White power and the ‘model minority’ myth: Officer Peter Liang Highlights the Asian-American Identity Crisis
By Jess Guh
The conviction of Peter Liang is the best thing that has happened to Asian Americans since the Immigration and Nationality Act of the 1960s. It’s also an embarrassingly example of how bewildered the minds of some Asian Americans are when it comes to race.
By Sam Husseini
Mary Anne Grady Flores speaks in this 1-hour special from inside the jail near Syracuse, N.Y., where she has been imprisoned for 6 months for protesting drone murders at Hancock Air Base.
Total run time: 56:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
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James Burrowes & Robert J. Burrowes
Wa wa wa wa.
We have recently been discussing your ongoing courageous struggle to liberate yourselves from more than 100 years of occupation, first by the Netherlands, briefly and brutally by Japan during World War II, and now by Indonesia. In that regard, we would each like to share a brief message with you, our friends from West Papua.
DNC defection: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Surprise Endorsement Gives Sanders a Chance to Change the Whole Primary Game
By Dave Lindorff
Just as the media, in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s landslide win in South Carolina’s Democratic primary Saturday, are predictably writing the obituary for Bernie Sanders’ upstart and uphill campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has handed him an opportunity to jolt the American people awake.
Wow. I had a dream that went on all night.
There was a pink bear sighting in Alaska.
Then there were pink bear sightings
In South Dakota and Colorado,
All thought to be hoaxes but then
The New York Times published a photo, front page;
It looked real enough.
The article interviewed a hiker
Who reported talking to the Pink Bear.
He said it was standing up.
When asked what the bear said
The hiker said he couldn’t repeat it;
The bear was talking trash.
The hiker said the bear was heading for Washington.
What happened next is hard to believe.
(I mean in my dream it was hard to believe.)
There were signs that great changes are coming:
Mount Shasta was waking up, sending out a plume of ash.
Native Americans warning, This is it.
By Karl Meyer
The possibility of war between nuclear armed powers is returning as a real threat to the security of people all over the world. Climate change, waste of limited resources, and the economic pressures of excess population growth on the carrying capacity of Earth are fueled by military spending. These threats are felt first by the most economically vulnerable regions and countries. They also drive local civil wars and regional resource and territorial wars.
In our view, the expansionist exceptionalism of United States neo-imperialist policies is the principal driver in the renewal of Cold War hostilities among the United States, Russia and China.
To solve these problems will require agreement and cooperation among all affected countries, with strong leadership by the world’s major powers. Given the present Charter structure of the United Nations, this means, at the very least, the five permanent members of the Security Council.
The policy fantasy that stands in the way of addressing major world problems cooperatively is the idea among ignorant or venal politicians that the United States can retain and expand the boundaries of “sole superpower” domination that were achieved briefly after the collapse and dissolution of the Soviet Union. The most damaging foreign policy error of Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama, all foreign policy novices, was that they yielded to entrenched bureaucratic military/ industrial/ Congressional/governmental establishment advice and pressure to take advantage of temporary Russian weakness, and the less developed military strength of China, in order to extend the military umbrella of NATO membership into Eastern Europe and Central Asia. They pushed to ring the frontiers of Russia with new alliances, missile sites and military bases, and to extend military alliances and bases around the Pacific perimeter of China. These actions have sent a very aggressive and threatening message to the governments of Russia and China, which are getting stronger every year, and are pushing back.
A second harmful error of the Bush and Obama regimes has been their belief that they could take advantage of popular unrest and revolts in Middle Eastern countries to knock off dictatorial governments and, by aiding oppressed rebel groups, establish friendly client governments in these countries. They failed to secure a stable, reliable client government in Iraq, in fact brought in a government more influenced by Iran. They are well on the road to a similar failure in Afghanistan. They failed miserably in Libya, and are failing in a terribly tragic way in Syria. How many successive tragic failures do U.S. policy elites have to experience before learning that they have neither the right nor the capability to control the future political development of these countries? Each country must sort out political and economic arrangements according to its unique balances of power and social context, without excessive outside interference. Those forces that have the strength and organization to prevail do not intend to become subservient neo-colonial clients of the United States, once their temporary need for patronage has been resolved.
United States policy must stop poking and provoking Russia and China along their frontiers, and return to a strategy of seeking negotiated peaceful coexistence, and balancing of regional interests among the major powers, the United States, Russia and China, with appropriate respect for the interests of secondary powers, India, Pakistan, Iran, Brazil, Britain, Germany, France, Indonesia, Japan, etc. (Incidentally, in spite of their horrible, homicidal record of brutalizing the people of weaker countries, Nixon and Kissinger were balance-of-power realists who advanced a strategy of détente, and negotiated weapons control treaties with Russia and China, and Reagan acceded to Gorbachev’s initiatives, leading to the end of the earlier Cold Wars. These gains have been undermined by the policies of succeeding administrations.)
With active cooperation among the great powers and large reductions in wasteful competitive military spending, all countries could cooperatively address the threats from climate change, water shortages, regional underdevelopment, and economic pressures caused by population growth. They might also resolve civil wars and smaller scale regional wars (such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine/Israel and Ukraine) through unified international pressure for negotiated settlements based on power sharing among all major political factions and forces within each country.
Peace movements and civil society movements cannot dictate the policies of governments or multi-national corporations. Our role, through agitation and education, is to restrain their abuses of power as much as may be possible, and to influence the political context of their decision making as much as may be possible, through mass organization and mobilization.
In summary, the essential key to addressing real threats to international security and peace, as well as to resolving smaller wars and regional conflicts, is to reverse the present trend toward Cold Wars with Russia and China. The world needs active cooperation among the United States, Russia, China and other influential countries, through agreement and cooperation within the United Nations framework. We need to return actively to the vision set forth in the United Nations Charter, and abandon the fantasy of unipolar world domination.
Karl Meyer, a longtime colleague of and adviser to Voices for Creative Nonviolence, is a fifty year veteran of nonviolent action for peace and justice and the founding coordinator of Nashville Greenlands environmental and social justice community.
Editor Note: Former Secretary of State Clinton, whose campaign is brimming with establishment foreign policy advisers, has chided Democratic rival Sen. Sanders for lacking a roster of experts. But ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says an untapped resource for any candidate is the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
By Ray McGovern
A Memo to: Dr. Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, Dr. Jill Stein, and Donald Trump
I’m just sayin’... Who Cares About Democratic Primary Results in South Carolina -- a State Democrats Will Lose in November?
By Dave Lindorff
I'll be the first to admit I'm no pollster or even political scientist, but when I read that Bernie Sanders is going to be crushed by Hillary Clinton in Saturday's primary in South Carolina, the state that fired the opening shots in the Civil War and that only last year took down a Confederate battle flag in front of the capitol building, I have to shake my head at the absurdity of it.
