Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rape on the Reservation

February 26, 2013

Rape on the Reservation



TWO Republicans running for Congressional seats last year offered opinions on “legitimate rape” or God-approved conceptions during rape, tainting their party with misogyny. Their candidacies tanked. Words matter.

Having lost the votes of many women, Republicans now have the chance to recover some trust. The Senate last week voted resoundingly to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, the 1994 law that recognized crimes like rape, domestic abuse and stalking as matters of human rights.

But House Republicans, who are scheduled to take up the bill today and vote on it Thursday, have objected to provisions that would enhance protections for American Indians, undocumented immigrants and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, among other vulnerable populations.

Here in Minneapolis, a growing number of Native American women wear red shawls to powwows to honor survivors of sexual violence. The shawls, a traditional symbol of nurturing, flow toward the earth. The women seem cloaked in blood. People hush. Everyone rises, not only in respect, for we are jolted into personal memories and griefs. Men and children hold hands, acknowledging the outward spiral of the violations women suffer.

The Justice Department reports that one in three Native women is raped over her lifetime, while other sources report that many Native women are too demoralized to report rape. Perhaps this is because federal prosecutors decline to prosecute 67 percent of sexual abuse cases, according to the Government Accountability Office. Further tearing at the social fabric of communities, a Native woman battered by her non-Native husband has no recourse for justice in tribal courts, even if both live on reservation ground. More than 80 percent of sex crimes on reservations are committed by non-Indian men, who are immune from prosecution by tribal courts.

The Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center says this gap in the law has attracted non-Indian habitual sexual predators to tribal areas. Alexandra Pierce, author of a 2009 report on sexual violence against Indian women in Minnesota, has found that there rapes on upstate reservations increase during hunting season. A non-Indian can drive up from the cities and be home in five hours. The tribal police can’t arrest him.

To protect Native women, tribal authorities must be able to apprehend, charge and try rapists — regardless of race. Tribal courts had such jurisdiction until 1978, when the Supreme Court ruled that they did not have inherent jurisdiction to try non-Indians without specific authorization from Congress. The Senate bill would restore limited jurisdiction over non-Indians suspected of perpetrating sex crimes, but even this unnerves some officials. “You’ve got to have a jury that is a reflection of society as a whole, and on an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right?” said Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.”

Leaving aside the fact that most Native defendants tried in the United States face Indian-free juries, and disregarding the fulsome notion that Native people can’t be impartial jurists, Mr. Grassley got his facts wrong. Most reservations have substantial non-Indian populations, and Native families are often mixed. The Senate version guarantees non-Indians the right to effective counsel and trial by an impartial jury.

Tribal judges know they must make impeccable decisions. They know that they are being watched closely and must defend their hard-won jurisdiction. Our courts and lawyers cherish every tool given by Congress. Nobody wants to blow it by convicting a non-Indian without overwhelming, unshakable evidence.

Since 1990, when Joseph R. Biden Jr., then a senator from Delaware, drafted the original legislation, the Violence Against Women Act has been parsed and pored over. During reauthorizations in 2000 and 2005, language on date rape and orders of protection was added. With each iteration, the act has become more effective, inclusive and powerful. Without it, the idea that some rape is “legitimate” could easily have been shrugged off by the electorate.

Some House Republicans maintain that Congress lacks the authority to subject non-Indians to criminal trials in tribal court, even though a Supreme Court opinion from 2004 suggests otherwise. Their version of the bill, as put forward by the majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, would add further twists to the dead-end maze Native American women walk when confronting sexual violence. John Dossett, general counsel for the National Congress of American Indians, said it would create “more off ramps for defendants by adding multiple levels of removal and appeal, including the right to sue tribes.” A compromise backed by two other Republicans, Darrell Issa of California and Tom Cole of Oklahoma, is vastly preferable to the Cantor version. It would offer a non-Indian defendant the right to request removal of his case to a federal court if his rights were violated.

What seems like dry legislation can leave Native women at the mercy of their predators or provide a slim margin of hope for justice. As a Cheyenne proverb goes, a nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.

If our hearts are on the ground, our country has failed us all. If we are safe, our country is safer. When the women in red shawls dance, they move with slow dignity, swaying gently, all ages, faces soft and eyes determined. Others join them, shaking hands to honor what they know, sharing it. We dance behind them and with them in the circle, often in tears, because at every gathering the red shawls increase, and the violence cuts deep.

Louise Erdrich is the author, most recently, of “The Round House.”

© 2012 The New York Times Company

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Baltimore Activist Alert - Part 3

36] Voting Rights protest – Feb. 27

37] Consumer Finance Protection Agency – Feb. 27

38] Protest Lockheed Martin – Feb. 27

39] ROK-U.S. Alliance – Feb. 27

40] “U.S. Nuclear Policy in the 21st Century" – Feb. 27

41] Protest General Stanley McChrystal at JHU – Feb. 27

42] Understanding the ongoing financial crisis – Feb. 27

43] Music for Peace – Feb. 27

44] United Workers is moving – Feb. 28

45] Protest Pentagon spending – Feb. 28

46] Protest John Brennan – Feb. 28


36] – On Wed., Feb. 27, the Supreme Court will hear a case — the outcome of which could make it harder for communities of color to register and vote. This case (Shelby County v. Holder) is a challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Section 5 requires certain states and jurisdictions to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before they change laws around voting. Rally to Protect the Voting Rights Act on Wed., Feb. 27 at 9 AM at the U.S. Supreme Court Building, 1 First Street NE, WDC 20543.

In just the last year alone, Section 5 enabled the Department of Justice to block voter suppression initiatives in Texas, South Carolina, and Florida. In other words: Section 5 matters. If the Supreme Court strikes down Section 5, millions of voters will be at risk of having their rights infringed upon by those determined to block access to the ballot. We can't let that happen. RSVP to join the NAACP at the Supreme Court. Go to

37] – The topic of discussion at the Table Talk Lunch Series is Consumer Finance Protection Agency: Will it be Effective? Hear the discussion on Wed., Feb. 27 at noon at the Kay Spiritual Life Center Lounge. To-Quyen Truong- Deputy General Counsel of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch Division will lead the discussion. RSVP at 202-885-3321 or A buffet lunch is provided free to students. A donation of $5 each is requested from faculty and staff to help offset the cost of the program. Reservations are required.

