and the FBI did not return numerous calls seeking comment.)

Carroll’s story echoes a familiar theme. During the lead-up the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, the NYPD’s Intelligence Division infiltrated and spied on protest groups across the country, as well as in Canada and Europe. The program’s scope extended to explicitly nonviolent groups, including street theater troupes and church organizations.

There were also two reported instances of police officers, dressed as protestors, purposefully instigating clashes. At the 2004 Republican National Convention, the NYPD orchestrated a fake arrest to incite protestors. When a blond man was “arrested,” nearby protestors began shouting, “Let him go!” The helmeted police proceeded to push back against the crowd with batons and arrested at least two. In a similar instance, during an April 29, 2005, Critical Mass bike ride in New York, video footage captured a “protestor”—in reality an undercover cop—telling his captor, “I’m on the job,” and being subsequently let go.

Minneapolis’s own recent Critical Mass skirmish was allegedly initiated by two unidentified stragglers in hoods—one wearing a handkerchief over his or her face—who “began to make aggressive moves” near the back of the pack. During that humid August 31 evening, officers went on to arrest 19 cyclists while unleashing pepper spray into the faces of bystanders. The hooded duo was never apprehended.

In the scuffle’s wake, conspiracy theories swirled that the unprecedented surveillance—squad cars from multiple agencies and a helicopter hovering overhead—was due to the presence of RNC protesters in the ride. The MPD publicly denied this. But during the trial of cyclist Gus Ganley, MPD Sgt. David Stichter testified that a task force had been created to monitor the August 31 ride and that the department knew that members of an RNC protest group would be along for the ride.

“This is all part of a larger government effort to quell political dissent,” says Jordan Kushner, an attorney who represented Ganley and other Critical Mass arrestees. “The Joint Terrorism Task Force is another example of using the buzzword ‘terrorism’ as a basis to clamp down on people’s freedoms and push forward a more authoritarian government.”

An Appeal to Admiral Fallon on Iran

May 21, 2008

Dear Admiral Fallon,

I have not been able to find out how to reach you directly, so I drafted this letter in the hope it will be brought to your attention.

First, thank you for honoring the oath we commissioned officers take to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. At the same time, you have let it be known that you do not intend to speak, on or off the record, about Iran.

But our oath has no expiration date. While you are acutely aware of the dangers of attacking Iran, you seem to be allowing an inbred reluctance to challenge the commander in chief to trump that oath, and to prevent you from letting the American people know of the catastrophe about to befall us if, as seems likely, our country attacks Iran.

Two years ago I lectured at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. I found it highly disturbing that, when asked about the oath they took upon entering the academy, several of the “Mids” thought it was to the commander in chief.

This brought to my mind the photos of German generals and admirals (as well as top church leaders and jurists) swearing personal oaths to Hitler. Not our tradition, and yet …

I was aghast that only the third Mid I called on got it right – that the oath is to protect and defend the Constitution, not the president.

Attack Iran and Trash the Constitution

No doubt you are very clear that an attack on Iran would be a flagrant violation of our Constitution, which stipulates that treaties ratified by the Senate become the supreme law of the land; that the United Nations Charter – which the Senate ratified on July 28, 1945, by a vote of 89 to 2 – expressly forbids attacks on other countries unless they pose an imminent danger; that there is no provision allowing some other kind of “pre-emptive” or “preventive” attack against a nation that poses no imminent danger; and that Iran poses no such danger to the United States or its allies.

You may be forgiven for thinking: Isn’t 41 years of service enough; isn’t resigning in order to remove myself from a chain of command that threatened to make me a war criminal for attacking Iran; isn’t making my active opposition known by talking to journalists – isn’t all that enough?

With respect, sir, no, that’s not enough.

The stakes here are extremely high and with the integrity you have shown goes still further responsibility. Sadly, the vast majority of your general officer colleagues have, for whatever reason, ducked that responsibility. You are pretty much it.

In their lust for attacking Iran, administration officials will do their best to marginalize you. And, as prominent a person as you are, the corporate media will do the same.

Indeed, there are clear signs the media have been given their marching orders to support attacking Iran.

At CIA I used to analyze the Soviet press, so you will understand when I refer to the Washington Post and the New York Times as the White House’s Pravda and Izvestiya.

Sadly, it is as easy as during the days of the controlled Soviet press to follow the U.S. government’s evolving line with a daily reading. In a word, our newspapers are revving up for war on Iran, and have been for some time.

In some respects the manipulation and suppression of information in the present lead-up to an attack on Iran is even more flagrant and all encompassing than in early 2003 before the invasion of Iraq.

It seems entirely possible that you are unaware of this, precisely because the media have put the wraps on it, so let me adduce a striking example of what is afoot here.

The example has to do with the studied, if disingenuous, effort over recent months to blame all the troubles in southern Iraq on the “malignant” influence of Iran.

But Not for Fiasco

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, told reporters on April 25 that Gen. David Petraeus would be giving a briefing “in the next couple of weeks” that would provide detailed evidence of “just how far Iran is reaching into Iraq to foment instability.”

Petraeus’s staff alerted U.S. media to a major news event in which captured Iranian arms in Karbala would be displayed and then destroyed.

Small problem. When American munitions experts went to Karbala to inspect the alleged cache of Iranian weapons they found nothing that could be credibly linked to Iran.

News to you? That’s because this highly embarrassing episode went virtually unreported in the media – like the proverbial tree falling in the forest with no corporate media to hear it crash.

So Mullen and Petraeus live, uninhibited and unembarrassed, to keep searching for Iranian weapons so the media can then tell a story more supportive to efforts to blacken Iran. A fiasco is only a fiasco if folks know about it.

The suppression of this episode is the most significant aspect, in my view, and a telling indicator of how difficult it is to get honest reporting on these subjects.

Meanwhile, it was announced that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had formed his own Cabinet committee to investigate U.S. claims and attempt to “find tangible information and not information based on speculation.”

Dissing the Intelligence Estimate

Top officials from the president on down have been dismissing the dramatically new conclusion of the National Intelligence Estimate released on Dec. 3, 2007, a judgment concurred in by the 16 intelligence units of our government, that Iran had stopped the weapons-related part of its nuclear program in mid-2003.

Always willing to do his part, the malleable CIA chief, Michael Hayden, on April 30 publicly offered his “personal opinion” that Iran is building a nuclear weapon – the National Intelligence Estimate notwithstanding.

For good measure, Hayden added: “It is my opinion, it is the policy of the Iranian government, approved to the highest level of that government, to facilitate the killing of Americans in Iraq. … Just make sure there’s clarity on that.”

I don’t need to tell you about the Haydens and other smartly saluting generals in Washington.

Let me suggest that you have a serious conversation with Gen. Anthony Zinni, one of your predecessor CENTOM commanders (1997 to 2000).

As you know better than I, this Marine general is also an officer with unusual integrity.  But placed into circumstances virtually identical to those you now face, he could not find his voice.

He missed his chance to interrupt the juggernaut to war in Iraq; you might ask him how he feels about that now, and what he would advise in current circumstances.

