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In Raleigh NC on 9/28 March for Our Planet

Join my awesome neice and nephew in Raleigh for this incredible event! --DS
 

March for Our Planet

 

September 28, 2013, 3:30 pm in Raleigh, NC

Handing out Flyers

Sharing flyers about the March for Our Planet

Sign up to MARCH!

On September 28, 2013, young people around the world will lead marches, rallies, and demonstrations to call attention to climate change and to ask our leaders to make protecting our planet a top priority.  Events will be planned and led by youth but all are welcome and encouraged to attend.

In North Carolina, youth will lead a march and rally in downtown Raleigh with inspiring calls to action from youth leaders and climate advocates.  Marchers will meet at Halifax Mall at 3:30 pm for a welcome and activities.  The march will begin at 4:00 pm, circling the Capitol and the General Assembly building before returning to Halifax Mall for a program to include speakers, music, and more.  More details about march location and logistics to come. 

Click here for ways to get involved!

Raging Grannies From Moral Monday Cropped and Resized

The Triangle Raging Grannies will perform at the post-march rally

The March for Our Planet is endorsed by

350.org Boone
350.org Triangle
350.org Winston Salem
Climate Convergence NC
iMatter Youth/Kids vs. Global Warming
League of Conservation Voters
NC Interfaith Power and Light
NC Students for Climate Action
Our Children’s Trust
Southern Energy Management

The Other Super Power Is Winning

It's not Russia.  It's not al Qaeda.  It's not Bashar al-Assad.  The other super power is the people of the world -- and the people of, but not by or for, the United States.

The world's people are protesting.  U.S. citizens abroad are protesting at U.S. embassies.  The British Parliament said no to war for the first time since Yorktown. 

The U.S. polls began with single-digit support for attacking Syria, climbed a little with the corporate media onslaught, and then started sinking again as the propaganda push shifted into self-defeating top gear.

Taking the stage after Colin Powell, the Obama-Kerry war marketing team was compelled by public pressure, foreign pressure, government-insider pressure, past public statements, and the inability of even the corporate media to keep a straight face, to take this war proposal to Congress -- and to do so while Congress members and senators were at home in their districts and states, where people were able to get in their faces.

Congress has been feeling the heat.  Sure, there is greater willingness by some Republican members to oppose a war if the president is a Democrat.  But there are also Democrats openly supporting the war because the president wants them to.  The decisive factor has been public pressure.  Senators and representatives have been turned around by their constituents, and that minority still supporting an attack on Syria openly says they're defying the people who elected them.  If there is no vote in Congress, it will be because the vote would fail.

Now is the time for Congress and the president to hear our voices more loudly than ever.

Secretary Kerry stressed on Monday that he hadn't been serious about a diplomatic solution.  It was just "rhetoric." He was just pointing out the "impossibility" of Assad handing weapons over.  He didn't want anyone to take it seriously.  Not when we have to get a war started. Not when the clock is ticking and he has already Colin-Powelled himself in front of his old committee with his wife behind him and protesters with bloody hands filling the room and everybody snickering when he claimed al Qaeda would install a secular democracy. Not after all THAT!

How can you ask a man to be the last one to lie for a dead idea?

But warmongering senators and presidents and presidential wannabes jumped at the chance of a way out of watching Congress vote down a war, and watching Congress vote down a war because we made them do it.  Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee has a proposal for a diplomatic resolution.  Republican Congressman Chris Smith has proposed a United Nations war crimes tribunal.  (One might hope it will even look at the crimes of both sides in the Syrian war.)  The always obvious, but hidden, fact that there are alternatives to bombing people is bursting out all over.

Sure, some people dislike this war because it would cost money, or because the Iraqis are ungrateful for the destruction of their country, or because Obama was born in Africa, but mostly people oppose this war for very good reasons -- and the financial cost is not really a bad reason.  From right to left, people don't think the United States should be the world's vigilante.  From left to right, people don't believe the justifications presented without evidence.  From right to left, people understand that killing people with the right weapons to protest their being killed with the wrong weapons is little bit crazy.  From left to right, people don't believe tales of short and easy wars that will pay for themselves.  And, across the political spectrum, people have begun to be able to smell lies, even when those lies are wrapped in flags and uniforms.

We should give our government credit for listening -- if it listens.  By no means are we out of the woods yet.  If you want to be able to say you were part of the movement that prevented a U.S. war, now is the time to email and telephone and join in activities.  We should not, however, fantasize that our government secretly held our position against the war it was trying to roll out, before we compelled it to hold our position. 

Let them thump their chests a bit about how their threats won something out of Assad, if that allows their war fever to pass.  But don't for a minute lose the significance of what the U.S. public has done to the otherwise broken U.S. government.  Out of whatever combination of factors, it just may turn out that we've stopped a war.  Which means that we can stop another war.  Which means that we can begin to work our way out of the war machine that has eaten our economy, our civil liberties, our natural environment, and our soul.

Assad may be lying.  Or Obama may lie that Assad is lying.  Or this whole thing may otherwise fall apart and the push for this war be back with a full-court press on Congress.  But we can stop it if we choose to do so.  We can push as hard for peaceful solutions in Syria as we've pushed to prevent the bombs from falling.  In fact, we can push 10 times harder.

And the warmakers will be back with another war.  Have no fear of that.  Seriously, have no fear of it: We are a super-power.  They are a vestige of a barbaric practice that has become an anachronism even while remaining our largest public investment.  They are dinosaurs.  They'll come back with a "defensive war".  That was their biggest failure this time; they didn't make Syria a threat.  Senator Harry Reid on Monday painted Syria as Nazi Germany, but he sounded like Elmer Fudd warning of a killer rabbit.

Laughter is our most potent tool.  We must mock their fear-mongering.  We must laugh at their claims of power and benevolent intent.  We must ask to see the list of nations that are grateful for past bombs.  We must inquire whether senators who play video poker while debating war plans, or secretaries of state who promise wars that will be both tiny and significant with no impact and a decisive result, are perhaps in need of better medication.

But let's not count our doves before they hatch.  Get in on this successful movement now.  It's going to be one to tell your grandchildren about.

Kerry Couldn't Sell a Used Car

After Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that President Bashar al-Assad avoid a war by handing over any chemical weapons his government possesses, Russia quickly seconded the motion, and Assad agreed to it.  Just as quickly, aparently panicked by the possible delay or prevention of missile strikes, Kerry's staff put out this statement:

"Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used.  His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That's why the world faces this moment."

Could Assad be lying?  Could he hope to stash away a hidden weapons stockpile? Yes, and then at least a U.S. attack would have been delayed and more time gained to work on preventing it.  But that's not likely.  Inspectors are very good.  That's why Prsident George W. Bush wanted them pulled out of Iraq, where they had done a stellar job and the weaponry been eliminated.  That could conceivably also be why President Barack Obama wanted them kept away from the site of the August 21st attack and wanted to send missiles into Syria before the inspectors reached any results.

So, to all appearances, Assad has immediately done what Kerry just declared impossible.  How reliable, then, are other assertions of which Kerry professes to be certain?

Is it really an important international norm that one nation should bomb another in support of fanatical terrorists and on the stated basis that people had been killed with the wrong variety of weapon?

Is it really true that this war will be both unbelievably small and a significant blow to the Syrian government?

Kerry is trying to sell the same used car to people who want an ambulance and other people who want a tank.

Nobody's buying.

It's not entirely Kerry's fault that he had to come on stage after Colin Powell's performance, but it is his fault that he's flubbed all of his lines.

If Obama withdraws his demand for Congressional authorization of war, it will not be because he and John Kerry played 12-dimensional chess and secretly hope to bring peace to the earth.  It will be because they played duck-duck-goose with such incompetence that they managed to knock each other unconscious in the process.