A cease-fire, even a partial one by only some of the parties to the war in Syria, is the perfect first step -- but only if it's widely understood as a first step.
Almost none of the news coverage I've seen speaks to what purpose the cease-fire serves. And most of it focuses on the cease-fire's limitations and who predicts someone else will violate it, and who openly promises to violate it. The big outside parties, or at least Russia, plus the Syrian government, will go right on bombing selected targets, which will go right on shooting back, while Turkey has announced that ceasing to kill Kurds would just be taking the whole thing a bit too far (Kurds the United States is arming against other people the United States is arming, by the way).
The United States distrusts Russia on this, while Russia distrusts the United States, various Syrian opposition groups distrust each other and the Syrian government, everybody distrusts Turkey and Saudi Arabia -- the Turks and Saudis most of all, and U.S. neocons remain obsessed with Iranian evil. The predictions of failure could be self-fulfilling, as they seem to have been before.
Vague talk of a "political solution," which parties take to mean completely incompatible things, is not a second step designed to make a cease-fire succeed. It's a fifth or sixth or seventh step. The second step that is missing, after ceasing to directly kill people, is to cease facilitating the killing of people by others.
This was what was needed when Russia proposed peace in 2012 and the United States brushed it aside. This is what was needed after the chemical weapons agreement in 2013. Instead the United States held off on bombing, under public and international pressure, but escalated its arming and training of others to kill, and its winking at Saudi Arabia's and Turkey's and others' fueling of the violence.
Truth be told, this was what was needed when President Barack Obama was allowing Hillary Clinton to convince him to overthrow the government of Libya in 2011. Outside parties need an agreement to cease supplying weapons and fighters, and an agreement to supply unprecedented levels of humanitarian aid. The goal should be disarming those who would kill, supporting those who would join the violence out of economic need, and countering the highly successful propaganda of groups that live off the assaults on them by outside nations.
ISIS is thriving in Libya now and going after the oil there. Italy, which has a shameful history in Libya, is showing some reluctance to worsening the situation there by continuing to attack. The point is not that local forces can defeat ISIS but that nonviolence would do less harm than violence in the short, middle, and long term. Hillary Clinton, for her part, is bordering on the criminally insane, or at least the criminal, as she just spoke about Libya in her most recent debate on the model of a permanent occupation of Germany, Japan, or Korea. So much for hope and change.
The second step, the public commitment to which could make the first step work, would involve the United States withdrawing from the region and insisting on Turkey and Saudi Arabia and others ceasing to fuel the violence. It would involve Russia and Iran pulling out all forces and canceling backwards ideas like Russia's new proposal to arm Armenia. Russia should ship nothing but food and medicine to Syria. The United States should do the same and commit to no longer seeking the overthrow of the Syrian government -- not because it's a good government, but because it has to be overthrown nonviolently by forces that actually mean well, not by a distant imperial power.
Secretary of State John Kerry's already announced plan B is to partition Syria, meaning to continue to fuel the mass murder and suffering, while hoping to diminish the size of the state allied to Iran and Russia, in favor of empowering the terrorists that the United States empowered in Afghanistan in the 1980s and in Iraq in the 2000s and right now in Yemen. The U.S. delusion that yet another overthrow, yet again empowering small groups of killers, will fix things is a root cause of the conflict at this point. But so is the Russian delusion that bombing just the right people will bring peace and stability. Both nations have stumbled into a cease-fire, but seem to think of it as an opportunity to appease a bit of global outrage while reloading. If you want to know how the cease-fire is going, watch the weapons companies' stocks.
The chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party called to complain that I was being unfair to him, and maybe he was right. But I'd simply urged the need to avoid any appearance of bias, and if the chairman doesn't understand that, he's in for a heck of a lot more criticism than he's ever imagined. This is his bio on the party website at 11:15 a.m. ET on Friday, February 26, just after he called me:
The Washington Times had prompted Harrison's call with this article:
. . . What his bio on the party’s Web page doesn’t mention, though, is that Mr. Harrison is also a principal at the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm founded by brothers Tony and John Podesta — the same John Podesta who is chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Mr. Harrison’s day job is likely to get more scrutiny as the presidential campaign turns to South Carolina and questions continue to swirl about whether the Democratic Party apparatus is fairly treating Mrs. Clinton’s challenger, Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont. . . .
“If you want to avoid appearances of conflict of interest, you need to be completely open and reveal that,” said David Swanson, a spokesman at Rootsaction.org, a progressive online group that also has organized a petition asking for the ouster of the head of the Democratic National Committee. “Someone can be in favor of one candidate and still conduct a fair primary election, but if they’re hiding that they have close ties — beyond just electoral interest, but with actual monetary interests — that starts to look bad.”
Harrison called me up and recounted his long connections with staffers for Bernie Sanders, and said that he had been the first to invite Sanders to come speak even before he was officially a candidate. Harrison said he'd also had Sanders as the first ever guest in his video series called "Chair Chats." Here's that video:
And here's one with Hillary Clinton, which has about half as many views.
Harrison said he'd offered Sanders the party's resources and conference room, that his own Deputy Executive Director had gone to work for the Sanders campaign, that anything he and the party had done for Clinton they'd done for Sanders, and that I could ask the Sanders campaign and they'd say as much.
I said I was certain they would indeed, whether true or not, but that I had merely answered a reporter's question on one point, that of Harrison's bio on the party site leaving out what he did for a living, namely that he worked for a Clinton-affiliated organization. Amazingly, Harrison claimed not to know whether his bio included that info or not. He blamed me for not investigating it myself, while he himself claimed not to have looked into it either. And he assured me that if I "googled" him I'd see that he worked for the Podesta Group.
But isn't that the point, I asked? If I google Santorum I'll find something else entirely, but that's what Google shows, not what Santorum chooses to display. If everyone can find out that your paycheck comes from a Clinton-associated group, but that's left out of your bio, how does that look? Harrison promised to look into it and to make sure that it said from now on right at the top: "Jamie Harrison, chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party and Principle at the Podesta Group...."
I said I thought that would be a good idea.
The Podesta Group was founded by John and Tony Podesta, the former serving also as Hillary Clinton's campaign chair.
I explained to Harrison that my concern was not over any actual unfair treatment I knew him to have engaged in, but over the appearance of it in a context that had everyone understandably on the lookout for bias. I pointed out to him that the DNC Chair was quite openly on Hillary Clinton's side, had sought to minimize debates and hide them on Saturday nights and other times of low viewership, had sought to deny Sanders access to his own voter files, had just opened up the Democratic Party to money from corporate lobbyists to benefit one candidate, had refused to release the results in Iowa, etc., and that the Party had its superdelegates lined up for Hillary in open defiance of popular will.
Harrison said he agreed with me that the superdelegate system and the electoral college for that matter should be scrapped. And he agreed with my blaming the DNC, which he pointed out was not the South Carolina Democratic Party.
