Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category

Democrats’ Year of Living Fecklessly

November 9, 2007

One year ago, the Democrats ended Republican control of Congress, stirring millions of Americans to hope that George W. Bush’s Iraq War and his assault on the U.S. Constitution finally would be stopped.

Twelve months later, many of those once-hopeful voters feel bitter disillusionment toward the national Democratic Party, which has surrendered in showdown after showdown with the weakened President, from continuing to write blank checks for the Iraq War to ceding more power to him for his surveillance operations.

The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee couldn’t even put together enough of a united front to block Bush’s appointment of a new Attorney General who believes the President should possess nearly unlimited powers in wartime and who won’t say that the simulated drowning of waterboarding constitutes torture.

Though some voters have been surprised by the consistency of these Democratic cave-ins, the pattern actually started immediately after the surprising election results of Nov. 7, 2006, when Democrats won narrow majorities in the House and Senate.

Rather than escalate their political confrontation with Bush, the Democrats opted for a course of wishful thinking and empty gestures. Most importantly, the Democrats chose not only to keep impeachment off the table, but avoided any comprehensive investigation into controversial Bush policies.

There were no Fulbright-style hearings on the origins of the Iraq War; there were no broad challenges to the excessive secrecy that Bush clamped down around his constitutional violations in the “war on terror”; the best the Democrats could muster were scatter-shot hearings by Rep. Henry Waxman’s House Oversight Committee.

In short, the Democrats not only failed to mount a sustained challenge to Bush’s policies, they avoided any systematic hearings that would educate the American public about why Bush’s presidency has represented such an extraordinary threat to the Republic. They have acted as if the people simply should “get it” without any more information.

This Democratic tendency to de-value information – and a timidity toward real oversight – can be traced back to the 1980s when accommodating Democrats, such as Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, sought to finesse, rather than confront, abuses of power by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush during the Iran-Contra Affair and related scandals.

The pattern deepened in 1993 when Bill Clinton won the presidency and the Democrats still controlled Congress. At that point, they shelved investigations of Reagan-Bush crimes, including clandestine military support for Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, drug-trafficking by the Nicaraguan contra rebels, and still-secret dealings with Iran.

Clinton and the Democrats judged that the hard work of getting at the truth and exacting accountability was less important than wooing some moderate Republicans into hoped-for support of Clinton’s budget, health-care and other domestic priorities. [For details on this failed strategy, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

Consumers, Not Citizens

By their actions in the early days of the Clinton administration, the national Democrats revealed that they viewed the American people more as consumers eager for services than citizens needing honest information to fulfill their duties in a democratic Republic.

Clinton also apparently thought that his magnanimous gesture, especially in letting former President George H.W. Bush off the hook, would win reciprocity from the Republicans. Instead, they took the Democratic scrapping of the Reagan-Bush investigations as a sign of weakness and unleashed the emerging right-wing media against Clinton.

Despite catastrophic political results – losing control of Congress in 1994 and the White House in 2000 – the national Democrats learned few lessons from the Clinton debacles. In 2002 and 2004, they reacted to Bush and his “war on terror” gingerly and suffered more defeats.

Finally, in 2006, heeding an increasingly angry “base,” the Democrats adopted a tougher stance toward Bush and were surprised by their own success. Yet, even as congressional Democrats were picking confetti out of their hair, they were reverting to their can’t-we-all-get-along approach.

On Nov. 8, the day after the election, Bush announced that he was replacing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with former CIA Director Robert Gates. The Democrats hailed the move, thinking that it signaled a new assertion of control by the “realists” from President George H.W. Bush’s administration.

After all, Gates had worked for the elder Bush and was a member of the Iraq Study Group, which was planning to urge a drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq. A Newsweek cover illustrated this thesis with a large Poppy Bush in the foreground and a smaller Sonny Bush in the rear.

A conventional wisdom took shape, that Gates gave up his beloved presidency of Texas A&M to undertake the thankless job of walking junior Bush back from the brink.

At Consortiumnews.com, we published a series of contrarian stories about Gates, many drawing from CIA officers who had worked with Gates. They regarded him as the consummate bureaucratic “yes man” who operated with a burning ambition concealed beneath a mild-mannered persona.

In this view, Gates, one of the political casualties of the Iran-Contra Affair, had never gotten over his ouster from the center of Washington power. Not nearly as content with his life in “Aggie-land” as he led people to think, Gates saw his Pentagon appointment as possibly his last chance to return to the world stage.

Misreading Rumsfeld

The Democrats and the Washington press corps also got Rumsfeld’s firing wrong. The acerbic Defense Secretary wasn’t ousted because of his dead-ender support for the Iraq War, but rather he was removed when he urged Bush to start withdrawing troops.

This darker version of events began to emerge in late November 2006 when Bush told reporters in Amman, Jordan, that he had no interest in the gradual troop withdrawals favored by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

Bush vowed that American forces will “stay in Iraq to get the job done,” adding “this business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it whatsoever.”

Right-wing pundit Fred Barnes also heard from his administration sources that Gates wasn’t some behind-the-throne councilor sent by the elder Bush to whisper into the ear of his head-strong son. “Rarely has the press gotten a story so wrong,” Barnes wrote at the neoconservative Weekly Standard.

Barnes reported that the younger George Bush didn’t consult either his father or Iraq Study Group co-chairman James Baker about appointing Gates. Instead, Bush picked the ex-CIA chief after getting assurances from Gates that he was onboard with the neoconservative notion about “democracy promotion” in the Middle East.

“The President wanted ‘clarity’ on Gates’s views, especially on Iraq and the pursuit of democracy. He asked if Gates shared the goal of victory in Iraq and would be determined to pursue it aggressively as defense chief,” Barnes reported. [The Weekly Standard, Nov. 27, 2006]

Then, on Dec. 3, the New York Times disclosed that Rumsfeld had written a memo on Nov. 6 – one day before the congressional elections and the same day he submitted his resignation letter – calling for a “major adjustment” in Iraq War policy.

The options that Rumsfeld wanted to consider included “an accelerated drawdown of U.S. bases from 55 now to 10 to 15 by April 2007 and to five by July 2007.”

Another Rumsfeld idea was to commit U.S. forces only to provinces and cities that request the assistance. “Unless they [the local Iraqi governments] cooperate fully, U.S. forces would leave their province,” Rumsfeld wrote.

Proposing a plan similar to one enunciated by Democratic Rep. John Murtha, Rumsfeld suggested that the generals “withdraw U.S. forces from vulnerable positions – cities, patrolling, etc. – and move U.S. forces to a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) status, operating from within Iraq and Kuwait, to be available when Iraqi security forces need assistance.”

And in what could be read as an implicit criticism of Bush’s lofty rhetoric about transforming Iraq and the Middle East, Rumsfeld said the administration should “recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) – go minimalist.” [NYT, Dec. 3, 2006]

The Gates Walk

In other words, the Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee had plenty of evidence before Gates’s confirmation hearing on Dec. 5 to suspect that Gates was not the hoped-for harbinger of U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq, but rather a new face for continuing an old policy.

At the hearing, the Democrats didn’t press Gates on whether he shared the neoconservative vision of violently remaking the Middle East, whether he endorsed the Military Commissions Act’s elimination of habeas corpus rights to fair trials, whether he supported warrantless eavesdropping by the Pentagon’s National Security Agency, whether he agreed with Bush’s claim of “plenary” – or unlimited – powers as a Commander in Chief who can override laws and the U.S. Constitution.

When Gates did stake out substantive positions, he almost invariably lined up with Bush’s “stay-until-victory” plan in Iraq. Though insisting that “all the options are on the table,” Gates rejected any timetable for military withdrawal as some Democrats recommended. He also echoed Bush’s argument that an American pullout would lead to a regional cataclysm.

Democrats couldn’t even get a commitment from Gates to turn over Pentagon documents for congressional oversight. Gates qualified his answer with phrases such as “to the limits of my authority” – suggesting that the Bush administration would continue resisting demands from Congress for sensitive papers about the war – and that Gates wouldn’t interfere.

Nevertheless, Sen. Hillary Clinton and other committee Democrats ignored the warning signs and hailed Gates’s “candor.” Without hearing from Rumsfeld about his memo or nailing down where Bush’s war policies were headed, the Democrats joined the committee’s 21-0 endorsement of the Gates nomination.

In January 2007, as the Democrats celebrated their new majorities, Bush continued to revamp his war council. He ousted Generals John Abizaid and George Casey who opposed escalating U.S. troop levels, and put in Iraq one of his favorites, Gen. David Petraeus, who was gung-ho about a “surge” of more than 20,000 U.S. troops.

At this point, the Democrats might have reevaluated their decision to keep impeachment off the table or at least they could have countered with full-scale hearings, like Sen. William Fulbright, D-Arkansas, conducted on the Vietnam War, or with investigative hearings like those for the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals.

Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada spent weeks championing a symbolic resolution of disapproval against the “surge.” The Democratic strategy was to propose mildly worded resolutions and amendments with the hope that moderate Republicans would sign on.

However, a near-solid phalanx of Senate Republicans easily swatted away the “surge” resolution with filibusters.

The Democrats next tried to attach withdrawal timetables to Bush’s $100 billion war-funding supplemental. The Republicans let the bill go through but only so Bush could veto it. They then sustained the veto and chided the Democrats for “playing politics” and endangering the safety of U.S. troops in the field.

Caving In

Before leaving for the Memorial Day recess, the Democratic leadership bowed to Bush’s demand for a spending bill with no strings attached.

Facing a furious Democratic “base,” congressional leaders revived promises that the days of Bush’s “blank checks” were over. But key Democrats, such as Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Carl Levin of Michigan, made clear that when push came to shove, they would give way.

On June 21, Levin spelled out his thinking in a Washington Post op-ed entitled “Lincoln’s Example for Iraq.” Levin said he was modeling his Iraq War position on Abraham Lincoln’s stance on the Mexican War, launched by President James Polk in 1846 after a declaration of war by Congress.

“In his only term in Congress, Abraham Lincoln was an ardent opponent of the Mexican War,” Levin wrote. Yet, “when the question of funding for the troops fighting that war came, Lincoln voted their supplies without hesitation.”

But the senator’s historical parallel to Lincoln wasn’t correct. Lincoln wasn’t even in Congress when the war with Mexico was declared on May 13, 1846. Lincoln took his seat in the House of Representatives on Dec. 6, 1847.

By then, the war was already won. The decisive battle of Chapultepec was fought almost three months earlier, on Sept. 12, 1847, and American forces entered Mexico City on Sept. 14.

Though there was a delay in negotiating a final peace treaty due to Mexico’s political chaos, the war was effectively over. So, Lincoln’s readiness to supply the troops was not a vote for continuing an indefinite war with Mexico; it was simply to send supplies while a final peace treaty was negotiated.

The peace treaty was signed in the village of Guadalupe Hidalgo, near Mexico City, on Feb. 2, 1848, formally ending a conflict that had lasted less than two years. By contrast, the Iraq War has dragged on for more than four years with no end in sight.

In other words, Levin was historically misguided when he supposed that Congressman Lincoln would have given President Polk a blank check for war if that Commander in Chief sought a bloody, indefinite occupation of the Mexican countryside.

Levin’s own end-the-war strategy relied on winning over enough Republican moderates to someday overcome a Bush veto. But the idea that a large bloc of Republicans would join Democrats to achieve a 67-vote super-majority on a war-funding bill was far-fetched.

Yet, as daunting as that hurdle was, Democratic leaders fended off growing rank-and-file demands for impeachment hearings targeting Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney by arguing that the votes simply weren’t there for removing Bush and Cheney.

Many in the Democratic “base” countered that the votes also weren’t there for symbolic resolutions and amendments watered down to lure Republican “moderates.” At least, impeachment hearings would focus the nation on the crimes of the Bush-Cheney administration, rank-and-file Democrats said.

Blindsided Again

The Democratic leadership got blindsided again just before the August recess when the administration said it needed a technical fix of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to deal with cases when two foreign terror suspects were communicating abroad but their conversation was routed through a U.S. switching point.

As Democrats tried to address that technical glitch, the Republicans ambushed them with a much more sweeping revision of the FISA law, granting Bush broad powers to wiretap almost anyone as long as one party was believed to be outside the United States.

Up against the August recess and facing “soft on terror” charges, Democrats folded again, letting the Protect America Act of 2007 pass. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Bush Gets a Spying Blank Check.”]

Stunned by public outrage over this surrender – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office reported getting more than 200,000 angry e-mails – the Democratic leaders vowed to modify the law once they returned from the August recess.

But so far, the main revision appears to be an expansion of the amnesty provision for telecommunications companies that turned over their clients’ records to the Bush administration without a court warrant.

On Sept. 19, a final blow was dealt to the Democratic strategy of trying to woo Republican votes in favor of restrictive Iraq War amendments. Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, had promised to support a bill by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, to guarantee longer home leave for combat troops.

However, Defense Secretary Gates intervened and persuaded Warner to reverse his position. With Warner’s help, Republicans blocked Webb’s bill on a procedural vote. Neoconservative Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut hailed the outcome as proof that “Congress will not intervene in the foreseeable future” on Iraq.

Emboldened by the repeated Democratic cave-ins on Iraq, Lieberman and pro-Bush Republicans even got the Senate to go on record urging the President to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards an international terrorist organization.

Despite a warning from Webb that the move could be a prelude to a wider Middle East war, leading Democrats – including Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and Carl Levin – joined 73 other senators in approving the sense-of-the-Senate resolution on Sept. 26.

More Humiliations

But the humiliations have kept on coming. The New York Times revealed on Oct. 4 that the Bush administration only pretended to repudiate earlier legal opinions approving Bush’s right to abuse and torture detainees. Secret memos from 2005, which reaffirmed that right, were kept from Congress.

“When the Justice Department publicly declared torture ‘abhorrent’ in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations,” the Times reported.

“But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

“The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.” [NYT, Oct. 4, 2007]

Though apparently fooled again on that one, the Democrats finally felt they were making progress when Bush appointed retired federal Judge Michael Mukasey to replace Gonzales as the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer.
Though a hard-liner favoring broad presidential powers, Mukasey treated the Senate Judiciary Committee with respect missing from Gonzales.

But Mukasey refused to call waterboarding of terror suspects torture. If he had made that concession, Bush and other administration officials might have been opened to legal jeopardy for violating anti-torture statutes.

