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At the first meeting of the new Charlottesville, Va., City Council Tuesday evening, four of the five city council members publicly expressed their intention to support a resolution asking Congress to reduce military spending, a resolution likely to be discussed and voted on at the council's next meeting on the evening of January 16th, Martin Luther King Day. The fifth member expressed no view, so the possibility exists for unanimous support. One of the four members who expressed support for the draft resolution that we had proposed added that he would like to see it amended to also oppose the launching of a war against Iran. Another member also expressed an interest in revising the draft in some unspecified way prior to the next meeting.
The City of Charlottesville posts videos of its meetings online, but the video that can be downloaded and edited includes no audio, so I'm unable to show you just the relevant bits of the meeting. However, you can find them with the handy-dandy guide below this video:
First come 3-minute public comments from some of us in support of the resolution. Scroll ahead to . . . 17:07 for Brandon Collins, immediately followed at 20:43 by David Swanson. Jump ahead to 34:36 for Kirk Bowers, and to 38:30 for Nancy Carpenter. Then at 47:20 Stratton speaks on another issue but connects it very well to this one.
Following public comments, each of the five city council members replied briefly. First new member Kathy Galvin spoke on other topics and did not mention the resolution at all. Next, at 53:28 new member Dede Smith spoke in support of the resolution, and at 54:22 Kristin Szakos did so as well but suggested that it should be voted on at the next meeting on MLK Day, while at 55:10 Dave Norris spoke in support of the resolution and of adding to it opposition to attacking Iran. Norris's term as mayor ended at this meeting, but as mayor in 2011 he had been an early supporter of the resolution passed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors asking Congress to reduce military spending. Brand new mayor Satyendra Huja spoke last and did not touch the topic at that point.
Now, enjoy lots of unrelated discussion or jump way ahead to 2:35:30 for Pat Lloyd, another member of the public who speaks up for the resolution. Then skip ahead to 2:49:48 at which point Mayor Huja says that he too supports the resolution, and Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones asks the five members to submit any proposed edits to the resolution to him (or to "staff") by the end of this week.
The book that I present to the Mayor in the video can be found at http://MIC50.org
Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice is supporting this resolution.
UPDATE: Meeting will be on 17th, not 16th.
If you watch the above pitch for Oxytocin as the hormone of morality, it will quickly become clear that this guy and the rest of us actually know very little about how our brains and blood and bodies work. In fact, another guy claims that oxytocin is the hormone of ethnocentrism, not of universal love. Of course it's being marketed as a spray that can make people trust you. And a little reflection can make you realize that there is an enormous gap between personal relations and war making. If you trust your boss at the Pentagon more will you work for war less? Would we really want the peace movement purged of everyone in it who isn't terribly nice or trusting?
There is, however, in the above video something I find particularly interesting. It's the part where he says that testosterone may be an opponent of oxytocin but it also makes people (or at least men) more eager to punish immoral actions by others. Now, I have no idea if that is true or as simple as described. I would be willing to bet that description will change soon if it hasn't already. What interests me is the possibility of thinking of the punishment of war as sharing a motivation with war — whether or not that motivation is tied to testosterone.
Of course, I want war makers punished if it will prevent and deter war making, but I want them punished with prison and rehab. I don't want them punished with war. The idea behind the United Nations, and the League of Nations before it, not to mention NATO, is to use war to punish war. This results, of course, in lots of wars that merely pretend to punish war. And that would not be the case if we were not considering war an available option. Europe has stopped thinking of war as an option internally, but not abroad. The United States thinks of little other than war in foreign relations, and is beginning to train domestic police to make war on their own. What we need is not so much the right hormone as the right way of thinking. That way of thinking will of course exist in a complex physical event within brains, but "complex" is the key word. If peace can be sprayed up somebody's nose, today's scientists are nowhere near knowing how, and a general inclination to trust or love does not begin to approach it.
Monday morning at 7 PT on Lila Garrett’s CONNECT THE DOTS we’ll review the old year and prioritize the new with:
DAVID SWANSON covering the NDAA (Nat’l. Defense Authorization Act) which has been signed into law. It gives the President absolute power over anyone he accuses of terrorism, including Americans. No formal charge is mandated, and there is no right to trial. There goes the two premises on which our justice system is based… presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial. And while our democracy struggles to survive this assault…..
DAVID SEGAL Exec Director of “Demand Progress” covers SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act HR 3261) an Internet piracy bill presumably to protect copyright for the entertainment business. But it has the potential to severely censor the Internet. It needs mass phone calls to Congress to be stopped.