The funny thing is, after I hung up, I looked at Harrison's bio on the Podesta Group website. That bio is very open about his Democratic Party identifications. And they include this: "Member of the DNC Executive Committee."
I was looking for love in all the wrong places
Looking for love in too many faces
Searching your eyes, looking for traces
Of what I'm dreaming of --Waylon Jennings
Why do the Republican presidential debates resemble world wrestling matches without all the formality and politeness?
Why do the Democratic presidential debates always end up with the two candidates deeply respecting the other's admirable efforts to destroy everything decent in the world?
Because the Republicans are going after voters who are thoroughly disgusted with the U.S. government, including the man running it, Barack Obama, while the Democrats are going after voters who are thoroughly disgusted with the U.S. government but in love with the man running it.
Senator Bernie Sanders explains that we need the opposite of what Obama's been doing, then claims to agree with Obama. Why? Because he wants to win over voters who think exactly that, who believe that Obama has done everything wrong but who love Obama despite, or even because, of his disastrous conduct. Sanders knows that many of the same voters feel (that's the key word) the same way about Hillary Clinton.
Pick up a book called I [Heart] Obama by Erin Aubry Kaplan. In it, she explains that she and others she's asked love Obama for his looks, his voice, his poise, his attitude, his facial expressions, and his skin color. She and others she quotes fell in love with him before they'd learned anything about his political performance. And whatever they later learned entirely confirmed their sentiments. If he did something terrible, they imagined he'd tried to do something good. If he failed, they loved his failure and blamed it on his racist opponents. Because racists hate him, one must love him, they feel.
Kaplan hoped for change, but when Obama didn't meet her expectations she condemned anyone so misguided as to complain. Then she blamed the public for not rising up and complaining, without which Obama couldn't very well be expected to do anything, could he? But even when Obama didn't do the right thing, you could be sure he knew what the right thing to do would have been. And that was good enough. Hell, that was better. And if he lied about it, that was better than truth. Even his bullshit smelled sweet. Kaplan writes:
"Does the fact that his 'Hope/Change' campaign was more a matter of brilliant branding than anything else diminish the fact that hope and change are exactly what black folks need?"
Perish the thought!
Racists would even object to Obama murdering people. Not the Obamaphiles Kaplan quotes: "'I know it's hard for people to look at the drones, to look at why he doesn't do this thing or that thing,' says Ward. 'But the tightrope is one that he has to walk. I have a friend in the South who says she's seen bars with calendars on the walls that count down the days to when Obama gets assassinated.'"
Get it? Racists want to murder Obama, so he should go on murdering all those dark-skinned foreigners, and you should shut up about it and love him even if you hate what he's doing.
Do the old people and black people backing Hillary Clinton in primaries associate her with Obama and his lovable odiousness? Or do they associate her with the Democratic Party and identify with that party as they might with a racial group? Or do they want to feel the warm tingles of watching a woman, instead of a man, pilot the empire over the cliff? Are good people going to double down on tokenism while the fascists prepare to play their trump card?
The answer is, of course, not to elect all white guys. The answer is to end the election obsession, and build a movement. And when we must have an election, elect the best person. Democrats need to stop loving the people who have created everything Sanders wants to fix. Obama and Hillary do not love you back, my friends. They're using you. They have nothing but contempt for you. And if the morning ever comes, you'll hate yourself in it.
Republicans, of course, need to stop bowing down before a fascist clown who openly tells them that he only loves himself and they should love him too. For him, you are beneath contempt, unworthy even of notice. You'd better hope the Democrats don't run the woman you hate against him, because then he'll be president, you'll be the woman scorned, you'll hate yourselves more than the Democrats hate you, and most people will give up hope for the electoral system -- which will of course turn out to be even worse than falling for false hope with a nice smile.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Hollywood honchos told a big lie 74-years ago.
That lie told in 1942 is a link in the sordid chain of perceptions and practices that have produced the present brouhaha surrounding the 2016 Oscar awards featuring an all-white bevy of acting category nominations.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
[Note for TomDispatch Readers: I'm on the road for a few days, and will be slow indeed to answer mail or requests of any kind. So be patient. There will be no Sunday post. The next TD piece will appear on Super Tuesday, March 1. Tom]
By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune
The U.S. government, from Dick Cheney to Hillary Clinton, told blatant lies about the Iraqi government creating chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons in 2002, despite having been informed of the fact that Iraq was doing no such thing. U.S. leaders lied about ties between Iraq and terrorists that they also knew did not exist.
Then the U.S. military attacked and invaded Iraq, in the process heavily bombing old sites of Iraqi chemical weapons from the 1980s, many of those weapons having been provided by the United States. In large part because of the U.S. origin of the old Iraqi chemical weapons, the U.S. kept quiet about them during the new war. Another reason for the official silence was that, during the 2003 U.S. destruction of Iraq, many of those old weapons were seized by fledgling terrorist groups. The war had done exactly what it had been justified as being needed to prevent; it had given WMDs to terrorists.
The geniuses running the U.S. military set up U.S. bases at the sites of old chemical weapons piles, dug giant burn pits into the ground, and began burning the military's trash -- monumental quantities of trash, something like The Story of Stuff on steroids. They burned hundreds of tons of trash every day, including everything you can think of: oil, rubber, tires, treated wood, medicines, pesticides, asbestos, plastic, explosives, paint, human body parts, and . . . (wait for it) . . . nuclear, biological, and chemical decontamination materials.
The burn pits poisoned Iraq, together with depleted uranium weapons, napalm, white phosphorous, and various other horrors, creating unprecedented epidemics of birth defects, and killing untold masses of Iraqis. The burn pits also poisoned tens of thousands of U.S. troops, many of whom have died as a result, including very likely the son of the current U.S. vice president. The burn pits profited Halliburton, the company of the previous U.S. vice president.
The burn pits were no secret, although bases sometimes stopped the burning during VIP tours. Typically, huge clouds of smoke filled the air and created immediate breathing difficulties and sicknesses. Soldiers knew which colors of smoke were most dangerous and discussed it as they discussed an enemy. Numerous burn pits turned hundreds of previously healthy U.S. troops into invalids. But the burn pits at six particular bases caused the most severe illnesses and the most deaths. They caused, among other things, numerous cases of constrictive bronchiolitis, which could only have resulted from exposure to mustard gas -- a chemical weapon left over from a program the United States had supported when it existed and used as an excuse for war when it didn't.
I'm reminded of a ship that sits at the bottom of the Mediterranean. In 1943, German bombs sank a U.S. ship at Bari, Italy, that was secretly carrying a million pounds of mustard gas. Many of the U.S. sailors died from the poison, which the United States dishonestly claimed to have been using as a "deterrent," despite keeping it secret. The ship is expected to continue leaking the gas into the sea for centuries. The earth and water of Iraq have been similarly poisoned, as have U.S. soldiers.