When Mukasey held firm in refusing to answer, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and some other committee Democrats announced their opposition. But two Democratic senators, Charles Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California, joined with Republicans on Nov. 6 to clear Mukasey’s nomination, effectively assuring his confirmation.

Again, rank-and-file Democrats were left fuming over the spinelessness of the congressional Democrats. But this angry Democratic “base” is not alone in its disgust. After a full year of futility in countering Bush’s war policies, the Democratic Congress has sunk to near record lows in public approval.

With one year left before Election 2008, national Democrats can only hope that anger at Bush and his party will cause voters to overlook the Democrats’ own year of living fecklessly.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

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Kucinich’s Challenge

November 2, 2007

Kucinich’s Challenge

 

By John Nichols November 2007 Issue

If Presidential politics actually worked like it does in the movies—or in the imaginings of patriots—the hot August night would have been one of those epic moments when everything starts to change.

Fifteen thousand trade unionists had packed into Chicago’s Soldier Field to hear contenders for the 2008 Democratic nomination make their cases. While the frontrunners drew their requisite rounds of applause, it was the scrappy working class Congressman from Cleveland who wowed the AFL-CIO activists. Dennis Kucinich delivered applause line after applause line—connecting with the crowd on ideological, political, and emotional levels that the other candidates could not begin to reach.

“I want to see America take a new direction in trade . . . and that means it’s time to get out of NAFTA and the WTO,” shouted the Congressman above the thunderous applause that greeted his promise of “trade that’s based on workers’ rights: the right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike.”

So powerful was Kucinich’s presentation that even the moderator, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, shifted his line of questioning from the usual soft media inquiries about “reforming trade policies” toward a blunt demand that the candidates say whether they would “scrap NAFTA or fix it?” After Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and the others struggled to answer the question without offending either the labor crowd or their corporate donors, Kucinich won the moment by declaring, “No one else on this stage could give a direct answer because they don’t intend to scrap NAFTA. We’re going to be stuck with it. And I’m your candidate if you want to get out of NAFTA. Let’s hear it. Do you want out of NAFTA? Do you want out of the WTO?”

The steel, auto, machine, and construction workers were on their feet, cheering wildly. Again and again, on industrial policy, on health care, on each issue that arose, Kucinich owned the argument. And when the Congressman turned to the signature issue of his insurgent Presidential bid, ending the war in Iraq, he distinguished himself from the cautious contenders to his right by speaking the truth that has been on the mind of everyone who has watched the sorry degeneration of this nation’s system of checks and balances. Instead of promising to end the war as President, Kucinich declared, “We shouldn’t have to wait for a Democratic President to do it. The Democratic Congress needs to act now.”

It was a virtuoso performance. Mark Lash, a steelworker from Crown Point, Indiana, summed it all up when he said that of the seven candidates who were trying so hard to woo the workers, it was Kucinich who gave “the answers everyone wants to hear.” In one of those old Jimmy Stewart movies or maybe in a new John Cusack movie, something big would happen. Unions would have started going against expectations to endorse the underdog. The media would have started taking him seriously. A long-overdue political awakening would have begun—for the Democratic Party and for the nation.

But contemporary politics does not follow a movie script. The process unfolds along lines defined by money, polling, punditry, and the extreme caution of institutions—and even voting blocs—that are more inclined to deny possibility than to embrace it. The discarded-civics-book character of the process by which Presidents are selected is evident at every turn on the campaign trail that Kucinich follows, and it raises a fundamental question about the candidate and his hearty supporters. Will the Congressman be the Harold Stassen of the left, a smart and honorable perennial Presidential candidate yielding diminishing returns on Election Day after miserable Election Day? Or will he grab hold of the system that denies him and force something meaningful from it? Will Kucinich end his 2008 quest as an asterisk or as an irrepressible force agitating effectively against a dismaying Democratic Party and a dysfunctional democracy?

One thing is certain: Kucinich cannot expect anything more than cheers from many of those whose causes he has long and loudly championed.

Within weeks of that August AFL-CIO forum, unions began to make their endorsements.

The Machinists went for Clinton, arguably the steadiest proponent in the field of the job-killing “free trade” schemes that have decimated the union’s membership.

The Carpenters and the Steelworkers broke for Edwards, a newly minted populist who sounds good but still struggles to get the specifics right.

The Firefighters backed Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, an old-school liberal with a weaker record than Kucinich and no better prospects.

And what was the Congressman from Cleveland left with when the applause died down?

Nothing.

No endorsements from labor.

No backing from prominent Democrats.

No poll numbers of consequence nationally or in the essential early primary and caucus states.

There is something that is surely heartbreaking about the hand that is regularly dealt to Kucinich and his idealistic second bid for the Presidency. But the Congressman has chosen to play at the table of contemporary American politics, where not only the rules but the very premises of the process are stacked against him.

It is not merely the dominance of the monied elites and the party bosses, nor even the emphasis on image and style, that undermines a candidate who is actually referred to by supposedly serious reporters as “too short to be President.” It is the desperation of Democratic voters denied, voters who, after so many stolen elections and failed campaigns, have convinced themselves that the only thing that matters in 2008 is winning—and that the only way to win is by nominating not the candidate who is right on the issues but the candidate who seems, a la John Kerry in 2004, to have the right strategy or at least the right stature.

Yet, Kucinich keeps returning to the table and demanding to be part of the game. Almost alone, he argues that voters might yet embrace his “new vision for America” and that he can win not just the nomination but the Presidency. In Maine, or North Dakota, or Hawaii, he never fails to claim that local support is up from what he got when he bid for the nomination in 2004 and to suggest that: “If we can do well here, [the momentum] can spread to other states and parts of the country.”

Kucinich’s optimism is defined by nothing so much as the Congressman’s belief in magic—political magic. He clings to a faith that 2008 will provide an opening like the one that forty years earlier allowed an obscure Senator from Minnesota, Eugene McCarthy, to put questions of war and peace on the table and chase a sitting President from office, or like the one that actually made an unknown former governor of Georgia with a tendency to spout off about human rights the commander in chief.

To a degree, Kucinich’s limitless faith is understandable. He has achieved alchemy more than once. Elected on the basis of sheer hard work to the Cleveland City Council as a twenty-three-year-old “new politics” candidate in 1969, he was the city’s “boy mayor” by age thirty-one. But after tangling with the city’s bankers and utilities, he was a defeated political has-been at thirty-three. Ridiculed in Ohio and nationally, he lost comeback bid after comeback bid before finally disappearing into political Siberia and a quest for meaning that found him living, without income or prospects, in New Mexico.

Then, in 1994, a year when Democrats were losing everywhere, Kucinich returned to Cleveland, picked up the populist banner, and won a state senate seat from a Republican incumbent.

Two years later, he defeated a key lieutenant to House Speaker Newt Gingrich to claim a seat in Congress.

Redeemed finally after decades in the political wilderness, Kucinich could have settled into a comfortable tenure on the left flank of the House Democratic Caucus. Instead, he kept right on pushing the limits of politics, fighting Presidents Clinton and Bush on issues ranging from trade to militarism and finally emerging in 2002 as the most ardent Congressional critic of the rush to war with Iraq.

Kucinich’s “reward” for getting the war right was marginalization in the 2004 Presidential race, when the media portrayed a cautious war critic, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, as the peace candidate while dismissing the campaign of the genuinely anti-war contender.

The 2004 race yielded Kucinich no primary or caucus wins and just 1 percent of the delegates at the Democratic National Convention. Yet, the Congressman is running once more, mounting essentially the same campaign that he did four years ago. Kucinich is again bouncing around the country, creating the facade of a national campaign but never sticking around long enough to convert the enthusiasm of the crowds he draws into votes. And, as in the later stages of the 2004 race, when he stubbornly refused to acknowledge that he could not win a fight that everyone knew was finished, he refuses to entertain the notion that he might not be swearing an oath of office on January 20, 2009.

There is much to be said for the power of positive thinking, but in Presidential politics the practice can be futile—especially when more prominent and monied candidates are stealing your themes: economic populist (Edwards), anti-war (New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson), and time-for-a-transformation (Obama). In Kucinich’s case, his optimism borders on off-putting and out of touch. Indeed, if he continues on his current course, he runs the risk of falling short of the 643,067 (3.9 percent of the total) votes he scraped together by the end of his never-say-die 2004 run.

If that happens, it will be a political tragedy, because Dennis Kucinich is more right on the issues than ever: with his demand that Congress defund the war in Iraq, with his warnings about the dangerous machinations of the Bush-Cheney machine regarding Iran, with his courageous stance on nuclear disarmament, and with his increasingly ardent advocacy of impeachment.

Kucinich may be more necessary to the process of choosing a 2008 Democratic President than even he may understand. The front-loaded race for the nomination will be a blur for most Democrats, who will likely be told who the party’s candidate is going to be long before they actually have a chance to weigh in. At that point, the trailing candidates will be told by the money men who define American politics that it is time to start suspending campaigns.

More than two dozen states will select delegates after February 5. Many of them—Wisconsin, Washington, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Oregon—have Democratic voter bases that are ardently anti-war. If Kucinich were to commit now to mount a campaign that made no pretense of personal electability but rather promised to force the party to debate its direction—not just on the war but on the whole question of what a post-Bush America might look like—he could yet turn himself into the most effective protest candidate this country has seen in years.

What might the Congressman propose to the voters of later primary and caucus states, where the choice could well come down to Kucinich versus Clinton? By telling voters “this is your chance to vote for a peace plank,” Kucinich could—and should—promise to use whatever bloc of delegates he is given to fight for a clearly anti-war platform, to provoke floor fights over foreign policy and the domestic agenda, and to have his name placed in nomination in order to take his message to prime time.

In a one-on-one race, where the Kucinich campaign is about an idea rather than a man, he could turn the tables on the elites. By ditching talk about actually being nominated—which only strains his own credibility—and instead making himself the tribune of the peace and justice movement that is alive and powerful at the grassroots of the Democratic party, Dennis Kucinich could win hundreds of delegates to the 2008 convention. He could renew and redefine the debate in the later primaries and at the convention. He could force the eventual Democratic nominee to listen to the party’s neglected base—which polling suggests is now very close in its thinking to the self-identified independent voters who decide close contests in November—rather than to the Wall Street donors and Washington think tanks that invariably muddle the message once the pundits declare the nomination fight to have been settled. And, maybe, just maybe, Dennis Kucinich could make the Democratic nominee more appealing than a broken political process is supposed to allow.

The challenge for Kucinich is a real one. He can run according to the rules and be a Democratic Harold Stassen, or he can break the rules and make his campaign a redemptive force. To do the former, he need merely continue campaigning as he now is. To do the latter, he must level with himself and with the voters and offer himself up as a representative of the idealistic insurgency that both the party and the country so sorely need.

John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin, and Washington correspondent for The Nation. His latest book is “The Genius of Impeachment.”

Dennis Kucinich:
“No Impunity”

“When you consider that this war was based on lies, when you consider that Iraq did not attack the United States, that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, it is an urgent matter of national morality to determine what the appropriate response is.

“It is time for us to start talking about the legal responsibility of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and all the other war architects who built a case for the war based on lies.

“The very essence of America’s credibility in the world is at stake. Our highest elected officials should be held accountable for actions that resulted in the deaths of more than a million innocent people, particularly when those deaths were based on demonstrable lies.

“It is very important that we start to ask serious questions about accountability. Just as no individual has the right to take another individual’s life, no nation has the right to kill innocent people in another nation. No leader of the United States—in the name of the United States—should be permitted to wage aggressive war with impunity.

“I am preparing a resolution that requests the House meet in the Committee of the Whole to investigate the matter of civilian casualties as well as U.S. troop casualties that have occurred in Iraq. The resolution will recount that the war was based on lies. It will ask the House to consider action, including possibly preferring criminal charges against individuals who in the administrative conduct of office were directly responsible for the war and the consequent loss of life.

“A grave injustice has been done to the people of Iraq and the people of the United States. More than one million lives have been lost. Families have been destroyed. Social networks have been ripped apart. We have had many soldiers killed and injured. This must be acknowledged.

“On a deeper level, the inquiry I am proposing relates to who we are as Americans and what we stand for. I refuse to believe that the American people—people of intelligence and good heart—will not want to see justice done. There must be a measure of justice brought forward so that this deep stain on American history is removed. We must seek the truth, wherever it leads.” –September 19, 2007


Source URL:
http://www.progressive.org/mag_nichols1107

Congressional Shame and Duplicity by Stephen Lendman

November 1, 2007

Congressional Shame and Duplicity by Stephen Lendman

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, November 1, 2007

The latest October Reuters/Zogby Index shows record low approval ratings for George Bush and Congress – 24% for the president that looks almost giddy compared to the bottom-scraping 11% level for the nation’s lawmakers. It’s more evidence that the criminal class in Washington is bipartisan and hoping November, 2008 will change things is pure fantasy.

A voter groundswell sent a message last November to end the Iraq war and occupation. Instead, the Democrat-led 110th Congress continues to fund it generously. In May, the House overwhelmingly passed HR 1585, the FY 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. It calls for $506.8 billion for DOD plus $141.8 billion (of the $150.5 billion White House request) for ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan operations. The Senate followed with a similar bill on October 1 with only three opposing votes against it. Neither bill proposed an Iraq withdrawal timeline, and final legislation has yet to be sent to the president.

Add on further amounts like George Bush’s latest $46 billion request putting FY 2008 supplemental war-funding above $196 billion and rising. Congress will approve it and more in spite of Democrats signaling a protracted budget showdown ahead. The only showdown will be over how much pork will be added to the final appropriation and for what purpose.

Democrats also back the administration’s push to attack Iran by echoing what the Israeli Lobby calls “The Iranian Threat.” War with Iran is AIPAC’s top priority, and key Democrats in Congress are on board hyping a non-existent threat to prepare the public for what may be coming. Earlier in March, Speaker Pelosi removed a provision from an appropriations bill that would have required George Bush to get congressional approval before attacking Iran. Then in July, the Senate unanimously (97 – 0) passed the Lieberman amendment that practically endorses war if it’s declared. It affirmed George Bush’s baseless charges that Tehran funds, trains and arms Iraqi resistance fighters “who are contributing to the destabilization of Iraq and are responsible for the murder of members of the United States Armed Forces.”