If a war is prevented here -- and it's way too early to say that -- it will be the result of public opinion in the United States and the world, the courage of Parliament in Britain, and the glimmerings of actual representation beginning to sparkle through the muck and slime on Capitol Hill.

If celebrating Obama and Kerry's super brave and strong heroism in stumbling into a Russian barrier to their madness gives them the "credibility" to put their guns back in their pants, then by all means celebrate that fiction.

But if we get this crisis behind us, we should understand that Parliament acted against war for the first time in centuries, and the public stopped Congress for the first time ever.  If President Obama doesn't ask for an authorization, it will be because it is not going to pass.  Even if he didn't expect to use it right away, he would want it passed if possible. 

Congress' apparent willingness to say no is the result of many factors, including the perversity of partisanship.  But the primary factor is public pressure.  That public pressure needs to intensify now that victory is in sight, not diminish.

And if it succeeds, Syria will still be in desperate need of a cease-fire, disarmament, a peace settlement, and actual aid (as opposed to humanitarian bombs).  Let's not allow those needs to be forgotten if they depart from our television screens.  Those same television screens have tried to move us into support for war and failed dramatically.  We're in charge now.  We run this country. They fill fluff that no one listens to into the spaces between advertisements for crap no one buys.  Fill the government in on the new arrangement.

Join Me at the Festival for Peace, Prosperity, and the Planet in Nashville on Sept. 21

http://www.sitemason.com/files/kH3jKE/NPJCFestPoster13wb.jpgThe Festival for Peace, Prosperity, and the Planet will be held 11am to 6pm Saturday, September 21, 2013 at the "Special Events Pavilion" in Centennial Park. That's in the northwest corner of the park, near the airplane and the locomotive (see green arrow on the map linked here). Admission to this event is FREE. We'll have speakers, music, exhibitors, and vendors. Come rain or shine -- we have a roof!

Speakers will include David Swanson (peace writer), Hector Black (advocate for peace and forgiveness), Paki Wieland (Gaza flotilla, Raging Grannies), Linnet Overton (Community Food Advocates), and Diane Wilson (Code Pink). Musical performances will include Cobalt Blue and the Shelby Bottom String Band. We're still looking for exhibitors and vendors; contact Eric Schechter (LeftyMathProf@gmail.com) regarding those, or regarding other aspects of the festival.

(There will also be a
fundraiser dinner on the preceding evening, at the Nashville Peace and Justice Center, to help pay for the festival.)

This War Too Is A Lie

Some smart people thought, and perhaps some still think, that the 2003-2011 war on Iraq was unique in that it was promoted with the use of blatant lies.  When I'd researched dozens of other wars and failed to find one that wasn't based on a foundation of similar lies, I wrote a book about the most common war lie varieties. I called it War Is A Lie.

That book has sold more than any of my others, and I like to think it's contributed some teeny bit to the remarkable and very welcome skepticism that is greeting the U.S. government's current claims about Syria.  The fact is that, were the White House telling the truth about the need for an attack on Syria, it would be a first in history.  Every other case for war has always been dishonest.

The United States sought out war with Mexico, not the reverse.  There was never any evidence that Spain sank the Maine.  The Philippines didn't benefit from U.S. occupation.  The Lusitania was known to be carrying troops and arms.  The Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened.  Iraq didn't take any babies out of incubators.  The Taliban was willing to turn bin Laden over to be tried in a neutral court.  Libya wasn't about to kill everyone in Benghazi.  Et cetera.  Even wars that people like to imagine as justified, such as World War II, were nonetheless packaged in lies; FDR's tales about the Greer and the Kearney and supposed secret Nazi maps and plans were a step on the steady trajectory from Woodrow Wilson to Karl Rove.

The idea that Syria used chemical weapons is more plausible than the idea that Iraq had vast stockpiles of chemical, biological, and (in some versions) nuclear weapons and was working with al Qaeda.  But the evidence offered in the case of Syria is no stronger than that for Iraq.  It's harder to disprove merely because there's nothing to it: no documentation, no sources, no science.  Congress members who have seen the classified version say it's no better than the declassified.  Experts within the government and reporters in Syria who have seen more than that say they don't believe the White House's claims.  The assertions masquerading as a case come packaged in dishonest claims about how quickly Syria gave access to inspectors, and are written in a manner to suggest far greater knowledge and certainty than they actually assert on careful examination.  The latest claims follow a series of failed claims over a period of months and stand to benefit a Syrian opposition that has been found repeatedly to be manufacturing false propaganda aimed at bringing the United States into the war.  It seems, at this point, unlikely that the Assad government used chemical weapons two weeks ago, and already certain that even if it did, President Obama and Secretary Kerry don't know it -- they've only guessed it at best. 

The debate over chemical weapons, itself, is framed by the lie that a law against chemical weapons can be enforced by one nation attacking another.  In fact, Syria is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  If it were, it would be subject to prosecution in court.  In any event, it is subject to the judgment and action of the world and its courts, not of one vigilante representing 4% of the world.  The bizarre idea that bombing a country can be a form of law enforcement dishonestly hides the fact that the action itself violates the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact.

Wars, a central lie maintains, are fought against evil.  But Assad is not the devil incarnate.  He's a horrendously awful ruler, pushed in bad directions by those around him as much as they by him.  He's someone who has proposed disarmament in the past and been rejected by the United States.  He's someone who has done evil things in cooperation with the United States, including lawless imprisonment and torture.  He's not going to eat American children in their sleep.  He's never threatened the United States, and has shown remarkable restraint in the face of threats by the United States and the CIA's efforts to undermine and attack his government.  Residents of the United States in search of dangers to get excited about shouldn't arrive at Bashar al Assad until far, far down the list past poor diet, poor healthcare, lack of exercise, automobiles, obesity, industrial pollution, unsafe workplaces, gun accidents, chain saws, lightning strikes, and countless other causes of death. 

Wars, a common lie holds, are fought in defense.  But Syria is no threat to the United States, and when President Obama suggests that theoretically it could be, the laughter you hear from most listeners is the correct response.  The White House hasn't sought to build much of a case for "defensive war" against Syria, even on the Benghazi model, and that deficiency is a major weakness.  Most people have no tolerance for non-defensive wars.  Exceptions are sadists and believers in humanitarian bombings, or -- to name a category that encompasses both of those groups -- imperialists.

The Syrian government is, like any government the United States wants to attack, a brutal government that the United States worked with until recently, situated in a region full of brutal governments the United States still supports.  In this case, the brutal governments still armed and supported by the U.S. government include Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and Yemen.  If the US. government wanted to reduce violence, it could end its 2001-begun war on Afghanistan, it could end its drone strikes, and it could stop supplying Saudi Arabia with cluster bombs and Egypt with tear gas and Bahrain with ex-police chiefs.  Wars are not driven by generosity, despite what you'll often -- and increasingly -- hear.

We've also been hearing that President Obama has no choice.  He's painted himself into a corner.  War simply must happen now, for better or worse.  This is nonsense, of course.  If Kennedy could back off from a nuclear pissing match with Khrushchev, then surely Obama can accede to the opinion of the United States and the world on the matter of Syria.  Had Kennedy prioritized stupid machismo, we wouldn't admire him more. We wouldn't do anything at all.  We'd all be dead or never born.  Wars, despite a common lie, are not inevitable.

