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Talk Nation Radio: Rick Rowley Tells How He Made the Film "Dirty Wars"

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-rick-rowley

Richard Rowley, director of the new film Dirty Wars, describes its making and the crimes it reveals.  Over the course of fifteen years, Rowley, co-founder of Big Noise Films, has made multiple award-winning documentary features including Fourth World War and This Is What Democracy Looks Like. His shorts and news reports are also regularly featured on and commissioned by leading outlets including Al Jazeera, BBC, CBC, CNN International, Democracy Now!, and PBS. Rowley is a co-founder of the Independent Media Center. Rowley has been a Pulitzer Fellow, Rockefeller Fellow, a Jerome Foundation Fellow, and a Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellow.  For more on Dirty Wars see http://DirtyWars.org

To sign a petition to free the Yemeni journalist imprisoned at President Obama's instruction, as discussed in this program, go here.

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

Over 30,000 Sign Thank-You Note to Edward Snowden

Already over 30,000 people have signed a thank-you note to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden at SupportEdwardSnowden.org -- a website set up by RootsAction.org.

The note reads: "We thank Edward Snowden for his principled and courageous actions as a whistleblower, informing the public about vast surveillance by the National Security Agency that undermines our civil liberties."

A few of the thousands of comments added read as follows:

"Your courage and integrity give hope to a hardened cynic. I will do what I can to raise awareness and campaign for change, and for your personal safety and liberty. Thank you."

"If only we had more people with your courage and convictions. You have helped restore my faith in humanity."

"What you've done will inspire kindred spirits around the world to take moral action despite the risks."

"Your character and courage are inspirational.  I only hope that if put in the same position I would do the right thing, as you have.  Thank you for your lesson in being a human."

"'In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.' --George Orwell.  Thank you."

"Thank you for your courageous actions in the defence of democracy, liberty and justice. You have demonstrated the highest form of loyalty and for that you have my respect and admiration. Good luck."

"They are trying to make a criminal out of the person who exposed the crime!"

"Just think how this world would be if everyone did the right thing!  Thank you Edward."

"Your courage is so rare -- thank you for this brave action to defend the 4th amendment.  Wishing you well."

"Thanks for calling attention to the Police State that we have become."

"Thank you, Edward.  We can no longer say, as did people in Nazi Germany, that they didn't know what was going on."

"Thank you for stepping up for freedom. I am proud to join with the people of the world in applauding your conscience."

"Thank you for your honesty, incredible sacrifice, and clarity. We will not allow the government or the media call this anything less than a courageous move and wake up call to resuscitate Democracy."

"I can't thank you enough for this act of  courage and personal sacrifice.  You give me hope that the forces of oppression can eventually be overcome."

"Your bravery and your actions are more than commendable. I stand with you. Keep your spirit up in the challenges ahead. Thank you for standing up for Democracy and your fellow citizens. Well done. You are a true hero."

"Bravery for principle is very contagious, thank you!"

"Thank You Edward. 'The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.' - -Albert Einstein"

"You and Bradley Manning are my heroes. I am proud of you."

"Thank you for stepping forward and putting your life at risk to save our precious liberties.  Thank you for believing in the bill of rights.  Thank you for doing what is right even when our government prohibits it.  Thank you for your efforts to stop the decline into the novel '1984'."

"Finally someone with guts."

"Bravo, Edward! You are an inspiration to all freedom-loving people!"

"Thank you for your courageous actions. I hope this will be contagious and result in many more stepping out to join you in exposing the terrible state of freedom here."

"Thank you for letting me know just how far towards fascism my supposedly democratic country has slid, all in the name of 'keeping me safe'. I salute your courage."

"Thank you Edward. We're with you all the way."

The note will be delivered to Snowden with all signatures and comments that anyone adds at SupportEdwardSnowden.org

Not Impeaching Bush Is Sure Paying Off!

Many loyal Republicans opposed impeaching George W. Bush.  So did most liberal and progressive activist groups, labor unions, peace organizations, churches, media outlets, journalists, pundits, organizers, and bloggers, not to mention most Democratic members of Congress, most Democrats dreaming of someday being in Congress, and -- toward the end of the Bush presidency -- most supporters of candidate Barack Obama or candidate Hillary Clinton. 

Remarkably in the face of this opposition, a large percentage and often a majority of Americans told pollsters that Bush should be impeached.  It's not clear, however, that everyone understood why impeachment was needed.  Some might have supported a successful impeachment of Bush and then turned around and tolerated identical crimes and abuses by a Democrat, assuming a Democrat managed to engage in them.  But this is the point: whoever followed Bush's impeachment would have been far less likely to repeat and expand on his tyrannical policies.  And the reason many of us wanted Bush impeached -- as we said at the time -- was to prevent that repetition and expansion, which we said was virtually inevitable if impeachment was not pursued.

Can You Hear Me Now?

"You just hate Republicans" was the most common argument against impeachment, but there were others.  "It's more important to elect someone different."  "Why do you want President Cheney?"  "Why do you want President Pelosi?"  "Why distract from good work?"  "Why put the country through trauma?"  "Why not focus on ending war?"  "Why not do investigations?"  "Why divide the Democrats?"  "Why start a process that can't succeed?"  "Why destroy the Democratic Party the way impeaching Clinton destroyed the Republican Party?"  We answered these questions as patiently as possible at great length and enormous repetition for years and years.

People pursued alternatives to impeachment, from spreading the word about how bad the crimes and abuses were, to pushing legislation to redundantly re-criminalize Bush's criminal behavior, to promoting supposedly lesser-evil candidates, to promoting truly good candidates, to constructing ways to drop out of society and wash one's hands of it.  The trouble was that when you let a president spy without warrant, imprison without charge, torture, kill, lie, make war, operate in secret, rewrite laws, and persecute whistleblowers, you can predict -- as we predicted for years -- that the next president will adopt and build on the same policies.  Nothing short of punishing the offender will deter the successor.

In fact, the new president, working with Congress and all of his other facilitators, has turned abuses into policies.  The scandal and secretiveness have been replaced with executive orders and legislation.  Crimes are now policy choices.  Checking off lists of murder victims is official open policy.  Secret laws are normal.  Secretly rewritten laws are established practice.  Spying in violation of the Fourth Amendment is openly defended and "legalized," with sporadic bursts of public outrage and establishment excusing, following new detailed revelations.  Whistleblowing is being transformed into treason.

This moment offers certain opportunities.  It is well-placed in between the election seasons that so debilitate the nation.  Also, bravery and integrity seem to be spreading like a contagion.  Intimidation is backfiring.  Resistance is growing, and so is whistleblowing.  Bradley Manning and Thomas Drake and Matthew Hoh and Coleen Rowley and John Kiriakou and Jesselyn Radack and many others are inspiring new whistleblowers like Edward Snowden (support him here!), and like the member of the Joint Special Operations Command who spoke out for the first time at our forum on the opening of the film Dirty Wars in D.C. on Saturday.

However, what failure to impeach Bush has done to legitimize his crimes is nothing compared to what it has done to delegitimize impeachment.  If a tyrannical president who liberals hated and who talked funny and who didn't even pretend to be killing for some higher benevolent purpose can't be impeached, then who can?  Surely not an intelligent, articulate African American who pretends to agree with us and gives speeches denouncing his own policies? 

But this is the same problem as before.  Making speeches against Bush's abuses was not enough.  Clapping for speeches against Obama's abuses -- even speeches by Obama -- is not enough.  There is a reason why people abuse power.  Power corrupts them.  And absolute power corrupts them absolutely.  Telling a handful of Congress members who are forbidden to speak about it, and most of whom don't really give a damn, what sort of outrages you are up to is not a system of checks and balances or the rule of law. 

Refusal to impeach pulls the foundation out from under representative government.  Congress won't impeach for violation of subpoenas, so it avoids issuing subpoenas, and it therefore can't compel production of witnesses or documents, so it doesn't take a position on an important matter, so the unofficial U.S. state media takes no position either, and people follow the media.

Would impeaching Obama invite rightwing delusional charges?  Would it send confusing signals rather than clear ones, given Bush's free pass?  Not if Obama and Bush were impeached together.  They've both committed many of the same high crimes.  Impeachment can take place after leaving office.  The time has come to restore seriousness to the serious tool the Constitution provides for checking presidential power.  The time has come to impeach Bush and Obama.

PHOTOS: Protesting the CIA's Drone Murder Program at the CIA on Saturday

LOTS MORE PHOTOS HERE.

Lots of positive honks and waves.  One angry guy in an SUV. Not bad.

