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The undersigned more than 100 organisations call for the immediate, unconditional release of detained human rights defender Nabeel Rajab, arrested on 1 October 2014 in Bahrain.
Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) and Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), was summoned on 1 October 2014 to attend an investigation at the Criminal Investigation Directorate, specifically the General Directorate of Anti-corruption and Economic and Electronic Security. The investigation session lasted about 45 minutes and focused on two tweets that the authorities claim have offended the Ministry of Interior.
One tweet, from 28 September 2014, said: “many #Bahrain men who joined #terrorism & #ISIS have come from the security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator.”
Rajab was detained until the following day when the public prosecution ordered his detention be extended for seven days pending investigation. On 9 October, no hearing took place and his case was instead transferred to the Lower Criminal Court for a hearing on 19 October, thus extending his detention a further ten days. It should be noted that he is no longer under pre-trial detention as he has now been charged. In addition, a new complaint was filed by the Bahraini Defense Forces in relation to the same tweet about ISIS. The BDF claims it was insulting to both security and military institutions of Bahrain.
It’s feared that the government of Bahrain may try to imprison Rajab for a long time. Under Article 216 of the Bahraini Penal Code, this crime is punishable with up to three years in prison. Article 216 provides that: “A person shall be liable for imprisonment or payment of a fine if he offends by any method of expression the National Assembly, or other constitutional institutions, the army, law courts, authorities or government agencies.”
Rajab was imprisoned several times in the past few years. On 9 July 2012, the 5th Lower Criminal Court sentenced him to three months in prison, in a case that is linked to six tweets he posted on 2 June 2012. He had served almost the full sentence before that convictionwas overturnedon 23 August 2012. However, on 16 August 2012, the Lower Criminal Court also sentenced Rajab to three years’ imprisonment for “participation in illegal gatherings and calling for a march without prior notification.” That sentence was reduced on 11 December 2012 to two years, and he was released on 24 May 2014.
During his previous imprisonment, Rajab has been subject to discrimination and ill-treatment in prison, including being placed in solitary confinement with a dead animal, being isolated from other political detainees for his entire detention period and being prevented from contacting his family on occasion, including after he reported violations that he had witnessed in prison. He was not permitted to see his family on the Eid this past week.
The undersigned organisations consider the detention of Rajab since 1 October to be a clear act of discrimination. Last month, anothercitizenwas accused of a crime under the same article of the law, "offending the army"; however while that person was released within 24 hours, Rajab was denied release, presumably due to his reputation as a well-known human rights defender with a lot of influence on twitter, both locally and internationally.
We believe strongly that Nabeel Rajab has been targeted solely due to his peaceful and legitimate human rights work and in particular his recent successful missions to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the European Union in Brussels. He is being detained for merely exercising his rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The undersigned over 100 organisations call for:
- The immediate and unconditional release of Nabeel Rajab and all other human rights defenders who have been detained in Bahrain solely as a result of their legitimate human rights work;
- The Bahrain authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Nabeel Rajab;
- The Bahrain authorities to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Bahrain are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
We further urge the UN, US administration, the UK government, as well as other governments that have influence in Bahrain, the EU and leading human rights organizations to put real pressure on the government of Bahrain in order to immediately stop the judicial harassment of human rights defenders; drop all charges against them and release all detained human rights defenders and political prisoners, including Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, founder of BCHR and GCHR, and Naji Fateel of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.
- Activist Organization For Development And Human Rights, Yemen
- Agencia EFE, Spain
- Albadeal centre for studies and research, Jordan
- Alkarama, Switzerland
- All Youth Organization, Yemen
- AMAL Human Development Network, Pakistan
- AMAN Network for Rehabilitation and Defending Human Rights
- Amel Association, Lebanon
- Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
- Arab Digital Expression, Egypt
- Arab Institute For Human Rights, Lebanon
- Arab Lawyers Union, Egypt
- Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
- Article 19, Bahrain
- Association Dea Dia Serbia
- Association de la Réinsertion des Prisonniers et le Suivi des Conditions des Prisons, Tunisia
- Association Tunisienne de Defense des Droits de L'Enfant, Tunisia
- Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) Network
- Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)
- Bahrain Human Rights Society
- Bahrain Human Rights Observatory (BHRO)
- Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD)
- Bahrain Interfaith
- Bahrain Rehabilitation & Anti Violence Organisation (BRAVO)
- Bahrain Salam for Human Rights
- Bahrain Transparency
- Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights
- BRAC, Bangladesh
- Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
- CARAM-Asia, Malaysia
- Caritas Migrant Center, Lebanon
- Center for Transitional Justice, Tunisia
- CIVICUS, South Africa
- Coalition of Tunisian Women
- Community Development Services (CDS), Sri Lanka
- Defending Justice and Rights, USA
- Dewany Civil Office of Ombudsman, USA
- Egyptian Organization For Human Rights (EOHR)
- English PEN
- European Saudi Organizations for Human Rights, Germany
- European-Bahraini Organisation for Human Rights (EBOHR)
- Filastiniyat, Palestine
- Fondation Chokri Belaid Contre la Violence, Tunisia
- Forum des Alternatives Maroc, Morocco
- Fraternity Center for Democracy and Civil Society
- Freedom House
- Front Line Defenders
- Gesr Center for Development (GESR)
- Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR)
- Human Right Information And Training Centre, Yemen
- Human Rights and the Ahwazi Arabs, UK
- Human Rights Information And Training Centre, Lebanon
- Humanitarian Rights Center, Yemen
- Independent Commission for Citizens Rights, Palestine
- Index on Censorship
- International Awareness Youth Club, Egypt
- International centre for supporting rights and freedom, Egypt
- International Civil Society Network
- International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
- International Media Support (IMS), Denmark
- International Press Institute (IPI)
- International Service for Human Rights
- INTERSOS, Italy
- Islamic Non Violence Organization, USA
- Jordanian Commission for Democratic Culture
- Justice for Iran (JFI),UK
- Khiam Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, Lebanon
- Kuwait Institute For Human Rights
- Kuwait Society For Human Rights
- Lawyer's Rights Watch Canada (LRWC)
- Ligue algerienne pour la defense des droits de l'homme (LADDH), Algeria
- Ligue Tunisienne pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme (LTDH), section Sfax sud, Tunisia
- Lualua centre for human rights (LCHR), Lebanon
- Maharat Foundation, Lebanon
- Martin Ennals Award, Switzerland
- MENA monitoring group, Tunisia
- Monitoring of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
- Network of Algerian Human Rights Lawyers
- New Bakkah Foundation, Switzerland
- Nidal Tagheer Organization for Defending Rights, Yemen
- No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), Italy
- Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT), Italy
- Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), Norway
- Organisation marocaine des droits humains, Morroco
- Palestinian Institute for Human Rights
- Peace Mission of the International Council for Human Rights, Yemen
- PEN International
- Rafto Foundation, Norway
- Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), France
- Réseau des avocats algérien pour défendre les droits de l'homme, Algeria
- RO'YA Association for a Better Syria, France
- Shia Rights Watch, USA
- Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA)
- Syrian Center for Democracy and Civil Rights
- Syrian Nonviolence Movement
- Tunisian Initiative for Freedom of Expression
- Tunisian National Council for Liberties (CNLT)
- Un ponte per, Italy
100.Volunteers Without borders, Lebanon
101.Women Research and Training Centre
102.World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
103.Youth for Humanity, Egypt
104.Youth Transparency & Building, Yemen
And the family of Nabeel Rajab:
Sumaya, Adam and Malek Rajab
A Murder Mystery at Guantanamo Bay
Editor Note: America’s plunge into the “dark side” last decade created a hidden history of shocking brutality, including torture and homicides, that the U.S. government would prefer to keep secret, even though many of the perpetrators are out of office.