38] – On Wed., Feb. 27 at 12:30 PM, join USAction to fight for PEOPLE over PENTAGON PORK. Congress has a clear choice: protect vital domestic programs OR Pentagon CEOs. But they need to hear from you. So join an event in Washington to rein in wasteful Pentagon spending and protect our priorities and the middle class. Shine a light on Pentagon budget excess at the Lockheed Martin Lobby Office, 400 Virginia Ave. SW, WDC 20024. RSVP at

Progressive Democrats of America will join a large and growing coalition to cut spending for weapons and war entitled "Pull The Pork from the Pentagon." PDA state leaders Robert Hansen (Wisconsin), Kurt Bateman (Ohio), and Mike Hersh (Maryland) are working with Win Without War, Citizen Action of WI, Jobs Now, SEIU, Fund Our Communities, USAction and many other local, state and national organizations in this coalition.

Across the board cuts mandated by the "Sequester" deal are scheduled to begin on March 1st unless the Congress and the President agree to a different deal. Our coalition is concerned that the deal will preserve Pentagon Pork--everything from Cold War Era weapons to provocative, counterproductive foreign military bases, from new nukes and other weapons to ongoing wars and occupations.

39] – On Wed., Feb. 27 from 6 to 8 PM, Choi Young-jin, South Korean Ambassador, will talk about "The ROK-U.S. Alliance in the Pacific Era In Light of North Korea's Recent Nuclear Test" at George Washington Univ., Jack Morton Auditorium, 805 21st St. NW, WDC. RSVP at

40] – On Wed., Feb. 27 from 7 to 8:30 PM, former Amb. Richard Burt, Christopher Preble, Cato Institute, Baker Spring, Heritage Foundation, and Keir Lieber, Georgetown Univ., will explore "The Future of Armageddon: U.S. Nuclear Policy in the 21st Century" at Georgetown Univ., ICC Auditorium, 37th and O Sts. NW, WDC.

41] – General Stanley McChrystal is speaking at Johns Hopkins University, Homewood Campus, Arellano Place of Assembly, 3400 N. Charles St., as part of the Foreign Affairs Symposium on Wed., Feb. 27 at 8 PM. Go to There will be a demonstration beginning at 7:30 PM.

42] – On Wed., Feb. 27 from 6:30 to 7:30 PM at The Village Learning Place, 2521St. Paul St. Go to Economics, Finance, Trade, and National Sovereignty: Understanding the ongoing financial crisis is a free class Dr. David Viel will teach, surveying the basic ideas of economics, finance, and trade and how they relate to the current financial crisis.

43] – Discover music as a means to communicate and connect across cultures. Listen, play, or learn. The event will feature an open mic forum, guitar lessons, and the chance to meet and connect with other musicians in the city. Music for Peace takes place at 7:30 PM on the last Wednesday of the month at the HI Baltimore Hostel, 17 W. Mulberry St. Call 410-576-8880 or go to

44] – United Workers Is moving after four years at 901 Hollins St., and the group needs help moving on Thurs., Feb. 28 from 9 AM to 5 PM. If you can help, stop by or email or call 410.230.1998. If you have a truck and can also help, bring it. The move will be to the former Learning Bank at 1200 West Baltimore St., Baltimore MD 21223.

45] – On Thurs., Feb. 28 at 11 AM, join Fund Our Communities for our second Pull the Pork event of the week. Meet us at 11 AM in room 5G of the Cannon House Office Building. Email Jean Athey at jeanathey at The Fund Our Communities letter to Congress opposes harmful cuts to domestic spending and points out that money for our communities is available from new taxes and through cutting Pentagon waste. When this letter to Congress, with signatures from Maryland elected officials, is delivered, the legislators will receive pulled pork sandwiches.

46] – According to news sources, "The Senate Intelligence Committee is all but certain to vote Thurs., Feb. 28 on the nomination of John O. Brennan to lead the CIA" and "the panel’s chairwoman predicted the committee would vote to support him." Furthermore, Feinstein said that she "still was not sure" if the committee would receive some of the legal memos they had been seeking.

Regardless of what happens, it is important to show that the legal memos must be released. CODEPINK plans on staging a die-in in the Atrium of the Senate Hart Building on Thurs., Feb. 28 at 1 PM. Call 845-625-3725. Email

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Manning's Right to a Speedy Trial Not Violated After 1,000 Days, Judge Rules

Published on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 by Common Dreams

Manning's Right to a Speedy Trial Not Violated After 1,000 Days, Judge Rules

Pre-trial hearings move to a full court martial trial in June

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Bradley Manning has not had his rights violated while waiting in a cell for almost three years before being granted a trial, judge Colonel Denise Lind ruled in a pre-trial hearing Tuesday.

Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, had argued that the prosecution was guilty of "extreme foot-dragging" and "shameful" lack of diligence, which violated Manning's right to a speedy trial—in a final bid that could have had the charges against Manning dismissed.

A soldier in the military has had his or her speedy trial rights violated when it takes over 120 days before an arraignment, Kevin Gosztola reports at FireDogLake, which is the case for Manning. However, Lind ruled in favor of the prosecution who said some of those days didn't actually count in the speedy trial rule, due to “excludable delays” initiated by the prosecution.

The pre-trial hearings will now be certain to move to a full court martial trial in June.

Saturday marked the 1,000th day Manning has been in military custody without trial, and protesters gathered in 70 locations around the world in solidarity with Manning.

The Guardian adds more detail:

The judge, Colonel Denise Lind, spent two hours reading out her judgment to a pre-trial hearing in Fort Meade, Maryland. She went through the procedures in preparing for trial in minute detail, concluding that the exceptional length of the case was almost entirely justified as a result of its uniquely complex and sensitive nature. [...]

Under the Rules of Court Martial 707, any member of the military who is prosecuted must be brought to trial – as measured by the date of his or her arraignment – within a "speedy trial clock" of 120 days of being detained. But there are grounds for excusable delays that set back the clock that include the need for counsel to prepare for trial in a complex case, an inquiry into the mental condition of the accused, and the time taken to obtain security clearance for classified information.

In Manning's case, the defense and prosecution agreed that there had been 84 days of diligent work between the soldier's arrest and his arraignment on 23 February 2012. But the two sides were in dispute over 330 days.

