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Three Tricks of War

Talk Nation Radio: Wenonah Hauter on Foodopoly

Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of Food and Water Watch and the author of Foodopoly.  She discusses the 20 companies that make our processed food -- and the 2 companies, both foreign, that make our beer (despite the hundreds of brands all pretending a diversity of origins and owners).  Hauter tells a story of how we got here and how we can get out of 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.

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

Teach the Children War

The National Museum of American History, and a billionaire who has funded a new exhibit there, would like you to know that we're going to need more wars if we want to have freedom.  Never mind that we seem to lose so many freedoms whenever we have wars.  Never mind that so many nations have created more freedoms than we enjoy and done so without wars.  In our case, war is the price of freedom.  Hence the new exhibit: "The Price of Freedom: Americans at War."

The exhibit opens with these words: "Americans have gone to war to win their independence, expand their national boundaries, define their freedoms, and defend their interests around the globe."  Those foolish, foolish Canadians: why, oh, why did they win their independence without a war?  Think of all the people they might have killed!  The exhibit is surprisingly, if minimally, honest about imperialism, at least in the early wars.  The aim of conquering Canada is included, along with bogus excuses, as one of the motivations for the War of 1812. 

The most outrageous part of the opening lines of the exhibition, however, may be the second half: ". . . define their freedoms, and defend their interests around the globe."  The exhibition, to the extent that I've surveyed it online, provides absolutely no indication of what in the world can be meant by a war being launched in order to "define our freedoms."  And, needless to say, it is the U.S. government, not "Americans," that imagines it has "interests around the globe" that can and should be "defended" by launching wars.

The exhibit is an extravaganza of lies and deceptions.  The U.S. Civil War is presented as "America's bloodiest conflict."  Really?  Because Filipinos don't bleed?  Vietnamese don't bleed?  Iraqis don't bleed?  We should not imagine that our children don't learn exactly that lesson.  The Spanish American War is presented as an effort to "free Cuba," and so forth.  But overwhelmingly the lying is done in this exhibit by omission.  Bad past excuses for wars are ignored, the death and destruction is ignored or falsely reduced.  Wars that are too recent for many of us to swallow too much B.S. about are quickly passed over.

The exhibit helpfully provides a teacher's manual (PDF), and its entire coverage of the past 12 years of warmaking (which has involved the killing of some 1.4 million people in Iraq alone) consists of the events of 9/11/2001, beginning with this:

"September 11 was a modern-day tragedy of immense proportions. The devastating attacks by al Qaeda terrorists inside the United States killed some 3,000 people and sparked an American-led war on terrorism. The repercussions of that day will impact domestic and international political decisions for many years to come.  At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, a passenger jet flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York. Fire and rescue crews rushed to the scene. As live TV coverage began, horrified viewers watched as a second plane slammed into the south tower at 9:03 a.m. Thirty-five minutes later a third airliner crashed into the Pentagon.  Another jet bound for Washington, D.C., crashed in Pennsylvania after its passengers challenged the hijackers. The nation reeled. But Americans resolved to fight back, inspired by the words of a passenger who helped foil the last attack: 'Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.'"

If you talk to non-sociopathic teachers, you discover that the sort of "teaching" engaged in by our museums has a horrible impact on students' understanding.  A new book called Teaching About the Wars is a great place to start.  It's written by teachers who try to present their students with a more complete and honest understanding of war than what's expected by common text books, many of which are far worse than the museum exhibit described above.  These teachers / authors argue that when a teacher pretends to have no point of view, he or she teaches their students moral apathy.  Pretending not to care about the world teaches children not to care about the world.  Teachers should have a point of view but teach more than one, teach critical thinking and analysis, teach skepticism, and teach respect for the opinions of others.

Students should not be taught, these teachers suggest, to reject all public claims as falsehoods and the truth as absolutely unknowable.  Rather, they should be taught to critically evaluate claims and develop informed opinions.  Jessica Klonsky writes:

"One of the most successful media-related lessons involved an exercise comparing two media viewpoints.  First I showed the first 20 minutes of Control Room, a documentary about Al Jazeera, the international Arabic-language television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar.  Students were shocked by the dead bodies and destruction shown on Al Jazeera.  For many it was the first time they realized that it wasn't just soldiers who died in war."

U.S. soldiers were 0.3% of the dead in the 2003-2011 war on Iraq.  These students had been unaware of the other 99.7% of the dead.  Learning what war really looks like is perhaps the most important lesson missing from our usual education system. 

Another important lesson is who engages in war and why.  Bill Bigelow presents a model lesson through which teachers can present students with true situations, but with the names of the nations changed.  They can discuss what the nations ought to have done, before learning that one of the nations was their own, and before learning what it actually did.  Then they can discuss that reality.  Bigelow also begins his teaching about the "war on terrorism" by asking students to work on defining "terrorism" (and not by attacking each other, which is presumably how the National Museum of American History would recommend "defining" such a term).

One teacher ends such a lesson by asking "What difference do you think it would make if students all over the country were having the discussion we're having today?"  Clearly, that question moves students toward becoming potential teachers wanting to share their knowledge to a far greater extent than, say, teaching them the dates of battles and suggesting they try to impress others with their memorization. 

Can good teaching compete with the Lockheed Martin-sponsored Air and Space Museum, the U.S. Army's video games, Argo, Zero Dark 30, the slick lies of the recruiters, the Vietnam Commemoration Project, the flag waving of the television networks, the fascistic pledges of allegiance every morning, and the lack of good alternative life prospects?  Sometime, yes.  And more often the more it spreads and the better it is done. 

One chapter in Teaching About the Wars describes a project that connects students in the United States with students in Western Asia via live video discussions.  That experience should be required in any young person's education.  I guarantee you that our government employs drone "pilots" to connect with foreign countries via live video in a more destructive manner who never spoke with foreign children when they were growing up.

David Swanson's books include War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War.

Who Did You Rape in the War, Daddy?

A Question for Veterans that Needs Answering 
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch

On August 31, 1969, a rape was committed in Vietnam.  Maybe numerous rapes were committed there that day, but this was a rare one involving American GIs that actually made its way into the military justice system. 

And that wasn’t the only thing that set it apart.

War is obscene.  I mean that in every sense of the word.  Some veterans will tell you that you can’t know war if you haven’t served in one, if you haven’t seen combat.  These are often the same guys who won’t tell you the truths that they know about war and who never think to blame themselves in any way for our collective ignorance. 

First City Bans Drones

Iraq War Among World's Worst Events

Ever More Shocked, Never Yet Awed
By David Swanson
March 18, 2013
This report is being made available in an attractive 86-page PDF from ColdType here.
Alex Bell has kindly produced an ePub and a Kindle version, also available here: ePub and Kindle.
It is also available at http://davidswanson.org/iraq


Peace Essay Contest

How Can We Obey the Law Against War?

Top Prize $1,000

Peace Essay Rules

In 800 words or less answer the question:

How can we obey the law against war?

Please include your: (1) name, (2) age (if under 19), (3) mailing address, (4) phone number, (5) email address, and (6) year and school that you first learned about the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

Mail your Peace Essay – postmarked by April 14, 2013 – to:

Peace Desk, 213 S. Wheaton Avenue, Wheaton, IL 60187

Peace Essays will be judged by members of the West Suburban Faith-Based Peace Coalition (WSFPC) (www.FaithPeace.org) based on:

(1) Knowledge of the Kellogg-Briand Pact

(2) Insight into how the Pact influences U.S. foreign policy

(3) Creativity in recommendations regarding compliance

(4) Quality of the Peace Essay prose

 

The author of the best essay will receive $1,000. Also, if the award winner identifies the school where she/he learned about the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a book – When the World Outlawed War, by David Swanson – will be donated to the school library. The WSFPC will also send the best Peace Essays to key members of the U.S. Congress.

For more information please contact

Frank Goetz at frankgoetz@comcast.net

Everyone who respects the Law should work for Peace.

Background

Most People understand that war is destructive but few know that it is illegal. On August 27, 1928 many countries signed a treaty called the Kellogg-Briand Pact which outlawed war. After ratification by the U.S. Senate the following year this Pact became the supreme law of the land in the United States and sixty-five other countries. How can we respect the law if most of us are ignorant of its existence? Members of the Peace Community have decided to: 1) educate the population on why this law was passed, and 2) encourage insight and creative expression on how we can bring our country into compliance.

Frank Goetz

213 S. Wheaton Avenue

Wheaton, IL 60187

Phone: 630-510-8500 ext. 104

frankgoetz@comcast.net

Talk Nation Radio: Robert Fantina on War and the Bravery of Deserters

Robert Fantina discusses the courage of those who desert the military, including some 20,000 in the United States during the "global war on terra."  Fantina is the author of
Desertion and the American Soldier,
Look Not Unto the Morrow, and
Empire, Racism, and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy.
He discusses all of these books on the program.

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!

Embed on your own site with this code:

<object autostart="false" data="http://davidswanson.org/sites/davidswanson.org/files/talknationradio/talknationradio_20130313.mp3" height="100px" width="400px"></object>

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

Sex Added to Latest Lockheed Martin Corruption

If Maryland is stopped in its efforts to force Montgomery County to give Lockheed Martin millions of dollars, we may never know whether that could have been done without sex.  And that's a shame.  Yet it certainly should be reported that, according to Maryland Juice, "a lobbyist for Lockheed Martin may be dating one of the bill's sponsors in the State Senate. Several Annapolis sources are now indicating to Maryland Juice that State Senator Rob Garagiola is currently romantically involved with lobbyist Hannah Powers of the Alexander & Cleaver firm. But Garagiola is a sponsor of the Lockheed welfare bill, and Powers is a lobbyist for Lockheed. If true, this seems like a massive conflict of interest."