The Pentagon made crystal clear in Iraq, as most everywhere else, that it cares not a damn for the people or the natural environment of the places it attacks, and that it cares even less for the troops it uses to do so. But if you imagine that the Pentagon has reserved its concern for the civilian inhabitants of the Fatherland, don't look too closely into the open-air burns still happening in the United States. The U.S. military is the third-largest polluter of U.S. waterways, top producer of superfund disaster sites, and top consumer of petroleum. At least 33,480 U.S. nuclear weapons workers who have received compensation for health damage are now dead. Where it is blocked by legal regulations effectively enforced, the military shows restraint; where it isn't, it doesn't. In Virginia, the military very responsibly throws dead soldiers into a landfill rather then burning them. Either method communicates equally well just how much the military cares.
Halliburton, for its part, is as happy to deal death at home as abroad. Residents of Duncan, Oklahoma, have sued Cheney's cash machine for poisoning the ground water with ammonium perchlorate. Government investigators also concluded that Halliburton was, in part, to blame for the BP oil spill that flooded into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
Joseph Hickman's new book, The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America's Soldiers, collects the evidence, including from similar incidents during the first Gulf War that were known before the first 2003 burn pit was dug and lit. Hickman gives us stories of young healthy men who headed off to Iraq believing the lies, believing that the U.S. government that is now begging Russia to stop attacking terrorists because the U.S. wants to overthrow yet another government -- believing that this U.S. government had good intentions in attacking Iraq. These poor souls went to Iraq hoping to protect people from horrible suffering, and ended up inflicting horrible suffering on people including themselves. They come home, develop cancer, get stonewalled by the VA, and die dreaming of what it might have been to have health and the wealth needed to attend college. Their American Dream was cut short by the militarized American Fantasy.
Joe Biden supported a war that very likely killed his son by means of burn pits. He then chose not to run for president because of his grief. His decision not to run received more media coverage than several months of the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders who had voted against the war. But did Biden lift a finger to hold Halliburton or the military or the Congress accountable? Not that I've heard.
Hickman describes the burn pits, and analogous poisons from past wars like Agent Orange in Vietnam, as "recklessly endangering the health of our fighting men and women." The only trouble with this is the fact that all war, all "fighting," consists of recklessly endangering the lives of the vast bulk of the victims (the Vietnamese, Iraqis, etc.) and of the U.S. troops. There's nothing non-reckless about any war. Perhaps distant drone pilots are not endangered in the typical way, but then look at how they're mocked within the Air Force. If troops weren't endangered, people wouldn't treat them with reverence and describe them -- as Hickman does -- as somehow "serving" their country, even while the facts he includes in his book speak otherwise.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held since 1950 that members and former members of the military cannot sue over injuries received on the job. It may, however, still prove possible to win compensation from Halliburton. If so, you can probably chalk up another assist to Chelsea Manning who leaked evidence that the military had knowledge of the dangers when it created the burn pits, knowledge that General David Petraeus blatantly lied about in response to a Congressional inquiry.
It now appears that the 2003- war on Iraq not only created ISIS, but armed it with mustard gas, thereby proving, I guess, that Saddam Hussein could indeed had given WMDs to terrorists had he just been as evil as the U.S. military.
By Bill Galvin and Maria Santelli, Center on Conscience & War
With the combat restriction for women in the US Armed Forces now lifted, discussion of draft registration is back in the news, the courts, and the halls of congress. But the problems with Selective Service System (SSS) Registration go much deeper than gender equality. There is little political interest in bringing back the draft. Yet draft registration remains a burden upon our nation’s young men – and now, potentially our young women, as well.
The extrajudicial penalties imposed upon those who choose not to or fail to register make life more difficult for many who already are marginalized, and they particularly target conscientious objectors who believe that registering with Selective Service is a form of participating in war. There is no opportunity to register as a conscientious objector. Legal protection for conscientious objectors was provided in the constitutions of several of the original colonies, and was written into early drafts of what became the First and Second Amendments to the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution. Instead of honoring and upholding these freedoms and protections, modern lawmakers have subjected non-registrants to laws that deny education, employment and other fundamental opportunities. These laws amount to an unacceptable burden on those individuals who cannot, in good conscience, register, and in fact serve to punish and marginalize those who are living their lives true to the very essence of our democracy.
After the war in Vietnam ended in 1975, draft registration ended as well. In 1980 President Carter reinstated registration to send a message to the Soviet Union, which had just invaded Afghanistan, that the US could be ready for war at any time. This is still the law of the land today: virtually all males residing in the US and all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 26 are required to be registered with Selective Service.
The penalties for failure to register are potentially quite severe: it is a federal felony carrying a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Since 1980 millions of young men have violated the law by failing to register. And of those who did register, millions more violated the law by failing to register during the time period prescribed in the law. Since 1980 a grand total of just 20 people have been prosecuted for failure to register. (The last indictment was on January 23rd, 1986.) Almost all of those prosecuted were conscientious objectors who publicly asserted their non-registration as a religious, conscientious or political statement.
Initially, the government planned to prosecute a handful of public resisters and scare everyone else into complying with the registration requirement. (In criminology, this enforcement strategy is called “general deterrence.”) The plan backfired: conscientious objectors facing prosecution were on the evening news talking about their values, asserting that they were answering to a higher moral law, and non-compliance with registration actually increased.
In response, beginning in 1982, the federal government enacted punitive legislation and policies designed to coerce people to register with Selective Service. These laws, commonly called “Solomon” laws after the member of Congress who first introduced them (not because of their supposed wisdom!), mandated non-registrants be denied the following:
- Federal financial aid to college students;
- Federal job training;
- Employment with federal executive agencies;
- S. Citizenship to immigrants.
Selective Service has stated consistently that their goal is to increase registration rates, not prosecute non-registrants. They happily accept late registrations until one turns 26, after which time it is no longer legally or administratively possible to register. Because there is a five-year statute of limitations for violations of the Selective Service law, once a non-registrant turns 31 he can no longer be prosecuted, yet the denial of federal financial aid, job training, and employment extends throughout his life.
Selective Service has testified before Congress that there is nothing to gain by denying these benefits to those who are too old to be registered. Yet, in a convoluted circular argument, government officials have asserted that getting someone to register is doing that person a favor, because failure to register makes them ineligible for these government “benefits.” In fact, it was that attitude that caused the former director of Selective Service Gil Coronado to observe,
“If we are not successful in reminding men in the inner cities about their registration obligation, especially minority and immigrant men, they will miss out on opportunities to achieve the American dream. They will lose eligibility for college loans and grants, government jobs, job training and for registration-age immigrants, citizenship. Unless we are successful in achieving high registration compliance, America may be on the verge of creating a permanent underclass.”
