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Iran War Weekly - November 12, 2012

Iran War Weekly

November 12, 2012

 

Hello All – From the time of the last round of nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran (in Moscow last August), the issues surrounding these negotiations have lain dormant under the deep shadow of the US presidential election.  With the election out of the way, negotiations are expected to resume next month.  During the campaign the Obama team was content to have economic war (“sanctions”) against Iran substitute for diplomacy and pre-empt military action.  Now what?

 

Witch Hunting in Kansas: Anti-Abortion Pols Pile on to Attack Doctor Who Aided Tiller in Keeping Abortion Available

 

By Michael Caddell


… [Dr. Ann Kristin] Neuhaus wishes that she'd skipped the hearing.
 

TSA News: One-year anniversary

Exactly one year ago, on November 15, 2011, TSA News launched. The first post was by journalist and longtime consumer advocate Christopher Elliott. 

Since then, we’ve assembled a stable of writers from all over the country. We come from diverse personal, professional, and political backgrounds. We’re especially all over the place politically. But one thing we all share is respect for civil liberties. And we’re not about to sit around dumbly and watch as those civil liberties are ripped out from under us.

ColdType November Now Online

 
In the November issue of COLDTYPE MAGAZINE

Israel's Operation Pillar of Cloud

 

Israel's Operation Pillar of Cloud

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On November 14, Israel murdered Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari in cold blood. A missile struck his car. Another passenger was killed. Unconfirmed reports said it was his son.

 

An IDF Twitter message said, "We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead."

Israel's Threat to Annul Oslo

 

Israeli Threat to Annul Oslo 

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Follow-through won't change facts on the ground. Israel's annulment threat is hollow. 

 

Oslo reflected unconditional Palestinian surrender. Israel triumphed diplomatically, economically and politically. Palestinians got nothing in return. More on that below.

 

What Did Petraeus Know and When Did He Know It?

Michael Collins
Creative Commons

(Washington, DC, 11/15) The bitterness of the neocons knows no limit.  They're still having tantrums after being denied the unchallenged ability to pillage and plunder at will (and at our expense).  Never mind that the public doesn’t want to hear it.  The Congressional Republicans are jumping up and down over their big question:  When did President Obama know about the affair between General Petraeus and Mrs. Broadwell? Talk about a misguided salvage operation.  Their inquiries will spark some questions that they won't want asked. (Image)

The real questions concern the behavior and motivation of General Petraeus in the aftermath of the murder of the United States ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, on September 11, 2012.

When did General Petraeus know the sequence of events that preceded the murder of United States Ambassador Stevens, indicating the likely motivation for the murder?

The Petraeus CIA provided inaccurate information about events on the ground to the Obama Administration, particularly to President Obama and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice. Did they know it was inaccurate?

If the Petraeus CIA mislead or withheld information from the White House or allowed that to happen, was it in the service of the Romney campaign or those clamoring for an attack on Iran?

Syria News - Nov 15

 

 

Obama not ready to recognize the new Syrian opposition group as a ‘‘government in exile’’ or to arm it - Boston.com

U.S. vows $30M more in Syria humanitarian aid, bringing the total U.S aid to the war-torn nation to $200 million - CBS News

Lavrov meets with the Gulf Cooperation Council, but fails to reach common ground on Syria - Reuters

Suspected North Korea missile parts seized en route to Syria in May - Reuters

VIDEO: N Korea suspected of arms shipment to Syria - YouTube

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VIDEO: Interview with Moaz al-Khatib: A united Syrian opposition - Al Jazeera English

VIDEO:.Sheikh Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, President of the Syrian National Coalition, gives his inauguration speech - YouTube

Interview with the Syrian opposition VP Atassi - Reuters

Syrian armed groups rob 3 trucks delivering relief aid - Xinhua | English.news.cn

VIDEO: GRAPHIC - Terrorists Behead a Pro-Syrian Government Palestinian Refugee in Syria - LiveLeak.com  

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Turkey scrambles jets, evacuates villages as Syria border tension escalates - todayszaman

Kurds in disputed town on Turkish border ask Syrian rebels to withdraw - KansasCity.com

Following the Ras al-Ain battle, the Kurdish leadership in northern Syria is getting ready to fight in Qamishli - Al-Monitor

Massoud Barzani calls Turkey to release Ocalan and offers to mediate between it and PKK: Turkish Milliyet newspaper - ekurd

VIDEO: Syrian Rebels Go from Home to Home  in Ras al-Ain Killing Civilians - LiveLeak.com

VIDEO: Takeover of Ras Al Ain by Syrian rebels - YouTube

Report: Turkey-US relations sour on Syria, Iraq, sweeten on Iran - todayszaman

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Israel says Syrian rebels have control of villages near Golan Heights - Fox News

Not al Qaeda, but 50-70 Syrian outlaws in Golan buffer zone: Report - DEBKA file

Syria claims UN consent to pursue rebels in Golan - NOW Lebanon

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

Is Impeachment Gone for Good?