Join Me in D.C. Saturday

Saturday June 8 is packed in Washington, D.C.  Here's where I'll be and I hope to see you! --David Swanson

PROTEST CIA DRONE KILLS

I'll be speaking to a group of protesters of drone murder in front of CIA headquarters.  We'll be there from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.  You can park next door at Langley Fork Park at 6414 Georgetown Pike McLean, VA 22101.  Join us!

REMEMBER THE USS LIBERTY
USS Liberty survivors and their families and friends will gather at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery at noon to remember the 34 who were killed on June 8, 1967. Memorial services will commence at 1:15 p.m. Sign up here to join us!
https://www.facebook.com/events/186293598165055/

VIEW SCREENING OF DIRTY WARS
Following the 2:30 screening of Jeremy Scahill's film "Dirty Wars" at E Street Cinema
Yemeni-American activist Rooj Alwazir and I will lead a discussion of the film and in particular of an imprisoned journalist whose story is told. The theater is at 555 11th St NW, Washington, DC.  You'll want to buy tickets now:
http://www.landmarktheatres.com/market/WashingtonDC/EStreetCinema.htm

Check out other screenings with other speakers
http://warisacrime.org/content/dirty-wars-opens-dc-weekend-june-7-9

JOIN JEREMY SCAHILL TO DISCUSS DIRTY WARS
Jeremy Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield and star of the film by the same name.
Rooj Alwazir, Yemeni-American activist and co-founder of SupportYemen media collective.
And a former operative with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (name to be revealed at the event).
Join us at 5-7 p.m. at Busboys and Poets restaurant at 5th and K Streets NW, Washington, DC
http://www.busboysandpoets.com/about/5th-k

SPONSORS: Amnesty International, Code Pink, Peace Action, Iraq Veterans Against the War, RootsAction, Veterans for Peace.

Busboys is a restaurant, and you can order dinner during the event.
Books will be sold and signed.

Sign up on Facebook for Busboys event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/463016100456362/?fref=ts

and for opening weekend in general:
https://www.facebook.com/events/275208689282159/

Learn more: http://dirtywars.org/screenings/details/1785/5791

Three Things Young People Should Know to Save the World

Of course, old people should know these things too, and some small percentage does know them, but energy seems better invested in trying to teach them to young people who have less to unlearn in the process.

1. Obedience is extremely dangerous. 

This seems like it must be either wrong or misleadingly incomplete.  And that would be true if we were talking about children.  If a two-year-old is about to run in front of a car, please do yell "stop!" and hope for as much obedience as possible. 

But I'm talking to young people, not children. 

When you grow up, your obedience should always be conditional.  If a master chef appears to be instructing you to prepare a revoltingly bad dinner but wants you to obey his or her instructions on faith, you might very well choose to do so, considering the risk to be tolerable.  If, however, the chef tells you to chop off your little finger, and you do it, that will be a sure sign that you've got an obedience problem.

This is not a trivial or comical danger.  The majority of volunteers in experiments are willing to inflict severe pain or death on other human beings when a scientist tells them to do so for the good of science.  Watch this video of such an experiment.

Had the actor in this experiment who pretended to be a scientist told the participants to cut off their little fingers, I bet they wouldn't have done it.  But they were willing to do far worse to someone else.  The good old Golden Rule is a counter to this deficiency, but so is resistance to blind obedience.  Most suffering in the world is not created by independent individuals, but by large numbers of people obeying when they should be resisting.

Here's a story in the news right now about a man deeply upset that he sat at a desk and obeyed orders and killed over 1,600 people.  This was not an experiment, but tragically real.  Watch this video:

We should think about how not to put ourselves in positions in which we are expected to blindly obey.  It is possible to find jobs that don't include that unhealthy expectation.  And we should prepare ourselves to refuse immoral instructions whenever we receive them.  As we'll see below, we all do receive them all the time.

 

2. People in power manipulate us into acceptance

Several years ago a lot of people were protesting the U.S. war in Iraq.  The president and most of Congress and most of the big media outlets were busy giving out the impression that such protests were ignored or even counter-productive.  But former president George W. Bush's memoirs recall the Republican Senate Majority Leader secretly telling him the pressure was becoming too great and they'd need to end the war.  Bush signed an agreement with the government of Iraq to leave in three years.

In 1961 the USSR was withdrawing from a moratorium on nuclear testing.  A protest at the White House urged President Kennedy not to follow suit.  Posters read "Kennedy, Don't Mimic the Russians!"  One protester recalled their action for decades as having been pointless and futile, until he found an oral history interview with Adrian Fisher, deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.  Fisher said that Kennedy had delayed resuming testing because of the protest.

A delay in a policy we oppose is not as good as a permanent ban, but if those protesters had known they were being listened to they would have come back day after day and brought their friends and possibly achieved that permanent ban.  That they imagined they weren't being listened to appears ridiculous if you read enough history.  People are always listened to, but those in power go to great lengths to give the impression of not paying any serious attention.

Lawrence Wittner interviewed Robert "Bud" McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan's former national security advisor, asking him whether the White House had paid much attention to protests demanding a "freeze" in nuclear weapons building.  "Other administration officials had claimed that they had barely noticed the nuclear freeze movement," Wittner said.  "But when I asked McFarlane about it, he lit up and began outlining a massive administration campaign to counter and discredit the freeze -- one that he had directed . . . .  A month later, I interviewed Edwin Meese, a top White House staffer and U.S. attorney general during the Reagan administration.  When I asked him about the administration's response to the freeze campaign, he followed the usual line by saying that there was little official notice taken of it.  In response, I recounted what McFarlane had revealed.  A sheepish grin now spread across this former government official's face, and I knew that I had caught him.  'If Bud says that,' he remarked tactfully, 'it must be true.'"

It's funny: even when protesting government lies or government secrecy, people tend to fall for the lie that the government is ignoring you.  Yet, in 2011, when a relatively tiny movement began to take to the streets under the banner of "Occupy," the government rolled out a massive effort of infiltration, eavesdropping, harassment, brutality, and propaganda -- while, of course, claiming to have noticed nothing and done nothing about something so unworthy of notice.

Those in power don't restrict themselves to directing you toward inaction.  They also work on moving you toward doing lots of things that seem effective but aren't.  The way to keep the nation safe, they say, is to go shopping!  Or lobby for this watered-down pathetic piece of legislation!  Or devote all your activist energy to election campaigning, and then go home and collapse in exhaustion as soon as the election is over -- exactly when you should be gearing up to demand actions out of whoever won the election.  These activities that have little impact are depicted as serious and effective, while activities that historically have had tremendous real impact (organizing, educating, demonstrating, protesting, lobbying, heckling, shaming, nonviolently resisting, producing art and entertainment, creating alternative structures) are depicted as disreputable and ineffective and lacking in seriousness.

Of course, being active is much more fun than not.  Of course, the influence you have is always possible even if undetected (you might inspire a child who goes on to do great things years later, or slightly win over an opponent who takes a few more years to see the light).  Of course, we have a moral duty to do everything we can regardless of the ease of success.  But I'm convinced we'd see a lot more activism if people knew how much they are listened to.  So tell them! And let's remember to keep telling ourselves.

 

3. Doing nothing is obeying a deadly order

Imagine writing a story about a village that faces possible destruction, and for the most part the people don't do anything to prevent it. 

That's not how stories are written. 

That's the world we live in and fail to recognize. 

We are being instructed to sit at a desk and zap the earth to death, and we're compliantly zapping away.  Only the zapping doesn't look like zapping, it looks like living.  We work and eat and sleep and play and garden and buy junk at the store and watch movies and go to baseball games and read books and make love, and we don't imagine we can possibly be destroying a planet.  What are we, the Death Star?

But a sin of omission is morally and effectively equivalent to a sin of commission.  We need to be saving the earth and we're not doing so.  We're allowing global warming and other major environmental destruction to roll ahead.  We're allowing militarization and warmaking to advance.  We're watching the concentration of wealth.  We see the division of society into castes.  We know we're building prisons and drones and highways and pipelines while closing schools and condemning our grandparents to poverty.  We are aware that we're funding multi-billionaires with our hard work while fueling mass suffering, bitterness, rage, frustration, and violence.

We see these worsening cycles and we sit still.

Don't sit still.

Sitting still is mass-murder.

Don't obey anyone who tells you to sit still.

Don't search for a leader.

Don't sell your conscience to a group or a slogan or a political party.

Don't listen to me unless something I say makes sense.