Violence doesn't reduce violence, despite the prevalence of this lie.  Wars are not ended by enlarging them.  Adding violence to the Syrian civil war will kill directly, escalate the killing by both sides, risk further escalation into a regional conflict, exacerbate a refugee crisis, damage existing aid operations, and make a cease-fire and negotiations more difficult.  Killing some Syrians and blowing up some Syrian buildings will leave Assad with exactly whatever "impunity" he had before -- particularly if no nations pursue his indictment in any court for any crimes.  But those Syrians killed and everyone else impacted indirectly will be worse off, not better.

As war drags on and expands, the arguments for continuing it will be retaliation against the attacks of other nations, even if our nation provoked them, and the almost religious duty to "support the troops."  But the dirty little secret hidden by that shiny lie is that the troops don't benefit from adding years to each quagmire.  The troops, in fact, suffer -- often severely.  Wars are not prolonged for the good of soldiers, no matter what your television says.  They're prolonged for politicians and profiteers.

The beneficiaries of a U.S. attack on Syria will be war profiteers, their political servants, media outlets that gain higher ratings, and a gang increasingly dominated by al Qaeda-affiliated groups that is seeking power in Syria through the use of vicious violence that is illegal in its entirety.  War makers do not have noble motives.

A U.S. war on Syria, short or long, will not be fought by armies on a battlefield.  It will be fought by missiles and planes and drones in and above the neighborhoods where men, women, and children live.  The human, societal, and environmental damage will be something that too many parts of the world are familiar with but the United States itself is not.

This war, like others of its sort, will not be won.  Syria was not going to be the first case in which a war was based on honesty.  It's also not going to be the first place where a humanitarian war benefits humanity.  It's not going to be the first place where the U.S. military builds a stable democratic nation.  It's not going to be the first nation whose people are grateful for such an intervention.  And it's not going to involve anything that could be properly called a victory.

The deepest lie at the route root of this drive for war is perhaps the lie that a nation can prepare for war, dumping its energies and resources into every possible plan for every conceivable war, and yet manage to avoid those wars unless they are forced upon it as a "last resort."  This next dishonest, immoral, illegal, unpopular, murderous, atrocity-laden, uncontrollable, environment-destroying, rights-eroding, money-wasting war will come relentlessly, ineluctably, it will come . . .  unless we compel our government to consider other possible courses of action, including that of actively working for peace through a posture of respect for others that would require a bit of truthfulness.

The Bill Congress Should Pass Instead of War

By David Swanson

Here's a preliminary draft of what the United States Congress could pass this week if it were sincerely interested in human rights, international norms, the rule of law, and peace in Syria.  You are welcome to suggest it to your Congress members, who are more than welcome to tinker with it.  You might also share it with any friends or uncles or neighbors who demand to know: "If you're against missile strikes then what are you in favor of?" Send me any suggested changes.

 

Non-Lethal Aid to Syria

Joint Resolution

 

No Military Solution

Sec. 1

a) The Congress does not authorize military action or support of military action in Syria, and such action by the Central Intelligence Agency and any other agencies of the United States must cease immediately.

b) The United States respects the position of the United Nations Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, as parts of the Supreme Law of the Land.  The United States will not violate these treaties by military action or threat of military action against Syria.

Chemical Weapons

Sec. 2

a) The United States will encourage Syria, as well as Egypt, Israel, Angola, North Korea, and South Sudan to ratify and abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

b) The United States will eliminate in the swiftest manner that safety allows the entirety of its own chemical weapons stockpiles, and urge other nations, including Russia, to do the same.

c) The United States will forthwith cease to maintain or make use of as weapons: white phosphorous, depleted uranium, or any form of napalm, and will assist Iraq in its recovery from their use.

d) The Congress urges the president to sign the United States on as a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

e) The United States will forward to the UN Security Council and to the prosecutor of the ICC all evidence of violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

f) The United States will urge the United Nations to send human rights monitors to Syria.

Humanitarian Aid

Sec. 3

a) The United States will transfer 1% of the current year's Department of Defense budget to non-military aid programs for Syrian refugees and those suffering as a result of war in Syria and around the world.

De-Escalation

Sec. 4

a) The United States will diplomatically urge Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, and all other nations to cease providing arms and ammunition, or funding for arms and ammunition, to fighters in Syria on both sides of the war.

b) The United States will diplomatically urge Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, and others involved to urge the Syrian opposition and the Syrian government to establish a cease-fire. The United States will use all available pressure, including ceasing to itself provide arms to nations involved.

c) The United States will work with the international community to bring both sides in the Syrian civil war to a neutral negotiating table, with no pre-conditions.

Talk Nation Radio: Rep. Alan Grayson on Syria: House Will Vote No, Obama Will Heed

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-rep-alan

Congressman Alan Grayson is leading efforts within Congress to prevent an attack on Syria. He explains why, points to huge popular agreement, says the votes are lining up, and that President Obama will not attack Syria if the House votes against it.  Congressman Grayson has a petition set up at http://DontAttackSyria.com

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Congressman Robert Hurt (R., Va.) Not Convinced by Case to Attack Syria

Here in rural Virginia, we switch between Democrats and Republicans, but they all vote for war ... until now.  Our recently unseated Congress member, Tom Periello, is rallying humanitarian warriors to bomb nations because we care.  His replacement, Robert Hurt, met with a group of constituents on Thursday and indicated that he had "grave, grave concerns" about voting for any attack on Syria.

Hurt said he was inclined to believe that Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack on the 21st and that it was indeed "horrific."  "That being said, I have grave concerns about going into Syria," Hurt said at the meeting in his Charlottesville, Va., office, which was attended by constituents from across the political spectrum, many of whom had held a forum the night before (video). Also attending Thursday's meeting were camera crews from NBC Channel 29 and Newsplex Channel 19/16/27.

Hurt said it was "the responsibility of the President and proponents of a war to make a clear and compelling case that it would be in the national security interest of the United States. And I have not seen that."

"We've learned what it means to be in a protracted struggle in the Middle East," he said.  He said he had not seen, and would need to see, a clear objective, a way to achieve it, and a plan for getting out again. 

Hurt said that during the past two weeks he had heard from many constituents, and that they were "absolutely overwhelmingly" against an attack on Syria. 

"How does our going in do anything other than make it worse?" he asked.  He also said that he was against half-measures that aren't all-in.

Hurt said that he would have to answer to his constituents and members of the military, and military family members, and be able to look them in the eye and say that the loss of their loved one was "worth it." 

Asked if he would move to raise taxes to pay for this war and other recent wars if he voted for this one, Hurt said, "That's an excellent point," and suggested that the greatest threat to national security may be the national debt.

Hurt did not commit to voting No, but rather said he would go to Washington, look at the classified materials, and hear out the war proponents. 

But, of course, he is not going to hear that Syria is a threat to the United States or that there is an exit plan or that the war will cost no money.

The Congressman also said that the Constitution required that the House vote on any war.  It is to be hoped that if that vote is denied, a majority of members including Hurt will force a vote over the preference of the Speaker and the Democratic Leader.

Congressman Robert Hurt (R., Va.) Not Convinced by Case to Attack Syria

Here in rural Virginia, we switch between Democrats and Republicans, but they all vote for war ... until now.  Our recently unseated Congress member, Tom Periello, is rallying humanitarian warriors to bomb nations because we care.  His replacement, Robert Hurt, met with a group of constituents on Thursday and indicated that he had "grave, grave concerns" about voting for any attack on Syria.

Hurt said he was inclined to believe that Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack on the 21st and that it was indeed "horrific."  "That being said, I have grave concerns about going into Syria," Hurt said at the meeting in his Charlottesville, Va., office, which was attended by constituents from across the political spectrum, many of whom had held a forum the night before (video). Also attending Thursday's meeting were camera crews from NBC Channel 29 and Newsplex Channel 19/16/27.