Maryland: A Government of, by, and for Lockheed Martin

What's the world's biggest war profiteer to do if it already owns the federal government but is having trouble kicking around the local government of Montgomery County, Maryland, where it's headquartered?  Why, hire the state of Maryland to step in, of course. 

Lockheed Martin lives by killing, although nobody ever gives it a background check before allowing it another weapon.  Such a background check would reveal Lockheed Martin to be the number one top offender among U.S. government contractors.  When Congress was defunding ACORN for imaginary crimes alleged by a fraudster who is now having to compensate his victims, one Congresswoman proposed a bill to defund government contractors actually guilty of crimes.  Passing such a bill would strip Lockheed Martin of some 80% of its income. 

The list of abuses by Lockheed Martin includes contract fraud, unfair business practices, kickbacks, mischarges, inflated costs, defective pricing, improper pricing, unlicensed exporting to foreign nations (Lockheed Martin sells weapons to governments of all sorts around the world), air and water pollution, fraud, bribery, federal election law violations, overbilling, radiation exposure, age discrimination, illegal transfer of information to China, falsification of testing records, embezzlement, racial discrimination, retaliation against whistleblowers, bid-rigging, and much more.

Why, one might ask, does the federal government give such a company a dime, much less $40 billion per year?  Why is it intent on dumping over a trillion dollars into Lockheed Martin for the most expensive and least functioning airplane in history, the F-35?  Lockheed not only funds Republicans and Democrats alike with over $3 million per election cycle, lobbies officials for another $30 million, hires former officials, and shapes corporate news, but Lockheed Martin also creates local panics by threatening to notify every one of its employees that they might be fired if U.S. war preparations spending doesn't continue to grow. 

The pseudo-debate of recent years between those who want to cut healthcare and retirement spending and those who oppose all cuts is a debate that any news outlet interested in selling advertising to Lockheed Martin can accept without hesitation.  A debate over what we actually should cut and what we should instead invest in more heavily would be a different matter.

Of course, we can all send emails to Congress.  Lockheed Martin can too.  But Lockheed Martin, unlike the rest of us, also owns the email system through which Congress receives our communications.

Lockheed Martin is based in suburban Washington, D.C., in Montgomery County, Md.  For years, Lockheed Martin and its friends at the Washington Post have been trying to get the local government to excuse the patrons of Lockheed Martin's luxury hotel from paying taxes.  Montgomery County is home to terrific peace activists who can, of course, get virtually nowhere with Congress, but who can make their voices heard locally.  This has frustrated Lockheed Martin no end.  I recommend reading this article by Jean Athey from a year ago, describing the work she and others have done.  An excerpt:

"Let's put this tax exemption proposal in perspective by taking a quick look at Lockheed Martin's finances. In 2010 the company took home $3.9 billion in profits from the portion of its business that is paid directly by taxpayers (84 percent). Lockheed Martin's CEO, Robert Stevens, received $21.9 million in compensation in 2011.  So this company is doing quite well for itself, thanks to the taxpayers, and our largesse will continue into the future. . . . When Lockheed Martin's own employees stay at the CLE, according to the Post, the corporation passes on the costs of the hotel tax to the appropriate federal contract. In other words, Lockheed Martin is already compensated by the federal government for any lodging costs the company incurs, and given federal procurement regulations, the company can charge indirect costs on top of the local taxes it pays. This means that Lockheed Martin gets its money back, with interest, on its employee lodging costs.  Even if Lockheed Martin didn't get that money back, it would still make no sense to exempt this extremely wealthy company from paying a tax on employee lodging costs. The company also invites contractors and vendors to stay at the hotel. Why should these people not be required to pay a tax that they would pay if they instead chose to stay at the Marriott?  In reality, Lockheed Martin rents rooms to more than its employees, contractors and vendors. It uses its world-class conference center for . . . conferences. . . . It is extraordinary that the company would make an issue of this tax. Although the amount of money—$450,000 per year—is significant to Montgomery County, it is essentially a rounding error for Lockheed Martin.  There's more: not only are Lockheed Martin and The Washington Post furious at the county council for questioning the wisdom of a special million-dollar gift to Lockheed Martin to compensate it for having to pay the tax. They are also still irate that in 2011 the council briefly considered a non-binding resolution asking Congress to support the needs of local communities and cut military spending. Lockheed Martin suddenly had a job for a few of its 91 lobbyists: kill the resolution, which they did."

Here's Jean Athey, speaking this Saturday about the latest developments:

"Lockheed Martin lost the battle in 2011 to convince Montgomery County's council to change the definition of 'hotel' so as to exempt guests at the company's luxury hotel from being subject to a 7% hotel tax that everyone else has to pay. Now, Maryland's state government is considering a bill to force the county to do so, and it looks very likely to pass. This is an unbelievable and outrageous example of corporate welfare, designed for one of the wealthiest companies in the nation.  The bill is also an egregious example of state interference in a local issue and so further diminishes democracy."

This latest outrage has passed a state senate committee, and a companion bill is being considered by the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Delegates.  Here's the Washington Post.  This bill (PDF) would force Montgomery County to exempt Lockheed Martin's conference hotel from the county's hotel tax. In addition, it requires the County to reimburse Lockheed Martin $1.4 million for taxes it has paid the County to date for hotel taxes.

The state legislature, in introducing this bill, did not go through the county delegation prior to presenting it, even though the bill will only affect Montgomery County. Senator Jamie Raskin, for example, only found out about the bill Saturday morning.  He opposes it. 

He should oppose it.  We all should.  There is still a glimmer of representative government in some of our localities.  People are able to get involved in local issues, have some influence, and see majority opinion rule the day.  This is, of course, why people concerned about national and international issues take resolutions to local governments.  Unlike Congress, local governments sometimes listen.  But sometimes when they listen too much, state governments or the federal government will step in and overrule them. 

This is an assault on democracy, not just on the budget of Montgomery County and the balance of wealth in a nation that has created a Wall-Street-and-War-Making aristocracy.  When I worked for ACORN we used to pass restrictions on predatory lending or increases in minimum wages at the local level.  Then the banks or the hotels and restaurants would go to the state level and preempt them.  This was an outrage, but what did ACORN members really count for after all?  Some of them were probably on welfare!

Well, what should we call a tax break for one of the most profitable corporations in the nation, a tax break on expenses it's going to bill to the government anyway?  I'd call it welfare for the undeserving rich, except that it's not really about their welfare.  It's about their insatiable greed.

If you live in Maryland or even if you don't, please contact the legislature to oppose Senate Bill 631 and House Bill 815.  Lockheed Martin is using national resources (ours, in fact, courtesy of the Pentagon and NASA) to turn the state of Maryland against the people of Maryland.  Why shouldn't those of us who care speak up, too, and ask everyone we know in Maryland to do the same?

Senate sponsor:  Nancy King:  nancy.king@senate.state.md.us

Senate cosponsors:
James Degrange:
james.degrange@senate.state.md.us
Jennie Forehand: 
jennie.forehand@senate.state.md.us
Rob Garagiola: 
rob.garagiola@senate.state.md.us
Katherine Klausmeier:   katherine.klausmeier@senate.state.md.us
Roger Manno: roger.manno@senate.state.md.us
Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.
Douglas Peters: 
douglas.peters@senate.state.md.us

House sponsor:  Anne Kaiser:  anne.kaiser@house.state.md.us

House cosponsors:
Kumar Barve: 
kumar.barve@house.state.md.us
Jon Cardin:  jon.cardin@house.state.md.us
Brian Feldman: 
brian.feldman@house.state.md.us
C. William Frick: 
bill.frick@house.state.md.us
Guy Guzzone:
guy.guzzone@house.state.md.us
Jolene Ivey: 
jolene.ivey@house.state.md.us
Eric Luedtke: 
eric.luedtke@house.state.md.us
Aruna Miller:  aruna.miller@house.state.md.us
John Olszewski:  john.olszewski@house.state.md.us
Kirill Reznik:    kirill.reznik@house.state.md.us

War Is a Lie

In honor of the 10th Anniversary of Operation Iraqi Liberation, and in hopes of helping us keep in mind that every war is based on similar lies, even if sometimes the lies are told more competently, I'm making available here the introduction to my book War Is A Lie.  If you're near the heart of the empire on March 18th, join us at the 10 Years Later: Still Shocked, Not Awed event.

INTRODUCTION

Not a single thing that we commonly believe about wars that helps keep them around is true. Wars cannot be good or glorious. Nor can they be justified as a means of achieving peace or anything else of value. The reasons given for wars, before, during, and after them (often three very different sets of reasons for the same war) are all false. It is common to imagine that, because we’d never go to war without a good reason, having gone to war, we simply must have a good reason. This needs to be reversed. Because there can be no good reason for war, having gone to war, we are participating in a lie.

A very intelligent friend recently told me that prior to 2003 no American president had ever lied about reasons for war. Another, only slightly better informed, told me that the United States had not had any problems with war lies or undesirable wars between 1975 and 2003. I hope that this book will help set the record straight. "A war based on lies" is just a long-winded way of saying "a war." The lies are part of the standard package.