By Ray McGovern
There’s more of a mystery to how three Guantanamo detainees died on June 10, 2006, than I realized when I described their deaths as suicides in a recent article about force-feeding methods at the notorious U.S. prison. Some very experienced investigators who have examined the evidence suspect the three were victims of homicides amid the torture regime employed by President George W. Bush’s underlings.
Scott Horton, whose upcoming book Lords of Secrecy contains new insights into the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Tenet go-ahead on torture and other abuses, has supplied me with additional detail highly suggestive of foul play by CIA interrogators.
Horton noted that the three prisoners were scheduled to be released and repatriated and that key details about the U.S. government’s suicide claims have been disproved. For instance, the first reports said the inmates had hanged themselves with linens in their jail cells, but medical records, which the government sought to suppress, indicate otherwise.
Ebola is both preventable and controllable: Statement of the Pan African Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Network
World Leaders Take Action Now
Save precious lives, give peace a chance!
We are a Pan-African Network of Peacemakers from over 30 countries across the African continent and represent more than 20 organisations. Our 20-member Steering Committee has representatives from West, East, Central Africa, southern Africa and the islands. Some of our members are also from the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, with strong African connections. We work at the grassroots level, training in Nonviolence and mobilising communities for Peacebuilding.
We are disturbed by the ongoing and alarmingly vicious spread of the preventable and controllable Ebola virus that is not only killing people but is spreading fear and further destabilising West African communities. While the Ebola Crisis has become a global emergency, we are concerned that there does not seem to be a concerted political will at the global level to launch sufficient, well-planned and immediate actions to put an end to the epidemic and save precious lives. As stated by the World Health Organization, WHO, it can take six to nine months to bring this devastation to an end. We are deeply disturbed that grossly unequal treatment is meted out by the world in its response towards this preventable crisis in West Africa. While those from more developed countries have received swift medical treatment and have positively responded to the trial drugs, those in African nations are succumbing to the virus unnecessarily. As observed by Peter Piot, the researcher who discovered the virus, “It took the death of a thousand African(s) and the repatriation of two Americans before a public emergency was declared.” Our failure to act now can only lead to more catastrophes in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and West Africa at large.
Failure to act now could also lead to intensified conditions for violence and conflict, as people scramble for food, medicines and other basic necessities. While recognizing the responsibility that the African Union has already taken, the swift intervention of Cuba and the work of grassroots commitments already underway, we appeal (to both governmental and non-governmental leaders from within and outside the continent) OR (the United Nations and leaders of countries with efficient resources) for urgent medical and humanitarian interventions which will ensure that a maximum number of lives are saved.
We call upon the AU to strengthen its response by appointing a special Envoy on the Fight against Ebola with immediate effect. The Special Envoy must have a mandate to take all necessary measures, and with both the budget and the authority to take short-term action so as to respond effectively to the rapidly changing circumstances. We also call for the Special Fund to address immediate and long term medical and socio-economic needs of those nations and communities affected by the crisis.
At the same time, we strongly caution against any militarisation of humanitarian assistance to the affected areas. Utmost care must be taken to ensure that the deployment of military health personnel is strictly subjected to civilian authority. We are concerned that this medical and human crisis not be exploited for continued military, political or economic advantages by any country or party.
The Ebola crisis is a manifestation of under-development and the deplorable health-care delivery systems in most parts of Africa, often emerging from war and violent conflicts. Liberia has been hit hard by this crisis because it is a fragile state, recovering from decades of turmoil and civil war. We call for immediate steps to improve the health and medical infrastructure for all countries on the African continent to ensure better healthcare now and for the future.
We can only defeat the Ebola epidemic if we acknowledge that this is not a local problem, but a global threat with common responsibilities for which there should be coordinated international actions utilizing without bias the latest medical and health care technologies available in our world With coordinated international people-centred action, we can heal the sick and build healthy, peaceful societies as well.
The Pan African Network on Nonviolence and Peacebuilding Steering Committee
Miguel Gomes Antonio (Angola) SACHI
Elavie Ndura (Burundi/USA)
Rosemary Garsi (Cameroon) Embrace Dignity
Koldobi Velasco (Canary Islands) AA-MOC
Diaku Dianzenza (DRC / South Africa)
Sherif Joseph Rizk (Egypt)
Kesia-Onam Togo-Birch (Ghana) WANEP
Benard Lisamadi Agona (Kenya) CAPI
Steve Sharra (Malawi) LCD Malawi
Fiona Mwale (Malawi) AWANICh
Paulina Dempers (Namibia) Namibia United African Alliance Community
Oussenia Alidou (Niger / USA) African Women Coalition Against War
Olufemi Oluniyi (Nigeria / USA) AFPREA
Nozizwe Madlala- Routledge (South Africa) Embrace Dignity
Moses Monday John (South Sudan) ONAD
Mamoun Abdallah (Sudan) SONAD
Musa Hlophe (Swaziland)
Abdeslam Omar Lahsen (Western Sahara) AFRAPRADESA
Charity Mungweme (Zimbabwe / South Africa) Action Support Centre
Miles Rutendo Tanhira (Zimbabwe / Sweden) Journalist
In a landmark ruling the High Court in London yesterday ruled that Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa did not have immunity from prosecution in a case against him involving allegations of torture. After two year court battle, the UK’s Director of Public Prosecution has accepted that Nasser is not immune from Prosecution. Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Cranston granted a declaration confirming this decision at a divisional court hearing in London’s High Court yesterday. This decision opens the door to an investigation by the metropolitan police War Crimes Team SO15 into allegations that the prince was involved in the torture of political prisoners, and a possible prosecution. The ruling received wide coverage by UK’s main stream media including the BBC, Reuters, the Press Association and others.
Last night a Press Conference was held at The Garden Court Chambers at the heart of the UK’s legal district, to highlight the significance of the case. The title was: “Bahrain, universal jurisdiction and state immunity: What are the implications of the case of FF v DPP (ECCHR intervening) after the final hearing on 7/10/14”. It was chaired by Sue Willman of Deighton Pierce Glynn and addressed by Tom Hickamn, barrister Blackstone Chambers, Stephen Knafler QC, Member of ECCHR’s legal team, Redress: Kevin Laue, Legal Advisor of Redress, Daniel Machover, solicitor Hickman Rose on broader universal jurisdiction issues and Dr Saeed Shehabi of the Bahrain Freedom Movement.
A new report has revealed that Bahrain spends $95 million a year in its crackdown on the country’s pro-democracy protesters. Arabic newspaper Al-Maidan said the regime in Bahrain has hired 21,000 security personnel, which includes Pakistani expats. Bahrain has also spent over $2.5 billion on buying arms since the protests against the Al Khalifa royal family began three years ago.
Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action about a Bahraini youth who had been sentenced to death by Alkhalifa regime. It said: A Bahraini man under sentence of death has lodged his final appeal and could be at risk of execution. He was sentenced to death in February 2014 and lost his first appeal in August. Death row prisoner Maher Abbas Ahmad (also known as Maher al-Khabbaz) is waiting for a decision from the Court of Cassation to know whether he is to be executed. Amnesty International has called on the regime to acknowledge its responsibility to protect the public and bring to justice those who commit crimes. But insist that this should always be done in accordance with international law and Bahrain’s international human rights obligations, and order a retrial where no evidence obtained under torture is used in court and urge the ruler to commute the death sentence imposed on Maher Abbas Ahmad immediately.