Zinni happened to be one of the honorees at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention on Aug. 26, 2002, at which Vice President Dick Cheney delivered the exceedingly alarmist speech, unsupported by our best intelligence, about the nuclear threat and other perils awaiting us at the hands of Saddam Hussein.

That speech not only launched the seven-month public campaign against Iraq leading up to the war, but set the terms of reference for the Oct. 1, 2002 National Intelligence Estimate fabricated – yes, fabricated – to convince Congress to approve war on Iraq.

Gen. Zinni later shared publicly that, as he listened to Cheney, he was shocked to hear a depiction of intelligence that did not square with what he knew. Although Zinni had retired two years earlier, his role as consultant had required him to stay up to date on intelligence relating to the Middle East.

One Sunday morning three and a half years after Cheney’s speech, Zinni told “Meet the Press”: “There was no solid proof that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. … I heard a case being made to go to war.”

Gen. Zinni had as good a chance as anyone to stop an unnecessary war – not a “pre-emptive war,” since there was nothing to pre-empt – and Zinni knew it. No, what he and any likeminded officials could have stopped was a war of aggression, defined at the post-WWII Nuremberg Tribunal as the “supreme international crime.”

Sure, Zinni would have had to stick his neck out. He may have had to speak out alone, since most senior officials, like then-CIA Director George Tenet, lacked courage and integrity.

In his memoir published a year ago, Tenet says Cheney did not follow the usual practice of clearing his Aug. 26, 2002 speech with the CIA; that much of what Cheney said took him completely by surprise; and that Tenet “had the impression that the president wasn’t any more aware of what his number-two was going to say to the VFW until he said it.”

It is a bit difficult to believe that Cheney’s shameless speech took Tenet completely by surprise.

We know from the Downing Street Minutes, vouched for by the UK as authentic, that Tenet told his British counterpart on July 20, 2002, that the president had decided to make war on Iraq for regime change and that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy”

Encore: Iran

Admiral Fallon, you know that to be the case also with respect to the “intelligence” being conjured up to “justify” war with Iran. And no one knows better than you that your departure from the chain of command has turned it over completely to the smartly saluting sycophants.

No doubt you have long since taken the measure, for example, of Defense Secretary Robert Gates. So have I.

I was one of his first branch chiefs when he was a young, disruptively ambitious CIA analyst. When Ronald Reagan’s CIA Director William Casey sought someone to shape CIA analysis to accord with his own conviction that the Soviet Union would never change, Gates leaped at the chance.

After Casey died, Gates admitted to the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus that he (Gates) watched Casey on “issue after issue sit in meetings and present intelligence framed in terms of the policy he wanted pursued.” Gates’ entire subsequent career showed that he learned well at Casey’s knee.

So it should come as no surprise that, despite the unanimous judgment of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran stopped the weapons related aspects of its nuclear program, Gates is now saying that Iran is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.

Some of his earlier statements were more ambiguous, but Gates recently took advantage of the opportunity to bend with the prevailing winds and leave no doubt as to his loyalty.

In an interview on events in the Middle East with a New York Times reporter on April 11, Gates was asked whether he was on the same page as the president. Gates replied, “Same line, same word.”

I imagine you are no more surprised than I. Bottom line: Gates will salute smartly if Cheney persuades the president to let the Air Force and Navy loose on Iran.

You know the probable consequences; you need to let the rest of the American people know.

A Gutsy Precedent

Can you, Admiral Fallon, be completely alone? Can it be that you are the only general officer to resign on principle?

And, of equal importance, is there no other general officer, active or retired, who has taken the risk of speaking out in an attempt to inform Americans about President George W. Bush’s bellicose fixation with Iran. Thankfully, there is.

Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush, took the prestigious job of Chairman, President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board when asked to by the younger Bush.

From that catbird seat, Scowcroft could watch the unfolding of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Over decades dealing with the press, Scowcroft had honed a reputation of quintessential discretion. All the more striking what he decided he had to do.

In an interview with London’s Financial Times in mid-October 2004 Scowcroft was harshly critical of the president, charging that Bush had been “mesmerized” by then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

“Sharon just has him wrapped around his little finger,” Scowcroft said. “He has been nothing but trouble.”

Needless to say, Scowcroft was given his walking papers and told never to darken the White House doorstep again.

There is ample evidence that Sharon’s successors believe they have a commitment from President Bush to “take care of Iran” before he leaves office, and that the president has done nothing to disabuse them of that notion – no matter the consequences.

On May 18, speaking at the World Economic Forum at Sharm el Sheikh, Bush threw in a gratuitous reference to “Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.” He said:

“To allow the world’s leading sponsor of terror to gain the world’s deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

Pre-briefing the press, Bush’s national security adviser Stephen Hadley identified Iran as one of the dominant themes of the trip, adding repeatedly that Iran “is very much behind” all the woes afflicting the Middle East, from Lebanon to Gaza to Iraq to Afghanistan.

The Rhetoric is Ripening

In the coming weeks, at least until U.S. forces can find some real Iranian weapons in Iraq, the rhetoric is likely to focus on what I call the Big Lie – the claim that Iran’s president has threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.”

In that controversial speech in 2005, Ahmadinejad was actually quoting from something the Ayatollah Khomeini had said in the early 1980s. Khomeini was expressing a hope that a regime treating the Palestinians so unjustly would be replaced by another more equitable one.

A distinction without a difference? I think not. Words matter.

As you may already know (but the American people don’t), the literal translation from Farsi of what Ahmadinejad said is, “The regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the pages of time.”

Contrary to what the administration would have us all believe, the Iranian president was not threatening to nuke Israel, push it into the sea, or wipe it off the map.

President Bush is way out in front on this issue, and this comes through with particular clarity when he ad-libs answers to questions.

On Oct. 17, 2007, long after he had been briefed on the key intelligence finding that Iran had stopped the nuclear weapons-related part of its nuclear development program, the president spoke as though, well, “mesmerized.” He said:

“But this – we got a leader in Iran who has announced he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems you ought to be interested in preventing them from have (sic) the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously.”

Some contend that Bush does not really believe his rhetoric. I rather think he does, for the Israelis seem to have his good ear, with the tin one aimed at U.S. intelligence he has repeatedly disparaged.

But, frankly, which would be worse: that Bush believes Iran to be an existential threat to Israel and thus requires U.S. military action? Or that it’s just rhetoric to “justify” U.S. action to “take care of” Iran for Israel?

What you can do, Admiral Fallon, is speak authoritatively about what is likely to happen – to U.S. forces in Iraq, for example – if Bush orders your successors to begin bombing and missile attacks on Iran.

And you could readily update Scowcroft’s remarks, by drawing on what you observed of the Keystone Cops efforts of White House ideologues, like Iran-Contra convict Elliot Abrams, to overturn by force the ascendancy of Hamas in 2006-07 and Hezbollah more recently. (Abrams pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of misleading Congress, but was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush on Dec. 24, 1992.)

It is easy to understand why no professional military officer would wish to be in the position of taking orders originating from the likes of Abrams.

If you weigh in as your (non-expiring) oath to protect and defend the Constitution dictates, you might conceivably prompt other sober heads to speak out.