How the Pentagon Removes Entire Peoples

If we think at all about our government's military depopulating territory that it desires, we usually think of the long-ago replacement of native Americans with new settlements during the continental expansion of the United States westward. 

Here in Virginia some of us are vaguely aware that back during the Great Depression poor people were evicted from their homes and their land where national parks were desired.  But we distract and comfort ourselves with the notion that such matters are deep in the past.

Occasionally we notice that environmental disasters are displacing people, often poor people or marginalized people, from their homes.  But these incidents seem like collateral damage rather than intentional ethnic cleansing. 

If we're aware of the 1,000 or so U.S. military bases standing today in some 175 foreign countries, we must realize that the land they occupy could serve some other purpose in the lives of those countries' peoples.  But surely those countries' peoples are still there, still living -- if perhaps slightly inconvenienced -- in their countries. 

Yet the fact is that the U.S. military has displaced and continues to displace for the construction of its bases the entire populations of villages and islands, in blatant violation of international law, basic human decency, and principles we like to tell each other we stand for.  The United States also continues to deny displaced populations the right to return to their homelands.

At issue here are not the bombings or burnings of entire villages, which of course the United States engages in during its wars and its non-wars.  Nor are we dealing here with the millions of refugees created by wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan or by drone wars like the one in Pakistan.  Rather, the following are cases of the intentional displacement of particular populations moved out of the way of base construction and left alive to struggle as refugees in exile.

In the Philippines, the United States built bases on land belonging to the indigenous Aetas people, who "ended up combing military trash to survive."

During World War II the U.S. Navy seized the small Hawaiian island of Koho'alawe for a weapons testing range and ordered its inhabitants to leave.  The island has been devastated.

In 1942, the Navy displaced Aleutian Islanders.

President Harry Truman made up his mind that the 170 native inhabitants of Bikini Atoll had no right to their island.  He had them evicted in February and March of 1946, and dumped as refugees on other islands without means of support or a social structure in place.  In the coming years, the United States would remove 147 people from Enewetak Atoll and all the people on Lib Island.  U.S. atomic and hydrogen bomb testing rendered various depopulated and still-populated islands uninhabitable, leading to further displacements.  Up through the 1960s, the U.S. military displaced hundreds of people from Kwajalein Atoll.  A super-densely populated ghetto was created on Ebeye.

On Vieques, off Puerto Rico, the Navy displaced thousands of inhabitants between 1941 and 1947, announced plans to evict the remaining 8,000 in 1961, but was forced to back off and -- in 2003 -- to stop bombing the island.

On nearby Culebra, the Navy displaced thousands between 1948 and 1950 and attempted to remove those remaining up through the 1970s.

The Navy is right now looking at the island of Pagan as a possible replacement for Vieques, the population already having been removed by a volcanic eruption.  Of course, any possibility of return would be greatly diminished.

Beginning during World War II and continuing through the 1950s, the U.S. military displaced a quarter million Okinawans, or half the population, from their land, forcing people into refugee camps and shipping thousands of them off to Bolivia -- where land and money were promised but not delivered.

In 1953, the United States made a deal with Denmark to remove 150 Inughuit people from Thule, Greenland, giving them four days to get out or face bulldozers.  They are being denied the right to return.

 

DIEGO GARCIA

The story of Diego Garcia is superbly told in David Vine's book, Island of Shame.  Between 1968 and 1973, the United States and Great Britain exiled all 1,500 to 2,000 inhabitants from this island in the Indian Ocean.  On orders from, and with funding from, the United States, the British forced the people onto overcrowded ships and dumped them on docks in Mauritius and the Seychelles -- foreign and distant and unwelcoming lands for this indigenous population that had been part of Diego Garcia for centuries.  U.S. documents described this as "sweeping" and "sanitizing" the island. 

Those responsible for the displacement of the people of Diego Garcia knew that what they were doing was widely considered barbaric and illegal.  They devised ways of creating "logical cover" for the process.  They persuaded the ever-compliant Washington Post to bury the story.  The Queen of England and her Privy Council bypassed Parliament.  The Pentagon lied to Congress and hid its payments to the British from Congress.  The planners even lied to themselves.  Having originally envisioned a communications station, they concluded that advances in technology had rendered that unhelpful.  So, Navy schemers decided that a fueling station for ships might offer a "suitable justification" for building a base that was actually a purposeless end in itself.  But the Pentagon ended up telling a reluctant Congress that the base would be a communications station, because that was something Congress would approve.

Those plotting the eviction of the island's people created the fiction that the inhabitants were migrant workers not actually native to Diego Garcia.  Sir Paul Gore-Booth, Permanent Under Secretary in the Foreign Office of the U.K., dismissed the island's people as "some few Tarzans or Men Fridays whose origins are obscure."  This stood in contrast to the respect and protection given to some other islands not chosen for bases because of the rare plants, birds, and animals resident there. 

On January 24, 1971, remaining inhabitants of Diego Garcia were told they'd need to leave or be shot.  They were allowed to take a small box of possessions, but had to leave their homes, their gardens, their animals, their land, and their society.  Their dogs were rounded up and killed in a gas chamber as they watched, waiting to themselves be loaded on ships for departure.  Arriving in Mauritius, they were housed in a prison.  Their fate has not much improved in the decades since.  David Vine describes them as very forgiving, wishing nothing but to be permitted to return.

Diego Garcia is purely a military base and in some ways more of a lawless zone than Guantanamo.  The United States has kept and may be keeping prisoners there, on the island or on ships in the harbor.  The Red Cross and journalists do not visit.  The United States has de facto control of Diego Garcia, while the U.K. has technical ownership.  The Pentagon is not interested in allowing the island's people to return.

 

JEJU ISLAND

The South Korean government, at the behest of the U.S. Navy, is in the process of devastating a village, its coast, and 130 acres of farmland on Jeju Island with a massive military base.  This story is best told in Regis Tremblay's new film The Ghosts of Jeju.  This is not a tragedy from the past to be remedied but a tragedy of this moment to be halted in its tracks.  You can help.  Tremblay's film examines the history of decades of abuse of the people of Jeju, and the resistance movement that is currently inspiring other anti-base efforts around the globe.  The film begins somber and ends joyful.  I highly recommend creating an event around a screening of it.

 

PALESTINE

We should not neglect to note here that the United States funds and arms and protects the Israeli government's ongoing displacement of Palestinians and denial of the right to return.

 

"The past is never dead. It's not even past," wrote William Faulkner.

Talk Nation Radio: Guantanamo Is Getting Worse

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

Jason Leopold writes for Al Jazeera.  See his articles here.  Leopold, just back from Guantanamo, says that since President Obama's speech, no one has been freed, no one has quit hunger striking, and the number of people being force-fed has increased. Abusive policies are being adopted, in part in apparent response to the hunger strike.  The top commander at the prison is suspected of perjury, in addition to cruel and inhuman treatment.  The U.S. military's own lawyers say he is unfit for command.  The prison has kept hidden listening devices in rooms where prisoners meet with attorneys, and has accessed defense lawyers' files and emails.  There remains one way out for prisoners of this camp: death.

Photo of force-feeding chair by Jason Leopold.

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

Dirty Wars Opens in D.C. Weekend of June 7-9

Dirty Wars, the new film featuring Jeremy Scahill, is playing every day at 12 noon, 2:30pm, 5:00pm, 7:30pm, and 9:55pm at Landmark's E Street Cinema, 555 11th St NW, Washington, DC

You can buy tickets now:
http://www.landmarktheatres.com/market/WashingtonDC/EStreetCinema.htm

Following the 12:00, 2:30, and 5:00 showings on June 7th, Amnesty International's Jiva Manske will lead a discussion of the film and of activism that can address some of what the film covers.

Following the 7:30 showing on June 7th, Code Pink will lead a discussion of issues surrounding the film.

Following the 2:30 screening on June 8th, RootsAction's David Swanson and Yemeni-American activist Rooj Alwazir will lead a discussion of the film and in particular of an imprisoned journalist whose story is told.

Following the 5:00 and 7:30 screenings on June 8th, Jeremy Scahill will take questions.

Following the 2:30 and 5:00 showings on June 9th, Afghan War whistleblower Matthew Hoh will lead a discussion of the film and whistleblowing.

For a more in-depth discussion, the following free and public event has been planned:

WHAT: Discussion of Jeremy Scahill's new film and book Dirty Wars

WHO:

  • Jeremy Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield and star of the film by the same name.
  • Rooj Alwazir, Yemeni-American activist and co-founder of SupportYemen media collective.
  • A former operative with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (name to be revealed at the event).