GAR ALPEROWITZ discusses his new book, AMERICA BEYOND CAPITALISM. Where are we headed in 2012? Monday morning at 7 on CONNECT THE DOTS.
Lila Garrett (Host of CONNECT THE DOTS)
KPFK 90.7 FM in LA; 98.7 Santa Barbara: 93.7 San Diego
Airs Mondays from 7AM to 8AM.
To pod cast or download the broadcast just use this link:
Each show is on line for three months.
Let me be clear.
Obama has always claimed the power to wage war on anyone anywhere, to search, seize, imprison, rendition, torture, or murder anyone. He has in fact openly murdered US citizens, among many other human beings.
Obama asked Congress to legislate the power for U.S. presidents to imprison anyone without any trial or any legal-looking process whatsoever, and to not make an exception for U.S. citizens.
Obama came close to getting what he wanted.
He got the power to imprison without trial.
Obama then engaged for the umpteenth time in an abuse as dangerous in itself as any other. He rewrote the law as he signed it. In doing so, Obama gave himself the power to imprison without even military kangaroo courts and without even the formality of pretended "status review hearings."
And the vast majority of organizations and individuals who would have raised hell and resisted this had Obama been a Republican, did not do a god damned thing about it.
Of course, for most of them, the opposition they would have exercised had Obama been a Republican, would have been shallow and phony and motivated by an immediate interest in generating negative press. Any actual concern over Republican presidents possessing these outrageous powers would, of course, have led to opposition to Obama seizing them, since what Obama seizes will remain for each of his successors.
For details on what was going on during the football games and drinking of New Year's Eve go here.
Hell of a way to start a year, people.
Let's step it up a bit, huh?
OK, she's talking about Wilson, but it's the same thing:
If, after the declaration of his foreign policy, it seemed to our group that desire and achievement were united in one able protagonist, the philosopher become king, so to speak, this state of mind was destined to be short lived, for almost immediately the persistent tendency of the President to divorce his theory from the actual conduct of state affairs threw us into a state of absolute bewilderment. During a speaking tour in January, 1917, he called attention to the need of a greater army, and in St. Louis openly declared that the United States should have the biggest navy in the world.
These were among the complaints registered the last time this nation had a king:
"He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
"He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
"He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
"He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
"He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
"He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
"He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
"For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
"For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
"For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
"For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
"He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation."
To prevent the U.S. government from behaving like a king, the drafters of the U.S. Constitution empowered an elected legislature to write every law, to declare every war, and to remove its executive from office. To further prevent the abuse of individuals' rights, those authors wrote into the Constitution, even prior to the Bill of Rights, the right to habeas corpus and the right never to be punished for treason unless convicted in an open court on the testimony of at least two witnesses to an overt act of war or assistance of an enemy.
President Barack Obama waited until New Year's Eve to take an action that I suspect he wanted his willfully deluded followers to have a good excuse not to notice. On that day, Obama issued an unconstitutional signing statement rewriting a law as he signed it into law, a practice that candidate Obama had rightly condemned. The law that Obama was signing was the most direct assault yet seen on the basic structure of self-governance and human rights that once made all the endless U.S. shouting of "We're number one!" significantly less ludicrous. The National Defense Authorization Act is not a leap from democracy to tyranny, but it is another major step on a steady and accelerating decade-long march toward a police-and-war state.
President Obama has claimed the power to imprison people without a trial since his earliest months in office. He spoke in front of the Constitution in the National Archives while gutting our founding document in 2009. President Obama has claimed the power to torture "if needed," issued an executive order claiming the power of imprisonment without trial, exercised that power on a massive scale at Bagram, and claimed and exercised the power to assassinate U.S. citizens. Obama routinely kills people with unmanned drones.
The bill just signed into law, as sent to the President, said this:
"Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force."
In other words, Congress was giving its stamp of approval to the unconstitutional outrages already claimed by the President. But then, why create a new law at all? Well, because some outrages are more equal than others, and Congress had chosen to specify some of those and in fact to expand some of them. For example:
"Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war."
"The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following: (1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force."
Jon Stewart explained when those detained without trial under the law might be released: "So when the war on terror ends, and terror surrenders and is no longer available as a human emotion, you are free to go."
An exception for U.S. legal residents and citizens was kept out of the bill at President Obama's request.
So why did Obama threaten to veto the bill initially and again after it passed the Senate? Well, one change made by the conference committee was this (note the crossed-through text):
Secretary of DefensePresident may , in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence,waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the SecretaryPresident submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States."