Kevin Gosztola is live blogging from the courtroom here.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Source URL:

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Monday, February 25, 2013

Baltimore Activist Alert - Part 2

36] U.S. nuclear exports – Feb. 25

37] Iran nuclear talks – Feb. 25

38] Film "Eye of the Storm” – Feb. 25

39] "Ring Out for Justice in Annapolis Day" – Feb. 25 & Mar. 1

40] Marc Steiner on WEAA – Feb. 25 – Feb. 28

41] Rally for Schools – Feb. 25

42] "We Are Wisconsin” – Feb. 25

43] Pledge of Resistance/Fund Our Communities meeting – Feb. 25

44] Support Bradley Manning – Feb. 26


46] Film "Within the Eye of the Storm" – Feb. 26

47] New Israel Map – Feb. 26

48] Film PROMISES TO KEEP – Feb. 26

49] “Assassination on Embassy Row” – Feb. 26

50] Philadelphia peace vigil – Feb. 26

51] War Is Not the Answer vigil – Feb. 26

52] Money in Politics – Feb. 26

53] Film “Ending U.S.-Sponsored Torture Forever” – Feb. 26

54] Rally at Supreme Court – Feb. 27

55] Cut Pentagon Pork – Feb. 27


36] – On Mon., Feb. 25 from 11:45 AM to 1:30 PM, hear Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal, Jack Spencer, Heritage Foundation, Jodi Lieberman, American Physical Society, and Don MacDonald, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, talk about "After North Korea and Iran: How Much More Say Should Congress Have on U.S. Nuclear Exports?" in 2200 Rayburn House Office Bldg., WDC. You can RSVP for the event, sponsored by Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and Foreign Policy Initiative, at

37] – On Mon., Feb. 25 from 2 to 3:30 PM, Thomas Pickering, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Princeton University, and Alireza Nader, RAND, will discuss "Iran Nuclear Talks - What Can Be Achieved in 2013?" Sponsored by Arms Control Association at the Carnegie Endowment, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, WDC, you can RSVP at

38] – See the film “Within the Eye of the Storm" on Mon., Feb. 25 from 2:30 to 4:30 PM at the Capitol Hill Cannon Office Bldg., Room 121, Independence Ave. & 1st St. SE (South Capital Metro). Peace X Peace invites you to a free screening and to meet Bassam, Rami, and the film's director, Shelley Hermon. This is a new documentary about a Palestinian father, Bassam Aramin, and an Israeli father, Rami Elhanan, whose young daughters were killed by the conflict. See how these enemies reached across the deepest of wounds to become friends and break the cycle of retaliation. Email

39] – "Ring Out for Justice in Annapolis Day" on Mon., Feb. 25 at 5 PM at First Presbyterian Church of Annapolis, 171 Duke of Gloucester St. Hear a Briefing on the Firearms Safety Act of 2013 by Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, followed by a light supper. At 6:30 PM, there will be a Litany for Peace & Legislative Visits, which will be set up in advance. Register online at Carpooling and parking information is available on The day is sponsored by the Presbytery of Baltimore and Central Maryland Ecumenical Council.

On Fri., Mar. 1, members of the legislature will meet for the first time to debate the governor’s common-sense proposals to reduce gun violence. There will be a rally at 10:30 AM, and buses will leave from Faith Presbyterian Church, 5400 Loch Raven Blvd. To register for a seat, email Call Central Maryland Ecumenical Council at 410-464-6194 or email, See

40] – The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday through Thursday from 5 to 7 PM on WEAA 88.9 FM, The Voice of the Community, or online at The call-in number is 410-319-8888, and comments can also be sent by email to All shows are also available as podcasts at

41] – Support House Bill 860 and Senate Bill 743, which would provide a $1.1 billion investment in the rebuilding of Baltimore City school buildings over 4 Years - 65 new and fully renovated schools - 48% of all city school buildings. Will you join Transform Baltimore and the Baltimore Education Coalition to make this happen? Contact the governor, Senate President Miller, House Speaker Busch and your senator and delegates to urge their support.

Attend the BEC Rally in Annapolis on Mon., Feb.25 at 6 PM outside the State House in Annapolis to show that our students, teachers, and neighborhoods must come first. Bus transportation will be provided from locations throughout the city (leaving around 4:30 to 5 PM). To sign up for a bus, visit You can also contact or visit

Come to Lobby Day in Annapolis on Mon., Feb. 18 at 6 PM at Lawyer's Mall, 100 State Circle, Annapolis (in front of the State Capitol). Join the American Civil Liberties Union and others in the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality Lobby Day. RSVP to Joanna at

42] – "We Are Wisconsin: This Is What Democracy Looks Like" will be screened on Mon., Feb. 25 from 7 to 9 PM at 1102 South Campus Commons, Building 1, as part as Beyond the Classroom Living & Learning Program. The film follows the day-to-day unfolding of public outcry against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s controversial budget-repair bill, focusing on the human story behind a remarkable popular uprising forged on the floor of the Madison Capitol. The film asks the question “Why should we care about what’s going on in Wisconsin?,” on multiple levels, through an in-depth profile of six leading individuals central to the story: a UW- Madison student leader, a county social worker, a nurse, a high school teacher, a police officer and a union electrician who come out to protest what they see as a direct attack on their livelihood. They all meet inside the capitol over the course of what became an historic eighteen days, February-March, 2011. The film amplifies why Wisconsin has become ground zero for so many disparate groups, awakening a sleeping giant of collective voices, alarmed and angry at the new hyper-conservative wave of local government sweeping the Midwest. At a time when mass demonstrations have become increasingly rare in America, this film explores what it takes to spark a social movement. Some are calling what happened in Wisconsin an Egypt-like uprising in American politics, where collective public outrage transforms a nation! Visit

43] – The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore usually meets on Mondays at 7:30 PM, and the meetings now take place at Max’s residence. The next meeting takes place on Feb. 25. Call 410-366-1637 or email mobuszewski at for directions. The agenda includes the Bradley Manning support activities, the anti-pork gatherings in Annapolis and Washington, drone protests, the March 23 Peace Bus, the Fund Our Communities letter and legislative activities in Annapolis.

44] – Join us at the Fort Meade hearings to stand with Bradley Manning during the next set of hearings starting Tues., Feb. 26 through Fri., Mar. 1. Each morning there will be a vigil from 7:30 to 9 AM. Then many will attend the hearings. The Fort Meade Main Gate is at Reece Road and US 175. Email

45] – Join USAction and Progressive Maryland for PEOPLE over PENTAGON PORK. Congress has a clear choice: protect vital domestic programs OR Pentagon CEOs. So join a press briefing, lobby visits and delivery of pulled pork sandwiches on Tues., Feb. 26 at 11:30 AM in the Montgomery County Delegation Room #170, 170 Lowe House Office Bldg., Annapolis, MD 21401. The idea is to urge Maryland Senators and Delegates to weigh in with Maryland's Congressional Delegation in Washington, DC to protect the programs that Marylanders depend on. Call 202.263.4520. Email