The House added its voice on September 25 by voting 397 – 16 for the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007 that imposes sanctions on non-US companies investing in Iran’s oil sector. The next day the Senate acted again by overwhelmingly (79 – 22) passing the Kyl-Lieberman amendment that calls for US policy to “combat, contain and (stop Iran by use of) diplomatic, economic, intelligence and military instruments.” Other bellicose language in the resolution stated:

– “the United States should designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp as a foreign terrorist organization….and place (it) on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists….it should be the policy of the United States to stop inside Iraq the violent activities and destabilizing influence of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies.”

This measure helped smooth the way for George Bush’s October 25 unilateral imposition of sanctions discussed below. It was an unprecendented move against another nation’s military Senator Jim Webb (voting no) said provides “a backdoor method of gaining congressional validation for military action, without one hearing (or) serious debate (and that the action) is Dick Cheney’s fondest pipe dream.”

George Bush acted provocatively twice. At his October 17 news conference, he menacingly said he believes Iran “want(s) to have the capacity, the knowledge in order to make a nuclear weapon….it’s in the world’s interests to prevent them from doing so….If Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace….So….if you’re interested in avoiding World War III” this possibility must be prevented implying war (potentially using first-strike nuclear weapons) is the way to do it.

On October 25 Bush acted again to counter China and Russia’s opposition to sweeping UN Security Council measures. He unilaterally imposed harsh new sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), its Quds Force, three state-owned banks and over 20 Iranian companies. The IRGC was named as “proliferators of weapons of mass destruction,” and the Quds Force was called a “supporter of terrorism.”

Democrats buy this stuff and ignore IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei’s latest October 28 statement that repeated his earlier ones. He said he had no evidence Iran is building or seeks to build nuclear weapons and accused the Bush administration of adding “fuel to the fire” with its bellicose rhetoric. The “loyal opposition” prefers instead to accept White House press secretary Dana Perino’s October 29 charge that Iran “is a country that is enriching and reprocessing uranium and the reason one does that is to lead towards a nuclear weapon.”

This accusation and new administration sanctions ratchet up tension further and amount to what one analyst called “a warning shot across the bow (that stops short of) a signal we’re going to war,” but it’s got other observers thinking the likelihood is greater than ever with Congress on board. The move also caught Vladimir Putin’s attention in Lisbon where he was attending an EU leader summit. “Why worsen the situation and bring it to a dead end” with sanctions or military action,” he said. He then added a pointed reference to George Bush stating: “Running around like a madman with a razor blade, waving it around, is not the best way to resolve the situation.”

Newly imposed sanctions won’t affect US companies. They’re already barred from doing business directly in Iran, but they do target their foreign subsidiaries and other foreign-based ones with threats of penalties and exclusion from the US market. It remains to be seen how effective they’ll be as key EU countries as well as China, Russia, India and others have growing economic ties to Iran. They won’t be eager to sever them or join the US campaign for a wider Middle East war. In addition, Iran is a major oil supplier. With the price of crude touching $96 a barrel on November 1 (and December futures up to $125), any cutoff or severe reduction of supply guarantees it’ll top $100 and make a global economic slowdown or recession much more likely.

Nonetheless, the Bush war machine presses on with congressional Democrats aboard. Presidential candidates from both parties support Bush’s move, and Democrat front runner Hillary Clinton is as hawkish as Joe Lieberman and John McCain. They both endorse attacking Iran, and McCain believes striking Iran’s nuclear sites “is a possibility that is maybe closer to reality than we are discussing tonight.”

Clinton is just as bellicose, is close to AIPAC, and in an earlier speech said: “The security and freedom of Israel must be decisive and remain at the core of any American approach to the Middle East. (We dare not) waver from this (firm) commitment.” She was also quoted in the current issue of Foreign Affairs saying: “Iran poses a long-term strategic challenge to the United States, our NATO allies and Israel. It is the country that most practices state-sponsored terrorism, and it uses its surrogates to supply explosives that kill US troops in Iraq….(Iran) must not not be permitted to build or acquire nuclear weapons. If Iran (won’t comply with) the will of the international community, all options must remain on the table.”

The only give in her position (that’s hardly any at all) is wanting congressional approval for any future military action. Up to now, that’s been pro forma rubber stamp. It’ll be no different if George Bush orders an attack as congressional Democrat leaders, including Hillary Clinton, have already signaled their approval.

John Richardson wrote on October 18 in Esquire.com that two former high-ranking Bush administration National Security Council officials fear the worst. They’re Middle East experts Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann, and they’re reacting publicly. They believe war with Iran has been in the cards for years, and we’re “getting closer and closer to the tripline.” Key for them was the unprecedented move to name Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force a terrorist organization.

Richardson lays out what they think will happen: UN diplomacy will fail because Russia and China won’t agree to harsh sanctions. Iran’s policies won’t change without “any meaningful incentive from the US. That will trigger a….White House (response with) a serious risk (George Bush) would decide to order an attack on the Iranian nuclear installations and probably a wider target zone.” This, in turn, “would result in a dramatic increase in attacks on US (Iraq) forces, attacks by proxy forces like Hezbollah, and an unknown reaction from….Afghanistan and Pakistan, where millions admire Iran’s resistance.” Attacking Iran “could engulf America in a war with the entire Muslim world.” The article also quotes former CIA officer and author Robert Baer (from Time magazine) saying an unnamed highly placed White House official believes “IEDs are a casus belli for this administration. There will be an attack on Iran.”

The London Times raised the betting odds further for one in its October 21 report. Columnist Michael Smith wrote: UK defense sources disclosed that “British (Special Air Service – SAS) forces have crossed into Iran several times (along with other special forces, the Australian SAS and American special-operation troops) as part of a secret border war against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Al-Quds special forces.” They engaged in “at least half a dozen intense firefights” along the Iran-Iraq border in what looks like deliberate US-UK efforts to provoke Iran into providing justification for a major American attack.

Speculation one looms has been around for some time, and if it comes, it won’t surprise observers like Iran expert Gary Sick. He was a military advisor to three US presidents and was recently quoted in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine saying: The recent shift in US emphasis to “Iran’s support for terrorism in Iraq….is a complete change and is potentially dangerous.” That’s because it’s much easier proving (true or not) Iran supports Iraqi resistance fighters than it poses an imminent nuclear threat to the world.

Der Spiegel also reports on a leak “by an official close to” Dick Cheney that he’s “already asked for a backroom analysis of how a war with Iran might begin (and in) the scenario concocted by (his) strategists, Washington’s first step would be to convince Israel to fire missiles at Iran’s (Natanz) uranium enrichment plant.” That would provoke Iran to retaliate and give the Bush administration the excuse it needs “to attack military targets and nuclear facilities in Iran.” That’s OK with Democrats if it comes including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Black Agenda Report writer Margaret Kimberly calls a “Quisling” and an “absolute disaster for the Democrat Party and….the entire nation (because of her) eagerness to cooperate with the Bush regime (and) her incompetence in leading Congress.”

Other key Democrats share those qualities and that assures extremist Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey’s confirmation won’t be challenged. That’s in spite of reports top Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats Chairman Leahy and Majority Whip Durbin say their votes depend on his admitting waterboarding is torture. During his confirmation hearing, Mukasey was evasive and noncommittal.

When asked during questioning, he incredulously claimed not to know what waterboarding is even though it’s been around for centuries and what it entails is common knowledge. Mukasey would only say “IF (waterboarding) is torture, it is unconstitutional.” He then repeated the White House line “We don’t torture” even though he knows DOJ legal opinions confirm the Bush administration condones the practice by endorsing “the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.”

He should also know about the ACLU’s new “Administration of Torture” book based on FOIA requested evidence. It documents that “marching orders” for torture came from Donald Rumsfeld so the White House had to be involved as well. That includes George Bush and Alberto Gonzales, who in 2002 as White House Counsel, called the Geneva Conventions “quaint” and “obsolete” and as Attorney General authorized physical and psychological brutality as official administration policy.

Mukasey promises business as usual as AG and confirmed it by claiming “I don’t think (Guantanamo prisoners) are mistreated.” He also supports the president’s right to imprison US citizens without charge and deny “unlawful enemy combatants” their habeas rights, but that’s OK with Democrats on the Judiciary Committee with a large party majority sure to agree.

In a follow-up letter Senator Leahy requested, Mukasey was just as evasive and noncommittal as during his confirmation hearing. He sidestepped commenting on presidential surveillance powers limits beyond what FISA allows and continued to avoid admitting waterboarding is torture. Instead he said: ….”there is a real issue (whether) the techniques presented and discussed at the hearing and in your letter are even part of any program of questioning detainees.”

He then added if confirmed he’ll concentrate on “solving problems cooperatively with Congress,” advise George Bush appropriately on any “technique” he determines to be unlawful, and the president is bound by constitutional and treaty obligations that prohibit torture. This man and the president defile the law and practically boast about it, but Democrats will confirm him anyway as the next Attorney General.

House Democrats Pass New Terrorism Prevention Law

Almost without notice, the House overwhelmingly (404 – 6) passed the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (HR 1955) on October 23 some are calling “the thought crime prevention bill.” It now moves to the Senate where if passed and signed by George Bush will establish a commission and Center of Excellence to study and act against thought criminals.

The bill’s language hides its true intent as “violent radicalization” and “homegrown terrorism” are whatever the administration says they are. Violent radicalization is defined as “adopting or promoting an extremist belief system (to facilitate) ideologically based violence to advance political, religious or social change.” Homegrown terrorism is used to mean “the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily with the United States or any (US) possession to intimidate or coerce the (US) government, the civilian population….or any segment thereof (to further) political or social objectives.”

Along with other repressive laws enacted post-9/11, HR 1955 may be used against any individual or group with unpopular views – those that differ from established state policies even when they’re illegal as are many under George Bush. Prosecutors henceforth will be able to target anti-war protesters, believers in Islam, web editors, internet bloggers and radio and TV show hosts and commentators with views the bill calls “terrorist-related propaganda.”

If this legislation becomes law, which is virtually certain, any dissenting anti-government action or opinion may henceforth be called “violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism” with stiff penalties for anyone convicted. This bill now joins the ranks of other repressive post-9/11 laws like Patriot I and II, Military Commissions and Protect America Acts that combined with this one are grievous steps toward a full-blown national security police state everyone should fear and denounce.

Blame it on Congress and the 110th Democrat-led one that was elected to end these practices but just made them worse….and there’s still 14 months to go to the term’s end with plenty of time left to vaporize Iran and end the republic if that’s the plan.

Stephen Lendman is Research Associate of the Center for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on www.TheMicroEffect.com Mondays at noon US central time.

Global Research Articles by Stephen Lendman
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Ralph Nader Files Lawsuit Accusing Democratic Party of Conspiring to Block Presidential Run

November 1, 2007

Ralph Nader Files Lawsuit Accusing Democratic Party of Conspiring to Block Presidential Run


The lawsuit accuses the Democratic Party of “groundless and abusive litigation” to bankrupt Ralph Nader’s campaign and force him off the ballot in 18 states. We speak with Nader attorney Carl Mayer. [includes rush transcript]


Consumer advocate and three-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader sued the Democratic Party on Tuesday for conspiring to prevent him from running for president in 2004. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Nader, his vice presidential running mate Peter Miguel Camejo and a group of voters from several states. It names as co-defendants the Kerry-Edwards campaign, the Service Employees International Union, private law firms, and organizations like the Ballot Project and America Coming Together that were created to promote voter turnout on behalf of the Democratic ticket. According to the lawsuit the defendants used “groundless and abusive litigation” to bankrupt Ralph Nader’s campaign and force him off the ballot in 18 states. We are joined in the firehouse studio here in New York by public interest attorney Carl Mayer, whom the New York Times has described as “a populist crusader and maverick lawyer.” We tried reaching the Democratic National Committee and some of the other defendants to invite them to the show but received no response.

Carl Mayer was part of the legal team that filed the lawsuit in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

  • Carl Mayer. Public interest attorney. He filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Democratic Party on behalf of former presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

RUSH TRANSCRIPTThis transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
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AMY GOODMAN: Consumer advocate and three-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader sued the Democratic Party Tuesday for conspiring to prevent him from running for president in 2004. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Nader, his vice presidential running mate Peter Camejo and a group of voters from several states. It names as co-defendants the Kerry-Edwards campaign, the Service Employees International Union, private law firms, organizations like the Ballot Project and America Coming Together that were created to promote voter turnout on behalf of the Democratic ticket. According to the lawsuit, the defendants used “groundless and abusive litigation” to bankrupt Ralph Nader’s campaign and force him off the ballot in eighteen states.

We’re joined now here in New York by public interest attorney Carl Mayer, whom the New York Times has described as “a populist crusader and maverick lawyer.” We tried reaching the Democratic National Committee and some of the other defendants to invite them to the show but received no response. Carl Mayer was part of the legal team that filed the lawsuit in D.C. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Carl.

CARL MAYER: Thank you, Amy. Thank you for having me on.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are you suing?

CARL MAYER: To defend democracy. That’s the title of the show — excuse me, is Democracy Now! And this was the most massive anti-democratic campaign to eliminate a third-party candidate from the ballot in — probably in recent American history. It is — not content with having all these laws and statutes on the book that make it difficult for third-party and independent candidates to run, the Democratic Party and their allies in over fifty-three law firms, with over ninety lawyers, were engaged in filing litigation in eighteen states. They were to remove Ralph Nader from the ballot. It was an organized, abusive litigation process.

The core of the lawsuit is that these lawyers, led by Toby Moffett and Elizabeth Holtzman, and something called the Ballot Project, which was a 527 organization, systematically went around the country and filed lawsuit after lawsuit, twenty-four in all, plus five FEC complaints, to try to completely remove the Nader campaign from the ballot and to, in effect, bankrupt the campaign, which they succeeded in doing. Not content with that, one of the defendants, Reed Smith, which is a large corporate law firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they are now going after Ralph Nader’s personal bank account to make him pay some of the cost of this litigation.

And, understand, despite being outspent by the Democratic Party and its affiliated lawyers, the vast majority of these lawsuits were won by the Nader campaign, which was a largely volunteer effort. And these lawsuits were won across the country, despite this organized effort of intimidation and harassment. It’s basically abusive process and malicious prosecution. Those are common law torts. And it was very clear from the beginning that the Democratic Party was using the legal system for an improper purpose. In fact, Toby Moffett, who’s a former congressman from Connecticut, said directly to The Guardian of London in an interview in December of 2004, this wasn’t about the law. “I’d be less than honest if I said” this was not about the law; this was about getting Ralph Nader off the ballot. And that’s what this effort was about. And it’s a shameful anti-democratic process by a party that claims to be a democratic party.