The reference here is to military tribunals. The President — that is, the current one and future ones — need not hand someone over even to a military tribunal if . . . well, if he (or she) chooses not to.
That was the most power Obama could have transferred to the White House in this bill. But it was not absolute power, and was therefore not good enough. Hence the signing statement, the relevant portion of which begins:
"Moving forward, my Administration will interpret and implement the provisions described below in a manner that best preserves the flexibility on which our safety depends and upholds the values on which this country was founded."
This is Bush-Cheneyspeak for "I will not comply with the following sections of this law despite signing it into law."
After having persuaded the Congress to remove an exception for U.S. legal residents, Obama has the nerve in the signing statement to assert, not that the law makes any such exception, but that he personally will choose to do so, at least for U.S. citizens. Future presidents may lock U.S. citizens up without trials, but Obama won't do so. He promises:
"I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation. My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law."
The first two sentences above are highly unusual if not unprecedented. Most, if not all, of Bush and Obama's law-altering signing statements up to this point have not sought to clarify what a particular administration would choose to do. Rather, they have focused on declaring parts of the laws invalid. Usually this is done in a manner misleadingly similar to the third sentence above. By claiming the power to interpret a law in line with the Constitution, Bush and Obama have each on numerous occasions asserted the view that the Constitution grants presidents far-reaching powers that cannot be restricted by legislation. If Obama had wanted to deny that this law could be applied to U.S. citizens (or legal residents), the above paragraph would look very different, although equally unusual in that it would then be rejecting power rather than claiming it.
Also note, as Marcy Wheeler has already pointed out, Section 1021 applies to any detention, and Obama promises only not to subject U.S. citizens to indefinite military detention. While locked away forever without a trial you'll be able to take comfort that yours is a non-military imprisonment.
Also, remember that Obama claims and exercises the power to kill U.S. citizens or anyone else (arguably at least as serious a violation of rights as imprisonment!), and for that he will use the military if he sees fit, or even allow the military to operate freely.
Also notice that legal residents are not included in the category of citizens.
Next, Obama declares Section 1022 on military custody "ill-conceived." His personal right to a waiver, won through the conference committee, was not enough. Obama insists on also erasing this section of law: "I reject," he writes,
"any approach that would mandate military custody where law enforcement provides the best method of incapacitating a terrorist threat. While section 1022 is unnecessary and has the potential to create uncertainty, I have signed the bill because I believe that this section can be interpreted and applied in a manner that avoids undue harm to our current operations. I have concluded that section 1022 provides the minimally acceptable amount of flexibility to protect national security. Specifically, I have signed this bill on the understanding that section 1022 provides the executive branch with broad authority to determine how best to implement it, and with the full and unencumbered ability to waive any military custody requirement, including the option of waiving appropriate categories of cases when doing so is in the national security interests of the United States. … I will therefore interpret and implement section 1022 in the manner that best preserves the same flexible approach that has served us so well for the past 3 years and that protects the ability of law enforcement professionals to obtain the evidence and cooperation they need to protect the Nation."
Obama goes on to reject several other sections of the law, including restrictions on his unlimited power to rendition prisoners to other countries. Among the notable rejections is this:
"Sections 1023-1025 needlessly interfere with the executive branch's processes for reviewing the status of detainees. Going forward, consistent with congressional intent as detailed in the Conference Report, my Administration will interpret section 1024 as granting the Secretary of Defense broad discretion to determine what detainee status determinations in Afghanistan are subject to the requirements of this section."
In other words, U.S. prisoners held in Afghanistan will not be given even any formal pretense of a legalistic review of their status unless Obama and his Secretary of "Defense" see fit.
I've just been editing a forthcoming book in which one of the contributors writes:
"In 1971, Congress passed the Anti-Detention Act, 18 U.S.C. § 4001(a), which states that "no person shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress." Fred Koramatsu, who had brought the unsuccessful case before the Supreme Court, was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor. Congress apologized and provided for limited reparations for this heinous act."
The author is referring to the unconstitutional indefinite detention of Japanese and Japanese-Americans during World War II. This type of criminal abuse for which Congress had to apologize and pay reparations, and for which there is a misleadingly pro-war-looking memorial hidden between the U.S. Capitol and Union Station, has now been effectively sanctioned by our Constitutional Scholar in Chief.
My chief regret is that we have not seen the major resistance we could have, and without any doubt would have, seen to this if only Obama were a Republican.
