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I just had to share the following remarkable speech (which a friend sent to me) given last November by Steven Leeper, head of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation (whose unique background explains his insights). How do these compelling points get spread to high school and college students?
The following is an update (to my earlier post here):
Before you read the news release, however, about the planned upcoming rally in response, please read John "End War" Walsh's insightful background exposing "US Goading Japan into Confrontation With China: Will Japan Take the Bait?" published a few days ago at Anti-war.com, Counterpunch, Information Clearing House and several other anti-war sites. With all the imperial wars that have been launched and are being launched by the US in the Mid-east, we often forget about the US-announced "China Pivot" occuring on the other side of the world. Please help spread the information of the underlying issues as well as notice about this upcoming rally in NYC on Feb 19th, a real chance to demonstrate against the emerging militarism of Japan's Prime Minister Abe. If your peace group wants to join the rally and/or endorse their effort, plea
A number of human rights issues converge on Friday January 11, 2013. In Washington DC and many other cities around the country, including the Twin Cities, people will don orange “Gitmo” jumpsuits and black hoods to protest the 11th year anniversary-travesty of Guantanamo as well as the (bizarrely coincidental) national release of the despicable, CIA-inspired “zero conscience” film that falsely conveys the message that torture “works” and is somehow heroic.
The photo was taken a few days ago in Washington DC of a protest by Amnesty International and Witness Against Torture activists outside the opening of the "Zero Dark Thirty" film at the Newseum.
The third, far less known issue involves the resignation (effective on January 11) of Suzanne Nossel, Director of Amnesty International-USA. Her resignation after only one year as American Director would be unimportant except for how it exposes more fundamental problems involving the way human rights principles during peace time and humanitarian rules governing warfare can function to undercut the more well established jus ad bellum prohibitions, under international law, of launching wars of choice. Nossel’s statement itself gave little clue of the more fundamental problematic issues underlying her resignation (except for the fact that she only mentioned her appreciation for working to uphold “human rights” in the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Syria but left out the human rights violations that the US-NATO-Israel is responsible for).
There’s no need to rehash the points we tried to make in “Amnesty’s Shilling for US Wars” (co-authored with Col Ret’d Ann Wright) and “Are Human Rights Becoming a Tool of US ‘Smart Power?” which described the way Nossel personified some of these revolving door conflicts of interest plaguing human rights and humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) based in the West. It’s simply not possible for anyone to constantly go back and forth from serving US national interests vis a vis other nation-state sovereigns in the world to the theoretically loftier role of promoting human rights around the world as head of a non-governmental organization whose credibility depends upon not being aligned with any country’s national interests.
To be sure, these conflicts of interest did not begin with Suzanne Nossel but have a long history which also reside in the NGO’s donor base according to former Amnesty-USA Board member Francis Boyle. There seems to be an even more fundamental problem, however, engulfing not only Amnesty but a great many other “human rights” NGOs and academics based in the United States and its western allies. Amnesty’s verbatim response back in June to our “Amnesty Shilling for Wars” article was telling:
As the final scene of Thelma and Louise seems to be playing out on this last day of the year, it might be a good time to recall the dramatic end of that movie.
It's true that some think the fiscal cliff is real while others say it's just a mirage. Some in the U.S. want to just "keep goin'" as Thelma urges. But most of us probably don't see much of a choice -- it seems more like we are trapped in a car with its gas pedal stuck in the full speed ahead mode and someone has disabled the brakes. For even at this 11th hour, almost no one in the Punch and Judy Show in Washington is able to home in on, much less intelligently discuss, the real problem.
As Abraham Lincoln once observed, “Public sentiment is everything.’ (Unfortunately Edward Bernays and Goering quickly figured that out too.)
Now with “embedded reporters” (many “embedded” in more ways than one!) incessantly pressing their readers' natural vices (fear, hate, greed, false pride and blind loyalty) and manufacturing public sentiment, the most recent polls show a high majority of Americans have come to love all things military. Glenn Greenwald aptly calls it our new national religion with US journalists being its high priests. Most “progressives” got fooled. It's how war is being made permanent.