Amnesty International has also issued an Urgent Action on the case of Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights for tweeting anti-regime criticism. It said: Amnesty International has reviewed Nabeel Rajab’s statements on Twitter and considers him a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for peacefully expressing his opinion. He is being investigated under Article 216 of Bahrain’s Penal Code, which criminalizes those who “offend by any method of expression the National Assembly, or other constitutional institutions, the army, law courts, authorities or government agencies”. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison. It called on the regime to release Nabeel Rajab immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, to uphold the right to freedom of expression and repeal laws that criminalize the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedo m of expression, association and assembly including Article 216 of the Penal Code.
Under the title “Wave of arbitrary arrests of dissident information providers” Reporters Without Borders issued a statement on 2nd October condemning Bahrain’s crackdown on civil liberties. It said: “Freelance journalist, blogger and activist Ahmed Radhi was freed on 29 September after being held arbitrarily for four days but the Bahraini authorities struck again on 1 October, arresting leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab for allegedly insulting the government security forces in tweets two days before.” Reporters Without Borders condemns this systematic persecution of human right defenders and the renewed deterioration in the climate for freedom of information in Bahrain. Bahrain is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
8th October 2014
From Popular Resistance
By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, www.PopularResistance.org
Above: Veterans and allies pose at the end of the 2014 antiwar memorial service at Vietnam Veterans Memorial in New York City. They are holding photos of David George whose pictures are also on the wall behind them. Photo by Ellen Davidson.
Veterans For Peace Three Year Campaign Removes Curfew as Vets and Allies Protest the Wars, Honor The Dead
Each October 7 for the last three years, the date of the US invasion of Afghanistan, members of Veterans For Peace and their allies have gathered at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Lower Manhattan for a soulful ceremony. Their purpose: to mark another year of a war in Afghanistan and call for peace, to honor all whose lives are destroyed by war and to expand the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble.
This year, they were finally able to do so without facing a small army of police threatening arrest if the ceremony went past the arbitrary 10 pm curfew placed on the memorial.
And this year, veterans and allies had more reasons to gather: to protest new wars being waged by President Obama without approval of Congress or the United Nations and to remember the much-loved Jacob David George, a veteran of three tours in Afghanistan, who died of ‘moral injury’ three weeks before.
Jacob was only 19 when he went overseas to Afghanistan for his first tour. He grew up in the mountains of Arkansas and was a talented poet and musician. After his tours, he struggled to survive in the United States, surrounded by war culture. He set off to bicycle around the country to speak about the realities of war and the need for peace, a trip that he called “A Ride til the End.” He sang “Soldiers Heart”:
“I’m just a farmer from Arkansas, there’s a lot of things I don’t understand, like why we send farmers to kill farmers in Afghanistan. I did what I’s told for my love of this land. I come home a shattered man with blood on my hands.
“Now I can’t have a relationship, I can’t hold down a job. Some may say I’m broken, I call it Soldier’s Heart. Every time I go outside, I gotta look her in the eyes knowing that she broke my heart, and turned around and lied.
“Red, white and blue, I trusted you and you never even told me why.”
“Soldier’s Heart” is a Civil War phrase used to describe what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Jacob wrote that Soldiers Heart “more accurately describes my wounds and what I experienced.” “Moral injury,” which Jacob wrote was a major component of PTSD, leads to 22 veteran suicides a day.
Jacob was with members of Veterans for Peace and thousands of others in Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC for the tenth anniversary of the Afghanistan War in October, 2011. He had spent part of the summer in Afghanistan with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. Jacob performed that night in Freedom Plaza and the Afghan Youth joined the event from Afghanistan by Skype. After that, he continued to travel in his search for healing and to participate in the Occupy Movement. In the summer of 2012, he marched 99 miles with the Guitarmy from Philadelphia to New York City.
Ending the Nightmares of War
Although most war memorials throughout the United States are open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in New York ‘closes’ at 10 pm, that is, if you are expressing First Amendment rights.
There is no good reason to close the memorial since is located on a plaza surrounded by office buildings. It isn’t really possible to close this memorial anyway. It is used as a walkway for pedestrians and dog walkers at all hours of the day and night. The veterans believe there should be no curfew as the nightmares of war don’t know curfews and they often surface late at night. War memorials should be a place of peace and refuge for those who need it without threats of intimidation or arrest by police.
The curfew has only been enforced when people are exercising their right to peaceably assemble. Tarak Kauff, a board member of Veterans For Peace, first noted the curfew at a 2012 May Day assembly by Occupy Wall Street. Tarak describes the assembly as “what you would want to see in a democracy, people gathering to discuss solutions to community problems.” Troops of NY police confronted the assembly. Members of the Veterans Peace Team stood between the police and people; and were arrested. This constitutionally permitted, democratic gathering was stopped for no good reason.
Kauff brought the idea of a campaign to open the Memorial to Vets For Peace who embraced it, holding their first memorial service on October 7, 2012. Hundreds gathered at the memorial for a powerful ceremony. Father George Packard, Chris Hedges and veterans from World War II through the wars of today spoke, read poems and sang. Participants read names of New Yorkers who were killed in war and of civilians in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan who were also killed. After every 20 names, a gong was struck and flowers were placed in 11 vases, one for every year in Afghanistan.
As the ceremony continued, the police presence began to grow. When 10 PM arrived, the reading of the names was interrupted by a police captain with a bullhorn warning that if the crowd did not disperse, arrests would be made. Undaunted, veterans and allies persisted in reading names and honoring the dead as some in the crowd moved to the margins of the park. One by one, 25 people who continued the memorial were arrested. Those arrested included a decorated World War II Veteran and a Vietnam War Medic for whom the nightmares of holding the wounded in his arms have never ceased. The police were placed in an uncomfortable position – arresting veterans reading the names of the dead to enforce a capricious curfew.
A friend of Jacob George, Brock McIntosh, also an Afghanistan veteran described the feelings of Jacob and many vets:
“Jacob did all he could as a warrior to speak and to warn about the dangers of war. Jacob spoke to me often of moral injury, and he once told me about meeting a Vietnam veteran who felt that every war was his war, who blamed himself for not stopping each war that happened, one after the next. Jacob felt that burden.”
Veterans and allies returned in 2013 to protest the deep war culture embraced by the United States. To make that point, among the war dead remembered were Indigenous peoples slaughtered in the “Indian Wars.” That year several of the veterans refused to be removed easily. Firm in their belief that they had a right to be there, that the memorial was created to honor the dead and that nothing should interfere with that, five veterans linked themselves together with thick plastic handcuffs and lay down in front of the memorial when the police arrived to arrest them. Altogether, nineteen were arrested.
Jacob was there that year. One vet who stood with him recounted that Jacob was very distressed to see his comrades being arrested for protesting the wars and honoring the dead.
The veterans and allies who were arrested had two goals. They wanted to use the judicial process to end the curfew at the Memorial and to introduce the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to expand the definition of Freedom of Speech to meet the international standard rather than the narrow and shrinking US standard.
Instead, charges were dropped for many of the arrestees and 14 who spent a week in trial were denied justice. The judge refused to entertain the expanded definition of free speech and found them guilty but then dismissed the charges “in the interest of justice,” undermining their ability to appeal.
Fourteen of the second year arrestees had their charges dismissed and the five who linked themselves together had their charges downgraded against their will to avoid a jury trial. The judge also found them guilty but gave them conditional release.
Each time the vets appeared in court, police offers shook their hands, thanked them and told them they supported what they were doing. The memorial services were having an added effect of dividing the police.