Hurt said it was "the responsibility of the President and proponents of a war to make a clear and compelling case that it would be in the national security interest of the United States. And I have not seen that."

"We've learned what it means to be in a protracted struggle in the Middle East," he said.  He said he had not seen, and would need to see, a clear objective, a way to achieve it, and a plan for getting out again. 

Hurt said that during the past two weeks he had heard from many constituents, and that they were "absolutely overwhelmingly" against an attack on Syria. 

"How does our going in do anything other than make it worse?" he asked.  He also said that he was against half-measures that aren't all-in.

Hurt said that he would have to answer to his constituents and members of the military, and military family members, and be able to look them in the eye and say that the loss of their loved one was "worth it." 

Asked if he would move to raise taxes to pay for this war and other recent wars if he voted for this one, Hurt said, "That's an excellent point," and suggested that the greatest threat to national security may be the national debt."

Hurt did not commit to voting No, but rather said he would go to Washington, look at the classified materials, and hear out the war proponents. 

But, of course, he is not going to hear that Syria is a threat to the United States or that there is an exit plan or that the war will cost no money.

The Congressman also said that the Constitution required that the House vote on any war.  It is to be hoped that if that vote is denied, a majority of members including Hurt will force a vote over the preference of the Speaker and the Democratic Leader.

Video: Forum on Preventing an Attack on Syria

Videos filmed by Les Solomon.

The Charlottesville Forum on Preventing a U.S. Attack on Syria was held in Charlottesville VA at the Friends Meeting House on September 4, 2013. Speakers included: David Swanson, John Whitehead, Helena Cobban, Roy Hange, and Dave Norris, with lots of public discussion.  Congressman Robert Hurt's Director of Outreach was present, and in Video #8 a member of the audience asks him to respond to what he's heard. Congressman Hurt himself agreed the next morning to meet with the organizers of this event at his Charlottesville office at 11:30 a.m.

Sponsored by WarIsACrime.org, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, Amnesty International Charlottesville, Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine.

David Swanson is the author of books including War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War.  He is the host of Talk Nation Radio. Swanson blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization RootsAction.org.  Swanson also works on the communications committee of Veterans For Peace, of which he is an associate (non-veteran) member. Swanson is Secretary of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

John Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. He is president of the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization.  He authors a widely syndicated column and hosts a national public service radio campaign.  His most recent book is A Government of Wolves.  See Rutherford.org.

Helena Cobban is the founding owner of Just World Books, a Charlottesville-based book publisher. Previously, she had a long career as  a writer and researcher on world affairs, focusing on the Middle East. She speaks Arabic and has reported and written extensively about Syria for nearly 40 years. Her 2000 book on the Syrian-Israeli peace talks of 1992-96 was published by the U.S. Institute of Peace. From 2008 through 2011 she was a member of the U.S.-Syria Working Group of Search for Common Ground. She is a member of Charlottesville Friends Meeting (Quakers) and sits on the board of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Roy Hange is a Mennonite pastor who has spent 30 years studying Western Asia (the Middle East).  He has lived for 3 years in Egypt, 6 in Syria, and 1 in Iran.  Hange has taught peace building at Eastern Mennonite University and the University of Virginia. See CharlottesvilleMennonite.org.

Dave Norris has served as a Charlottesville City Council Member or Mayor since 2006. He's executive director of the Charlottesville Institute.  Norris has served as Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge, Executive Director of PACEM, Associate Director of Madison House, and Interim Director of the Public Housing Association of Residents.  He is founder of the Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival.  He has been a leading advocate for anti-war resolutions on Charlottesville City Council and in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, spoke at the Military Industrial Complex at 50 conference and will be MCing the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice's 30th anniversary celebration on September 21st. See CvilleDave.Blogspot.com.

A Modest Proposal for Syria

It is a melancholy object to those who view videos of Damascus, when they see the streets, the roads, and doorways, crowded with the bodies of those reportedly killed with the wrong weapons by the wrong people.

I think it is agreed by all parties that this 1,000 or more bodies is an outrage not to be tolerated in a nation that has killed off 100,000 or more in recent years with perfectly respectable weapons and seen its neighbors in Egypt murder thousands just a few weeks ago, to the clear satisfaction of the International Community.

Conceivably, Syria will set itself aright and return to more acceptable styles of population elimination. But my intention is very far from being confined to providing only for the next 10,000 or 100,000 corpses.  There are some 20 million people in Syria, some of whom may die rightly, and some wrongly, if left to chance.  To make matters worse, they are fleeing the nation by the millions at an increasing pace.

This need not be.  We in the United States have a responsibility.  Syrians are not less worthy of proper deaths than ourselves.  We need spare no financial expense due to prejudices of religion or ethnicity.  It is time for us to step up as the International Community, while the rest of the world's nations fail.  We can make sure Syrians meet a proper end.

Let me be clear, when we used White Phosphorus to burn holes straight through men, women, and countless children in Fallujah, the International Community approved.  When we deployed new types of napalm despite the apparent lack of jungle foliage in Iraq, the International Community was satisfied.  There is no more proper death than through depleted uranium, injestion of which brings a most glorious chemical demise.  All of these avenues are available, and we should let a thousand flowers bloom in the Syrian streets.

But the ultimate solution is one which we have become the supreme masters of: cluster bombing.  The United States stands nearly alone in the world as a proponent of the legal use of both land mines and flying land mines, also known as cluster bombs.  These weapons are efficient and beautiful, creating a great variety of injuries as well as death.  Most importantly, they will generate terror.  Refugees will flee in all directions in such numbers that starvation and disease will wipe out huge swaths of the population.

As hunger takes over, opportunities will be found to restore a proper, if temporary, balance to the Syrian diet.  I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in Virginia, that a young healthy Syrian child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled. Sources within Syria report that hearts and livers are a delicacy.

The benefits of my scheme are so numerous that one is apt to forget the central and most significant objective, which will be accomplished with complete and total success if our actions are swift and comprehensive.  That is: we will stop the wrong people killing anyone with weapons deemed unacceptable by the International Community.

Enough with halfway measures, I say!  Enough with telling the Democrats we won't join another endless war beyond our control on the side of Al Qaeda! Enough with assuring Republicans we'll stand shoulder to shoulder with terrorists until Iran is destroyed or Russia launches nukes! We have the technology. We have the stockpiles. Wipe every Syrian out with acceptable weaponry today! It's our humanitarian responsibility!

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Jonathan Swift wrote "A Modest Proposal" that the poor eat their children as a form of SATIRE. Unless you know what satire is, please do not contact me about this article. Thanks!

 

Who the Missiles Will Hurt

Believe it or not -- after John McCain played video games on his phone during a hearing on bombing Syria, and Eleanor Holmes Norton said she'd only vote to bomb Syria out of loyalty to Obama -- there are decent people in the United States government who mean well and take their responsibilities seriously.  One of them, who works on actual humanitarian aid (as opposed to humanitarian bombs) spoke to me.

He said that, beyond those who will inevitably be killed by U.S. missiles in Syria, and those who will die in the escalated violence that is very likely to follow, a great many additional people may suffer for reasons we aren't paying attention to.

"So far, most of the concerns raised in connection with the use of military force in Syria have focused on the risk that the U.S. might become further embroiled in this conflict, and that initially limited strikes could soon spiral out of control, lead to retaliatory attacks by the Asad regime, spread the conflict throughout the region, and inadvertently strengthen terrorist groups linked to al Qaeda.  However, there is an additional, more immediate hazard, which has been largely absent from the debate.