Henry Kissinger's winning of the Nobel Peace Prize didn't, in the end, eliminate satire from the earth (or peace prizes for war-makers, for that matter). Conceivably, the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the lack of impeachment of George W. Bush haven't eliminated presidential impeachment from the Constitution.

I'll grant you, it looks pretty grim. Congress is dominated by the two real branches of the U.S. government: the Democratic and the Republican. Democrats obey Democratic presidents and fear Republican ones. Republicans obey Republican presidents and attack Democratic ones for imaginary nonsense rather than their real abuses. These patterns seem firmly established and locked into escalating feedback loops, as does the unending career of Nancy "impeachment is off the table" Pelosi.

The public, for its part, seems increasingly convinced that presidents should be kings, kings should serve the military, citizens should volunteer for electoral campaigns instead of activist campaigns, and a police state is necessary to protect the freedoms sacrificed to the police state. One-third of the residents of the Home of the Brave now approve of cavity searches prior to airplane travel.

But consider: the U.S. public, unlike Congress, opposed the Clinton impeachment and favored Bush's impeachment -- the latter a rather remarkable finding by pollsters given the general lack of impeachment discussion on corporate television during the Bush years. Many Republicans hate Democratic presidents enough to support their impeachment even for legitimate reasons. And some Democrats could conceivably be brought around to supporting an impeachment that was both Constitutionally solid and allowed them to act like Republicans.

These presidents have faced impeachment or serious attempts at impeachment as lame ducks: Andrew Johnson, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and -- if we count popular movements blocked decisively by Congress -- George W. Bush. While Barack Obama was just reelected with 51% of the vote, Nixon got 61% and was quickly thrown out on his ear.

And consider this: During the effort to impeach Bush, there was virtually no debate over the validity of the charges against him. Rather, our misrepresentatives in Congress told us that impeaching Bush would give us Cheney or impeaching Cheney would leave us Bush, or impeaching Bush and Cheney would hurt the Democratic Party because the unpopular impeachment of Clinton had supposedly hurt Republicans (never mind the disaster of the Albert "I never met Bill Clinton" Gore presidential campaign). Or, alternatively, we were told there was no point in impeaching Bush when he only had a few years left, or Hillary Clinton was running for president and preferred that impeachment not be mentioned, or the Senate wasn't pre-committed to convicting Bush so there was no requirement for House members to uphold their oaths of office. None of the debate actually disputed that Bush was clearly guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors -- that is, severe abuses of power.

Now here's the interesting part: Obama has expanded upon those abuses.

In fact, if Bush had been known to keep a secret list of men, women, and children, American and foreign, to be killed, and had routinely killed them, support for his impeachment would not have been the bare majority it was but almost certainly a good deal higher and a greater priority.

We were told, when we tried to impeach Bush and Cheney, that we simply hated those men. No, we replied, we want to prevent the precedent that will make the next men or women worse -- guaranteed. That our gloomy prediction has proved right ought to constitute grounds for being taken seriously now when we say that further failure to impeach will result in still worse abuses to come. The simple and obvious, but almost universally uncomprehended, point is not that Joe Biden or Mitt Romney or anyone else is a better human being than Barack Obama. The point is that a President Biden entering office following the impeachment and removal of his predecessor for particular crimes and abuses would be less likely to engage in those crimes and abuses, as would other presidents to come.

President Obama has developed an assassination program, in violation of the Fifth Amendment, targeting men, women, and children, but overwhelmingly killing non-targeted victims who happened to be in the wrong place. He has launched a war on Libya, facilitated a war on Syria, sent so-called special forces and drones and missiles into numerous sovereign nations, threatened war on Iran, and given war-making powers to the CIA in violation of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the War Powers Resolution, and the United Nations Charter. President Obama has seized the power to imprison without charge or trial in violation of Article I, Section 9 and the Forth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Amendments. He has claimed the power to torture and directed the Attorney General not to prosecute the crime of torture, in violation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. He has engaged in widespread warrantless spying in violation of the Fourth Amendment. He has escalated a war in Afghanistan and built permanent military bases there. He has selectively revealed classified information, even while falsely and vindictively prosecuting whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, and while holding accused whistleblower Bradley Manning in cruel and inhuman conditions for over two years prior to any trial. President Obama has abused claims of state secrets to block judicial review of government abuses. He has created secret laws through the Office of Legal Counsel. He has announced his intent to violate laws with signing statements.