While electoral politics tends to suck the oxygen out of the room (and apparently out of many people's brains) in these last few weeks before an election, a number of U.S. citizens committed to ending the wars took to the streets this week. Demonstrations in at least 38 cities in the U.S. as well as in some foreign countries -- most notably Code Pink's courageous peace march in Pakistan -- are marking the 11th year anniversary of the longest war in U.S. history.
And what kind of mind-boggling corruption -- of the worst kind -- influence peddling by a "foreign power" (as defined by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to include foreign terrorist groups) -- lies hidden behind the curtain? Could some members of the MEK "foreign terrorist organization," their murderous history magically erased, be sent to a nice suburb somewhere to live as your next door neighbor as happens with the organized crime "witness protection program?" Or will the soon-to-be-legalized "terrorism" of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (or mojahedin-e khalq, usually referred to as MEK) find more utilitarian function in the mode of how U.S. neoconservative officials plotted with and used convicted con artist Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi expatriate group to gin up the false "intelligence" that served to launch the unjustified and counter-productive war on Iraq?
By Stephen McKeown and Coleen Rowley
On July 28th 2012, Michael Wali, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed entered the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee in the pre-dawn hours by cutting a fence. They hoisted banners, spray painted messages, and poured their blood on the nation's only storage facility for weapons grade highly enriched uranium. They were arrested and immediately charged with misdemeanor trespass. Several days later, charges were raised to felony level, so the trio is now facing up to a $600,000 fine and 16 years in prison.
By Ann Wright and Coleen Rowley
The new Executive Director of Amnesty International USA – Suzanne Nossel – is a recent U.S. government insider. So it’s a safe bet that AI’s decision to seize upon a topic that dovetailed with American foreign policy interests, “women’s rights in Afghanistan,” at the NATO Conference last month in Chicago came directly from her.
Nossel was hired by AI in January 2012. In her early career, Nossel worked for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke under the Clinton Administration at the United Nations. Most recently, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations at the U.S. Department of State, where she was responsible for multilateral human rights, humanitarian affairs, women’s issues, public diplomacy, press and congressional relations.
Friday June 15, 2012, happened to be the 797th anniversary of the day certain feudal barons in England confronted King John and asked him to guarantee a "charter of liberties" which eventually became the Magna Carta. So it was an appropriate day in June 2012: Torture Awareness Month, to think about the legal issues that have emerged with Eric Holder's and other Obama lawyers' equating of "due process" with the latest CIA and Pentagon "baseball cards kill list". Passers-by marked the Magna Carta anniversary from 11 am to 1 pm outside the Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis by taking a look at our well-footnoted display of visual panels tracing this once-proud history and contemplating some of the hard legal questions that naturally arise.
The ACLU has brought an active FOIA lawsuit seeking release of the recent Office of Legal Counsel memo that, according to Attorney General Holder, somehow gamely opines that "due process" can be any process that we do. It does not have to be "judicial process" but can instead be a CIA or Pentagon Power-Point as long as it's carefully and secretly compiled and put on glossy baseball cards. But some of us who didn't go to Harvard or Yale might question the soundness of this new-fangled targeted killing doctrine that seems to turn the Magna Carta on its head!
An e-mail from the “Peace Alliance” breathlessly announced:
BIG NEWS: President Obama Unveils Peacebuilding Board. This Monday, April 23rd, the peacebuilding community will mark a historic milestone. President Obama will speak at the US Holocaust Museum on Monday to unveil the Atrocity Prevention Board, a high-level board within the National Security Council, which will greatly enhance our country’s capacity to make peacebuilding a priority.