"We need to recall that our original rationale for concern about Syria was humanitarian in nature, based on the suffering of millions of Syrian civilians who became refugees or internally displaced within their own country.  The goal of providing medical assistance, shelter, and food to these innocent people is widely shared by the majority of the American people and their elected representatives in Congress.  To that end, the U.S. Government has provided over one billion dollars in humanitarian assistance for this crisis, and has been quite successful in providing aid to millions of civilians, both within Syria and to Syrian refugees in surrounding countries.  In contrast to our largely unsuccessful efforts to engineer a political transition, and to strengthen a disorganized and fragmented opposition which may or may not represent our interests, our humanitarian assistance has been our most effective and successful effort.

"Before we contemplate military strikes against the Syrian regime, we would do well to carefully consider what impact such strikes would have on our ongoing humanitarian programs, both those funded by the U.S. and by other countries and international organizations.  These programs currently reach hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people throughout Syria, in areas controlled both by the regime and the opposition.  We know from past military interventions, such as in Yugoslavia and Iraq, that airstrikes launched for humanitarian reasons often result in the unintended deaths of many civilians.  The destruction of roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, which such airstrikes may entail, would significantly hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria.  

"The provision of this assistance in regime controlled areas requires the agreement, and in many cases the cooperation, of the Asad government.  Were the Asad regime, in response to U.S. military operations, to suspend this cooperation, and prohibit the UN and Nongovernmental Organizations from operating in territory under its control, hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians would be denied access to food, shelter, and medical care.  In such a scenario, we would be sacrificing programs of proven effectiveness in helping the people of Syria, in favor of ill considered actions that may or may not prevent the future use of chemical weapons, or otherwise contribute to U.S. objectives in any meaningful way."

In other words, the U.S. government is not just considering investing in missile strikes rather than diplomacy or actual aid, but in the process it could very well cut off what aid programs exist and have funding.  Humanitarian war grows more grotesque the more closely one examines it.

 
 

Congressional Progressive/Pentagon Caucus

Back in 2007, the Congressional Progressive Caucus helped organize 90 Congress members to commit to voting against war funding.  Most of them turned around and voted for war funding.  That was a high point for the CPC.  Since then, its commitments -- such as to vote against corporate healthcare -- have hardly been taken seriously, and so it's hardly been news when most members have gone back on their commitments.

The CPC has shifted in recent years away from pretending to take a stand on things, and instead toward issuing statements full of non-committal rhetoric.  That, too, is now a stage in the devolution of the CPC to which we can look back with nostalgia.

The CPC, on the question of a new war on Syria, is choosing to do nothing at all.  In fact, one of its two co-chairs is actively promoting war.  Compare this whip list with this list of CPC members.  You'll notice that virtually no members of the House of Representatives have taken any position on whether or not to attack Syria.  That includes most of those who claimed they wanted the president to allow a vote, as the Constitution requires.  The same is true for the CPC: virtually nobody has a position.

Those firmly committed to attacking Syria, in the House, include four Republicans, five non-CPC Democrats, and CPC Co-Chair Keith Ellison.  Those firmly committed against this madness include 10 Republicans, three non-CPC Democrats, and four CPC Democrats. 

Ellison was first elected as an opponent of war and an advocate for impeaching George W. Bush for the crime of war, but reversed his positions immediately upon election.  He just recently responded to pressure from Veterans For Peace in Minnesota and introduced into the Congressional Record acknowledgment that the Kellogg-Briand Pact bans all war.  He then turned around and threw his support in behind the next war.

The other co-chair of the CPC, Raul Grijalva, is listed as "leaning nay," along with nine other Democrats (two of them in the CPC) and 15 Republicans.  We've learned, however, what solid commitment means to these weasels, so you can imagine what "leaning" signifies.

The CPC has no requirements for membership.  A member need not hold any progressive positions.  There are no required actions.  A member need not oppose even the worst atrocities our government inflicts on us or the world.  The CPC doesn't fund its members' elections in this corrupt buyer-takes-all system.  A CPC member is exactly as dependent as any other Congress member on the bosses of a party, for funding, for committee positions, and for pork in a district.  The CPC offers no serious megaphone for progressive views, leaving members as susceptible to the manufactured militarism of the corporate media as anyone else.

Perhaps, at long last, it's time for Congress members Grayson, Nolan, McDermott, and Rangel to establish a Congressional Peace Caucus, which would differ from the Congressional Progressive/Pentagon Caucus.  Congressman Grayson has pointed out that the Chemical Weapons Convention requires criminal prosecution for its violation -- not the bombing of a country, which is itself, of course, a crime.  That ought to be a simple enough position for any elected official in favor of the rule of law to grasp.  If drones get to have their own caucus, why doesn't the rule of law get one?  This is, after all, the legislative branch of government.

Nearly a century ago, if a woman wanted to join the Women's Peace Union, she had to sign a pledge, including this:

"We affirm it is our intention never to aid in or sanction war, offensive or defensive, international or civil, in any way, whether by making or handling munitions, subscribing to war loans, using our labor for the purpose of setting others free for war service, helping by money or work any organization which supports or condones war."

A Congressional Peace Caucus, were there such a thing, might use a pledge like this:

"We affirm it is our intention never to aid in or sanction war, offensive or defensive, international or civil, in any way, but to actively oppose all war, and to seek to deny all funding for war or war preparations, and to treat the waging of war in violation of treaties to which the United States is party as an impeachable offense."

If someone joined that caucus, even if it were just one person, I would begin to see the value in elections and caucuses that others manage to discern through the mists of pretense and sycophancy that currently enshroud Capitol Hill.

Talk Nation Radio: Patrick Cockburn: Missiles Won't Make Peace in Syria

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-patrick

Patrick Cockburn is an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006, and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009. His articles are at http://www.independent.co.uk/biography/patrick-cockburn

You can say no to attacking Syria here: http://bit.ly/LWd85d

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Caveman Credibility and its Costs

Sending a bunch of $3 million missiles into Syria to blow stuff up will kill a great many men, women, and children directly.  It will also kill a great many people indirectly, as violence escalates in response -- an established pattern recognized even by the war-promoting Washington Post.

Charlottesville Forum on Preventing a U.S. Attack on Syria

A free, public, town-hall forum on Preventing a U.S. Attack on Syria: why and how.

Wednesday, September 4, 6:30 p.m.

Sign up to attend on FaceBook now
http://on.fb.me/15njYej

Friends Meeting House
1104 Forest Street
Charlottesville VA
(map http://mapq.st/15GOooV )

Speakers:
Helena Cobban
John Whitehead
Dave Norris
Roy Hange
David Swanson
and You

Helena Cobban is the founding owner of Just World Books, a Charlottesville-based book publisher. Previously, she had a long career as  a writer and researcher on world affairs, focusing on the Middle East. She speaks Arabic and has reported and written extensively about Syria for nearly 40 years. Her 2000 book on the Syrian-Israeli peace talks of 1992-96 was published by the U.S. Institute of Peace. From 2008 through 2011 she was a member of the U.S.-Syria Working Group of Search for Common Ground. She is a member of Charlottesville Friends Meeting (Quakers) and sits on the board of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

John Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. He is president of the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization.  He authors a widely syndicated column and hosts a national public service radio campaign.  His most recent book is A Government of Wolves.  See Rutherford.org.

Dave Norris has served as a Charlottesville City Council Member or Mayor since 2006. He's executive director of the Charlottesville Institute.  Norris has served as Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge, Executive Director of PACEM, Associate Director of Madison House, and Interim Director of the Public Housing Association of Residents.  He is founder of the Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival.  He has been a leading advocate for anti-war resolutions on Charlottesville City Council and in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, spoke at the Military Industrial Complex at 50 conference and will be MCing the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice's 30th anniversary celebration on September 21st. See CvilleDave.Blogspot.com.