Victory is bittersweet
This year, the veterans won the right to stay at the memorial without interference from the police. In a letter to the mayor, the veterans outlined their intent to hold the vigil again and their desire that the memorial remain open at all hours. They thanked the mayor for his statement, after the Flood Wall Street protest two weeks before, that First Amendment Rights were more important than traffic and invited him to join them on October 7. The mayor’s office responded by saying that the curfew would be lifted for the night.
The mood at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial this year was bittersweet. There was palpable relief that we were free to express ourselves without police intimidation and that we could choose when to leave under our own terms. But there was also greater sadness than years before because a week after the President began bombing Iraq again and then Syria, Jacob George took his life. Some suspect the trauma of watching another US war begin, knowing that more soldiers and innocent civilians would die or be forever traumatized and seeing the Masters of War succeed in manipulating the public to support war was too much to bear.
“With our choice to join the US military, we soldiers gained great insights into the effects of war. During basic training, we are weaponized: our souls are turned into weapons. This intentional adjustment of the moral compass seems to be the onset of Moral Injury. Basic training demands the dehumanization of the enemy.
“Through my personal healing from PTSD, I’ve discovered it’s not possible to dehumanize others without dehumanizing the self.”
We gathered that night to speak, read poems and sing together once again. We remembered Jacob and all who are devastated by war. Large photos of Jacob were placed on the memorial wall. ‘Taps’ was played.
One vet read a statement about the damage war does and the toll it takes on families, remembering his nephew, a vet who also committed suicide:
“Not only was he profoundly affected by war, but so was his entire family. The pain will be felt by those who loved him for generations. That is what war does. It causes deep wounds that cut across generations. His father, a Vietnam Veteran, is having a very difficult time and has withdrawn, buried in grief. He already suffered from PTSD, and this has made things much worse. His mother, my sister, is racked with guilt and blames herself for not being able to help [her son].”
A poem by Vets For Peace poet laureate, Doug Rawlings, called “We Need Not Go There Again: A tribute to Jacob George, was read:
Over 100 years of
shooting into a mirror
thinking they were
squashing the other –
first the Hun, then the Nip, then the gook,
and now the sand niggers —
the old war mongers remain insatiable
in their self-delusion
Freudian analysts can’t get them off
they never sense
that something is awry
How could they?
It is not the blood
of their daughters and sons
pours back into their hands
slippery with the stench
of their calculated ignorance
They will continue to
worship at the alter
of Pontius Pilate
to wash their hands
in the trough
of our passivity
until we gather in the streets
until we bring down
the walls of the Pentagon
singing the choruses
of Jacob George
We formed a circle and one by one, we walked the circle and hugged each other. Members of the Guitarmy led us through songs written by Jacob. We also sang Down By the Riverside and Lean On Me. We read names of the dead, raised our fists and shouted “Presente” in unison after each name. Afterwards, we talked quietly in small groups. And when we were ready, we left the memorial.
It took three years to win the right to vigil at the war memorial. The next task is to change the policy so that it remains open at all times and is there for those who need it. Members of Veterans for Peace are committed to seeing that task through. We hope this campaign encourages others to find ways to expand our rights.
Though it is important to choose particular days to gather for remembrance and protesting these illegal and unjust wars, the work for peace is a daily task. Those who are not fooled by the propaganda or by persuaded by partisanship can best honor those who have died and those still living who have served by speaking out regularly for an end to war.
In his song called Support the Troops, Jacob wrote:
“I’m tellin’ you, don’t thank me for what I’ve done. Give me a hug and let me know we ain’t gonna let this happen again because we support the troops and we’re gonna bring war to an end.”
Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese are organizers of Popular Resistance. They participated in the campaign to end the curfew at the NYC Vietnam Veterans Memorial. They can be followed @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.
This article was originally published on MintPress News.
Guitarmy Travels Staten Island to Zuccotti
Jacob George singing with the Guitarmy on July 12, 2012, Jacob is in the front playing Banjo
Vets Win Free Speech Victory
Tarak Kauff interviewed by Luke Rudkowski of We Are Change
The Nobel Peace Prize is required by Alfred Nobel's will, which created it, to go to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." The Nobel Committee insists on awarding the prize to either a leading maker of war or a person who has done some good work in an area other than peace.
The 2014 prize has been awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay, which is not a person but two people, and they have not worked for fraternity between nations or the abolition or reduction of standing armies but for the rights of children. If the peace prize is to be a prize for random good works, then there is no reason not to give it to leading advocates for the rights of children. This is a big step up from giving it to leading makers of war. But then what of the prize for peace and the mission of ending war that Nobel included in his will in fulfillment of a promise to Bertha von Suttner?
Malala Yousafzay became a celebrity in Western media because she was a victim of designated enemies of Western empire. Had she been a victim of the governments of Saudi Arabia or Israel or any other kingdom or dictatorship being used by Western governments, we would not have heard so much about her suffering and her noble work. Were she primarily an advocate for the children being traumatized by drone strikes in Yemen or Pakistan, she'd be virtually unknown to U.S. television audiences.
But Malala recounted her meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama a year ago and said, "I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education, it will make a big impact." So, she actually advocated pursuing education rather than war, and yet the Nobel Committee had not a word to say about that in announcing its selection, focusing on eliminating child labor rather than on eliminating war. The possibility exists then that either of this year's recipients might give an antiwar acceptance speech. There has, after all, only been one pro-war acceptance speech, and that was from President Obama. But many speeches have been unrelated to abolishing war.
Fredrik S. Heffermehl, who has led efforts to compel the Nobel Committee to give the peace prize for peace, said on Friday, "Malala Yousafzay is a courageous, bright and impressive person. Education for girls is important and child labor a horrible problem. Worthy causes, but the committee once again makes a false pretense of loyalty to Nobel and confuses and conceals the plan for world peace that Nobel intended to support.
"If they had wished to be loyal to Nobel they would have stressed that Malala often has spoken out against weapons and military with a fine understanding of how ordinary people suffer from militarism. Young people see this more clearly than the grown ups."
The leading contenders for this year's prize, as speculated in the media, included the Pope who has in fact spoken against all war, abandoning the "just war" idea; and some advocate or other for Japan's Article Nine which forbids war and ought to be a model for other nations but is being threatened in Japan instead. These recipients would at least have bordered on Nobel's ideal, as perhaps might be said for last year's recipient, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Also on the list was a Russian newspaper supportive of Western aggression, the President of Uruguay for legalizing marijuana, Edward Snowden for leaking evidence of U.S. spying, Denis Mukwege for helping victims of sexual violence, and Chelsea Manning for exposing U.S. war crimes. Manning would have made a certain amount of sense, and her work has probably gone some way toward discouraging war. The same might be said, to a lesser degree, of Snowden. But none of these fit the description in Nobel's will. If the peace prize were actually awarded to a leading peace activist, at this point the world would be rather scandalized and scratch its collective head in wonderment at what the significance could be in that person's work.
Look at this list of recent recipients of a prize meant for peace:
The European Union
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman
Barack H. Obama
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr.
Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank
There you have the two leading makers of war in the world: Obama and the E.U. You have advocates for green energy and small loans and women's rights and human rights. Martti Ahtisaari's prize announcement actually quoted from Nobel's will, but he himself supported NATO and Western militarism.
While good work in other areas can in fact contribute to peace, it is unlikely to do so in the absence of recognition of the goal of peace and of work directly aimed at abolishing war.