WHEN: 5-7 p.m., Saturday, June 8, 2013

WHERE: Busboys and Poets restaurant at 5th and K Streets NW, Washington, DC
http://www.busboysandpoets.com/about/5th-k

SPONSORS: Amnesty International, Code Pink, Peace Action, Iraq Veterans Against the War, RootsAction, Veterans for Peace.

Busboys is a restaurant, and you can order dinner during the event.
Books will be sold and signed.

Sign up on Facebook for Busboys event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/463016100456362/?fref=ts


and for opening weekend in general:
https://www.facebook.com/events/275208689282159/

Learn more: http://dirtywars.org/screenings/details/1785/5791

Pacifist Terms Obama "Force for Destruction"

By Sherwood Ross


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. --- Overall, President Obama has been “a force for destruction” who has “advanced inequality, wealth concentration, deportations, imprisonments, and the de-funding of basic services in order to fund banks, billionaires, and bombers,” distinguished peace activist David Swanson says.


In an exclusive interview with this reporter, Swanson, a former staff aide to Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaigns, said Obama has done nothing  to better the lot of the nation’s poor, including Americans in the ghettos, apart from reducing “the disparity in crack-powder cocaine sentencing.”


Noting that Obama has attempted to identify himself with the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Swanson was asked if he saw any resemblance. His reply was “Two eyes and two ears and two feet and in Obama’s case two mouths. He got a Nobel Peace Prize before he did anything for peace,” Swanson said. “So did King, and King followed through and retroactively earned it. Perhaps that led to the ludicrous bestowing of the prize on Obama, who proceeded to give a pro-war acceptance speech in which he insultingly and arrogantly denounced King’s approach to world change.”


Asked if either Obama or his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might carry out their threat to make a nuclear attack on Iran, Swanson said, “I think they are willing to and would find joy in it. Watch the video of Clinton laughing over the killing of (Libya’s ruler Muammar) Gaddafi. Watch the video of her talking about ‘obliterating’ Iran. She takes obvious pleasure in such talk, as does Obama. I don’t think it’s at the top of their to-do list, but as long as they allow Israel and Congress to roll ahead, as long as they support the propaganda against Iran, as long as they pursue sanctions as an ‘alternative’ to war that usually brings war closer, the danger will grow.”


Swanson was asked if the U.S. could defeat powerful enemies Germany and Japan in three and one half year in World War II how it has been in Afghanistan for well over a decade with no victory in sight, and whether this was not a deliberate plan to continue a high level of military funding.


“Motivations clearly include irrational machoistic power, financial profit, election campaigning, domination of territories and resources, and the inertia of the war machine,” Swanson said. “I don’t think there’s just one reason, but I think all the reasons are bad ones.”


He went on to say, “I agree that many want to keep the wars going, including those so deluded as to imagine that wars produce jobs. Connecticut’s new commission to plan economic conversion is the most encouraging step I’ve seen in a long time. Forty-nine states need to sit up and take notice.”


Asked why there is so little popular opposition to President Obama’s warlike policies compared to the public outcry during the Viet Nam war, Swanson replied: “Less of it (the opposition) is shown in corporate media, resulting in its actual diminishment. The propaganda---including the lie that people are impotent to effect change -- has become much slicker. People are directed into entertainment, ignorance, and ineffective types of activism, above all electoral campaigning.”


“Our schools are worse, our news media is worse, our political system is more corrupted. Propagandists and recruiters are more skilled. The draft is a poverty draft, presented as a favor to its direct victims rather than an assault on them. And knowledge of the crimes to be protested barely exists. A majority of Americans believes Iraq benefitted from a war that destroyed Iraq. People won’t protest that which they don’t know about.”


Asked how deeply totalitarianism is ingrained in American life, Swanson said that “Americans are among the most obedient and subservient people around. We imagine just the reverse and certainly our tendency toward obedience competes with out tendency toward independence and rebellion. But the majority of politically engaged Americans radically alter their demands depending on which of two very similar political parties is in the White House, accept imperial powers for presidents without thought, ingest corporate propaganda without resistance, and believe that even popular activism is dependent on the divine appearance of an all-powerful leader.”


Swenson went on to say, “A majority of Americans oppose drone murders of Americans but support drone murders of non-Americans. A majority of Americans want different rules for their country and other, lesser countries, including accepting the launching of wars on other nations, whether for genocidal or humanitarian reasons.”


Asked what it will take to get the pacifist message through to the multitudes, Swanson replied, “It may take some combination of independent media and infiltration of corporate media. The latter will only effectively follow the former. So our priorities are backwards right now. We need a much greater emphasis on building independent journalism. And we need a movement to educate people to rely on it. If potential activists won’t take anything seriously that they don’t see on corporate media, it does us little good to get it to them by other means.”


Swanson hosts “Talk Nation Radio” and is the author of numerous anti-war books that have drawn wide attention and praise. These include “The Military Industrial Complex at 50” and “War Is A lie.”

                                                  #

(Sherwood Ross formerly contributed weekly columns to United Press International and Reuters. He is now a national public relations consultant based in Miami, Florida.  Reach him at sherwood.ross@gmail.com )

An Anti-War Blockbuster

There's no end to the pro-war movies we're subjected to: countless celebrations of bombs, guns, and torture.  They come in the form of cartoons, science-fiction, historical fiction, dramas, and reenactments pre-censored by the CIA.  Movies show us the excitement without the suffering.  War in our theaters resembles almost anything else more than it resembles war.

Journalists appear in our movies too, usually as comic figures, talking-head air-heads, numskulls, and sycophants.  In this case, the depiction is much more accurate, at least of much of what passes for journalism.

But, starting in June, a remarkable anti-war / pro-journalism film will be showing -- even more remarkably -- in big mainstream movie theaters.  Dirty Wars (I've read the book and seen the movie and highly recommend both) may be one of the best educational outreach opportunities the peace movement has had in a long time.  The film, starring Jeremy Scahill, is about secretive aspects of U.S. wars: imprisonment, torture, night raids, drone kills.

Dirty Wars won the Cinematography Award for U.S. Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival 2013 and, recently, the Grand Jury Prize at the Boston Independent Film Festival.  Variety calls it "jaw-dropping ... [with] the power to pry open government lockboxes."  The Sundance jury said it is "one of the most stunning looking documentaries [we've] ever seen."  I agree.

Typically, information that does not support our government's war agenda appears only on the printed page, or perhaps in a power-point presented to the usual heroic crowd of aging white activists gathered outside the range of corporate radar.  But stroll through an airport and you'll see hardcopies of Dirty Wars displayed at the front of the bookstores.  Check out the movie listings in June and July, and you're likely to see Dirty Wars listed right alongside the latest super-hero, murderfest, sequel of a sequel of some predictable Hollywood hackery.

I wrote a review of the book some time back, after which I picked up a job helping to promote the film.  But I'm promoting the film because it's a great film, which is different from calling it a great film because I'm paid to promote it.  And my interest remains less in selling the film tickets than in recruiting those who see the film into an active movement to change the reality on which the film reports.

This is not Zero Dark Thirty.  You can't walk into Dirty Wars supporting drone strikes, night raids, and cluster bombs and walk out with your beliefs reinforced.  Most viewers of Dirty Wars will leave the theater believing that U.S. wars make the United States less safe.  In that moment, when people who are usually otherwise engaged have come to realize that the Department of So-Called Defense endangers us (on top of impoverishing us) is when we should sign those people up to take part in activities the following week and month and year.

The film opens by contrasting embedded war journalism -- the regurgitation of spoon-fed propaganda -- with what the viewer is about to see.  And what we see is investigative journalism.  The film begins by providing us with an understanding of night raids, including from the point of view of family members who have survived them.  We see the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tell Scahill that night raids that kills civilians should not be investigated.  And then we see Scahill investigate them, his search leading him to secretive branches of the U.S. military involved in a variety of dirty tactics in various countries.

The film does have a failing.  It doesn't tell people anything they can do about the horrors they're exposed to.  But, of course, activism is possible and far more effective than any journalism -- good or bad -- will tell you. 

One of the stories told in the film and the book of Dirty Wars is the story of the destruction of al Majala.  On December 17, 2009, U.S. Tomahawk missiles and incendiary cluster bombs rained down on the tiny Yemeni village of al Majala, killing 21 children, 14 women, and 6 men, and burning all the homes and their contents. The government of Yemen falsely claimed responsibility.  Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye disproved that claim.

Shaye reported on the carnage, including photographing missile parts labeled "Made in the United States."  He reported on subsequent U.S. strikes in Yemen, working with the Washington Post, ABC News, Al Jazeera, and other outlets.

