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Cynthia McKinney: My Country Has Been Hijacked

My Country Has Been Hijacked
Munich Peace Rally Speech

By Cynthia McKinney

Thank you for allowing me to come from the United States and participate in this rally for peace.

My country has been hijacked by a criminal cabal intent on using the hard-earned dollars of the American people for war, occupation, and empire.

As a result, the national leadership of my country, both Democratic and Republican, became complicit in war crimes, torture, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the peace.

As a Member of Congress from the Democratic Party, I drafted Articles of Impeachment against George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice. Later, when Democrats voted to support more war rather than take care of the needs of the people, I declared my independence from them and all national leadership; the Green Party nominated me to run for President, which I did on a platform of truth, justice, peace, and dignity.

I watched as Candidate Barack Obama came here to Germany to speak. I saw tears on the faces of many in the crowd who believed that, finally, there was something worth believing in again. That America had turned a page from its evil playbook that had so outraged and disappointed the world. That good was finally about to triumph over evil.

I know that beleaguered people all over the world, victims of cruel and deadly military, economic, imperial policies finally could believe in hope and change. And America could be believed in again.

Everywhere I went all over the world there were pictures of Barack Obama, slogans "Yes, We Can," and the words "Hope" and "Change" plastered everywhere.

And after eight years of George W. Bush, Barack Obama seemed to be the man the world was waiting for.

So when the Candidate became the President, we held our breath in anticipation.

That torture and rendition; spying on innocent, dissenting Americans; war and occupation; crimes against the U.S. Constitution and crimes against the peace would end and that the United States would finally join the community of nations.

Sadly, one year into the Presidency of Barack Obama, that is not the case.

Obama Takes a Blue Pencil to the Bill of Rights

Obama Takes a Blue Pencil to the Bill of Rights
By A Barton Hinkle | Leagle

No more illegal wiretapping of American citizens....This administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not. - Barack Obama, Aug. 1, 2007

On second thought, never mind.

With the world's attention riveted by the earthquake in Haiti, few noticed when, late last month, a federal judge took a pair of sharp scissors to the Bill of Rights. But on Jan. 22, federal district judge Vaughan Walker agreed to dismiss a lawsuit over warrantless wiretapping, as the administration - the current one - had requested.

The suit was the second of its type to get tossed out. The first suit was filed against AT&T, and it accused the company of forking over to federal agents the calls and e-mails of customers in the United States. But Walker dismissed that suit last June, after Congress passed legislation granting retroactive immunity to telecom compa-

nies for cooperating with federal surveillance efforts.

The second suit was filed against the National Security Agency. Walker threw it out on the grounds that the plaintiffs could not show they had been individually harmed, because they could not "differentiate themselves from the mass of telephone and Internet users in the United States." They needed a "direct, personal stake" to claim standing for the right to sue, not merely "a right to have the government follow the law."

This seems to suggest that as long as the government is hoovering up vast amounts of communications records from many thousands of Americans - "dragnet surveillance," as the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls it - no harm done: The more people the government wiretaps, the more authority the federal government has to do so.

That is...interesting. Because the Obama administration had asked to have the case dismissed on entirely different grounds - the state- secrets doctrine: Litigating the dispute would require the government to disclose "a range of facts concerning whether, when, how, why, and under what authority the NSA may have utilized certain intelligence sources and methods," it argued, which could lead to "exceptionally grave harm to national security."

"Congress has not waived sovereign immunity," says the administration's brief, "and summary judgment for the Government on all of plaintiffs' remaining claims against all required because information necessary to litigate plaintiffs' claims is properly subject to and excluded from use in this case by the state secrets privilege."

This is precisely the position taken by the Bush administration. Indeed, by some lights the Obama position is even worse, since the Bush program was created while the country was in full panic mode after 9/11. Obama not only has had time to reflect from a distance; having reflected, he concluded the Bush position was wrong. Then he turned around and embraced it. Read more.

Lawyers Petition Court To Hold Yoo Accountable

Lawyers petition court to hold Yoo accountable
By Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer | SF Gate

[Padilla] claimed that Yoo, as a Justice Department lawyer and self-described member of the Bush administration's "war council," approved his detention and wrote legal opinions that justified his treatment.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White refused to dismiss the suit in June. It was the first time a court had held a Justice Department attorney potentially responsible for the abuse of prisoners.