And, in the end, if profound ignorance and ideology – supported by the corporate press and by both political parties intimidated by the Israel lobby – lead to an attack on Iran, and the Iranians enter southern Iraq and take thousands of our troops hostage, you will be able to look in the mirror and say at least you tried.

You will not have to live with the remorse of not knowing what might have been, had you been able to shake your reluctance to speak out.

There is a large Tar Baby out there – Iran. You may remember that as Brer Rabbit got more and more stuck, Brer Fox, he lay low.

A “Fox” Fallon, still pledged to defend the Constitution of the United States, cannot lie low—not now.

Lead.

Respectfully,

Ray McGovern; Steering Group; Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Ray McGovern, a veteran Army intelligence officer and then CIA analyst for 27 years, now works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.

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Iraq war is a betrayal of American democracy By Matt Howard (IVAW)

November 16, 2007

Iraq war is a betrayal of American democracy By Matt Howard (IVAW)

Dandelion Salad

By Matt Howard
ICH
11/14/07 “Rutland Herald

Editor’s note: Matt Howard gave this statement at a recent protest at the Statehouse.

In 2003 I illegally invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq with 1st Tank battalion 1st Marine Division. My commander in chief unleashed the world’s fiercest fighting force upon the country and people of Iraq, and now those of us used and betrayed by him are demanding justice.

Four and a half years after our opening “shock and awe” Bush’s lies are known throughout the world, and yet he continues to act with impunity. Four and a half years later the Bush regime has unleashed a hell upon the country of Iraq that only those who have been there can truly understand.

As a two-tour combat veteran of this brutal war, I have a responsibility to speak honestly and openly about what has been done and what continues to be done in our name. We veterans know that this war is not the one being sanitized on the nightly news. It has nothing to do with the liberation of the people of Iraq; instead it has everything to do with the subjugation and domination of these people in the name of U.S. imperial economic and strategic interests.

We did not go to war with the country of Iraq, we went to war with the people of Iraq. During the initial invasion we killed women. We killed children. We senselessly killed farm animals. We were the United States Marine Corps, not the Peace Corps, and we left a swath of death and destruction in our wake all the way to Baghdad.

Let me say again so that there is no misunderstanding. I stand here today as a former U.S. Marine saying we are killing women and children in Iraq. This is the true nature of war. War lends itself to atrocities. Don’t think you can use an organization designed to kill other human beings for anything humanitarian. That has never been our mission. That was crystal clear from the moment I was forced to bury the crate of humanitarian food given to me in Kuwait.

Four and a half years later we as soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are done. We are done being told under threat of court martial to run over children that get in the way of our speeding convoys.

We are done raiding and destroying the homes of innocent Iraqis on a nightly basis.

We are done abusing and torturing prisoners.

We are done being hired thugs for the 160,000 contractors and U.S. corporate interests in Iraq.

We are done being poisoned by depleted uranium, the unspoken Agent Orange of this war.

We are done coming home broken, from two, three, four tours of duty – only to find our commander in chief has actually tried to CUT funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs. To find our doctors being told to diagnose us with pre-existing personality disorders instead of post traumatic stress syndrome.

We are done killing for lies.

So Iraq Veterans Against the War is taking back our history – the history that has been robbed from us. We are dispelling the myth that the Vietnam war ended when the Democrats started voting against it. Instead we are spreading the truth about how the American War in Vietnam ended.

The Vietnam War ended when soldiers put down their weapons and refused to fight; when pilots dropped their bombs in the ocean.

We are re-educating the public to let them know that the power ultimately lies with the people. Just take a look at the thousands of pages of internal documents from the Department of Defense explicitly detailing how at the end of the Vietnam war the military had collapsed. It was literally in a state of mutiny. And that movement is slowly starting again. Because ultimately in every war waged throughout human history, those forced to fight quickly realize they have much more in common with those they are being told to kill than with those telling them to do the killing.

And we are re-educating the public about the true nature of sectarian violence. No, the middle east is NOT inherently violent. In fact, in the 1,400-year schism between Sunnis and Shias – there has NEVER been a civil war fought. They have always lived in the same neighborhoods and even intermarried. The United States has caused this civil war using the classic colonial techniques of divide and conquer.

George Bush is a war criminal who has violated international law, the Geneva convention and the Nuremberg standards and needs to tried accordingly for crimes against humanity.

I ask every red-blooded American today: What would you do if your homeland was savagely invaded and occupied by another country? The Iraqis will continue to resist and fight until the last American has left their homeland. Period. End the violence in Iraq? End the occupation.

We veterans are speaking out to stop the violence being perpetrated in our name. When we voted in the Democrats on an anti-war mandate, the Bush regime expanded the war. As we are marching against further occupation, the Bush regime is making threats against Iran.

And we will not continue to be silenced by the mainstream media. Top generals and bottom privates are all speaking in unison now. We know the truth about the slaughter of upwards of one million Iraqis. Why is no one listening? We will not stand by as this regime tricks the country into thinking that if you oppose the war you do not support the troops. We ARE the troops and we have never felt support from this administration. Stop mindlessly supporting the troops. Start demanding that we come home – and maybe think about apologizing to us when we get back.

Matt Howard attained the rank of corporal in the United States Marine Corps. He is head of the Vermont chapter for Iraq Veterans Against the War.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Big Win for Watada: A Study in Courage and Honor By Bill Simpich

November 15, 2007

Big Win for Watada: A Study in Courage and Honor By Bill Simpich

By Bill Simpich
t r u t h o u t
Sunday 11 November 2007

On Thursday, November 8, Hon. Benjamin Settle, a federal court judge, issued a preliminary injunction halting any further court-martial proceedings of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada and effectively ruling against the Army on virtually every issue in the case. This injunction not only extends the stay until the conclusion of the habeas corpus proceedings, but also addresses the specific request for relief from further legal proceedings, stating, “the remedy sought by Petitioner, while rare, is appropriate.” Although the Army issued a press release claiming to “look forward to the opportunity to further explain to the District Court judge the full extent of the protections and safeguards that are afforded to a military accused,” (Seattle Times, 11/9/07), anyone who glances at the court ruling will agree that the Army’s only lingering hope is to appeal this ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Settle wrote “for several reasons … it is likely that [Lt. Watada] will succeed on the merits of his double jeopardy claim” (Order, p. 22; a copy of the order is attached). The court held that the military judge acted “irrationally, irresponsibly, precipitately” (Order, page 31) in failing to consider feasible alternatives to a mistrial, and there was no good reason to stop the proceedings.

This ruling came after the repeated refusal of the military appeals courts to free Lt. Watada of the burden of a second court-martial. Lt. Watada’s attorneys have consistently argued that the military should not be allowed a “do-over.” The military judge halted the first court-martial in the wake of admissions by prosecution witnesses regarding Lt. Watada’s integrity and statements that Lt. Watada’s decision not to deploy was an act of conscience.

Prior to the initial court-martial, Lt. Ehren Watada told the Army that he was willing to accept a six month sentence for his refusal to lead his unit to fight in Iraq, explaining that he could not violate the oath he took as an officer to defend his country “against all enemies, foreign and domestic”, and that to fight in Iraq would constitute a war crime.

The Army responded by trying to make an example of Lt. Watada by demanding a six-year sentence. They took away his defenses, one by one. They continued to add extra charges.