Shaye is in prison in Yemen for the crime of journalism, at the insistence of President Obama.  A coalition has launched a petition today urging Obama and Yemen to set Shaye free.  Fans of Dirty Wars who want to begin to do something to end the crimes committed in their names can be sent to RootsAction.org.

While the United States was searching for its citizen Anwar Awlaki to kill him, Shaye repeatedly tracked him down and interviewed him.  These were tough and serious interviews, with Shaye asking Awlaki how he could possibly support acts of violence.  Awlaki's image was not helped.  But the U.S. government began warning media outlets not to work with Shaye, falsely accusing him of supporting al Qaeda.  The Yemeni government kidnapped Shaye, threatened and released him, then snatched him again and gave him a one-sided "trial," universally denounced as a sham by human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

On February 2, 2011, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, under public pressure, had drawn up, printed out, and was prepared to sign a pardon of Shaye.  But Saleh received a phone call from President Barack Obama, who opposed release of the journalist.  Saleh ripped up the pardon.

The White House is feeling a little pressure over recent revelations of government spying on and seeking the prosecution of U.S. journalists.  It took the targeting of a U.S. journalist for prosecution to start people like Chuck Todd and Dana Milbank chattering about Obama treating journalism as a crime.  But have you heard U.S. media outlets raising concerns over the imprisonment of a Yemeni journalist at the instruction of the U.S. president? 

There is much else that we are not regularly told to be found in Dirty Wars.  Organizations that would like to help promote this film and organize around it in U.S. cities should contact me.  With any luck, together we'll change the conversation to one aware of and unaccepting of acts of murder anywhere on earth.

Third City in United States Says No to Drones

Following Charlottesville VA in February, and St. Bonifacius MN in April, Evanston IL on May 28th passed a resolution against drones.  Below is the text:

A RESOLUTION

Authorizing the City of Evanston to Establish a Moratorium on the Use of Unregulated Drone Technology

WHEREAS, the implementation of drone (unmanned aerial system) technology in the United States implicates the privacy and constitutional rights of United States residents, including the residents of Evanston, Illinois; and

WHEREAS, the federal government and the State of Illinois have yet to enact reasonable regulation on the use of drones within the United States; and

WHEREAS, police departments in the United States have begun to deploy drone technology absent any regulation on the appropriate use of such technology, although the Evanston Police Department has not.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF EVANSTON, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, THAT:

SECTION 1: That the foregoing recitals are hereby found as fact and incorporated herein by reference.

SECTION 2: The City of Evanston establishes a moratorium on the use of drones in the City of Evanston in the absence of reasonable state and federal regulation of the use of drone technology which will expire without further action by the City Council two years from the date of this resolution; with the following exemptions:

1) for Hobby and Model Aircraft, defined as an unmanned aircraft that is— a) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;

b) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and

c) flown for hobby or recreational purposes; and
2) the Research and Development of "Experimental Aircraft" for non-Department of Defense contracts.

SECTION 3: The City of Evanston establishes a moratorium on the use of drones in the City of Evanston in the absence of reasonable state and federal regulation of the use of drone technology; and

SECTION 4: The City of Evanston supports efforts in the Illinois General Assembly, the Illinois Senate, and the United States Congress to enact legislation (1) prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a federal or state court, and (2) precluding the domestic use of drones equipped with anti-personnel devices (meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed- energy), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being.

SECTION 5: The City of Evanston jointly resolves, with the Associated Student Government (“ASG”) of Northwestern University, as evidenced by the attached resolution of the ASG (Exhibit 1), to provide that the moratorium on drone use extends to all areas of Northwestern University.

SECTION 6: Copies of this Resolution will be sent to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Illinois State Senators Daniel Biss and Heather Steans, and Illinois State Representatives Robyn Gabel, Kelly Cassidy and Laura Fine.

SECTION 7: This resolution 27-R-13 shall be in full force and effect from and after the date of its passage and approval in the manner provided by law.

Talk Nation Radio: David Vine on U.S. Bases All Over the World

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-david-vine

David Vine is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at American University, author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia, and of the new article "Where Has All the Money Gone?"  He discusses an overseas U.S. military base presence that maintains a million troops in other countries on a permanent basis at a cost of $170 billion per year, and which has funnelled $385 billion to private contractors (most of it to a handful of cronies) since 2001.  Learn more at http://davidvine.net

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

Nobel Women’s Initiative Conference: Women Mobilizing for Peace in Conflict

By Ann Wright

I am honored to be attending the Nobel Women’s Initiative, “Moving Beyond Militarism and War,” May 28-30, 2013 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Six women Nobel Peace Laureates and 80 women from around the world are gathering to discuss the weighty and seeming insolvable problem of getting past the militarism of our world and the financial need of politicians and corporations to wage war.  Nobel Peace Laureates Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Leyamh Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman will attend the conference, as well as women activists from war conflict regions.

An Endless "Peace Process" for Palestine

The United States balances its endless war of terrorism with the institution of an endless "peace process" for Palestine, a process valuable for its peaceyness and interminability.

Josh Ruebner's new book, Shattered Hopes: The Failure of Obama's Middle East Peace Process, could just as easily have been called "Fulfilled Expectations: The Success of Obama's Middle East Peace Process," depending on one's perspective.  Its story could be summarized: Obama's performance in this area has been of a piece with his performance in every other.  Some people became very hopeful about his rhetoric and then very dejected about his actions.

In this case, among those getting hopeful were Palestinian negotiators.  But they didn't just grow depressed and despondent.  They felt no obligation to behave like Democratic voters.  They swore off the Hopium and went to work on an international approach through the United Nations that has begun to pay off. 

Obama began his "peace process" efforts "naively unprepared for the intensity of the pushback from Israel and its supporters in the United States to its demand that Israel freeze settlements," Ruebner writes.  But evidence of Obama's mental state is hard to pin down, and I'm not sure of the relevance.  Whether Obama began with naive good intentions or the same cynicism that he was, by all accounts, fully immersed in by his second or third year in office, the important point remains the same.  As Ruebner explains, Obama employs an all-carrots / no-sticks approach with Israel that is doomed to failure.

In fact, suggesting that the White House cease providing Israel with ever more weaponry and/or cease providing Israel with ever more protection from justice following its crimes is liable to get Ruebner himself denounced as naive, along with the rest of us who think he's right.  Obama's fundamental problem is not one of naiveté, but of "seriousness," of upholding the solemn seriousness of willful belief in a respectable but doomed approach.  If Obama was surprised that Palestinian negotiators didn't play along with this the way U.S. "journalists" do, that would suggest he had internalized the official point of view.  Whether that is naiveté or deep cynicism may be in the eye of the beholder. 

Ruebner provides the chronological play-by-play from Obama's first happy shiny moves in office to his familiar flailing about in search of propaganda that would continue to hold up year after year.  And Ruebner includes analysis of what activists were up to along the way. 

In fact, Ruebner begins with Obama's campaign promises, which -- upon close inspection -- prove, as with every other issue, to have been much closer to the President's abysmal performance than to the glowing image people recall of his early hope-and-changey self.  Obama campaigned placing all blame on Palestinians, supporting Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital, backing resolutions and legislation in the Senate imposing sanctions on Palestinians as punishment for having held an open election, and supporting Israel during its wars on Lebanon and Gaza.  Obama's speeches and his website made his position clear to those inclined to see it.  Boycott campaigns against the Israeli government were, according to him, "bigoted." 

As with every other area, on peace in Palestine, Obama's disastrous approach could also have been read clearly from his selection of individuals to run his foreign policy team.  During the transition period prior to his inauguration, Obama took positions on many foreign policy matters, but when it came to the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, he declared himself unable to speak prior to becoming president.

Watching the sequence of events play out post-inauguration is painful.  Obama urges an end to Israel's expansion of settlements.  Netanyahu suggests that Obama, with all due respect, stick his proposals where the sun don't shine.  But Netanyahu backs "statehood" (someday, with no rights or power or independence or actual -- you know -- statehood) for Palestinians, but proceeds to rapidly expand settlements, effectively eliminating territory on which to create any state.  Obama announces that victory has come and help is on the way!

Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave up on freezing settlements and announced that slowing the pace of the expansion would be an "unprecedented" accomplishment -- a claim that was less credible to people who had lived and suffered through many such claims before.  As reward for the same lawless abuses as always, Israel received from the Obama administration more weaponry than ever, and a veto of a resolution at the United Nations opposing more Israeli settlements.