Yoo has appealed, saying the suit would interfere with presidential war-making authority. The Obama administration has taken his side, arguing that courts should not meddle in questions of national security.

But in filings over the last 10 days, groups of constitutional law professors, legal ethics scholars and former government attorneys urged the court to keep Padilla's suit alive.

They argue that this is not a dispute over legal advice, as Yoo contends, but the case of a lawyer who allegedly stepped out of his role to take part in planning detention and interrogation policies, and then devised legal opinions to justify those policies.

As reports circulate that the Justice Department has softened its criticism of attorney John Yoo for memos approving the Bush administration's treatment of terrorism suspects, several prominent lawyers are urging a federal appeals court in San Francisco to hold Yoo accountable. Read more.

Democrats Suggest Ways To Curb Companies' Campaign Spending

Democrats suggest ways to curb companies' campaign spending
By Dan Eggen | Washington Post

"If we don't act quickly, the court's ruling will have an immediate and disastrous impact on the 2010 elections," said Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate.

Democratic leaders in Congress unveiled proposals Thursday that would limit the impact of a Supreme Court decision allowing unfettered corporate spending on political campaigns.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) called for a ban on companies with more than 20 percent foreign ownership, government contractors and bank bailout recipients from participating in U.S. elections. They also want to require companies to inform shareholders about political spending, and to mandate that corporate chief executives to appear in any political advertising funded by their companies.

Schumer told reporters that the proposals will be introduced later this month. Read more.

Nurse Whistle-Blower Not Guilty for Reporting Doctor

Nurse Whistle-Blower Not Guilty for Reporting Doctor
Texas Nurse Fired After Sheriff Seizes Computer and Finds Letter of Complaint
By Susan Donaldson James, Steve Osunsami and Michael Murray | ABC News

A Texas jury has found veteran nurse Anne Mitchell not guilty of harassment after she wrote a confidential letter to the Texas Medical Board complaining about a doctor she believed practiced shoddy medicine.

Her lawyer, John Cook, announced the verdict today on the fourth day of the trial in Andrew, Texas.

Mitchell, 52, could have faced 10 years in prison for doing what she believed was her obligation under the law -- to report unsafe medical practices.

The verdict could have had a profound effect on whistle-blowers in Texas and nationwide. People are certainly talking. Phil Parks told ABC News, "I think that nurses must be on the side of patients. They spend more time with patients than doctors do." Read more.

The U.S. is Now a Police State

The U.S. is Now a Police State
By Paul Craig Roberts | Counter Punch

Americans have been losing the protection of law for years. In the 21st century the loss of legal protections accelerated with the Bush administration’s “war on terror,” which continues under the Obama administration and is essentially a war on the Constitution and U.S. civil liberties.

The Bush regime was determined to vitiate habeas corpus in order to hold people indefinitely without bringing charges. The regime had acquired hundreds of prisoners by paying a bounty for “terrorists.” Afghan warlords and thugs responded to the financial incentive by grabbing unprotected people and selling them to the Americans.

The Bush regime needed to hold the prisoners without charges because it had no evidence against the people and did not want to admit that the U.S. government had stupidly paid warlords and thugs to kidnap innocent people. In addition, the Bush regime needed “terrorists” prisoners in order to prove that there was a terrorist threat.

As there was no evidence against the “detainees” (most have been released without charges after years of detention and abuse), the U.S. government needed a way around U.S. and international laws against torture in order that the government could produce evidence via self-incrimination. The Bush regime found inhumane and totalitarian-minded lawyers and put them to work at the U.S. Department of Justice (sic) to invent arguments that the Bush regime did not need to obey the law. Read more.

I cut my hair but I'm not a terrorist: TSA in Philly Must Stand for Truly Stupid A******s

By Dave LIndorff

I guess I may as well get out front of things here. I’m about to fly to Switzerland to lead a panel on how to change pro-capital punishment attitudes in a country at the Fourth Congress Against the Death Penalty, being sponsored by the United Nations in Geneva. And judging from the stories I’ve been reading about the Transportation Security Administration, or at least its Philadelphia International Airport operation, and the Philadelphia Police who backstop the TSA here, I’m afraid I’m liable to be hauled away as a suspected terrorist before I can get on my flight.

Why? Because I will be carrying copies of one of my books, which has the title “Killing Time” (It’s an investigation into the death penalty case of Philadelphia journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, and was published in 2003 by Common Courage Press), and more importantly, because I just got a haircut.