Finally, on the day of trial, as I watched the proceedings in the company of soldiers, media, and other civilians, the military judge Lt. Col. John Head took away Lt. Watada’s final expert witness, eliminating critical testimony on military law and tradition and making a fair trial for the lieutenant virtually impossible. To make matters worse, Judge Head allowed the government to call a rebuttal witness, Professor Richard Swain, even though there was no longer any expert witness to rebut.

This was to prove to be the Army’s undoing. After Lt. Watada’s superior officers gave unexpectedly favorable evidence on the lieutenant’s integrity, Professor Swain testified that if officers such as Lt. Watada make the determination that they are being asked to commit war crimes “they have to be right. If they’re not right, they have to expect to be held accountable.”

Following the testimony of Professor Swain, the prosecutor, Capt. Van Sweringen, was overheard to have said to one of his aides in the courtroom that “Dr. Swain was a disaster.”

The prosecution rested its case at the end of the day on February 6. The stage was set on the following morning for Lt. Watada to take control of the proceedings with a dramatic account of why he reasonably believed that the Iraq War was illegal. It was clear to everyone in the courtroom that the defense had made its essential points during the presentation of the government’s case, and that Lt. Watada was going to command the attention of the gathered mass media.

Lt. Watada’s attorney then provided a proposed jury instruction to Judge Head offering this argument: that it was reasonable to believe that the Iraq War was illegal. It was apparent the judge did not want Lt. Watada to use this trial as his pulpit. He took a prolonged recess, while courtroom observers tapped their feet.

Upon his return, Judge Head seized on this proposed jury instruction and argued that there was confusion about a pretrial agreement that governed the evidence to be used at trial, claiming that Lt. Watada had the mistaken impression that he had the defense of “reasonable belief that the war was illegal” as he had “confessed” to his guilt! Judge Head concluded that due to this supposed confusion, the trial had to stop.

In my view, Judge Head’s order was not only nonsense, but intentionally designed to prevent Lt. Watada from challenging the Iraq War to the mass media in a dramatic fashion. It was identical to the treatment that Fathers Phil and Dan Berrigan and their allies have received in American courts for the last forty years in their challenges to American military policy by committing minor property offenses by symbolically “beating swords into plowshares.” In politically sensitive cases, judges go to great lengths to prevent criminal defendants from explaining why they resisted unlawful government acts.

Judge Settle’s order scolds Judge Head like a schoolboy in disgrace. The order carefully illustrates that no one was confused about the pretrial agreement. The record reflects that the government and the defense agreed on that point. Nor did Lt. Watada ever “confess” his supposed guilt. To drive the point home, the order adds that even confusion or confession would not have been grounds to stop the trial. The order goes on to emphasize that there was no manifest necessity to stop the trial, and that Judge Head never weighed any feasible alternatives.

The Army made an example of Lt. Watada. The lieutenant is feared by Judge Head and the Army prosecutors. He portrays the courage it takes to honor one’s oath to defend the Constitution.


Bill Simpich is a civil rights attorney based in San Francisco.h/t: Antiwar.com

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Why I fight and why we all must.

October 9, 2007

http://www.americablog.com/2007/10/why-i-fight-and-why-we-all-must.html

Why I fight and why we all must.
by John Bruhns (DC) · 10/07/2007 11:39:00 AM ET
Discuss this post here: Comments (230) · digg it · reddit · FARK · · Link

(Bumped — This is a MUST read from John Bruhns)

As the war drums were beating for Iraq I knew something was wrong. I was paying attention to President Bush as he continually accused Saddam Hussein of possessing weapons of mass destruction and being linked to terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda. Yet, there was no solid proof that any of Bush’s accusations had any validity to them. I guess if you repeat the same lies over and over again they begin to sound true. How else could Bush have tricked the nation into an unjust and unnecessary war in Iraq?

At the time I was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. It seemed as if the moment I arrived there in June 2002 the only message being sent from the top down was to be ready for war with Iraq. We trained vigorously that summer for war. And in January 2003 my unit deployed to Fort Irwin, California for a month long desert warfare training exercise. Immediately upon returning from Fort Irwin my unit received orders to deploy to Kuwait for the military buildup to topple Saddam Hussein and his government in Iraq.

We scrambled to get our gear and equipment ready for what would be the inevitable war with Iraq. It took a couple weeks to prepare, get medically screened, and write out our wills. Then we were put on standby to deploy at a moments notice.

There was a mixed sentiment among the troops I had served with at the time. For some troops Bush’s word was enough for them to go to Iraq to fight and die for what they believed was necessary for our country. There were some who didn’t pay attention to the politics. They felt that they were soldiers who had no other option but to go to war and take their chances. In a sense, that is what good soldiers do. I felt alone for the most part because I kept paying attention to what Bush was saying and what the UN weapons inspectors were reporting. To me it just wasn’t adding up.

But before I could blink my eyes I was on the border of Kuwait and Iraq ready to invade on day one. It wasn’t long before we received our attack orders and pushed into Iraq.

It was a rough ride to Baghdad. Right from the start 150,000 troops were cluttered and stacked upon each other with our vehicles breaking down due to the harsh terrain of the southern Iraqi desert. We were in the middle of nowhere and out in the open. If there were ever a time for Saddam to use his weapons of mass destruction it would have been the perfect opportunity for him. We were in the perfect location for him to attack us — out in the open desert with no other population. He could have launched the alleged stockpile of WMD directly upon the US military and killed no one but our troops. If Bush really was convinced that Saddam had such a massive WMD arsenal why would he place us in the most vulnerable position for him to use them on us? Probably because Bush knew they did not exist otherwise he never would have allowed such a stupid battle plan to take place.

We pushed into Baghdad facing heavy resistance from the primarily Shiite populated cities in southern Iraq. It was strange being that the Shiites were Saddam’s enemies who he had oppressed for decades. To me it was clear that they hated us more than Saddam because we were invaders from the west. Saddam might have been a horrible man, but we were worse in their eyes. It was frightening to realize that the people who Saddam murdered by the thousands actually preferred him to us.

My stay in Baghdad was not much different. It was very confusing because the enemy was so unidentifiable. We didn’t know who we were fighting, and that made it extremely difficult to distinguish between the civilian population and the insurgents. As time goes on you stop distinguishing between the two. My perception was that we were fighting the Iraqi people who resented our presence in their country — not Al-Qaeda as George Bush kept drilling into the minds of the American people.

We were attacked almost on a daily basis by rocket propelled grenades, AK-47 assault rifles, improvised explosive devices, and mortars. This kind of violent activity led to thousands of pre-dawn raids on Iraqi homes. And when you kick in the door you enter the homes as if you are going after Bin Laden himself. In a sense we started to treat the Iraqi people as if they are all terrorists causing them to resent us even more. In the following days of each raid violent activity would double and for some reason no one could understand why.