The National Priorities Project, a U.S. organization that actually works against militarism, was nominated this year, as no doubt were others relevant to the purpose for which the peace prize was created.
by Debra Sweet October 2001: the U.S. swept into Afghanistan. October 2014: years after the U.S. promised to leave, the new U.S. – approved Ashraf Ghani government of Afghanistan (which many report has influence as far as the outskirts of Kabul) announced a new agreement to let 10,000 U.S. troops stay in the country for “training and advising,” until at least 2024.
World Can't Wait Hawai`i reports: “Saturday our drone replica was flying above the corner of Kalakaua and Kapahulu Avenues in Waikiki. About a dozen people held signs and banners or passed out brochures against drone warfare and surveillance. This busy corner in front of the Honolulu Zoo and across from Waikiki Beach is a spot where there residents, tourists and a significant number of military personnel pass by. Trolleys and buses loaded with tourists pass by on their way to popular tourist spots. Responses were tremendously mixed. A number of drivers of tourist trolleys and buses honked their horns. A taxi driver stopped to ask whether there were military drones in Hawai`i (yes!).
Protesters Meet Obama at SF Fundraiser:
No More War on Iraq, Stop Bombing Syria, U.S. Out of the Middle East
Emergency Protest Demonstration
Friday October 10: 3:30 PM into evening
At Obama’s Speech at the Democratic Party Fundraiser
3rd Street at Mission (outside the W HOTEL, 3rd and Howard)
President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak in San Francisco, addressing a Democratic Party fundraiser -- at the very moment that American air strikes are bombing Syria and Iraq.
World Can’t Wait and others (Code Pink, ANSWER Coalition) will demonstrate to denounce U.S. air strikes and other war moves, aggression, and military action in Syria, Iraq, and the entire region. They also demand an end to U.S. aid to Israel in the wake of the latest assault on Gaza this summer.
A replica of a war-fighting drone will fly over the protest.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, a renowned homebase of protest against U.S. wars over decades, protesters will gather at the fundraiser site for a rally. They will denounce this current air strike escalation , and all U.S. military action in the Middle East, both for its immediate stated motive and for its long-term impact.
In response to the Obama argument that renewed U.S. war in the region is necessary because of the aggressive moves by ISIS/ISIL/IS, the protesters dispute every citation by the government. World Can’t Wait states: “ISIS is bad, but the U.S. war for empire is even worse.”
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)
Editor Note: In the Kafkaesque world of Guantanamo, even inmates cleared for release are held indefinitely and – if they try to kill themselves via hunger strikes – are brutally force-fed to keep them alive. Finally, a U.S. court is confronting whether the force-feeding can be done more humanely.
By Ray McGovern
In the first trial weighing the legality of force-feeding methods at the Guantanamo Bay prison, U.S. government lawyers have tried to disparage doctors and refute medical assessments regarding the best practices and ethics for treating inmates who have engaged in hunger strikes to protest their indefinite confinements, often after being cleared for release.
Originally posted at AcronymTV
The murder of Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Office Darren Wilson set off and wave of protests, the majority of which were non violent. The militarized police response and the violent repression of peaceful protestors will only get worse if the economic conditions of this country do not change radically and quickly, says David DeGraw, author of the new book, The Economics of Revolt. “If you want to change things through non-violent methods, the window of opportunity is closing fast. Very fast,” says DeGraw.
By David Swanson, originally published by Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity
Last year, public pressure played a big role in stopping US missile strikes on Syria. The biggest difference between then and now was that televisions weren't telling people that ISIS might be coming to their neighborhood to behead them. There were other, smaller differences as well: Britain's opposition, Russia's opposition, and the difficulty of explaining to Americans that it now made sense to join a war on the same side as al Qaeda.
But there's another big difference between last year and this year. Last year was not a Congressional election year. With elections coming this November, Congress declared an early vacation in September and fled town in order to avoid voting a new war up or down. It did this while fully aware that the President would proceed with the war illegally. Most Congress members, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Leader Harry Reid, believe that by allowing a war to happen without explicitly voting for or against it they can best win our votes for re-election without offending their funders.
Congress members have good reason to think that way. Numerous organizations and individuals are dumping endless energy and resources into trying to elect either Democrats or Republicans, regardless of their policies. Big groups on the left have told me that they will not have any time for opposing war until the elections are over, at which point they'll be happy to "hold accountable" any of the Democrats they've just reelected. There are organizations who do the same thing for Republicans.
When war was made the top election issue in exit polls in 2006, Democrats took power and their leader in the House, Rahm Emanuel, openly told the Washington Post that they would keep the war in Iraq going in order to campaign against it again in 2008. And so they did. Republicans elected opposing war in 2010 have been more rhetorical than substantive in their "opposition."
The current war, and the endless war it is part of, must be opposed by people across the political spectrum who put peace ahead of party. ISIS has a one-hour video asking for this war. Giving it to them, and boosting their recruitment, is insanity. Ending insane policies is not a left or right position. This is a war that involves bombing the opposite side in Syria from the side we were told we had to bomb a year ago, and simultaneously arming the same side that the U.S. government is bombing. This is madness. To allow this to continue while mumbling the obvious truth that "there is no military solution" is too great an evil to fit into any lesser-evil electoral calculation.
This war is killing civilians in such large numbers that the White House has announced that restrictions on killing civilians will not be followed. This war is being used to strip away our rights at home. It's draining our economy. It's impoverishing us -- primarily by justifying the routine annual spending of roughly $1 trillion on war preparations. It's endangering us by generating further hatred. And all of this destruction, with no up-side to be found, is driven by irrational fear that has people telling pollsters they believe this war will endanger them and they're in favor of it.
According to the Congressional Research Service 79% of weapons shipments to Middle Eastern countries are from the United States, not counting arms given to allies of ISIS or used by the US military. Rather than arming this region to the teeth and joining in wars with US weapons on both sides, the United States could arrange for and lead an arms embargo. It could also provide restitution for what it has done in recent years, including the destruction of Iraq that allowed the creation of ISIS. Making restitution in the form of actual aid (as opposed to "military aid") would cost a lot less than lobbing $2 million missiles at people who view them as recruitment posters and tickets to martyrdom. That shift would also begin to make the United States liked rather than hated.
We won't get there unless people whose souls are un-owned by political parties take over town hall meetings and let Congress members know that they must work to end this war if they want to earn our votes.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org.
By Kathy Kelly
On October 7, 2014, Kathy Kelly and Georgia Walker appeared before Judge Matt Whitworth in Jefferson City, MO, federal court on a charge of criminal trespass to a military facility. The charge was based on their participation, at Whiteman Air Force Base, in a June 1st 2014 rally protesting drone warfare. Kelly and Walker attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the Base Commander, encouraging the commander to stop cooperating with any further usage of unmanned aerial vehicles, (drones) for surveillance and attacks.
The prosecutor, USAF Captain Daniel Saunders, said that if Kelly and Walker would plead guilty to the charge, he would seek a punishment of one month in prison and a $500 fine. Kelly and Walker told the prosecutor that they could accept a “no contest” plea but were not willing to plead guilty. The prosecutor then said he would recommend a three month prison sentence and a $500 fine. The judge refused to accept a “no contest” plea. Kelly and Walker then requested a trial which has been set for December 10, 2014.
Brian Terrell, who also attended the hearing, has previously been tried before Judge Whitworth on the same charge. In October of 2012, Whitworth sentenced him to the maximum penalty of six months in prison. His co-defendant, Ron Faust, also went to trial and was initially sentenced to five years probation which was later reduced to one year. Mark Kenney, also a co-defendant, had pled guilty and received a four month sentence.