Lies have preceded and accompanied wars for millennia, but in the past century war has become far more deadly. Its victims are now primarily non-participants, often almost exclusively on one side of the war. Even the participants from the dominant side can be drawn from a population coerced into fighting and isolated from those making the decisions about or benefitting from the war. Participants who survive war are far more likely now to have been trained and conditioned to do things they cannot live with having done. In short, war ever more closely resembles mass murder, a resemblance put into our legal system by the banning of war in the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact in 1928, the United Nations Charter in 1945, and the International Criminal Court's decision to prosecute crimes of aggression in 2010. Arguments that might have sufficed to justify wars in the past might not do so now. War lies are now far more dangerous things. But, as we will see, wars were never justifiable.

Talk Nation Radio: Norman Solomon on Iraq War Lies and New Online Activism

Norman Solomon discusses his recent debate with former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson on the lies that took the United States into war 10 years ago, as well as Solomon's cofounding of online activist force RootsAction.org.

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!

Embed on your own site with this code:

<object autostart="false" data="http://davidswanson.org/sites/davidswanson.org/files/talknationradio/talknationradio_20130306.mp3" height="100px" width="400px"></object>

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

Protest Drone Kills at the CIA

SATURDAY, MARCH 9, 2013

10AM

CIA HEADQUARTERS

900 block of Dolley Madison Blvd., Langley, Virginia

The US CIA drone program is the worst and bloodiest kept secret. Officially it’s functioning is covert and hidden from scrutiny. Around the world those concerned with international law are opposing the deadly extrajudicial program as thousands have now been killed by CIA and US Military drone strikes and left many others maimed and suffering the loss of loved ones.  According the Bureau of Investigative Journalism from 2004 to the present up to 3573 were killed by the CIA drones in Pakistan alone. Other countries where the CIA and US Military attack with drones include Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and Afghanistan. Stand with us opposing CIA & US Military drones used in extrajudicial killings.

 

US killer drone strikes are illegal, immoral, and must stop now!

Supported by Pax Christi Metro DC, Northern Virginians for Peace & Justice, Episcopal Peace Fellowship (DC), Dorothy Day Catholic Worker of DC, Code Pink, Nova Catholic Community, Langley Hill Friends (Quaker), Washington Peace Center, Peace Action Montgomery County, MD, Little Friends for Peace, Maryland United for Peace & Justice, Veterans For Peace

For more information contact Jack McHale: 703-772-0635

10 Years Later: Still Shocked, Not Awed

March 18, 2013
Washington, D.C.
The Langston Room at Busboys and Poets, 14th and V Streets, NW
8-10 p.m.
Free and open to the public.

Sign up here: http://facebook.com/events/601163023231687

Ten years after the latest U.S. assault on Iraq began with a campaign of "Shock and Awe," we stop to consider where we've been and where we should be heading.  Join:

Leah Bolger, Board Member and Past President of Veterans For Peace.

Andy Shallal, artist, peace and social justice activist and entrepreneur, is the founder of Busboys and Poets and Eatonville.  He sits on the board of several art, business and peace and justice organizations including the Institute for Policy Studies, Anacostia Community Museum and Think Local First D.C.

Robert Shetterly, an award winning painter whose work is in collections all over the U.S. and Europe.  For more than 10 years he has been painting the series of portraits Americans Who Tell the Truth. The exhibit has been traveling around the country since 2003. A book of the portraits has won the top award of the International Reading Association for Intermediate non-fiction.

Shetterly will be unveiling his latest portrait, that of David Swanson.

David Swanson, an author whose books include Daybreak (2009), War Is A Lie (2010), When the World Outlawed War (2011), and The Military Industrial Complex at 50 (2012).  Swanson hosts Talk Nation Radio, and works for RootsAction.org, as well as blogging at WarIsACrime.org.

Sponsoring organizations that have helped spread the word about this event:
WarIsACrime.org
RootsAction.org
World Can't Wait
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Veterans For Peace
Peace Action Montgomery
OccupyWashingtonDC.org / October2011
CodePink
Americans Who Tell the Truth
Busboys and Poets
Teaching for Change
C.H.O.I.C.E.S. (Committee for High-School Options and Information on Careers, Education and Self-Improvement)
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space

Talk Nation Radio: Nick Turse: Kill Everything That Moves

Nick Turse discusses his new book, Kill Everything That Moves, and new evidence of the crimes that constituted the war on Vietnam.

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!

Embed on your own site with this code:

<object autostart="false" data="http://davidswanson.org/sites/davidswanson.org/files/talknationradio/talknationradio_20130227.mp3" height="100px" width="400px"></object>

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

Witnesses at a Drone Hearing

This coming Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee plans to hold a hearing on "Drones and the War On Terror: When Can the U.S. Target Alleged American Terrorists Overseas?"

This is odd for a number of reasons.

1. Congressional committees usually don't do anything at all on such matters.

2. The vast majority of the men, women, and children being killed have not been targeted.

3. The vast majority of the men, women, and children being killed or targeted have not been Americans.

4. The president's nominee to direct the CIA refuses to deny that the president claims the power to kill Americans when they are not overseas, not to mention non-Americans within the United States and anyone at all overseas.

5. The three Americans we know the president has targeted and killed by drone strike in no way match up with the justifications for theoretical strikes found in the "white paper."

6. The president is targeting and killing people with a variety of technologies, not just drones.

7. The only remotely legal or moral answer to the question asked by the hearing is "never."

All such concerns will, of course, be brushed aside.  Congress ought to question the administration on its program of drone killing, regardless of what title the hearing is given, right?  But this is where things get really odd.  The witness list doesn't include the president or a single person who works for him, no one from the CIA, no one from the White House, no one from the Pentagon, nobody from the Office of Legal Counsel. As far as we know, and it seems extremely likely to be the case, the committee has not subpoenaed any documents.  If it invited any government witnesses, it has not subpoenaed them or made any plans to figuratively or literally hold them in contempt.  Instead, all the witnesses are outside "experts" who won't know any more about what's going on than the rest of us.

A defender of this approach explained it to me thus: Senators and Representatives are often remarkably ignorant.  Senator Dianne Feinstein doesn't even know that all military aged males killed by drone strikes are being declared militants.  Congress Members don't even read newspapers.  If some smart experts testify at a public hearing, then elected officials can't deny as many facts.  Plus, inviting government witnesses would just produce stonewalling or lying. 

In my view, stonewalling and lying are reasons for subpoenas and contempt, not a complete abdication of the power of oversight.  It's not that I think glorified public newspaper reading is worse than nothing.  I just think more is called for.

On the other hand, the notion that Congress needs more information before it should act is ludicrous.  What sort of memo could legalize murder?  What sort of due process could be applied to murder to make it not be murder?  As long as Congress is bringing in experts to talk about what's already public knowledge, I'd like to propose a different type of witness.  If witnesses from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen are not deemed relevant, newspaper interpreters are not going to make them so.  I'd like to propose, then, as one of many actually useful witnesses a gentleman by the name of Leo Tolstoy, who had this to say well over a century ago:

"People are astonished that every year there are sixty thousand cases of suicide in Europe, and those only the recognized and recorded cases—and excluding Russia and Turkey; but one ought rather to be surprised that there are so few. Every man of the present day, if we go deep enough into the contradiction between his conscience and his life, is in a state of despair.

"Not to speak of all the other contradictions between modern life and the conscience, the permanently armed condition of Europe together with its profession of Christianity is alone enough to drive any man to despair, to doubt of the sanity of mankind, and to terminate an existence in this senseless and brutal world. This contradiction, which is a quintessence of all the other contradictions, is so terrible that to live and to take part in it is only possible if one does not think of it—if one is able to forget it.

"What! all of us, Christians, not only profess to love one another, but do actually live one common life; we whose social existence beats with one common pulse—we aid one another, learn from one another, draw ever closer to one another to our mutual happiness, and find in this closeness the whole meaning of life!—and to-morrow some crazy ruler will say some stupidity, and another will answer in the same spirit, and then I must go expose myself to being murdered, and murder men—who have done me no harm—and more than that, whom I love. And this is not a remote contingency, but the very thing we are all preparing for, which is not only probable, but an inevitable certainty.

"To recognize this clearly is enough to drive a man out of his senses or to make him shoot himself. And this is just what does happen, and especially often among military men. A man need only come to himself for an instant to be impelled inevitably to such an end.

"And this is the only explanation of the dreadful intensity with which men of modern times strive to stupefy themselves, with spirits, tobacco, opium, cards, reading newspapers, traveling, and all kinds of spectacles and amusements. These pursuits are followed up as an important, serious business. And indeed they are a serious business. If there were no external means of dulling their sensibilities, half of mankind would shoot themselves without delay, for to live in opposition to one's reason is the most intolerable condition. And that is the condition of all men of the present day. All men of the modern world exist in a state of continual and flagrant antagonism between their conscience and their way of life. This antagonism is apparent in economic as well as political life. But most striking of all is the contradiction between the Christian law of the brotherhood of men existing in the conscience and the necessity under which all men are placed by compulsory military service of being prepared for hatred and murder—of being at the same time a Christian and a gladiator."

It seems to me that the occasion of publicly discussing the U.S. government's targeting and killing U.S. citizens presents an opportunity for opening up even the narrowest of bigots to the contradiction between killing and protecting (whether or not one puts the latter in the religious terms of Tolstoy's day -- as I do not but most Congress Members sometimes pretend to).  Tolstoy may not be the ideal witness, as he's dead.  But he does have the advantage of having already posed to himself better questions than anyone would ask him if he were alive. (You know they'd be asking about the latest film adaptation of Anna Karenina.)