It's hard to hear messages from the past. They may pre-date any notion of environmentalism, of equal rights for women, or of morality without religion. Their goals may seem small precisely because those goals have already been achieved. But sometimes it can be useful to us to look back at long-gone hopes and plans that were later fulfilled, so that we can move on to the next step.
In 1849, peace activists gathered in Paris, and Victor Hugo welcomed them as follows. Years later he would prematurely lose patience with his long-term vision and stray from the cause. But in this moment he said something very valuable about city states making peace and the possibility of Europe making peace. With Europe now at peace internally, we can take our turn to dream of a world at peace.
But first, enjoy the ringing in of the new year and listen to this:
"Gentlemen: Many of you have come from the most distant points of the globe, your hearts full of holy and religious feelings. You count in your ranks men of letters, philosophers, ministers of the Christian religion, writers of eminence, and public men justly popular for their talents. You, gentlemen, have wished to adopt Paris as the centre of this meeting, whose sympathies, full of gravity and conviction, do not merely apply to one nation, but to the whole world. You come to add another principle of a still superior—of a more august kind—to those that now direct statesmen, rulers, and legislators. You turn over, as it were, the last page of the Gospel—that page which imposes peace on the children of the same God; and in this capital, which has as yet only decreed fraternity amongst citizens, you are about to proclaim the brotherhood of mankind.
"Gentlemen, we bid you a hearty welcome! In the presence of such a thought and such an act, there can be no room for the expression of personal thanks. Permit me, then, in the first words which I pronounce in your hearing, to raise my thoughts higher than myself, and, as it were, to omit all mention of the great honour which you have just conferred upon me, in order that I may think of nothing else than the great thing which we have met to do.
"Gentlemen, this sacred idea, universal peace, all nations bound together in a common bond, the Gospel for their supreme law, mediation substituted for war—this holy sentiment, I ask you, is it practicable? Can it be realized? Many practical men, many public men grown old in the management of affairs, answer in the negative. But I answer with you, and I answer without hesitation, Yes! and I shall shortly try to prove it to you. I go still further. I do not merely say it is capable of being put into practice, but I add that it is inevitable, and that its execution is only a question of time, and may be hastened or retarded. The law which rules the world is not, cannot be different from the law of God. But the divine law is not one of war—it is peace. Men commenced by conflict, as the creation did by chaos. Whence are they coming? From wars—that is evident. But whither are they going? To peace—that is equally evident.
"When you enunciate those sublime truths, it is not to be wondered at that your assertion should be met by a negative; it is easy to understand that your faith will be encountered by incredulity; it is evident that in this period of trouble and of dissension the idea of universal peace must surprise and shock, almost like the apparition of something impossible and ideal; it is quite clear that all will call it utopian; but for me, who am but an obscure labourer in this great work of the nineteenth century, I accept this opposition without being astonished or discouraged by it. Is it possible that you can do otherwise than turn aside your head and shut your eyes, as if in bewilderment, when in the midst of the darkness which still envelopes you, you suddenly open the door that lets in the light of the future?
"Gentlemen, if four centuries ago, at the period when war was made by one district against the other, between cities, and between provinces—if, I say, some one had dared to predict to Lorraine, to Picardy, to Normandy, to Brittany, to Auvergne, to Provence, to Dauphiny, to Burgundy,— 'A day shall come when you will no longer make wars—a day shall come when you will no longer arm men one against the other—a day shall come when it will no longer be said that the Normans are attacking the Picards, or that the people of Lorraine are repulsing the Burgundians —you will still have many disputes to settle, interests to contend for, difficulties to resolve; but do you know what you will substitute instead of armed men, instead of cavalry and infantry, of cannon, of falconets, lances, pikes and swords— you will select, instead of all this destructive array, a small box of wood, which you will term a ballot-box, and from which shall issue—what?—an assembly—an assembly in which you shall all live—an assembly which shall be, as it were, the soul of all—a supreme and popular council, which shall decide, judge, resolve everything—which shall make the sword fall from every hand, and excite the love of justice in every heart—which shall say to each, 'Here terminates your right, there commences your duty: lay down your arms! Live in peace!' And in that day you will all have one common thought, common interests, a common destiny; you will embrace each other, and recognise each other as children of the same blood, and of the same race; that day you will no longer be hostile tribes,—you will be a people; you will no longer be Burgundy, Normandy, Brittany, or Provence,—you will be France! You will no longer make appeals to war—you will do so to civilization.' If, at the period I speak of, some one had uttered these words, all men of a serious and positive character, all prudent and cautious men, all the great politicians of the period, would have cried out, 'What a dreamer! what a fantastic dream! How little this pretended prophet is acquainted with the human heart! What ridiculous folly! what an absurd chimera!'