I participated in the training of the Iraqi Security Forces. Their training cycle was one week long and it was extremely insufficient. There was no trust factor between us and them. During their weapons qualification I can recall being told by my range NCO to stand directly behind the Iraqi soldier just in case he tried to turn the weapon on us. My instructions were to “jump him and kill him.” When the training cycle was over we incorporated them into our units to accompany us on missions in order to train them. Prior to the missions we never told them where we were going because we were positive that the insurgency had infiltrated the Iraqi Security Forces. If they knew where the mission would take place they could tip off the larger insurgency element and set us up for an ambush. Almost all of them covered their faces out of fear or shame of being seen with American troops in their communities. As a rifle team leader leading a team of Iraqis wearing hoods and carrying AK-47 assault rifles down a narrow alley in Baghdad it is needless to say that my anxiety level was through the roof.

Before I left Iraq I made a promise to myself that I would do everything in my power to stop this war if I was lucky enough to make it home.

Upon honorable discharge from the US Army in February 2005 I relocated to the Washington, DC area. I immediately became a vocal critic of the war and traveled the halls of Congress going door to door hoping to share my experiences with those who empowered Bush to send us to war. For a few months it fell on deaf ears, but after a while some members of Congress began to listen.

From there on I spoke at rallies, demonstrations, town hall meetings, and on behalf of anti Iraq war candidates running for office. I joined the Democratic leadership in promoting legislation that called for an end to the war.

It’s been years now and sometimes I feel out of breath and tired from screaming at the top of my lungs for end to this madness in Iraq. But we are still there and it appears that there is really no end in sight.

Even General Patraeus can’t say that we are safer because of the war in Iraq. During our troop surge the Iraqi government fell apart. We have granted amnesty to Sunni militias in Anbar with American blood on their hands, and we are now arming and financing them out of desperation to stop the violence. We are doing the same for Shiite militias loyal to Al Sadr who is a mass murderer of US troops. The Iraqi government, police force, and security forces are rampant with corruption. Is this the Iraq that our troops were sent off to die for? If Bush cared the slightest bit I would love to ask him that question.

Now it has been suggested by General Petraeus that the surge has been such a success that we can bring home 30,000 troops by this summer. Really? That would mean that if there were any gains made by the surge they will evaporate almost immediately into thin air. We will be right back were we started with fewer troops in an extremely hostile environment — The Rumsfeld Doctrine. What then? Do we have another surge? Is that possible with a broken military? OF COURSE NOT.

Bush and his loyalists in Congress won’t even allow our troops to rest after mulitple deployments that go above and beyond the call of duty.

During the last Democratic presidential debate the front runners for the nomination could not even guarantee that our troops would be home by the end of their first term in 2013. For me that is just tragic to hear.

The American people want an end to this war so badly. If the politicians will not listen it is our duty as Americans to make them listen. We owe it to our country and our troops to ensure that our members of Congress no longer allow themselves to be bullied by a coward like George W. Bush. If Bush vetoes legislation for our troops and an end to the war Congress must shove it right back in his face. We must act now while there is still a chance to make Congress do their job as a co-equal branch of government and start bringing this war to an end. They need to be equally as defiant as Bush has been for the last 7 years and fight fire with fire when it comes to this President. After all, that is what we elected them to do.

I will fight for an end to this war with my last breath. We all must.

John Bruhns
Iraq Veteran

Preventing a Rogue President from Committing a War Crime

September 19, 2007

Preventing a Rogue President from Committing a War Crime: Open Letter to the New Generation of Military Officers by Lt. Col. Robert M. Bowman

by Lt. Col. Robert M. Bowman
Global Research, September 13, 2007
thepatriots.us/

Should some civilian order you to initiate a nuclear attack on Iran, you are duty-bound to refuse that order

“I contend that should some civilian order you to initiate a nuclear attack on Iran (for example), you are duty-bound to refuse that order. I might also suggest that you should consider whether the circumstances demand that you arrest whoever gave the order as a war criminal.” (Dr., Lt. Col. Bob Bowman)


Duty, Honor, Country 2007

An Open Letter to the New Generation of Military Officers Serving and Protecting Our Nation

By Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret., National Commander, The Patriots

Dear Comrades in Arms,

You are facing challenges in 2007 that we of previous generations never dreamed of. I’m just an old fighter pilot (101 combat missions in Vietnam , F-4 Phantom, Phu Cat, 1969-1970) who’s now a disabled veteran with terminal cancer from Agent Orange. Our mailing list (over 22,000) includes veterans from all branches of the service, all political parties, and all parts of the political spectrum. We are Republicans and Democrats, Greens and Libertarians, Constitutionists and Reformers, and a good many Independents. What unites us is our desire for a government that (1) follows the Constitution, (2) honors the truth, and (3) serves the people.

We see our government going down the wrong path, all too often ignoring military advice, and heading us toward great danger. And we look to you who still serve as the best hope for protecting our nation from disaster.

We see the current Iraq War as having been unnecessary, entered into under false pretenses, and horribly mismanaged by the civilian authorities. Thousands of our brave troops have been needlessly sacrificed in a futile attempt at occupation of a hostile land. Many more thousands have suffered wounds which will change their lives forever. Tens of thousands have severe psychological problems because of what they have seen and what they have done. Potentially hundreds of thousands could be poisoned by depleted uranium, with symptoms appearing years later, just as happened to us exposed to Agent Orange. The military services are depleted and demoralized. The VA system is under-funded and overwhelmed. The National Guard and Reserves have been subjected to tour after tour, disrupting lives for even the lucky ones who return intact. Jobs have been lost, marriages have been destroyed, homes have been foreclosed, and children have been estranged. And for what? We have lost allies, made new enemies, and created thousands of new terrorists, further endangering the American people.

But you know all this. I’m sure you also see the enormous danger in a possible attack on Iran , possibly with nuclear weapons. Such an event, seriously contemplated by the Cheney faction of the Bush administration, would make enemies of Russia and China and turn us into the number one rogue nation on earth. The effect on our long-term national security would be devastating.

Some of us had hoped that the new Democratic Congress would end the occupation of Iraq and take firm steps to prevent an attack on Iran , perhaps by impeaching Bush and Cheney. These hopes have been dashed. The lily-livered Democrats have caved in, turning their backs on those few (like Congressman Jack Murtha) who understand the situation. Many of us have personally walked the halls of Congress, to no avail.

This is where you come in.

We know that many of you share our concern and our determination to protect our republic from an arrogant, out-of-control, imperial presidency and a compliant, namby-pamby Congress (both of which are unduly influenced by the oil companies and other big-money interests). We know that you (like us) wouldn’t have pursued a military career unless you were idealistic and devoted to our nation and its people. (None of us do it for the pay and working conditions!) But we also recognize that you may not see how you can influence these events. We in the military have always had a historic subservience to civilian authority.

Perhaps I can help with whatever wisdom I’ve gathered from age (I retired in 1978, so I am ancient indeed).

Our oath of office is to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Might I suggest that this includes a rogue president and vice-president? Certainly we are bound to carry out the legal orders of our superiors. But the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) which binds all of us enshrines the Nuremberg Principles which this country established after World War II (which you are too young to remember). One of those Nuremberg Principles says that we in the military have not only the right, but also the DUTY to refuse an illegal order. It was on this basis that we executed Nazi officers who were “only carrying out their orders.”

The Constitution which we are sworn to uphold says that treaties entered into by the United States are the “highest law of the land,” equivalent to the Constitution itself. Accordingly, we in the military are sworn to uphold treaty law, including the United Nations charter and the Geneva Convention.