Roy Hange is a Mennonite pastor who has spent 30 years studying Western Asia (the Middle East).  He has lived for 3 years in Egypt, 6 in Syria, and 1 in Iran.  Hange has taught peace building at Eastern Mennonite University and the University of Virginia. See CharlottesvilleMennonite.org.

David Swanson is the author of books including War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War.  He is the host of Talk Nation Radio. Swanson blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization RootsAction.org.  Swanson also works on the communications committee of Veterans For Peace, of which he is an associate (non-veteran) member. Swanson is Secretary of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

Sponsored by WarIsACrime.org, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, Amnesty International Charlottesville, Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine.

Listen to Coy Barefoot Show on Syria.

NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Cruise Missile Law Enforcement

The White House is treating the Syrian government like a potential drone strike victim.

President Barack Obama's preferred method for dealing with targeted individuals is not to throw them into lawless prisons.  But it's also not to indict and prosecute them.

On June 7th, Yemeni tribal leader Saleh Bin Fareed told Democracy Now that Anwar al Awlaki could have been turned over and put on trial, but "they never asked us." In numerous other cases it is evident that drone strike victims could have been arrested if that avenue had ever been attempted.

A memorable example was the November 2011 drone killing in Pakistan of 16-year-old Tariq Aziz, days after he'd attended an anti-drone meeting in the capital, where he might easily have been arrested -- had he been charged with some crime.

Missile-strike law enforcement is now being applied to governments as well.  The Libyan government was given a death sentence.  The Syrian government is being sentenced to the loss of some citizens, buildings, and supplies.

The purpose is not to end the war, or even to speed the coming of the end of the war.  The purpose is not to overthrow the government (an action which in Libya was not yet clearly recognizable as this new form of law enforcement).  Nor, of course, is the purpose rehabilitation or restitution or reconciliation or most of the nobler motivations we sometimes assign to punishment.  The purpose of sending missiles into Syria will be "punitive," meaning retributive.  It will "send a message," possibly intended to include deterrence.

When the Bush-Cheney gang was accused of cruel and unusual punishment because it tortured, they replied: this isn't punishment, it's interrogation.  But surely dropping missiles on people is not interrogation.  It's advertised as punishment.  And that's putting its best foot forward.  It's punishment so that it doesn't have to be a crime itself.

For, of course, dropping missiles on people is normally itself a serious crime, just as kicking in your door at night with guns blazing is normally against the law.  But if a policeman -- global or normal -- does it, well, then it's law enforcement, not law breaking.

This is why the U.S. government can itself use chemical weapons, while punishing others for doing so.  It's the cop.  It uses white phosphorus and napalm to enforce laws, or at least to do something in the line of duty.  The BBC this week reported on yet another horrific incident in Syria, this one involving "napalm-like burns."  The only way for the U.S., the land of napalm, to punish such acts with righteous indignation is through the immunity granted to the global police force.

I wrote a book three years ago called War Is A Lie in hopes of helping to build enough awareness so that some day we would have a majority against a war before it began, rather than a year and a half later.  That day has arrived.  The UK is a bit ahead of the USA, but we've all moved toward much greater and healthier scepticism toward war lies.

We don't believe that the evil of Assad justifies bombing Syrians.  We laugh when Obama says Syria might theoretically attack us some day.  We don't see the supposed generosity in dropping bombs on an already war-torn nation.  We don't accept that a war is inevitable.  We watch Parliament say no and wonder where Congress is.

Congress members have been "urging" the president to consult with them, centuries after this country was formed by supposedly leaving royal powers behind in England.  When will Congress members call for a return to Washington for an emergency session?  When will they vote to block funding for any attack on Syria?  They should be aware that by not taking these actions they have made themselves complicit in our eyes, and in the eyes of the world.

Phil Ochs saw the Global War on Terra Part II coming when he sang:

Come, get out of the way, boys
Quick, get out of the way
You'd better watch what you say, boys
Better watch what you say
We've rammed in your harbor and tied to your port
And our pistols are hungry and our tempers are short
So bring your daughters around to the port
'Cause we're the cops of the world, boys
We're the cops of the world

Opposition to Iraq War May Save Syria

Evidence of "weapons of mass destruction" is "no slam dunk," U.S. officials are saying this time around, reversing the claim made about Iraq by then-CIA director George Tenet.

Opposition to a U.S.-led attack on Syria is growing rapidly in Europe and the United States, drawing its strength from public awareness that the case made for attacking Iraq had holes in it.

Talk Nation Radio: Jean Bricmont: Keep Humanitarian Imperialism Out of Syria

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-jean

Jean Bricmont is the author of Humanitarian Imperialism, and of a recent article on CounterPunch called "The Wishful Thinking Left."  Bricmont is a member of the Division of Sciences of the Royal Academy for Sciences, Letters and Arts of Belgium.

You can say no to attacking Syria here: http://bit.ly/LWd85d

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Lying About Syria, and the Lying Liars Who Lie About the Lying

UPDATE: Flyers you can use to oppose this war: Color PDF, Black and White PDF.

"U.S. prepares for possible retaliatory strike against Syria," announces a Los Angeles Times headline, even though Syria has not attacked the United States or any of its occupied territories or imperial forces and has no intention to do so.

The Gainesville 8 and a Nixonized World

A 40-year reunion is being planned for the end of this month in Gainesville, Fla., of the Gainesville 8.  Sadly, Richard Nixon won't be able to join them, although his presidential library has just released more audio recordings of his descent into madness -- or what we like to call today: standard government practice.

The Gainesville 8 were eight men, seven of them members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), who planned to nonviolently demonstrate at the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami.  They were wrongfully prosecuted for planning violence, and they were all acquitted by a jury on August 31, 1973, in a highly publicized trial.

Under the shadow of the chaos that surrounded the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, VVAW took extra steps to avoid violence at the '72 RNC, meeting with the Miami police and with right-wing groups in an effort to prevent conflicts.  And yet, prior to the convention, President Nixon's FBI began preemptively arresting VVAW leaders, accusing them of plotting murder and mayhem, and attempting to prevent them from taking part in what they were really plotting: a nonviolent march to the convention, where they would request to meet with the president.

Many VVAW members managed to pull off the march, during the course of which they came upon an activist carrying weapons; they turned him in to the police.  Three vets, including Ron Kovic, made it into the convention to pose some uncomfortable questions to some long-distance, stay-at-home war supporters.

Just prior to the arrests of the VVAW members in Florida, burglars working for Nixon had been arrested breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate.  When the Watergate burglars were captured, one of them, James McCord, explained that they were investigating a link between the Democrats and the VVAW which they believed was planning trouble at the upcoming Republican National Convention.  McCord submitted an affidavit to the Gainesville 8 defense team restating this.  The Gainesville 8 defense argued that their prosecution was aimed at strengthening Nixon's thugs' phony case for the Watergate break-in.

One of several infiltrators and would-be provocateurs who made up the fabricated case against the Gainesville 8 was Vincent Hanard.  He said that Nixonian henchmen Howard Hunt, Bernard Barker, and Frank Sturgis had asked him to infiltrate VVAW and cause trouble.  Another hired trouble-maker, Alfred Baldwin, was employed both monitoring a bug at the Watergate and infiltrating VVAW with a goal of embarrassing Democrats if VVAW demonstrated at the RNC.

Another professional provocateur named Pablo Fernandez was summoned to a grand jury investigating Nixonian henchman Donald Segretti.  Fernandez said he'd tried to sell the VVAW guns and been turned down (something the Miami police confirmed), and that he'd spied on the veterans using electronic devices.  In fact, he'd tried to record a conversation with VVAW leader Scott Camil, but Fernandez' hidden microphone had failed.