Rather than work to eliminate these extrajudicial penalties for non-registrants, and really level the playing field for all, Selective Service has encouraged states to adopt additional penalties for those who do not register for the draft. According to the 2015 SSS Annual Report to Congress, more than two-thirds of the men registered in FY 2015 were coerced by measures such as driver’s license restrictions or access to financial aid.
In the years since the federal government implemented Solomon-style penalties, 44 states, the District of Columbia, and several territories have enacted legislation that encourages or coerces registration with Selective Service. These laws take myriad forms: some states refuse government financial aid to unregistered students; some refuse enrollment in state institutions; some of those who do not register pay out-of-state tuition; and some states levy a combination of these penalties. Bills that restrict employment with state governments have passed in 20 states and one territory.
Laws linking registration to a driver’s license, learner’s permit, or photo ID vary by state, from requiring registration in order to be eligible to receive an ID or license, which is the position taken by most states, to simply providing the opportunity for one to register. The only states that have not currently passed any state legislation regarding registration with Selective Service are Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wyoming.
Any violation of the law carries a potential penalty if one is convicted. Yet – and it is worth repeating — the government has prosecuted no one for violating Selective Service law since 1986, while hundreds of thousands of US citizens have been penalized since that time. This practice of penalization without prosecution or conviction subverts the system of law established by our Constitution. Furthermore, penalizing people in ways that are unrelated to their alleged offense – an offense for which they have not been charged – runs counter to our fundamental system of law and our notion of justice. If there is a political will to enforce a law, violators should be prosecuted and have the right to be judged by a jury of their peers. If there is no political will to enforce a law, the law should be rescinded.
However, rather than rescind this unpopular and burdensome law, recent political and media attention has been focused on extending it to women. On February 2, 2016 the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Commandant of the Marine Corps both testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in support of extending the registration requirement to women. Two days later, Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Representative Ryan Zinke (R-MT) introduced the Draft America’s Daughters Act, which, if passed, would extend the registration requirement to women. It also would subject women, and disproportionately women of conscience, to potential criminal prosecution, as well as life-long extrajudicial punishment for their act of conscience.
Back in 1981, when the single-gender Selective Service registration was challenged as sex discrimination, the Supreme Court ruled that a male-only Selective Service registration was legal. They said, “[S]ince women are excluded from combat service,” they are “simply not similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft,” and Congress, having constitutional authority to “raise and maintain” the military, had the authority to consider “military need” over “equity.”
But times have changed, and women are now at last recognized as “similarly situated.” Now that women are no longer barred from combat, the reason the Court allowed a male-only registration system no longer exists. Several court cases in recent years have challenged the male-only draft on constitutional “equal protection” grounds, and one of those cases was argued before the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals on December 8, 2015. On February 19, 2016, the court of appeals rejected the lower court’s technical reasons for dismissing the case and sent it back for further consideration.
But adding women to the population punished by the legal and constitutional oversteps of the Selective Service System solves nothing.
With current federal and state Selective Service laws in place, if a man wants to go back to school later in life or seeks employment with federal or state government agencies, he may well find those opportunities blocked because he did not register. Without a photo ID or driver’s license, the rights of individuals of conscience to travel are restricted. A photo ID is usually required to purchase an airline or train ticket, or tickets for travel on other modes of transportation even inside the US. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 13.1 states, “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.” The effect of these laws is to undermine this basic human right. Furthermore, if so-called Voter ID requirements continue to spread and are upheld by the courts, these laws may restrict the right of conscientious objectors to a fundamental democratic means of expression: the vote.
Few would argue that the legislators behind these punitive laws are knowingly and purposefully looking to harm or disenfranchise certain groups, but that is no less the effect of their actions. The time is ripe to challenge these laws – not add women of conscience (or any other women) to the group being punished. The time is also ripe to challenge the Selective Service System itself, and on February 10, Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO), along with Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Jared Polis (D-CO) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) introduced a bill that would achieve both. H.R. 4523 would repeal the Military Selective Service Act, abolishing the registration requirement for everyone, while requiring that “a person may not be denied a right, privilege, benefit, or employment position under Federal law” for having refused or failed to register before the repeal. A petition is now circulating to support this sensible and timely effort.
Despite the spin that trivializes registration (“It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s the law;” It’s just registration, it’s not a draft), these discussions serve as a renewed reminder that, as the Supreme Court said back in 1981, “the purpose of registration is to develop a pool of potential combat troops.” The purpose of registration is to prepare for war. Our daughters and our sons deserve better.
 The Center on Conscience & War (CCW) was founded in 1940 to protect the rights of Conscientious Objectors. Our work continues today, providing technical and community support to all those who oppose their participation in war or the preparation for war.
 Lillian Schlissel, Conscience in America (New York: Dutton, 1968) p. 28
 Ibid, p. 47. Here Schlissel is citing James Madison, Proposals to the Congress for a Bill of Rights, Annals of Congress: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Vol. I, First Congress, First Session, June 1789 (Washington DC: Gales and Seaton, 1834). See also Harrop A. Freeman, “A Remonstrance for Conscience,” Univ. Penn. Law Rev., vol. 106, no. 6, pp. 806-830, at 811-812 (April 1958) (reciting the drafting history in detail).
 50 U.S.C. App. 462(a) and 18 U.S.C. 3571(b)(3)
 Selective Service System Annual Reports to Congress, 1981-2011
 We use the pronoun “he” because the law only affects males at this time.
 Richard Flahavan, Selective Service System Associate Director, Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, in a meeting between Selective Service and the staff of the Center on Conscience & War, Nov 27, 2012
 FY 1999 Annual Report to the Congress of the United States, from the Director of Selective Service, p.8.
 Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981).
Camp Douglas, WI --- On February 23rd, two peace activists with Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Brian Terrell and Kathy Kelly, were arrested when they attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to drone operators at Volk Field, an Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin, which trains pilots to operate Shadow Drones over other countries. Voices activists have lived alongside ordinary people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Gaza. People who can’t flee from drone surveillance and attacks have good reason to fear people from the U.S., but instead they have broken bread with Kelly and Terrell and have welcomed opportunities for deepened mutual understanding. Kelly and Terrell carried the loaf of bread to signify the worth of relying on words rather than weapons.
Before entering the base property, Kathy Kelly said: “Living alongside ordinary people who can't escape drone surveillance in places like Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan and knowing that a drone operator could be ordered to assassinate civilians who have nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide affected my conscience. I wanted to ask drone operators in Volk Field whether they had been asked to target any people for possible assassination that day. I want to ask how the base training manual teaches people to distinguish between civilians and armed combatants. If an operator wants to quit, what does the commander of Volk Field do?”
Brian Terrell also noted: “Wisconsin is where I was born and raised and so I feel that coming to Volk Field is a responsibility that I owe in gratitude to my home state. The premise that drones will limit the parameters of war and make for fewer civilian casualties has proven false. General Stanley McChrystal, who led troops in Afghanistan from June 2009 to June 2010, warned that the drone ‘lowers the threshold for taking operations because it feels easy, there's a danger in that.’ And yet the evolution of drones in the militaries of many countries around the globe has been anything but cautious. Instead there is a reckless proliferation of this deadly technology.”