A full collection of what would in previous decades have been considered obvious impeachable offenses would run for pages. Standards have changed. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, Nixon's abuses have now been legalized. But can a president or a secret office or a corrupted Congress legalize what is unconstitutional? Clearly the answer is yes, if we let them.

STILL WAITIN': a Short Film on Who Owns the Vietnam War, by TCBH!'s John Grant and the Viet War Commemoration Correction Project

 

Still Waitin’

 

A short film produced by

The Vietnam War Commemoration CORRECTION Project

 

To see the film, please go to:  www.ThisCantBeHappening.net

Talk Nation Radio: Brian Terrell Is Headed to Prison for Protesting Drones

Brian Terrell is headed to prison at the end of this month for having nonviolently protested drone wars.  Brian is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.  He discusses the immorality of drone wars and the protest and trial that have led to his incarceration.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

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

Sandy: Katrina Redux?

 

Sandy: Katrina Redux?

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On August 29, 2005, New Orleans was woefully unprotected. It wasn't accidental. It was planned.

 

In early 2001, FEMA predicted the three most likely US disasters. They included a terrorist attack on New York, a major San Francisco earthquake, and a hurricane and flood in New Orleans.

 

Pro-Israeli Media Coverage

 

Pro-Israeli Media Coverage

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Gaza rockets respond defensively to provocative Israeli bombing and shelling. Blame the victim articles and commentaries follow.

 

It's standard Western media practice. Haaretz knows better. 

More below on woeful coverage.

 

Syria News - Nov 14

 

 

Arab League gives hesitant welcome to Syria opposition coalition, stopping short of giving it full recognition as the sole representative of the Syrian people - Yahoo! News

US says new Syria body “a legitimate representative”, US policy of providing only non-lethal support and humanitarian aid to the Syrian rebels remains unchanged - NOW Lebanon

France Recognizes New Syrian Rebel Group, Hints It May Provide Weapons - NYTimes.com

Moscow to seek Syria progress, bigger Middle East role in Riyadh - Reuters

Syrian opposition leader calls for arming of rebels, "We need specialized weapons" he added, without elaborating - NOW Lebanon

Rebel fighters in Syria on Tuesday dismissed Western support for a new opposition bloc, expecting little to change on the ground - NOW Lebanon

Mistrust of Syria's Muslim Brotherhood lingers - chicagotribune.com

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Syrian Air Force Kills Many in Kurdish Town, Kurds have suspicions that Turkey is supporting the takeover of Ras al-Ayn by Syrian rebels - Rudaw

Turkey’s Syria Policies Falter On Intra-Kurdish Struggles, Sources say that Turkey’s persistent pressure for military intervention in Syria is annoying many, particularly in Washington - Al-Monitor

Turkish PM warns of harsher response to Syria as border tension drags on - todayszaman

Turkish security summit discusses measures against Syrian border tension - todayszaman

Turkey says NATO Patriot missiles could counter Syria's chemical weapons - todayszaman

Syria: Clear Evidence of FSA Attacks directly carried out from Turkish territory (VIDEOS) — www.syrianews.cc

Turkey camps, training hub for Syria insurgents: Turkish party - PressTV

UN pulls aid staff from Syrian area near Turkish border over safety fears - NOW Lebanon

Syrian Arab Red Crescent Denies Giving Information to Media on Number of Displaced in Syria, said that the SARC and its branches are providing aid to around 1.5 million - SANA

VIDEO: Despite Political Divides, Syria's Kurds Want Autonomy

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New Syrian opposition leaders must curb abuses by opposition fighters, rights groups says - NOW Lebanon

Free Syrian Army will see British troops in Syria as enemy - World Bulletin

Free Syrian Army accuses Israel of aiding regime - The Times of Israel

FSA Military Council of Damascus Gives Embassies 72 Hours to Leave Country, This report was later dismissed by the FSA - HispanicBusiness.com

At UN, Threats on Embassies in Syria Blamed on "Hacking - Inner City Press

VIDEO: Unexploded Cluster Bomblets Repurposed As DIY Rocket Warheads by Syrian Rebels - Brown Moses Blog

VIDEO: Syrian Imam : "The sellers of liquor products will be slaughtered without mercy" - liveleak

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

1/3 of Americans say TSA cavity searches are okay by them

 

Land of the Free. 

Uh-huh.

In what should be a surprising result but, sadly, isn’t, one-third of your fellow Americans say a body cavity search to board an airplane would be fine and dandy.

TSA agent Tiffany Applewhite touched my genitalia by Amy Alkon

. . . And my breasts. She’s a TSA “team leader” at the Delta TSA checkpoint at LAX. I had to ask her for her first name because her nametag only says “Applewhite” and “team leader.” 