Based on the above, I contend that should some civilian order you to initiate a nuclear attack on Iran (for example), you are duty-bound to refuse that order. I might also suggest that you should consider whether the circumstances demand that you arrest whoever gave the order as a war criminal.

I know for a fact that in recent history (once under Nixon and once under Reagan), the military nuclear chain of command in the White House discussed these things and were prepared to refuse an order to “nuke Russia .” In effect they took the (non-existent) “button” out of the hands of the President.. We were thus never quite as close to World War III as many feared, no matter how irrational any president might have become. They determined that the proper response to any such order was, “Why, sir?” Unless there was (in their words) a “damn good answer,” nothing was going to happen.

I suggest that if you in this generation have not had such a discussion, perhaps it is time you do. In hindsight, it’s too bad such a discussion did not take place prior to the preemptive “shock and awe” attack on Baghdad . Many of us at the time spoke out vehemently that such an attack would be an impeachable offense, a war crime against the people of Iraq , and treason against the United States of America . But our voices were drowned out and never reached the ears of the generals in 2003. I now regret that I never sent a letter such as this at that time, but depended on the corporate media to carry my message. I must not make that mistake again.

Also in hindsight, President Bush could be court-martialed for abuse of power as Commander-in-Chief. Vice President Cheney could probably be court-martialed for his performance as Acting Commander-in-Chief in the White House bunker the morning of September 11, 2001 .

We in the U.S. military would never consider a military coup, removing an elected president and installing one of our own. But following our oath of office, obeying the Nuremberg Principles, and preventing a rogue president from committing a war crime is not a military coup. If it requires the detention of executive branch officials, we will not impose a military dictatorship. We will let the Constitutional succession take place. This is what we are sworn to. This is protecting the Constitution, our highest obligation. In 2007, this is what is meant by “Duty, Honor, Country.”

Thank you all for your service to this nation. May God bless America , and sustain us in this difficult time. And thanks for listening to the musings of an old junior officer.

Respectfully,

Robert M. Bowman, PhD, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.

Global Research Articles by Robert M. Bowman

At What Price, Safety?

September 19, 2007

At What Price, Safety?
Cindy Sheehan

I am consistently amazed at things that right-wing nut jobs throw at me to justify their support of an unjustifiable war. Seriously, when you watch Generals, Ambassadors, Senators and Congress Reps and pundits who still cheerlead for a miserable, failed and murderous policy you can almost see the skepticism in their eyes, too. They know they are lying for their masters now, if they, like George and Dick didn’t always know they were lying.

However the measly segment of our population that are still so willingly ill-informed and ignorant of the facts that they are grasping for straws.

At the recent “Support for our Troops” rally that was held by the Republican backed and funded Move America Forward and Gathering of Eagles (who I like to call the “Smattering of Pigeons”) groups last Saturday where they had 1/100th of the numbers of the true “Support the Troops” (and the people of Iraq)rally and march that was sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition, we pro-peace people were even called “Communists” several times. I have asked people what they mean when they call me that so-last century epithet and they say: “Yeah, you hate America.” Well, for all of those who have eyes but refuse to see, and ears but refuse to hear, this is what Communist means:

Someone who supports communism which is a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.

I don’t see how wanting peace and wanting our government to finally quit lying to us and stop killing people to further their hegemonic goals of bringing corporate America to every corner of the globe makes us Communists; maybe Humanists, patriots or great Americans, but Communists, no. Some people in America do belong to the Communist party, which is not against the law, and it is also not against the law to be a Muslim, yet.

One of the more morally reprehensible notes from the supporters of death I receive is the one that goes something like this: “I am for peace, too, but not at the expense of my family.” These people are saying that it is okay to ruin my family and thousands of other families in the US who have been torn apart like the bodies of our loved ones to keep other families “safe.” I have news for these people, as bad as the sacrifices have been for some families in America, the people of Iraq have suffered far more for the deceptions and greed of BushCo. Think about this: America killed over a million Iraqis between Gulf I and this current occupation, and that did not keep my family safe, or the families of the people killed in 9-11. How can one sleep at night thinking that her family is safe when so many people are devastated by the policies that she thinks is keeping her family safe? Never mind the National Intelligence Estimates that have rightly showed that our transgressions in Iraq and such inhumane prison camps as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are increasing Islamic extremism.

What makes Mrs. Safety think that the Iraqi babies are less precious than her babies? Does the geographic accident of her baby’s births give them more right to be safe than the Iraqi babies? Maybe Mrs. Safety thinks that her babies deserve more protection because they are white and Christian? Or just maybe because they are hers?

I spent 24 years of my children’s lives thinking that I was doing everything I could to protect them. I guarded the boundaries of my family like a Doberman. I didn’t let anything bad in those boundaries to hurt my children until 2000 when an Army recruiter broke through my defenses to lie like a son of a bitch to my son who would ultimately be killed so Mrs. Safety’s babies could have the illusion and delusion of safety. Casey and my family paid a dear price for my thinking that my babies and my boundaries are the only ones that were precious and worth protecting. It will only be when we realize that all human life if precious and worthy of protection and know that all of the world’s children belong to all of us that war will stop being used as a tool in Satan’s tool-box of greed and destruction.

Many Muslims and American soldiers have told me that I may have lost a son, but I have gained millions of sons and daughters in my work for global peace and understanding.

They are all our sons and daughters as Casey was your son.

We have to stop giving our leaders free-passes to kill our children, anywhere and everywhere.

Hundreds held in US anti-war march

September 17, 2007

Anti-war protesters carried out a “die-in” rally in front of the US Capitol building [AFP]
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The arrests took place as police used chemical sprays on protesters attempting to climb over barricades outside the Capitol building.

 

Up to 1,000 counter-protesters gathered close by and chanted angrily at the anti-war protesters as they marched to the Capitol.

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Demonstrators had gathered outside the White House before heading toward the US Capitol building.

 

The demonstrations come days after General David Petraeus, the senior US commander in Iraq, testified to the US congress on conditions in Iraq.

 

Viviana Hurtado, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Washington DC, said the anti-war demonstration was attended by people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

 

“One of the differences with this demonstration is that it is being led by Iraqi war veterans,” she said.

 

Veterans protest

 

Phil Aliff, 21, marched as a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

 

Al Jazeera exclusive

Josh Rushing reports on new troop deployments

“I stayed [in Iraq] for a year, in Abu Ghraib and outside Fallujah,” he said.

 

“When we arrived, we were told we were here to bring stabilisation to the country.

 

“But we were not rebuilding anything. The Iraqis had only two hours of electricity. And I saw the atrocities committed by the Americans there.”

 

The arrests came after several dozen protesters carried out a “die-in”, lying on their backs in front of congress in an attempt to draw attention to the rising death toll in Iraq.

 

Many were arrested without a struggle after they jumped over a waist-high barrier.

 

But some grew angry as police with shields and riot gear attempted to push them back and police used chemical spray on at least two people.

‘Trust eroded’

Relatives of soldiers who are serving or had served in Iraq were a key group within the public demonstration.