Kathy Kelly noted that drone strikes on October 7, 2014 killed seven people in Pakistan and that this is the third day in a row of drone attacks in Pakistan’s Waziristan area. On October 6th, eight people were killed and six wounded. Today also marks the thirteenth year of U.S. war in Afghanistan, a country which was considered, in 2013, to be the epicenter of drone warfare.
“I feel we’re compelled by our conscience, “ Georgia Walker told a gathering of 35 people in Kansas City, the previous evening. “We’re compelled by our own spirituality, to keep speaking up and to keep getting people to know that silence is complicity. We have to speak out to say ‘Not in my Name.’”
"I’m sure that Georgia and I didn’t commit a crime,” said Kathy Kelly. “We tried to send out an alarm about a crime that’s being committed at the base. Innocent people, including children are killed by the drone strikes.”
Kelly and Walker later met with supporters and attorneys to discuss plans for a vigorous defense on December 10th, International Human Rights Day.
Dostoievski once had a character imagine what a head would think if for some seconds it were aware of having been cut off by an executioner's guillotine, or if somehow it were aware for a full minute, or even for five minutes.
I should think such a head would think thoughts entirely dependent on the circumstances and that the type of blade that committed the murder wouldn't affect the thoughts too greatly.
I loved you, it might think, thinking of its loved ones. I did well there, if might think, thinking of its accomplishments. I'm sorry, it might think, dwelling momentarily on its deepest regrets -- as likely as not relatively trivial incidents in which the head together with its body had hurt someone's feelings.
I've died in a war, the head might think, despite opposing wars. I took the risk and enjoyed the thrill, yet the injustice remains. I didn't launch the war. I didn't make millions off it. I didn't win votes from it. I tried to tell people what it was, and here I am no better than a soccer ball about to cease existing as a consciousness.
As the beheaded head's remaining seconds stretched into what seemed to it a long period of time, it might be struck by the absurdity of the situation, and it might be horrified by the barbarism. I was supposed to not be the news, the head might think, and now I am the news. After pretending not to be human, my humanity -- once ended -- will now be used as a reason to escalate the war. No one will ask me. How could they?
But no one ever asked me, did they, even when I was connected to a neck and arms and legs? I reported on this battle or that atrocity. But did anyone ever ask whether the entire enterprise made me ashamed of my species? Did anyone ever ask whether the justifications used were any better than lunacy? My country decided 100 years ago that it would dominate the Middle East for oil -- oil that will destroy the world itself if the wars don't.
In recent years my country destroyed Iraq, killing a half-million to a million-and-a-half people, leaving behind a hell on earth, including a government that both beheads people and bombs them, as well as handing over weaponry to this gang that beheaded my body -- a gang that could only have arisen in the hell on earth that Washington created and which will never match Washington's scale of killing if it keeps beheading and crucifying for decades.
So what does the government of the people who read my reports do? It sends in more weapons to the close allies of ISIS and simultaneously starts bombing ISIS just one year after screaming that it must bomb the Syrian government that ISIS is fighting. And ISIS makes a movie demanding heavier U.S. attacks, and the U.S. obliges and launches heavier attacks. And ISIS recruitment soars, the weapons companies stocks soar, and I get my body cut off.
And because my body is gone from me, and because the war is begun, and because it is guaranteed to get worse rather than better, brave drone pilots will be told that they must continue the war so as not to offend themselves, and as they commit suicide after murdering people with joysticks, still more pilots will be called on so that the first ones will not have killed themselves in vain.
Why when we're alive do we act as if the whole thing isn't insane? Is it a function of our habit of acting as if our existence isn't insane? We puff ourselves up, don't we? We talk solemnly of strategy, energetically ignoring the intentional absurdity of the whole doomed project, just as we eat and eat and eat without ever once wondering what the junk we are eating will do to the worms who will dine on our flesh.
What if the world comes to its senses next week, the head might think as the world grows blurry around it. How will I feel to have missed it by so little? Well, I'll feel nothing of course, and so I do hope that it will happen. I really do. This man who's cut off my body has a loud laugh. He was sad yesterday morning and I could not ask him why. I wonder if people back home know that he thinks Americans can only understand the language of violence, so there's no sense talking to them.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was working towards a guaranteed basic income for all when he was killed. Wealth inequality, neoliberalism, the actions of the Federal Reserve, along with the greed and theft of the global elite have made the call for a guaranteed basic income for all even more urgent in 2014 than in the 1960s.
David DeGraw, interviewed here by Dennis Trainor, Jr. of Acronym TVclaims the alternative is a violent revolution.
In his new book, The Economics of Revolution, DeGraw writes:
Originally posted at AcronymTV
Anne Petermann, has been banned from future U.N. Climate Conferances for her vocal activism. Here, she outlines the last decade of U.N. Climate Conference failures and false solutions.
About Anne Petermann |
Anne Petermann is the Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project. She is also the Coordinator of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees; the North American Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition; and a member of the Board of Directors of the Will Miller Social Justice Lecture Series.
By John Grant
I’m a leftist, but I have a weakness for my brothers and sisters on the right. For some reason, I’m compelled to see what troglodytes like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Megyn Kelly are thinking. They’re all quite entertaining as they do their best to un-man Barack Obama and advocate day-in, day-out for a war with Islam. They are masters of malicious fog.
Then there’s a writer like New York Times columnist David Brooks, a man who must sit around observing current events until he figures out a safe, center-right position he can express in the most reasonable, muddled language possible. Reading David Brooks is like trying to get a grip on jello.
by Carol Dudek Iraq was the fertile crescent of antiquity, the vast area that fed the entire Middle East and Mediterranean, and introduced grains to the world. It was Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, that propelled us forward with its invention of writing, domestication of animals and settled life. Now its groundwater and soil store the radioactivity of 630 tons of depleted uranium weapons. The waste that has been thrown onto civilian targets has permanent consequences. It pollutes southern Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia with uranium oxide dust that spreads as far as 26 miles, blowing with sand, weathering into water. Uranium 238, with a half-life of 4 ½ billion yea
Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. He writes columns for Al Jazeera and the Guardian. We discuss the leftward movement of Latin American governments, and the unsuccessful efforts of the U.S. government to overthrow those governments. Read Mark's columns at http://www.cepr.net/index.php/clips/mark-weisbrots-op-eds
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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Originally posted at AcronymTV
About 50 protesters seeking justice for Mike Brown delayed the start of the second act of Brahms requiem on Saturday night at the St. Louis Symphony in a brilliantly executed creative protest captured by Rebecca Rivas of the St. Louis American.
(read more: http://www.popularresistance.org/demonstrators-disrupt-st-louis-symphony-singing-a-requiem-for-mike-brown/)
The Resurrection of Reporter Gary Webb: Will Hollywood Give Him Last Word Against the CIA's Media Apologists?
By Jeff Cohen
It's been almost a decade since once-luminous investigative journalist Gary Webb extinguished his own life.
It's been 18 years since Webb's "Dark Alliance" series in the San Jose Mercury News exploded across a new medium -- the Internet -- and definitively linked crack cocaine in Los Angeles and elsewhere to drug traffickers allied with the CIA's right-wing Contra army in Nicaragua. Webb's revelations sparked anger across the country, especially in black communities.
But the 1996 series (which was accompanied by unprecedented online documentation) also sparked one of the most ferocious media assaults ever on an individual reporter -- a less-than-honest backlash against Webb by elite newspapers that had long ignored or suppressed evidence of CIA/Contra/cocaine connections.
The assault by the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times drove Webb out of the newspaper business, and ultimately to his death.