"'How can you kill people, when it is written in God's commandment: "Thou shalt not kill"?' I have often inquired of different soldiers. And I always drove them to embarrassment and confusion by reminding them of what they did not want to think about. They knew they were bound by the law of God, 'Thou shalt not kill,' and knew too that they were bound by their duty as soldiers, but had never reflected on the contradiction between these duties. The drift of the timid answers I received to this question was always approximately this: that killing in war and executing criminals by command of the government are not included in the general prohibition of murder. But when I said this distinction was not made in the law of God, and reminded them of the Christian duty of fraternity, forgiveness of injuries, and love, which could not be reconciled with murder, the peasants usually agreed, but in their turn began to ask me questions. 'How does it happen,' they inquired, 'that the government [which according to their ideas cannot do wrong] sends the army to war and orders criminals to be executed.' When I answered that the government does wrong in giving such orders, the peasants fell into still greater confusion, and either broke off the conversation or else got angry with me.

"'They must have found a law for it. The archbishops know as much about it as we do, I should hope,' a Russian soldier once observed to me. And in saying this the soldier obviously set his mind at rest, in the full conviction that his spiritual guides had found a law which authorized his ancestors, and the tzars and their descendants, and millions of men, to serve as he was doing himself, and that the question I had put him was a kind of hoax or conundrum on my part.

"Everyone in our Christian society knows, either by tradition or by revelation or by the voice of conscience, that murder is one of the most fearful crimes a man can commit, as the Gospel tells us, and that the sin of murder cannot be limited to certain persons, that is, murder cannot be a sin for some and not a sin for others. Everyone knows that if murder is a sin, it is always a sin, whoever are the victims murdered, just like the sin of adultery, theft, or any other. At the same time from their childhood up men see that murder is not only permitted, but even sanctioned by the blessing of those whom they are accustomed to regard as their divinely appointed spiritual guides, and see their secular leaders with calm assurance organizing murder, proud to wear murderous arms, and demanding of others in the name of the laws of the country, and even of God, that they should take part in murder. Men see that there is some inconsistency here, but not being able to analyze it, involuntarily assume that this apparent inconsistency is only the result of their ignorance. The very grossness and obviousness of the inconsistency confirms them in this conviction."

Congress would hear something worth hearing from this witness, I believe.  But so might twenty-first century U.S. peasants as well.

Top U.S. Terrorist Group: the FBI

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: the FBI.

Imagine an incompetent bureaucrat.  Now imagine a corrupt one.  Now imagine both combined.  You're starting to get at the image I take away of some of the FBI agents' actions recounted in this book. 

Now imagine someone both dumb enough to be manipulated by one of those bureaucrats and hopelessly criminal, often sociopathic, and generally at the mercy of the criminal or immigration courts.  Now you're down to the level of the FBI informant, of which we the Sacred-Taxpayers-Who-Shall-Defund-Our-Own-Retirement employ some 15,000 now, dramatically more than ever before. And we pay them very well.

Then try to picture someone so naive, incompetent, desperate, out-of-place, or deranged as to be manipulable by an FBI informant.  Now you're at the level of the evil terrorist masterminds out to blow up our skyscrapers. 

Well, not really.  They're actually almost entirely bumbling morons who couldn't tie their own shoes or buy the laces without FBI instigation and support.  The FBI plants the ideas, makes the plans, provides the fake weapons and money, creates the attempted act of terrorism, makes an arrest, and announces the salvation of the nation. 

Over and over again.  The procedure has become so regular that intended marks have spotted the sting being worked on them simply by googling the name or phone number of the bozo pretending to recruit them into the terrorist brotherhood, and discovering that he's a serial informant.

Between 911 and August, 2011, the U.S. government prosecuted 508 people for terrorism in the United States.  243 had been targeted using an FBI informant.  158 had been caught in an FBI terrorism sting.  49 (that we know of, FBI recording devices have completely unbelievable patterns of "malfunctioning") had encountered an agent provocateur.  Most of the rest charged with "terrorism" had little or nothing to do with terrorism at all, most of them charged with more minor offenses like immigration offenses or making false statements.  Three or four people out of the whole list appear to be men whom one would reasonably call terrorists in the commonly accepted sense of the word.  They intended to and had something at least approaching the capacity to engage in acts of terrorism.

These figures are not far off the percentages of Guantanamo prisoners or drone strike victims believed to be guilty of anything resembling what they've been accused of.  So, we shouldn't single out the FBI for criticism.  But it should receive its share. 

Here's how U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon understood a case that seems all too typical:

"The essence of what occurred here is that a government, understandably zealous to protect its citizens from terrorism, came upon a man both bigoted and suggestible, one who was incapable of committing an act of terrorism on his own.  It created acts of terrorism out of his fantasies of bravado and bigotry, and then made those fantasies come true. . . . I suspect that real terrorists would not have bothered themselves with a person who was so utterly inept." 

When we hear on television that the FBI has prevented a plot to blow up a crowded area of a big U.S. city, we either grow terrified and grateful, or we wait for the inevitable revelation that the FBI created the plot from start to finish, manipulating some poor fool who had zero contact with foreign terrorists and more often than not participated unwittingly or for the money offered him.  But even those of us who do the latter might find Aaronson's survey of this phenomenon stunning.

During some of its heretofore darkest days the FBI didn't use informants like it does now.  J. Edgar Hoover's informants just observed and reported.  They didn't instigate.  That practice took off during the war on drugs in the 1980s.  But the assumption that a drug dealer might have done the same thing without the FBI's sting operation is backed up by some statistics.  There is no evidence to back up the idea that the unemployed grocery bagger and video game player who sees visions, has never heard of major Islamic terrorist groups, can't purchase a gun with thousands of dollars in cash and instructions on how to purchase a gun, understands terrorism entirely from the insights of Hollywood movies, and who has no relevant skills or resources, is going to blow up a building without help from the FBI. 

(Which came first, the FBI's terror factory or Hollywood's is a moot question now that they feed off each other so well.)

Read this book, I'm telling you, we're looking at people who've been locked away for decades who couldn't have found their ass with two hands and a map.  These cases more than anything else resemble those of mentally challenged innocent men sitting on death rows because they tried to please the police officer asking them to confess to a crime they clearly knew nothing about.

Of course the press conferences announcing the convictions of drug dealers and "terrorists" are equally successful.  They also equally announce an ongoing campaign doomed to failure.  The campaign for "terrorists" developed under President George W. Bush and expanded, like so much else, under President Barack Obama. 

Aaronson spoke with J. Stephen Tidwell, former executive assistant director at the FBI.  Tidwell argued that someone thinking about the general idea of committing crimes should be set up and then prosecuted, because as long as they're not in prison the possibility exists that someone other than the FBI could encourage them to, and assist them in, actually committing a crime.  "You and I could sit here, go online, and by tonight have a decent bomb built.  What do you do?  Wait for him to figure it out himself?"

The answer, based on extensive data, is quite clearly that he will not figure it out himself and act on it.  That the FBI has stopped 3 acts of terrorism is believable.  But that the FBI has stopped 508 and there wasn't a 509th is just not possible.  The explanation is that there haven't been 509 or even 243.  The FBI has manufactured terrorist plots by the dozens, including most of the best known ones.  (And if you watched John Brennan's confirmation hearing, you know that the underwear bomber and other "attacks" not under the FBI's jurisdiction have been no more real.)

Arthur Cummings, former executive assistant director of the FBI's National Security Branch, told Aaronson that the enemy was not Al Qaeda or Islamic Terrorism, but the idea of it.  "We're at war with an idea," he said.  But his strategy seems to be one of consciously attempting to lose hearts and minds.  For the money spent on infiltrations and stings, the U.S. government could have given every targeted community free education from preschool to college, just as it could do for every community at home and many abroad by redirecting war spending.  When you're making enemies of people rather than friends, to say that you're working against an idea is simply to admit that you're not targeting people based on a judicial review finding any probable cause to legally do so.

The drug war's failure can be calculated in the presence of drugs, although the profits for prisons and other profiteers aren't universally seen as failures.  The FBI's counterterrorism can be calculated as a failure largely because of the waste of billions of dollars on nonexistent terrorism.  But there's also the fact that the FBI's widespread use of informants, very disproportionately in Muslim communities, has made ordinary people who might provide tips hesitant to do so for fear of being recruited as informants.  Thus "counter terrorism" may make it harder to counter terrorism.  It may also feed into real terrorism by further enraging people already outraged by U.S. foreign policy.  But it's no failure at all if measured by the dollars flowing into the FBI, or the dollars flowing into the pockets of informants who get paid by commission (that is, based on convictions in court of their marks).  Nor do weapons makers, other war profiteers, or other backers of right wing politics in general seem to be objecting in any way to the production of widespread fear and bigotry.

Congressman Stephen Lynch has introduced a bill that would require federal law enforcement agencies to report to Congress twice a year on all serious crimes, authorized or unauthorized, committed by informants (who are often much more dangerous criminals than are those they're informing on). The bill picked up a grand total of zero cosponsors last Congress and has reached the same mark thus far in the current one.

The corporate media cartel has seen its ratings soar with each new phony incident.  Opposition to current practice does not seem to be coming from that quarter.

And let's all be clear with each other: our society is tolerating this because the victims are Muslims.  With many other minority groups we would all be leaping to their defense. 

It may be time to try thinking of Muslims as Samaritans, as of course some of them are.

Tour de Peace

Between April 4 and July 3, the entire country (and the other 96% of humanity too) is invited to join in a bicycle ride from California to Washington, D.C.  You can join as a bicycler or as a sponsor.

This won't be a ride to raise awareness about cruelty to animals, but it will raise awareness about war -- by many measures the greatest destroyer of the natural environment we have, as well as consisting first and foremost of the mass killing of that peculiar animal we're all rather fond of: the homo sapiens. 