 

Diane Santoriello held a photograph of her son Neil, who was killed in Iraq in August 2004.

 

US public support for the war is at an all
time low [Reuters]

“I am here to get congress to de-fund the war,” she said.

 

Brian Becker from the Answer (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) coalition, the group organising the anti-war march, said Iraqi civilians wanted US forces out of their country.

 

“The vast majority of the people in the US want the war ended and the troops brought home now,” he said.

 

Speakers at the anti-war demonstration included Cindy Sheehan, an activist whose son was killed while serving in Iraq.

 

US public support for the war is at an all-time low, with 62 per cent of Americans believing that invading Iraq was a mistake, according to a New York Times/CBS poll published last week.

 

Counter-protest

 

Counter-protesters gathered near the anti-war march, frequently chanting “U-S-A” and waving US flags.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert ‘Buzz’ Patterson, speaking from a stage to crowds of people clad in camouflage, American flag bandanas and Harley Davidson jackets, said he wanted to send three messages.

 

“Congress, quit playing games with our troops. Terrorists, we will find you and kill you,” he said.

 

“And to our troops, we’re here for you, and we support you.”

The Anti-Empire Report

September 12, 2007

The Anti-Empire Report: Read this or George W. Bush will be president the rest of your life by William Blum

Dandelion Salad

by William Blum
www.killinghope.org
Sept. 11, 2007

The world is very weary of all this and wants to laugh again

Okay, Bush ain’t gonna get out of Iraq no matter what anyone says or does short of a)impeachment, b)a lobotomy, or c)one of his daughters setting herself afire in the Oval Office as a war protest. A few days ago, upon arriving in Australia, “in a chipper mood”, he was asked by the Deputy Prime Minister about his stopover in Iraq. “We’re kicking ass,” replied the idiot king.[1] Another epigram for his tombstone.

And the Democrats ain’t gonna end the war. Ninety-nine percent of the American people protesting on the same day ain’t gonna do it either, in this democracy. (No, I’m sorry to say that I don’t think the Vietnam protesters ended the war. There were nine years of protest — 1964 to 1973 — before the US military left Vietnam. It’s a stretch to ascribe a cause and effect to that. The United States, after all, had to leave sometime.)

Only those fighting the war can end it. By laying down their arms and refusing to kill anymore, including themselves. Some American soldiers in Iraq have already refused to go on very dangerous combat missions. Iraq Veterans Against the War, last month at their annual meeting, in St. Louis, voted to launch a campaign encouraging American troops to refuse to fight. “Iraq Veterans Against the War decided to make support of war resisters a major part of what we do,” said Garrett Rappenhagen, a former U.S. Army sniper who served in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005.

The veterans group has begun organizing among active duty soldiers on military bases. Veterans have toured the country in busses holding barbeques outside the base gates. They also plan to step up efforts to undermine military recruiting efforts.

Of course it’s a very long shot to get large numbers of soldiers into an angry, protesting frame of mind. But consider the period following the end of World War Two. Late 1945 and early 1946 saw what is likely the greatest troop revolt that has ever occurred in a victorious army. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American soldiers protested all over the world because they were not being sent home even though the war was over. The GIs didn’t realize it at first, but many soon came to understand that the reason they were being transferred from Europe and elsewhere to various places in the Pacific area, instead of being sent back home, was that the United States was concerned about uprisings against colonialism, which, in the minds of Washington foreign-policy officials, was equated with communism and other nasty un-American things. The uprisings were occurring in British colonies, in Dutch colonies, in French colonies, as well as in the American colony of the Philippines. Yes, hard to believe, but the United States was acting like an imperialist power.

In the Philippines there were repeated mass demonstrations by GIs who were not eager to be used against the left-wing Huk guerrillas. The New York Times reported in January 1946 about one of these demonstrations: “‘The Philippines are capable of handling their own internal problems,’ was the slogan voiced by several speakers. Many extended the same point of view to China.”[2]

American marines were sent to China to support the Nationalist government of Chang Kai-shek against the Communists of Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai. They were sent to the Netherlands Indies (Indonesia) to be of service to the Dutch in their suppression of native nationalists. And American troop ships were used to transport the French military to France’s former colony in Vietnam. These and other actions of Washington led to numerous large GI protests in Japan, Guam, Saipan, Korea, India, Germany, England, France, and Andrews Field, Maryland, all concerned with the major slowdown in demobilization and the uses for which the soldiers were being employed. There were hunger strikes and mass mailings to Congress from the soldiers and their huge body of support in the States. In January 1946, Senator Edwin Johnson of Colorado declared “It is distressing and humiliating to all Americans to read in every newspaper in the land accounts of near mutiny in the Army.”[3]

On January 13, 1946, 500 GIs in Paris adopted a set of demands called “The Enlisted Man’s Magna Charta”, calling for radical reforms of the master-slave relationship between officers and enlisted men; also demanding the removal of Secretary of War Robert Patterson. In the Philippines, soldier sentiment against the reduced demobilization crystalized in a meeting of GIs that voted unanimously to ask Secretary Patterson and certain Senators: “What is the Army’s position in the Philippines, especially in relation to the reestablishment of the Eighty-sixth Infantry Division on a combat basis?”[4]

By the summer of 1946 there had been a huge demobilization of the armed forces, although there’s no way of knowing with any exactness how much of that was due to the GIs’ protests.[5]

If this is how American soldiers could be inspired and organized in the wake of “The Good War”, imagine what can be done today in the midst of “The God-awful War”.

Iraq Veterans Against the War could use your help. Go to: http://www.ivaw.org/


A pullet surprise for “Legacy of Ashes” by Tim Weiner


In 1971 the New York Times published its edition of the Pentagon Papers, based on the government documents concerning Vietnam policy which had been borrowed by Daniel Ellsberg. In its preface to the book, the Times commented about certain omissions and distortions in the government’s view of political and historical realities as reflected in the papers: “Clandestine warfare against North Vietnam, for example, is not seen … as violating the Geneva Accords of 1954, which ended the French Indochina War, or as conflicting with the public policy pronouncements of the various administrations. Clandestine warfare, because it is covert, does not exist as far as treaties and public posture are concerned. Further, secret commitments to other nations are not sensed as infringing on the treaty-making powers of the Senate, because they are not publicly acknowledged.”[6]

In his new book, “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA”, New York Times reporter Tim Weiner also relies heavily on government documents in deciding what events to include and what not to, and the result is often equally questionable. “This book,” Weiner writes, “is on the record — no anonymous sources, no blind quotations, no hearsay. It is the first history of the CIA compiled entirely from firsthand reporting and primary documents.”(p.xvii)

Thus, if US government officials did not put something in writing or if someone did not report their firsthand experience concerning a particular event, to Tim Weiner the event doesn’t exist, or at least is not worth recounting. British journalist Stewart Steven has written: “If we believe that contemporary history must be told on the basis of documentary evidence before it becomes credible, then we must also accept that everything will either be written with the government’s seal of approval or not be written at all.”