Ruebner rightly concludes:

"Obama's failure to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace resulted not only from his unwillingness to go to the mat with the Israel lobby over the issue of fully freezing Israeli settlements, not only from the scattershot, frenetic lurching of his policy initiatives thereafter.  Obama also foundered because his approach relied solely on providing Israel with carrots.  With the trivial exceptions of denying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu photo-ops at the White House on a few occasions and reportedly forcing him to wait for several hours before a meeting, Obama never brandished the proverbial stick.  But these personal insults did nothing to create incentives for Israel to cease openly and brazenly defying U.S. policy objectives."

Hope is so much more popular than reality.  But Ruebner is full of hope.  He holds it out there in front of us.  All that's required is a little actually useful action:

"[I]f the United States were to pull its backing for Israel's oppression of the Palestinians, then Israeli intransigence would melt away in the historical blink of an eye, as it did when President Dwight Eisenhower terminated all U.S. aid programs to Israel after it invaded and occupied the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula in 1956."

How do we get there?  Part of the answer, Ruebner persuasively suggests is Boycott-Divestment-and-Sanctions (BDS), a movement that is making great strides, including in changing the public discourse, altering the sorts of things that even U.S. politicians can get away with claiming with a straight face. 

Memorial Day THIS

Imagine if at some point during the 1990s or 1980s the President of the United States had given a speech.  And this was his speech:

My fellow Americans, I've been regularly shooting missiles into people's houses in several countries.  I've wiped out families.  I've killed thousands of people.  Hundreds of them have been little children. 

I've killed grandparents, wives, daughters, neighbors.  I've targeted people without knowing their names but because they appeared to be resisting an occupation of their country.  I've killed whoever was too near them.  Then I've shot another missile a few minutes later to kill whoever was trying to help the victims. 

I don't charge these people with crimes.  I don't seek their extradition.  I don't even try to kidnap them.  And I don't do this to defend against any imminent threat.  I don't make you safer by doing this.  It goes without saying (although the people in the countries I target keep saying it) that I'm generating more new enemies than I'm killing.  But I urge you to remember this: All but four of the people I've killed have been non-U.S. citizens.

So here's what I'm going to do for you: I'm going to start applying the same standards I use for killing U.S. citizens to my killing of non-U.S. citizens, at least in certain countries, at least after another 18 months or so goes by.  Sound good?  I know, I know: what do you care? These are not even U.S. citizens we're talking about. 

So, let me tell you about the four U.S. citizens. 

One of them we didn't actually know who we were shooting at, and he turned out to be a U.S. citizen.  Hell, for all I know a few other bodies could belong to U.S. citizens too -- It's not as if we know all the names and backgrounds. 

A second one of the four we got because he was with the one and only U.S. citizen we targeted.  So, that was a two-fer.  We saved enough on missiles on that one to pay for a school or whatever it is people keep whining about wanting money for.

A third one was a 16-year-old American kid.  He was the son of the one and only U.S. citizen I targeted.  I hit him two weeks after killing his father.  Sheer coincidence.  I don't have any good explanation for it, but you'll just have to trust that I meant to take out a bunch of innocent non-American teenagers, and there happened tragically to be an American among them.

Fourth is the one U.S. citizen I meant to kill.  I'd like to ask you to ignore certain facts about this one for the moment.  Actually forever.  Let's ignore the fact that we tried to kill him before any of the incidents that I now claim justified his killing.  Let's ignore that my attorney general said back then that we were killing him for things he'd said, not for anything he'd done.  Let's forget that we never charged him with any crime, never indicted him, never tried him, never sought his extradition, never appealed to U.S. or foreign or international courts.  Let's forget that we've never made any evidence against him public, nor explained why we can't.  Let's forget that nobody else has produced any evidence against him. 

Now, let me tell you this: I only killed him because he was responsible for planning and executing violent attacks on the United States, was an imminent threat to the United States, and could not possibly have been captured.  Got that?  Write that down.

Now, it's true that courts and the legislature and the public are left out of this.  But you're going to have to trust me.

There is not a single domestic or international law that permits the killing of human beings by someone who invents criteria for himself to meet and then claims on the basis of secret evidence to have met those criteria. 

But, what do you care?  You've already forgotten that for all but one of the people I've killed I don't claim to have met any criteria at all. 

Now clap, you morons!
...

Some speech.

What would the response have been to this some decades back, as compared to last Thursday? 

I think there might have been some outrage. 

Instead of outrage, we're going to have more wars.

This memorial day, see if you can remember what it was like to object to giving presidents the power to murder us.

Abolish the CIA

 

A message to RootsAction members from Douglas Valentine, author of
The Phoenix Program:
Lies about Iraq. Cash to corrupt Afghanistan.  Drone wars
waged in secret.  Blowback endangering us all. The CIA does not exist to defend our
freedoms. Wrapped in government secrecy, it exists to assure the political security of
rich political elites. CIA operations -- engaging in secret, legally protected wars, sabotage,
subversion, murders and tortures -- create enemies that Americans fear. And the agency
is an instrument of psychological warfare aimed at you and me. 

Background:
Douglas Valentine: The Phoenix Program
CNN: Karzai: CIA Promises to Continue Cash Payments
The Atlantic: Drone War Has More Victims Than Bush-Era CIA Scandals
Washington Post: An Alternative Explanation for Benghazi


It's time we stop funding this out-of-control agency.

CLICK HERE.

 

Protest at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at 10 a.m. This Friday

You know how the government is owned by the lobbyists? Well, on Friday, we're marching on the lobbyists.

A group of unemployed workers and their families have spent the last week marching all the way from Philadelphia to DC, with the intent of marching on the US Chamber of Commerce's headquarters this Friday, May 24th. Their march is called "Operation Green Jobs," and they'll be holding the US Chamber accountable for buying off congress and using their millions to stop action on jobs, climate change, and a more equitable tax code.

WHO: Operation Green Jobs
WHAT: March on the US Chamber of Commerce
WHEN: Friday, May 24 at 10 AM
WHERE: 1615 H St NW, Washington DC 20062
If you can't make it in person, you can still join the virtual march at http://shutthechamber.org/virtualmarch. All you need to do is click the link, tell your story of how corporate greed has affected you, and your story will be seen by the world with your permission.

Whether it's any of the imperial wars for resources, catastrophic climate change, crippling poverty and unemployment or austerity, all roads lead to the US Chamber of Commerce and their lobbying efforts. Join the march in DC on Friday, or join the virtual march at http://shutthechamber.org/virtualmarch.

In solidarity,
Carl Gibson

Lead Organizer, Shut The Chamber

Obama Promises His Speech Will End Some Day

President Obama is expected to announce that the eternal war on the world will have an end.

When?

He won't say.

I too have an announcement.  I promise my drinking problem will end some day.

When?

I'm not saying.  But the celebrations of the armistice in 1918 began when plans for it were announced, and the partying continued until it actually happened.  Perhaps that is the best approach here.  As an aid to your festivities, let me present the . . .

Afternoon Obama Murder Rap Drinking Game
(which I promise to stop playing soon)

1. The President is going to admit that he has a murder problem and propose to correct it by murdering less in certain countries.  If examples occur to you of crimes you might commit that you could not continue committing by promising to limit your criminal activities in some countries but not in others, DRINK!

2. The President is going to claim to have targeted, or to have allowed an unnamed John Brennan to have targeted, only one U.S. citizen for murder but to have killed three by mistake, on top of three killed by President Bush by mistake.  If you can think of outrages you might commit that you could not go on committing by claiming that 86% of them were accidental side effects, DRINK!

3. The President is going to claim that the one U.S. citizen he or his subordinate chose to murder was an imminent (meaning eventual theoretical) threat to violently attack the United States, that capture was infeasible (meaning the target was hiding following lots of death threats, but his location was known anyway), and that said citizen was a senior operational leader of al Qaeda (or an associated group or was an adherent or a backstage groupie who had once met a guy whose cousin knew where an al Qaeda meeting was held one time).  If you understand what that means, DRINK!

4. The President is going to hope that nobody notices that laws against war and murder don't include exceptions for people who invent lists of arcane criteria that they require themselves to meet before murdering.  If you think you could invent and meet at least three qualifications before engaging in some immoral behavior, DRINK!

5. The President is going to hope nobody notices that he did not actually meet his own criteria before murdering Awlaki.  Attorney General Eric Holder now says Awlaki was killed for actions, not words.  Prior to the deed, Holder said it was the "hatred spewed" on Awlaki's blog that put him "on the same list with bin Laden."  Asked if he wanted Awlaki captured or killed, Holder did not say "captured if feasible," but evaded the question.  Awlaki, as far as we know, was never a member of al Qaeda.  Obama's and Holder's claims about Awlaki's role in terrorist attacks are undocumented claims.  No evidence has been presented and no charges were ever brought in court.  If you think shouting "Whoever he is, and whatever he's charged with, he did it!" would be a nifty way to get out of jury duty, DRINK!