This won't be a ride to raise money for cancer research, but it will raise money for the campaign to abolish war -- a carcinogen if the people of Fallujah ever saw one.

This paragraph is exclusively for supporters of President Obama.  If that's not you, please skip to the following paragraph right now.  With Republicans out of the White House and no election this year, there is no need to fund election campaigns or to work against particular wars.  This is a moment in which our time and our resources are freed up to support long-term structure building so that the plague of war never returns.  Remember all those promises to engage in policy-based activism once the most important election of our lives was over?  This is the time to get in better physical shape before phone banking season.  Pump up your tires and polish your handlebars!  Stop reading and get riding right now.

With presidential war powers expanding rapidly and war gaining widespread acceptance among liberals there is an urgent need for an educational and organizing effort that pedals under, over, and around the barricades of the corporate media.  U.S. forces are in more nations than ever before, the military budget is still rising and will still be rising even if the sequester "cuts" go through, the CIA has been handed war making powers, the president has claimed the power to spy without warrants, imprison without trial, and murder at will.  Wars are launched on nations like Libya in defiance of Congress and the United Nations, with blowback spreading rapidly.  Pentagon friendly dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are backed against their people's nonviolent movements for democracy, while violence is encouraged in Syria and Iran.  Palestinians are left to their fate, while a new kind of war launched from flying robots slaughters men, women, and children, traumatizes populations, and generates refugee crises, engulfing nations in boiling hatred of the United States of America. 

When MSNBC assigns David Axelrod (who refused to deny that President Obama maintains the power to torture anyone as he sees fit) to analyze and punditrify John Brennan's refusal to deny that President Obama maintains the power to murder U.S. citizens within the United States (never mind anyone at all outside the United States or 96% of humanity within it), the triumph of freemarket journalism will have reached a pinnacle unsurpassed in history, putting the Soviet Union's efforts to shame and finally concluding the Cold War, unless nobody notices.

You know who just might wake some people up to what's staring them in the face?

Cindy Sheehan.  Cindy has proposed the Tour de Peace.  She's been lining up events and participants along the route.  She's ready to ride, and to me she is an inspiration.  Cindy's appeal, both before and after the corporate media made her a story in Crawford Texas seven-and-a-half years ago, was her uncensored honesty.  She's still got it.  I've seen a lot of people dump their heart and soul into the peace movement over the past decade and burn out and quit.  I appreciate their efforts.  We need sprinters, just as the Tour de Peace needs short-distance riders. 

But when I see someone become even more aware of the evil that has swallowed up our government, and continually find new ways to confront it, I see a model others should follow.  Cindy's gone at it as hard as anyone.  She's taken nasty blows from the right and the so-called left.  She's burned out and quit, too, but never for more than a day or so.  She just keeps coming.  Cindy has quit paying her taxes because of the wars they fund.  She's been arrested for nonviolent resistance countless times.  She's traveled endlessly, speaking and inspiring.  She's written a stack of important books.  She's hosted a radio show, blogged, and run for Congress and the Vice Presidency.  And in this age in which pundits openly say they'd oppose the president's abuses if he were a Republican, Cindy goes ahead and opposed them anyway, with plenty of opposition left over for the Congress, the courts, the funders, the weapons makers, the lobbyists, and the White House Press Corpse.

Creating a mass of people in the streets for peace or justice usually requires money and staff, bus rentals and leg work, coalition building and compromising.  Two moments stand out in my mind when none of that was needed.  One was when Cindy went to Crawford.  The other was when Occupy went to Wall Street.  Both were moments of brilliant principled and courageous activism.  Neither would have ever been heard of by most who heard of them if not for the corporate media.  I've seen Cindy attempt to recreate Crawford countless times since (not to mention before), without the same success.  She does so fully aware of the forces at work.  She does so with every effort to create our own media and bypass the corporate censors.  And she does so knowing that the only way to guarantee failure is to not try.

What if we were to create a movement capable of thinking of itself as real and national or international even outside of our television sets?  One of the side effects would be its inevitable infiltration into our television sets.  But the primary effect would be the beginning of hope and change as something more than perverse slogans of star-gazing servitude.

When the Tour de Peace leaves Casey Sheehan's grave in Vacaville, Calif., on the ninth anniversary of his death in Iraq and the 45th of Dr. King's in Memphis, it will follow the mother road, Route 66, to Chicago, and other highways and byways from there to D.C.  The tour will conclude on July 3, 2013, with a ride from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House.

This August will mark 8 years since Sheehan began her widely reported protest at then-President George W. Bush's "ranch".  She was demanding to know what the "noble cause" was for which Bush claimed Americans were dying in Iraq.  Neither Bush nor Obama has yet offered a justification for a global war now in its 12th year.  The Tour de Peace will carry with it these demands:

To end wars,

To end immunity for U.S. war crimes,

To end suppression of our civil rights,

To end the use of fossil fuels,

To end persecution of whistleblowers,

To end partisan apathy and inaction.

as well as the names of everyone who signs on in support.

Watch the trailer here.

Talk Nation Radio: The Crisis in Mali and How to Stop Contributing to It

Ana Edwards is the host of Defenders Live on WRIR in Richmond, Va.  Edwards tells us what we should know about Mali, the crisis there, the causes of it, what the Pentagon should stop doing, and what the people of Richmond are doing to help.

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.

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Lawrence Wilkerson and David Swanson Debate Colin Powell's Lies at the United Nations

When I wrote about MSNBC's documentary on Iraq war lies this week, I linked to an earlier blog post of mine that drew heavily on a House Judiciary Committee report on the same topic, as well as to Lawrence Wilkerson's recent debate with Norman Solomon on Democracy Now!

When Brad Friedman reposted my Hubris review, he suggested I ask Wilkerson for a response.  I did and here it is:

 

David,
 
Several misleading and even spurious bullets and headlines that make strong claims that are not supported in the surrounding narrative.  For example, no one ever DID warn Powell about Curveball, in fact quite the opposite. This particular source--billed as an Iraqi engineer who had defected--was George Tenet's--the DCI's--strongest weapon.  And incidentally, the title "Curveball" was never heard until well after the 5 Feb presentation.
 
Your use of INR's assessment of "weak" repeatedly, is weak itself.  INR was at the time one of 15 intelligence entities in the US intelligence architecture at the federal level. (Add Israel  France, the UK, Jordan, Germany, et al, and of course you get even more).  INR's assessments were often viewed--indeed still are--as maverick within that group (and were particularly so viewed by George Tenet and his deputy John McLaughlin.  Indeed, INR's insistence on putting a footnote in the October 2002 NIE with regard to its doubts about Saddam's having an active nuclear weapons program was only grudgingly acknowledged and allowed by Tenet.  And in truth, INR itself concurred in the overall NIE's finding that chems and bios existed (and the NIE was the root document of Powell's 5 Feb presentation). 
 
I have admitted what a hoax we perpetrated.  But it actually spoils or desecrates a fair condemnation of what is already a bad enough set of misstatements, very poor intelligence analysis, and--I am increasingly convinced, outright lies--to take the matter to absurdity with one man, in this case Powell.   
 
To see my point dramatically, one must realize that whether Powell had given his presentation or not, the President would have gone to war with Iraq. That doesn't relieve Powell or me or any of us who participated in preparing Powell of responsibility; it simply places the bulk of that responsibility squarely where it should rest. 
 
You, Ray McGovern, and I will never reach accord on this I'm certain; but I must say that just as I may have biases from my long association with Powell, I believe both of you should examine your biases with regard to the man.  Just as it was very difficult for me to face the fact I had participated in a hoax, it probably is just as difficult that you two admit you may be too aggressively critical of Powell. Both our conditions are recognizably human and yours more forgiveable than mine to be sure.  lw
 
 
Here's my reply:
 
Larry,
Thanks for this response.
I'm CCing Brad Blog which posted my commentary and might want to post your reply.
Here's my reply to your reply (also available to publish) :-)

Whether or not anyone told Powell of Curveball's reputation, Powell's own staff, the INR, told him the claims were weak, the claims that came from Curveball and from numerous other sources.  The INR told him the claims were weak and questionable and even implausible. 
 
Powell used fabricated dialogue.  He used evidence from a source who had admitted all the weapons had been destroyed years ago, but failed to mention that bit.  Again, here is the catalog of bogus claims: http://www.consortiumnews.com/2011/021811a.html
 
You yourself in Hubris state that claims you'd rejected were put back in.  That is a moment to resign in protest, not to move forward and dismiss the INR, the State Department's own experts, as "maverick." 
 
When the Pentagon and the White House build a transparently fraudulent case for war, rejected by countless experts, many nations, and much of the public, the State Department's job is to support fact-based analysis regardless of whether it is "maverick." 
 
You recently accused Norman Solomon on DemocracyNow! and all other truth tellers of that time of having failed to warn you -- as if we weren't shouting into every available microphone.  If word had slipped through to you, it seems you would have rejected it as "maverick." 
 
This is highly discouraging.  If analysis within our government consciously engages in groupthink, where will we find the whistleblowers necessary to prevent the next war? 
 
Please do not imagine that any of us suppose the President wasn't intent on going to war at all costs.  It was the transparency of that intention that created the largest public protest in world history.  But to suggest that Powell and you did no harm by supporting a war that might have gone ahead even if you'd resisted is a complete breakdown in morality.
 
I don't believe blame works that way.  Blaming Bush more doesn't blame Powell or you less.  It just blames Bush more.  Blame is not a finite quantity born of a drive for vengeance and distributable to a limited number of people.  Blame is what we each deserve when we fail to take the best actions available, as explained here.