Beginning this Friday, the ghost of Gary Webb will haunt his tormenters from movie screens across the country, with the opening of the dramatic film Kill the Messenger -- based partly on Webb's 1998 "Dark Alliance" book.
The movie dramatizes Webb's investigation of Contra-allied Nicaraguan cocaine traffickers Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon (whose drug activities were apparently protected for reasons of U.S. "national security") and their connection to L.A.'s biggest crack dealer, "Freeway" Ricky Ross.
The original "Dark Alliance" series was powerful in naming names, backed by court documents. Webb added specifics and personalities to the story of Contra drug trafficking first broken by Associated Press in 1985 (ignored by major newspapers) and then expanded in 1989 by John Kerry's Senate subcommittee report which found that Contra drug dealing was tolerated in the U.S. frenzy to overthrow Nicaragua's leftwing Sandinista government. Kerry's work was ignored or attacked in big media -- Newsweek labeled him a "randy conspiracy buff."
There were some flaws and overstatements in the Webb series, mostly in editing and presentation; a controversial graphic had a crack smoker embedded in the CIA seal. But in light of history -- and much smoke has cleared since 1996 -- Webb's series stands up far better as journalism than the hatchet jobs from the three establishment newspapers.
Don't take my word for it. A player in the backlash against Webb was Jesse Katz, one of 17 reporters assigned by L.A. Times editors to produce a three-day, 20,000 word takedown of "Dark Alliance." Last year, Katz referred to what his paper did as "kind of a tawdry exercise" which "ruined that reporter's career" -- explaining during a radio interview: "Most of us who were involved in it, I think, would look back on that and say it was overkill. We had this huge team of people at the L.A. Times and kind of piled onto one lone muckraker up in Northern California."
Katz deserves credit for expressing regrets about the "overkill."
His role in the backlash was to minimize the importance of Ricky Ross, who received large shipments of cocaine from Contra-funder Blandon. In the wake of Webb's series, Katz described Ross as just one of many "interchangeable characters" in the crack deluge, "dwarfed" by other dealers.
But 20 months before Webb's series -- before the public knew of any Contra (or CIA) link to Ross' cocaine supply -- Katz had written quite the opposite in an L.A. Times profile of Ross: "If there was a criminal mastermind behind crack's decade-long reign, if there was one outlaw capitalist most responsible for flooding Los Angeles' streets with mass-marketed cocaine, his name was Freeway Rick." Katz's piece referred to Ross as "South-Central's first millionaire crack lord" and was headlined: "Deposed King of Crack."
One of the more absurd aspects of the backlash against Webb -- prominent in the Washington Post and elsewhere -- was criticism over his labeling of the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN), a Contra army supported by Blandon and Meneses, as "the CIA's army." As I wrote in an obituary when Webb died: "By all accounts, including those of Contra leaders, the CIA set up the group, selected its leaders and paid their salaries, and directed its day-to-day battlefield strategies." The CIA also supervised the FDN's day-to-day propaganda in U.S. media.
It was as much "the CIA's army" as the force that invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.
Just weeks ago, new light was shed on this old puzzle with the release of a remarkable CIA internal report - which shows that "the CIA's army" phrase was one of the Agency's main complaints about Webb's series. As silly as the CIA's complaint was, it received serious echo in friendly newspapers. In fact, the CIA author of the report seemed to marvel at how compliant major newspapers were in attacking the "Dark Alliance" series, which he attributed to "a ground base of already productive relations with journalists."
The CIA's internal report mentioned that soon after the "Dark Alliance" series was published, "one major news affiliate, after speaking with a CIA media spokesperson, decided not to run the story." When the Washington Post attack on Webb appeared, the CIA aggressively circulated it to other journalists and to "former Agency officials, who were themselves representing the Agency in interviews with the media."
A disturbing feature of the triple-barreled (Washington Post/NY Times/LA Times) backlash against Webb was how readily elite journalists accepted the denials from the CIA -- and from unnamed "former senior CIA officials" -- of any knowledge of Contra cocaine trafficking. Media critic Norman Solomon noted that the first New York Times piece on Webb's series lacked "any suggestion that the CIA might be a dubious touchstone for veracity."
It's worth remembering that the New York Times and Washington Post editorially endorsed military aid to the human rights-abusing Contras -- a position almost as embarrassing now as their faulty coverage in the run-up to the Iraq invasion.
The unfolding of history can be helpful in settling disputes -- and it has proved kinder to Webb than eagerly gullible establishment newspapers. "Dark Alliance" and the public uproar over the series in black communities and elsewhere pressured the CIA to order a review of Contra cocaine links by CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz. Although barely covered by the big three dailies, Hitz's final volume (published in October 1998) provided significant vindication of Webb.
Journalist Robert Parry, a Webb supporter who broke the Contra cocaine story in 1985 while at A.P., concluded that Hitz "not only confirmed many of the longstanding allegations about Contra-cocaine trafficking but revealed that the CIA and the Reagan administration knew much more about the criminal activity." In the 1998 volume, "Hitz identified more than 50 Contras and Contra-related entities implicated in the drug trade. He also detailed how the Reagan administration had protected these drug operations and frustrated federal investigations throughout the 1980s."
Thanks to the magic of the silver screen, the specter of Gary Webb (brought to life by actor Jeremy Renner) will now be vexing the media heavyweights who savaged him. The script for Kill the Messenger -- based on Webb's book and Nick Schou's Kill the Messenger -- was written by Peter Landesman, a former investigative writer himself.
In comments last week to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Landesman offered explanations of the triple attack on Webb's series:
"Each one of the papers did it for a different reason. The L.A. Times had an envious, jealous reaction of being scooped in their own territory . . . The Washington Post had a very strong quid pro quo relationship with the CIA . . . The New York Times approach was more professional arrogance."
And there's a unifying factor: All three newspapers had avoided the CIA/Contra/cocaine story in the 1980s -- they seemed to be punishing Webb for reviving it in 1996.
With Kill the Messenger opening in hundreds of theaters, is it possible Gary Webb will get the last word after all?
* * * *
Jeff Cohen is an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College, cofounder of the online activism group RootsAction.org, and founder of the media watch group FAIR, which defended Gary Webb against the backlash.
Wednesday, Oct 15 at 7:15 p.m. at Naro Cinema in Norfolk, Va.
LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM
Award-winning independent filmmaker Rory Kennedy’s new film chronicles a story few of us have heard before. During the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as South Vietnamese resistance crumbles. The prospect of an official evacuation of the remaining Americans and their South Vietnamese allies becomes hopelessly delayed by Congressional gridlock and a delusional U.S. Ambassador. With the clock ticking and the city under fire, a number of Americans take matters into their own hands, engaging in unsanctioned and often makeshift operations in a desperate effort to save as many South Vietnamese lives as possible. (98 mins)
David Swanson, RootsAction campaign coordinator and WorldBeyondWar director, will return to speak at the Naro from his home in Charlottesville. He is a nationally renowned journalist, teacher, peace activist, and author of War Is A Lie, When The World Outlawed War, and War No More: The Case For Abolition.
After the historic and inspiring People’s Climate March and Flood Wall Street actions showed the potential of our growing movement, discussion is taking place about how to put that power into action. The power demonstrated on the streets of New York was a signal that we are big enough and strong enough to take our government out of the grip of the fossil fuel industry. Without question we need to step it up and organize campaigns and actions that are at the scale and boldness needed, including multi-day direct action at specific targets.
We are writing to urge participation by as many people as possible in one such initiative: a week-long series of confrontational activities in Washington, D.C. November 1-7—Beyond Extreme Energy.