46] – See "Within the Eye of the Storm" on Tues., Feb. 26 from noon to 2 PM at the Dumbarton United Methodist Church. 3133 Dumbarton St. NW. Peace X Peace invites you to a free screening and to meet Bassam, Rami, and the film's director, Shelley Hermon. This documentary tells the story of a Palestinian father, Bassam Aramin, and an Israeli father, Rami Elhanan, whose young daughters were killed by the conflict. See how these enemies reached across the deepest of wounds to become friends and break the cycle of retaliation. RSVP 202-232-7363 x3003. Email

47] – On Tues., Feb. 26 from noon to 1:30 PM at the Carnegie Conference Center, Choate Room, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, the Foundation for Middle East Peace and Middle East Policy Council invites you to attend Israel Needs a New Map with Dr. Ian Lustick, professor, University of Pennsylvania. The Zionist ideology proposed establishing a Jewish state in Palestine as a solution to the great crisis of European Jewry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Once established, Israel was perceived as the vanguard of a Europeanized democratic Middle East. In the twenty-first century, however, Israel’s continued settlement expansion, onslaughts against the Gaza Strip Palestinians and Lebanon, and aggressive rhetoric towards Iran have triggered waves of international sympathy and mobilization for the Palestinians and cemented Israel’s global reputation as defiant, belligerent, and dangerous. Professor Lustick will offer his analysis about how the underlying assumptions and ideas of Zionism, which were successful in the creation of Israel, have become outdated and now present an obstacle to Jewish welfare and security. A light lunch will be served. RSVP at or call 202-835-3650 or

48] – Enjoy a Movie And A Meal presented by SHARC on Tues., Feb. 26 from 1 to 4 PM at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial library, Room A-5 (Ground Floor). “Promises to Keep," a 58-minute documentary of the struggle by Mitch Snyder and many homeless people to have a vacant federal building converted into a homeless shelter, will be shown. Then there will be a speech by and discussion with Charles Crews, who is running for the D.C. Council at-large seat on a poverty platform. Email Eric Sheptock, chair of SHARC, at

49] – A talk with Saul Landau-the first foreign orchestrated terrorists attack on U.S. soil” is on Tues., Feb. 26 from 3:30 to 5 PM in the IPS Conference Room, 1112 16th St. NW, Suite 600, WDC. Hear about the history and lessons from the 1976 assassinations of Landau’s IPS colleagues, Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, by agents of the Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet. Landau led an investigation into the murders and co-authored the book “Assassination on Embassy Row” with John Dinges. The investigation led to the killers, and brought a measure of justice in this case. IPS Fellow Sarah Anderson will moderate the event. Visit

50] – Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq inside, during the winter, the Suburban Station, 16th Street & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine. The next vigil is Feb. 26. Call 215-426-0364.

51] – There is a vigil to say "War Is Not the Answer" each Tuesday since September 11, 2001 at 4806 York Road. Join this ongoing vigil. The next vigil is Feb. 26 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Call Max at 410-366-1637.

52] – Big money in politics threatens our democracy and exposes us to risks of climate change, war, environmental destruction, joblessness, rising inequality and more. In 2010 and 2011, the 1% got EVERY PENNY of growth in personal income, and the 99% got less than nothing. On Tues., Feb. 26 from 6:30 to 8 PM, attend a general meeting of Get Money Out - Maryland (GMOM): PRESENTATION / DISCUSSION ON MONEY IN POLITICS: ‘OPPORTUNITIES FOR REFORM FROM DC TO ANNAPOLIS.’ The meeting will take place at the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation, 4 E. University Parkway, Baltimore 21218-2437. The speakers are Jennifer Bevan-Dengal, executive director, Common Cause – Maryland, and Michael W. Lore, citizen activist with ties to Common Cause, Public Citizen, Rootstrikers and the Maryland General Assembly. Email or 410-849-0670. Go to

53] – Catch a screening of “Ending U.S.-Sponsored Torture Forever” on Tues., Feb. 26 at 7 PM at Electric Maid, 268 Carroll St. NW, WDC 20012, a block from the Takoma Metro station. The movie was produced for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) as part of its “Fact not Fiction” campaign. In just twenty minutes, the movie presents a compelling case against torture, both as a moral outrage and as a practical failure. As a discussion guide puts it, the documentary “describes the torture practices of the U.S. government since 9/11, portrays the lasting effects on the survivors of torture around the world, and offers perspectives from a variety of faiths.” The discussion of the film will be led by the president of NRCAT, Linda Gustitus, former chief of staff to Armed Services Committee chair Sen. Carl Levin (MI) and a professor and lecturer at American and Georgetown Universities. Go to

54] – Rally with the Alliance for Justice to Protect the Voting Rights Act on Wed, Feb. 27 at 9 AM on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court Building, 1 First St. NE. The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy. For nearly half a century the Voting Rights Act has been the keystone in the arch of civil rights protection for people of color. Now, a key section of the Act is being challenged before the Supreme Court. Oral arguments will be heard inside the court on Feb. 27. We will be heard outside the court that same day.

After the rally, visit AFJ's Justice Watch Blog for comprehensive analysis of arguments presented in the case. Guest bloggers include Professors Franita Tolson of Florida State University, William Yeomans of American University and Bertrall Ross of the University of California Berkeley School of Law. Go to

55] – On Wed., Feb. 27 at noon at Center City Office of Sen. Robert Casey, 2000 Market St., Philadelphia 19103. Demand real cuts to the Pentagon (and its war profiteers - e.g. Lockheed Martin, Boeing). Demand justice; protect our communities from killer cuts human needs spending. Call the Brandywine Peace Community at 610-544-1818. SIGN the petition at

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Zero Dark Thirty, the CIA and Film Critics Have a Very Bad Evening

Published on Monday, February 25, 2013 by The Guardian

Zero Dark Thirty, the CIA and Film Critics Have a Very Bad Evening

by Glenn Greenwald

Just a few months ago, the consensus of the establishment press and the nation's (shockingly large) community of film critics was that Zero Dark Thirty was the best film of the year and the clear (and well-deserved) front-runner to win the most significant Academy Awards. "OK, folks, you can plan something else for Oscar Night 2013 . . . . Zero Dark Thirty will win Best Picture and Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow)," pronounced Time Magazine's Richard Corliss. "'Zero Dark Thirty' and Kathryn Bigelow won major critics' prizes on Sunday, confirming the Osama bin Laden manhunt thriller as an Oscar frontrunner," said Entertainment Weekly. The film "looks like the movie to beat right now" as the critics' awards "landscape is dominated by Kathryn Bigelow's 'Zero Dark Thirty,'" reported the Washington Post's Jen Chaney.