Terrell and Kelly will be arraigned on February 24th, after 2:30 p.m., at the Juneau County Justice Center, 200 Oak St., in Mauston, WI. Also on February 25th, at 9:00 a.m., Mary Beth Schlagheck, will be tried for having crossed the line at Volk Field in August of 2015. Hers is the last of seven trials stemming from nonviolent civil resistance actions at Volk Field that were undertaken as the culmination of the “Let It Shine” walk from Madison to Volk Field. The witness of the activists who have protested at Volk Field, and who have testified so eloquently in court, inspired Brian’s and Kathy’s action.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
Military re-writes regulations to control damage and create new recruiting opportunities
The recent changes made by the US Military Entrance Processing Command to Regulation 601-4, Personnel Procurement Student Testing Program, are very significant to the work many of us have been carrying on for years. Although the DOD’s Student Testing Program is complicated and understood by small numbers of activists, it represents a massive and egregious violation of civil liberties.
At first glance it seemed our activism had resulted in a victory, but upon closer examination, it’s apparent the military is adjusting its strategy to a changing landscape for greater advantage.
The Pentagon runs the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Career Exploration Program (ASVAB-CEP) in 14,000 high schools across the country. The recruiting command is able to give its 3-hour enlistment test to 650,000 kids every year by deceptively shrouding it within a “Career Exploration Program”, which they say helps kids figure out what they want to do when they grow up. Actually, recruiters capture data on the cognitive abilities of the kids, along with their social security numbers and detailed demographic information. The primary purpose of the ASVAB-CEP, according the military regulations, is to create leads for recruiters.
Until now, school officials were expected to be proactive in communicating to the Recruiting Command whether they wanted to make the test results available to be used for recruiting purposes. Guidance counselors were to select one of eight release options for their kids taking the test. See Table 3-1:
Recruiter Release Options - Instructions for providing access to student test information to recruiting services
1 Provide student test information to recruiting services no sooner than 7 days after mailed to School
2 Provide student test information to recruiting services no sooner than 60 days after mailed to School
3 Provide student test information to recruiting services no sooner than 90 days after mailed to School
4 Provide student test information to recruiting services no sooner than 120 days after mailed to School
5 Provide student test information to recruiting services no sooner than the end of the SY for that specific school
6 Provide student test information to recruiting services no sooner than 7 days after mailed to school with instruction that no telephone solicitation by recruiters will be conducted as a result of test information provided
7 Invalid test results. Student test information is not provided to recruiting services
8 Access to student test information is not provided to recruiting services
Options 1-6 basically say the same thing. Recruiters get the data. Option 7 is rarely used; it’s for when there’s some sort of goof up. Option 8 says the military cannot use test results for recruiting purposes.
Eight years ago approximately 1-2% of the kids taking the test had Option 8 selected. Since then, the percent has risen to 15% with three entire states and 2,000 schools moving to select Option 8. Most schools, school boards, and state legislatures across the country were unaware that release options existed until we told them. Option 1 was made the default selection if a guidance counselor failed to contact the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) to express the school’s desire to select a particular option. We don’t have any data for the last 2 years but we think there may be significant movement in our favor across the country. We filed a FOIA request that is taking forever to receive. Rep Hoyer (D-MD) has recently contacted the DOD on our behalf.
Here’s the recent change to Section 3-2 on Release Options,
Only a school official will select the recruiter release option for their students. If an option isn’t selected, the MEPS must contact the school to determine the release option. If no option is received from the school, the test will be scored using Option 8 (no release). Release options are provided in Table 3-1 (Recruiter release options). The release option chosen by the school will be honored without discrimination and without adverse effect of quality or priority of service to the school. All MEPS scheduling communications with schools will include a listing of all release options.
At first blush this seems like a victory for us, however, after deeper analysis and dialogue, it’s apparent the recruiting command has launched into a damage control mode by creating new opportunities for itself. “If no option is provided by the school the test will be scored using Option 8” actually sounds like the military took a progressive step forward, but the second part about scheduling communications with schools, including a listing of all release options, suggests the command is going after all those Option 8 schools to get them to switch to Options 1-6. If MEPS representatives can’t talk a school into moving from Option 8, they may suggest the school allow for a split option. That means some of the kids will be allowed to take the ASVAB under Option 8 and some under Options 1-6.
An example of this strategy may be found in the recent change to Chancellor’s Regulation A-825 in New York City. For years, the city’s schools had selected Option 8 for its students who took the ASVAB. If a student wanted to use her scores for enlistment purposes, she was required to visit with a recruiter to sign a form. (or her parents if she’s under 18)
Now, schools in the city where the military gives the ASVAB are required to send home written notification in advance of the test to the parents of each student scheduled to take the ASVAB. The form asks parents if it’s OK to release results to recruiters.
Counselors across the country are already overwhelmed with their workload and this new military regulation will add to it. Counseling staff will be required to keep track of the notifications and sort students accordingly. Counselors will be subject to blame and litigation we hope to engender if results are forwarded to recruiting services from a child whose parents did not authorize consent.
The recruiting command has launched into damage control by creating new opportunities for itself. We must do the same. We have our work cut out for us. We need to communicate with 14,000 schools to let them know they'll be contacted by recruiters who will sell them on selecting Option 1-6. We must convince them to protect the privacy of their students by selecting Release Option 8.
Pat Elder is the Director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy www.studentprivacy.org
Harvey Wasserman is a life-long activist who speaks, writes and organizes widely on energy, the environment, history, drug war, election protection and grassroots politics. He teaches (since 2004) history and cultural & ethnic diversity at two central Ohio colleges, and is married with five daughters and five grandchildren. Harvey works primarily for the permanent shutdown of the nuclear power industry and the birth of Solartopia, a democratic and socially just green-powered Earth free of all fossil and nuclear fuels. He writes regularly for a wide internet readership through Ecowatch, solartopia.org, freepress.org and nukefree.org, which he edits. His articles also appear at Commondreams, CounterPunch, HuffingtonPost, Buzzflash and others. He hosts the Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show at www.prn.fm. In this show, Harvey discusses the stripping and flipping of U.S. elections.
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In October 2001, the U.S. launched its invasion of Afghanistan largely through proxy Afghan fighters with the help of Special Operations forces, American air power, and CIA dollars. The results were swift and stunning. The Taliban was whipped, a new government headed by Hamid Karzai soon installed in Kabul, and the country declared "liberated."
Whatever its motive, Apple’s on the right side...so far: Apple Champions Privacy; Government Seeks to Trash It
By Alfredo Lopez
Truth can be stranger than fiction...or at least more surprising. Apple Computer is the current champion of privacy against U.S. government attempts to expand its spying on us. The company, a frequent NSA and FBI collaborator in the past, finds itself in the strange position of confronting a federal court order to dislodge its iPhone security system, an action Apple insists will cripple encryption as a privacy-protection measure.