Kucinich Right, Greenwald Wrong

By David Swanson

On Democracy Now! on Tuesday, Congressman Dennis Kucinich said he was working on a Constitutional Amendment to address both "Citizen's United" and "Buckley v. Valejo," meaning the Supreme Court decisions giving corporations outrageous and destructive powers of "free speech" and defining the spending of money as "speech."

Glenn Greenwald replied to the Congressman that the First Amendment forbids making laws about free speech, even to limit free speech to human beings. But Kucinich, and so many others, including the campaigns at and , are not proposing to pass laws. They are proposing to amend the Constitution. Greenwald can prefer the current Constitution with corporations holding almost limitless "rights" to buy off elected officials. But he cannot argue that the new Constitution, following an amendment process, would be unconstitutional.

Prisoners Shoveling Snow in Snowpocalypse

By David Swanson

Walking through Charlottesville, Va., today I saw a sight that is increasingly common in the United States: men in prison uniforms, watched by guards, out working in public, in this case shoveling snow. I asked them if they were being paid for their work, and they just laughed.

A short while later I ran into a city official who was clearly familiar with the prisoner snow-shoveling program. He told me it was nothing new, part of "work release," gave the prisoners a chance to get outside, and that the prisoners were paid.

I pointed out that when asked if they were paid they laughed at me.

Then this official explained that he meant they were paid about 25 cents an hour.

Potential Evolutionary Role for Same-Sex Attraction

ScienceDaily (Feb. 4, 2010)— Male homosexuality doesn't make complete sense from an evolutionary point of view. It appears that the trait is heritable, but because homosexual men are much less likely to produce offspring than heterosexual men, shouldn't the genes for this trait have been extinguished long ago? What value could this sexual orientation have, that it has persisted for eons even without any discernible reproductive advantage?

One possible explanation is what evolutionary psychologists call the "kin selection hypothesis." What that means is that homosexuality may convey an indirect benefit by enhancing the survival prospects of close relatives. Specifically, the theory holds that homosexual men might enhance their own genetic prospects by being "helpers in the nest." By acting altruistically toward nieces and nephews, homosexual men would perpetuate the family genes, including some of their own.

Do Children Need Both a Mother and a Father?

ScienceDaily (Jan. 28, 2010) — The presumption that children need both a mother and a father is widespread. It has been used by proponents of Proposition 8 to argue against same-sex marriage and to uphold a ban on same-sex adoption.

On the other end of the political spectrum, Barack Obama endorsed the vital role of fathers in a 2008 speech: "Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation."

The lead article in the February issue of Journal of Marriage and Family challenges the idea that "fatherless" children are necessarily at a disadvantage or that men provide a different, indispensable set of parenting skills than women.

Kucinich Challenges Potential Extrajudicial Killing of Americans

Kucinich Challenges Potential Extrajudicial Killing of Americans | Press Release

Washington, Feb 5 -
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) yesterday wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder following news reports that Americans have been included on targeted assassination lists maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). The reports indicate that the President has authorized military operations with the express understanding that Americans might be killed under this policy. In the letter, Kucinich requests the legal basis for revoking the constitutional rights of any American citizens.

“Due process of law is a fundamental principle in our Constitutional structure. Even the most superficial reading of Article XIV makes it clear that extrajudicial killings of U.S. citizens by the U.S. government or its agents are by definition outside the law,” wrote Kucinich.

“The government has the right and the obligation to protect the citizens of this country. However, I reject the notion that we can accomplish this goal only by violating international law and trampling on the Constitution. Protecting the constitutional rights of some citizens should not require revoking the constitutional rights of other citizens,” said Kucinich in the letter.

Read the full letter here.

Personal Corporatehood: Coping With the Reason Divided of Citizens United

Personal Corporatehood: Coping With the Reason Divided of Citizens United
By Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D. | Truthout

There's great consternation brewing over the recent Supreme Court decision that cements and extends the misbegotten logic of "corporate personhood," and rightly so. Surely, one of the most farcical and tortuous doctrines ever established in our system of jurisprudence, this conflated concept has drawn the ire of (small-d) democrats at least as far back as Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in 1816, "I hope we shall ... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

...Just imagine the benefits. When someone asks you for a favor, you can off-puttingly reply, "I have to check with my board of directors at next month's meeting; someone will get back to you then." When you want to meet with your Congressperson on matters you feel strongly about, the receptionist will announce, "Senator, a corporation is here to see you," which will likely get you instant access. If you go public, you can sell shares in yourself and make a tidy sum (just be sure to retain a controlling interest). If someone irritates you or has something you want, you can likely get the Marines sent in to deal with them. You can avoid having to appear personally at court hearings, sending your hired-gun attorney instead. And you can't be thrown in jail, since a corporation itself cannot be imprisoned. See?