When Is a Cut Not a Cut? When It's in the Pentagon's Budget

Bloomberg:

Even if the budget cuts happen, U.S. defense spending is projected to grow about 2.4 percent annually through 2021, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The military, the defense industry and their allies in Congress have gone to war over the automatic cuts, called sequestration, with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and other leaders saying they would devastate the military.

Read both paragraphs together a few times.

Hubris Isn't the Half of It

As our government was making a fraudulent case to attack Iraq in 2002-2003, the MSNBC television network was doing everything it could to help, including booting Phil Donahue and Jeff Cohen off the air.  The Donahue Show was deemed likely to be insufficiently war-boosting and was thus removed 10 years ago next week, and 10 days after the largest antiwar (or anything else) demonstrations in the history of the world, as a preemptive strike against the voices of honest peaceful people.

From there, MSNBC proceeded to support the war with mild critiques around the edges, and to white-out the idea of impeachment or accountability.

But now MSNBC has seen its way clear to airing a documentary about the fraudulent case it assisted in, a documentary titled Hubris.  This short film (which aired between 9 and 10 p.m. ET Monday night, but with roughly half of those minutes occupied by commercials) pointed out the role of the New York Times in defrauding the public, but not MSNBC's role.

Yet, my primary response to that is joy rather than disgust.  It is now cool to acknowledge war lies.  Truth-tellers, including truth-tellers rarely presented with a corporate microphone, made that happen. 

MSNBC host and Obama promoter Rachel Maddow even introduced Hubris by pointing to another war lie -- the Gulf of Tonkin incident that wasn't -- and a war lie by a Democrat in that case.  Similar lies can be found surrounding every war that has ever been, which is why I wrote War Is A Lie.  We have to stop imagining that "bad wars" are a subset of wars.

But, of course, using Maddow as the presenter and narrator of a film about Republican war lies during a period of unacknowledged Democratic war lies unavoidably gives the thing a partisan slant.  Watching Hubris, I was reminded of something that Michael Moore tweeted last Friday: "Senate Repubs: U started 2 illegal wars that broke the treasury & sacrificed the lives of thousands of our troops & countless civilians."

Of course, the Senate that gave us the two wars in question was in reality controlled by Democrats, and the war lies were pushed hard by Senators Kerry, Clinton, and their comrades.  Hubris touches on this reality but not with sufficient clarity for most viewers -- I suspect -- to pick up on it.

The film presents a great deal of good evidence that the war on Iraq was based on lies.  Unavoidably, endless terrific bits of such evidence were not included.  Less excusably, also left out was an analysis of the evidence that only dishonesty -- not incompetence -- explains the propaganda that was produced.

Hubris is the wrong word for what took the United States into war with Iraq.  The forces at work were greed, lust for power, and sadistic vengeance.  The word "hubris" suggests the tragic downfall of the guilty party.  But the war on Iraq did not destroy the United States; it destroyed Iraq.  It damaged the United States, to be sure, but in a manner hardly worthy of mention in comparison to the sociocide committed against Iraq. 

Hubris, the film, provides a reprehensibly ludicrous underestimation of Iraqi deaths, and only after listing U.S. casualties. 

It was not pride but a disregard for human life that generated mass murder.  Congressman Walter Jones, who voted for the war, is shown in Hubris saying that he would have voted No if he had bothered to read the National Intelligence Estimate that very few of his colleagues bothered to read.

Another talking head in the film is Lawrence Wilkerson.  He is, of course, the former chief of staff of former Secretary of State Colin Powell.  Wilkerson is shown explaining that the reason not to attack Iraq was that doing so would take a focus away from attacking Afghanistan.  Clearly this was not a reason that led to Wilkerson or Powell taking any kind of stand. 

Wilkerson says in this film that he and Powell knew the war was based on lies, that the claims were junk, that no WMDs were likely to be found, etc.  Yet, when confronted last week by Norman Solomon on Democracy Now! with the question of why he hadn't resigned in protest, Wilkerson claimed that at the time he'd had no idea whatsoever that there were good arguments against the war.  In fact, he blamed opponents of the war for not having contacted him to educate him on the matter.

The Hubris version of Colin Powell's lies at the United Nations is misleadingly undertold.  Powell was not a victim.  He "knowingly lied."

The same goes for Bush, Cheney, and gang.  According to Hubris it may have just been incompetence or hubris.  It wasn't.  Not only does overwhelming evidence show us that Bush knew his claims about WMDs to be false, but the former president has shown us that he considers the question of truth or falsehood to be laughably irrelevant. When Diane Sawyer asked Bush why he had claimed with such certainty that there were so many weapons in Iraq, he replied: "What’s the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger."

What's the difference?  In a society based on the rule of law, the difference would be a criminal prosecution.  MSNBC and Hubris steer us away from any ideas of accountability.  And no connection is drawn to current war lies about Iran or other nations. 

But the production of programs like this one that prolong Americans' awareness of the lies that destroyed Iraq are the best hope Iran has right now.  MSNBC should be contacted and applauded for airing this and urged to follow up on it.

Pseudo-Protests and Serious Climate Crisis

"You elected this president. You reelected this president. . . . Stop being chumps!" --Van Jones

Going in, I was of mixed views regarding Sunday's rally in Washington, D.C., to save the earth's climate from the tar sands pipeline.  I still am.

Why on a Sunday when there's no government around to protest, shut down, or interfere with? 

And why all the pro-Obama rhetoric?  Robert Kennedy, Jr., was among the celebrities getting arrested at the White House in the days leading up, and his comment to the media was typical.  Obama won't allow the tar sands pipeline, he said, because Obama has "a strong moral core" and doesn't do really evil things.

As a belief, that's of course delusional.  This is the same president who sorts through a list of men, women, and children to have executed every other Tuesday, and who jokes about it.  This is the guy who's derailed international climate protection efforts for years.  This is the guy who refused the demand to oppose the tar sands pipeline before last year's election.  If he had been compelled to take a stand as a candidate there would be no need for this effort to bring him around as a lame duck.

As a tactic, rather than a belief, the approach of the organizers of Sunday's rally is at least worth questioning.  For one thing, people are going to hear such comments and take them for beliefs.  People are going to believe that the president would never do anything really evil.  In which case, why bother to turn out and rally in protest of what he's doing?  Or if we do turn out, why communicate any serious threat of inconvenience to the president?  On the contrary, why not make the protest into a campaign rally for the president through which we try, post-election, to alter the platform on which the actual candidate campaigned?

The advantage to the expect-the-best-and-the-facts-be-damned approach is clear.  Lots of people like it.  You can't have a mass rally without lots of people.  The organizers of this event are not primarily to blame for how the U.S. public thinks and behaves.  But, then again, if you're trying to maximize your crowd at all costs, hadn't you better really truly maximize it?  Sunday's rally probably suffered from being held on a bitterly cold day, but I suspect that most people who planned to come did come; and I've seen more people on the Mall in the summer for no reason at all, and many times more people on the Mall in the winter for an inauguration (which, in terms of policy based activism, is also nothing at all). 

What if the celebrities generating the news with arrests at the White House were to speak the truth?  What if they committed to nonviolently interfering with the operations of a government destroying the climate?  What if they committed to opposing the Democratic and Republican parties as long as this is their agenda?  What if they said honestly and accurately that the personality of a president matters less than the pressures applied to him, that this president can do good or evil, and that it is our job to compel him to do good?

Sunday's rally, MC'd by former anti-Republican-war activist Lennox Yearwood, looked like an Obama rally.  The posters and banners displayed a modified Obama campaign logo, modified to read "Forward on Climate."  One of the speakers on the stage, Van Jones, declared, "I had the honor of working for this president."  He addressed his remarks to the president and appealed to his morality and supposed good works: "President Obama, all the good that you have done . . . will be wiped out" if you allow the tar sands pipeline.

The pretense in these speeches, including one by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, was consistently that Obama has not already approved part of the pipeline, that he is guilty of inaction, that the government is failing to act, that what's needed is action -- as if our government were not actively promoting the use of, and using vast quantities of fossil fuels, not to mention fighting wars to control the stuff.

Van Jones ended his remarks by addressing himself to "the next generation."  And this is what he had to say: "Stop being chumps! You elected this president. You reelected this president.  You gave him the chance to make history. He needs to give you the chance to have a future. Stop being chumps!  Stop being chumps and fight for your future, thank you very much."

Reading these words, one would imagine that the obvious meaning they carry is "Stop electing people like this who work for parties like this and serve financial interests like these."  What could be a more obvious interpretation?  You elected this guy twice.  He's a lame duck now.  You've lost your leverage.  Stop being such chumps! 

Nothing could be further, I think, from what Van Jones meant or what that crowd on Sunday believed he meant.  This was a speaker who had, just moments before, expressed his pride in having worked in Obama's White House.  The fact that this crowd of Obama-branded "activists" had elected him twice was not mentioned in relation to their chumpiness but as grounds for establishing their right to insist that he not destroy the planet's atmosphere.  They would be chumps if they didn't hold more rallies like this one.

Wait, you might ask, doesn't everyone have the right to insist that powerful governments not destroy the earth's atmosphere? 

Well, maybe, but in Van Jones' thinking, those who committed to voting for Obama twice, no matter what he did, and who have committed to voting for another Democrat no matter what he or she will do, deserve particular attention when they make demands.  Paradoxically, those who can be counted on regardless, who demand nothing and therefore offer nothing, should be the ones who especially get to make demands and have them heard and honored. 

Needless to say, it doesn't actually work that way.