But then political writers had begun to notice what film critics either failed to detect or just wilfully ignored. The film falsely depicted torture as instrumental in the finding of Osama bin Laden ("what is so unsettling about 'Zero Dark Thirty' is not that it tells this difficult history but, rather, that it distorts it", said the New Yorker's Jane Mayer). Beyond the torture falsehoods, it was a blatant vehicle for CIA propaganda, bolstering a worldview exclusively out of Langley ("This is not a coincidence. The CIA played a key role in shaping the film's narrative," reported BuzzFeed's Michael Hastings; the CIA "couldn't have asked for better product placement", said the New York Times' Timothy Egan; as a result, said The Atlantic's Peter Maass: "Zero Dark Thirty represents a new genre of embedded filmmaking that is the problematic offspring of the worrisome endeavor known as embedded journalism"). In sum, said MSNBC's Chris Hayes, the film "colludes with evil" (a long but very partial list of writers, filmmakers, FBI agents and even government officials who similarly denounced the film is here).

The first sign that this fallout was harming the film was when its director, Bigelow, was not even nominated for Best Director. And now, on Sunday night at the Academy Awards, Zero Dark Thirty got exactly what it deserved: basically nothing other than humiliation:

"'Zero Dark Thirty,' about the decade-long US hunt for Osama bin Laden, has received more attention in the US Congress than it did at the Oscars on Sunday, amid political fallout over its depiction of torture and alleged intelligence leaks to the movie's makers. . . .

"Just three months ago, the thriller, which culminates in Osama bin Laden's killing by US Navy Seals, was a strong contender to pick up the biggest prize of Best Picture, as well as the Best Actress and Original Screenplay awards.

"By the end of Sunday night, however, it had picked up just one award – a shared Oscar for Sound Editing, which was a tie."

(I'm actually glad that it won essentially half of an award, for sound editing, as that's somehow more cruel than if it just won nothing).

This is a rare case of some justice being done. There's little question that the objections to its pro-torture depictions and CIA propaganda were what sunk the film. In explaining why its Oscar chances had all but disappeared, the Atlantic's Richard Lawson explained last month that as a result of the controversy, the film has "just become something vaguely taboo". That's a good thing, as it should be taboo. The film is unsurprisingly a box office success, earning in excess of $100 million. But still, it's both gratifying and a bit surprising to see that this CIA-shaped jingoistic celebration of America's proudest moment of the last decade - finding bin Laden, pumping his skull full of bullets, and then dumping his corpse into the ocean - ended up with the stigma it deserves.

In response to this controversy, both Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have compounded their original bad acts. Bigelow spent months literally pretending that the actual criticisms of her film did not exist and thus never addressed them. She instead chose to wage war on the obviously ludicrous strawman argument that absolutely nobody made: that merely to depict torture is to endorse it and that omitting torture would be to "whitewash" history. Nobody complained that the film depicted torture; the complaint was that it falsely depicted it as vital in finding bin Laden and thus portrayed it in a falsely positive light.

Meanwhile, Boal has been playing the McCarthyism martyr by pretending that the Senate is investigating his film over its pro-torture message. Such an investigation would indeed be odious, but it's a figment of Boal's imagination. To the extent the Senate has expressed any interest in investigating, it is not over the film's content but whether the CIA passed classified information about the bin Laden raid to Bigelow and Boal in order to get the film it wanted (though not dispositive, there is ample evidence to believe this). The investigation targets the CIA, not the filmmakers. For an administration that has waged its own war on whistleblowers by prosecuting and imprisoning them at record numbers, surely the CIA's abuse of classified information for the purpose of producing Hollywood propaganda merits a formal investigation, particularly since the government has vigorously resisted disclosure attempts in court from the media and advocacy groups on the ground that the bin Laden raid is classified.

From this controversy, the film critic community stood revealed as well. Objections to this film triggered an incredibly acrimonious reaction on the part of professional critics who, prior to the emergence of the controversy, had lavished the film with the most gushing accolades. One of the best essays on why that happened was from Reuters' culture critic Alissa Quart, who explained that the critics' anger over this film being "politicized" reflects a broader syndrome where political indifference is viewed as some sort of virtue:

"In the postwar decades, the best reviewers of the day saw addressing the politics within the cultural works they reviewed as part of their jobs. . . . Writers like [Mary] McCarthy, who was both a theater critic and a political writer, were more attuned to the ideological sources behind play and film, as they came up in the Depression and the war years, according to Hunter College Professor Richard Kaye, who is working on a project about McCarthy. After all, art was explicitly tied to politics within fascism as well as within communist states. Watching the power of ideology at work within fascism made writers more likely to combine politics with aesthetics. They understood the propagandistic potential of overwhelmingly dramatic popular entertainment."

"Today, in part because because popular art has largely been decoupled from politics, film critics tend to be narrower in their expertise. They are also operating in an America where 'partisan' and 'political' have been made to equal each other in a toxic way. Thus, critics and many political thinkers can't necessarily agree on a critical focus. . . .

"But if political writers do their job well, they understand something even more important: that ideological meaning and agendas are not incidental to thrilling films and cinematography. Why surgically remove politics from a discussion of a film's final quality, rendering the argument so purely aesthetic that it becomes low-brow decadent . . . . Ethical lapses or gaps in movies should be critiqued, along with bad performances or absurd storylines."

Another equally good discussion of the exposed mentality of film critics came from Jeff Reichert, himself a filmmaker and critic:

"If Bigelow and Boal want to insist they haven't made a movie that validates torture morally, that's fine. But to label it apolitical, as they have repeatedly done, either suggests willful mendacity or ignorance. Their film quite clearly stakes out a position on one of the more controversial political questions of the last decade in American politics, and soon it will be making its case several times a day on thousands of screens around the country. Greenwald's writings on the film may hyperventilate, but when one considers the scale of the historical rewrite we're about to witness, his pitched tenor is more forgivable. Maybe 'propaganda' isn't so far off the mark after all.

"If our critical culture handled films of this ilk with something other than kid gloves, we might not have to continually address these same, tired questions. . . . It's become all too commonplace for critics to float above the fray, and praise works they find aesthetically valuable and politically questionable (a replaying of the old Leni Riefenstahl debate again), but is this l'art pour l'art stance any way to watch movies? Isn't this just abdicating a crucial part of the critical act? Wouldn't we rather our film writers be morally engaged viewers rather than diffident aesthetes? . . . .

"Especially in light of how the filmmakers have spoken about their work, the problem with Zero Dark Thirty becomes less that it ends up making a forceful case for the efficacy of torturing human beings for national security - it's that one can easily walk away from the film doubting whether Bigelow and Boal have even realized that this is what they've done."