6. The President is going to speed past the fact that over 99% of the people he's murdered have not been U.S. citizens, and that the pretense of justification so lazily applied to U.S. citizens has not been bothered with at all in these cases.  He's not going to discuss "signature strikes" targeting unknown people and whoever's near them, or the targeting of the rescuers of victims.  He's not going to discuss children, women, seniors.  He's not going to discuss the posthumous identification of males as "enemy combatants" -- a non-legal term that adds insult to murder.  He's not going to discuss the many known cases in which the victims could quite feasibly have been captured, were clearly not involved with al Qaeda in any way, and lacked any capacity whatsoever to threaten the United States.  He's going to propose applying the fraudulent, meaningless, and illegal standards he applies to murdering U.S. citizens to murdering non-U.S. citizens in the future ... in some countries.  If you can think of some people who might not be satisfied with this reform, DRINK!

7. The President is going to claim to be moving some but not all drone kill operations from a secret agency technically lacking in Congressional oversight to a department Congress simply chooses not to oversee.  If this falls short of what you can imagine when you hear "most transparent administration ever," DRINK!

8. The President will not be speaking about how some 75 other nations with drones should begin applying his standards to their own behavior.  If you think such matters are worth discussing, DRINK!

9. The President is going to brush over the question of where and how he will be ordering the murder of people by means other than missiles.  If you can think of ways this might become seen as a problem down the road, DRINK!

10. The President is going to speed past the existence of a massive ongoing U.S. war on Afghanistan, larger now than when Obama moved into the White House, and expected to continue for many years after it "ends" in another year and a half.  If his ability to get away with this strikes you as perhaps what he must love most about drones and how they change the conversation, DRINK!

11. If you have concerns that go unanswered about the global expansion of U.S. bases, threats to Syria, weapons provided to Israel, threats to Iran, or the gargantuan military budget, DRINK!

12. The President will leak a great deal of information about his kill list program in this speech, as he has done on some previous "I killed bin Laden!" occasions, and yet will fail to prosecute himself for espionage at the end of the speech.  If you believe laws should be applied equally to all, DRINK!

The Government's List of "Anti-Government" People

Should the U.S. government be building a list of people whom a stranger has concluded based on as little as a moment's interaction are "anti-government"?  Look at this photo of a U.S. Census laptop.  There's a box to check if a respondent is reluctant to participate in the census.

The next screen wants the census interviewer to explain the potential interviewee's reluctance:

Notice that there is a box for hostile or threatening.  That seems important.  There are boxes for just not interested or too busy.  There is a box for those who object that too many personal questions are asked.  The basics all seem to be covered.  But the Census employee is to check multiple boxes, "all that apply," and one is  "Anti-government concerns."  What does that mean?  What do Census workers think it means?  It clearly means something other than reluctant to give the government this information.  To be "anti-" the government sounds like someone is in favor of overthrowing the government.  And a government that thinks purely in terms of violence would inevitably interpret such a desire as one in favor of violently overthrowing the government.  But surely nobody tells a representative of the government that they favor its violent overthrow unless they don't really take themselves seriously and are not actually a threat.  So maybe this "Anti-government concerns" box is equivalent to "Seems nuts," but what sort of training does the survey taker have in mental health?  The serious question is what lists your name goes on if somebody marks you down as Anti-government.

Talk Nation Radio: Carl Gibson on Shutting Down the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-carl-gibson

Carl Gibson is currently engaged in a Green Jobs March from Philadelphia to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., as part of a campaign called ShutTheChamber.org.  You can join the march virtually by uploading a photo on their website, or you can join in reality at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce across from the White House at 10 a.m. Friday, May 24th.  Gibson is lead organizer of ShutTheChamber and cofounder of USUncut.  He discusses the damage the U.S. Chamber does to our political system pushing environmental destruction, wars, and the plutocratic concentration of wealth.  Gibson says that small businesses paying dues to local chambers that themselves have little in common with the U.S. Chamber end up funding assaults on small businesses, as the local chambers fund the state chambers which fund the U.S. Chamber -- an institution that also serves to funnel vast quantities of unaccountable corporate money into politics.

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

Connecticut Advances Conversion from War to Peace Economy

The Connecticut legislature has sent to the governor to sign a bill that would create a commission to develop a plan for, among other things:

"the diversification or conversion of defense-related industries with an emphasis on encouraging environmentally-sustainable and civilian product manufacturing. On or before December 1, 2014, the commission shall submit such report to the Governor and, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to commerce."

The commission "shall Advise the General Assembly and the Department of Economic and Community Development on issues relating to the diversification or conversion of defense-related industries" among other things.

CIA: An Idea Whose Time Has Gone

There's a contradiction built into every campaign promise about transparent government beyond the failure to keep the promises.  Our government is, in significant portion, made up of secret operations, operations that include warmaking, kidnapping, torture, assassination, and infiltrating and overthrowing governments.  A growing movement is ready to see that end.

The Central Intelligence Agency is central to our foreign policy, but there is nothing intelligent about it, and there is no good news to be found regarding it.  Its drone wars are humanitarian and strategic disasters.  The piles of cash it keeps delivering to Hamid Karzai fuel corruption, not democracy.  Whose idea was it that secret piles of cash could create democracy? (Nobody's, of course, democracy being the furthest thing from U.S. goals.)  Lavishing money on potential Russian spies and getting caught helps no one, and not getting caught would have helped no one.  Even scandals that avoid mentioning the CIA, like Benghazigate, are CIA blowback and worse than we're being told.

We've moved from the war on Iraq, about which the CIA lied, and its accompanying atrocities serving as the primary recruiting tool for anti-U.S. terrorists, to the drone wars filling that role.  We've moved from kidnapping and torture to kidnapping and torture under a president who, we like to fantasize, doesn't really mean it.  But the slave-owners who founded this country knew very well what virtually anyone would do if you gave them power, and framed the Constitution so as not to give presidents powers like these.

There are shelves full in your local bookstore of books pointing out the CIA's outrageous incompetence.  The brilliant idea to give Iran plans for a nuclear bomb in order to prevent Iran from ever developing a nuclear bomb is one of my favorites. 

But books that examine the illegality, immorality, and anti-democratic nature of even what the CIA so ham-handedly intends to do are rarer.  A new book called Dirty Wars, also coming out as a film in June, does a superb job.  I wrote a review a while back.  Another book, decades old now, might be re-titled "Dirty Wars The Prequel."  I'm thinking of Douglas Valentine's The Phoenix Program

It you read The Phoenix Program about our (the CIA's and "special" forces') secret crimes in Eastern Asia and Dirty Wars about our secret crimes in Western Asia, and remember that similar efforts were focused on making life hell for millions of people in Latin America in between these twin catastrophes, and that some of those running Phoenix were brought away from similar sadistic pursuits in the Philippines, it becomes hard to play along with the continual pretense that each uncovered outrage is an aberration, that the ongoing focus of our government's foreign policy "isn't who we are." 

Targeted murders with knives in Vietnam were justified with the same rhetoric that now justifies drone murders.  The similarities include the failure of primary goals, the counterproductive blowback results, the breeding of corruption abroad and at home, the moral and political degradation, the erosion of democratic ways of thinking, and -- of course -- the racist arrogance and cultural ignorance that shape the programs and blind their participants to what they are engaged in.  The primary difference between Phoenix and drone kills is that the drones don't suffer PTSD.  The same, however, cannot be said for the drone pilots

"The problem," wrote Valentine, "was one of using means which were antithetical to the desired end, of denying due process in order to create a democracy, of using terror and repression to foster freedom.  When put into practice by soldiers taught to think in conventional military and moral terms, Contre Coup engendered transgressions on a massive scale.  However, for those pressing the attack on VCI, the bloodbath was constructive, for indiscriminate air raids and artillery barrages obscured the shadow war being fought in urban back alleys and anonymous rural hamlets.  The military shield allowed a CIA officer to sit behind a steel door in a room in the U.S. Embassy, insulated from human concern, skimming the Phoenix blacklist, selecting targets for assassination, distilling power from tragedy."

At some point, enough of us will recognize that government conducted behind a steel door can lead only to ever greater tragedy. 