Other of the government's many infiltrators in the VVAW included William Koehler, Karl Becker, Emerson Poe, and William Lemmer.  Poe had become best friends with Camil (or so Camil thought).  Poe sat in meetings with the defendants right up until he was called as a prosecution witness, thus blowing his cover -- about which the government had previously lied under oath.  Lemmer was the star witness, however, alleging wild tales of violent plans.  He was himself violent and unstable.  Lemmer had already set up a 17 year old to vandalize a building in Arkansas and arranged to have the FBI waiting for him.  Lemmer had helped bust six people for marijuana.  His specialty was talking people into considering the use of violence.  He just wasn't very convincing as a witness.

Scott Camil was the southeast regional coordinator of VVAW.  His lawyer's office was broken into during these proceedings, and his file taken.  Also, FBI agents with electronic gear were found hiding in a closet of the room that the defendants and lawyers were meeting in during the trial.

"It's not really 11 years till 1984," Camil said in his closing statement (PDF) in court.  "It's a lot closer than that." 

This sounds odd to us, living in 2013.  Technology, if not morality, has made great leaps forward.  There's no more need for bungling idiots with brief cases full of spy gear hiding in closets.  The government can spy on us without making its presence known.  But provocateurs are still employed to manufacture crimes, and much of what was considered illicit under Nixon is treated as acceptable established practice under Obama.

A careful study of the FBI's own data on terrorism in the United States, reported in Trevor Aaronson's book The Terror Factory, finds one organization leading all others in creating terrorist plots in the United States today: the FBI.  Peace groups today, including chapters of Veterans For Peace, have been redefined as "security threats" and "potential terrorists."  The police have been militarized.  Free speech cages are established at great distance from political conventions.  Preemptive detentions before demonstrations don't always bother with charges or prosecutions at all.  And the corporate-state media has internalized these practices as normal.  In 1973, CBS sued for the right to cover the Gainesville 8 trial.  Today I think it would be easier to find a media outlet willing to pay money to avoid having to cover something.  Chelsea Manning's trial was covered by bloggers.

Camil represented himself in court, and included no apologies, as observers of Chelsea Manning's trial might have expected.  Camil's opening statement should be read in full (PDF).  He put the government and the war and President Nixon on trial.  Here's an excerpt:

"The evidence will show that the seven of us who went to Vietnam spent a total of 111 months over there, received 57 medals and citations, and were all honorably discharged.  The evidence will also show that we threw our medals away out of shame, because we knew that what they stood for was wrong.  For myself, the throwing away of the medals I once cherished was the cutting of the umbilical cord between myself and the government lies, such as, 'We are helping the people of Vietnam,' 'Our purpose is honorable,' the covering up, such as, 'We are not bombing Cambodia,' 'We are not murdering unarmed civilians,' 'We are not bombing hospitals,' the immorality, such as 'free fire zones,' where all life was fair game, to show the American people back home  that we were winning the war by giving them a tool of measurement to judge, and that tool of measurement was the use of dead human beings -- it was called 'body count.'"

On August 31st the jury quickly acquitted all of the defendants. VVAW said at the time:

"The government needed, first of all, to defuse the anti-war issue in the 1972 presidential campaign. What better way to do this was there than by portraying a leading anti-war group as a bunch of vicious killers? With the public outcry caused by the Watergate scandal, a secondary purpose for the trial can be found: an attempt to partially divert attention away from the Watergate affair by fabricating a phony 'threat to national security.' James McCord specifically named VVAW/WSO as the chief villain in this 'threat to national security' and as a justification for their actions."

The Gainesville 8 were John Briggs, Scott Camil, Alton Foss, John Kniffin, Peter Mahoney, Stanley Michelson, William Patterson, and Don Perdue. All but Briggs were Vietnam veterans.  Kniffin and Patterson are now deceased.

Four of the eight are gathering for a reunion in Gainesville this month: Peter Mahoney, Don Perdue, Alton Foss, and Scott Camil.  Joining them are three of the lawyers who worked on the defense: Larry Turner, Nancy Stearns (Center for Constitutional Rights), and Brady Coleman (Texas National Lawyers Guild).  Also coming are jurors from the trial: Donna Ing, and the husband of Jury Foreperson Lois Hensel who is now deceased.  Plus members of the defense committee: Nancy Miller Saunders, Nancy Burnap, and Carol Gordon. And John Chambers who spent 40 days in jail for refusing to answer questions from the grand jury. And Richard Hudgens who was subpoenaed to the grand jury.  The Oral History Department at the University of Florida will be doing interviews.

I went ahead and did my own interview of Scott Camil.  "We came home from Vietnam," he said, "and saw that the government was not telling the truth about the war.  We exercised the Constitutional rights that we fought to protect and tried to educate the public to the truth.  The government came after us with a vengeance, trampling on our rights in an effort to silence and intimidate us. We stood up to the government and prevailed."

And what has happened since?

"Things have gotten much worse since then -- the illegal activities that brought down President Nixon are now legal.  Then the press accepted its role as the 4th estate.  Today the press has become a propaganda arm of the National Security State.  Today the National Security State wipes its boots on the Constitution.  And the public, rather than standing up for the Constitution, cowers and hides its head in the sand.

"Today's whistleblowers trying to educate the public to what is being done in our name with our tax money are under attack as we once were.  I hope that they are able to prevail as we once did."

Talk Nation Radio: Tim Shorrock on Peace and Its Opponents in Korea

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-tim-shorrock

Tim Shorrock, who writes for The Nation and blogs at TimShorrock.com, is recently returned from Korea where he participated in marking the 60th anniversary of the armistice and in the movement for demilitarization and peace.  He disagrees with President Obama's assessment of the Korean War, and also with the approach that many activists in the United States have taken toward Korea.  Shorrock is a Washington-based investigative journalist who grew up in Japan and South Korea. He is the author of SPIES FOR HIRE: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence.  His work has appeared in The Nation, Salon, Daily Beast, Mother Jones, The Progressive, Foreign Policy in Focus and Asia Times.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Apology to Canada From Your Southern Neighbor

Secession first he would put down
Wholly and forever,
And afterwards from Britain's crown
He Canada would sever.
Yankee Doodle, keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy.
Mind the music and the step
and with the girls be handy!

I don't speak for the United States or harbor any affection for nationalism.  I'd break this country into several manageable pieces if I could.  But I think someone owes you an apology, Canada -- and, much as our political leaders are accused of making apologies (as if that were a bad thing) I don't expect any of them to get it remotely right any time soon.  So, here goes.

As a Virginian, let me begin by apologizing for the fact that, six-years after the British landing at Jamestown, with the settlers struggling to survive and hardly managing to get their own local genocide underway, these new Virginians hired mercenaries to attack Acadia and drive the French out of what they considered their continent (even if they failed).  I'm sorry, also, that this idea never went away, that the Virginia-based U.S. military still thinks as the Jamestown settlers thought, centuries of cultural progress having passed it by. 

I'm sorry that the colonies that would become the United States decided to take over Canada in 1690 (and failed, again).  I'm sorry that they got the British to help them in 1711 (and failed, yet again).  I'm sorry that General Braddock and Colonel Washington tried again in 1755 (and still failed).  I'm sorry for the ethnic cleansing perpetrated and the driving out of the Acadians and the Native Americans. 

I'm sorry for the British and U.S. attacks of 1758 that took away your fort, renamed it Pittsburgh, and eventually built a giant stadium across the river dedicated to the glorification of ketchup.  It wasn't your land any more than it was U.S. land, but I'm sorry for the aggression against you by the future-U.S. and by Britain.  I'm sorry that in 1760 you were conquered by Britain.  I'm more sorry for everything that came next.