In an era where virtually everything the government does is shielded from disclosure, democratic accountability, and even the rule of law, films such as Zero Dark Thirty that purport to tell political stories are inherently highly political, likely to have an enormous impact on how political events are perceived. When blatant falsehoods are presented as truth on critical questions - by a film that touts itself as a journalistic presentation of actual events - insisting on apolitical appreciation of this "art" is indeed a reckless abdication.

That's particularly true when the film creates itself as a servant to political power: by itself, the CIA's heavy (and still unexamined) involvement in this film is a significant and disturbing development. The last thing America needs is more ways to celebrate and glorify US militarism, and the second-to-last thing it needs is Hollywood devoting its multi-million-dollar budgets and emotionally and psychologically manipulative tactics to propagating the CIA worldview as indisputable, inspiring truth. It's a very good thing that all of this did not go unnoticed or rewarded.

On Argo

The film that won most of the significant awards (including Best Picture), Argo, has received its own criticisms for false history and US/CIA propaganda; as but one example, see here from Iranian-American writer Nima Shirazi. Whatever is true about that film showing events from three decades ago, the CIA was much more involved with and invested in Zero Dark Thirty; that's why it played such a significant role in how it was made.

© 2013 Guardian News and Media

Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon. His most recent book is, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. His other books include: Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics, A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism.

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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

The Al Qaeda Most Americans Know Is Basically a Myth at This Point

Published on Alternet (

Not Safe for Work Corporation [1] / By Gary Brecher [2]

The Al Qaeda Most Americans Know Is Basically a Myth at This Point

February 24, 2013

This article first appeared at Not Safe for Work Corporation. [3]

When I left Vegas last week, Mali was still the center of the world. I got home today, after taking a few wrong turns, and Mali is well on its way back to nowhere. Google News only listed 23 stories tagged “Mali” last week, and they were all about a supposedly secret Al Qaeda communique found in Timbuktu after the Jihadis bugged out.

This is just a phase, like your parents told themselves when you were 12. It’s the phase where the war reporters lag behind the war, and don’t get into town until the fighting is over (not that there was much fighting in Mali in the first place) after the French have tidied up after their airstrikes. Now, when the big fuss is over, Timbuktu and Gao are crawling with reporters who just can’t find much to talk about—because there never really was much to talk about in these teeny desert outposts, not even when the Jihadis were in charge. So Associated Press is screaming [4] to anybody who’ll listen that its reporters found a vital secret document while snuffling through the trash in Timbuktu:

”TIMBUKTU, Mali - (AP) -- In their hurry to flee last month, al-Qaida fighters left behind a crucial document: Tucked under a pile of papers and trash is a confidential letter, spelling out the terror network's strategy for conquering northern Mali and reflecting internal discord over how to rule the region.”

That’s a pretty cool lead sentence, like the start of a good spy novel, until you realize every key word should have an asterisk after it, leading to a footnote that says, “Look, we needed a big story here—you know how much it costs to get to this stinking hellhole? So give us a break.”

So let’s break it down, phrase by phrase.

First, “Al Qaeda”. Every time you read that name, you should spit and shrug like a peasant turning down a horse with a hernia. It’s a scam. First of all, who says there is such a thing in the first place? Al Qaeda is an organization that makes no sense in traditional guerrilla terms. You don’t hold guerrilla jamborees, guerrilla mixers—you compartmentalize and only let members who are already blown meet with other movements. The whole idea of Al Qaeda as a jihadi ecumenical lovefest is so stupid that almost two years ago [5], I said we should be asking whether there even is such a thing as Al Qaeda.

There wasn’t anything like a “terror network” operating in Mali, even when the northern half of the country was marked with those diagonal red lines meaning “under Islamist control” a few months ago. Al Qaeda is as dead as bin Laden, and it died—if it ever really existed—years before the Old Man himself was shot up while watching Jeopardy reruns in Abbotabad.

There are plenty of Islamists, from one or another of the hardline traditions—Salafist, Wahhabi, Deobandi—but they don’t report to any central Al Qaeda Board of Directors. It’s always local, much more local than the news services want to tell you. In Mali, there was a simple physics problem, a surplus of energy in the Maghrib, the rim of North Africa. Some of that energy spun back south, across the Sahara, into places like Mali.

Normally, if you’ll recall your HS Physics, “Nature abhors a vacuum,” but Nature is normally willing to tolerate one in Mali. It was just that for a while, after the Islamists lost the Algerian Civil War and Qaddafi was blasted out of Libya, there was so much excess weaponry and such a huge surplus of unemployed freelance jihadis up there, a lot of them Tuaregs nursing the old ambition to have their own ridiculous landlocked chunk of Sahara, that something was bound to pop in Mali.

Naturally, what happened next was that local agendas started dividing the Jihadis. This always happens, because “Jihad” means whatever a bunch of 20-something local guys want it to mean. To the Tuareg nationalists of the FMLN, it meant a Tuareg homeland. To the Algerian Salafists, it meant a chance to regroup and win, for once, against a much softer opponent than the Algerian Army. To Ansar Dine, a crossover band, it meant a Tuareg homeland that would be quasi-Islamist, soft-Jihadi. To the Mauritanian Maraboutis, who’d been sulking for years about the way AQIM promoted Algerians over West Africans, it was a chance to form their own command, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA). For a few hundred freelance Jihadists who bounce from war to war, it was a great new gig. And for the few—real few—actual Al Qaeda management types trying to keep all these groups in line, it was one more chance to try to establish a genuine “Qaeda,” a real base of operations, without screwing up yet again.

The memo that our intrepid Associated Press reporter found going through the trash in Timbuktu was written by Abdelmalik Droukdel, the official leader of Al Qaeda in West Africa. But what the memo shows is that, with so many different agendas, local traditions, and just plain levels of militant craziness in the command, Droukdel had no control at all over what his men did in the few months they had control of Northern Mali.

Which brings us to the second big asterisk in that lead sentence AP wrote: their claim that this memo spells out “the terror network’s strategy for conquering northern Mali…” I mean, that’s a fair assessment; the memo does talk about strategy; but a lot of us have a lot of strategies. A lot of us have a strategy to beat the lottery or make it in Hollywood. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, and the fact that the remnants of Al Qaeda had a notion of what they should do in Mali doesn’t mean they ever had a chance to put it into practice. AP more or less admits that in the last part of the sentence, where they add that the memo also “[reflects] internal discord over how to rule the region.”