Read the rest at TSA News.

Syrian Opposition Unity Deal

 

Syrian Opposition Unity Deal

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Last week, Doha hosted Washington's reinvented scheme to forge new Syrian opposition unity. Only pro-Western puppets need apply. So-called Friends of Syria are its enemies. 

 

Israel Shells Syria and Gaza

 

Israel Shells Syria and Gaza

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

A previous article said beware of false flags. For months throughout the Syrian conflict, possible full-scale Western intervention loomed. It still does. Post-US elections, it's more likely, not certain, but reports suggest expect it.

 

Several stray mortar shells from Syria struck occupied Golan. No injuries were reported. Israel holds Damascus responsible. On November 9, Israel warned Assad.

Syria News - Nov 13

 

Dynamic, progressive Islamist to head Syria’s new opposition coalition - Democracy Digest

VIDEO: Speeches of Ahmad Mouaz Al-Khatib Al-Hasani, chief of the new Syrian opposition - YouTube

Text of the Syrian opposition’s Doha agreement - ArabSaga

United Syrian Opposition Seeks Recognition by the Arab League, as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people - VOA

Syrian opposition unity useful if dialogue with authorities - Russia Beyond The Headlines

Inside Syria, rebels offer cautious support for unified council - CSMonitor.com

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Fierce fighting on Turkish-Syrian border risks igniting broader conflict — RT

Iran claims Turkey backing al Qaeda fighters along Syrian border - The Hill

VIDEO: Syrian rebels arresting villagers and civilians in Ras Al Ain (Border city with Turkey) - LiveLeak.com

Turks in Antakya discontent with presence of Syria insurgents - Strategic-Culture.org

Yurt Newspaper Reveals Training Camps in Turkey for Gunmen in Syria - SANA

NATO 'ready' to help Turkey deal with Syria - Al Jazeera English

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Israeli military fires into Syria for second day, no word on whether against the Syrian army forces or the rebels - FRANCE 24

FSA warns "Israel enemy" against Syria interference, saying that Israel's rocket fire at Syria on Sunday afternoon was aimed to help the Assad regime  - Ynetnews

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Family of missing journalist Austin Tice pleads for information - The Washington Post

Syrian government denies holding missing journalist, father says - CNN.com

4000 FSA Militiamen Attack Damascus: Minorities, Palestinians Among Them - almanar.com

Syrian Armenians flee the nightmare in Aleppo - The National

Two Terrorists Confess to Committing Crimes of Rape and Kidnapping in Aleppo- SANA

VIDEO: Syrians supporting Assad turn into 'dead men walking', Primary targets of Syrian rebels - RT

VIDEOS: Syria's most disturbing fake videos - GlobalPost

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

Done in by the PATRIOT Act: The Grand Irony of the Petraeus Sex Scandal

 

By Dave Lindorff


There is a delicious irony to the story of the crash-and-burn career of Four-Star General and later (at least briefly) CIA Director David Petraeus.


John Pistole’s propaganda push Tuesday Nov 13th

You might want to pay TSA administrator John Pistole a visit on Tuesday morning, November 13th, 9:30, at National Airport in Washington, D.C.

Read the rest at TSA News.

Iran War Weekly - October 29, 2012

Iran War Weekly

October 29, 2012

[Delayed post]

 

Hello All – My hurricane-battered neighborhood lost power last Monday as this newsletter was nearing completion, and electricity and phone line have just been restored.  Here, then, is the way the Iran war looked last Monday.  Some things may be out of date, but my guess is that most are not.  I will get a new edition out asap, as I reconnect with the world.

 

Petraeus: Resignation or Sacking?

 

Petraeus: Resignation or Sacking?

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Some observers call Washington a city of scandals. Lots of intrigue reflects daily life in the nation's capital. Elected and appointed officials come and go. 

 

Most often it's uneventful. Other times once powerful figures fell from grace or scandals affecting them rose to the level of affixing a "gate" suffix on what happened. 

Waging War Without Declaring It

 

Waging War Without Declaring It

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

America does it in proxy wars and some direct ones. Israel waged war on Palestine since 1948. 

 

Daily violence against innocent civilians persists largely below the radar. So does occupation harshness. Media scoundrels turn a blind eye.

 

Where Does War Come From?

Remarks to the Marin Peace & Justice Coalition, Social Justice Center of Marin, and Community Media Center of Marin, Armistice Day 2012.