And on top of that, the Democratic Party, or its allies, filed five FEC complaints against the campaign, alleging improper —

AMY GOODMAN: Federal Election Commission.

CARL MAYER: The Federal Election Commission — alleging improper funding, improper finances, etc. They were all dismissed by the FEC.

Now, let me tell you how bad it got. There was an organized effort of harassment of petitioners who went around trying to collect signatures for the Nader campaign in Ohio, in Oregon and in Pennsylvania. In Ohio, for example, lawyers were hired to call up petitioners and tell them that if they didn’t verify the signatures on the petition, they would be guilty of a felony. They were called at home by — and they were, in many cases, visited by private investigators and told — this is voter intimidation of the worst order.

In the state of Oregon, for example, there was a nominating convention, and you need a thousand signatures at the convention. We have emails from Democratic Party operatives stating, we want our people to go to this convention and then refuse to sign the petition at the convention so Nader will not get enough signatures at the convention to get on the ballot. And they accomplished their goal in Oregon. After the convention, there’s an alternative way of getting on the ballot, which is to collect signatures, and the Nader campaign went about doing that, and during the course of that there was further harassment and intimidation of petitioners by law firms, private investigators, calling up and threatening petitioners that they would be called before a court if they did not certify all the petitions.

AMY GOODMAN: How did the Service Employees International Union fit into this? Why are they being sued?

CARL MAYER: Well, the SEIU very clearly, in emails and on their website, the SEIU had a project, which was called ACT, or Americans Coming Together. There were several 527 groups; these are independent expenditure groups. And the SEIU was involved in them. The SEIU was involved in trying to keep Nader off the ballot by using its members, for example in Oregon, to go into the convention, but in other states — in other states, to try to actually void petitions by signing in the wrong place. The complaint — and this is all documented. It’s a seventy-three-page complaint, over 250 paragraphs, chapter and verse, about how, for example, the SEIU came up with the strategy of getting its members to go and write signatures in the wrong place on a petition, on Nader’s petitions, which would then invalidate the entire petition. So this was a coordinated anti-democratic activity, which in my view has little precedent in American history, and any third-party candidate of whatever stripe — leftwing, rightwing, populist, conservative — they should be outraged by what occurred in this case.

And we think we have a tremendous case before the D.C. Superior Court and other legal actions we will take, because this conspiracy was so — they were so adamant and vociferous about it, and the paper trail is very clear. And we’re not even into discovery. We can’t wait to take the depositions of the party activists, Toby Moffett, Terry McAuliffe, Elizabeth Holtzman, etc., who were at the center of this. In fact, the center of this effort was something called the Ballot Project, which was started by Robert Brandon, who’s one of the defendants, and he’s a consultant to the Democratic Party. And he held a meeting at the Democratic Convention in 2004 with Moffett, Holtzman and a group of other high-ranking Democrats, and they said, our purpose is to keep Nader off the ballot. And they went, and they proceeded to do it, spending millions of dollars.

AMY GOODMAN: What impact will all this have on Ralph Nader now? He has said that if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, he will run for president. It looks like she is the frontrunner right now.

CARL MAYER: Well, in terms of 2008, I can’t speak to 2008. And in politics, things can change quite quickly. I mean, it’s entirely possible that the actual progressive base of the Democratic Party will seek a nominee that reflects their views, which is that America should end this war in Iraq. It hasn’t been the history of the Democratic Party, but it’s way too early to talk about that.

But what this lawsuit will do, and the importance of it is, is to set a precedent so that the two-party monopoly system that shuts out minor parties in a way that other Western democracies never do, that this will set a precedent to prevent this type of intimidation and harassment. That’s the goal of the lawsuit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Ralph Nader or Michael Bloomberg or any other third-party candidate. The point is, we need as much competition in the political arena as we have in other areas of American life. And it’s time to stop rigging the game.

And what’s unbelievable is that the laws on the books already pose a tremendously high hurdle for third-party candidates. Tens of thousands of signatures, it takes, to get on the ballot in states like Texas and the Carolinas. And there’s no other country where it’s so difficult to get on the ballot. And those laws are passed by the Democrat and Republican Party to preserve their monopoly. So, “democracy now” — “democracy now” is not even close. We are not close to a state of democracy.

And recall also that in the history of the country, third parties were very important. In the nineteenth century, it was much easier to get on the ballot. The smaller third parties championed first important issues like ending slavery, women’s right to vote, Social Security; those were all first advocated by third parties. And if you exclude third parties from the ballot and from the debate, our democracy withers and atrophies. And it is not at all consistent with the vital democratic traditions of our country.

These third parties were around since the beginning of the Republic. The first third party was really the — well, in some respects, was the Anti-Federalist Party, but there was also something called the Anti-Freemason Party, which was started in 1800. From the beginning of the Republic, there were important third parties, which raised important issues. And we’re now snuffing that out. And unless we fight for this, this country will continue to have essentially a monopolistic position on every issue, from healthcare to the Iraq war to any of the important issues that so many people in this country care about.

AMY GOODMAN: Carl Mayer, we have to leave it there, but we will certainly continue to follow this lawsuit. Carl Mayer is one of the lead attorneys on this lawsuit against the Democratic Party and others who they say conspired to keep former presidential candidate Ralph Nader off of the ballot.

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Media “Disappear” Dennis Kucinich

September 6, 2007

Published on The Smirking Chimp (http://www.smirkingchimp.com)

Media “Disappear” Dennis Kucinich

Created Sep 5 2007 – 11:36am

From Black Agenda Report [1]

“I’ve been standing here for the last 45 minutes praying to God you were going to call on me.” – Dennis Kucinich to George Stephanopoulos, ABC news

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich is alive, well, and free to move about as he pleases. Yet corporate media treat him like brutal dictators disappearing the opposition. They don’t want voters to know that a Democratic presidential candidate will defend the citizenship rights of Americans and human rights around the world.

Kucinich was mayor of a major city, Cleveland, Ohio. He is now a six-term member of Congress and a Democratic presidential candidate for the second time. His progressive views are firmly in the mainstream, but right wing propaganda labels them unpopular. Kucinich’s demand for ethical corporate behavior makes the media nervous. If he became president their bosses would have to accept a government serving the needs of citizens instead of being only at the beck and call of corporate power. Like good minions everywhere, reporters make sure the higher ups remain happy.

Kucinich has sponsored a bill to impeach Vice President Cheney, opposes any further funding of the occupation of Iraq, advocates health care for all, and exposes the lies used to justify the planned killing of thousands in Iran. His choice to live up to the values that Democrats claim has earned him only scorn and derision from the media. They use a variety of methods to disappear him, including removing his image from photos, ignoring him during debates, and simply acting as if he doesn’t exist.

During the ABC sponsored debate broadcast on August 19th, George Stephanopoulos did not ask Kucinich a single question until nearly 30 minutes had elapsed and then asked him fewer questions than he asked any other candidate. As if the blatant lack of attention were not bad enough, ABC literally took Kucinich out of the picture. ABC displayed an Associated Press photo on its website that purported to show the Democratic candidates, but Kucinich’s image was no where to be seen.

When confronted by the Kucinich campaign, ABC lied and lied badly. They tried to blame the AP when the photo cropping was obviously their own handiwork. Then they replaced the original cropped photo with one that included Kucinich but never acknowledged the original attempt [2] to eliminate him and his message from view.

The ham fisted crookedness didn’t end with a photograph. An online poll of debate viewers showed Kucinich as the winner. When the poll gave this unwanted and inconvenient information, ABC buried the results on the web site, making it difficult for readers to find.

ABC is not the only guilty party. A recent New York Times article [3] stated that “Democrats Say Leaving Iraq May Take Years.” The headline was a dead give away that Kucinich would be ignored. He has a plan [4] to immediately announce the end of occupation, not a phony Clinton/Obama/Edwards “end” that leaves U.S. troops in place. If there were any journalistic ethics left, a candidate who advocates such a different path would be given an opportunity to explain those views to voters, instead of being treated like a skunk at the New York Times private party.

This press behavior has a devastating effect on what is left of American democracy. If voters don’t know who Kucinich is, they are forced to choose from a group that is more alike than different. They can then be convinced that they must ignore their own opinions about Iraq or single payer health care. The inevitable conclusion is that candidates must be chosen by the inherently corrupt “lesser evil” method that has brought this country to ruin. Democrats who want to reject the continuation of the Bush evil empire are told they have no where to turn, that Clinton/Obama/Edwards is going to win anyway, and that they must be “realistic” and get on board because Kucinich has no chance.

Kucinich would be the choice of many Democratic primary voters if those voters knew anything about him. When crucial information is withheld from the public, corruption is accepted and the status quo that is destroying the nation continues to reign supreme. If this disgraceful press behavior continues, Kucinich will be the loser, but democracy and the American people will be the biggest losers of all.
_______

About author Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BA R. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com. Ms. Kimberley’ maintains an edifying and frequently updated blog at freedomrider.blogspot.com [5]. More of her work is also available at her Black Agenda Report archive page [6].

Cheney Determined To Strike In US With WMD This Summer: Only Impeachment, Removal or General Strike Can Stop Him

July 27, 2007

Cheney Determined To Strike In US With WMD This Summer: Only Impeachment, Removal or General Strike Can Stop Him

Cheney Determined To Strike In US With WMD This Summer
Only Impeachment, Removal or General Strike Can Stop Him

By Webster G. Tarpley
7-21-7

“The greatest threat now is ‘a 9/11’ occurring with a group of terrorists armed not with airline tickets and box cutters, but with a nuclear weapon in the middle of one of our own cities.”
— Dick Cheney on Face the Nation, CBS, April 15, 2007

A few days ago, a group of lawyers from western Massachusetts met with the local congressman, Democrat John Olver. Their request was that Olver take part in the urgent effort to impeach Bush and Cheney. Olver responded by saying that he had no intention of doing anything to support impeachment. He went further, offering the information that the United States would soon attack Iran, and that these hostilities would be followed by the imposition of a martial law regime here.

According to reports in the British press, the Cheney war party has gained the upper hand in the secret councils of the Bush White House, pushing aside the purported hesitations of Miss Rice, Secretary Gates, and the NATO allies to chart a direct course towards war with Iran:

‘The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned. The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: “Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.” at a meeting of the White House, Pentagon and state department last month, Mr Cheney expressed frustration at the lack of progress and Mr Bush sided with him. “The balance has tilted. There is cause for concern,” the source said this week. “Cheney has limited capital left, but if he wanted to use all his capital on this one issue, he could still have an impact,” said Patrick Cronin, the director of studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.’ (“Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iran; Military solution back in favour as Rice loses out; President ‘not prepared to leave conflict unresolved'”, Guardian, July 16, 2007.)

Deluded supporters of the Democratic Party may soon have to throw away their pathetic countdown clocks, those self-consoling little devices that remind them of how much time remains until noon on January 20, 2009, the moment when it is thought that Bush will finally leave office. These countdown clocks make no provision for the Cheney doctrine, which calls for a new super 9/11 with weapons of mass destruction in the US, to be used as the pretext for a nuclear attack on Iran and for martial law at home. Those who think the Republicans cannot hold the White House in 2008 have forgotten that neocons always prefer a coup d’etat to an election. As Cheney told Bob Schieffer of CBS’s Face the Nation on April 15, 2007:

‘The greatest threat now is “a 9/11 occurring with a group of terrorists armed not with airline tickets and box cutters, but with a nuclear weapon in the middle of one of our own cities.”‘

Pelosi and Reid need to toss out their fatuous countdown clocks, and get out their impeachment stopwatches fast.

CHERTOFF’S GUT FEELING FOR TERRORISM

could cite, Chertoff called his “gut feeling the nation faces a heightened chance of an attack this summer.” “I believe we are entering a period this summer of increased risk,” said Chertoff. “Summertime seems to be appealing to them. … We worry that they are rebuilding their activities.” The desperate demagogues of the Republican Party are facing a hecatomb at the polls in November 2008. Their idea seems to be that of the fascist Prime Minister Aznar of Spain in March 2004: if you are sure to lose an election, stage a terror attack, declare martial law, and perpetuate your power that way. Aznar was stopped by a general strike of about one third of the entire Spanish people. If all else fails, would Americans be capable of a mass strike against war and dictatorship? We may soon find out.

Chertoff’s troubled gut has already given rise to a White House interagency group of top intelligence and law enforcement functionaries that meets every Friday afternoon at 1PM. Will this committee run the coup? Reports followed of dozens of FBI agents fanning out to pursue a “worry list” of some seven hundred alleged leads, including 100 in the New York area. Some of these derived from the recent British terror stunts in London and Glasgow used by MI-5 and MI-6 to smooth the transition from the Tony Blair quasi-police state to the Gordon Brown version of the same thing. MI-5 and MI-6 displayed the same mixture of comic ineptitude and phlegmatic homicide which was their hallmark during the long years when London was the prey of bombs by the “Irish Republican Army,” now revealed to have been top-heavy with government intelligence agents who called the shots. The Glasgow airport event consisted of a burning car crashed into a building, the films of which were shown all afternoon the by the US cable news networks. One was tempted to propose a caption: “Only one burning car a good day on the Cross-Bronx Expressway.” Yet for one burning car, the world was supposed to stop. These British events had been preceded by several weeks of hysteria about allegedly looming terror attacks against US installations in the Rhein-Main area of Germany, featuring the Wiesbaden spa, all based on CIA claims made to the government in Berlin and relentlessly trumpeted through the controlled media.

A NEW 9/11 THE KEY TO BOLSTERING WESTERN RESOLVE

Chertoff’s rationale was illuminated by an interview with Lt. Colonel Doug Delaney, the chair of the war studies program at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, a NATO intelligence center. Delaney was addressing the problems raised by the rising Canadian losses in Afghanistan, but he provided a valuable window into the minds of military planners when he observed, in the words of the interviewer: “It may well be that the key to bolstering Western resolve is another terrorist attack like 9/11 or the London transit bombings of two years ago, he says. If nothing happens, it will be harder still to say this [Canadian meddling in Afghanistan] is necessary.” In other words, it may be time for a new false flag synthetic terror operation to gin up hysteria in North America to permit the present bankrupt elites to retain power and further grind down any spirit of popular resistance to such irrational rule. Chertoff’s fear-mongering was backed up by ousted Republican senator and notorious scoundrel Rick Santorum, who told a radio interviewer that “between now and November, a lot of things are going to happen, and I believe that by this time next year, the American public is going to have a very different view of this war.” Chertoff’s reckless and inflammatory ventriloquism was the harbinger of the new US National Intelligence Estimate issued on July 17.

