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Scientology for Agent Orange Victims

The phrase "adding insult to injury" is no doubt being redefined in several online dictionaries this week following news of a U.S. effort to sneak one of our dumber religions (and that's saying something) into the minds of Vietnamese suffering from Agent Orange.

If you're not familiar with Agent Orange, here's a short summary from Veterans For Peace:

"Three million Vietnamese suffer the effects of chemical defoliants used by the United States during the Vietnam War.  In order to deny food and protection to those deemed to be 'the enemy,' the U.S. defoliated the forests of Vietnam with the deadly chemicals Agent Orange, White, Blue, Pink, Green and Purple. Agent Orange, which was contaminated with trace amounts of TCDD dioxin -- the most toxic chemical known to science -- has disabled and sickened soldiers, civilians and several generations of their offspring on two continents.  Millions of Vietnamese are still affected by this deadly poison and tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers. It has caused birth defects in hundreds of thousands of second and third generation children in Vietnam and the U.S."

And here's the latest news from the Associated Press:

"THAI BINH, Vietnam (AP) -- North Vietnamese army veteran Nguyen Anh Quoc grimaces as he forces down the last of the 35 vitamins he takes each morning. After decades of suffering from illnesses he believes were caused by exposure to Agent Orange, he is putting his faith in a regime advocated by the Church of Scientology.

"'I have to take them,' the 62-year-old said at a treatment center established with the help of a Scientology-funded group. 'They will clean up my body.'

"The center, a converted mushroom farm in northern Vietnam, owes as much to Scientology's desire to expand around the world, away from scandal in the United States, as it does to pressure in Vietnam to try to help aging veterans still suffering from the effects of war.

"Many medical experts regard the treatment -- a 25-day vitamin and sauna regime -- as junk medicine or even dangerous. But for now at least, it has found fertile ground here.

"The Vietnamese advocacy group overseeing the program in Thai Binh province wants to offer it to all 20,000 people suffering from ailments blamed on dioxins in Agent Orange. U.S. airplanes sprayed up to 12 million gallons of the defoliant over the country during the Vietnam War to strip away vegetation used as cover by Vietnamese soldiers.

"The advocacy group, which has the implicit support of the government, has almost completed a two-story accommodation block for patients and is raising funds for a much larger complex, with 15 more saunas than the five it currently has.

"'I have seen so many desperate families that their tears have dried up,' said Nguyen Duc Hanh, the head of local branch of the Vietnam Association of Agent Orange Victims in Thai Binh. 'I don't know what the scientists say about its effectiveness, but the patients say it improves their health. They should be able to experience it before they die.'

"Scientologists believe the regime, which includes massive consumption of vitamins, four-hour sauna sessions and morning runs, can 'sweat out' toxins stored in body fat. There are no peer-reviewed studies to back this claim. . . .

". . . In 1991, Scientology offered 'rundown' treatments in Russia to people suffering symptoms related to radiation exposure following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. The church still refers to the mission in its online literature, claiming numerous successes, but Russia banned it from performing medical treatment in the country in 1996.

"Last year, a French court upheld fraud charges and fined the church $791,000 for its efforts to persuade people to take the 'rundown.'"

I know: let's sell it to the Vietnamese!  It's not as if we've done them enough harm yet!

A Peace Movement That Moves Toward Peace

Why did the peace movement of the middle of the last decade not grow larger?  Why did it shrink away?  Why is it struggling now?

As has been documented, a huge factor in the shrinking away was partisan delusion.  You put a different political party's name on the wars and they become good wars.

But that also means that what you had was a peace movement that believed in the possibility of good wars.  In fact, much of it believed that Iraq was a bad war and Afghanistan a good war.  Many people even went out of their way to display their "reasonableness" by declaring Afghanistan a good war without actually examining the war on Afghanistan; this was imagined to be a strategic way to prevent or scale back or end the war on Iraq.

Of course, when the bad war ends, and all that's left is the good war, those who are actually motivated by opposition to war must shift to opposing the former good war as the current bad war.  And why would you listen to anyone who did that?

Many, of course, opposed the war on Afghanistan until the invasion of Iraq, and then switched to talking almost exclusively about Iraq.  Afghanistan was labeled the good war once Iraq had happened, just as World War II was labeled the good war once Vietnam had happened.  Our beliefs regarding contrasts between Iraq and Afghanistan are mostly false.  The invasion of Afghanistan was no more legal or moral or honest or U.N.-authorized than the invasion of Iraq.  The occupation of Afghanistan is no less of a vicious one-sided slaughter of helpless people who wished us no ill than the occupation of Iraq was.