Most members of our species that have lived on this earth have never known war.  Most societies that have developed war have later abandoned it.  While there's always war somewhere, there are always many somewheres without war.  War deprivation, the prolonged absence of war, has never given a single person post traumatic stress disorder.  Most nations that participate in wars do so under duress as members of coalitions of the willing but not the eager.  Most nations that engage in wars refuse to use particularly awful weapons and tactics.  Most incidents that are used to spark wars are identical to other incidents not used to spark wars.  War making does not increase with population density, resource scarcity, testosterone, or the election of Republicans.  War making is, like all forms of violence, on the decline globally, even as the Greatest Purveyor of Violence in the World develops a permanent war economy and gives war powers to temporary despots or 4-year kings.

Today we celebrate Armistice Day, a moment of tremendous opposition to war -- opposition that built understanding and structures to prevent war, structures that failed once and only once as regards wars like World War I, wars among the wealthy well-armed and white nations of the world.  That the rich nations continue to wage racist and exploitative wars against the poor nations doesn't erase the fact that Europe stopped attacking itself until Yugoslavia became an opportunity for NATO.  Soldiers in the U.S. civil war and drone pilots would not recognize each other as engaged in the same enterprise.  There is no central core to war that homo sapiens are obliged to continue by their genes.  We can choose not to eat, drink, sleep, have sex, or breathe.  The notion that we can't choose to refrain from something as complex and laborious as war is just incoherent.

That Europeans only attack poor people is not, of course, grounds to give the European Union a Nobel Peace Prize.  Yes, indeed, it is a little-acknowledged feat of miraculous life-saving power that Europe has not gone to war with itself -- other than that whole Yugoslavia thing -- since World War II.  It's as clear a demonstration as anything that people can choose to stop fighting.  It's a testament to the pre-war peace efforts that criminalized war, the post-war prosecutions of the brand new crime of making war, the reconstruction of the Marshall Plan, and ... and something else a little less noble, and much less Nobel-worthy.

Alfred Nobel's will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Fredrik Heffermehl has been leading a valuable effort to compel the Nobel committee to abide by the will. Now they've outdone themselves in their movement in the other direction.

Europe is not a person.  It has not during the past year -- which is the requirement -- or even during the past several decades done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations.  Ask Libya.  Ask Syria.  Check with Afghanistan.  See what Iraq thinks.  Far from doing the best work to abolish or reduce standing armies, Europe has joined with the United States in developing an armed global force aggressively imposing its will on the world.   The Nobel prize money will not fund Europe's supposed disarmement work remotely as much as Europe could fund itself by simply buying fewer armaments.

There were good nominees and potential nominees available, even great ones, including a young man named Bradley Manning.  In fact, I happen to believe a truly qualified nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize next year would be Medea Benjamin.

Now, instead of moving in that direction, the Nobelites have almost guaranteed themselves a second-ever pro-war peace-prize acceptance speech.  If you don't recall who gave the first one, I'll give you a clue. If he were a Republican we'd all have posters and bumper stickers denouncing him for it.

Was Nobel asking so much really when he asked that a prize go to whoever did the best work toward abolishing war?

Was Carnegie asking so much when he required that his endowment work to eliminate war?

Is it asking too much today for our so-called progressive movement to address the spending of over half of federal discretionary dollars on preparations for the criminal act of war?

Ninety-four years ago today, on the original Armistice Day in 1918, much of the world ended a four-year war that served no useful purpose whatsoever while costing the lives of some 10 million soldiers, 6 million civilians, 21 million soldiers wounded, an outbreak of Spanish influenza that took another 100 million lives, environmental destruction that is ongoing today, the development of new weapons—including chemical weapons—still used today, huge leaps forward in the art of propaganda still plagiarized today, huge setbacks in the struggle for economic justice, and a culture more militarized, more focused on stupid ideas like banning alcohol, and more ready to restrict civil liberties in the name of nationalism, and all for the bargain price, as one author calculated it at the time, of enough money to have given a $2,500 home with $1,000 worth of furniture and five acres of land to every family in Russia, most of the European nations, Canada, the United States, and Australia, plus enough to give every city of over 20,000 a $2 million library, a $3 million hospital, a $20 million college, and still enough left over to buy every piece of property in Germany and Belgium.  And it was all legal.  Incredibly stupid, but totally legal.  Particular atrocities violated laws, but war was not criminal.  It never had been, but it soon would be.

A powerful movement would ban war in 1928 in a treaty still on the books and to which 81 countries are now party.  In 1935, the New York Herald-Tribune's Institute of Public Opinion found that 75% of voters wanted a public referendum before any war could be launched, and 71% opposed joining in any war with other countries to "enforce the peace."  That's not just a quantitative difference from today.  Our great grandparents were able to think of war very differently.  They'd ended blood feuds and duelling and other barbaric habits.  War was to be next.  It was mass murder.  The problem wasn't butchering or urinating on corpses.  You couldn't clean that up and make war OK.  The problem was the creation of the corpses.  War was to be abolished, and not just bad wars and aggressive wars.  All wars.  They didn't keep defensive duelling around. There was no humanitarian duelling.  War needed to be set behind us. 