"Yet, gentlemen, time has gone on and on, and we find that this dream, this folly, this absurdity, has been realized! And I insist upon this, that the man who would have dared to utter so sublime a prophecy, would have been pronounced a madman for having dared to pry into the designs of the Deity. Well, then, you at this moment say—and I say it with you—we who are assembled here, say to France, to England, to Prussia, to Austria, to Spain, to Italy, to Russia—we say to them, "A day will come when from your hands also the arms you have grasped will fall. A day will come when war will appear as absurd, and be as impossible, between Paris and London, between St. Petersburg and Berlin, between Vienna and Turin, as it would be now between Rouen and Amiens, between Boston and Philadelphia. A day will come when you, France—you, Russia—you, Italy—you, England—you, Germany—all of you, nations of the Continent, will, without losing your distinctive qualities and your glorious individuality, be blended into a superior unity, and constitute an European fraternity, just as Normandy, Britanny, Burgundy, Lorraine, Alsace, have been blended into France. A day will come when the only battle-field will be the market open to commerce and the mind opening to new ideas. A day will come when bullets and bomb-shells will be replaced by votes, by the universal suffrage of nations, by the venerable arbitration of a great Sovereign Senate, which will be to Europe what the Parliament is to England, what the Diet is to Germany, what the Legislative Assembly is to France. A day will come when a cannon will be exhibited in public museums, just as an instrument of torture is now, and people will be astonished how such a thing could have been."
I cannot stress sufficiently that we will best move Congress toward peace and justice by keeping it at arm's length and pressuring it without self-censorship, compromise, or entanglement with one or the other of its two branches: the Democratic or Republican. We are engaged in a long-term campaign to undo a plutocratic war state. Moving that campaign forward in the general culture is more important than which criminal enterprise has a majority of seats: the Democratic or Republican.
The United States needs to get serious about its new threat to stop providing over a billion dollars in weapons per year to Egypt. This so called aid is clearly not sufficient to protect civil and human rights, if that's even a concern in Washington, and not even sufficient to protect the influence of disreputable U.S. Governmental Non-Governmental Organizations.
It's also not necessary, as the people of Egypt will produce their own civil society. We can help, but not with organizations tied to the CIA and with records of having sought to influence electoral outcomes around the world.
It's also damaging, as US weapons are used against Egyptian people. They could also conceivably be used in war, as the United States arms Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, etc., and threatens Iran. Why not take this opportunity to end the madness of arming Israel and Egypt to the teeth on condition that they not destroy each other?
Why not look to our own house to begin protecting civil liberties and establishing credible elections?
I'm torn between the pleasure of having just read a brilliant and moving first-person stream-of-consciousness account of a true story of one woman's childhood, and the deep sadness that comes from learning about the absolutely horrific hell that this woman is extremely lucky to have survived — a hell that many others have known and will know, despite the ease with which it might be prevented.
1. Toilet Paper. Instead of hoarding toilet paper for the coming disaster and anarchy that should never be out of your mind if you want to remain easily manipulable by cynical demagogues, invest in providing clean and accessible bathrooms for the homeless. This will radically improve the lives of millions of Americans and, as a happy side effect, make it much easier for us to engage in long-term demonstrations and nonviolent resistance actions in public places.
2. Paper Towels. Rather than quietly stocking up on paper towels before the riff raff figure out your secrets and buy out the entire endangered national supply of this critical survival tool, bring all of your paper towels and all of your friends to a community clean-up of every scrubable surface surrounding a nearby fossil fuel burning facility. As a bonus, you'll get to meet some people and together you'll feel less terrified.
I stopped by a corporate chain bookstore this week and checked out the "Current Affairs" section. I was a little surprised to discover that according to a dozen or more books dominating the display we are all under a vicious life-and-death assault from a raving, drooling mob of communist devils led by that well-known pinko guerrilla Barack Obama.
As you know if you've been awake the past several years, Bush began the unconstitutional practice of rewriting laws with signing statements, there was a little scandal when people found out, candidate Obama promised not to do it, Obama did it, Obama declared it OK in an executive order, and now it's all perfectly fine.