At the end of the day, we "natural persons" can try and fight city hall on this one, or we can get in the game and embrace the benefits of artificiality. In a world of surfaces, where profiteering masks as politics and gerrymandering as justice, this may well be the best of all strategies for survival. Read more.

The US Government has Lost its Reason for Being

By Dave Lindorff

There were two points in President Obama’s State of the Union address that provoked resounding and universal applause in the chamber from the assembled senators and representatives of both parties. One point was when the president said he wanted to start his job-creation program “in small businesses, companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides its time she became her own boss.” The other point was when he said, “While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment.”

Airport Body Scanning Raises Radiation Exposure, Committee Says

Airport Body Scanning Raises Radiation Exposure, Committee Says
By Jonathan Tirone | Bloomberg

Air passengers should be made aware of the health risks of airport body screenings and governments must explain any decision to expose the public to higher levels of cancer-causing radiation, an inter-agency report said.

Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning, even though the radiation dose from body scanners is “extremely small,” said the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety report, which is restricted to the agencies concerned and not meant for public circulation. The group includes the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health Organization.

A more accurate assessment about the health risks of the screening won’t be possible until governments decide whether all passengers will be systematically scanned or randomly selected, the report said. Governments must justify the additional risk posed to assengers, and should consider “other techniques to achieve the same end without the use of ionizing radiation.”

President Barack Obama has pledged $734 million to deploy airport scanners that use x-rays and other technology to detect explosives, guns and other contraband. The U.S. and European countries including the U.K. have been deploying more scanners at airports after the attempted bombing on Christmas Day of a Detroit-bound Northwest airline flight.

“There is little doubt that the doses from the backscatter x-ray systems being proposed for airport security purposes are very low,” Health Protection Agency doctor Michael Clark said by phone from Didcot, England. “The issue raised by the report is that even though doses from the systems are very low, they feel there is still a need for countries to justify exposures.” Read more.

Raw Story Exclusive: How Corporations Secretly Move Millions To Fund Political Ads

Raw Story Exclusive: How corporations secretly move millions to fund political ads
By Brad Jacobson | Raw Story

The Supreme Court’s seismic January ruling that corporations are free to spend unlimited amounts of their profits to advertise for or against candidates may have been the latest shakeup of campaign finance – but gaping holes already allow corporations to spend enormous sums without leaving a paper trail, a Raw Story investigation has found.

Campaign finance experts confirmed that though disclosure rules remained intact in the new Supreme Court decision, there are effective methods to circumvent them.

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, an attorney and campaign finance expert at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, said corporations already effectively end-run campaign finance law by shuffling money through trade associations.

“One of their favorites right now is spending through trade associations,” Torres-Spelliscy said.

Trade associations are considered tax-exempt non-profit organizations under US law. While they must report contributions received from other corporations to the Internal Revenue Service, the document itself remains confidential and is not made available to the public. Read more.

So, Where Is The Peace Movement?

So, Where Is The Peace Movement?
By Steve Fine

Our Neighbors for Peace and Justice, San Fernando Valley weekly peace vigil has been running continuously in Studio City, California, since November of 2002, which makes it one of the oldest in the Los Angeles area, if not the country. But as a vigil, it is not unique, rather one of thousands that rose up spontaneously during the lead up to the Iraq war, as average people from all walks of life came together on the local level to protest. In the process, the people at our vigil who kept coming formed bonds of friendship and camaraderie that have sustained us through thick and thin.

For those who are unaware of the vigils movement, a quick definition: A neighborhood peace vigil is a rally with signs, banners and candles held on a weekly basis at the same location, most commonly organized by one or two people who are not professional activists. (Nor are they dupes of corporate financed astro-turf grassroots propagandists, the right wing equivalent.) Each “vigil” is independent, since they are neighborhood based, and yet, they all do the same thing; thus each becomes a model for expanding to more areas. In the Los Angeles area during the lead up to the Iraq War the expansion was so sudden and explosive that there was an attempt to establish a coordinating network. Something similar needs to be created now on a national level, but this time it would be to nurture the growth of a vigils’ revival via an online service that could provide an organizational framework in which each group becomes part of a dynamic grassroots mobilization. The goal would be to force into the mainstream a debate about war spending and the domination of militarism over our government.