In this militarized nation that has essentially never ended World War II, never left Germany or Japan, never undone the taxes and the spending, never stopped seeking out uses and customers for weaponry, we've lost track of the campaign to abolish war and of the steps already taken on that path.  As war evolves to minimize further the deaths of the aggressing army, while continuing to kill foreigners (and even occasional U.S. citizens made to seem frighteningly foreign) war is ironically coming to resemble more closely in the minds of many what it has always been: murder.  An assassination program is a form of war no more or less moral or dangerous or controllable or legal than any other form of war.  But it may bring home to people that war is not a sport, that war is the killing of men, women, and children in their homes at such expense that we could instead have bought new homes for them and all their neighbors.

We should remember at a time like this that when the slightly less funded of two corporate funded candidates wins, we don't win.  President Obama publicly and illegally instructed the Attorney General not to prosecute the CIA for torture.  We accepted that.  Obama told environmental groups not to speak of climate change and most of them obeyed.  Obama told unions not to say "single payer" and they didn't.  The peace movement spent the first Obama year muttering about how it was too early, the second worrying about the midterm elections, the third trying to focus the Occupy Movement on our collective antagonists, and the fourth being scared of Mitt Romney.  Now we're being told we must not demand military spending cuts or the prosecution of war crimes or the immediate withdrawal of forces abroad.  Progressive groups want to pretend to take a stand on Social Security and Medicare before caving.  And their opening pretense doesn't even touch military spending. 

It's our job to add that to the conversation.  It's our job to focus our friends and neighbors on the fact that our money and our names are being used to kill, and that there is nothing necessary about it.  War is waged by a particular type of nation.  War is waged by a nation that accepts the waging of war.  That acceptance needs to end now.

U.S. Wars: Are They Lawful?

Remarks at the biennial general meeting of the War and Law League in San Francisco on Armistice Day 2012.

I'll try briefly to make five points.

First, there are clear laws on the books that make U.S. wars unlawful, along with U.S. threats of war and U.S. propaganda for war.  The laws are either forgotten, ignored, evaded, or cleverly reinterpreted to reverse their meaning.  But they could be enforced someday. 

Second, U.S. wars are evolving in ways that make them violate additional laws without bringing them into compliance with any of the laws already violated.

Third, participants in U.S. wars face occasional prosecution at home or abroad for their specific actions, although those actions do not stray from the basic purpose of the wars.

Fourth, other nations are prosecuted for or would be prosecuted if they attempted the same behavior engaged in by the United States. 

And Fifth, U.S. wars are launched and conducted by officials elected in an illegitimate system dominated by open bribery.

On the original Armistice Day in 1918, much of the world ended a four-year war that served no useful purpose whatsoever while costing the lives of some 10 million soldiers, 6 million civilians, 21 million soldiers wounded, an outbreak of Spanish influenza that took another 100 million lives, environmental destruction that is ongoing today, the development of new weapons -- including chemical weapons -- still used today, huge leaps forward in the art of propaganda still plagiarized today, huge setbacks in the struggle for economic justice, and a culture more militarized, more focused on stupid ideas like banning alcohol, and more ready to restrict civil liberties in the name of nationalism, and all for the bargain price, as one author calculated it, of enough money to have given a $2,500 home with $1,000 worth of furniture and five acres of land to every family in Russia, most of the European nations, Canada, the United States, and Australia, plus enough to give every city of over 20,000 a $2 million library, a $3 million hospital, a $20 million college, and still enough left over to buy every piece of property in Germany and Belgium.  And it was all legal.  Incredibly stupid, but totally legal.  Particular atrocities violated laws, but war was not criminal.

The Outlawry Movement of the 1920s -- the movement to outlaw war -- sought to replace war with arbitration, by first banning war and then developing a code of international law and a court with the authority to settle disputes.  The first step was taken in 1928 with the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which banned all war.  Today 81 nations are party to that treaty, including ours, and many of them comply with it.  I'd like to see additional nations, poorer nations that were left out of the treaty, join it (which they can do simply by stating that intention) and then urge the greatest purveyor of violence in the world to comply.

It's easier to comply with the U.N. Charter because of the two big loopholes it opened up, allowing wars that are either defensive or simply U.N. approved.  As you know, the United States fights wars against unarmed impoverished nations halfway around the planet and calls them defensive.  The U.S. fights wars never approved of by the U.N. and claims that they were.  When the United States chose never to end World War II, never to demilitarize, de-tax, or de-mobilize, when the U.N. Charter, NATO, the Geneva Conventions, and the CIA made war normal and supposedly civilized it, we lost the ability to think of abolition, or even to award Nobel prizes to those who worked for it.  However, the U.N. Charter made threatening war illegal, and while the Kellogg-Briand Pact is forgotten, the U.N. Charter must be intentionally ignored, as the United States is constantly threatening wars.