But we aren't in the habit of talking about wars as one-sided slaughters of innocent men, women, and children.  And we aren't in the habit precisely because that is the essential feature that all of our wars share in common. 

When we chose to oppose the war on Iraq without opposing all wars, we were obliged to find a reason why.  We were obliged to oppose the war . . .

·      because Iraq had no weapons (as if a government's possessing weapons were grounds for its people being bombed -- a notion that could cost Iran dearly),

·      or because Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 (as if a government's association with a group affiliated with a party having once met with a wing of an organization connected to a group involved in 9-11 were grounds for being bombed -- a notion now costing the lives of drone strike victims by the thousands, not to mention sustaining the war on Afghanistan),

·      or because the war in Iraq wasn't being won (a notion that helped escalate that war and later the occupation of Afghanistan as well),

·      or because -- in fact -- the war on Iraq was a Republican Party war (as of course it was not; just check who controlled the U.S. Senate at the time -- remember the Senate, that body that long prevented President Obama from doing any of the wonderful things he'd like to have done in his secret, if not imaginary, heart of hearts?  And look at what happens to opposition to Republican wars when a Democrat is put on the throne.)

A forthcoming book by Paul Chappell is even better than all of his other ones, and I highly recommend it, but it's marred by advocacy for appealing to people's patriotism and religion.  I attended a peace conference recently at which some of the speakers claimed that the movement against the war on Iraq had been more strategic than that against the war on Vietnam, and had done so by appealing to patriotism, waving flags, avoiding disrespect for the U.S. military, and not opposing war in general.  For several years now, peace groups have been preaching that it would be unstrategic, if not racist, to oppose President Obama.  We must oppose Obama's wars, but not him or his political party, as that might turn people off.  So we're told.

Often it's considered humble and inclusive to reach people "where they are" and nudge them ever so slightly toward where you'd like them to be.  And most of our country is saturated with militarism.  But if a peace-in-certain-circumstances movement does manage to turn out a crowd for a march or two, what remains behind when the marches are over?  Certainly not an understanding of what's wrong with militarism.  Not even an understanding of what the war was that was marched against.

A majority of Americans believes the war on Iraq benefitted Iraq but hurt the United States.  A majority wanted that war ended, year after year, for several years, many motivated by selfishness -- by a desire to cease bestowing such philanthropy on the undeserving and ungrateful people of Iraq.  A majority believes President George W. Bush lied the nation into the war, but not that all wars are begun with similar lies.  And almost no one in the United States understands what was done to Iraq, that more Iraqis and a higher percentage of Iraqis were killed than were Americans in our civil war, or British or French or Japanese or Americans in World War II, or that three times that many Iraqis were made refugees, that towns and neighborhoods and populations were wiped out, infrastructure destroyed and never yet rebuilt, cancer and birth defects at record levels, civil rights worse than under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, a nation devastated as totally as almost any other in history.

We opposed this without understanding a fraction of it, without educating others about it, and without displaying disrespect for the U.S. military.  Is that an accomplishment to be truly proud of?  How can counter-recruitment efforts possibly succeed in limiting the military's supply of cannon fodder if the peace movement doesn't disrespect the military?  I think the simplemindedness here is not in the public we're so arrogantly trying to manipulate gently, but in ourselves.  When we tried to impeach George W. Bush it was not with ill-will toward him, but with an eye on the future behavior of future presidents.  When we treat membership in the U.S. military as respectable, how can we simultaneously convey to high school students the disgust we will feel for their action, should they choose to enlist?  I said for their action, not for them.  Are we not capable of recognizing the economic bind students are in and nonetheless stigmatizing participation in mass-murder?  Or are we perhaps not even capable of recognizing mass-murder for what it is?

Here's a secret about people in this country: they don't support mass murder.  Here's another: they're not stupid.  So, when you force them to be aware that their government is committing mass murder and glorifying it, they get upset, angry, and often energized to make a change.  And when you talk to them honestly, they know you're being honest even if they don't agree with you at first.  And when you respectfully disagree, they are able to notice whether your position makes any sense.  So, if you oppose wars because you oppose killing people, you have to explain to everyone you can that you oppose wars because they kill people.  You can't say "I oppose this particular war because Paul Bremmer did something dumb," because everyone will fantasize about a future war that doesn't include the dumb thing.  And once you've said that, you have to downplay the fact that the war is an act of mass-murder, because if it were, then why wouldn't you be opposing it for that reason?  Why wouldn't your interlocutor as well?  You have joined in a cooperative agreement to keep that matter secret as you turn the conversation to the WMD lies or the financial costs or the costs to the U.S. troops who made up 0.3% of the deaths.