I'm sorry that George Washington sent troops led by Benedict Arnold to attack Canada yet again in 1775, and that -- unlike his future desertion -- this action by Arnold was considered righteous and admirable.  I'm sorry that these imbeciles talked of liberation and expected to be welcomed with gratitude.  I'm sorry their descendants have suffered from the same delusions with regard to every new country invaded for centuries.  I'm sorry that the 13 colonies sought to impose the status of "14th colony" on you by force.  I'm sorry that an early draft of the U.S. Constitution provided for the inclusion of Canada, despite Canada's lack of interest in being included. 

I'm sorry that Benjamin Franklin asked the British to hand you over during negotiations for the Treaty of Paris in 1783.  I'm sorry that Britain, in fact, handed a large chunk of you over: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana.  If it makes you feel any better, 60 years later Mexico would catch it even worse.  I'm sorry to the Native American residents of the land handed over from Canada to the United States, as if land were ownable, and as if that land were uninhabited.

I'm sorry for the Louisiana Purchase.  I'm sorry for the War of 1812, and for the idiots who've been celebrating its bicentennial.  I'm sorry that Thomas Jefferson, whose house I see out my window, declared that you would be conquered purely by marching in and being welcomed.  I'm sorry that when Tecumseh tricked a U.S. general into believing he had many more troops than he had, the U.S. "intelligence" "community" was effectively born.  I'm sorry that, at the end of the war, the British agreed to betray you again, handing over territory.  I'm sorry that the drive to annex more never vanished.  I'm sorry that the U.S. got Oregon and Washington by the same means -- negotiating with Britain, not you.

I'm sorry that, by the 1840s, with the take-over of half of Mexico underway, the strategy for the take-over of Canada began to focus more on the imposition of "free" trade agreements.  I'm sorry for the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854.  I'm sorry for the U.S. bribery of your politicians that put it through. 

I'm sorry for the U.S. support for an Irish attack on you in 1866.  I'm sorry for the 1867 U.S. purchase of Alaska from Russia, which was aimed at reducing you and weakening you.  I'm sorry that the U.S. Congress condemned your formation as a nation.  I'm sorry that the drive to annex you continued.  I'm sorry for the trade agreement of 1935, and the ever-growing push for "freer" trade agreements ever since, right up through the FTA, NAFTA, and the TPP.  I'm sorry that despite its greater wealth, the United States keeps dragging your social standards downward.

I'm sorry for all the assaults on your nation by the U.S. military, U.S. industry, U.S. labor unions, and the CIA.  I'm sorry that your military has been made a subsidiary of the U.S. military.  I'm sorry for so much U.S. interference in your elections.  I'm grateful for the refuge you've offered deserting U.S. soldiers.  I'm sorry that when your prime minister ever so slightly questioned U.S. genocide in Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson picked him up by the neck, screaming "You pissed on my rug," and that your prime minister then wrote to Johnson thanking him for speaking so frankly.  I'm sorry you've progressed from there to greater subservience.

I applaud you for pushing through the land mine ban despite U.S. interference.

I know you always had your own major problems.  I know the United States has given you good as well as bad.  But you resisted destructive domination mightily for many years.  Other nations curious about the U.S. and its spreading array of military bases should ask its nearest neighbors for references.  Your successful resistance, for so long, is an example to the world, and to your current self.  You overcame internal divisions to unite and survive.  Perhaps the rest of the world can follow suit.

Spy on Me, I'm Innocent!

You've heard people say they want to be spied on, as long as it means that other people will be spied on too.  I know you've heard people say this, and which people it was, and how your face looked when you heard it, and what your next telephone call was.  Or, rather, I could know all of that if I were one of the thousands and thousands of low-level snoops it will take for our government to accomplish its surveillance goals.

The logic is completely flawed, however.  As FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley remarks, if you're looking for a needle in a haystack, adding more hay doesn't help.  It makes you less likely to find the needle.  A government that sucks up ever vaster quantities of useless information on innocent people actually hurts its own ability to investigate crimes.  And the imagined intimidating effect of things like surveillance cameras in public spaces doesn't actually reduce crime; it merely makes us think of each other as potential criminals.

On top of that, the over-investigation leads to all sorts of harm to innocent people that was completely avoidable: wrongful prosecutions and imprisonments, deaths and injuries during unnecessary confrontations, and disastrous cultural and legal changes.  Once everyone has become a suspect, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant.  Once activists are targeted for surveillance and suspicion, many become reluctant to engage in activism -- which, believe it or not, leads to corruption and tyranny.

It's also possible to be wrong about one's innocence.  There are over 5,000 federal crimes on the books, plus 300,000 regulatory crimes, plus regulations, plus state crimes.  Almost everyone is certainly guilty of something or easily made to appear guilty of something. 

All of these points become clearer, I think, when one learns, not just what could happen in the near future, but what is happening right now in the nature of abuses often considered futuristic or dystopian.  A great place -- maybe the best place -- to start is John Whitehead's new book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State.

This book captures the stories of slowly growing abuse and suppression, and collects them in sufficient mass to shock readers out of their complacency.  Have police pulled you over and done cavity searches yet?  They have to others.  Have they forcibly drawn your blood to check for alcohol?  Have they stopped you on a sidewalk and patted you down?  Some  things you simply don't know whether they've done: have they scanned your pockets, bags, and clothing as you passed?  Have they filmed you with a drone and stored the information, allowing a retroactive search of where you were when, should the need arise?  Have they tracked you via your cell phone or your license plate?  Do they know your web browsing history and the content of your emails?  Have they entered your home and searched it while you were out?  These actions are all "legal," even if unconstitutional. 

Some abuses you can't help being aware of when they happen to you or someone you know.  Tens of thousands have been arrested and committed to mental institutions.  Local police have been militarized.  Uniquely in the world, the U.S. military "donates" its weapons to local police forces.  With the weaponry comes a militarization of uniforms, language, training, tactics, and thought.  Over 50,000 no-knock SWAT-team-style police raids are carried out annually in the United States.  Noticing this doesn't make us paranoid.  It exposes the paranoia of the police, who see an enemy in every member of the public. 

"There was a time," Whitehead notes, "when communities would have been up in arms over a botched SWAT team raid resulting in the loss of innocent lives.  Unfortunately, today, we are increasingly being conditioned by both the media and the government to accept the use of SWAT teams by law enforcement agencies for routine drug policing and the high incidence of error-related casualties that accompanies these raids."  Whitehead details some of the specific tragedies. 

Combine police that have been militarized with a public that has been armed, and you get stories like this one: "[A]n 88-year-old African-American woman was shot and killed in 2006 when policemen barged unannounced into her home, reportedly in search of cocaine.  Police officers broke down Kathryn Johnstone's door while serving a 'no-knock' warrant to search her home on a run-down Atlanta street known for drugs and crime, prompting the woman to fire at what she believed to be the 'intruders' in self-defense.  The officers returned fire, killing the octogenarian.  No cocaine was found."

If only someone had had a gun!

According to Amnesty International, 90% of those killed by police tasers were unarmed when tasered.  But when people are armed, they aren't just tasered; instead they have dozens of bullets pumped into them. 

Drones, in Whitehead's view, open up a whole new level of militarization.  As tear gas, tasers, sound cannons, assault vehicles, and other military weapons were passed on to police, so too are drones being domesticated.  The reckless killing and blanket spying that will follow pale in relation to some of the suicidal stupidities the military has planned, such as nuclear-powered drones and drones carrying nuclear weapons. 

It's not too late to push back, assuming we come to understand the desirability and necessity of doing so.

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