By taking these actions during election week, we will be sending a message to both parties in Washington that supporting extreme energy extraction is no longer the path of least political resistance. We recognize that party loyalty is incompatible with political power for a social movement, and we have been taken for granted for too long by politicians who are scared to stand up to the fossil fuel industry. It’s time to make it clear that a politician who green lights the fossil fuels industry’s attempts to poison our communities and ruin our climate will not get our votes under any circumstances.
The week will begin on Saturday, November 1, as the Great March for Climate Action concludes its cross-country walk, begun in early March in Los Angeles. These heroic marchers have inspired us with their determined, day-after-day commitment over what will be eight months when they march into DC.
Then, from November 3-7, following a day of meeting, planning and training on November 2, there will be nonviolent direct actions every morning to block the two entrances to FERC. On July 14th 25 people did this and were successful in disrupting business-as-usual for two hours until they were arrested. That experience will inform the bigger and stronger actions being planned for November.
There will also be demonstrations at other locations—perhaps the Energy Department, Dominion Resources, the White House, the American Petroleum Institute, Democratic National Committee headquarters, and neighborhoods in DC impacted by environmental and racial injustices—in the afternoon, challenging the web of denial throughout the government and industry about the seriousness of the emergency we are in.
Our invitation to you is this: Join the Beyond Extreme Energy actions for one or more days in Washington DC, November 1-7. Help sound a call for stepped-up multi-day actions and campaigns commensurate with the scale of escalating fossil fuel extraction, rampant environmental injustices in low-income and people of color communities throughout the world, and the emergencies inherent in climate change. Help model for others what necessary and effective climate action looks like as atmospheric carbon climbs ever faster on its way past 400 parts per million. Help build a movement that is more committed to climate justice than the fossil fuel industry is to profits.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Oh my friends, there are resources in us on which we have not drawn.” Let’s engage those vast resources of people power in our struggle for climate justice so we can keep fossil fuels in the ground. We know we have the power to stop extreme energy extraction, and now is the time to use it.
Tim DeChristopher and Rev Lennox Yearwood
Tim DeChristopher is a co-founder of Peaceful Uprising. His trial and subsequent two year prison sentence for disrupting a 2008 federal auction of oil and gas leases was the subject of the award winning documentary "Bidder 70".
The Reverend Lennox Yearwood is the President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, a national nonprofit organization that equips young people to participate in elections, policy analysis, and service project.
By David Rothauser
Peace activists the world over march, demonstrate, sit-in, write-in, boycott and do civil
disobedience – all to bring about an end to war making and a beginning for peace as a way
of life. How many times have we “marched on Washington,” carried the names of war dead,
interred them in wooden coffins outside the White House, tried to raze the Pentagon, begged,
bled and screamed for the end to senseless killing by our military abroad? And the wars rage on.
Robert McNamara, in his expository book, In Retrospect, admitted that the Kennedy and
Johnson Administrations knew from the start that the war in Vietnam could not have been
won. Still they blundered on, driven by hubris to commit 58,000 US. troops and millions of
Vietnamese to a horrendous death.
Vietnam, followed by the first Gulf War, then Iraq and now Afghanistan – all wars of folly.
All those years all that chanting, singing, “What do we want? PEACE ! When do we want it?
NOW!” “Where have all the flowers gone – long time passing?” Reading the names of the
dead soldiers at Riverside Church in a tiny chapel – “John Daniel Forshey, Jacksonville, Florida,
20 years old – dead in Vietnam...” Flag draped coffins. The Stars and Stripes is alive and well at
the Annin Flag factory in Verona, NJ.
Article 9, A TEMPLATE FOR PEACE, was set 67 years ago, but most of the world either
doesn't know about it, or ignores it. Article 9 is the template that can unite the world in a quest
for real peace. In September of 2012 The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
awarded me a grant to bring a version of Article 9 as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Article 9, A TEMPLATE FOR PEACE, originated at the end of World War II when Baron
Kijuro Shidehara was riding on a train. A young man on the train jumped up and started yelling
that Japan had started WWII without telling the Japanese people and had ended it without telling
them. Agreeing with the man, people surrounding him joined the criticism of the government for
betraying its people.
A peace activist to the core the Baron never forgot the anguish of the young man on the train.
Later in 1945 as Prime Minister of Japan, Shidehara approached General Douglas MacArthur,
Allied Supreme Commander in Southeast Asia to write a peace constitution for Japan. He felt
strongly the need to change Japan, so the government would never make people suffer from wars
they didn’t want in the first place. In his memoirs Shidehara mentions:
...it would be safer not to have even one soldier. This is the way Japan should go.
He also believed that the unity of the people is stronger than military force. The diplomat and
the warrior shook hands. In 1946 U.S. occupation forces re-wrote the constitution in 10 days.
Article 9 of the constitution states unequivocally that Japan will never again make war. Japan
has not made war in 67 years. Shidehara told MacArthur, “The world will laugh and mock us
as impractical visionaries, but a hundred years from now we will be called prophets.” The real
power of the peace constitution is that it is a proven document in action. Not one civilian nor
one military has been lost to war making in 67 years.
A testament to Article 9 is its ability to survive the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”
perpetrated upon it by both the U.S. and Japanese governments. The following timeline will help
to put the power of Article 9 into perspective.
Just four years after its inception, Article 9 meets its first challenge on the world stage.
1950 America becomes embroiled in another war, this time in Korea.
• “Drop Article Nine of the Constitution,” said Uncle Sam. “Create an army of 350,000,
go to war against North Korea.” Japan settles for a 75,000 home defense police.
• Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru says, “You gave Japanese women the right to vote, they
won’t let us go to war.”
1956 National policy has embodied "three non-nuclear principles" — forbidding the nation to
possess, manufacture or to allow nuclear weapons to be introduced into its territories.
1959 U.S. and Japanese governments form a secret pact to bring nuclear weapons to Japanese
harbors – a direct violation of the 3 non-nuclear principles.
1965 Vietnam War
• Japan government provides embarkation bases and maintenance centers on the mainland
and on Okinawa.
• The Japanese rallied, marched, and agitated against American actions in Indochina in the
late 1960s, forming the biggest antiwar movement in their history. Japanese people hold
firm to Article Nine.
1990 1st Gulf War
As Japan was a major consumer of oil from the Persian Gulf, some critics urged Japanese
military participation in the Gulf War, but Japan steadfastly refused to violate their
• Japan's support of NATO-led coalition forces in Afghanistan has been limited to
refueling their ships in the Indian Ocean since 2001.
2003 Iraq War
Japan served as a repair facility for US aircraft, ships, tanks, and artillery.
2009 President Obama calls for a nuclear weapons-free world.
• The challenge is ours to act upon. Our survival is at stake. It is not Japan alone who
needs Article Nine, it is the world.
2013 Together America and Japan, united by the power of Article 9 can form a coalition fully
supporting the United Nation’s mandate to abolish war making as a political/economic
• What then is the meaning of this schism between the Japanese people and their own
• And too, what kind of people are we, the Americans who wrote Article 9 in the first
place? Why do we refuse to grasp this world treasure born out of the sweat and blood of
our own tears? Given life from the handshake of the warrior and the diplomat?
Yet, in the face of it all, Article 9 stands proud. A powerful beacon beckoning the warrior
and the diplomat to spread the grace and beauty of this TEMPLATE FOR PEACE. No
need to re-invent the wheel.
It is then that the beauty of Article Nine may reach it’s full fruition.
2014 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe re-interprets Article 9. The first step to changing the
Constitution so Japan may become a major military power on the world stage.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)