That’s the key here. In fact, Abdelmalik Droukdel had no control over the various militias operating in the name of Jihad. His memo is one long whine about what the Jihadis are doing wrong. But what’s even more interesting is that, as usual, the Jihadis are doing what their holy Book says to do; Droukdel was in a hopelessly weak position not only because he didn’t really control the troops under his nominal command but because the hotheads really were doing what a Jihadi is supposed to do—and his only argument against doing it is that it wasn’t politically wise.

Over and over, Droukdel says that it’s not politically smart to start amputating people’s hands and whipping women for not covering up. He talks like middle management—which he is, in the ridiculous Al Qaeda organizational chart. He talks about Mali as a “project,” as if he was dealing with product placement in a new franchise—which he was, according to his terms. And like a good guerrilla manager who’s read his Mao, he tries to teach the knuckleheads working for him that taking and losing territory isn’t nearly as important as winning over the people.

In other words, it’s stupid to apply Shariah by the book in a region that has its own variant of Islam, a Sufi-based version that allows women more freedom than they get in the Arabian Peninsula and even allows the people to pray at the graves of Sufi saints (any elaborate grave is a mortal sin to a Wahhabi). Here’s how Droukdel says it:

“It is very probable, perhaps certain, that a military intervention will occur ... which in the end will either force us to retreat to our rear bases or will provoke the people against us…Taking into account this important factor, we must not go too far or take risks in our decisions or imagine that this project is a stable Islamic state."

What he’s saying is, “Go easy on the locals until we’ve made them loyal to us. Then we can step it up and apply fullcourt Shariah. If we do it now, when we’re probably going to have to flee after a few months, they’ll remember us as mean bastards, which will ruin the whole project.”

The trouble is, when you’re a Jihadi, you’re not supposed to think in terms of projects or gradualism or marketing. You’re supposed to make Jihad. You’re supposed to do it by the book. Period. That’s the one weak point of a totalized ideology: you can’t really take it slow. Not if you’re ready to give your life for the Book. There must’ve been some angry Jihadis reading Droukdel’s weak, whiny argument to take it slow, to treat Mali as an “experiment”:

"One of the wrong policies that we think you carried out is the extreme speed with which you applied Shariah, not taking into consideration the gradual evolution that should be applied in an environment that is ignorant of religion. Our previous experience proved that applying Shariah this way, without taking the environment into consideration, will lead to people rejecting the religion, and engender hatred toward the mujahedeen, and will consequently lead to the failure of our experiment."

He really does talk like a marketing consultant: “Our previous experience proved that applying Shariah this way, without taking the environment into consideration, will lead to people rejecting the religion…” Here again, of course, he’s right in practical terms but the hotheads are right in Jihadi terms. If you really believe in the one holy Book, you’re not supposed to take “the environment” into consideration. That’s the whole fuckin’ idea, as Joe Pesci might say: one right way, and screw the local variations. God is supposed to be on your side, damn it, and if that’s true, if you really believe it, why should you care about “the environment”?

To imagine what the internal arguments in Jihadist Timbuktu must’ve sounded like, just think of Joe Pesci’s argument with de Niro in Casino, with the same mid-desert location but different costumes—turbans instead of 70s casual. The hothead (Pesci in a turban, an awful thought) does a slow burn listening to the middle-management moderate telling him they have to go slow, use their heads, play it smart—and comes back the same way Pesci does: “You only have your fuckin’ casino because I made that possible!”

It’s just a hopeless job trying to be the moderate Jihadi in a Salafist military occupation, especially when it’s a Malian town you’re occupying. A lot of what passes for Islam under Wahhabism is Arab culture, and it doesn’t fit well at all on a Niger River town like Timbuktu, where a lot of the culture—especially the way men and women relate to each other—is much warmer and more relaxed than it is in the Arabic-speaking countries.

Malians like courtship, like flirting, don’t see it as evil incarnate the way it is in places like Saudi. (I remember stories of the Mutawwa, the Saudi religious police, organizing 12-man stakeout operations in the local mall in the small Saudi town where I lived, just to catch a teen guy waving to a girl.) You can see Droukdel whining about this over and over in his memo, complaining to his subordinates in Timbuktu that “…you prevented women from going out, and prevented children from playing, and searched the houses of the population." You can get away with that stuff in the Peninsula, but not in Africa. Kids play there; men and women too.

Droukdel’s memo is an amazing little document, but not in the way AP is making it out to be. They’re pretending it’s as if we got a real secret document from a real opposing power, like the USSR back in the day. It’s nothing like that. Al Qaeda, if it exists at all, is so totally penetrated by now that nothing it does is secret, except from us nobodies in the general population. The people who count in DC, Brussels, Moscow and Beijing get copies of Al Qaeda memos before the troops do. And as for the “strategy” they’re supposed to reveal—there’s more strategy in a Hail Mary pass with a few seconds on the clock.

What the memo really shows is how damn hard it is to play the middle-management compromiser, the squeamish marketing specialist, in an organization that’s defined by going strictly by the Book. In that way it’s got the basis for a great sitcom, with Droukdel as the harassed boss trying to keep a bunch of nutty subordinates in order long enough to get through the day. It’s a hopeless stance he’s taking, and a hilarious one: “Shariah yes, but gradual Shariah, just a little Shariah at a time...” It doesn’t work that way, and you can’t blame the people who rolled into town for being a little severe with the populace, cutting off a few hands or whipping a few unveiled females. They’ve seen most of the people they knew killed off for Jihad, and now this Ace Rothstein of the Jihad is telling them, like de Niro told Pesci, to go easy to “let the bullshit blow over for a while.” And there’s nothing in the Book that allows for that.

It’s an amazing moment in history we’re living in, and even if my life personally isn’t much, I’m glad to be in it. Just imagine, a figurehead middle-management Jihadi executive issuing whiny memos about marketing the Holy War to a mixed bag of Salafist scalawags in Timbuktu, mixing up Mao’s adages about winning the populace with the Quran and focus-group jargon. I just hope Droukdel wasn’t a casualty of the withdrawal, taken out by a French air strike somewhere north of Kidal.

There’ll always be plenty of jihadis and middle managers, but comic talent like his doesn’t come along every day.

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Former Obama Press Secretary Was Ordered To Act As If Drone Program Did Not Exist

Former Obama Press Secretary Was Ordered To Act As If Drone Program Did Not Exist

The first rule of the drone program is that you do not talk about the drone program

Steve Watson

Feb 25, 2013

In a rare admission, Robert Gibbs, the former White House Press Secretary under Obama, told reporters Sunday that he was ordered to act as if there was no such thing as an active US drone program.