THE BOOZ ALLEN NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE: “AL QAEDA” THREAT TO USA LOOMS

This pitiful NIE ranks with the lying NIEs issued before the attack on Iraq in 2003 as a tissue of lies and prevarications. The main thesis is that al Qaeda branches around the world are striving to infiltrate more operatives into the US for terror attacks on the US “homeland:” “Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al Qaeda senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al Qaeda will intensify its efforts to put operatives here,” opines the declassified summary of the underlying secret screed. “As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment.” (cnn.com, July 17) The new faked NIE has been produced under the supervision of Admiral Michael McConnell, the current US intelligence czar, whose credentials include ten years at Booz Allen Hamilton, the premier private military firm. Some analysts have asked what was going on at Booz Allen on September 11, 2001, and in the days leading up to that event, and what McConnell personally might have been working on. Back on January 7, 2007, Raw Story had portrayed the newly-nominated McConnell as a Cheney asset, and quoted CIA old boy Vince Cannistraro calling the McConnell nomination “a disaster.” In the same article, CIA vet Larry Johnson predicted that McConnell, a weak manager, would cave in to Bush-Cheney on key issues. The fabrications of the new NIE have been assisted by Cheney’s office, by convicted Iran-contra felon Elliot Abrams (now a dominant personality inside the Bush White House), by Abrams’ military aide Gen. Kevin Bergner, and by other neocon assets.

Intelligence community veteran Philip Giraldi of the CIA has dismissed the new NIE with its talk of “high impact plots” against the US as “a tour de force of misinformation disguised as fact.” Giraldi also noted: “It is possibly no coincidence that there has been a significant increase in the anti-Iran rhetoric emanating from both the Bush administration and Congress over the past few weeks, mostly seeking to establish a casus belli by contending that Iran is masterminding lethal attacks against US troops in Iran and NATO forces in Afghanistan.” ( antiwar.com, July 17)

CHENEY’S PERSIAN ADVENTURE

A nuclear attack on Iran remains the central obsession of the George Shultz-Rupert Murdoch-Cheney faction. On July 10, the Pentagon announced that it would be sending another aircraft carrier battle group, this time that of the USS Enterprise, to the waters off Iran. This means that whenever that carrier joins the two already there, three US attack carriers will be within striking range of Iranian targets. The Pentagon followed up shortly thereafter with another statement, assuring the world that soon only one carrier would patrol off Iran. But that was only a dubious promise, and in the meantime the three carriers would shortly be ready to attack.

On July 10, the Washington Post and Reuters stoked international hysteria with reports that mysterious and sinister tunnels were being built by the Iranian authorities near one of the suspected nuclear facilities of Natanz. These reports were accompanied by aerial photographs and satellite imaging that has been gussied up with labels to make them look as much as possible like the famous U-2 photographs of Soviet medium-range missiles in Cuba back in October 1962. The claim was that the supposed tunnel “could be used to hide and protect key nuclear components.” The implication was that the Iranian atomic bomb could not be far off, a notion for which there is no proof.

In the late winter, Pelosi, House Majority Leader Stenny Hoyer and Reid had bowed to the demands of AIPAC, the subversive pro-Israeli lobbying organization whose employees have been implicated in espionage, and removed from the defense bill a provision warning Bush that he was required to consult Congress before attacking Iran. A similar provision pushed for a while by Senator Webb of Virginia has also disappeared from view. As for the Republican presidential candidates, on June 7 they with the solitary exception of maverick Ron Paul outbid one another in enthusiasm for a nuclear attack on Iran. These ultra-Hitlerian outbursts occurred in response to manipulation by Wolf Blitzer, an obvious asset of the war party. For the good of the American people, the warmonger GOP candidates, along with Blitzer, should have been hauled away at once in a net by burly orderlies in white coats.

CHENEY’S BREAKAWAY ALLY CHARADE

A key component of Cheney’s argument is that Israel may soon strike unilaterally against Iran with a sneak attack deploying nuclear weapons, breaking the post-1945 taboo on atomic bombs. This would represent the old “breakaway ally” scenario, by which Israel presents the US with such an attack as a fait accompli, and then expects Washington to enter the war on the side of the Israeli aggressors. Cheney’s talking point is that the US must be ready to strike because the Israelis are going to act on their own anyway. The lying nature of Cheney’s line is shown by Bush’s remark to Chirac at the St. Petersburg G-8 summit in July 2006, when Bush was adamant that the Israeli aggression against Lebanon then ongoing was not an Israeli-conceived war, but rather a US war which had been assigned to Israel as a proxy and surrogate for the US. According to Will Thomas, a dress rehearsal for the breakaway ally charade occurred on January 7, 2007 when Israeli warplanes flew over Iraq and manifested the intention to “go downtown” meaning an apparent nuclear strike into Iran. At some point the Israelis were allegedly told by the US to go back, and they desisted from the attempt. This reported incident came shortly before the US raided the Iranian consulate in Irbil in northern Iraq, illegally arresting Iranian diplomats. Around the same time, reports that an Iranian missile had hit a US ship caused a stir on Wall Street, while Iran reported shooting down another US drone over its territory. ( infowars.com, willthomas.net)

The Israeli war party is represented first of all by Avigdor Lieberman, the Minister of Strategic Threats who is himself a strategic threat. On Friday July 13, a day of ill omen, Lieberman boasted before a group of NATO and European Union officials that Israel had received a green light from the U.S. and Europe for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “If we start military operations against Iran alone, then Europe and the U.S. will support us,” said Lieberman. According to Israel Today magazine, Lieberman argued that ongoing hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan are “going to prevent the leaders of countries in Europe and America from deciding on the use of force to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities,” so they are telling Israel to “prevent the threat herself.”

Another Israeli incendiary is Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, the former head of the Research Division of Israeli Military Intelligence. On July 10, Kuperwasser told the Jerusalem Post that economic sanctions alone will not stop Iran, and that the window of opportunity to launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear installations was running out. Kuperwasser claimed that Iran is “very close” to the technological threshold for enriching uranium at an industrial level. The Iranians will then be able to manufacture a nuclear device within two to three years, according to Kuperwasser. “The program’s vulnerability to a military operation is diminishing as time passes,” Kuperwasser said, “and they are very close to the point that they will be able to enrich uranium at an industrial level.”

EL BARADEI WARNS AGAINST NEOCON “NEW CRAZIES”

This kind of thinking in the US, UK, and Israel was what Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had in mind when he issued his famnous June 2, 2007 warning about a coming attack on Iran: “I wake every morning and see 100 Iraqis innocent civilians are dying …I have no brief other than to make sure we don’t go into another war or that we go crazy into killing each other. You do not want to give additional argument to new crazies who say ‘let’s go and bomb Iran.’ ” And who are the “new crazies”? “Those who have extreme views and say the only solution is to impose your will by force.” It is not possible to “bomb knowledge.”

A grave doubt casts its shadow over any scenario of US nuclear attack on Iran: as William Thomas reported last February, the fuses of cheap Chinese silicon chips now being used by the US military in ships, tanks, planes, and other applications may be too weak to resist the high levels of electromagnetic pulse (emp) which would be unleashed by a nuclear bombardment of the Iranian nuclear sites. The outsourced chips, coherent with the Rumsfeld “war on the cheap” strategy, could cripple a large proportion of the US Central Command’s military hardware, with disruptive effects that would reach back to the command’s Florida headquarters and possibly to the Pentagon. ( rense.com, February 21, 2007, and willthomas.net) If these report are correct, US nuclear bombers might crash, the the carriers that launched them might suddenly find themselves dead in the water, quite independent of what the Iranians might do.

CHENEY’S LEBANON-SYRIA GAMBIT

In addition to the hypothesis of an attack on Iran, there is also the immediate threat to Iran’s ally, Syria. According to a UPI dispatch dated July 9 under the byline of Claude Salhani, numerous signs currently point towards hostilities between Israel and the Damascus government, with a renewed Israeli attack on Lebanon a likely element in this strategy. According to former State Department official Dennis Ross, “there is a risk of war” between Syria and Israel in the summer. Ross told YnetNews, Yedioth Ahronoth’s Internet edition: “no one has made any decisions, but the Syrians are positioning themselves for war.” The neocon exoteric New York Sun claimed to cite a supposed Syrian official saying that added that, by allegedly pulling Syrian nationals out of Lebanon by mid-July, “Damascus is preparing for Israeli retaliation following Syrian guerilla attacks and for a larger war with the Jewish state in August or September.” “If Israel doesn’t vacate the strategic Golan Heights before September, Syrian guerillas will immediately launch ‘resistance operations’ against the Golan’s Jewish communities,” the alleged Syrian added. These remarks reflect scenarios being developed by the Israelis.

But the Masada party of national suicide is not the only game in town for Israelis. On July 11, an anonymous leaker from inside Israeli Military Intelligence warned his associates to remember their ignominious defeat at the hands of Hezbollah in last summer’s war. According to this source, “war with Syria would be ten times worse than with Hezbollah.”

THE ATTACK ON PAKISTAN: MIDSUMMER OF NEOCON MADNESS

Cheney also has the option of attacking into Pakistan. Cheney had visited Pakistan at the end of February with an obvious ultimatum to General Musharraf to get ready to mount a land war against Iran this summer. Equally and immediately obvious was the fact that Musharraf, who considers himself the heir to the great Mustafa Kemal Ataturk of Turkey, had told the Vice President to go Cheney himself. With Pakistan refusing to attack its neighbor, Cheney suddenly discovered that Osama bin Laden was being protected by Musharraf! The US-UK destabilization of Pakistan began in grand style, with the New York Times helpfully publishing lists of generals whom Washington would be delighted to see take power in a putsch in Islamabad. Pawns of the destabilization included the Chief Justice of Pakistan, reputed to be a British agent, and riots by lawyers in business suits. Then came the slaughter at the Red Mosque, staged by the usual CIA/MI-6 fundamentalists. Pakistan, under tremendous pressure from the US, has announced a military crackdown on so-called Taliban forces in the northern tribal areas of Waziristan, an enterprise sure to stir up a hornet’s nest of resistance even if none had been there before. The neocons demanded that the US invade Pakistan, under the pretext of looking for Osama bin Laden. On July 12, neocon fascist madman William Kristol told Fox News: “I think the president’s going to have to take military action there over the next few weeks or months…. Bush has to disrupt that sanctuary. I think, frankly, we won’t even tell Musharraf. We’ll do what we have to do in Western Pakistan and Musharraf can say, ‘Hey, they didn’t tell me.'” Ironically, bin Laden’s second in command, reputed MI-6 speaking tube Ayman al Zawahiri, at around the same time issued a fatwa declaring jihad against Musharraf’s Pakistani regime. If Musharraf was haboring Osama, why would al Qaeda declare war against Musharraf? The answer is what it has always been: “al Qaeda” is a troupe of agents provocateurs founded by the CIA and the British, and remains so until this day. As for the neocon plan to attack Pakistan, it is the very midsummer of madness: if Iran has three time the population of Iraq, Pakistan with 164 million is more than five times more numerous than Iraq. If the neocon plans succeed, the US would soon be at war with almost 300 million people far too many for the hollow US force of 10 divisions, whatever technology they might possess.

WARNINGS: RON PAUL, PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS, CINDY SHEEHAN, PAT BUCHANAN

Among other authoritative voices across the political spectrum warning of an imminent Bush-Cheney attack on Iran:

Republican Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul commented to Alex Jones: “I think we’re in great danger of it. We’re in danger in many ways, the attack on our civil liberties here at home, the foreign policy that’s in shambles and our obligations overseas and commitment which endangers our troops and our national defense.”

Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under the Reagan Administration, wrote in his latest column: “Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran. Bush has put in place all the necessary measures for dictatorship in the form of ‘executive orders’ that are triggered whenever Bush declares a national emergency. Recent statements by Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, former Republican senator Rick Santorum and others suggest that Americans might expect a series of staged, or false flag, ‘terrorist’ events in the near future.” (Paul Craig Roberts, “Impeach Now or Face the End of Constitutional Democracy,” Counterpunch, July 16, 2007) In a July 19 interview with Thomm Hartmann of Air America, Roberts cited Bush’s July 17 executive order, which allows the US regime to seize the property of anyone found to be interfering with the reconstruction of Iraq. This radio warning was reported by the RIA-Novosti news agency of Moscow in numerous languages. The Moscow summary, dated July 20, begins: “A former Reagan official has issued a public warning that the Bush administration is preparing to orchestrate a staged terrorist attack in the United States, transform the country into a dictatorship, and launch a war with Iran within a year.”

Pat Buchanan is convinced that the danger of a new war provocation by Bush-Cheney will come in August, when the Democratic Congress will conveniently be out of Washington and on vacation. Buchanan asks important questions:

Is the United States provoking war with Iran, to begin while the Congress is conveniently on its August recess? One recalls that it was in August 1964, after the Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater, that the Tonkin Gulf incident occurred.

Has Bush secretly authorized covert attacks inside Iran? Are U.S. and Israeli agents in Kurdistan behind the attacks across the border to provoke Iran? On July 11, Iranian troops clashed with Kurd rebels inside Iran, and the Iranians fired artillery back into Iraq.

Is this yet another abdication by Congress of its moral and constitutional duty to decide when and whether America goes to war?

Why is Congress going on vacation? Why are a Democratic-controlled House and Senate not asking these questions in public hearings? Why is Congress letting Bush and Vice President Cheney decide whether we launch a third war in the Middle East? Or is Congress in on it?” (“Tonkin Gulf II and the Guns of August?,” World Net Daily, July 17, 2007)

Based on the John Olver remarks, the Democrats are in on it. As for Buchanan, he should say these things on MSNBC.
Also warning of new war provocations was Cindy Sheehan, who was traveling towards Washington DC to declare her challenge to failed House Speaker Pelosi. She commented that there was a “distinct possibility” that America will be hit with another staged terror attack that will allow Bush to enact the martial law provisions he recently imposed by executive order. These measures allow Bush to declare a domestic state of emergency in response to virtually any minor incident anywhere in the world. (Paul Joseph Watson, Prison Planet, July 12, 2007, “Sheehan: Distinct Chance Of Staged Attack, Martial Law; Peace Mom warns of false flag terror as she prepares to take on sell-out Pelosi.”)