There has been an International Criminal Court for 10 years now, but it only prosecutes particular atrocities, and only those committed by Africans.  The idea seems to be that African war makers should get civilized and learn to melt the skin off children and radiate neighborhoods and burn down houses the way the enlightened war makers do.  The ICC is years away from possibly prosecuting the crime of making war, and then only for nations that have chosen to subject themselves to its authority, only in cases approved of by the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and only in cases of aggressive war (as if there were some other kind).

Since 1976, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has made war propaganda illegal.  The argument that our First-Amendment right to freedom of the press and of speech overrides this is severely weakened, I think, by the fact that our major media outlets routinely shut out the viewpoints of the vast majority of us, to the point where people holding majority opinions on most political questions can be expected to believe they are part of a small minority.  If we had freedom of the press we would have the ability to effectively counter war propaganda.  As it is, we largely lack that freedom, and war propaganda is so pervasive we barely recognize it.

The U.S. Constitution not only makes treaties, along with itself, the supreme law of the land.  It also requires that Congress pass a declaration of war. We haven't had one since 1941.  Congress is to decide on lesser military actions that might not count as war.  Congress is to raise armies as needed, but not to fund them for longer than two years.  Most wars in history have lasted less than two years -- a fact worth considering as we credit Obama with supposedly ending a war in Afghanistan over the next two (or is it 12?) years.  The War Powers Act legislated exceptions to the Constitution, allowing presidents to launch wars or other military actions for short periods of time prior to gaining Congressional authorization.  The authorizations to use force that preceded the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq went even further, handing presidents the power to declare wars -- which is why even the one for Iraq has never been repealed despite the announcement of that war's end.  Obama's lawyer Harold Koh famously told Congress that attacking Libya was neither war nor hostilities (the language the War Powers Act used to include all military actions). 

So-called "special" forces, the CIA, and our brave drones are engaged in military action in dozens of nations, none defensively or U.N. authorized, none in a manner that escapes the Kellogg-Briand Pact, none with a Constitutional declaration, many without any sort of authorization from Congress, most without the knowledge of Congress.  Civil cases brought against U.S. military actions are shut down by claims of secret powers, or authorized by secret laws that we are not permitted to read, including secret sections of the PATRIOT Act, which we must comply with without seeing.  Obama famously announced that he would review all of Bush's secret laws in the form of memos from the Office of Legal Counsel, but never announced the results of that review, what all the laws were, which were kept, which tossed, what new ones added, or what would prevent the next president from reworking all of that.  While Constitutionally, Congress is required to make every law, the Congressional Research Service has been reduced to speculating on what sort of twisted logic the White House could use to make something like its assassination program look legal, were the White House inclined to bother. 

While many have continued, even after the 1928 ban on war as mass murder, to think of war as an exception to the ban on murder, U.S. wars are now evolving to more closely resemble most people's conception of what murder looks like.  Balanced against that is, of course, the power of racism and xenophobia.  War techniques that supposedly reduce the murders of U.S. troops are acceptable to those who don't mind murdering the other 95% of humanity.  But drones and night raids and other assassinations don't escape the ban on war, they simply add to their criminality by violating prohibitions on assassination.  Nor do they fall under the protection of the barbaric U.S. laws of capital punishment.  Drones provide no charges, trials, or due process.  Our government has intentionally avoided arresting a 16-year-old boy in Pakistan, only to target and murder him with a drone when he tried to film the damage done by earlier drone strikes.  This is not law enforcement, but lawless force. 

On May 4th, the Congressional Research Service released a memo that attempted to guess at how drone killings of U.S. citizens or other mere humans geographically far removed from other warfare, not engaged in warfare on behalf of any nation, and residing in independent sovereign nations could be legal.  According to the New York Times there is a secret memo from the Office of Legal Counsel that concludes, rather as John Yoo and Jay Bybee concluded that torture is not torture, that murder is not murder.  But even Congress is not allowed to see the memo, so the Congressional Research Service was reduced to guessing what could be in it.  Yet, the CRS was unable to guess anything clearly coherent.  And the incoherence of the various public comments from the White House obscures the fact that the victims are not all suspected of plotting attacks on the United States.  Most of the victims are simply innocent people in the wrong place.  Others are targeted without so much as knowing their names, based on behavior that supposedly suggests, not that they are attacking the United States, but that they are aligned with those defending a foreign nation against U.S. attack.  And that's not counting the children and adults traumatized by the threatening buzz overhead.  The U.N. special Rapporteur has called drone strikes extrajudicial killing.  The U.S. response was that it was none of his business.