If Elizabeth Warren is a “bold progressive” given that she’s announced several times her support for crippling sanctions and this new war on Iran that her colleagues are ginning up, then maybe we ought to start a new party of “timid regressives” to oppose the new rationales and lies. Whether it’s Bush’s and Madeleine Albright’s old notion of “fighting to bring democracy to the world” (and killing ½ million children in the process is “worth it”) or Obama’s and NATO’s new rationale of bombing Libya as a “humanitarian gesture,” it is all simply misleading, truly Orwellian propaganda. Both parties and their corrupt politicians are up to their eyeballs in these illegal wars of aggression and war crimes but like addicts, they can’t stop so they just keep finding new sales slogans.
Dear Department of Justice and Department of Treasury Officials:
We might have just helped you bag another material supporter of terrorism this week! And you'll never believe who the culprit is! We were even able to tape record some of his own damning admissions! (That's the reason for my calls last week to your duty attorneys and media offices.)
Nothing “Purist”—Just Everything Hypocritical About Awarding Nobel “Peace” Prize to Promote Western Militarization
During the last 4 years the dispute over the implementation of Nobel´s prize for the “champions of peace” has come to a head. The Norwegian awarders seem to reinterpret Nobel´s wishes and award the prize for whatever in their judgment is good and valuable, based on “a broad concept of peace.” A Norwegian peace researcher and lawyer, Fredrik S. Heffermehl, in his book: The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted (Praeger 2010) claims to have proved that Nobel had specific recipients in mind, that Nobel wished to support what he called the “champions of peace,” meaning those who promote global law and demilitarization. His book led, in January 2012, the Swedish Foundations Authority to open an investigation into the mandate and whether Norwegian parliamentarians entrusted with the stewardship/management of the prize are misappropriating it for other purposes than Nobel had in mind.
Petition Launched to Investigate Betrayal of Nobel Peace Prize as Sec. Lundestad Speaks in Minneapolis March 3
Since awarding US President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, an award that showed just how greatly the Norwegian parliamentarians’ selection process had degenerated and departed from Alfred Nobel’s will, Nobel Secretary Geir Lundestad has tried to minimize the serious nature of the charges against his selection committee by labeling Obama’s and Henry Kissinger's "peace" prizes as merely “controversial”. Lundestad also recently claimed he is “eager for this debate to end", however he has consistently refused to answer the hard questions that lie at the root of the current investigation of the Nobel Foundation.
According to peace researcher and author Fredrik Heffermehl:
Please JOIN US! And SHARE WIDELY!!
Anti-Torture Candlelight Vigil dedicated to detainees and victims of torture authorized by George Bush!
Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to speak at the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College in Minneapolis this Friday, May 27. Many of us with concerns about the state of justice are glad to have the opportunity to attend his Town Hall and ask him some questions:
Since when are torture, warrantless monitoring, indefinite detention and targeted assassinations legal? Why does Holder’s DOJ repeatedly file motions claiming “state secrecy” prevents any hearing, even for well-established cases of US torture? Why did Holder’s DOJ overrule its own Office of Professional Responsibility who decided ethics action should be taken against lawyers who wrote memos that provided cover for torturers?
A unionized public employee, an ill-informed citizen, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the ill-informed citizen and says, "Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie."
The above bad joke coupled with the three week stand-off in neighboring Wisconsin and the nine pictures of the current extreme wealth/income gap led my friend Tom D. to repeat Pete Seeger's timeless question:
As you can see, we've gotten lots of opportunities to put our new yellow "W. A. R." banner up in snow banks in both Wisconsin and Minnesota these last few weeks!
I just got this e-mail update from London from a Catholic Worker activist there who's organizing another street vigil outside Julian Assange's extradition hearing when it recommences tomorrow (Friday Feb 11) next to Belmarsh Prison in London. I'm taking some liberties in editing but essentially I got inspired by what Ciaron O'Reilly writes:
Julian Assange's Extradition Hearing Resumes Friday, Bradley Manning Remains Buried Alive & What's Left of the Anti-War Movement is on the Streets!