BUSH ANTICS STUN REPUBLICANS FROM THE HILL

This past week, the tenant of the White House showed new signs of mental instability by barging in to a routine meeting between White House communication director Ed Gillespie, spokesman Tony Snow, and a group of Republican congressional leaders. Bush was there to insist that everybody stay the course of Iraq.
“It was stunning,” said one GOP aide who attended the meeting. “We couldn’t believe he came in.” “We kept looking at each other, amazed he came in,” said another Republican colleague. According to one press account, “Bush was described as folksy, adamant and mildly profane as he interrupted the meeting. His message: the policy on Iraq isn’t changing. He is not backing down and no one on Capitol Hill should be confused into thinking he is letting up.”

A new threat to US policy comes from the formidable Turkish military establishment, which is sick and tired of constant cross-border attacks by PKK Kurdish terrorists operating from the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq. The US, UK, and Israelis are using the PKK for terror operations into Kurdish territories of Iran. These PKK terrorist are paid and armed directly by the US military, bringing any notion of a US “war on terror” to a new nadir of absurdity. For some time, the Turks have been lobbing shells and raiding into Kurdish Iraq. 140,000 Turkish troops are massed along the border in question, and if Turkish patience runs out, the Kurds will be crushed.

US IRAQ SUPPLY LINES IN GRAVE DANGER

Washington still cultivates delusions of grandeur: the moment of truth for Iraq will be in mid-September, or perhaps in November or December. But, as one British writer once put it, what if the bear blows first? What if US forces in Iraq experience catastrophic military defeat at some point in the future? What if it takes the form of pocketing or encirclement, the “Dunkirk if you’re lucky, Stalingrad if you’re not so lucky” outcome?

It is not clear whether or when Iraqi resistance forces will move decisively to attack the Achilles heel of the US occupation forces, the 400-mile truck convoys between Kuwait City and Baghdad, but the longer the US forces continue their present futile efforts, the more likely this tragic outcome will become. These are trucks driven by Pakistanis, Turks, Bangladeshis, and Filipinos, and protected by private military contractors by poorly armed mercenaries. A recent report by Jim Michaels in USA Today indicates that the strategy most dangerous to the US forces is indeed gaining ground among the resistance: Michaels writes that “attacks on supply convoys protected by private security companies in Iraq have more than tripled as the U.S. government depends more on armed civilian guards to secure reconstruction and other missions. There were 869 such attacks from the beginning of June 2006 to the end of May this year. For the preceding 12 months, there were 281 attacks.” Of all the news coming out of Iraq, this is perhaps the most ominous. Any military debacle by the US forces in Iraq would be immediately blamed on Iran, and would infallibly be seized upon by Cheney as a pretext for massive retaliation against Iran.

DOLLAR HYPERINFLATION A FACTOR

An important contributing factor in the Cheneyac war hysteria is the beginning of dollar hyperinflation. Two Bear Sterns hedge funds have blown up, wiping out $9 billion of capital in a few days, and Helicopter Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve says that the subprime mortgage bubble meltdown will lead to $100 billion in losses by US banks, and this is clearly a lowball figure. Two analysts quoted by the Toronto Globe and Mail on July 19 suggest that the entire US banking establishment may now be looking at a 15% to 20% devaluation because of mortgage-related losses. Only frenetic pumping in of new dollar liquidity by Helicopter Ben and his men is staving off big bankruptcies, but this sloshing liquidity spells hyperinflation . The Dow has passed 14,000, but the dollar has also reached an all-time low of almost $1.40 to a euro, with a 26-year low against the British pound. With oil well above $75 and gold above $680 per ounce, while raw materials and food prices skyrocket, the US may soon resemble Germany of 1923, when people took their money to the grocery store in a wheelbarrow, and brought home their purchases in their pocket. Small wonder that the worldwide dumping of the bankrupt US dollar continues apace, with Iran now asking Japan to pay for oil transactions in yen, cutting Wall Street out of another lucrative commodity flow.

US SITUATION TRAGIC

These points bring into sharp relief the dire predicament of our tragically drifting country in the summer of 2007, a summer which Cheney’s backers and controllers are determined to transform into the Summer of Fear. Skeptics may object that they have heard all this before in the spring and the autumn of 2004, in the late summer of 2005, and in March-April of 2007 and that so far the general war with Iran had not occurred. This is true, but it is no argument against the urgency of the warnings that the present writer and others have issued from time to time over the last three years. It only shows that the world has been lurching and careening along the edge of a much wider war in the Middle East since about May of 2004 at the latest. For much of this time we have lived in the shadow of the Cheney doctrine, which calls for a nuclear attack on Iran in the wake of a new super 9/11 terrorist provocation (coming from the bowels of the US intelligence community) as revealed by Philip Giraldi in The American Conservative in August of 2005. Each time some combination of internal US institutional resistance and inertia, objections by NATO allies, and foreign threats or pressure have somehow avoid the worst. So far we have muddled through. But Cheney’s backers and controllers the ones designated as the Cheneyacs in this analysis have unfailingly pulled themselves together after each rebuff, and have marshaled their forces for a new drive over the brink of the abyss. As long as Bush and Cheney are in power, as long as the 9/11 rogue networks in the US intelligence community continue their work unpurged and undisturbed, we will face one war emergency after another, until the likely moment when humanity’s luck runs out. Under any political system committed to its own survival, each of the Cheneyac war drives over the past three years should have lead to the impeachment, removal from office, and indictment of the dour and snarling old reprobate himself, and a general mop-up of his followers. It is the fact that the corrupt and cowardly parliamentary cretins of the Democratic Party have failed to impeach and oust Bush-Cheney over the last six months since they took power which represents the most immediate cause of the fix we are now in. Congressman Kucinich has introduced the needed articles against Cheney, but the Pelosi-Reid opportunists have been hostile to this needed measure. It is time for honest activists to join with the Philadelphia Platform to get on with the business at hand before martial law is imposed by these neocon fascist madmen, since by then it may be too late.

BRZEZINSKI: “A TERRORIST ACT IN THE US BLAMED ON IRAN”

The Democratic Party Congressional leadership has known all about Cheney’s plans for six months or more, as can be shown from the public record. On February 1, 2007, Zbigniew Brzezinski warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of ongoing machinations designed to procure war with Iran and beyond: “A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks, followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US blamed on Iran; culminating in a ‘defensive’ US action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.” Over the past half year, events have followed Brzezinski’s scenario closely. Blaming Iran for the missed benchmarks in Iraq is now the daily stock in trade of the Bush administration and the US Central Command, who whine continuously about Iranian interference in Iraq. There have been several military provocations in Iraq which the US has tried to pin on Iran, most notably March 23, 2007 incident involving 15 British Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel who were taken into custody by the Iranians. This incident was a part of Cheney’s winter-spring war drive, which peaked with two US B-1 bombers deliberately violating Iranian airspace over the city of Abadan in oil-rich Khuzestan province on March 31. This crisis was defused by a mobilization of persons of good will around the world, with Russian President Putin and the RIA-Novosti news agency playing a critical role. In particular, a pointed March 28 warning from Putin to Bush about attacking Iran created enough uncertainty in Washington about how Moscow might respond to nuclear aggression against Iran so that cooler heads than Cheney’s prevailed.

FIGHT BACK WITH THE PHILADELPHIA PLATFORM

That leaves us with Brzezinski’s third scenario point: a terrorist act in the US blamed on Iran. What Brzezinski is talking about here is high treason, insurrection , genocide, high crimes against humanity under US law and the Nuremberg Code. Why has he not been called upon to tell all he knows about this sinister plot, so obviously operating through the Cheney-Addington office, and through Eliot Abrams at the White House? Because the Democrats who heard that warning Senators Biden, Dodd, and Obama on the committee, plus Hillary Clinton have done nothing to raise a hue and cry, hold hearings, issue subpoenas, demand documents, or begin impeachment hearings against those involved. The Democratic Party must therefore be seen as fully complicit under the Nuremberg Code in any future crimes by Cheney regarding a wider war in the Middle East. The Democratic Party has failed, and the viable peace movement must now organize independently on a multi-issue basis including 9/11 truth, as called for in the July 4, 2007 Philadelphia Platform, which can be seen at actindependent.org.

Obama Says Clinton Has Foreign Policy Like Bush’s

July 26, 2007

Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrat Barack Obama accused Hillary Clinton on Thursday of backing a foreign policy toward hostile nations no different than U.S. President
George W. Bush’s in an escalation of their war of words this week.

Obama, an Illinois senator, fired back at New York Sen. Clinton for calling him “irresponsible and naive” for saying during a CNN/YouTube debate on Monday that he would be willing to meet without preconditions the leaders of Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela during his first year in office.

The dust-up between the two top contenders in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in the November 2008 election has been the most dramatic spat thus far in the campaign.

Clinton has tried to portray herself as the most experienced option among Democrats, far more prepared to be commander-in-chief than Obama, who has been in the U.S. Senate less than three years compared to her eight years as first lady to President Bill Clinton and senator since 2001.

Clinton took a more cautious approach to a debate question about meeting troublesome world leaders, arguing the president should only meet with such leaders after lower-level diplomatic spadework is completed.

Obama, in a conference call with reporters, said that is Bush’s position as well.

“The Bush administration’s policy is to say that we will not talk to these countries unless they meet various preconditions. That’s their explicit policy,” Obama said.

At the same time, Obama seemed to walk back a little bit from his debate position, saying diplomatic preparation would be necessary before presidential meetings.

“Nobody expects that you would suddenly just sit down with them for coffee without having done the appropriate groundwork. But the question was, would you meet them without preconditions, and part of the Bush doctrine has been to say no,” he said.

“You’ll have to ask Senator Clinton what differentiates her position from theirs,” Obama added.

Bush considers Iran a brewing nuclear menace and has refused to meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But he has allowed U.S. diplomats to meet Iranians about U.S. charges that Iran is stirring up trouble in Iraq.

He has allowed diplomatic contacts with North Korea, Syria and Venezuela while having no dealings with communist Cuba. Acting Cuban President Raul Castro said on Thursday he would welcome talks with the United States after Bush leaves office.

Some Democrats believe Bush may have missed opportunities for diplomatic progress by refusing to meet some of these leaders. Critics say the president has alienated much of the world with a foreign policy they call arrogant, particularly with the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Obama made a case for talking to leaders shunned by the United States.

“The fact of the matter is when we talk to world leaders, it give us the opportunity to speak about our ideals, our values and our interests, and I am not afraid to have that conversation with anybody,” he said.

He said if he were to sit down with the Iranian president, “I will send a strong message that Israel is our friend, that we will assist in their security and that we don’t find nuclear weapons acceptable as Iran is currently envisioning it.”

“That’s not a propaganda coup for the president of Iran,” he said. He added that the debate over the issue was whether to pursue conventional thinking or consider new ideas.

I Announce My Candidacy Against Nancy Pelosi in California’s 8th. By Cindy Sheehan

July 25, 2007

I Announce My Candidacy Against Nancy Pelosi in California’s 8th. By Cindy Sheehan


By Cindy Sheehan

07/24/07  “ICH

Journey for Humanity and Accountability, Day 14

I am lying in my hotel bed at the end of a very busy, productive, yet sad day.

About 300 people gathered today and marched the 3½ miles from the entrance of Arlington Cemetery to Congressman John Conyers’ office to demand impeachment and accountability from one of the leading figures in American politics for the last four decades.

We were so thrilled with the turnout and the energy of the group. There was great media coverage and about one dozen freepers on the opposite corner with signs such as: “Traitors go to Hell” and “Cindy Sheehan go to Hell.” Nice. I have learned that hell can be on earth and if there is anything worse than burying a child, I don’t want to know about it.

At the end of the march, Reverend Lennox Yearwood, President of the Hip Hop Caucus, Ray McGovern (retired CIA analyst), and I met with Congressman John Conyers to implore him to institute impeachment proceedings against the pretenders to the White House who are destroying our democracy, making a mockery out of our rule of law and who are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

This was my third meeting with Congressman Conyers about impeachment. I hold a special place in my heart for him and I revere him for his decades-long service to this nation. But for the life of me, I cannot understand why he will not go forward with impeachment now.

A year ago, he introduced HR635 to impeach George Bush while he was Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and not even chairman. He wrote the book on impeachment called: The Constitution in Crisis and he readily admits that BushCo have committed impeachable offenses.

It’s about partisan politics, pure and simple. The Congressman claims there is absolutely no way that impeachment can go forward and, when I was nearing the end of my hope, I cried out: “So, if the people’s house won’t help us then we the people have no recourse against the executive branch.” To which he replied: “Yes you do, vote the enablers out in ‘08.” Firstly, Congressman Conyers told us to put Democrats back in Congress to end the war and impeach BushCo. We did that and instead of ending the war, they gave George Bush more money to wage it and to conduct his deadly and tragic surge. Secondly, ‘08 will be too late to hold George and Dick accountable. Thirdly, thousands of more people will die in these last months of the worst Presidency in American history. Lastly, after Dick proclaimed that he was not part of the executive branch and that his office does not have to comply with requests to turn over documents to the National Archives: 435 Congress Reps should have signed onto H Res 333 to impeach Cheney. Only 14 have co-signed Congressman Kucinich’s bill, so that makes 421 elected Congressional officials enablers of the crimes of the Bush Regime.

At the end of this day, Speaker Pelosi has not supported impeachment and has not upheld her oath of office to “protect and defend” the Constitution. Like Congressman Conyers said almost a year ago, our Constitution is in crisis and we can’t wait for more meetings and more stalling from Reps who think the problem will go away in ‘08. The Middle East is rapidly falling apart under this regime and our country is sliding rapidly into a state of one-branch tyranny while our “heroes,” the Democrats, fiddle.