As to firsthand reporting, for Weiner it apparently has to be from someone “reputable”. Former CIA officer Philip Agee wrote a 1974 book, “Inside the Company: CIA Diary”, that provides more detail about CIA covert operations in Latin America than any book ever written. And it was certainly firsthand. But Agee and his revelations are not mentioned at all in Weiner’s book. Could it be because Agee, in the process of becoming the Agency’s leading dissident, also became a socialist radical and close ally of Cuba?

Former CIA officer John Stockwell also penned a memoir (”In Search of Enemies”, 1978), revealing lots of CIA dirty laundry in Africa. He later also became a serious Agency dissident, and the Weiner book ignores him as well.

Also ignored: Joseph Burkholder Smith, another Agency officer, not quite a left-wing dissident like Agee or Stockwell but a heavy critic nonetheless, entitled his memoir “Portrait of a Cold Warrior” (1976), in which he revealed numerous instances of CIA illegality and immorality in the Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia.

There’s also Cambodian leader Prince Sihanouk, who provided his firsthand account in “My War With The CIA” (1974). Sihanouk is also a non-person in the pages of “Legacy of Ashes”.

Even worse, Weiner ignores a veritable mountain of impressive “circumstantial” and other evidence of CIA misdeeds which doesn’t meet his stated criteria, which any thorough researcher/writer on the Agency should give serious attention to, certainly at least mention for the record. Among the many CIA transgressions and crimes left out of “Legacy of Ashes”, or very significantly played down, are:

* The extensive CIA role in the 1950s provocation and sabotage activities in East Berlin/East Germany which contributed considerably to the communists’ decision to build the Berlin Wall is not mentioned, although the wall is discussed.

* The US role in instigating and supporting the coup that overthrew Sihanouk in 1970, which led directly to the rising up of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, and the infamous Cambodian “killing fields”. Weiner, without providing any source, writes: “The coup shocked the CIA and the rest of the American government.”(p.304) [7] Neither does the book make any mention of the deliberate Washington policy to support Pol Pot in his subsequent war with Vietnam. Pol Pot’s name does not appear in the book.

* The criminal actions carried out by Operation Gladio, created by the CIA, NATO, and several European intelligence services beginning in 1949. The operation was responsible for numerous acts of terrorism in Europe, foremost of which was the bombing of the Bologna railway station in 1980, claiming 86 lives. The purpose of the terrorism was to place the blame for these atrocities on the left and thus heighten public concern about a Soviet invasion and keep the left from electoral victory in Italy, France and elsewhere. In Weiner’s book this is all down the Orwellian memory hole.

* A discussion of the alleged 1993 assassination attempt against former president George H.W. Bush in Kuwait presents laughable evidence, yet states: “But the CIA eventually concluded that Saddam Hussein had tried to kill President Bush.”(p.444) Weiner repeats this, apparently, solely because it appears in a CIA memorandum. That qualifies it as a “primary document”. But what does this have to do with, y’know, the actual facts?

* Moreover, the book scarcely scratches the surface concerning the dozens of foreign elections the CIA has seriously interfered in; the large number of assassination attempts, successful or unsuccessful, against foreign political leaders; the widespread planting of phoney stories in the international media, stories that were at times picked up in the American press as a result; manipulation and corruption of foreign labor movements; extensive book and magazine publishing fronts; drug trafficking; and a virtual world atlas of overthrown governments, or attempts at same.

“A Legacy of Ashes” is generally a good read even for someone familiar with the world of the CIA, but it’s actually often rather superficial, albeit 700 pages long. Why has so much of importance and interest been omitted from a book which has the subtitle: “The History of the CIA”; not, it must be noted, “A History of the CIA”?

Whatever jaundiced eye Weiner focuses on the CIA, he still implicitly accepts the two basic beliefs of the Cold War: 1)There existed out there something called The International Communist Conspiracy, fueled by implacable Soviet expansionism; 2)United States foreign policy meant well. It may have frequently been bumbling and ineffective, but its intentions were noble. And still are.


Some sundry shooting from the lip

Football star Michael Vick has been condemned for allegedly helping to execute dogs.

But is killing a dog morally worse than killing a chicken, cow, pig, lamb, or fish which is done every hour of every day to enable non-vegans to enjoy the kind of diet they’ve become accustomed to? The fact that a dog is much more likely to be someone’s pet doesn’t answer the question; it only explains why that someone is upset over canineicide but cares much less about the liquidation of the other animals.


Home run king Barry Bonds is vilified for reputedly using steroids to build up his strength. He may have an asterisk put next to his record because this, presumably, gave him an unfair advantage over other baseball players who are “clean”. But of all the things that athletes put into their bodies to improve their health, fitness and performance, why are steroids singled out? Doesn’t taking vitamin and mineral supplements give an athlete an unfair advantage over athletes who don’t take them? Should these supplements be banned from sport competition? Vitamin and mineral supplements are not necessarily any more “natural” than steroids, which in fact are very important in our body chemistry; among the steroids are the male and female sex hormones. Why not punish those who follow a “healthy diet” because of the advantage this may give them?


“Do you think homosexuality is a choice, or is it biological?” was the question posed to presidential candidate Bill Richardson by singer Melissa Etheridge. “It’s a choice,” replied the New Mexico governor at the August 9 forum for Democratic candidates. Etheridge then said to Richardson, “Maybe you didn’t understand the question,” and she rephrased it. Richardson again said he thought it was a choice.[8]

The next time you hear someone say that homosexuality is a choice, ask them how old they were when they chose to be heterosexual. When they admit that they never made such a conscious choice, thus implying that people don’t choose to be heterosexual, the next question to the person should be: “So only homosexuals choose to be homosexual? But what comes first, being homosexual so you can make the choice, or making the choice and thus becoming homosexual?”


Why is the Bush administration so unenthusiastic about preventing global warming? Perhaps this news report provides a clue.

“The Arctic sea ice will retreat hundreds of miles farther from the coast of Alaska in the summer, the scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded. That will open up vast waters for fishermen and give easier access to new areas for oil and gas exploration.”[9]

We can say that the United States runs the world like the Taliban ran Afghanistan before the US ousted them from power in 2001. Destabilizing actions are taken against Venezuela like punishing a woman caught outside not wearing her burkha. Harsh sanctions are imposed on Iran in the manner of banning music, dancing, and kite-flying in Kabul. Cuba is subverted and hurt in dozens of ways like the religious police whipping a man whose beard is not the right length.

NOTES


[1] Sydney Morning Herald, September 6, 2007

[2] New York Times, January 8, 1946, p.3

[3] New York Times, January 11, 1946, p.1

[4] Ibid., p.4

[5] For more information about the soldiers’ protests, see: Mary-Alice Waters, “G.I.’s and the Fight Against War” (New York, 1967), a pamphlet published by “Young Socialist” magazine.

[6] “The Pentagon Papers” (NY Times Edition), p. xii-xiii

[7] See William Blum, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II”, p.137-8

[8] santafenewmexican.com/news/66424.html

[9] Washington Post, September 7, 2007, p.6

William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website at “essays”.

To add yourself to this mailing list simply send an email to <bblum6@aol.com> with “add” in the subject line. I’d like your name and city in the message, but that’s optional. I ask for your city only in case I’ll be speaking in your area. Or put “remove” in the subject line to do the opposite.

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission. I’d appreciate it if the website were mentioned. www.killinghope.org