As you know if you give a damn about the future of this country, it isn't really perfectly fine. Here's Obama's latest. This is from a signing statement on a spending bill, not the "Defense" Authorization Act which is yet to come (perhaps on Christmas just to rub it in):
Sandy Davies tells me, regarding the WWI Christmas truce on Christmas Day:
"When I was growing up, my godmother had a German helmet that was given to her father by a German officer after a soccer match in no-man's land that day. I also knew a South African former soldier who was on the front line in the desert near Cairo in 1942. He and his buddies became good friends with the Germans in the line across from them and used to pick up booze, hashish and other goodies for them whenever they went into Cairo. There was a sort of truce for a few months at that point, so they weren't shooting at each other. When a British Spitfire flew over and did start shooting at the Germans, Tony claimed it was the South Africans who shot it down!"
Does anybody know about this or have similar stories?
This time of year is ideal for reflecting on the miracle of Christmas 1914, that famous temporary truce and friendship between opposing sides in the midst of a war. Here was a new type of slaughter confronted with a new type of humanism, the leading edges of two opposing trends.
An op-ed in the New York Times last week by Steven Pinker and Joshua Goldstein argues that peace, rather than war, was the dominant development, and that over the millennia, centuries, decades, and right up to this moment, "War Really Is Going Out of Style."
The National Defense Authorization Act is not a leap from democracy to tyranny, but it is another major step on a steady and accelerating decade-long march toward a police state. The doomsday clock of our republic just got noticeably closer to midnight, and the fact that almost nobody knows it, simply moves that fatal minute-hand a bit further still.
I'm not referring to the “doomsday” predicted by Leon Panetta should military spending be scaled back to the obscenely inflated levels of 2007. I'm talking about the complete failure to keep the republic that Benjamin Franklin warned we might not. Practices that were avoided, outsourced, or kept secret when Bill Clinton was president were directly engaged in on such a scale under president George W. Bush that they became common knowledge. Under President Obama they are becoming formal law and acceptable policy.
Here is the text of a portion of the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act marked up to indicate changes made by the conference committee. The changes in red gave the White House "flexibility" but did nothing to save the Bill of Rights from this assault.
Subtitle D--Detainee Matters
SEC. 1031. AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.
(a) In General- Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.
(b) Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
(c) Disposition Under Law of War- The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:
(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
(2) Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (title XVIII of Public Law 111-84)).
(3) Transfer for trial by an alternative court or competent tribunal having lawful jurisdiction.
(4) Transfer to the custody or control of the person's country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.
(d) Construction- Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
(e) Authorities- Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.
(f) Requirement for Briefings of Congress- The Secretary of Defense shall regularly brief Congress regarding the application of the authority described in this section, including the organizations, entities, and individuals considered to be `covered persons' for purposes of subsection (b)(2).
SEC. 1032. REQUIREMENT FOR MILITARY CUSTODY.
(a) Custody Pending Disposition Under Law of War-
(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (4), the Armed Forces of the United States shall hold a person described in paragraph (2) who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) in military custody pending disposition under the law of war.
(2) COVERED PERSONS- The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1031 who is determined--
(A) to be a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of al-Qaeda; and
(B) to have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.
(3) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR- For purposes of this subsection, the disposition of a person under the law of war has the meaning given in section 1031(c), except that no transfer otherwise described in paragraph (4) of that section shall be made unless consistent with the requirements of section 1033.
(4) WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY- The
Secretary of Defense President may, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the Secretary President submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States.
(b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-
(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
(2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.
(c) Implementation Procedures-
(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall issue, and submit to Congress, procedures for implementing this section.
(2) ELEMENTS- The procedures for implementing this section shall include, but not be limited to, procedures as follows:
(A) Procedures designating the persons authorized to make determinations under subsection (a)(2) and the process by which such determinations are to be made.
(B) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not require the interruption of ongoing surveillance or intelligence gathering with regard to persons not already in the custody or control of the United States.
(C) Procedures providing that a determination under subsection (a)(2) is not required to be implemented until after the conclusion of an interrogation session which is ongoing at the time the determination is made and does not require the interruption of any such ongoing session.
(D) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not apply when intelligence, law enforcement, or other government officials of the United States are granted access to an individual who remains in the custody of a third country.
(E) Procedures providing that a certification of national security interests under subsection (a)(4) may be granted for the purpose of transferring a covered person from a third country if such a transfer is in the interest of the United States and could not otherwise be accomplished.
(d) AUTHORITIES.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other domestic law enforcement agency with regard to a covered person, regardless whether such covered person is held in military custody.
(e) Effective Date- This section shall take effect on the date that is 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply with respect to persons described in subsection (a)(2) who are taken into the custody or brought under the control of the United States on or after that effective date.