On the train home from a recent peace conference, I spoke to a young woman who told me she was studying dentistry and would be in the Air Force.  Couldn't she be a dentist without the military, I asked?  No, she answered, not without $200,000 in debt.  Yes, I replied, but without the Air Force, we could have free colleges and no debts.  No, she replied . . .  and, if you think for a moment, I know you'll know what she said next.  It had nothing to do with the lies about Iraq, the financial cost of Iraq, the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq, or what war mongers the Republicans are.  It had nothing to do with any of that.  Think for a second, and you'll know.

Got it?  She replied: if we didn't have the Air Force, North Korea would kill us.

Now, if you have a little education you probably realize that North Korea couldn't attack the United States without being completely obliterated, and that any nation on earth would scream angry threats if we pretended to drop nuclear bombs on it after having destroyed all of its cities, killed millions of its people, and threatened and antagonized it for over half a century through control of the military belonging to its former other half. 

But if you'd just learned that the war on Iraq was a dumb war that cost too much, that nothing is more heroic than militarism, that even the peace movement should be led by soldiers, and that waving flags and valuing a particular 5% of humanity to a special degree are admirable values, where would you be?  What would you know about militarism, where it exists, or how it functions?

There will always, always, always be another North Korea that's supposedly about to kill us.  We don't need rapid-response fact corrections.  We need citizens with some understanding of history, with knowledge of the Other 95%, with the capacity to resist terrorism-by-television, and capable of independent thought.  To get there, we need a peace movement that moves us, at whatever pace it can, toward peace -- toward the popular demand for the absolute abolition of all war.

New Film to Screen in Bay Area: The Last War Crime

Announcing: two screenings for The Last War Crime movie on Saturday, May 25th, 2013 at The Delancey Street Screening Room, 600 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA. Please submit this form to reserve your tickets.

Note that a radio station has turned down advertising for this film and stated that it was doing so for political reasons.  A law suit is progressing.  Learn more and hear the unacceptable ad here.

Talk Nation Radio: Richard Wolff on Putting Workers in Charge at Work

Richard Wolff is a professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of Democracy at Work.  See http://democracyatwork.info

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!

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Occupy Radio: Anti-Military with Bruce Gagnon & David Swanson

David Swanson is the host of Talk Nation Radio, author and prominent anti-military activist.

http://davidswanson.org/

Bruce Gagnon is the chair of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

http://www.space4peace.org

Direct download: Occupy_Radio_13-3-27__56.mp3

Talk Nation Radio: Robert Shetterly's Portraits of Americans Who Tell the Truth

Robert Shetterly is a painter who is producing a collection of portraits (currently 190 of them) of "Americans Who Tell the Truth."  He discusses the selection of subjects, and the reception the collection has been receiving around the country, the educational and activism possibilities.  For more see http://americanswhotellthetruth.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:

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Why I'm Attending the Dedication of the Bush Lie Bury

On April 25th the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and General Rehabilitation Project will be dedicated in Dallas, Texas.  It takes up 23 acres at Southern Methodist University, 23 acres that neither humanity nor any other species may ever reclaim for anything decent or good.

I'll be there, joining in the people's response (http://ThePeoplesResponse.org) with those who fear that this library will amount to a Lie Bury.

"The Bush Center's surrounding native Texas landscape," the center's PR office says, "including trees from the Bush family's Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas, continues President and Mrs. Bush's longstanding commitment to land and water conservation and energy efficiency."

Does it, now?  Is that what you recall?  Bush the environmentalist? 

Well, maybe you and I remember things differently, but do we have a major educational institution that will effectively repeat our corrections of the Lie Bury's claims for decades to come?

According to the Lie Bury, Bush was and is an education leader, saving our schools by turning them into test-taking factories and getting unqualified military officers to run them.  This is something to be proud of, we're told.

The Lie Bury's annual report shows Bush with the Dalai Lama.  No blood is anywhere to be seen.  The Lie Bury's website has a photo of a smiling George W. golfing for war.  "The Warrior Open," it explains, "is a competitive 36-hole golf tournament that takes place over two days every fall in the Dallas area.  The event honors U.S. service members wounded in the global war on terror."

Now, I actually know of some soldiers wounded in what they call by that name who don't feel honored by Bush's golfing, just as millions of Iraqis living as refugees within or outside of the nation he destroyed find Bush's liberty to walk outdoors, much less golf for the glory of war, offensive.  But none of them has a quarter-billion dollar "center" from which to spread the gospel of history as it actually happened -- as it happened to its losers, to those water-boarded, shot in the face, or otherwise liberated by Bush and his subordinates.

When Bush lied about excuses to start a war on Iraq -- as with everything else he did -- he did so incompetently.  As a result, a majority of Americans in the most recent polls, still say he lied to start the war.  But few grasp the lesson as it should be applied to wars launched by more competent liars.  And memory of Bush's lies is fading, buried under forgetfulness, avoidance, misdirection, revisionism, a mythical "surge" success, and a radically inaccurate understanding of what our government did to Iraq.

I won't be attending the Lie Bury ceremony for vengeance, but in hopes of ridding our culture of the vengeance promoted by Bush.  He based a foreign policy and a domestic stripping away of rights on the thirst for vengeance -- even if misdirected vengeance.  We have a responsibility to establish that we will not support that approach going forward. 

Bush himself is relevant only as his treatment can deter future crimes and abuses.  No one should wish Bush or any other human being ill.  In fact, we should strive to understand him, as it will help us understand others who behave as he has. 

Bush, of course, knew what he was doing when he tried to launch a war while pretending a war would be his last resort, suggesting harebrained schemes to get the war going to Tony Blair.  Bush knew the basic facts.  He knew he was killing a lot of people for no good reason.  He was not so much factually clueless as morally clueless. 

For Bush, as for many other people, killing human beings in wars exists outside the realm of morality.  Morality is the area of abortions, gay marriage, shop lifting, fornicating, or discriminating.  Remember when Bush said that a singer's suggestion that he didn't care about black people was the worst moment in his presidency?  Racism may be understood by Bush as a question of morality.  Mass murder not so much.  Bush's mother remarked that war deaths were not worthy of troubling her beautiful mind.  Asked why he'd lied about Iraqi weapons, George W. Bush asked what difference it made.  Well, 1.4 million dead bodies, but who's counting?

I won't be attending the Lie Bury because Bush's successor is an improvement.  On the contrary, our failure to hold Bush accountable has predictably led to his successor being significantly worse in matters of abusing presidential power.  And not just predictably, but predicted.  When we used to demand Bush's impeachment, people would accuse us of disliking him or his political party.  No, we'd say, if he isn't held accountable, future presidents will be worse, and it won't matter from which party they come.

I helped draft about 70 articles of impeachment against Bush, from which Congressman Dennis Kucinich selected 35 and introduced them.  I later looked through those 35 and found 27 that applied to President Barack Obama, even though his own innovations in abusive behavior weren't on the list.  Bush's lying Congress into war (not that Congress wasn't eager to play along) is actually a standard to aspire to now.  When Obama went to war in Libya, against the will of Congress, he avoided even bothering to involve the first branch of our government. 

When Bush locked people up or tortured them to death, he kept it as secret as he could.  Obama -- despite radically expanding secrecy powers and persecuting whistleblowers -- does most of his wrongdoing wide out in the open.  Warrantless spying is openly acknowledged policy.  Imprisonment without trial is "law."  Torture is a policy choice, and the choice these days is to outsource it.  Murder is, however, the new torture.  The CIA calls it "cleaner."  I picture Bush's recent paintings of himself washing off whatever filth his mind is aware he carries.

Obama runs through a list of men, women, and children to murder on Tuesdays, picks some, and has them murdered.  We don't know this because of a whistleblower or a journalist.  We know this because the White House wanted us to know it, and to know it before the election.  Think about that.  We moved from the pre-insanity state we were in circa 1999 to an age in which presidents want us to know they murder people.  That was primarily the work of George W. Bush, and every single person who yawned, who looked away, who cheered, who was too busy, who said "it's more important to elect a new president than to keep presidential powers in check," or who said "impeachment would be traumatic" -- as if this isn't.

In Guatemala a prosecutor has charged a former dictator with genocide, remarking, "It's sending the most important message of the rule of law -- that nobody is above the law."  It's not so many years ago that the United States had the decency at least to hypocritically propose that standard to the world.  Now, we advance the standard of lawlessness, of "looking forward, not backward."

That's why the people need to respond to the lie bury.  Ann Wright is going to be there.  And Diane Wilson.  Robert Jensen and Ray McGovern are coming.  So are Lon Burnam and Bill McElvaney and Debra Sweet.  Hadi Jawad and Leah Bolger and Marjorie Cohn and Kathy Kelly are coming.  As are Coleen Rowley and Bill Moyer and Jacob David George and Medea Benjamin and Chas Jacquier and Drums Not Guns.

Also coming will be many familiar faces from the days when we used to protest in Crawford.  When we'd go into that one restaurant at the intersection in Crawford, there'd be a cardboard cut-out Dubya standing there.  We picked him up and stood him in the corner, facing the corner.  We said he needed to stay there until he understood what he'd done wrong.  In reality, of course, he was cardboard.  The lesson was for everyone else in the restaurant.  It's a lesson that still needs to be taught.

Fund My Peace Mission to Iran

I have the opportunity to travel to Iran in April with some of the best peace activists in the United States on a mission of peace.  We will report on everything we are able to do and learn.  I can only go if you can help me fund the trip.  Please chip in anything you can here http://davidswanson.org/donate 

NB: We are waiting for our visas.  If the visas do not come through, funds you've donated will be used when the trip can be rescheduled or will be put to other good use in the cause of peace.

Thank you! --David Swanson

Bradley Manning's Nobel Peace Prize

Whistleblower Bradley Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and he should receive it. 

No individual has done more to push back against what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism" than Bradley Manning. The United States is the leading exporter of weapons and itself spends as much preparing for more wars as the rest of the world combined.  Manning is the leading actor in opposition to U.S. warmaking, and therefore militarism around the world.  What he has done has hurt the cause of violence in a number of other nations as well.

And right now, remaining in prison and facing relentless prosecution by the U.S. government, Manning is in need of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Alfred Nobel's will left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

The intent of the prize was to fund this work. As a result of enormous legal expenses, Bradley Manning is in need of that funding, unlike some other peace prize recipients.  In addition, his secret trial -- with a potential death sentence -- could use all the attention that can be shined on it.

The people of the United States and the rest of the world have learned more about the intentions of the U.S. government from Bradley Manning than from anyone else.  "Thanks to Manning's alleged disclosures, we have a sense of what transpired in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We have an image of how Washington operates in the world," author Chase Madar wrote in his book about Manning's whistleblowing.

"Thanks to those revelations we now know just how our government leaned on the Vatican to quell opposition to the Iraq War. We now know how Washington pressured the German government to block the prosecution of CIA agents who kidnapped an innocent man, Khaled El-Masri, while he was on vacation. We know how our State Department lobbied hard to prevent a minimum wage increase in Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest nation."

Manning revealed a secret U.S. war in Yemen, U.S. records of massive civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, video of a U.S. helicopter attack on civilians and their rescuers in Baghdad, and facts about the corruption of numerous governments including those of the United States, Tunisia, and Egypt.  In those last two nations Manning's revelations contributed to nonviolent pro-democracy movements.

Among the revelations made by Manning through WikiLeaks is the extent of time and energy the U.S. State Department puts into marketing U.S. weapons to the world's governments.  We all have a better understanding of the work that is needed for peace as a result of this exposure of "diplomacy" as consisting so greatly of weapons selling.

The Guardian newspaper and BBC Arabic detailed last week how the United States armed and trained Iraqi police commando units that ran torture centers and death squads.  Maggie O'Kane, executive producer of the documentary, said: "I hope this film will be a legacy that actually says, 'If you want to go to war, this is what war means. It means 14-year-old boys being hung up and tortured. It means men being turned on spits. And that's called counter-insurgency. . . .'  This would not be coming to light if it hadn't been for Bradley Manning."

Not only has Manning done the most to resist militarism, but he has done it for its own sake, and not by chance or for any ulterior motive.  This is made clear by his recent statement in court and by his earlier communications in the chat logs that have long been a part of his case.   Manning was horrified by crimes and abuses.  He believed the public should know what was happening.  He believed democracy was more important than blind subservience in the name of a "democracy."

Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the Movement in the Icelandic Parliament, the Pirates of the EU; representatives from the Swedish Pirate Party, and the former Secretary of State in Tunisia for Sport & Youth.  The nomination states, in part:  "These revelations have fueled democratic uprisings around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on the foreign and domestic policies of European nations, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S. troops from the occupation in Iraq."

The Norwegian Nobel Committee (send them a note) can either begin awarding the peace prize to opponents of war or continue on its current course -- one which already has many questioning, not whether Manning is worthy of the prize, but whether the prize is worthy of Manning.

Action in Coming Weeks

Upcoming Events

March 21-28 Week of Action for Bahrain
http://warisacrime.org/content/nabeel-rajab-global-week-action-%E2%80%93-march-21-28

Fast from March 24-30 in solidarity with those detained indefinitely and on hunger strike at Guantanamo.  Vigils will take place in NYC, Washingt on DC, Chicago, Des Moines, and other cities on March 24.  Email witnesstorture@gmail.org

March 26-30 World Social Forum in Tunis

March - April, NY City, Festival of Conscience
April 4 Another Life with David Swanson
http://www.theaterforthenewcity.net/anotherlife.htm

April 1-30 Fasting for the climate
http://www.1future.net

April 4 - July 3 Tour de Peace across the country
http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com/p/tour-de-peace-road-less-taken.html

April 5-7 Historians Against War in Baltimore, Md.
http://historiansagainstwar.org/conf2013

April 8-10 Washington, D.C., School of the Americas Watch
http://www.soaw.org/take-action/april

April 4-6 San Diego, protest drones

April 4-7 – Drone Manufacturing. Actions around the country directed at drone manufacturing facilities in region and calling for an end to manufacturing weaponized and surveillance drones. Coordinator: Joe Scarry – jtscarry@yahoo.com

April 16-18 – Drone Research/Training.  Actions/teach-ins, etc. at colleges & universities that do drone research or pilot training. Demand an end to research and training related to drone warfare. Coordinator: Marge Van Cleef  mvc@igc.org

April 27-28 – Drone Bases.  Organize protests at bases in region.  Hancock Reaper drone base protest organizers calling for large demonstrations there.  Coordinator: Dave Soumis davidso1@charter.net
http://upstatedroneaction.org/Conference-2013.html

More April Anti-Drone-Kill Events
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1170/p/salsa/event/common/public/index.sjs?distributed_event_KEY=708

April 13 Anti-Drone Kills March on White House
http://www.answercoalition.org/national/index.html

April 13 Hyattsville, Md., "Building Bridges: Creating the Beloved Community"
http://www.mupj.org

April 15 Global Day of Action on Military Spending
http://demilitarize.org

April 20 Robin Hood Tax -- Noon Rally at Murrow Park (Pennsylvania Ave between 18th & 19th Streets) in Washington, DC, 12:30pm – March to IMF, World Bank, and US Treasury
http://www.facebook.com/events/304925762966633/

April 22-26 Dallas, Texas, People's Response to George W. Bush Lie-Bury
March and Rally April 25th
http://thepeoplesresponse.org

May 1, MAY DAY

May 3-5 Asheville, NC, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
http://www.nwtrcc.org/gatheringMay2013.php

May 10-12 Labor Fight Back Conference at Rutgers
http://laborfightback.org/conference

June 1 Fort Meade, Md., Rally for Bradley Manning
http://www.bradleymanning.org/activism/rally-for-bradley-manning-at-fort-meade-june-1-2013

June 7-9 Left Forum in NYC
http://www.leftforum.org/CallForPanels2013

June 22 Little Rock, Ark., United We Stand Festival
http://freeandequal.org/united-we-stand-festival/#.UU-XMBlAvOd

August 3 Abolish It
https://www.facebook.com/events/322895027813931/324565854313515/

August 7-11, 2013, Veterans For Peace Convention in Madison, WI
http://veteransforpeace.org

August 7-11, 2013, Democracy Convention in Madison, WI
http://democracyconvention.org

August 18-19 Philadelphia, Penn., Marking 60 years since overthrow of Mossadegh
http://mossadeghlegacyinstitute.blogspot.com/p/about.html

November 22 Occupy the Grassy Knoll
http://occupythegrassyknoll.org

The 22nd of every month: Global Assembly
http://www.via22.org

Every Tuesday: Stop the Killing
http://warisacrime.org/content/counter-terror-tuesdays

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.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

Speaking Events

2015

August 27, Chicago

September 22, DC

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