In an email that Valentine wrote for RootsAction.org on Monday, he wrote: "Through its bottomless black bag of unaccounted-for money, much of it generated by off-the-books proprietary companies and illegal activities like drug smuggling, the CIA spreads corruption around the world.  This corruption undermines our own government and public officials.  And the drone killings of innocent men, women, and children generate fierce resentment.. . .Tell your representative and senators right now that the CIA is the antithesis of democracy and needs to be abolished."

Hillary Clinton Cannot Be Less(er) Evil Than Anyone

Or less corrupt.

Watch this:

Watch this:

Watch this Oldie but Goodie:

"Those in Congress who voted to authorize the war on Iraq decided that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, who claimed that the invasion and occupation would be good for Iraq and the United States, were somehow more credible than the broad consensus of scholars familiar with the country who correctly predicted it would be a disaster for both. This is why I believe Hillary Clinton does not have the wisdom or judgement to be president." —Stephen Zunes

Even older.

Read The Feminist Case Against a Woman President

Read Hillary Clinton, Hawk and Militarist

Read about a law suit against Hillary Clinton by a man put on a watch list by her after her guards roughed him up for silently protesting by turning his back.

Wall Street Republicans' dark secret: Hillary Clinton 2016

Her electoral problems.

Hillary Clinton and the Weaponization of the State Department

The Millionaire Pauper? Hillary Clinton’s Claim On Being “Dead Broke” Falls Flat With The Facts

On NSA, Hillary Clinton Is Either a Fool or a Liar

Hillary’s Candid Motto for Democratic Party: “Represent Banks”

 

 

 

 

 

Hillary's $2,777 PER MINUTE speaking contracts demand a 'presidential' teleprompter, let her cancel 'for any reason whatsoever' and she's the only one allowed on stage

 

 

How Hillary Sold Fracking to the World

 

The Company She Keeps

 

 

No Koch News: A Movement to Unsubscribe

After years of mismanagement, the Tribune Company newspapers -- including the Chicago Tribune and L.A. Times -- are up for sale.  And one of the potential buyers? The Koch brothers.  And wow are people outraged!

Yes, it's those Koch brothers:the billionaire businessmen who run Koch Industries, a sprawling multinational corporation involved in everything from oil to fertilizer to paper towels.  But you probably know the Koch brothers for how they spend their considerable wealth: bankrolling right-wing political causes like the Tea Party movement, and funneling millions of dollars to front groups and politicians devoted to their anti-regulatory, anti-labor, and pro-corporate ideology.  The Kochs have spent millions propping up climate-change deniers, and have been instrumental in funding ALEC, the powerful business lobby that pushes corporate-friendly policies at the state level.

What would the Kochs do with a few major newspapers?  They would push public opinion and public despair further to the right and further into the depths.  This is why taxing billionaires is not a policy driven by greed or jealousy or even the desire to put vast sums of riches to good use.  Taxing billionaires is necessary if we are going to have representative government.  We talk about "freedom of the press."  Never mind government surveillance of reporters' phone records.  Never mind the prosecutions of whistleblowers and journalists.  If billionaires can dominate our communications system with what to them amounts to pocket change, while we blog dissent to people who believe nothing that doesn't appear on Tee-Vee or in a corporate paper, whose freedom of the press is it?

Some recent reports indicate that many L.A. Times staffers would consider leaving the paper if it were purchased by the Kochs -- which is probably music to their cost-cutting ears.  Better than staff promising to quit is subscribers promising to unsubscribe:

"I will cancel my subscription and so will family members. We have no need for propaganda dictated by far right-wing spoiled billionaires with an anti-citizenry, pro 1% agenda.  This will be the death of your struggling paper in a town that once had a proud history of journalism.  It's a disgrace."

That comment was posted with a signature on this petition.  Here are some more:

"If you want to increase the circulation of the New York TIMES in Los Angeles, let the Koch brothers buy the Los Angeles TIMES."

"No Koch news!!!"

"If the Koch brothers get their hands on your paper, it will only be useful as tp."

"Don't give up the integrity of your company for a measley few bucks."

"I refuse to continue my newspaper subscription if the Koch Brothers buy the Tribune. I boycott their other products so I will do the same if they buy the Tribune."

"If you sell to the Koch brothers, you can remove us from your subscription list!!"

"Don't let your long tradition of fair reporting be purchased away."

"Koch purchase is a bad deal for our nation!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"Keep the corporate greed off of our free press!"

"Selling out to the Koch's will pretty much put the kabosh on the 4th Estate's duty to afflict the comfortable."

"If the Koch Brothers take over, you'll lose this loyal reader of the Chicago Tribune forever."

"What an ignoble end to two fine papers known for excellence it would be if the Koch Bros. became the new owner. Forget about fairness and accuracy; the papers would simply become the latest bullhorn from which Charles and David would spew their propaganda. Has it come to this? Please don't sell."

"I am producer/director of Tell the Truth and Run: George Seldes and the American Press.  Seldes worked 10 years for the Chi Tribune as a foreign correspondent when their foreign press corps was one of the best in the world!  Remember with pride that high-quality journalism of the early Twentieth Century and don't sell out!"

"This country is going in the wrong direction, don't help it."

"As a Chicago Tribune subscriber, I can say we will no longer subscribe to either the print or online version of the Trib if this sale goes through. The reputation and standing of the Tribune organization is on the line, and it will suffer irreparable harm if the sale occurs."

"I have subscribed for 36 years and will cancel."

"As the son of a former Editor on the Chicago Tribune I urge you to remember the Colonel and stand for something.  Don't turn the Trib over to men that care only for this country for what they can dredge out of it for their own personal wealth."

"I am an LA Times reader, my parents are Chicago Tribune readers.  We will do everything we can to make sure everyone we know never reads another edition of these papers if sold to the Kochs."

Add your own comments for the Tribune Company to read.

Drone Pilots Expose Politicians' Lies

Our elected and unelected officials tell us that drone strikes target top level enemies of the United States who are imminent threats to us, and that killing innocent people is avoided altogether or minimized. 

Congressional hearings, with a couple of excellent exceptions, question outside academics about the legality of this purported strategy.  The Obama administration declines to send any witnesses.

But drone pilots have begun talking to the media.  And they describe policies that bear a lot closer resemblance to reporting from the areas where the missiles strike.  These pilots should be brought before Congress.

Here is a stunning new interview with one of them:

"So the pilot is not only flying the airplane, he or she is using all those sensors to watch a potential target, circling over it for hours or days at a time. What can you really see?

"Okay, so in a village in, say, country X, where the houses are built together, there are adults who live in this house, and these children belong to those adults because we see them out in the fields together or we see them eating dinner. So you can start figuring out who is associated with who. Who is a stranger, who is it that's visiting this house? There's a dog and it barks at strangers, so if we needed to go in and free a hostage or conduct a raid, you'd want to tell the land forces there's a dog there and either it's an attack dog or it alerts the village that somebody's coming.

"You must develop an emotional tie with the people on the ground that makes it hard if there is going to be a strike or a raid, people are going to be killed.

"I would couch it not in terms of an emotional connection, but a … seriousness. I have watched this individual, and regardless of how many children he has, no matter how close his wife is, no matter what they do, that individual fired at Americans or coalition forces, or planted an IED -- did something that met the rules of engagement and the laws of armed conflict, and I am tasked to strike that individual.  The seriousness of it is that I am going to do this and it will affect his family. But that individual is the one that brought it on himself. He became a combatant the minute he took up arms."

This pilot, in fact this director of the Air Force Remotely Piloted Aircraft Capabilities Division, has not said that a high level operation leader of terrorists who is imminently threatening the United States is targeted.  He has said that some ordinary guy who has chosen to violently resist the hostile foreign occupation of his country by shooting at the occupiers is targeted.

He has also not said anything to satisfy those who support the notion of just wars but want them conducted in compliance with the Geneva Conventions and other such legally binding limitations.  This director of a U.S. drone kill program openly says that our public employees target a family for death if needed in order to blow up a foreign soldier from thousands of miles away.  Every effort is made to avoid killing innocent family members, he says in the interview, but if it can't be avoided, well, the target "brought it on himself."

Here another pilot describes specific such incidents.  Here the New York Times reports on the resulting PTSD suffered by drone pilots.

War is murder, and this type of war ought to look to most people like the murder that it is.  But even if you accept war, this is not how ANYBODY claims it is to be legally done.  This is beyond what Congressional witnesses or even Congress members would say is acceptable or legal.  Yet this pilot blurts it out to the media with apparently no concern that his life will be inconvenienced by further questioning.

Enough is enough is enough. End this madness now.

 

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