Well, 220 years is a pretty good run, eh? Just in time for Thursday's Bill of Rights Day, Congress has included in a massive war and weapons funding bill an authorization of presidents and the military to imprison you or anyone else forever without a trial.
Step One: Call your representative and your two senators and demand that they vote No on final passage of the "Defense Authorization Act." 202-224-3121
Get the staffer you speak with to tell you why their boss would even consider voting yes on imprisonment with no trial. Post what they tell you at http://warisacrime.org/nomohabeas
Step Two: Tell the president to veto.
Step Three: Take part in an event on Thursday: http://bordc.org/ndaa
The current President and Congress are destroying our Constitutional rights, our planet's climate, and the vestiges of a social safety net, and you are obsessing over a freak show of self-hating homosexuals and anti-intellectual intellectuals jumping through hoops in a corporate media circus with Ringmaster Donald Trump. Is this a good use of your time?
I'm editing a book in which one of the contributors writes:
In 1971, Congress passed the Anti-Detention Act, 18 U.S.C. § 4001(a), which states that "no person shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress." Fred Koramatsu, who had brought the unsuccessful case before the Supreme Court, was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor. Congress apologized and provided for limited reparations for this heinous act.
Presumably this would be trashed by the bill now before the conference committee and soon headed to the President for a signature or veto.
The criminal abuse of Japanese Americans for which Congress had to apologize and pay reparations, and for which there is a misleadingly pro-war looking memorial hidden between the U.S. Capitol and Union Station, will now be sanctioned by the current Congress/President.
Can you feel the pride?
Are you fired up?
The more things CHANGE . . .
Please take some time to look through the new website of the new National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy: www.studentprivacy.org
I've just joined the board because I believe a great deal of good can be done.
The National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy is a one-trick pony and that trick is the ASVAB Campaign. In short, we call for the universal selection of Option 8 for students taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB in high schools across the country, thereby prohibiting the automatic release of test data to military recruiting services.
Sounds pretty obscure and technical, I suppose. But this is a relatively easy and proven model of denying the U.S. military what it needs in order to kill our young people by using them to kill others. Namely, it denies the military the illegal right to violate the privacy of our young people in furthering its recruitment efforts.
The website provides a detailed discussion of the insidious nature of the military's testing regime and provides a way for activists like you to contribute to its demise. The ASVAB Career Exploration Program is a fraudulent, criminal DoD venture that deceives the American public and violates state laws designed to protect the privacy of youth. We're going to bring it down with a disciplined, nuanced campaign that appeals to the most moderate of policymakers.
There's a tremendous amount of work to do. For instance, 10,000 kids in 142 Arkansas high schools are required to take the ASVAB without parental consent, and all of their data is used to recruit them. "We've always done it that way and no one has ever complained," explained one school counselor.
We're organizing a national complaint and we're succeeding. Across the country, the selection of ASVAB Option 8 has climbed from less than 1% in 2005 (our estimate) to 4.4% in 2007 to 8.6% in 2009 to 12.2% in 2010. The new data we're expecting through our most recent FOIA will show a substantial increase in the percentage of students taking the test under Option 8, reflecting two states and several hundred more schools and school systems that have moved to protect student privacy.
The website contains the most recent test data so you can select your state and find high schools in your community that allow the Pentagon to test children. You can also see how your state stacks up with the others, in terms of the numbers tested, those who are required to take the test, and the percentages of students who take the ASVAB under Option 8.
In addition, the website describes the national campaign in detail. It provides links to information pertaining to ASVAB testing in Catholic schools, military documents relevant to the student testing program, and legislative resources.
Most importantly, the site provides a template letter for you to email to your state's superintendent of schools and school board members. Quite frequently, educational policy makers don't know the option exists to allow the testing while keeping results away from recruiters. The letter sites the statistics released by USMEPCOM and calls for the universal selection of Option 8. Contact us and we'll send you a letter already containing your state's statistics, etc. and the email addresses of officials. We're working to include that information on the site.
If you've read this far you probably see potential in this campaign. Could you help us by contributing a few dollars? Support NCPSP Also, could you forward this to others who you think might be in a position to financially support our work? We want to raise funds to hire help.
A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog. - Jack London
The International Forum on Globalization has published the most concise, useful, readable, and damning denunciation of nuclear technology I've seen. And it's available for free as a PDF right here:
Nuclear energy suffers from the following drawbacks:
The energy put into mining, processing, and shipping uranium, plant construction, operation, and decommissioning is roughly equal to the energy a nuclear plant can produce in its lifetime. In other words, nuclear energy does not add any net energy.