UK Consul in Minneapolis Closes Office and Calls Police to Avoid Letter Recommending U.K. Follow the Law
On February 7th, 2011, a small group of peace activists organized by the "Tackling Torture at the Top" Committee of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) tried to meet with the British Honorary Consul at his office on the 26th floor of the US Bancorp Center, 800 Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. The purpose of the meeting was to deliver a letter with over 750 signatures asking the British Government to observe their own laws prohibiting political extradition in the case of Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.
In conjunction with the opening of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing this date, an emergency demonstration is being planned at the United Kingdom Consulate at 800 Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 7 (from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm). Demonstrations are also currently scheduled for London, England; and Brisbane, Australia.
The following letter of support for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks will be available for signing and will be delivered. Any group in one of the other 27 cities with British Consulates (or UK Embassy in Washington DC) is free to copy our letter as a model:
February 7, 2011
Honorary United Kingdom Consul William R. McGrann:
Protest actions in 50 cities on January 25, same day as news released that FBI is duped in embarrassing "counter-terrorism" lecture hoax
If you check out these two Uptake (citizen-journalist) films of protests in Minneapolis and Chicago, you might note that even though the actual weather in the Midwest is opposite of other hot spots in the world, there are some similarities in the political climate when authorities try to make dissent a crime.
Hundreds demonstrate outside Minneapolis and Chicago Federal Courthouses
In the first of 20 some rallies being conducted outside FBI offices in cities around the country, a few hundred peace and civil liberties activists gathered yesterday in
Lake Wobegon Minneapolis. Some of last week’s victims of FBI raids and grand jury subpoenas spoke out:
The Minnesotans who had gathered voiced their strong disagreement with the notion that advocacy for peace and social justice is now apparently being considered the FBI’s crime priority.
The war on dissent, rather than terrorism, continued full steam with FBI SWAT teams breaking down doors at 7 am Friday (Sept 24) morning and raiding the homes of several anti-war leaders and activists in Minneapolis, Chicago and possibly a couple other Midwest cities. Members of the FBI's "Joint Terrorism Task Force" spent a few hours at each Minneapolis residence, seizing personal photographs and papers, computers and cell phones as well as serving Federal Grand Jury subpoenas on the various activists.
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: War With Iran
We write to alert you to the likelihood that Israel will attack Iran as early as this month. This would likely lead to a wider war.
Israel’s leaders would calculate that once the battle is joined, it will be politically untenable for you to give anything less than unstinting support to Israel, no matter how the war started, and that U.S. troops and weaponry would flow freely. Wider war could eventually result in destruction of the state of Israel.
This can be stopped, but only if you move quickly to pre-empt an Israeli attack by publicly condemning such a move before it happens.
We believe that comments by senior American officials, you included, reflect misplaced trust in Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu.
Please consider participating in a 24 hour Fast Against Torture in memory of all those illegally, unethically tortured around the world, including, most importantly, those tortured and waterboarded by the Bush-Cheney Administration.
By Roger Cuthbertson and Coleen Rowley
June 28, 2010 (first posted on TC Daily Planet)
Clouds hung over the St. Thomas School of Law graduation on May 8, 2010, in more ways than one. The University of St. Thomas Law School held its graduation ceremony at Orchestra Hall, a few blocks from their campus. So most of the celebrants parked at the campus and walked the few blocks to Orchestra Hall. They thus got an opportunity to pass by our anti-torture demonstration at the northwest corner of Orchestra Hall. Although many attending the graduation seemed intent on ignoring the signs, some seemed surprised and at least one graduate voiced his approval, saying he had recently completed a paper on torture.
Maybe it was because June is "Torture Awareness Month", but when the wrenching image of an oil drenched pelican (taken by Associated Press Photographer Charlie Riedel) as a result of the BP oil spill appeared in our Star Tribune newspaper earlier this month, anti-torture activist Diane Steen-Hinderlie quickly spotted this connection and created the above collage.