During the Bush years and continuing to this day, the media’s tendency to ignore the neighborhood vigil’s call for peace has been all but guaranteed while they have lavished coverage upon the slightest belch coming from the right. So it’s not surprising we are not the first thing that comes to peoples’ minds when they think of the peace movement. Still the corner, as we call our location in Studio City, continues to get its message across to thousands of motorists every Friday night. And like many other vigils we also put on community forums and coordinate with other groups’ activities. So we do have an impact at the local level, which is the whole point.

We’ve become such a well-known fixture in the community that everyone in the valley knows us. This is something other long-standing peace vigils can attest to around the country. So never minimize the impact one small vigil can have even when there isn’t a coordinating structure on a national level. In short, we keep the movement alive while others try to figure out if it even exists.

Activists To Capitol Hill Today: "Reject the PATRIOT Act Reauthorization!" - Sign Petition To Support Them

On February 3, activists from across the country will be on Capitol Hill to tell members of Congress to reject the PATRIOT Act unless serious reforms are included. If you can't come to Washington, add your name to this petition. We'll deliver the petition and signatures to each Congressional office we visit. This petition campaign is initiated by the Bill of Right Defense Committee, which will compile the final petition list (your name, city and state will be shared with BORDC).

We, the undersigned, write to urge President Obama and members of Congress to reject the PATRIOT Act in its current form, rather than extend its expiring provisions without imposing meaningful protections to ensure transparency and enable oversight going forward.

When the Act was originally passed, civil liberties advocates decried it, both for the inadequate congressional process exploring its sweeping changes to longstanding law—including some that federal courts have since held unconstitutional—and also for giving the government the authority to invade the privacy of law-abiding individuals without meaningful checks and balances. The Act has been in place for nearly a decade, and its implementation has repeatedly demonstrated that those fears were, and unfortunately remain, well-founded. Read the rest of the petition, sign.

Autopsy: FBI Agents Shot Detroit Imam 21 Times

Autopsy: FBI Agents Shot Detroit Imam 21 Times | Democracy NOW!

In Michigan, explosive details have emerged from the long-awaited release of the autopsy report for a Detroit-area Muslim imam slain by the FBI in October. The imam, Luqman Ameen Abdullah, headed a Sunni Muslim group called the Ummah. He was shot dead during an FBI raid shortly after being indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit federal crimes. Local Muslim leaders have questioned if authorities are trying to cover up facts surrounding his death. The autopsy report was finally released Monday after a lengthy delay. It shows Abdullah died from twenty-one gunshot wounds and was found with his wrists handcuffed behind his back. House Judiciary Chair John Conyers is expected to join a coalition of civil rights and Muslim groups today to call for a Justice Department probe.

Imam's autopsy report stuns widow
By Ben Schmitt |

The widow of a Detroit imam shot to death by FBI agents said today that she was appalled to learn her husband died from 21 gunshot wounds.

“It’s really hard and it’s really painful for me,” Amina Abdullah, 36, said of the autopsy report detailing the death of Luqman Ameen Abdullah. “I was shocked. I was almost going to faint. I couldn’t eat, and I couldn’t sleep.”

Amina Abdullah was married 10 years to the imam, said her attorney Nabih Ayad. Ayad also said the government is trying to deport her to Tanzania.

“She’s concerned about going back home,” Ayad said.

Amina Abdullah appeared at a news conference this morning in Detroit with U.S. Rep John Conyers, who is calling for an independent investigation into the imam’s Oct. 28 death in a Dearborn warehouse.

Ayad told reporters he would also like a second autopsy done because he is concerned about reports of lacerations to Abdullah’s hands and wonders if an FBI dog bit him before he fired back. Read more.

U.S.: Landmark Case Could Restore Felon Voting Rights

U.S.: Landmark Case Could Restore Felon Voting Rights
By Matthew Cardinale | IPS

A historic ruling earlier this month on behalf of felons who lost the right to vote could call into question the disenfranchisement of felons and ex-felons in the State of Washington and indeed across the United States.

Federal Ninth District Circuit Court Judges A. Wallace Tashima and Stephen Reinhardt ruled on behalf of several disenfranchised voters, in a 2-1 ruling. Washington's Secretary of State Sam Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna will appeal to the Supreme Court.