Not counted in that calculation is the energy needed to store nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands of years.
Also not counted is any mitigation of the relatively routine damage done to the environment, including human health, at each stage of the process. We are giving our children cancer at an astonishing pace, through each stage from mining to operation, and through additional steps including the use of depleted uranium weapons.
Also not counted is the cost of attempting to ensure that nuclear energy states do not become nuclear weapon states (or non-state actors).
Nuclear energy is not an alternative to energies that increase global warming, because nuclear increases global warming. When high-grade uranium runs out, nuclear will be worse for CO2 emissions than burning fossil fuels. And as global warming advances, nuclear becomes even less efficient as reactors must shut down to avoid overheating.
The holy "marketplace" will not create or sustain a single nuclear plant. The good ol' tax payers are on the tab to eat the financial losses and cover the costs of major disasters. The meltdown of a single reactor in the U.S. (many of them built by GE in the same manner as the Fukushima plant in Japan) could irradiate an area the size of Pennsylvania.
Nuclear disasters are covered up (corporate newspapers still regularly claim nobody died at Three Mile Island) and near misses not discussed, in part because GE owns NBC while until 2000 Westinghouse owned CBS.
Nuclear is far less efficient when all factors are considered than other available energy sources, including wind, solar, wave, hydroelectric, and geothermal. Looking good in comparison with coal is a qualification that can still kill us.
Here in Virginia the government has just reopened a nuclear plant on a fault where it was damaged and shut down by an earthquake in August. Earhquakes have been increasing in frequency dramatically, thereby increasing the danger of nuclear catastrophe.
Also here in Virginia the government is trying to charge people for producing electricity from solar and trying to lift a ban on uranium mining, with catastrophy not just risked but almost guaranteed.
It doesn't have to go this way. These choices are not driven by necessity, but by greed, corruption, and recklessness.
Share the above linked PDF with everyone you can. It's laid out like an argument and would make perfect preparation for a debate on nuclear energy. The author, Gar Smith, deserves huge credit. Please put it to good use.
So How Do We Hold Rallies to Protest the Day the Iran War Begins If It Has Already Begun and We're Being Eased Into It?
People are starting to call what the United States and its 51st state are doing in Iran a war. Not of course in the constitutional sense of requiring a declaration by Congress. Not even in the sense of the War Powers Resolution which Harold Koh has now informed us allows mass murder as long as those mass murdered are not US citizens. Not of course in the legal sense in which the Kellogg-Briand Pact banned war. Not even in the UN Charter sense as "defensive" or UN-authorized. Also, not in the sense of economic or civil or political transformnation from peace time to war time, as there is no longer any such thing as peace time. But people are calling it war in the sense in which people recall legends from the murky past. A powerful mythical word for these necessary and strategic kinetic overseas contingency operations is war. Remember to bring it up when you're on a talk show.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's fervent hope for years was that Japan would attack the United States. This would permit the United States (not legally, but politically) to fully enter World War II in Europe, as its president wanted to do, as opposed to merely providing weaponry and assisting in targeting of submarines as it had been doing. Of course, Germany's declaration of war, which followed Pearl Harbor and the immediate U.S. declaration of war on Japan, helped as well, but it was Pearl Harbor that radically converted the American people from opposition to support for war.
The funny thing about the bill that the Senate just passed that lets presidents and the military lock you up without a charge or a trial — well, not funny ha ha but funny unusual — is that the basic bill to which that little monstrosity was attached is even worse. It's a bill to dump over $650 billion into wars and aggressive weaponry, continue the slaughter in Afghanistan, ramp up the creation and use of drones, and expand U.S. military bases around the globe.
The Merkley amendment calling for a swifter withdrawal from Afghanistan passed on Wednesday. And a "compromise" was forced on Thursday over the section allowing process-free imprisonment of anyone, including U.S. citizens.
Sadly, the so-called compromise simply states that this new law will not change existing law. Yet this new law's language is worse than existing written law, and the Obama Administration's view of existing law is worse still.
We must demand a veto of this bill more clearly and loudly than ever.
This meaningless compromise was reach after the Senate voted down both Udall's amendment stripping out the offending language and an amendment from Feinstein creating an exception for U.S. citizens to the newly codified presidential power to imprison people without charge or trial.
We simply cannot accept our government allowing the President and the military to lock us away in violation of our Constitutional rights.