It was with very heavy hearts that Rev. Yearwood, Ray, and I reported back to the media that the Congressman had said that with over 1 million signatures on petitions, one phone call coming into his office every 30 seconds supporting impeachment, and with 300 activists in the hall to support him, he was still not going to move forward with the most urgent duty of his career. The Rev and I were particularly disheartened and broken because we do love the Congressman so much, but we love our country and the people of Iraq and the Middle East more. The Rev and Ray spent many years serving their country in the military and the CIA and I had a son who gave his life to do what the Congress is supposed to do: protect our freedoms, not hand them over to the mob that runs our country.

It is also with a heavy heart that I announce my candidacy against Nancy Pelosi in California’s 8th. If anybody would dare think I am not serious, I would hope they would look back at the last 3 years of my life and everything I have sacrificed to restore our nation to one that obeys the rule of law and can be looked up to with respect once again in the international community and not as the hated laughingstock on the block.

I am committed to challenging a two-party system that has kept us in a state of constant warfare for the last 60 years and has become more and more beholden to special interests and has forgotten the faces of the people whom it represents.

I am committed to using our strength as a country to wage peace and to elevate the status of every citizen in our country by converting the enduring war economy to a prosperous one with lasting peace.

Someone needs to step up to the plate to do this and I challenge other Americans to do the same. Challenge the status quo, because the status quo is no good. We need to become plugged into our government once again as active participants not just passive voters.

It is up to us.

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan who was killed in Bush’s war of terror on 04/04/04. She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace and The Camp Casey Peace Institute.


The Invisible Government By John Pilger

July 22, 2007

The Invisible Government By John Pilger

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Dandelion Salad

In a speech in Chicago, John Pilger describes how propaganda has become such a potent force in our lives and, in the words of one of its founders, represents ‘an invisible government’.
By John Pilger

07/20/07 “
ICHThe title of this talk is Freedom Next Time, which is the title of my book, and the book is meant as an antidote to the propaganda that is so often disguised as journalism. So I thought I would talk today about journalism, about war by journalism, propaganda, and silence, and how that silence might be broken. Edward Bernays, the so-called father of public relations, wrote about an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. He was referring to journalism, the media. That was almost 80 years ago, not long after corporate journalism was invented. It is a history few journalist talk about or know about, and it began with the arrival of corporate advertising. As the new corporations began taking over the press, something called “professional journalism” was invented. To attract big advertisers, the new corporate press had to appear respectable, pillars of the establishment—objective, impartial, balanced. The first schools of journalism were set up, and a mythology of liberal neutrality was spun around the professional journalist. The right to freedom of expression was associated with the new media and with the great corporations, and the whole thing was, as Robert McChesney put it so well, “entirely bogus”.

For what the public did not know was that in order to be professional, journalists had to ensure that news and opinion were dominated by official sources, and that has not changed. Go through the New York Times on any day, and check the sources of the main political stories—domestic and foreign—you’ll find they’re dominated by government and other established interests. That is the essence of professional journalism. I am not suggesting that independent journalism was or is excluded, but it is more likely to be an honorable exception. Think of the role Judith Miller played in the New York Times in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Yes, her work became a scandal, but only after it played a powerful role in promoting an invasion based on lies. Yet, Miller’s parroting of official sources and vested interests was not all that different from the work of many famous Times reporters, such as the celebrated W.H. Lawrence, who helped cover up the true effects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August, 1945. “No Radioactivity in Hiroshima Ruin,” was the headline on his report, and it was false.

Consider how the power of this invisible government has grown. In 1983 the principle global media was owned by 50 corporations, most of them American. In 2002 this had fallen to just 9 corporations. Today it is probably about 5. Rupert Murdoch has predicted that there will be just three global media giants, and his company will be one of them. This concentration of power is not exclusive of course to the United States. The BBC has announced it is expanding its broadcasts to the United States, because it believes Americans want principled, objective, neutral journalism for which the BBC is famous. They have launched BBC America. You may have seen the advertising.

The BBC began in 1922, just before the corporate press began in America. Its founder was Lord John Reith, who believed that impartiality and objectivity were the essence of professionalism. In the same year the British establishment was under siege. The unions had called a general strike and the Tories were terrified that a revolution was on the way. The new BBC came to their rescue. In high secrecy, Lord Reith wrote anti-union speeches for the Tory Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and broadcast them to the nation, while refusing to allow the labor leaders to put their side until the strike was over.

So, a pattern was set. Impartiality was a principle certainly: a principle to be suspended whenever the establishment was under threat. And that principle has been upheld ever since.

Take the invasion of Iraq. There are two studies of the BBC’s reporting. One shows that the BBC gave just 2 percent of its coverage of Iraq to antiwar dissent—2 percent. That is less than the antiwar coverage of ABC, NBC, and CBS. A second study by the University of Wales shows that in the buildup to the invasion, 90 percent of the BBC’s references to weapons of mass destruction suggested that Saddam Hussein actually possessed them, and that by clear implication Bush and Blair were right. We now know that the BBC and other British media were used by the British secret intelligence service MI-6. In what they called Operation Mass Appeal, MI-6 agents planted stories about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, such as weapons hidden in his palaces and in secret underground bunkers. All of these stories were fake. But that’s not the point. The point is that the work of MI-6 was unnecessary, because professional journalism on its own would have produced the same result.

Listen to the BBC’s man in Washington, Matt Frei, shortly after the invasion. “There is not doubt,” he told viewers in the UK and all over the world, “That the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially now in the Middle East, is especially tied up with American military power.” In 2005 the same reporter lauded the architect of the invasion, Paul Wolfowitz, as someone who “believes passionately in the power of democracy and grassroots development.” That was before the little incident at the World Bank.

None of this is unusual. BBC news routinely describes the invasion as a miscalculation. Not Illegal, not unprovoked, not based on lies, but a miscalculation.

The words “mistake” and “blunder” are common BBC news currency, along with “failure”—which at least suggests that if the deliberate, calculated, unprovoked, illegal assault on defenseless Iraq had succeeded, that would have been just fine. Whenever I hear these words I remember Edward Herman’s marvelous essay about normalizing the unthinkable. For that’s what media clichéd language does and is designed to do—it normalizes the unthinkable; of the degradation of war, of severed limbs, of maimed children, all of which I’ve seen. One of my favorite stories about the Cold War concerns a group of Russian journalists who were touring the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by the host for their impressions. “I have to tell you,” said the spokesman, “that we were astonished to find after reading all the newspapers and watching TV day after day that all the opinions on all the vital issues are the same. To get that result in our country we send journalists to the gulag. We even tear out their fingernails. Here you don’t have to do any of that. What is the secret?”

What is the secret? It is a question seldom asked in newsrooms, in media colleges, in journalism journals, and yet the answer to that question is critical to the lives of millions of people. On August 24 last year the New York Times declared this in an editorial: “If we had known then what we know now the invasion if Iraq would have been stopped by a popular outcry.” This amazing admission was saying, in effect, that journalists had betrayed the public by not doing their job and by accepting and amplifying and echoing the lies of Bush and his gang, instead of challenging them and exposing them. What the Times didn’t say was that had that paper and the rest of the media exposed the lies, up to a million people might be alive today. That’s the belief now of a number of senior establishment journalists. Few of them—they’ve spoken to me about it—few of them will say it in public.

Ironically, I began to understand how censorship worked in so-called free societies when I reported from totalitarian societies. During the 1970s I filmed secretly in Czechoslovakia, then a Stalinist dictatorship. I interviewed members of the dissident group Charter 77, including the novelist Zdener Urbanek, and this is what he told me. “In dictatorships we are more fortunate that you in the West in one respect. We believe nothing of what we read in the newspapers and nothing of what we watch on television, because we know its propaganda and lies. I like you in the West. We’ve learned to look behind the propaganda and to read between the lines, and like you, we know that the real truth is always subversive.”

Vandana Shiva has called this subjugated knowledge. The great Irish muckraker Claud Cockburn got it right when he wrote, “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied.”

One of the oldest clichés of war is that truth is the first casualty. No it’s not. Journalism is the first casualty. When the Vietnam War was over, the magazine Encounter published an article by Robert Elegant, a distinguished correspondent who had covered the war. “For the first time in modern history,” he wrote, the outcome of a war was determined not on the battlefield, but on the printed page, and above all on the television screen.” He held journalists responsible for losing the war by opposing it in their reporting. Robert Elegant’s view became the received wisdom in Washington and it still is. In Iraq the Pentagon invented the embedded journalist because it believed that critical reporting had lost Vietnam.

The very opposite was true. On my first day as a young reporter in Saigon, I called at the bureaus of the main newspapers and TV companies. I noticed that some of them had a pinboard on the wall on which were gruesome photographs, mostly of bodies of Vietnamese and of American soldiers holding up severed ears and testicles. In one office was a photograph of a man being tortured; above the torturers head was a stick-on comic balloon with the words, “that’ll teach you to talk to the press.” None of these pictures were ever published or even put on the wire. I asked why. I was told that the public would never accept them. Anyway, to publish them would not be objective or impartial. At first, I accepted the apparent logic of this. I too had grown up on stories of the good war against Germany and Japan, that ethical bath that cleansed the Anglo-American world of all evil. But the longer I stayed in Vietnam, the more I realized that our atrocities were not isolated, nor were they aberrations, but the war itself was an atrocity. That was the big story, and it was seldom news. Yes, the tactics and effectiveness of the military were questioned by some very fine reporters. But the word “invasion” was never used. The anodyne word used was “involved.” America was involved in Vietnam. The fiction of a well-intentioned, blundering giant, stuck in an Asian quagmire, was repeated incessantly. It was left to whistleblowers back home to tell the subversive truth, those like Daniel Ellsberg and Seymour Hersh, with his scoop of the My-Lai massacre. There were 649 reporters in Vietnam on March 16, 1968—the day that the My-Lai massacre happened—and not one of them reported it.

In both Vietnam and Iraq, deliberate policies and strategies have bordered on genocide. In Vietnam, the forced dispossession of millions of people and the creation of free fire zones; In Iraq, an American-enforced embargo that ran through the 1990s like a medieval siege, and killed, according to the United Nations Children’s fund, half a million children under the age of five. In both Vietnam and Iraq, banned weapons were used against civilians as deliberate experiments. Agent Orange changed the genetic and environmental order in Vietnam. The military called this Operation Hades. When Congress found out, it was renamed the friendlier Operation Ranch Hand, and nothing change. That’s pretty much how Congress has reacted to the war in Iraq. The Democrats have damned it, rebranded it, and extended it. The Hollywood movies that followed the Vietnam War were an extension of the journalism, of normalizing the unthinkable. Yes, some of the movies were critical of the military’s tactics, but all of them were careful to concentrate on the angst of the invaders. The first of these movies is now considered a classic. It’s The Deerhunter, whose message was that America had suffered, America was stricken, American boys had done their best against oriental barbarians. The message was all the more pernicious, because the Deerhunter was brilliantly made and acted. I have to admit it’s the only movie that has made me shout out loud in a Cinema in protest. Oliver Stone’s acclaimed movie Platoon was said to be antiwar, and it did show glimpses of the Vietnamese as human beings, but it also promoted above all the American invader as victim.

I wasn’t going to mention The Green Berets when I set down to write this, until I read the other day that John Wayne was the most influential movie who ever lived. I a saw the Green Berets starring John Wayne on a Saturday night in 1968 in Montgomery Alabama. (I was down there to interview the then-infamous governor George Wallace). I had just come back from Vietnam, and I couldn’t believe how absurd this movie was. So I laughed out loud, and I laughed and laughed. And it wasn’t long before the atmosphere around me grew very cold. My companion, who had been a Freedom Rider in the South, said, “Let’s get the hell out of here and run like hell.”

We were chased all the way back to our hotel, but I doubt if any of our pursuers were aware that John Wayne, their hero, had lied so he wouldn’t have to fight in World War II. And yet the phony role model of Wayne sent thousands of Americans to their deaths in Vietnam, with the notable exceptions of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Last year, in his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the playwright Harold Pinter made an epoch speech. He asked why, and I quote him, “The systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought in Stalinist Russia were well known in the West, while American state crimes were merely superficially recorded, left alone, documented.” And yet across the world the extinction and suffering of countless human beings could be attributed to rampant American power. “But,” said Pinter, “You wouldn’t know it. It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.” Pinter’s words were more than the surreal. The BBC ignored the speech of Britain’s most famous dramatist.

I’ve made a number of documentaries about Cambodia. The first was Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia. It describes the American bombing that provided the catalyst for the rise of Pol Pot. What Nixon and Kissinger had started, Pol Pot completed—CIA files alone leave no doubt of that. I offered Year Zero to PBS and took it to Washington. The PBS executives who saw it were shocked. They whispered among themselves. They asked me to wait outside. One of them finally emerged and said, “John, we admire your film. But we are disturbed that it says the United States prepared the way for Pol Pot.”

I said, “Do you dispute the evidence?” I had quoted a number of CIA documents. “Oh, no,” he replied. “But we’ve decided to call in a journalistic adjudicator.”

Now the term “journalist adjudicator” might have been invented by George Orwell. In fact they managed to find one of only three journalists who had been invited to Cambodia by Pol Pot. And of course he turned his thumbs down on the film, and I never heard from PBS again. Year Zero was broadcast in some 60 countries and became one of the most watched documentaries in the world. It was never shown in the United States. Of the five films I have made on Cambodia, one of them was shown by WNET, the PBS station in New York. I believe it was shown at about one in the morning. On the basis of this single showing, when most people are asleep, it was awarded an Emmy. What marvelous irony. It was worthy of a prize but not an audience.

Harold Pinter’s subversive truth, I believe, was that he made the connection between imperialism and fascism, and described a battle for history that’s almost never reported. This is the great silence of the media age. And this is the secret heart of propaganda today. A propaganda so vast in scope that I’m always astonished that so many Americans know and understand as much as they do. We are talking about a system, of course, not personalities. And yet, a great many people today think that the problem is George W. Bush and his gang. And yes, the Bush gang are extreme. But my experience is that they are no more than an extreme version of what has gone on before. In my lifetime, more wars have been started by liberal Democrats than by Republicans. Ignoring this truth is a guarantee that the propaganda system and the war-making system will continue. We’ve had a branch of the Democratic party running Britain for the last 10 years. Blair, apparently a liberal, has taken Britain to war more times than any prime minister in the modern era. Yes, his current pal is George Bush, but his first love was Bill Clinton, the most violent president of the late 20th century. Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown is also a devotee of Clinton and Bush. The other day, Brown said, “The days of Britain having to apologize for the British Empire are over. We should celebrate.”