If plaintiffs are successful, the case could result in the restoration of voting rights to 47,000 U.S. citizens who are either incarcerated or under state supervision in the State of Washington, said Reed's director of communications, David Ammons.

In addition, the case could have an impact on the status of felon voting rights in other states, by opening up the path for similar lawsuits.

According to the Sentencing Project, an estimated 5.3 million U.S. citizens cannot vote because they have a criminal conviction and live in one of 48 states which disenfranchise felons and ex-felons. An estimated four million of these are already out of prison and are living and working in their communities.

"It absolutely is a victory," Kara Gotsch, advocacy director for the Sentencing Project, told IPS. "The racial disparity that exists in the criminal justice system and discrimination is something we've been concerned about as an organisation for a long time."

"To have the court acknowledge that racial discrimination is an issue is in itself a significant finding, but the fact that this could also impact the felon voting laws is also important," Gotsch said. Read more.

Reps Edwards, Conyers Introduced Constitutional Amendment Today

Congresswoman Donna Edwards has just introduced a Constitutional amendment, together with Congressman John Conyers.

More below!

9/11, Deep Events, and the Curtailment of U.S. Freedoms

9/11, Deep Events, and the Curtailment of U.S. Freedoms
A talk delivered to the New England Antiwar Conference, MIT, January 30, 2010.
by Prof Peter Dale Scott | Global Research

Hello everyone! I’m honored to be invited to this important anti-war conference. As I am in the final stages of editing my next book, The Road to Afghanistan, I have been turning down invitations to speak. But I was eager to accept this one, and to join my friends and others in debunking the war on terror, the false justification for the Afghan-Pakistan war.

Let me make my own position clear at the outset. There are indeed people out there, including some Muslim extremists, who want to inflict terror on America. But it is crystal clear, as many people inside and outside government have agreed, that it makes this problem worse, not better, when Washington sends large numbers of U.S. troops to yet another country where they don ‘t belong.[1]

A war on terror is as inappropriate a cure as a U.S. war on drugs, which as we have seen in Colombia makes the drug problem worse, not better. The war on terror and the war on drugs have this in common: both are ideological attempts to justify the needless killings of thousands – including both American troops and foreign civilians -- in another needless war.

Why does America find itself, time after time, invading countries in distant oil-bearing regions, countries which have not invaded us? This is a vital issue on which we should seek a clear message for the American people. Unfortunately it has been an issue on which there has been serious disagreement dividing the antiwar movement, just as it divided people, even friends, inside the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s.

Perhaps many of you in this room know that there was disagreement between Noam Chomsky and myself in our analysis of how America entered the Vietnam War. This did not stop Noam and I from speaking out on the same platform against the war, or remaining friends, even after our public disagreements. There was too much on which we agreed.

Let me turn to today’s topic, the war on terror, by reading a long quote from Noam Chomsky in 2002, with which I fully agree:

"the war on terrorism was not declared on September 11 [2001]; rather, it was redeclared, using the same rhetoric as the first declaration twenty years earlier. The Reagan administration, as you know, I'm sure, came into office announcing that a war on terrorism would be the core of U.S. foreign policy, and it condemned what the president called the "evil scourge of terrorism. " …. International terrorism was described as a plague spread by "depraved opponents of civilization itself," in "a return to barbarism in the modern age.”"[2]

Today it is easy to see the falsehood of the government rhetoric in the 1980s about heroic freedom fighters fighting the “evil scourge of terrorism.” Most of the CIA money in the 1980s went to the terrorist drug trafficker Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, remembered for his habit of throwing acid in the faces of women not wearing burkas. Hekmatyar did not represent Afghan aspirations for freedom, but the interests of the U.S. ally Pakistan. As a true Afghan leader said in 1994, “We didn't choose [him]. The United States made Hekmatyar by giving him his weapons.”[3] To describe Hekmatyar’s men as freedom fighters was a fraud. Read more.

The Logic Of (Counter) Terrorism, As Practiced By The US Government

The logic of (counter) terrorism, as practiced by the US government
By Michael Schwartz

Keep in mind that well known sociological studies (enshrined in a famous movie starring Will Smith) demonstrate all people on earth are separated by only “six degrees of separation”. This means that careful work by the intelligence agencies can place almost anyone into a network of associates with any suspect. This means that, in practice, the construction of these suspicious networks will sweep up pretty much everyone in the vague social vicinity of a terrorist suspect.