By Harvey Wasserman, David Swanson, Bob Fitrakis
Bernie Sanders’ common sense proposals for dealing with universal health care, college tuition, restoring the infrastructure, confronting poverty and more have encountered predictable scorn from “fiscally responsible” corporatists.
They all scream about the “deficit spending” and tax hikes that might be required to pay for these vital programs. From predictable right-wing corporatists to Hillary Clinton (“free stuff! free stuff!” she mocks) to fictional “left-leaning economists” invented by the New York Times, numerous voices scorn Bernie’s agenda because his proposals “cost too much.”
But nowhere do we find anyone willing to take on the biggest imperial welfare program of them all, the most obvious source of revenue for the programs needed to heal our nation: the military budget. If Sanders were willing to cut the military budget he’d encounter no criticism for raising taxes, because he’d have no need to raise taxes. We hope that he’ll no longer pass up this opportunity to tell us how he would cut into a military budget that exceeds nearly all the rest of the world’s combined, and that largely has nothing to do with fighting terrorism (and so often makes it worse).
It’s not that Bernie doesn’t have a good answer for how he would pay for everything. He does, and it’s plenty clear and simple for an intelligent fourth grader, and possibly even Donald Trump, to grasp. But just try squeezing the following into a sound byte television response to “You want to raise my taxes!”
Even this lengthy list does not seem to straightforwardly explain that Medicare for All could raise your taxes, but would give you net savings as you dropped your health insurance payments.
For those who can get past sound bytes, Sanders’ proposals are good, and the taxes all needed for the sake of equitable sharing of wealth and power. But cutting the oceans of cash going to the armed forces is also needed for the purpose of slowing down the military industrial complex and its penchant for creating wars.
And there are projects that the United States and the world desperately need that aren’t listed above. Rather than more wars and occupations, the United States has a moral responsibility to begin a massive investment in actual humanitarian aid to the world, a world beginning to suffer from climate change driven more by the United States than any other nation, with the possible exception of the much, much larger nation of China.
The United States is currently extremely stingy in foreign aid by global standards, and a Marshall-Plan scale investment could work wonders in transforming world opinion about the U.S. government. A similar investment, much more than $100 billion per year, is needed in the United States for green energy. The possibility of creating a Solartopia is slipping away from us, while the cost of the Iraq war alone would have been enough to halt climate change.
Here are some simple, obvious ways to pay for all those programs Bernie advocates, and much much more:
- There are various plans afoot to “upgrade” the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, with price tags in the range of $1,000,000,000,000 and more. Why don’t we just get rid of all of them and use the money to pay for much of the above?
- There is talk of a replacement fleet of a dozen “Ohio Class” nuclear submarines at a (currently estimated) cost of up to $8,000,000,000 each (which is bound to soar), with construction to begin in 2021. These are perfectly designed to protect us from the Soviet Union, which no longer exists, and will do nothing except bankrupt us, making us more vulnerable to the likes of ISIS, which was created by our intervention in Iraq.
- The United States currently maintains at least 900 bases outside its borders, with troops stationed in 175 foreign nations and waging or threating war in some of the handful of nations that do not have U.S. troops (Syria, Iran). The financial cost is over $100 billion a year. The bases, in many cases, generate an enormous amount of popular resentment and hatred, serving as motivations for attacks on the bases themselves or elsewhere — famously including the attacks of September 11, 2001. Why continue to pay for this?
- The military spends millions every year advertising itself as a career opportunity, with fly-overs at football games, saturation TV spots, marching bands (the military is the nation’s leading employer of musicians) and more. In fact, it has an entrenched interest in keeping college tuitions high, as a key incentive for young people to enlist is to be able to afford tuition. Yet while the armed forces are heavily over-staffed, and recruitment ads for the National Guard depict the bringing of aid to natural disasters, the reality is that a major effort to aid those at home and abroad impacted by climate change or disasters like the methane gas leak at Port Ranch, California, doesn’t exist and would be a prime step toward guaranteeing a true global peace.
If the military were scaled back even a little, in the direction of a purely defensive operation, we could create such a modern civilian conservation corps and, among other things, put solar panels on the rooftops of every building on earth.
There is, of course, much more that could be done to cut the military budget and pay for what we really need. The vast bulk of military expenditures today have nothing to do with fighting terrorism. In many cases, the clumsy bludgeonings of our over-stuffed military actually promote it.
Yet this kind of discussion has not yet made it into the mainstream. We look forward to either journalists or brave nonviolent event disruptors inserting this topic into the endless election coverage.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org.
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of the upcoming THE STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016 FIVE JIM CROWS & ELECTRONIC ELECTION THEFT.
by Lisa Simeone
Great American orator, scholar, and abolitionist Frederick Douglass was born sometime in February of 1818 and died on this date, February 20th, in 1895. Among the many brilliant, fiery speeches he gave and essays he wrote, none have been more often excerpted and quoted than these lines, which apply today every bit as much as they did in his time. I’ve quoted them often, but never enough. So it’s fitting that I take this opportunity to commemorate him and do it again:
Read the rest at TSA News.
By Joy First
On Friday February 19 Phil Runkel was found guilty of trespassing in Juneau County, WI by Judge Paul Curran after a 22 minute trial. Phil had joined nine other activists in attempting to walk onto the Volk Field Air National Guard base and meet with the commander to share our concerns about the training of drone pilots that takes place there.
District Attorney Mike Solovey followed his standard procedure of calling Sheriff Brent Oleson and Deputy Thomas Mueller to the stand and identifying Phil as one of the people who walked onto the base on August 25, 2015 and refused to leave.
Phil cross-examined Sheriff Oleson asking him about the purpose of the space between the gates and guard house. Oleson responded that the space was used so that cars waiting to enter the base didn’t back up onto the county highway. Phil asked when it was legal to be in that area, and Oleson responded that it was when you are given permission. But that isn’t true. Cars drive through the gates and about a block to the guard house and wait to talk to the guard without getting permission to wait in that space.
Phil asked Oleson if we were asked why we were there so the base officials could determine if we were there for a valid reason, and the sheriff responded that he knew we weren’t there for a valid reason.
The state rested their case and Phil told the judge he would like to be sworn in to testify and then give a brief closing statement.
I am employed by Marquette University, where it has been my privilege to have served since 1977 as archivist for the papers of sainthood candidate Dorothy Day. She has often been lauded for her performance of the works of mercy—most recently by Pope Francis--but scorned for her equally steadfast opposition to the works of war. This led to her arrest and imprisonment on three separate occasions for failure to take cover during civil defense drills in the 1950s. I am one of many who have been inspired by her example to seek peace and pursue it.