Our celebrity emperors attract a great deal of personal affection or hatred, so when I suggest an alternative to packaging a rally for the climate as a belated campaign event, it may be heard as a suggestion to burn Obama in effigy.  What if there were a third option, namely that of simply demanding the protection of our climate? 

We might lose some of those who enjoyed burning Bush in effigy and some of those who enjoy depicting themselves as friends of the Obama family.  But would we really lose that many?  If the celebrities and organizers took such an honest policy-based approach, if the organizations put in the same money and hired the same busses, etc., how much smaller would Sunday's unimpressive rally have really been?

(And couldn't such a crowd be enlarged enough to more than compensate for any loss, by the simple tactic of promising ahead of time to keep the speeches to a half-hour total and to begin the march on time?  I'd pay money to go to that rally.)

The problem, of course, is that the celebrities and organizers themselves tend to think like Obama campaign workers.  It's not an act.  It's not a tactic aimed at maximizing turnout.  And it's not their fault that they, and so many others, think that way. 

But imagine a realistic, policy-based approach that began to build an independent movement around principled demands.  It would have the potential to grow.  It would have the potential to threaten massive non-cooperation with evil.  It would have the energy of Occupy.  It would have the potential to make a glorious declaration out of what now appears to be self-mockery when oversmall crowds of hungover campaign workers shout "This is what democracy looks like!" as they plod along a permitted parade route.

No.  It really isn't.

The Foodopoly: Too Big to Eat


We've come to understand that the banks are too big to fail, too big to take to trial, too big not to let them write our public policy, too big not to reward them for ruining our economy.

Why have we come to understand that? 

We've been told it by a mega media cartel that has itself been deemed too big to fail, too big not to subsidize with our airwaves, too big not to reward with political ads buying back our airwaves in little bits and pieces.

Speaking of which, the buying of elections is moving rapidly in the direction of monopoly ownership itself.

Nine Brave People Arrested Blocking Gate to Hancock Drone Murder Base in Upstate NY

(UPDATED WITH THEIR STATEMENT BELOW)

Nine opponents of killing human beings with missiles shot from drones were arrested on Wednesday nonviolently interfering with the drone kill program (taken to include the routine use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the targeted kill list) at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, NY.

The nine arrested for disturbing the war were: Matt Ryan, Carmen Trotta, Nancy Gowan, Bill Pickard, Bill Streit, Jim Clune, Ellen Grady, Linda Letender, and Mary Anne Grady Flores.

Below are signs they displayed while blocking the gate.

Report and photos courtesy of Ellen Grady.

Via Malachy Kilbride, here's a list of 35 names of people from across the country who will be going to court at some point for actions against the drones.  Others, of course, already have been to court and in some cases are behind bars: Dan Burgevin, Jim Clune, Jack Gilroy, Martha Hennessy, Bryan Hynes, Ed Kinane, Rae Kramer, Julienne Oldfield, Mary Snyder, Elliott Adams, Judy Bello, Mark Colville, Paul Frazier, Clare Grady, Mary Ann Grady-Flores, Andrea Levine, Bonny Mahoney, Mike Perry, James Ricks, Mark Scibilia-Carver, Paki Weiland, John Heid, David and Jan Hartsough, Sharon Delgado, Jane Kesselman, Shirley Osgood, Ann Wright, David Barrows, JoAnn Lingle, Toby Blome, Alli McCracken, Joan Nicholson, Eve Tetaz, and Jonathon Tucker.

 9  ARRESTED AT HANCOCK AIR BASE TODAY FOR OPPOSING REAPER DRONE WAR CRIMES

Around 3:30pm today, 9 individuals were arrested by DeWitt Police and Onondaga County Sheriffs for peaceably blocking the main entrance to

Hancock Air Base on East Molloy Rd in the town of DeWitt, a Syracuse, NY suburb.  Hancock is the regional hub for the hunter/killer Reaper drone deployed over Afghanistan, Pakistan and, increasingly, elsewhere.

This nonviolent civil resistance is the most recent in a series of actions at Hancock meant to expose and deter the Reaper war crimes originating there. Over the last two years dozens of Upstate Drone Action members have been arrested as we sought to communicate our concerns to the Base Command and personnel by delivering to them a Citizens’ War Crimes Indictment [see attached]. Ironically, at a base bristling with lethal weaponry, the bases Mission Support Group Commander, Col. Earl A. Evans, once again, requested and received from the Dewitt Town Court an order of protection against the nonviolent activists. The activists are bewildered by the request and the Courts acquiescence to it, not merely for its demeaning implications but for its as yet unknown legal ramifications. Currently, 20 non-violent citizens have received this order.  

According to Upstate Drone Action member,  Jim Clune, 

        “The Reaper strikes and the United States’ killer drone policies have taken the lives of thousands in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. These strikes are illegal and immoral. Under international agreements, which the US has signed, the killing of civilians, extra-judicial murder, violation of national sovereignty, and violation of due process are all illegal acts.”

Father Bill Pickard , member of Pax Christi, further noted:

        “We came to Hancock Air Base this Ash Wednesday to repent for the actions of our government and to ask God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people we daily terrorize with these weaponized drones.”

Those arrested today include:

   Bill Frankel-Streit, Trevilians, VA…. Nancy Gowen, Richmond, VA…. Ellen Grady, Ithaca, NY….

   Linda LeTendre, Saratoga Springs, NY….Rev. Bill Pickard, Scranton, PA…. Matt  Ryan, Ithaca...

   Mary Anne Grady, Ithaca, NY…. Carmen Trotta, New York, NY,  Jim Clune, Binghamton.###

 

Statement of the Defendants

We come to Hancock Airfield, home of the National Reaper  Drone Maintainence and Training center, this Ash Wednesday -- to remember the victims of our drone strikes and to ask God's forgiveness for the killing of other human beings, most especially children.
      The killer drone strikes and the US's killer drone policies have taken the lives of thousands in a number of countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.   These strikes are illegal and immoral.  Under international agreements, which the US has signed, the killing of civilians, extra-judicial murders, violations of national sovereignty, and violations of due process are ALL illegal acts.
      We come to Hancock Airfield this Ash Wednesday to repent for the actions of our government and to ask God's forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people we daily terrorize with these drones.
      We remind ourselves that our lives are brief and mysterious, and that "from dust we were created and to dust we shall return!"  The significance of our brief animation is the degree to which we love one another.
      Lent is a time to repent--literally, to change our minds.   It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus' command to love our neighbors and our enemies.  It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus' radical, non-violent message  love.
       Stop the Killing.  Ground the Drones. STOP the Wars.

 



WAR CRIMES INDICTMENT

To President Obama, to Secretary of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, to the full Military Chain of the Command, including Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, to all Service Members and civilian staff of Hancock Air Base, and to the local police and Sheriffs Department of the Town of De Witt, NY:

Each one of you, when you became a public servant, serving in a government position or when you joined the United States Armed Forces or police, you publicly promised to uphold the United States Constitution. We take this opportunity to call your attention to Article VI of the US Constitution, which states:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary not with standing.

This clause is known as the Supremacy Clause because it provides that the Constitution and laws of the U.S., including treaties made under authority of the U.S. shall be supreme law of the land.

The Supremacy Clause provides part of the Supreme Law of the Land.

One Treaty duly ratified by the U.S. is the United Nations Charter. It was ratified by a vote of 89 to 2 in the U.S. Senate, and signed by the President in 1945. It remains in effect today. As such, it is part of supreme law of the land.

The Preamble of the U.N. Charter states that its purpose is to “save future generation from the scourge of war” and it further states, “all nations shall refrain from the use of force against another nation.”

This Treaty applies both collectively and individually to all three branches of government, on all levels, U.S. federal, state and local governments, starting with the executive branch: the U.S. President and the executive staff; the judicial branch: all judges and staff members of the judiciary; the legislative branch: all members of the U.S. Armed Forces and all departments of Law Enforcement and all civilian staff, who have sworn to uphold the Constitution, which includes Article VI.

Under the U.N. Charter and long established international laws, anyone--civilian, military, government officials, or judge- who knowingly participates in or supports illegal use of force against another nation or its people is committing a war crime.

Today you must recognize that when you promised to uphold the Constitution, you promised to obey Treaties and International Law – as part of the Supreme Law of the Land and furthermore, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice of the U.S., you are required to disobey any clearly unlawful order from a superior.

Based on all the above,
WE, THE PEOPLE, CHARGE THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT, BARAK OBAMA AND THE FULL MILITARY CHAIN OF COMMAND TO COMMANDER COLONEL GREG SEMMEL,
EVERY DRONE CREW, AND SERVICE MEMBERS AT
HANCOCK AIR BASE, WITH
CRIMES AGAINST PEACE &
CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, WITH
VIOLATIONS OF PART OF THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND, EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS, VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS,
WARS OF AGGRESSION, VIOLATION OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY, AND KILLING OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS.

We charge that the Air National Guard of the United States of America, headquartered at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, under the command of the 174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, is maintaining and deploying the MQ-9 Reaper robotic aircraft, called drones.

These drones are being used not only in combat situations for the purpose of assassinations but also for killings far removed from combat zones without military defense, to assassinate individuals and groups far removed from military action.

Extra judicial killings, such as those the U.S. carries out by drones are intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force to commit murder in violation of U.S. and International Law.

It is a matter of public record that the US has used drones in Afghanistan and in Iraq for targeted killings to target specific individuals which has nearly always resulted in the deaths of many others.

There is no legal basis for defining the scope of area where drones can or cannot be used, no legal criteria for deciding which people can be targeted for killing, no procedural safeguards to ensure the legality of the decision to kill and the accuracy of the assassinations.