Like Blair, like Clinton, like Bush, Brown believes in the liberal truth that the battle for history has been won; that the millions who died in British-imposed famines in British imperial India will be forgotten—like the millions who have died in the American Empire will be forgotten. And like Blair, his successor is confident that professional journalism is on his side. For most journalists, whether they realize it or not, are groomed to be tribunes of an ideology that regards itself as non-ideological, that presents itself as the natural center, the very fulcrum of modern life. This may very well be the most powerful and dangerous ideology we have ever known because it is open-ended. This is liberalism. I’m not denying the virtues of liberalism—far from it. We are all beneficiaries of them. But if we deny its dangers, its open-ended project, and the all-consuming power of its propaganda, then we deny our right to true democracy, because liberalism and true democracy are not the same. Liberalism began as a preserve of the elite in the 19th century, and true democracy is never handed down by elites. It is always fought for and struggled for.

A senior member of the antiwar coalition, United For Peace and Justice, said recently, and I quote her, “The Democrats are using the politics of reality.” Her liberal historical reference point was Vietnam. She said that President Johnson began withdrawing troops from Vietnam after a Democratic Congress began to vote against the war. That’s not what happened. The troops were withdrawn from Vietnam after four long years. And during that time the United States killed more people in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with bombs than were killed in all the preceding years. And that’s what’s happening in Iraq. The bombing has doubled since last year, and this is not being reported. And who began this bombing? Bill Clinton began it. During the 1990s Clinton rained bombs on Iraq in what were euphemistically called the “no fly zones.” At the same time he imposed a medieval siege called economic sanctions, killing as I’ve mentioned, perhaps a million people, including a documented 500,000 children. Almost none of this carnage was reported in the so-called mainstream media. Last year a study published by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found that since the invasion of Iraq 655, 000 Iraqis had died as a direct result of the invasion. Official documents show that the Blair government knew this figure to be credible. In February, Les Roberts, the author of the report, said the figure was equal to the figure for deaths in the Fordham University study of the Rwandan genocide. The media response to Robert’s shocking revelation was silence. What may well be the greatest episode of organized killing for a generation, in Harold Pinter’s words, “Did not happen. It didn’t matter.”

Many people who regard themselves on the left supported Bush’s attack on Afghanistan. That the CIA had supported Osama Bin Laden was ignored, that the Clinton administration had secretly backed the Taliban, even giving them high-level briefings at the CIA, is virtually unknown in the United States. The Taliban were secret partners with the oil giant Unocal in building an oil pipeline across Afghanistan. And when a Clinton official was reminded that the Taliban persecuted women, he said, “We can live with that.” There is compelling evidence that Bush decided to attack the Taliban not as a result of 9-11, but two months earlier, in July of 2001. This is virtually unknown in the United States—publicly. Like the scale of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. To my knowledge only one mainstream reporter, Jonathan Steele of the Guardian in London, has investigated civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and his estimate is 20,000 dead civilians, and that was three years ago.

The enduring tragedy of Palestine is due in great part to the silence and compliance of the so-called liberal left. Hamas is described repeatedly as sworn to the destruction of Israel. The New York Times, the Associated Press, the Boston Globe—take your pick. They all use this line as a standard disclaimer, and it is false. That Hamas has called for a ten-year ceasefire is almost never reported. Even more important, that Hamas has undergone an historic ideological shift in the last few years, which amounts to a recognition of what it calls the reality of Israel, is virtually unknown; and that Israel is sworn to the destruction of Palestine is unspeakable.

There is a pioneering study by Glasgow University on the reporting of Palestine. They interviewed young people who watch TV news in Britain. More than 90 percent thought the illegal settlers were Palestinian. The more they watched, the less they knew—Danny Schecter’s famous phrase.

The current most dangerous silence is over nuclear weapons and the return of the Cold War. The Russians understand clearly that the so-called American defense shield in Eastern Europe is designed to subjugate and humiliate them. Yet the front pages here talk about Putin starting a new Cold War, and there is silence about the development of an entirely new American nuclear system called Reliable Weapons Replacement (RRW), which is designed to blur the distinction between conventional war and nuclear war—a long-held ambition.

In the meantime, Iran is being softened up, with the liberal media playing almost the same role it played before the Iraq invasion. And as for the Democrats, look at how Barak Obama has become the voice of the Council on Foreign Relations, one of the propaganda organs of the old liberal Washington establishment. Obama writes that while he wants the troops home, “We must not rule out military force against long-standing adversaries such as Iran and Syria.” Listen to this from the liberal Obama: “At moment of great peril in the past century our leaders ensured that America, by deed and by example, led and lifted the world, that we stood and fought for the freedom sought by billions of people beyond their borders.”

That is the nub of the propaganda, the brainwashing if you like, that seeps into the lives of every American, and many of us who are not Americans. From right to left, secular to God-fearing, what so few people know is that in the last half century, United States adminstrations have overthrown 50 governments—many of them democracies. In the process, thirty countries have been attacked and bombed, with the loss of countless lives. Bush bashing is all very well—and is justified—but the moment we begin to accept the siren call of the Democrat’s drivel about standing up and fighting for freedom sought by billions, the battle for history is lost, and we ourselves are silenced.

So what should we do? That question often asked in meetings I have addressed, even meetings as informed as those in this conference, is itself interesting. It’s my experience that people in the so-called third world rarely ask the question, because they know what to do. And some have paid with their freedom and their lives, but they knew what to do. It’s a question that many on the democratic left—small “d”—have yet to answer.

Real information, subversive information, remains the most potent power of all—and I believe that we must not fall into the trap of believing that the media speaks for the public. That wasn’t true in Stalinist Czechoslovakia and it isn’t true of the United States.

In all the years I’ve been a journalist, I’ve never know public consciousness to have risen as fast as it’s rising today. Yes, its direction and shape is unclear, partly because people are now deeply suspicious of political alternatives, and because the Democratic Party has succeeded in seducing and dividing the electoral left. And yet this growing critical public awareness is all the more remarkable when you consider the sheer scale of indoctrination, the mythology of a superior way of life, and the current manufactured state of fear.

Why did the New York Times come clean in that editorial last year? Not because it opposes Bush’s wars—look at the coverage of Iran. That editorial was a rare acknowledgement that the public was beginning to see the concealed role of the media, and that people were beginning to read between the lines.

If Iran is attacked, the reaction and the upheaval cannot be predicted. The national security and homeland security presidential directive gives Bush power over all facets of government in an emergency. It is not unlikely the constitution will be suspended—the laws to round of hundreds of thousands of so-called terrorists and enemy combatants are already on the books. I believe that these dangers are understood by the public, who have come along way since 9-11, and a long way since the propaganda that linked Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda. That’s why they voted for the Democrats last November, only to be betrayed. But they need truth, and journalists ought to be agents of truth, not the courtiers of power.

I believe a fifth estate is possible, the product of a people’s movement, that monitors, deconstructs, and counters the corporate media. In every university, in every media college, in every news room, teachers of journalism, journalists themselves need to ask themselves about the part they now play in the bloodshed in the name of a bogus objectivity. Such a movement within the media could herald a perestroika of a kind that we have never known. This is all possible. Silences can be broken. In Britain the National Union of Journalists has undergone a radical change, and has called for a boycott of Israel. The web site Medialens.org has single-handedly called the BBC to account. In the United States wonderfully free rebellious spirits populate the web—I can’t mention them all here—from Tom Feeley’s International Clearing House, to Mike Albert’s ZNet, to Counterpunch online, and the splendid work of FAIR. The best reporting of Iraq appears on the web—Dahr Jamail’s courageous journalism; and citizen reporters like Joe Wilding, who reported the siege of Fallujah from inside the city.

In Venezuela, Greg Wilpert’s investigations turned back much of the virulent propaganda now aimed at Hugo Chávez. Make no mistake, it’s the threat of freedom of speech for the majority in Venezuela that lies behind the campaign in the west on behalf of the corrupt RCTV. The challenge for the rest of us is to lift this subjugated knowledge from out of the underground and take it to ordinary people.

We need to make haste. Liberal Democracy is moving toward a form of corporate dictatorship. This is an historic shift, and the media must not be allowed to be its façade, but itself made into a popular, burning issue, and subjected to direct action. That great whistleblower Tom Paine warned that if the majority of the people were denied the truth and the ideas of truth, it was time to storm what he called the Bastille of words. That time is now.

Speech delivered at the Chicago Socialism 2007 Conference on Saturday June 16 2007

Paul Craig Roberts: A Wake-up Call

July 21, 2007

Paul Craig Roberts: A Wake-up Call

by Paul Craig Roberts

This is a wake-up call that we are about to have another 9/11-WMD experience.

The wake-up call is unlikely to be effective, because the American attitude toward government changed fundamentally seventy-odd years ago. Prior to the 1930s, Americans were suspicious of government, but with the arrival of the Great Depression, Tojo, and Hitler, President Franklin D. Roosevelt convinced Americans that government existed to protect them from rapacious private interests and foreign threats. Today, Americans are more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to government than they are to family members, friends, and those who would warn them about the government’s protection.

Intelligent observers are puzzled that President Bush is persisting in a futile and unpopular war at the obvious expense of his party’s electoral chances in 2008.

In the July 18 Los Angeles Times (“Bush the Albatross”), Ronald Brownstein reminds us that Bush’s behavior is disastrous for his political party. Unpopular presidents “have consistently undercut their party in the next election.” Brownstein reports that “88% of voters who disapproved of the retiring president’s job performance voted against his party’s nominee in past elections . . . . On average, 80% of voters who disapproved of a president’s performance have voted against his party’s candidates even in House races since 1986.”

Brownstein notes that with Bush’s dismal approval rating, this implies a total wipeout of the Republicans in 2008.

A number of pundits have concluded that the reason the Democrats have not brought a halt to Bush’s follies is that they expect Bush’s unpopular policies to provide them with a landslide victory next year.

There is a problem with this reasoning. It assumes that Cheney, Rove, and the Republicans are ignorant of these facts or are content for the Republican Party to be destroyed after Bush has his warmonger-police state fling. “After me, the deluge.”

Isn’t it more likely that Cheney and Rove have in mind events that will, once again, rally the people behind President Bush and the Republican Party that is fighting the “war on terror” that the Democrats “want to lose”?

Such events could take a number of forms. As even diehard Republican Patrick J. Buchanan observed on July 17, with three US aircraft carrier battle groups in congested waters off Iran, another Tonkin Gulf incident could easily be engineered to set us at war with Iran. If Bush’s intentions were merely to bomb a nuclear reactor, he would not need three carrier strike forces.

Lately, the administration has switched to blaming Iran for the war in Iraq. The US Senate has already lined up behind the latest lie with a 97-0 vote to condemn Iran.

Alternatively, false flag “terrorist” strikes could be orchestrated in the US. The Bush administration has already infiltrated some dissident groups and encouraged them to participate in terrorist talk, for which they were arrested. It is possible that the administration could provoke some groups to actual acts of violence.

Many Americans dismiss suspicion of their government as treasonous, and most believe conspiracy to be impossible “because someone would talk.”

There is no basis in any known fact for this opinion.

According to polls, 36% of the American people disbelieve the 9/11 Commission Report. Despite this lack of confidence, and despite the numerous omissions and errors in the report, it has proven impossible to have an independent investigation of 9/11 or to examine the official explanation in public debate. Even experts and people with a lifetime of distinguished public service are dismissed as “conspiracy theorists,” “kooks,” and “traitors” if they question the official explanation of 9/11. This despite the fact that war in the Middle East, a long-planned goal of Bush’s neoconservative administration, could not have been initiated without a “new Pearl Harbor.”

That powerfully constructed steel buildings could suddenly turn to dust because they were struck by two flimsy aluminum airliners and experienced small fires on a few floors that burned for a short time appears unexceptionable to a majority of Americans.

Moreover, people have talked. Hundreds of them. Firefighters, police, janitors, and others report hearing and experiencing a series of explosions in upper floors and massive explosions in the underground basements. This eyewitness testimony was kept under wraps for three or more years until the official explanation had taken root. The oral histories were finally forced loose by freedom of information act suits. The eyewitness reports of explosion after explosion had no effect.

Larry Silverstein, who received billions of dollars in insurance payments for the destroyed buildings, talked. He said on public television that the order was given “to pull” building 7. His stunning admission had no effect.

The Bush administration is preparing us for more terrorist attacks. The latest intelligence report says that Al Qaeda has regrouped, rebuilt, and has the ability to come after us again. “Al Qaeda will intensify its efforts to put operatives here,” says the report.

Security operatives, such as Michael Chertoff, and various instruments of administration propaganda have warned that we will be attacked before next year’s election. Chertoff is not a person who wants to be known as Chicken Little for telling us that the sky is falling.

Bush has the Republican Party in such a mess that it cannot survive without another 9/11. Whether authentic or orchestrated, an attack will activate Bush’s new executive orders, which create a dictatorial police state in event of “national emergency.” [Read]

The UK government is hand-in-glove with the Bush administration and will provide cover or verification for whatever claim the Bush administration advances. So will the right-wing governments in Canada and Australia. That takes care of the English-speaking world from which contrary explanations might reach the American people.

It is possible that Bush is now too weak, that suspicion is too great, and that there is too much internal resistance in the federal bureaucracy and military for any such scenario. If so, then my prediction prior to the invasion that the US invasion of Iraq will destroy Bush, the Republican Party, and the conservative movement will be proven true. The Democrats’ strategy of doing nothing except making sure Bush gets his way will produce the landslide that they expect.

However, this assumes that Cheney, Rove, and their neoconservative allies have lost their cunning and their manipulative skills. It is difficult to imagine a more dangerous assumption for Democrats and the American people to make.

Once the US experiences new attacks, Bush will be vindicated. His voice will be confident as he speaks to the nation: “My administration knew that there would be more attacks from these terrorists who hate us and our way of life and are determined to destroy every one of us. If only more of you had believed me and supported my war on terror these new attacks would not have happened. Our security efforts were impaired by the Democrats’ determined attempts to surrender to the terrorists by forcing our withdrawal from Iraq and by civil libertarian assaults on our necessary security measures. If only more Americans had trusted their government, this would not have happened.” And so on. Anyone should be able to write the script.

Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is author or coauthor of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.