In a recent Harper'’s article, Petra Bartosiewicz explains, in excruciating detail, the incredible saga of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who trained and worked in the United States for eleven years, and who “vanished from her hometown in Pakistan in 2003,” and re-appeared in 2008, accused of the attempted murder of U.S. intelligence agents who were apparently interrogating her for the umpteenth time during what was likely five years of imprisonment by various authorities, mainly the Pakistani and U.S. intelligence agencies. The whole story is bizarre, and even Bartosiewicz is still confused about what actually happened, though it is entirely possible that Siddiqui is innocent of all allegations and charges. Of course, there is no guarantee that the pending trial will clarify anything.

One thing is, however, crystal clear: that the secret “counter” “terrorist” “intelligence” network created by the U.S. practices every form of brutality that it accuses its targets of utilizing. And it does this on a scale that Al Qaeda and its allies can only dream about.

But there is a much larger significance to the prevalence of these practices, and this larger significance lies much more in the process of “disappearing” innocent citizens in every country of the world than in the particularities of how they are treated once they are captured and incarcerated. The logic behind this practice of the mass arrest of innocents was made explicit by an FBI document filed in the U.S. court a few years back. Here is Bartosiewicz's’ account of that document:

“When the FBI detained more than a thousand Muslim immigrants in 2001, for instance, it provided judges at secret detention hearings an affidavit explaining that ‘the business of counterterrorism intelligence gathering in the United States is akin to the construction of a mosaic’ and that evidence ‘that may seem innocuous at first glance’ might ultimately ‘fit into a picture that will reveal how the unseen whole operates.’ The FBI reasoned that even the possessors of this intelligence might not be aware of the significance of what they knew, and so they could be detained simply because the agency was ‘unable to rule out’ their value.”

Activists Gear Up for National March & Rally in DC March 20, 2010; Hudson Valley NYrs Organize To Attend; How About You?


The Activist Newsletter and Peace and Social Progress Now have chartered several buses to the nation's capital Saturday, March 20, leaving from Kingston, New Paltz, and Poughkeepsie in the early hours and returning at night. We will consider establishing other pickup locations farther down the Valley if groups of a dozen or more people commit to boarding at a particular location convenient to our buses.

The roundtrip cost is $60 per person. Discounts for students and low-income people will be offered when we receive contributions from readers for that purpose.

Witness Against Torture & Peaceable Assembly Campaigns in Washington, DC, January 20-29, 2010

Witness Against Torture and Peaceable Assembly Campaigns in Washington, DC
By Joy First | January 20-29, 2010

As our government continues to engage in illegal actions that cause suffering to so many people around the world, we must continue in our struggle for peace and justice. And so to that end, I have been engaged in a couple of campaigns this month. This involved spending ten days in DC where I was arrested in an action of nonviolent civil resistance.

Murray Hill Incorporated Is Running for Congress

Supreme Court Ruling Spurs Corporation Run for Congress | Press Release
First Test of “Corporate Personhood” In Politics

Following the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to allow unlimited corporate funding of federal campaigns, Murray Hill Inc. today announced it was filing to run for U.S. Congress and released its first campaign video on YouTube.

“Until now,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, “corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”

Murray Hill Inc. is believed to be the first “corporate person” to exercise its constitutional right to run for office. As Supreme Court observer Lyle Denniston wrote in his SCOTUSblog, “If anything, the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission conferred new dignity on corporate “persons,” treating them — under the First Amendment free-speech clause — as the equal of human beings.”

Sue Schmitz now in prison camp

From Mark Crispin Miller

Here's yet another harrowing injustice down in Alabama. Like Don Siegelman and all too many others, this woman was convicted over nothing--and she's now gone to a distant, over-crowded prison camp, which, although a minimum security facility, is "no country club," as noted here.

Worst of all, the camp, called Atwood, has a "medical philosophy" that basically denies you treatment, unless you're at death's door. This is bad news for Schmitz, who's suffering from "diabetes, kidney problems and degnerative joint disease. She had a stroke in 2007."

She's filed a motion to stay out of prison pending her appeal. But that, of course, cuts no ice whatsoever with the sociopaths who rule in Alabama.

Here's Scott Horton's piece about the case:

If you want to reach out to Sue, to help her get through this ordeal, here's an helpful message from a friend of hers in Alabama:

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