You know whose business it is?  It's the big business of some major campaign funders / job creators.  Of course, military spending creates fewer jobs than any other kind of spending, but they are jobs easily eliminated.  At one Congressional hearing not long ago, the Director of National Intelligence was asked what foreign nation might attack the United States, and he was unable to name one.  War that is limited to nations, rather than individuals, is not good for business.  Generating hostility abroad is.  So is arming foreign groups and dictatorships.  The U.S. sells 85% of international weapons sales, much of that also illegal, and all of it immoral.  With no cover of law, Obama is arming Syrian terrorists, training Iranian terrorists, engaging in cyber attacks, and imposing what he calls so proudly crippling sanctions, all arguably illegal acts of war.

The UK Attorney General has decided that attacking Iran would be illegal.  Top Israeli officials, according to one view of events that occurred two years ago, have refused orders to prepare an attack on Iran, in part because of the illegality.  Yet, the United States continues to threaten Iran, to lie about Iran, to propagandize for war, to prepare for war, to arm Israel at our expense, and to protect Israel from any consequences for its crimes.  At best, the United States has reached the conclusion that attacking Iran would be wrong if a Republican did it.  After years of refusing, U.S. residents now tell pollsters they favor an attack on Iran, and -- not coincidentally -- that they now believe the lies about Iran that the U.S. government had been peddling for years unsuccessfully. 

And the law be damned.  The United States now allows spying without a warrant, imprisonment without a trial, rendition, torture, and murder.  And that's for U.S. citizens, the people we supposedly slaughter the world to protect.  Bahrain, that good human-rights-loving friend of the U.S. Navy, recently stripped protesters of citizenship.  Apparently Bahrain didn't get the memo on how to strip citizens of all their rights. 

Bradley Manning, tortured and held for years without a trial, and at risk as are other whistleblowers now of the hideous thing we call the death penalty, is trying to take a plea bargain, pleading to the crime of blowing the whistle on murder.  The government is not eager to take the deal because Obama and gang have bigger fish to fry, hoping to prosecute Wikileaks for journalism.  Manning's struggle, and that of every whistleblower and of every person who refuses illegal orders, is our struggle. 

So are the legal struggles in courts of law still interested in the law.  In Turkey, Israelis are being prosecuted in absentia for the murder of those trying to bring aid to Gaza.  In Italy, two dozen CIA agents have been convicted in absentia for kidnapping a man to torture him.  In the U.S. we've seen occasional court martials of low-ranking soldiers accused of torture, rape, murder, or -- oddly enough -- mistreatment of corpses they've murdered in an acceptable manner.

The last time Barack Obama was elected president, his transition team asked for proposals to be voted on through their website.  The top vote getter was this:

“Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor – ideally Patrick Fitzgerald – to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?”

Obama refused to answer the question.  The dean of the University of California at Berkeley Law School Christopher Edley, Jr., said that he'd been party to very high level discussions and Obama's transition team had decided that the CIA, NSA, and military would revolt, and that Republicans would retaliate by blocking every piece of legislation.  Wow, wouldn't that have been different?  Now the question isn't even asked, and John Conyer's threat to impeach a president who attacked Iran is universally understood not to apply to Democrats.

We should remember at a time like this that when the slightly less funded of two corporate funded candidates wins, we don't.  Obama publicly and illegally instructed the Attorney General not to prosecute the CIA for torture.  We accepted that.  Obama told environmental groups not to talk about climate change.  Most of them obeyed.  Obama told unions not to say "single payer" and they didn't.  Now we're being told we must not demand military spending cuts or the prosecution of war crimes or the immediate withdrawal of forces abroad.

I propose that we pledge instead to protest and vote against and consider the impeachment of (I've listed plenty of grounds for that already) anyone in Congress or the White House who gives an inch on protecting Social Security and Medicare, who votes for current levels of military spending or anything above 75% of current levels, or who fails to oppose wars or to act against climate change.  No more honey moons.  No more veal pens in which the public servants tell the public organizations how to serve them.  And no more promises to vote for you no matter what you do to us or to our brothers and sisters around the world. We need to use noviolent action not only to end war but also to provide an alternative path for our young people who might otherwise sign up to kill and die.  Nonviolence requires more bravery, more commitment, more morality, and is far more satisfying than joining the war machine.  The Declaration of Independence says we have the right to institute new government.  It's getting to be about that time.

Maggie Buckenmayer, another person sexually assaulted by the TSA

 

I don’t know what to say anymore. Take a look at this woman’s video. 

Read the rest at TSA News.

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