In support of this indictment we cite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who has said that the use of drones creates “a highly problematic blurring and the law applicable to the use of inter-state force.... The result has been the displacement of clear legal standards with a vaguely defined license to kill, and the creation of a major accountability vacuum.... In terms of the legal framework, many of these practices violate straightforward applicable legal rules.” See United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council Study on Targeted Killings, 28, May 2010.

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14 .24.Add6.pdf

The drone attacks either originating at Hancock or supported here are a deliberate illegal use of force against another nation, and as such are a felonious violation of Article VI of the US Constitution.

By giving material support to the drone program, you as individuals are violating the Constitution, dishonoring your oath, and committing war crimes.

 

We demand that you stop participating in any part of the operations of MQ-9 drones immediately, being accountable to the people of United States and Afghanistan.

As citizens of this nation, which maintains over 700 military bases around the globe, and the largest, most deadly military arsenal in the world, we believe these words of Martin Luther King still hold true, ”the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government”.

There is hope for a better world when WE, THE PEOPLE, hold our government accountable to the laws and treaties that govern the use of lethal force and war. To the extent that we ignore our laws and constitution and allow for the unchecked use of lethal force by our government, allowing the government to kill who ever it wants, where ever it wants, how ever it wants with no accountability, we make the world less safe for children everywhere.

We appeal to all United States citizens, military and civilian, and to all public officials, to do as required by the Nuremburg Principles I-VII, and by Conscience, to refuse to participate in these crimes, to denounce them, and to resist them nonviolently.

Signed by:
THE UPSTATE COALITION TO
GROUND THE DRONES AND END THE WARS

 

Talk Nation Radio: "I Killed People in Afghanistan: Was I Right or Wrong?"

Tim Kudo is a U.S. Marine who has participated in the war on Afghanistan.

He's authored these columns:

Washington Post: I Killed People in Afghanistan. Was I Right or Wrong?

Washington Post: How the Marines Video Made the Afghan War Even Tougher

New York Times: On War and Redemption

Kudo discusses the morality of war with, and disagrees with, host David Swanson.

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.

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ICYMI the SOTU Is SNAFU

A mountain of bad, in fact deadly, ideas that Congress will eagerly support, and a handful of good proposals that no one will work for and Congress will strive to bury: the SOTU is SNAFU, ICYMI. 

Obama's hiring Romney campaign staff, pushing for a massive corporate trade deal with Europe as well as the Pacific nations, militarizing the Mexican border, and promising not to spend a dime before listing all the good things he'll spend it on.  He'll defend human rights in Egypt (but not mention billions of dollars' worth of weapons he'll give the Egyptian government).  "Sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness," he said.  Readiness for what, Mr. President?

"We have kept Congress fully informed of our efforts," Obama lied about his drone kill program, and Congress cheered.  He said he'd end the war on Afghanistan, and they cheered.  They sat silently through the next few sentences as he promised NOT to end that war, and then they picked up the cheering again.  He hyped the military as a jobs program.  He committed to cutting Medicare.  Cheers, cheers, cheers.

"We produce more oil at home," he bragged.  "We produce more natural gas than ever."  We need "a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on."  Inspiring!


EXTREME WHETHER

I recently read the script of a new play by Karen Malpede called "Extreme Whether."  The title picks up on the crisis of global warming and the choice it presents to our species.  The play will be performed in New York as part of a Festival of Conscience along with Malpede's brilliant antiwar play "Another Life."

"Extreme Whether" is a riff on the story of James Hansen, the NASA scientist who has been trying to tell Congress that the environment is collapsing since 1988.  Malpede invents  a family story for a character like Hansen.  At least in reading (much different from watching) the story at first seems insufficiently tragic.  But as the play advances, so does its vision of the damage being done.  Yet the closer the play gets to communicating the apocalypse that may be to come, the more it appears to have fallen short, although it is of course the play itself that is waking one up to the horror.  Some things defy description even as they're told to you.  In the end, the play is sufficiently tragic, but it presents an image of people as irrational, hedonistic, and therefore hopeless -- an image we should be constantly correcting if possible, except that it, too, seems pretty accurate.

The real Hansen will be speaking at the Festival of Conscience, as will I.  See the schedule below.

 

FEBRUARY 17th

First, this Sunday is a day to rally in Washington, D.C., for serious action on climate change.  Be there.  And make sure anyone who's not on board with this movement watches a performance of "Extreme Whether."

And that evening, help mark 10 Years of D.C. Poets Against the War.

Ann B. Knox, read a poem called "This Moment" in front of the White House on February 12, 2003:

 

We meet in this wind-harsh square

            with some expectation,

some hope our presence will count,

            our voices be heard.

 

We speak from what we know

            and we know no poem

stirs from a closed mind.

            Has the mailed fist

so closed on its own purpose

            we speak to stone?

 

Pay attention, our words matter,

            these bare trees matter,

the Potomac flowing black

            under white ice matters,

kids, woods, a leashed dog,

            poems matter.

 

All our lives converge

            on this moment

and what follows tonight,

            tomorrow, next week

will change our whole

            desperate earth.

 

##

 

"Sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness," he said. 

Readiness for what, Mr. President?

 

##

 

ANOTHER LIFE
Written by KAREN MALPEDE

ANOTHER LIFE
Performances Thursday - Sunday, March 28 - April 21
Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8:00pm
Sunday at 3:00pm

starring George Bartenieff with Abbas Noori Abbood, Christen Gifford, Abraham Makany, Alex Tavis & Di Zhu. 

Another Life is a surreal romp through the post-9/11 decade; an out-sized mogul (George Bartenieff) controls, cashes-in, and is undone in the only American play about the U.S. torture program.  Another Life has been excerpted in The Kenyon Review, given a staged reading at the National Theater of Kosovo, was a centerpiece of the Art of Justice: 9/11 Performance Project at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, and was further acclaimed during a workshop run at the Irondale Center last March.  The play, written in a fast-paced lyric language, is based on research, interviews, testimonies, the words of torturers and tortured, and has been widely praised by experts in the field of human rights, for its inventiveness, power and ability to create empathy.  George Bartenieff gives a tour de force performance as the Cheneyesque mogul Handel. Christin Clifford is his wife Tess and Abbas Noori Abood his prisoner Abdul.  Di Zhu is  his wounded physician daughter who becomes a whistle-blower; Alex Tavis a disgraced F.B.I. officer becomes head of Handel’s private contracting interrogation business. Abraham Makany is Geoff, Lucia’s fiancé who died in the Twin Towers, and retains the innocence of a previous age.  With lighting by Tony Giovennetti, video design by Luba Lukova, costumes by Sally Ann Parsons and Carissa Kelly, set by Robert Eggers and music by Arthur Rosen, and written and directed by Karen Malpede, Another Life is a challenge to the legacy of torture. March 28-April 21, Thurs-Sat. at 8pm, Sun at 3pm; special Saturday, April 13 matinee at 3 pm.

Please Note: On Saturday, April 13, there will be a 3pm Matinee performance of ANOTHER LIFE. There will be no 8pm performance on April 13.

EXTREME WHETHER
Play reading Monday, April 8 at 7pm
Saturday, April 13 at 8pm

Extreme Whether, a new play, will be given two premiere readings; itdraws inspiration from two earlier eco-conscious writers, Ibsen and Chekhov. It is a family drama set on an endangered wilderness estate in an endangered world; as immediate and startling as today’s extreme weather news.  With fierce commitment to truth-telling and heroic persistence against the censorship of science a famous climate scientist and his younger colleague and lover battle industry climate change deniers to alert the wider public to the need for action.  An old environmentalist, a wise child and a frog complete the cast.  An original musical score by Arthur Rosen creates the cosmic dance.  George Bartenieff, Kathleen Chalfant, Zack Grenier lead the cast alongside Soraya Broukhim, Kathleen Purcell and Alex Tavis in the two readings of this new play by Karen Malpede.  April 8 at 7pm and April 13 at 8 pm, only.

FESTIVAL OF CONSCIENCE

Both plays are presented in conjunction with A Festival of Conscience, a series of post-show dialogues with major voices.  These post-show talks are free to all.

March 28: Noor Elashi, writer, daughter of Ghassan Elashi, currently serving 65 years in a CMU prison in Colorado, for having led a Muslim charity that sent donations to Gaza, Pardiss Kabriaei, CCR lawyer representing Muslim’s in the U.S.

Thursday, April 4, David Swanson, author War Is A Lie, blogger, radio host

Sunday, April 7 (post-matinee): Elizabeth Holtzman, Cheating Justice & Karen J. Greenberg, Director, Center on National Security, Fordham Law.

Monday, April 8: 8 pm Reading Extreme Whether, post-show talk by Dr. James Hansen, NASA, America’s foremost climate scientist

Thursday, April 11, 8pm Another Life, tba post-show discussion

Friday, April 12, 8 pm Another Life, post-show Victoria Brittan, journalist, co-author, Guantanamo: Honour Bound to Defend Duty; Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror

Saturday, April 13: 2 pm matinee of Another Life. 4:30-6 Post-show panel, Ramzi Kassem, lawyer for Gitmo detainees, Jesselyn Radack, Government Accountability Project, lawyer for many of the whistle blowers, including John Kiriakou; and Tom Drake, whistle blower and former intelligence officer.

Sunday, April 14: 2 pm matinee of Another Life. 4:30-6 post-show panel, Michael Ratner, Exec. Director of CCR and lawyer for Julian Assange; and Christian Parenti, author of Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence, and other books, and contributing editor to The Nation.

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