I respectfully plead not guilty to this charge. Following World War II the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg declared that “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual State.” (Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, vol. I, Nürnberg 1947, page 223).This was one of the Nuremberg Principles adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations in 1950 to provide guidelines for determining what constitutes a war crime. These
principles are arguably part of customary international law and part of domestic law in the United States under Article VI, paragraph 2 of the US Constitution (175 U.S.677, 700) (1900).
Former US attorney general Ramsey Clark testified under oath, at a trial of drone protesters in Dewitt, NY, that in his legal opinion everyone is obligated under the law to try to stop their government from committing war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity
I acted out of a conviction that the use of drones for extrajudicial, targeted killing constitutes such a war crime, and I sought to apprise base commander Romuald of this fact. I intended to uphold international law. (As Ms. First noted at her trial last week, Judge Robert Jokl of Dewitt, New York, acquitted five resisters for their action at the Hancock drone base because he was persuaded that they had the same intention.)
Article 6(b) of the Nuremberg Charter defines War Crimes--violations of the laws or customs of war-- to include, among other things, murder or ill treatment of civilian population of or in occupied territory. Weaponized drones, assisted by reconnaissance and surveillance drones piloted from bases such as Volk Field, have killed between 2,494-3,994 persons in Pakistan alone since 2004. These include between 423 and 965 civilians and 172-207 children. Another 1,158-1,738 have been injured. This is data compiled by the award-winning Bureau of Investigative Journalism, based in London (https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/drones-graphs/).
According to the legal scholar Matthew Lippman (Nuremberg and American Justice, 5 Notre Dame J.L. Ethics & Pub. Pol'y 951 (1991). Available at: http://scholarship.law.nd.edu/ndjlepp/vol5/iss4/4)
citizens have “the legal privilege under international law to act in a non-violent proportionate fashion to halt the commission of war crimes. “ He contends that “Nuremberg… serves both as a sword which can be used to prosecute war criminals, and as a shield for those who are compelled to engage in conscientious acts of moral protest against illegal wars and methods of warfare.”
Lippman counters the common admonition for protesters to confine themselves to legally-sanctioned means of dissent, such as lobbying congresspeople. He cites Judge Myron Bright, of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Dissenting in Kabat, Judge Bright stated that: “We must recognize that civil disobedience in various forms, used without violent acts against others, is engrained in our society and the moral correctness of political protesters' views has on occasion served to change and better our society.”
Examples he gave included the Boston Tea Party, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the more recent disobedience of “Jim Crow" laws, such as the lunch-counter sit-ins. Kabat, 797 F.2d at 601 United States v. Kabat, 797 F.2d 580 (8th Cir. 1986).
To Professor Lippman, “Today's obscenity may be tomorrow's lyric.”
I’ll conclude, then, with these words from a song many of us know: “Let there be peace on earth. And let it begin with me.”
Note that Phil was stopped in the fifth paragraph, giving statistics on the number of people killed by drones, when DA Solovey objected citing relevance and Curran sustained the objection. Phil was not able to complete his statement, but it is included in this report because he provided valuable information that could be useful in future cases.
Curran asked Phil what his testimony has to do with trespassing and Phil began to talk about why he walked onto the base when the DA interrupted and said there is nothing about intent in the statute. As Phil persisted in trying to explain his actions to the judge, Curran became increasingly agitated and angry. He said he didn’t need to be lectured by Phil about Nuremberg.
Phil tried to explain he was acting under the belief that he was obliged to enter the base, and that we are compelled to engage in resistance to illegal warfare. Again, Curran made his same old argument that his court is not going to tell Obama that what he is doing is illegal. That continues to be a false argument that the judge makes in many of our trials.
Phil was very persistent in trying to get his point across and continued to argue his case, but the judge could not hear anything he was saying.
Finally the judge said guilty and $232 fine. Phil said he wanted to give a closing statement. Curran said it was too late, it was over, and got up and quickly left the courtroom. I am concerned about a judge who refuses to allow a closing statement. Is that legal?
This is the closing statement Phil would have liked to present.
I stand with my co-defendants in the conviction that silence in the face of the injustice of the immoral, illegal and counterproductive drone warfare being carried out by our government makes us complicit in these crimes. And I fully endorse and support their testimonies before this court.
In his book The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism, Rahul Mahajan wrote, “If terrorism is to be given an unbiased definition, it must involve the killing of noncombatants for political purposes, no matter who does it or what noble goals they proclaim.” I ask your honor to consider which poses the real threat to peace and right order—the actions of groups such as ours, or those of the CIA and other agencies responsible for our drones policy.
Again, a very disappointing outcome, but Phil reminds us of the importance of what we are doing and why we must continue as he states, “I was disappointed, of course, that Judge Curran didn’t allow me to finish my testimony or make a closing statement. But such rulings won’t deter
us from continuing to speak our truth to the powers that be.”
Mary Beth’s will be the final trial on February 25 at 9:00 am at the Juneau County “Justice” Center, 200 Oak. St. Mauston, WI. Join us there.
By Edward Hasbrouck
On Friday the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles that had dismissed the complaint in National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System.
The Court of Appeals reinstated the complaint, and remanded the case to the U.S. District Court for consideration of the other issues in the case.
The next procedural step could be more written briefing on these issues, or a written scheduling order form the District Court, or an in-person or telephone “status conference” in Los Angeles, any of which could occur in a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
The most likely outcome of this and some other similar (although less far advanced) pending lawsuits is a court ruling that male-only draft registration in unconstitutional. Such a ruling would end draft registration, unless Congress changes the law.
The decision reinstating this case is likely to produce more pressure on Congress to take up the issue of draft registration sooner. Both major parties are internally divided on draft registration: it’s a “wedge issue” already within each party as well as potentially between the parties.
Bills to extend draft registration to women have been introduced by both Democrats (H.R. 1509) and Republicans (H.R. 4478), and questions about whether women should be required to register have been asked in both Democratic and Republican Presidential primary debates.
Some Republican candidates have said that draft registration should be extended to women, others that it should be retained for men only. As a member of the House in 1994, Bernie Sanders voted to end draft registration. But so far as I have been able to determine, neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton has said what they would do about draft registration, or propose that Congress do, if they are elected.
H.R. 4523, a bill to end draft registration entirely, abolish the Selective Service System, and repeal the Federal “Solomon Amendments” linking draft registration to Federal student aid, job training, and other programs has also been introduced in the House by a bipartisan group of sponsors. So far as I know, no Presidential candidate from either major party has endorsed H.R. 4523 or said that they would support ending draft registration. But this bill represents the best chance in more than 20 years to end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System.
Please support H.R. 4523 to end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System. Please also support continued resistance to draft registration, by men and women, as long as it remains the law.
Opinion by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:
Press release from the National Coalition for Men:
Details of H.R. 4523: Petition in support of H.R. 4523:
Details of H.R. 4523:
Petition in support of H.R. 4523: