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Talk Nation Radio: Ted Rall on the State of Political Cartooning

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-ted-rall-on-the-state-of-political-cartooning

Ted Rall, cartoonist for The Los Angeles Times, is America’s most widely-syndicated alternative editorial cartoonist. Twice the winner of the RFK Journalism Award and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Rall’s cartoons and illustrations have appeared in Time, Newsweek, USA Today, Rolling Stone, Esquire, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice and hundreds of other publications and websites. He is a regular contributor to MAD magazine. He discusses the Charlie Hebdo killings, the state of cartooning, the state of our culture, and how to communicate messages when the press is not ideally free.

Total run time: 29:00

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

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Beyond Vietghanistan

By Martin Luther Obama Jr., as dictated to David Swanson

Text of "Beyond Vietghanistan: A Time To Break Treaties"
By Rev. Martin Luther Obama Jr. - January 19, 2015
Speech delivered at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City.

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because the Republican Congress leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in partial yet profound agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietghanistan. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, if not my brain, and I found myself in sympathy with your desires when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has not come for us in relation to Vietghanistan. The solemn duty of our brave troops in that troubled nation is to carry out the orders sent by their commanders, and the solemn duty of those in Washington making critical decisions is silence.

Let me be clear, the beauty of the words I've quoted is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is an impossibly difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men and women do not have the right to assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor should the human spirit move without great difficulty, if at all, against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding Democratic Party. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must cherish that uncertainty, wallow in it, treasure it, shed tears over it, and then do what the military and its profiteers want done.

Some, like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Jeffrey Sterling, and dozens more have already begun to break the silence of the night. They have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must intensify their suffering as a lesson to others. We must crush them with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must crush them. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of peace and justice to the high ground of humanitarian war and liberal imperialism with a permanent footing unlimited in time or space. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around during the never-to-be-looked-back-upon era of those great Americans, George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the last promises of my campaigns and the last pretenses of legislative or legal checks on warmaking, as I have called for routine normalization and renaming of the destruction of Vietghanistan, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking for more war, Dr. Obama? Why are you joining the voices of those who have never been given a Nobel Peace Prize? War and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live, a world in which evil foreigners must be confronted by the most profitable racket ever devised, or we must abandon all future elections to the domination of the Republican Party which will do exactly these same things without my eloquence.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Chicago, Illinois, -- the place where I began my political career -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Kabul or to the Taliban. It is not addressed to Syria or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietghanistan. Neither is it an attempt to make the new government of Vietghanistan a paragon of virtue, nor to overlook the role it can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While the Vietghanistanese may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without massive and relentless force beyond anyone's estimation of the limits of sanity.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Kabul, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in extending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents, especially our own. Let me tell you how we have suffered from these wars of President Bush's and how we must continue to suffer for decades to come.

For in the words of that old agency spiritual, this war will last, this war will last, thank god almighty, this war will last.

Nuclear Madness and Resistance

The Jeffrey Sterling trial is a bit disheartening for anyone who'd rather humanity paid a bit of attention to avoiding nuclear apocalypse, even though Sterling exposed the CIA's crime to Congress, and Sterling or someone else (at least 90 people could have done it) exposed the crime to an author who put it in a book and would have put it in the New York Times if, you know, it weren't the New York Times (the paper obeyed Condoleezza Rice's demand for censorship).

The last time a whistleblower defendant faced prosecution in civilian U.S. court for "espionage" it was Dan Ellsberg, and the New York Times was a radically different beast.

Here's a report from Ray McGovern on Thursday's appearance by Condoleezza Rice in the Sterling trial:

"It was surreal in court earlier today; stiletto-heeled Rice prancing in within 2 feet of me, as if on the modeling runway, with a Paula Broadwell-type look on her face -- and, at the same time, Bill Harlow sitting down next to me after his testimony explaining how hard he had tried to get Jim Risen to listen to reason and not pursue/publish the story about the botched CIA 'Merlin' operation.....and how listening to Rice's request at the White House meeting, NY Times Washington Bureau Chief Jill Abramson felt 'out of her pay-grade range,' and how her NYT masters (surprise, surprise) bowed to the White House/CIA hyperbole re the dangers of publishing, and agreed to the urgent demand/request of Rice and her boss.  (Pls see my piece yesterday on pitfalls of letting covert action eager beavers loose on the basis of a false major premise i. e., that Iran was working on a nuclear weapon.)

"(As for Abramson, for being a good girl, she made it to the very top of NYT as Executive Editor, for services performed -- she was also Washington Bureau Chief when Judith Miller was plying her wares with the likes of Ahmed Chalabi.  But then Jill forgot her place; got too uppity and was unceremoniously dumped by the top men of that 'all-the-news-that's-allowed-by-the-White House-to-print' exclusive club of male chauvinist cowards.)

"Back to the courtroom:  All at once I find myself wondering what might be the appropriate reaction when an amateur Goebbels (Harlow) sits down next to you; so I wrote a little note to him.  (It did not seem to phase him one bit, so I'm sure he would not mind me sharing it with you):

"'Newsweek, Feb 2003, quote from Hussein Kamel's debrief 1995: "I ordered the destruction of all weapons — biological, chemical, missile, nuclear." Harlow: Newsweek story "incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue."  4,500 U.S. troops dead.  A consequential lie.'

"All stand; judge and jury leave; and I'm not sure he has read the note.  I give it to him; he reads it, smiles, 'Good to see you Ray!'

"Aaaarrrgggh."

Back to the disheartening nature of what Sterling or someone else let us know about:

Either the CIA went on completely mindless autopilot -- as everyone but I seems to believe -- or it tried to plant evidence of a nuclear weapons program on Iran. That is to say, it illegally proliferated nuclear weapons technology, presented Iran with an obvious fraud, risked serious hostility with Russia, and had zero chance of fulfilling its stated mission of slowing down an Iranian weapons program, should one have existed, and had zero chance of learning what Iran was doing. Stuffing nuke plans under a door in Vienna doesn't tell anyone what Iran is doing. Handing Iran nuke plans (or constructed nuke parts, as was contemplated) doesn't slow down a nonexistent program or even an existing one -- not even when obvious flaws are inserted in the plans. The CIA's Russian-American front man spotted flaws immediately. The CIA's own "red team" spotted flaws, fixed them, and built a working part from the plans in a matter of months. So, again, either this was just a crazed desire to do something, anything, serving no possible purpose and risking advancing the destruction of the planet, or somebody had in mind that it would be advantageous to plant nuke plans on Iran. After all, the Iranians weren't going to believe that Russian plans were written in American English. But Americans might conceivably believe that Iran would have nuke plans written in English, as they were asked to believe of Iraq as well. Foreigners speak English in American movies all the time, after all.

Maybe I shouldn't hunt for scraps of intelligence in "intelligence" operations.

But I can find them elsewhere.

The United States doesn't just write up Russian plans for nuclear weapons parts and spread them around the globe. It also manufactures U.S. versions of the same parts. It does so in Kansas City. And the good people of Kansas City protest it. And a judge has just declared a protester "not-guilty" of any crime -- the first time that's happened in some 120 protests. May the jury holding Jeffrey Sterling's fate in its hands take heed:

From the Nuclear Resister:

Nuclear weapons protester Henry Stoever found “not guilty” of trespass at new Kansas City plant

Nuke-Free-Worldby Jane Stoever

After a 90 minute trial on January 16, 2015, at the Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Court, Judge Elena Franco found that the City had failed to prove that Henry Stoever had the “mens rea” (guilty intent, criminal mind) for conviction of trespass. Judge Franco also found that the City witness had failed to prove where the property line was located at the new Honeywell nuclear weapons production, procurement and assembly plant in southern Kansas City, Missouri. This plant makes, procures and assembles 85% of the non-nuclear parts of a nuclear weapon. Early in the trial, Henry had played the video for the judge that showed him and two companions crossing the line.

When Judge Franco declared Henry “not guilty,” the 31 members in the audience burst into applause. Henry shook the hands of Judge Franco, the City Prosecutor, and the complaining witness, and then visited with supporters outside the courtroom, wiping back tears of joy.

In this case, Henry had filed with the Court and with the Prosecutor a 12-page Pre-trial Notice of Defenses, Brief and Motion in Limine, where he set forth a number of “claim of right” points for taking his action on August 22, 2014, to cross the supposed line at the weapons plant. In his closing statement, Henry quoted a dissenting opinion from Supreme Court Justices Douglas, Brennan, and Fortas in 1966, in Adderley vs. Florida: “We do violence to the First Amendment when we permit this ‘petition for redress of grievances’ to be turned into a trespass action.”

Henry was surprised at the not guilty finding, for the Judge said you may feel disappointed by my finding (because it was based on a technicality … and earlier, Henry had said he didn’t want to quibble over whether the line was a true property line, and that if the line were 20-30 feet farther onto the property, Henry would have gone there). Also, about two years ago, Henry had invited Franco to find him guilty so he could appeal his case to State Court (but that case was dismissed without going to a jury trial). In truth, the Judge today was not convinced Henry committed a crime—bravo! Bravissimo!

The entire Stoever family is celebrating. Many, many thanks to all who’ve risked arrest, to all who’ve supported our now about 120 individual instances of a person crossing the line, to all who’ve sent well-wishes! This is the first in the 120 instances in which a judge saw fit to say, “not guilty!”

U.S. Blows Off North Korea’s Offer to Stop Nuclear Tests

nkorea3The U.S. should negotiate with North Korea on its proposal to cancel nuclear tests in exchange for a U.S. suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea.

That’s the text of a petition just initiated by Alice Slater, World Beyond War, and the signers listed below.

The DPRK government (North Korea) disclosed on Jan. 10, 2015, that it had delivered to the United States the day before an important proposal to “create a peaceful climate on the Korean Peninsula.”

This year, we observe the 70th anniversary of the tragic division of Korea in 1945. The U.S. government played a major role in the arbitrary division of the country, as well as in the horrific Korean civil war of 1950-53, wreaking catastrophic devastation on North Korea, with millions of Korean deaths as well as the deaths of 50,000 American soldiers. It is hard to believe that the U.S. still keeps nearly 30,000 troops in South Korea today, even though the Armistice Agreement was signed back in 1953.

According to KCNA, the North Korean news agency, the DPRK’s message stated that if the United States “contribute(s) to easing tension on the Korean Peninsula by temporarily suspending joint military exercises in South Korea and its vicinity this year,” then “the DPRK is ready to take such responsive steps as temporarily suspending the nuclear test over which the U.S. is concerned.”

Unfortunately, it is reported that the U.S. State Department rejected the offer on Jan. 10, claiming that the two issues are separate. Such a quick spurning of the North’s proposal is not only arrogant but also violates one of the basic principles of the U.N. Charter, which requires of its members to “settle their international disputes by peaceful means.” (Article 2 [3]). To reduce the dangerous military tensions on the Korean Peninsula today, it is urgent that the two hostile States engage in mutual dialogue and negotiation for a peaceful settlement of the lingering Korean War, without any preconditions.

The North’s proposal comes at a time of increasing tensions between the U.S. and DPRK over a Sony film, which depicts a brutal CIA-induced assassination of the current North Korean leader. In spite of the growing doubts by many security experts, the Obama administration hastily blamed the North for last November’s hacking of the Sony Pictures’ computer system and subsequently imposed new sanctions on the country. Pyongyang proposed a joint investigation, denying its responsibility for the cyber-attacks.

The winter U.S.-R.O.K. (South Korea) war drill usually takes place in late Feb. DPRK put its troops on high military alert on such occasions in the past and conducted its own war drills in response. Pyongyang regards the large-scale joint war drills as a U.S. rehearsal for military attacks, including nuclear strikes, against North Korea. In the last year’s drill, the U.S. flew in B-2 stealth bombers, which can drop nuclear bombs, from the U.S. mainland, as well as bringing in U.S. troops from abroad. In fact, these threatening moves not only provoke the North but also violate the Korean War Armistice Agreement of 1953.

Instead of intensifying further sanctions and military pressures against the DPRK, the Obama administration should accept the recent offer from the North in good faith, and engage in negotiations to reach positive agreements to reduce military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

INITIAL SIGNERS:
John Kim, Veterans for Peace, Korea Peace Campaign Project, Coordinator
Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NY
Dr. Helen Caldicott
David Swanson, World Beyond War
Jim Haber
Valerie Heinonen, o.s.u.,Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk for Justice and Peace, U.S. Province
David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Sheila Croke
Alfred L. Marder,U.S. Peace Council
David Hartsough, Peaceworkers, San Francisco, CA
Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent/legal counsel and peace activist
John D. Baldwin
Bernadette Evangelist
Arnie Saiki, Coordinator Moana Nui
Regina Birchem, Women’s International League for Peace and Justice, US
Rosalie Sylen, Code Pink, Long Island, Suffolk Peace Network
Kristin Norderval
Helen Jaccard, Veterans For Peace Nuclear Abolition Working Group, Co-chair
Nydia Leaf
Heinrich Buecker, Coop Anti-War Cafe Berlin
Sung-Hee Choi, Gangjeong village international team, Korea

References:
1)     NYT, 1/10/2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/world/asia/north-korea-offers-us-deal-to-halt-nuclear-test-.html?_r=0
2)     KCNA, 1/10/2015
3)     Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, “Strategic Patience with North Korea,” 11/21/2013, www.thediplomat/2013/11/strategic-patience-with-North-Korea.

When Ray McGovern Met Joseph Goebbels

Ray McGovern has been attending the Jeffrey Sterling trial. (Jeffrey who?)

Here's a report from him on Thursday's appearance by Condoleezza Rice:

It was surreal in court earlier today; stiletto-heeled Rice prancing in within 2 feet of me, as if on the modeling runway, with a Paula Broadwell-type look on her face -- and, at the same time, Bill Harlow sitting down next to me after his testimony explaining how hard he had tried to get Jim Risen to listen to reason and not pursue/publish the story about the botched CIA "Merlin" operation.....and how listening to Rice's request at the White House meeting, NY Times Washington Bureau Chief Jill Abramson felt "out of her pay-grade range," and how her NYT masters (surprise, surprise) bowed to the White House/CIA hyperbole re the dangers of publishing, and agreed to the urgent demand/request of Rice and her boss.  (Pls see my piece yesterday on pitfalls of letting covert action eager beavers loose on the basis of a false major premise i. e., that Iran was working on a nuclear weapon.)

(As for Abramson, for being a good girl, she made it to the very top of NYT as Executive Editor, for services performed -- she was also Washington Bureau Chief when Judith Miller was plying her wares with the likes of Ahmed Chalabi.  But then Jill forgot her place; got too uppity and was unceremoniously dumped by the top men of that "all-the-news-that's-allowed-by-the-White House-to-print" exclusive club of male chauvinist cowards.)

Back to the courtroom:  All at once I find myself wondering what might be the appropriate reaction when an amateur Goebbels (Harlow) sits down next to you; so I wrote a little note to him.  (It did not seem to phase him one bit, so I'm sure he would not mind me sharing it with you):

"Newsweek, Feb 2003, quote from Hussein Kamel's debrief 1995: 'I ordered the destruction of all weapons — biological, chemical, missile, nuclear.'  Harlow: Newsweek story 'incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue.'  4,500 U.S. troops dead.  A consequential lie."

All stand; judge and jury leave; and I'm not sure he has read the note.  I give it to him; he reads it, smiles, "Good to see you Ray!"

Aaaarrrgggh.

Video: RT Covers Jeffrey Sterling Trial

Watch me on RT with @AbbyMartin starting at 21:50. Then sign this: DropTheCharges.org

Study Finds People Assume War Is Only Last Resort

A scholarly study has found that the U.S. public believes that whenever the U.S. government proposes a war, it has already exhausted all other possibilities. When a sample group was asked if they supported a particular war, and a second group was asked if they supported that particular war after being told that all alternatives were no good, and a third group was asked if they supported that war even though there were good alternatives, the first two groups registered the same level of support, while support for war dropped off significantly in the third group. This led the researchers to the conclusion that if alternatives are not mentioned, people don’t assume they exist — rather, people assume they’ve already been tried.

The evidence is, of course, extensive that the U.S. government, among others, often uses war as a first, second, or third resort, not a last resort. Congress is busily sabotaging diplomacy with Iran, while James Sterling is on trial in Alexandria for exposing a CIA scheme to gin up supposed grounds for a war with Iran. Then-Vice President Dick Cheney once pondered the option of having U.S. troops shoot at U.S. troops dressed up as Iranians. Moments before a White House press conference at which then-President George W. Bush and then-Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed they were trying to avoid war in Iraq, Bush had proposed to Blair that they paint planes with UN colors and fly them low trying to get them shot at. Hussein was willing to walk away with $1 billion. The Taliban was willing to put bin Laden on trial in a third country. Gadaffi didn’t really threaten a slaughter, but Libya’s seen one now. The stories of chemical weapons attacks by Syria, invasions by Russia into Ukraine, and so forth, that fade away when a war fails to begin — these are not efforts to avoid war, to hold war off as a last resort. These are what Eisenhower warned would happen, and what he had already seen happen, when huge financial interests are stacked up behind the need for more wars.

But try telling the U.S. public. The Journal of Conflict Resolution has just published an article titled “Norms, Diplomatic Alternatives, and the Social Psychology of War Support,” by Aaron M. Hoffman, Christopher R. Agnew, Laura E. VanderDrift, and Robert Kulzick. The authors discuss various factors in public support for or opposition to wars, including the prominent place held by the question of “success” — now generally believed to matter more than body counts (meaning U.S. body counts, the massively larger foreign body counts never even coming into consideration in any study I’ve heard of). “Success” is a bizarre factor because of its lack of a hard definition and because by any definition the United States military just doesn’t have successes once it moves beyond destroying things to attempts at occupation, control, and long-term exploitation — er, excuse me, democracy promotion.

The authors’ own research finds that even when “success” is believed likely, even the muddle-headed people holding that belief tend to prefer diplomatic options (unless, of course, they are members of the United States Congress). The journal article offers some recent examples beyond the new research to back up its idea: “In 2002–2003, for instance, 60 percent of Americans believed that a US military victory in Iraq was likely (CNN/Time poll, November 13–14, 2002). Nevertheless, 63 percent of the public said they preferred a diplomatic solution to the crisis over a military one (CBS News poll, January 4–6, 2003).”

But if nobody mentions nonviolent alternatives, people aren’t uninterested in them or dismissive of them or opposed to them. No, in large numbers people actually believe that all diplomatic solutions have already been attempted. What a fantastic fact! Of course, it’s not that shocking given that war supporters habitually claim to be pursuing war as a last resort and to be fighting war reluctantly in the name of peace. But it’s an insane belief to hold if you’re living in the real world in which the State Department has become a minor unpaid intern to the Pentagon master. Diplomacy with some countries, like Iran, has actually been forbidden during periods in in which the U.S. public apparently thought it was being thoroughly pursued. And what in the world would it mean for ALL nonviolent solutions to have been tried? Could one not always think of another? Or try the same one again? Unless a looming emergency like the fictional threat to Benghazi can impose a deadline, the mad rush to war is unjustified by anything rational at all.

The role that the researchers attribute to a belief that diplomacy has already been tried could also be played by a belief that diplomacy is impossible with irrational subhuman monsters like ________ (fill in the government or residents of a targeted nation or region). The difference made by informing someone that alternatives exist would then include in it the transformation of monsters into people capable of speech.

The same transformation might be played by the revelation that, for example, people accused of building nuclear weapons aren’t actually doing so. The authors note that: “average support for the use of force by the U.S. military against Iran between 2003 and 2012 appears to be sensitive to information about the quality of available alternative courses of action. Although the use of force was never sup- ported by a majority of Americans during George W. Bush’s presidency (2001– 2009), it is notable that a significant drop in support for military action against Iran occurs in 2007. At that time, the Bush administration was seen as committed to war with Iran and pursuing diplomatic action half-heartedly. Seymour M. Hersh’s article in The New Yorker (2006) reporting that the administration was devising an aerial bombing campaign of suspected nuclear sites in Iran helped confirm this sense. Yet, a release of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 because of international pressure, undercut the argument for war. As an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney told The Wall Street Journal, the authors of the NIE ‘knew how to pull the rug out from under us’.”

But the lesson learned never seems to be that the government wants war and will lie to get it. “While public support for military operations against Iran declined during the Bush administration, it generally increased during President Barack Obama’s first term (2009–2012). Obama came to office more optimistic than his predecessor about the ability of diplomacy to get Iran to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. [You notice that even these scholars simply assume such pursuit was underway, despite their inclusion of the above NIE in the article.] Obama, for example, opened the door to direct talks with Iran over its nuclear program ‘without preconditions,’ a position George Bush rejected. Nevertheless, the inefficacy of diplomacy during Obama’s first term appears to be associated with gradual acceptance that military action might be the last viable option capable of getting Iran to change course. Paraphrasing former CIA director Michael Hayden, military action against Iran is an increasingly attractive option because ‘no matter what the U.S. does diplomatically, Tehran keeps pushing ahead with its suspected nuclear program’ (Haaretz, July 25, 2010).”

Now how does one keep pushing ahead with something that a foreign government persists in wrongly suspecting or pretending that one is doing? That’s never made clear. The point is that if you declare, Bushlike, that you have no use for diplomacy, people will oppose your war initiative. If, on the other hand, you claim, Obamalike, to be pursuing diplomacy, yet you persist, also Obamalike, in promoting the lies about what the targeted nation is up to, then people will apparently feel that they can support mass murder with a clear conscience.

The lesson for opponents of war seems to be this: point out the alternatives. Name the 86 good ideas you have for what to do about ISIS. Hammer away at what should be done. And some people, though generally accepting of war, will withhold their approval.

*Thanks to Patrick Hiller for letting me know about this article.

CIA on Trial in Virginia for Planting Nuke Evidence in Iran

Since Tuesday and continuing for the coming three weeks, an amazing trial is happening in U.S. District Court at 401 Courthouse Square in Alexandria, Va. The trial is open to the public, and among the upcoming witnesses is Condoleezza Rice, but -- unlike the Chelsea Manning trial -- most of the seats at this somewhat similar event are empty.

The media is mostly MIA, and during lunch break the two tables at the cafe across the street are occupied, one by the defendant and his lawyers, the other by a small group of activists, including former CIA officer Ray McGovern, blogger Marcy Wheeler (follow her report of every detail at ExposeFacts.org), and Norman Solomon who has organized a petition at DropTheCharges.org -- the name of which speaks for itself.

Why Gareth Porter (and others who are focused on the decades-long Western effort to frame Iran with having or pursuing nuclear weapons) are not here, I do not know. Why the public is not here, I do not know. Except that Jeffrey Sterling has not been even so much as demonized in the major media.

Jeffrey who?

Some people have heard of James Risen, a New York Times reporter who refused to name his source for a story. Damn right. Good for him. But what was the story and whom did the government want named as a source? Ah. Those questions might seem obvious, but the reporting on James Risen has avoided them like the plague for years and years now. And the independent media is not always as good at creating a story as it is at improving on stories in the corporate press.

Jeffrey Sterling went to Congress with his story. He was a CIA case officer. He is accused of having taken his story to James Risen. The prosecution is quite clearly establishing, against its own interest, during the course of this trial already, that numerous people were in on the story and could have taken it to Risen. If Sterling is to be proved guilty of the non-crime of blowing the whistle on a crime, the prosecution has yet to hint at how that will be done.

But what is the story? What is the crime that Sterling exposed for that tiny sliver of the population that's interested enough to have listened? (Sure, Risen's book was a "best seller" but that's a low hurdle; not a single prospective juror in Alexandria had read the book; even a witness involved in the case testified Wednesday that he'd only read the one relevant chapter.)

The story is this. The CIA drew up plans for a key part of a nuclear bomb (what a CIA officer on Wednesday described in his testimony as "the crown jewels" of a nuclear weapons program), inserted flaws in the plans, and then had a Russian give those flawed plans to Iran.

During the trial on Wednesday morning, the prosecution's witnesses made clear both that aiding Iran in developing a part of a bomb would be illegal under U.S. export control laws, and that they were aware at the time that there was the possibility of what they were doing constituting just such aid.

So, why do it?

And why is this trial going on for hours and hours without the slightest relevance to prosecuting Jeffrey Sterling, sounding for all intents and purposes like a defense of the CIA?

Well, the stated reason for this operation, known as Operation Merlin, was to slow down Iran's nuclear weapons program by causing Iranian scientists to spend time and resources on a doomed plan that would never work.

A very young, very very white jury is hearing the case made thusly. The U.S. government lacked evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program and not long after came out with an assessment that such a program did not exist and had not existed for some time. Nonetheless, years of effort and millions of dollars went into trying to slow the program down by a period of months. The CIA created a design, drawing, and parts list for a Russian nuclear fire set (the nuclear bomb component). They intentionally made it incomplete because supposedly no actual Russian scientist would credibly have complete knowledge of it. Then they told their designated Russian to tell the Iranians that it was incomplete because he wanted money, after which he would gladly produce what he couldn't credibly have.

According to one cable read aloud in court, the CIA would have liked to give Iran the actual device already constructed for them, but didn't because it wouldn't have been credible for their Russian to have it.

Before getting their Russian to spend years (anything shorter would not have been credible, they say) getting in touch with the Iranians, the U.S. scientists spent 9 months building the device from the plans and then proceeded to test it in a lab. Then they introduced multiple "flaws" into the plans and tested each flaw. Then they gave their flawed plans to their own team of scientists who weren't in on their cockamamie scheme. In five months, those scientists spotted and fixed enough of the flaws to build a fire set and get it to work in a lab. This was considered a success, we're told, because the Iranians would take a lot longer than five months, and because getting something to work outside of a lab is much harder.

To their credit, the defense lawyers' cross-examining of witnesses suggests that they find much of this ludicrous. "Have you ever seen a Russian parts list in English?" was one question asked on Wednesday. Another question: "You say you had people experienced in detecting flaws in fire set plans. Is that because there is a market in such things?" The judge sustained an objection to that last question.

The stated motivation for Operation Merlin is patent nonsense that cannot be explained by any level of incompetence or bureaucratic dysfunction or groupthink.

Here's another explanation of both Operation Merlin and of the defensiveness of the prosecution and its witnesses (in particular "Bob S.") at the prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling which is thus far failing to prosecute Jeffrey Sterling. This was an effort to plant nuke plans on Iran, part of the pattern described in Gareth Porter's latest book.

Marcy Wheeler reminds me of related efforts to plant English-language nuke plans around the same period of time or not long after. There was the laptop of death, later reprised for another war marketing effort. There were nuke plans and parts buried in a backyard as well.

Why give Iran flawed plans for a key part of a nuclear weapon? Why fantasize about giving Iran the thing already built (which wouldn't delay Iran's non-existent program much). Because then you can point out that Iran has them. And you won't even be lying, as with forged documents claiming Iraq is buying uranium or hired subcontractors pretending aluminum tubes are for nuclear weapons. With Operation Merlin you can work some real dark magic: You can tell the truth about Iran having what you so desperately want Iran to appear to have.

Why go to such efforts? Why do Operation Merlin, whatever the motivation(s) may have been?

Democracy!

Of course.

But when "Bob S." is asked who authorized this madness he doesn't say. He clearly suggests that it initiated within the CIA, but avoids specifics. When Jeffrey Sterling told Congress, Congress didn't tell the public. And when somebody told James Risen, the U.S. government -- so outraged over assaults on freedom of the press in Paris -- started hauling people into court.

And the public doesn't even show up to watch the trial.

Attend this trial, people. Report on it. Report the truth. You'll have no competition. The big media are not in the room.


Talk Nation Radio: Alice Slater on Nuclear Abolition, Nuclear Peril

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-alice-slater-on-nuclear-abolition-nuclear-peril

Alice Slater is New York director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and serves on the Coordinating Committee of Abolition 2000 and on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War. Her blog is at http://globalhousework.org She discusses the growing movement to abolish nuclear weapons, the nations that are developing nuclear energy in order to be close to having the weapons, the offer that North Korea has made to the United States, and the history of resentments -- and the ignorance of that history -- that are leading toward potential nuclear conflict and apocalypse.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Is This Country Crazy? Inquiring Minds Elsewhere Want to Know

By Ann Jones, TomDispatch

Americans who live abroad -- more than six million of us worldwide (not counting those who work for the U.S. government) -- often face hard questions about our country from people we live among. Europeans, Asians, and Africans ask us to explain everything that baffles them about the increasingly odd and troubling conduct of the United States.  Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, complain that America’s trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and “exceptionality” have gone on for too long to be considered just an adolescent phase. Which means that we Americans abroad are regularly asked to account for the behavior of our rebranded “homeland,” now conspicuously in decline and increasingly out of step with the rest of the world.

In my long nomadic life, I’ve had the good fortune to live, work, or travel in all but a handful of countries on this planet.  I’ve been to both poles and a great many places in between, and nosy as I am, I’ve talked with people all along the way. I still remember a time when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world for way too many reasons to go into here.

That’s changed, of course. Even after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I still met people -- in the Middle East, no less -- willing to withhold judgment on the U.S.  Many thought that the Supreme Court’s installation of George W. Bush as president was a blunder American voters would correct in the election of 2004. His return to office truly spelled the end of America as the world had known it.  Bush had started a war, opposed by the entire world, because he wanted to and he could. A majority of Americans supported him.  And that was when all the uncomfortable questions really began.

Witness Against Torture: Day 7 of the Fast for Justice

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that our time together in Washington DC is soon coming to an end. The days have been full, and today – marking the beginning of the 14th year of indefinite detention for the men in Guantanamo, was no exception.

Tomorrow’s update will bring information about our January 12th activities – and will be written after the authors have had their first solid food in 7 days (folks who are local are invited to join us to break the fast at 10am – First Trinity Church).

What's Wrong With the U.S. Media

Video of David Swanson, Brian Becker, and Patrick Henningsen on Crosstalk on RT: here.

Protesting Torturers

Code-Pink-CIA-Cheney-Protest-10Jan2015-Katie-Frates-Daily-Caller-64-620x413

Lots of photos here.

We protested with CodePink, Witness Against Torture, et alia, at John Brennan's house, Dick Cheney's house, and the CIA.

If Paris Killers Had Western Media on Their Side

Some killings are reported on in a slightly different manner from how the Charlie Hebdo killings have been. Rewriting a drone killing as a gun killing (changing just a few words) would produce something like this:

Freedom Fighters Gun Strike in Europe Is Said to Have Killed 12 Militants

PARIS, France — At least 12 foreign militants were believed to have been killed in a freedom fighter gun strike in the North Paris tribal region on Wednesday morning, a Liberation security official said.

The Liberation official said guns fired 128 precision bullets into a compound in the Cafe Au Lait subdistrict at 6:40 a.m. The area is close to the headquarters of numerous French businesses.

“The guns targeted a base of a French commander known as Francoise, killing 12 French militants. Two militants are wounded,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the news media.

It was unclear whether Francoise was there at the time of the attack. The local news media has reported that he is allied with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and engaged in plans to ship troops and weaponry to Western Asia.

Gun strikes in France, often attributed to Muslims, prompt regular diplomatic protests from the entire Western world.

Separately, the Liberation military said four terrorist hide-outs and a training center for bombers were damaged by gun strikes late Saturday in a remote suburb of the nearby South Paris tribal region.

In a brief statement, the military said that “6 terrorists, including some bomber pilots, were killed in precise gun strikes.” There was no independent confirmation of the military’s claim.

Last summer, the Liberation military launched a long-awaited offensive against French and foreign militants holed up in the Western Europe region. The military claims that it now controls 0.4 percent of the region.

NATO attacks in recent years have left hundreds of thousands dead.

*****

In contrast, rewriting a Charlie Hebdo report as a drone report might produce something like this:

Drone attack on Pakistani house kills 12

Drone pilots have shot dead 12 people at the home of their grandmother in an apparent militant Imperialist attack.

Four of the family's youngest generation, including its new-born infant were among those killed, as well as two friends visiting at the time.

A major police operation is under way to find three drone pilots believed to be hiding out in Langley, Virginia.

President Mamnoon Hussain said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack "of exceptional barbarity".

It is believed to be the deadliest attack in Pakistan since last Tuesday, when another drone -- or possibly the same one -- sent a missile into a picnic killing 18.

The distant faceless attackers opened fire with hellfire missiles in the sky above the family's home and faced no opposition. They later flew the drone higher in the sky, presumably recording video footage, the buzzing of their deadly machine still audible below as rescuers waited for it to leave before daring to search for survivors.

People had been "murdered in a cowardly manner", presidents and leaders around the globe remarked in unison. U.S. President Barack Obama has condemned the "horrific shooting", offering to provide any assistance needed "to help bring these terrorists to justice".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: "It was a horrendous, unjustifiable and cold-blooded crime. It was also a direct assault on a cornerstone of democracy, on the safety of a family in its home."

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said in a tweet: "The murders in Pakistan are sickening. We stand with the Pakistani people in the fight against terror."

Eurocentric clubs and Christian churches around the world rushed to condemn the killing.

Footage shot by an eyewitness outside the house shows scattered rubble and what appears to be bits of flesh and clothing hanging from a nearby tree.

Do Americans Hate Children?

Yes, I know you love your children, as I love mine. That's not in doubt. But do you love mine and I yours? Because collectively there seems to be a problem. Ferguson may have awakened a few people to some of the ways in which our society discriminates against African Americans -- if "discriminates" is a word that can encompass murder. But when we allow the murder of young black people, is it possible that those people had two strikes against them, being both black and young?

Barry Spector's book Madness at the Gates of the City is one of the richest collections of insights and provocations I know of. It's a book that mines ancient mythology and indigenous customs for paths out of a culture of consumerism, isolation, sexual repression, fear of death, animosity and projection, and disrespect for the young and the old. One of the more disturbing habits of this book is that of identifying in current life the continuation of practices we think of as barbaric, including the sacrificing of children.

The Gulf War was launched on fictional tales of Iraqis removing babies from incubators. Children were sent off to recruiting offices to kill and die in order to put an end to imaginary killing and dying. But war is not the only area Spector looks at.

"No longer allowed to engage in literal child sacrifice," he writes -- excluding as exceptional, I suppose, cases like the man who threw his little girl off a bridge on Thursday in Florida -- "we do so through abuse, battery, negligence, rape and institutionalized helplessness. Girls eleven years old and younger make up thirty percent of rape victims, and juvenile sexual assault victims know their perpetrators ninety-three percent of the time. A quarter of American children live in poverty; over a million of them are homeless."

A major theme of Spector's book is the lack of a suitable initiation ritual for adolescent men in our culture. He calls us adults the uninitiated. "How," he asks, can we "transform those raging hormones from anti-social expression into something positive? This cannot be stated too strongly: uninitiated men cause universal suffering. Either they burn with creativity or they burn everything down. This biological issue transcends debates over gender socialization. Although patriarchal conditioning legitimates and perpetuates it, their nature drives young men to violent excess. Rites of passage provide metaphor and symbol so that boys don't have to act their inner urges out."

But later in the book, Spector seems to suggest that we've actually understood this situation too well and exaggerated the idea. "When polled, adults estimate that juveniles are responsible for forty-three percent of violent crime. Sociologist Mike Males, however, reports that teenagers commit only thirteen percent of these crimes. Yet nearly half the states prosecute children as young as ten as if they were adults, and over fifty percent of adults favor executing teenage killers."

Sometimes we exonerate children after killing them, but how much do they benefit from that?

In reality baby boomers account for most drug addiction and crime, and most are of course white. But the punishment, just as for racial minorities, is meted out disproportionately. "American youths consistently receive prison sentences sixty percent longer than adults for the same crimes. When adults are the victims of sex crimes, sentences are tougher than when the victims are children; and parents who abuse their children receive shorter sentences than strangers do."

Not only are we collectively harder on kids than adults, just as on blacks than whites, but when we do focus on crimes against kids, Spector argues, we scapegoat priests or gays or single men, at the expense of addressing "unemployment, overcrowded schools, family disintegration or institutionalized violence. It is now virtually impossible for men to work in early education; they comprise only one of eleven elementary teachers."

Why do we allow a system to continue that discrimintes against children? Are we oblivious, distracted, misguided, short-sighted, selfish? Spector suggests that we are in fact carrying on a long history. "There is considerable evidence of the literal killing of both illegitimate children (at least as late as the nineteenth century) and legitimate ones, especially girls, in Europe. As a result, there was a large imbalance of males over females well into the Middle Ages. Physical and sexual abuse was so common that most children born prior to the eighteenth century were what would today be termed 'battered children.' However, the medical syndrome itself didn't arise among doctors until 1962, when regular use of x-rays revealed widespread multiple fractures in the limbs of small children who were too young to complain verbally."

Spector also notes that of some 5,000 lynchings in the United States between 1880 and 1930, at least 40 percent were human sacrifice rituals, often carefully orchestrated, often with clergy presiding, usually on Sunday, the site chosen in advance and advertised in newspapers.

Greeks and Hebrews saw child sacrifice as part of the none-too-distant past, if not the present. Circumcision may be a remnant of this. Another may be an adult looking lovingly at a baby and remarking that they are "So cute I could eat them up." The idea of children as prey may date all the way back to an age when large predators frequently threatened humans. The fear of large predators may continue thousands of years after being relevant precisely because it is taught to children when they are very young. It might disappear from adult minds if it disappeared from children's stories. Depicting a foreign dictator as a wild beast in editorial cartoons might then just look stupid rather than frightening.

There is a popular trend in academia now of blurring the lines between types of violence, in order to claim that because child abuse or lynching is being reduced (if it is), so is war. That claim has been oversimplified and distorted. But Spector and experts he cites, and many others, believe that one way to make all varieties of violence, including war, less likely is to raise children lovingly and nonviolently. Such children do not tend to develop the thought patterns of the supporter of war.

Do we love our children? Of course we do. But why do less wealthy countries guarantee free education through college, parental leave time, vacation time, retirement, healthcare, etc., while we guarantee only war after war after war? There was, during the last cold war, a song by Sting called Russians that claimed there would be peace "if the Russians love their children too." It went without saying that the West loved its children, but apparently there was some slight doubt about the Russians.

I happened to see a video this week of young Russians dancing and singing in Moscow, in English, in a manner that I think Americans would love. I wonder if part of the answer isn't for us to love Russian children, and Russians to love American children, and all of us collectively -- in a larger sense of collectively -- to start systemically and structurally loving all children the way we personally cherish our very own.

Here's one basic place we might start. Only three nations have refused to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They are Sudan, Somalia, and the United States of America, and two of those three are moving forward with ratification.

My fellow Americans, WTF?

Witness Against Torture: Day 3 of the Fast for Justice

Dear friends,
Joy, gratitude, and greetings to you!  We've had a full day of reflections, meetings, rehearsals, and street theater that we hope you will enjoy reading about and seeing on flickr and facebook.

Morale is good here, and we continue to expand as new people arrive in DC to witness with us.  It's exciting to feel the energy building.

Thank you for your solidarity, as we join our spirits with those of our brothers in Guantánamo.

In Peace,

Witness Against Torture
www.witnesstorture.org

*Please share your fasting experiences with us so we can pass them on to the larger community.*

CLICK HERE FOR OUR WASHINGTON, DC SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

In this e-mail you will find:

1)        DAY 3 – Wednesday, January 7

WITNESS AGAINST TORTURE SOCIAL MEDIA

like’ us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/witnesstorture

Follow Us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/witnesstorture

Post any pictures of your local activities to http://www.flickr.com/groups/witnesstorture/, and we will help spread the word on http://witnesstorture.tumblr.com/

DAY 3 - Wednesday, January 7

This morning was a time for introspection and community-building. Sitting in our circle, we all wrote personal responses to prompts that we knew also loom large for the men in Guantanamo.  Luke invited us each to think about people and experiences that have deeply affected us.  Specifically, he asked us to remember people we love, why we love these people, and to also recall instances of separation from and reunion with loved ones.

As we shared our responses around the circle, we felt a growing sense of community and caring. We brought our families and friends into our circle. We also brought the men in Guantanamo into the circle, knowing they have loved ones that they dearly miss and hope they will soon be reunited with. We understood the importance of seeing the prisoners in all of their humanity, not just as numbers in a prison.

Later in the morning we created and rehearsed an action that we took to Union Station here in D.C.  Using words from a letter written by Fahd Ghazy to his lawyer, a large painted banner of his face, a number of signs, and songs, we presented a performance piece attempting to show his humanity to people moving through the station. We spent over 45 minutes in the station doing our performance three times as we processed from one location to another.

During the dramatic readings of his words, we sang and hummed this song:

We’re gonna to build a nation

That don’t torture no one

But it’s going to take courage  

For that change to come

As we walked out of the building we also sang:

            Courage, Muslim brothers

            You do not walk alone

            We will walk with you

And sing your spirit home

Outside of Union Station, Frank invited us to form a circle and briefly express our feelings about the action we’d just created.  Several people expressed surprise and gratitude because of having transformed the spaces inside.

In the evening, Dr. Maha Hilal, an activist who has been part of WAT and has just earned her doctorate, came to share her dissertation. It’s title is “Too Damn Muslim to Be Trusted: The War on Terror and the Muslim American Response.” Her study documented the beliefs and attitudes of Muslim Americans about being targeted since 9/11 - with a majority feeling diminished senses of legal and cultural citizenship.

Malachy Kilbride, who will join our group later in the week, wrote a reflection to share. Here is an excerpt:

The fasting is a spiritual act of solidarity as we align ourselves with the suffering of the Guantanamo captives, their families and friends, and the injustice of this whole bloody mess. The fast in and of itself will not bring an end to this terrible travesty. In a way though, the fasting will also highlight the hunger strikes of the prisoners. Prisoners of Guantanamo have engaged in hunger strikes now for years to protest the illegality of their confinement, treatment, their torture, and their helplessness and hopelessness. In fasting we stand with them, the men who starve for justice.

Talk Nation Radio: Kristin Christman on the Taxonomy of Peace

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-kristin-christman-on-the-taxonomy-of-peace

Kristin Y. Christman is author of The Taxonomy of Peace, a work that analyzes the aggressive and defensive roots of violence in the Middle East and the United States, as well as mental, legal, and physical escalators of violence, and solutions to violence.  She discusses the significance of her work to foreign policy, as well as recent op-ed writings pertaining to U.S. attitudes towards Russia, the Middle East, and police violence in Ferguson and New York City.  Her work is online at  http://sites.google.com/site/paradigmforpeace

Also read these articles by Christman:
The Religion of War
The Atom of Peace
Excessive Force With a Clean Conscience
Iceberg
Practical Problem-Solving

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Actions in DC This Week

Witness Against Torture has activities going on in Washington, D.C., January 5-13
http://www.witnesstorture.org

Saturday, January 10th: Along with CodePink: tour homes and offices of famous torturers. Meet at 8 a.m. at Frying Pan Park, 2709 West Ox Road, Herndon, VA 20171.

Saturday, January 10th at 8 p.m. at First Trinity Lutheran Church, 4th St and E St NW (Judicial Square stop on the Redline) Along with Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: A panel discussion on "From Ferguson to Guantanamo: Institutionalized Brutality and Torture." Experts will connect the dots between the police killing of unarmed African Americans in the U.S. and the brutal treatment of Muslim men imprisoned at Guantanamo. The panelists include Kathy Kelly (Voices for Creative Nonviolence), Marsha Coleman-Adebayo (DC Hands-Up Coalition), Salim Adofo (#FergusonDC) and a Center for Constitutional Rights attorney.  (Others to be announced.) The Peace Poets from New York will begin and end the evening with performances.

Monday, January 12th: Witness Against Torture’s Nonviolent Direct Action. TBD.

*****

DC Ferguson has events planned:
http://dcferguson.org

Wednesday, January 7th at 5pm we will meet at Minnesota Avenue station to flyer for our upcoming action on Thursday, January 15th.

Saturday, January 10th at 7pm we will meet at Congress Heights station to gather signatures for the jump-out petition.

Tuesday, January 13th at 5pm we will meet at Rhode Island Avenue station to flyer for our upcoming action on Thursday, January 15th.

Thursday, January 15th (MLK’s birthday) at 7am we will meet at Mt. Vernon Square Park to shutdown downtown!

Presidents Are Gods

A former Governor of Virginia is expected to be sentenced to a long stay in prison. The same fate has befallen governors in states across the United States, including in nearby Maryland, Tennessee, and West Virginia. A former governor of Illinois is in prison. Governors have been convicted of corruption in Rhode Island, Louisiana, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Connecticut, and (in a trumped-up partisan scam) in Alabama. The statewide trauma suffered by the people of states that have locked up their governors has been . . . well, nonexistent and unimaginable.

Locking U.S. presidents up for their crimes is a different story. Former President Richard Nixon's understanding that whatever a president does is legal has not been challenged since he made that comment. The Washington Post -- not exactly a Nixon supporter -- has the same understanding now. The Post recently justified the latest proposal to re-ban torture by explaining that even though torture was already banned, President George W. Bush tortured and therefore had found a legal way around the law. In other words, because he hasn't been prosecuted, what he did was legal.

The New York Times, which urged prosecuting former President George W. Bush for torture six years ago, recently wrote this:

"Who should be held accountable? That will depend on what an investigation finds, and as hard as it is to imagine Mr. Obama having the political courage to order a new investigation, it is harder to imagine a criminal probe of the actions of a former president. But any credible investigation should include . . . "

The editorial goes on to list the people who should be prosecuted, up to and including the former vice president. But the president gets a pass, not on the basis of some reasoned argument, but because the authors cannot imagine a president being held accountable for crimes. They or their colleagues could imagine it several years ago but have progressed to the point where it has become unthinkable.

The state flag of Virginia, or any other of the 50 states, can be turned into a table cloth or a picnic blanket. It can be used to keep the rain off your firewood. Or it can be burned to get your fire started. Nobody cares what you do with it. Children aren't forced to pray to it every morning in school. It's just a flag. And because it's just a flag, nobody has any interest in abusing it, and virtually nobody would recognize what it was if they saw it burned or trampled or turned into a bathrobe or a bikini. The flag of Virginia, although we don't actually imagine it as having feelings, is treated just fine. So are state songs, even though nobody is required to stand and sing them with a fascistic pose as troops march by.

The same is true of state governors. They're treated with civility and respect. They're honored when they perform well and held accountable when they abuse power. Understood as human beings, they aren't abused as anything less. But they are not gods. And they are not gods because they are not makers of war.

Presidents make wars. And they now do so without any formal checks on their power. They can destroy the earth with the push of a button. They can destroy a hut or a village or a city at their discretion. Their killer flying robots rain hell from the skies worldwide, and neither Congress nor the Washington Post nor the people who lock up governors for taking bribes can even imagine questioning that power, that privilege, that divine right.

Congress may, it is true, "authorize" one of the current wars for three more years after allowing it to proceed illegally for several months. Or it may not. Nobody cares. The pretense that it matters is a vestige of a time in which we saw presidents differently.

But if murdering large numbers of people doesn't disturb us, if we've all concluded that murder is morally superior to imprisonment and torture and that there is no third option, are we perhaps capable of spotting a problem in what presidents have become in relation to the rule of law? Should it not disturb us that we've given single individuals for 4- or 8-year runs more power than King George III ever dreamed of, and that we've collectively declared any declaration of independence unimaginable?

The Atlantic Can't Figure Out Why U.S. Loses Wars

The cover of the January-February 2015 The Atlantic asks "Why Do The Best Soldiers in the World Keep Losing?" which leads to this article, which fails to answer the question.

The main focus of the article is the by now endlessly familiar discovery that most U.S.-Americans are not in the military. The article is accompanied by another advocating a draft. The claim in the main article is that because most people are disconnected from the military they are more willing to send it off into unwinnable wars.

Nowhere does the author, James Fallows, attempt to so much as hint at what makes the wars unwinnable. He does claim that the last war that was in any way victorious for the United States was the Gulf War. But he can't mean that it resolved a crisis. It was a war followed by bombings and sanctions and, in fact, the repeated revival of the war, ongoing and escalating even now.

What Fallows must mean is that once the U.S. military had done what it can do -- namely, blow stuff up -- in the Gulf War, it more or less stopped. The early days in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq 2003 saw very similar "victories," as did Libya 2011 and numerous other U.S. wars. Why Fallows ignores Libya I don't know, but Iraq and Afghanistan go down as losses in his book, I think, not because there's no draft or because the military and Congress are corrupt and build the wrong weapons, but because after blowing everything up, the military stuck around for years trying to make people like it by murdering their friends and family members. Such occupations are virtually unwinnable, as in Vietnam and numerous other places, because people will not accept them, and because military attempts to create acceptance are counterproductive. A better military with more self-criticism, a draft, and an audited budget would not alter this fact in the slightest.

Fallows' contention that nobody pays any attention to wars and militarism misses the point, but it is also overstated. "I'm not aware," he writes, "of any midterm race for the House or Senate in which matters of war and peace . . . were first-tier campaign issues." He's forgotten 2006 when exit polls showed ending the war on Iraq as the number one motivator of voters after numerous candidates opposed the war they would escalate as soon as they were in office.

Fallows also overstates the impact of public separation from the military. He believes it was possible to make fun of the military in popular culture when, and because, more of the public was closer to the military through family and friends. But this avoids the general downward slide of the U.S. media and the militarization of U.S. culture which he has not shown to be completely attributable to disconnection.

Fallows thinks that Obama would not have been able to make everyone "look forward" and avoid contemplating military disasters if "Americans had felt effected by the wars' outcome." No doubt, but is the answer to that problem a draft or a bit of education? It doesn't take much to point out to U.S. college students that student debt is unheard of in some nations that fight fewer wars. The U.S. has killed huge numbers of men, women, and children, made itself hated, made the world more dangerous, destroyed the environment, discarded civil liberties, and wasted trillions of dollars that could have done a world of good spent otherwise. A draft would do nothing to make people aware of that situation. And Fallows' focus only on the financial cost of a war -- and not on the 10-times-greater cost of the military justified by the wars -- encourages acceptance of what Eisenhower warned would generate more warfare.

Fallows' effort to look backwards also seems to miss the robotization of U.S. wars. No draft is going to turn us into drones, the pilots of which death machines are themselves disconnected from the wars.

Still, Fallows has a point. It is utterly bizarre that the least successful, most wasteful, most expensive, most destructive public program is largely unquestioned and generally trusted and revered by most of the public. This is the operation that coined the term SNAFU for godsake, and people are ready to believe its every wild tale. Gareth Porter explains the knowingly doomed decision to re-launch the Iraq war in 2014 as a political calculation, not as a means of pleasing profiteers, and of course not as a means of accomplishing anything. Of course, war profiteers work very hard to manufacture the sort of public that insists on or tolerates lots of wars, and the political calculation may be related to pleasing elites more than the general public. It is still worth framing as the greatest cultural crisis before us -- alongside climate denial -- that too many people are willing to cheer for wars and even more to accept the permanent war economy. Anything that shakes up that situation is to be applauded.

War Is So 2014

By Joan Brunwasser, OpEdNews

President Obama has been credited with "ending" and "drawing down" this war [in Afghanistan] not only while expanding it to triple the size but also for a longer period of time than various other major wars combined.The catch is that this war is not over or ending. This year was more deadly than any of the previous 12. War is optional, that it is not imposed on us, that we have the responsibility to scale it back or to end it.

::::::::

The Challenge of the Islamic State and U.S. Policy

By Karl Meyer and Kathy Kelly

What to do about the political mess in the Middle East and the rise of the Islamic State and related political movements?

Shortly after the end of World War II, the Western powers and the whole world began to recognize that the age of explicit colonial domination was over, and dozens of colonies were let go of and took political independence.

It is now past time for the United States and other world powers to recognize that the age of neo-colonial military, political and economic domination, especially in the Islamic Middle East, is decisively coming to a close.

Attempts to maintain it by military force have been disastrous for ordinary people trying to survive in the affected countries. There are powerful cultural currents and political forces in motion in the Middle East that simply will not tolerate military and political domination. There are thousands of people prepared to die rather than accept it.

U.S. policy will find no military fix for this reality.

Stopping Communism by military imposition of subservient government did not work in Vietnam, even with the presence of a half million U.S. troops at one period, the sacrifice of millions of Vietnamese lives, the direct death of about 58,000 U.S. soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of U.S. physical and mental casualties, still ongoing today.

Creating a stable, democratic, friendly government in Iraq has not worked even with the presence of at least a hundred thousand U.S. paid personnel at one period, the cost of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties and deaths, the loss of about 4,400 U.S. troops to direct death, and many more thousands to physical and mental casualties, ongoing today and for many more years to come. The U.S. military attack and occupation has led to fratricidal civil war, economic disaster and misery for millions of ordinary Iraqis trying to survive.

The results in Afghanistan are proving very similar: dysfunctional government, massive corruption, civil war, economic disruption, and misery for millions of ordinary people, at a cost of thousands of deaths, and uncounted thousands of Afghan, U.S., European, and allied casualties, that will continue to manifest symptoms for decades to come.

The U.S./European military intervention in the Libyan revolt left Libya in an unresolved condition of dysfunctional government and civil war.

The Western response to the rebellion in Syria, encouraging and fostering civil war, at the cost of death or misery for millions of Syrian refugees, has only made the situation worse for most Syrians.

We need to think, above all else, about the terrible costs of each of these military interventions for ordinary people trying to live, raise families and survive in each of these countries.

These awful failures of U.S. and European military intervention have led to immense cultural resentment among millions of serious and thoughtful people in Islamic countries of the Middle East. The evolution and emergence of the Islamic State and other militant movements is one challenging response to these realities of economic and political chaos.

Now the United States is engaging in another military intervention, bombing targets in areas of Islamic State control, and trying to persuade surrounding Arab states and Turkey to enter the fray by putting their troops at risk on the ground. The expectation that this will work out better than the interventions cited above seems to us another huge mistake, one that will be equally disastrous for ordinary people caught in the middle.

It is time for the U.S. and Europe to recognize that civil wars in the Middle East will be resolved by the emergence of the most powerful and best organized local movements, in spite of what the U.S. Government agencies, on the one hand, or worldwide humanitarian communities, on the other hand, might prefer.

They may also lead to the rearrangement of national boundaries in the Middle East that were arbitrarily set by European colonial powers a hundred years ago at the end of World War I. This has already occurred with Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and other eastern European countries.

What U.S. Policies Might Foster Political Stability and Economic Recovery in Areas of Conflict?

1) The U.S. should end its current provocative drive toward military alliances and missile deployments encircling the boundaries of Russia and China. The U.S. should accept pluralism of economic and political power in the contemporary world. Present policies are provoking a return to Cold War with Russia, and a tendency to begin a Cold War with China This is a lose/lose proposition for all countries involved.

2) By turning toward a reset of policy toward cooperating with Russia, China and other influential countries within the framework of the United Nations, the United States could foster international mediation and political pressure from a broad consensus of countries to resolve the civil wars in Syria and other countries by negotiation, devolution of power, and other political solutions. It might also reset its relationship toward friendly cooperation with Iran in the Middle East and resolve the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation in Iran, North Korea and any other potential nuclear weapons states. There is no essentially inherent reason why the U.S. needs to continue a hostile relationship with Iran.

3) The U.S. should offer reparations to ordinary people harmed by U.S. military interventions, and generous medical and economic aid and technical expertise wherever it may be helpful in other countries, and thus build a reservoir of international goodwill and positive influence.

4) It’s time to embrace a post-neo-colonial period of international cooperation through diplomatic institutions, international organizations, and non-governmental initiatives.

Join Witness Against Torture’s Annual Fast, Rally, and Direct Action to Close Guantánamo and End Torture


The WAT community will gather together in Washington D.C. from January 5th thru January 13th. You are invited to fast with us for a day, fast with us from Jan. 5-12, and to join us in Washington!

This January 11, 2015, the detention facility at Guantánamo will enter its fourteenth year of operation. Despite the recent release of some detained men, more than 100 remain imprisoned, including dozens who are cleared for transfer.  While we celebrate the freedom of those released, we cannot stand idly by waiting for executive action to determine the fate of those still in Guantánamo.

In Washington., we will use our creative energy to encourage citizens and government officials to see the humanity of the men in Guantánamo, to call for the closure of the prison, and to seek an end to torture.  The Senate report on CIA torture describes acts that shock the conscience. Our actions during the week will also call for the prosecution of those who authorized, designed, ordered, and carried out torture policies

Many of us will be fasting in solidarity with the men in Guantánamo as they continue to suffer the torture of indefinite detention, separation from their families, and force-feeding. We fast because of a mutual desire for freedom and justice that connects our lives to theirs.

How can you participate?

Join us for the duration of the fast: January 5th thru the 13th.

We still have space available for those that wish to come to Washington D.C. for the entire time.   We have actions and activities planned for everyday of the week. Join us for this time of shared solidarity, mutual support and creative collective actions.

If you are wondering what to expect, click here to watch this video of our 2014 Fast

Join us for the weekend activities:  January 9th to the 13th:  

During the weekend, we have very special events and actions planned If you cannot make it for the duration, come for the weekend!  Activities include:

Saturday, January 10th 8pm: From Ferguson to Guantánamo: Institutionalized Brutality & Torture: A Panel Discussion. Location: First Trinity Lutheran Church

4th & E Street NW.  The discussion will feature activists and attorneys involved in the struggles against police violence, racial profiling, and US detention policies.

Sunday, January 11th 1pm: Interfaith Prayer Vigil (Sponsored by NRCAT and Interfaith Action for Human Rights) 1:30pm Rally to close Guantánamo at the White House followed by a march to the Department of Justice.Click here to read The Call to Action.

Monday, January 12th: Witness Against Torture’s Nonviolent Direct Action. TBD.

We shut down a Federal Court when the courts refused to allow the men from Guantánamo in. We held a memorial in the Capitol Rotunda for men who had died at Guantánamo. We shut down the United States Supreme Court calling for justice for men in Guantánamo. We have lined the sidewalk in front of the White House hundreds of times, in orange jumpsuits and black hoods. We took over the Museum of American History imploring “Make Guantánamo History!”

This year, as 132 men remain in Guantánamo,

as we enter the 14th year of the prisons existence,

as 64 men are cleared for release…

We are looking for 64 people to join us on January 12th.

Fast with us in your home community:

You are invited to join us from afar. Every year people join us in fasting and organizing actions in their home communities. During this time, we will stay connected with you through our daily updates and direct contact, as helpful.  If you are considering fasting with us from afar please let us know!

If you have any questions, please email us at witnesstorture@gmail.com

Witness Against Torture on Social Media:

Please "like us on Facebook & follow us on Twitter & Instagram

Check out our latest news and updates on Tumblr.

Post any pictures of your local activities to ourflicker account and we will help spread the word.

Donate to support our work:

Witness Against Torture is completely volunteer driven and run. We have no paid staff, but do have expenses associated with our organizing work. If you are able, please donate here. www.witnesstorture.org

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Witness Against Torture
www.witnesstorture.org

Talk Nation Radio: Jonathan Landay on War, Politics, and Media

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-jonathan-landay-on-war-politics-and-media

Jonathan Landay is a reporter for McClatchy. His reporting at Knight Ridder during the marketing of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was virtually the only skeptical reporting in the corporate press. He discusses current wars and politics.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Send Me to Cuba to Report on U.S.-Cuba Relations

I hope to travel to Cuba in February with CodePink and to report on U.S.-Cuban relations. To do so I need to raise the funds fast to pay for the trip. If the funds come in, I'll go, and I'll publish what I report in various outlets as well as at http://davidswanson.org

Please chip in what you can here http://bit.ly/1JXNGqQ

Please spread the word whether you can personally help or not, on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks! Peace! Happier New Year Than the Last!

 

Renaming Afghan War, Renaming Murder

The U.S.-led NATO war on Afghanistan has lasted so long they've decided to rename it, declare the old war over, and announce a brand new war they're just sure you're going to love.

The war thus far has lasted as long as U.S. participation in World War II plus U.S. participation in World War I, plus the Korean War, plus the Spanish American War, plus the full length of the U.S. war on the Philippines, combined with the whole duration of the Mexican American War.

Now, some of those other wars accomplished things, I will admit -- such as stealing half of Mexico. What has Operation Freedom's Sentinel, formerly known as Operation Enduring Freedom, accomplished, other than enduring and enduring and enduring to the point where we're numb enough to completely overlook a new name as Orwellian as Freedom's Sentinel (what -- was "Liberty's Enslaver" already taken)?

Well, according to President Obama, over 13 years of bombing and occupying Afghanistan has made us safer. That seems like a claim someone should request some evidence for. The U.S. government has spent nearly a trillion dollars on this war, plus roughly 13 trillion dollars in standard military spending over 13 years, a rate of spending radically increased by using this war and related wars as the justification. Tens of billions of dollars could end starvation on earth, provide the globe with clean water, etc. We could have saved millions of lives and chose to kill thousands instead. The war has been a leading destroyer of the natural environment. We've tossed our civil liberties out the window in the name of "freedom." We've produced so many weapons they've had to be shuffled off to local police departments, with predictable results. A claim that something good has come and is coming and will continue to come for many future years from this war is worth looking into.

Don't look too closely. The CIA finds that a key component of the war (targeted drone murders -- "murders" is their word) is counterproductive. Before the great opponent of war Fred Branfman died this year he collected a long list of statements by members of the U.S. government and military stating the same thing. That murdering people with drones tends to enrage their friends and families, producing more enemies than you eliminate, may become easier to understand after reading a study that recently found that when the U.S. targets a person for murder, it kills 27 additional people along the way. General Stanley McChrystal said that when you kill an innocent person you create 10 enemies. I'm not a mathematician, but I think that comes to about 270 enemies created each time someone is put on the kill list, or 280 if the person is or is widely believed to be innocent (of what it's not exactly clear).

This war is counterproductive on its own terms. But what are those terms? Usually they are a declaration of vicious revenge and a condemnation of the rule of law -- albeit dressed up to sound like something more respectable. It's worth recalling here how this all began. The United States, for three years prior to September 11, 2001, had been asking the Taliban to turn over Osama bin Laden. The Taliban had asked for evidence of his guilt of any crimes and a commitment to try him in a neutral third country without the death penalty. This continued right into October, 2001. (See, for example "Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Hand Bin Laden Over" in the Guardian, October 14, 2001.) The Taliban also warned the United States that bin Laden was planning an attack on U.S. soil (this according to the BBC). Former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Niaz Naik told the BBC that senior U.S. officials told him at a U.N.-sponsored summit in Berlin in July 2001 that the United States would take action against the Taliban in mid-October. He said it was doubtful that surrendering bin Laden would change those plans. When the United States attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, the Taliban asked again to negotiate handing over bin Laden to a third country to be tried. The United States rejected the offer and continued a war on Afghanistan for many years, not halting it when bin Laden was believed to have left that country, and not even halting it after announcing bin Laden's death.

So, in opposition to the rule of law, the United States and its accomplices have conducted a record-long killing spree that could have been avoided with a trial in 2001 or by never having armed and trained bin Laden and his associates in the 1980s or by never having provoked the Soviet Union into invading or by never having launched the Cold War, etc.

If this war has not accomplished safety -- with polling around the globe finding the United States now viewed as the greatest threat to world peace -- has it accomplished something else? Maybe. Or maybe it still can -- especially if it is ended and prosecuted as a crime. What this war could still accomplish is the full removal of the distinction between war and what the CIA and the White House call what they're doing in their own reports and legal memos: murder.

A German newspaper has just published a NATO kill list -- a list similar to President Obama's -- of people targeted for murder. On the list are low-level fighters, and even non-fighting drug dealers. We really have replaced incarceration and the accompanying torture and law suits and moral crises and editorial hand-wringing with murder.

Why should murder be more acceptable than imprisonment and torture? Largely I think we're leaning on the vestiges of a long-dead tradition still alive as mythology. War -- which we absurdly imagine has always been and will always be -- didn't used to look like it does today. It did not used to be the case that 90 percent of the dead were non-combatants. We still talk about "battlefields," but they're used to actually be such things. Wars were arranged and planned for like sports matches. Ancient Greek armies could camp next to an enemy without fear of a surprise attack. Spaniards and Moors negotiated the dates for battles. California Indians used accurate arrows for hunting but arrows without feathers for ritual war. War's history is one of ritual and of respect for the "worthy opponent." George Washington could sneak up on the British, or Hessians, and kill them on Christmas night not because nobody had ever thought of crossing the Delaware before, but because that just wasn't what one did.

Well, now it is. Wars are fought in people's towns and villages and cities. Wars are murder on a massive scale. And the particular approach developed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the U.S. military and CIA has the potential advantage of looking like murder to most people. May that motivate us to end it. May we resolve not to let this go on another decade or another year or another month. May we not engage in the pretense of talking about a mass murder as having ended just because the mass murderer has given the crime a new name. Thus far it is only the dead who have seen an end to the war on Afghanistan.

Resolved: To Stop Imagining that Anything's Been Resolved

Things that humans are probably stuck with: eating, drinking, breathing, sex, love, friendship, anger, fear, joy, death, hope and change.

Things that some humans used to commonly claim humanity was permanently and inevitably stuck with (but have stopped thinking about in those terms, even if the thing is still around): monarchy, slavery, blood feuds, dueling, human sacrifice, cannibalism, corporal punishment, second-class status for women, bigotry toward GLBT, feudalism, Eric Cantor.

Things that humans illogically, baselessly, shortsightedly, and absurdly assume must always be with us, as if nothing had ever changed before: environmental destruction, war, mass-incarceration, capital punishment, police forces, religion, carnivorianism, extreme materialism, nuclear energy and weaponry, racism, poverty, plutocracy, capitalism, nationalism, the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Senate, the CIA, guns, the NSA, Guantanamo prison, torture, Hillary Clinton.

The year 2014 will be remembered as yet another year in which we inched closer toward environmental and militarized catastrophe, but also perhaps as a year in which crisis and enlightenment combined to open a few more eyes to the full range of possibilities available.

How often have you heard things like "We can't end war, because there is evil in the world, but we can end unjust wars" or "Renewable energy is a nice idea but can't actually work (even though it works in other countries)" or "We need police -- we just need accountability when certain police officers perform badly" or "We could legalize drugs but we'd still need prisons or we'd all be raped and killed" or "If we don't kill murderers we'll have more murder (like all those countries that have abolished capital punishment and have less murder)" or "We need reforms but we can't survive without the CIA or something like it -- we can't just not spy on people" or "Ever-increasing environmental destruction is inevitable"?

That last one could be true if feedback loops have already taken the earth's climate to a point of no return. But it can't be true in terms of human behavior. Nor can any of the others. And I suspect a lot of people see my point and agree with me on it. But how many view all of the above sentences as ludicrous?

A serious argument could be made that a human utopia should be policed by a police force. But no serious argument can be made that a police force is an inevitable accompaniment of our species, a species that saw 99% of its existence unpoliced. Most people in the small number of places that are at war take no part in it. Nations go for centuries without war. Homo sapiens went most of our existence without war. Massive institutions cannot be inevitable. Hunger and love are the kind of things that are inevitable. We ought to start hearing assertions of inevitability for institutions as ridiculous nonsense. Doing so might be the most serious action we can take.

Of course reforming a criminal justice system a little bit is the proper first step whether you think another step can follow or not. But the direction of the step may vary if you have a different final destination in mind. There's a difference between ending a war in order to be better prepared for other wars, and ending a war because it kills people and exemplifies an institution that should be dismantled and eliminated. Both efforts can have the same short-term result, but only one has the potential to go further and help avoid the next war.

An argument -- I hesitate to call it serious -- could be made that pretty much everything is going well, and that nothing much should be altered. Not only can such an argument be made, but it is subtly and powerfully made by just about everything that is ever said on our televisions and in our newspapers. It does not, however, add up to any argument that everything must inevitably continue unchanged, that nothing can be slowly or rapidly made over into a different sort of world.

We need to resolve to realize that nothing has been resolved, history has not ended, questions of politics have not been settled -- and that they never will be, that the very idea is incoherent. And isn't that what makes life worth living?

Talk Nation Radio: Jonathan Newton on Ending Police Brutality

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-jonathan-newton-on-ending-police-brutality

Jonathan Newton is founder of the National Association Against Police Brutality ( http://naapb.org ). He discusses steps that can be taken to address the problem, including eliminating the conflict of interest involved in police investigations of themselves.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Speaking Events

2015

April 25 Houston

May 8 New Jersey

May 30 NYC here and here

August 27, Chicago

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