“When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was, you’re not even to acknowledge the drone program,” Gibbs said on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes” this past weekend.

Link to video of Gibb's interview on MSNBC

Gibbs said that he was told “You’re not even to discuss that it exists.”

Noting that the notion was “inherently crazy”, Gibbs said “You’re being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists.”

“So you’re the official government spokesperson acting as if the entire program—pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Gibbs, who was Press Secretary between 2009 and 2011, said.

As we have tirelessly noted, the Obama administration has been heavily criticized for blocking the release of information relating to its overseas drone assassination programme, and will not even officially acknowledge that it exists, despite countless public references to the programme and the proven existence of an official “kill list”.

Gibbs stated that he expects the drone program to remain secret for the most part, despite moves in Congress to force more transparency.

“I have not talked to him about this, so I want to be careful,” Gibbs said, “but I think what the president has seen is, our denial of the existence of the program when it’s obviously happening undermines people’s confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes.”

While the program itself remains classified, it is no secret that Obama has vastly expanded the US drone war since entering office in 2009. Daily drone strikes are raining down on Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as Somalia.

A recent report released by Washington based think tank, The New America Foundation revealed that the number of secret US drone strikes in Yemen almost tripled in 2012, compared to 2011.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, has found that at least 171 civilians, including 35 children, have been slaughtered in Yemen by secret US drone strikes over the past ten years.

Communications released by WikiLeaks in 2010 revealed that the US and Yemen have repeatedly attempted to cover up the use of US warplanes to bombard Yemen.

Last week it was announced that despite the fact that drone strikes have killed thousands of innocent civilians in Yemen and Pakistan, the Pentagon is to reward drone operators with medals.

The DoD is creating a new ribbon, called the Distinguished Warfare Medal that will be awarded for “extra achievement” related to a military operation. This will encompass sitting at a computer console and pressing a button to release Hellfire missiles from Predator drones hundreds and thousands of miles away.

The medal will become the fourth-highest ranking combat decoration, placing above the Bronze Star.

Despite the official secrecy, the president has referred to the drone program several times in public, as have officials such as counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan.

Last year, the New York Times ran a major piece on the program revealing that the White House has asserted the right to carry out state-sponsored assassination anywhere in the world without having to provide any evidence or go through any legal process.

The administration merely has to state that the target is a terrorist and it doesn’t matter whether they are an American citizen or not, as we saw in the case of American-born Anwar al-Awlaki and his son, who were both killed last year.

In December of last year, Obama administration lawyers reaffirmed their backing for state sponsored assassination, claiming that “U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets” and do not have the right to any legal protection against being marked for summary execution.

During a CBS 60 Minutes interview in January, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta revealed that Obama himself personally approves the policy to kill American citizens suspected of terrorism without trial on a case by case basis.

Perhaps the real reason that the administration wants the details of the programme kept under wraps is that, as reported by Propublica recently, the programme is potentially much bigger in scope than anyone had previously thought.

The administration’s figures do not add up, they are chock full of contradictions and discrepancies, and there can be little doubt that there have been many many more civilian deaths as a result of drone attacks than have been publicly acknowledged.

Experts, including UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns, as well as Pakistan’s UN ambassador in Geneva, Zamir Akram, have described the drone assassination programme as a violation of the international legal system, saying that some attacks may constitute war crimes.

Akram, who noted that US drone strikes had killed more than 1,000 civilians in Pakistan, also said “We find the use of drones to be totally counterproductive in terms of succeeding in the ‘war against terror’. It leads to greater levels of terror rather than reducing them.

Many also contend that the attacks infringe the national sovereignty of Pakistan and constitute an act of war.

In 2010, a report by Washington think tank The New America Foundation found that 32% of the more than 1,200 people killed since 2004 in Pakistan, or around 1 in 3, were innocent bystanders rather than dangerous terrorists.


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, and He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.


Article printed from Infowars:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Palestinian Prisoners and Israel's Shin Bet

Palestinian Prisoners and Israel's Shin Bet

The death of Arafat Jaradat on Saturday raised recurrent questions about Israel's Shin Bet [Internal Security Service] because Jaradat was healthy at the time of his arrest last week.

Palestinian Prisoners and Israel's Shin Bet

Feb 24 Posted by Eileen Fleming in Eileen Fleming's Blog

After a 30-year-old Palestinian died while in custody and a hunger strike by four other inmates sparked a week of West Bank protests, Palestinians are calling for an international investigation of Israel's treatment of detained Palestinians.

The death of Arafat Jaradat on Saturday raised recurrent questions about Israel's Shin Bet [Internal Security Service] because Jaradat was healthy at the time of his arrest last week.

Israeli officials claim Jaradat died of an apparent heart attack and has denied he was beaten or subjected to any treatment that could have led to his death.

In protest, several thousand Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons observed a one-day fast on Sunday which is expected to spur more Palestinian demonstrations that will shine a light on Israeli SECURITY and Prison System.

The AP reported that the Shin Bet arrested Jaradat last Monday because residents in his village of Saeer said he was involved in a rock-throwing attack that injured an Israeli. The Shin Bet claim Jaradat admitted to the charge, as well as to another West Bank rock-throwing incident last year.

The Shin Bet also claims that during Jaradat's interrogation, he was examined several times by a doctor who detected no health problems.

On Saturday, Jaradat was in his cell and after lunch felt unwell and an official statement claims thay "Rescue services and a doctor were alerted and treated him, they didn't succeed in saving his life." [1]

Israel's main forensics institute is to perform an autopsy with a Palestinian physician in attendance.

Issa Karake, a Palestinian official who handles prisoner issues has called for an independent international investigation of Israel's treatment of Palestinian detainees.

The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has also demanded an investigation, including how Jaradat was questioned.

The Shin Bet routinely holds detainees in isolation for extended periods during interrogation, keeps them in cells that are lit around the clock and denies them access to lawyers.

Around 700 complaints have been filed about mistreatment by Shin Bet agents over the past decade, but none have led to a criminal investigation.

Current Number of Political Prisoners and Detainees

0 Israelis are being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 4,656 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel. (View Sources & More Information)

On January 5, 2006, I traveled to Ramallah to the Headquarters of ADAMEER [Arabic for conscience] and met with spokesmen, Ala Jaradat a slightly built man who delivered a powerful message in a soft spoken voice:

"Since 1967, 650,000 to 700,000 Palestinians have been arrested and detained. That totals 20% of the total population and 80% of all adult Palestinian males have been arrested.

"Most of these arrests occur after midnight when large numbers of IDF storm into neighborhoods or refugee camps, horrifying everyone and arresting anyone 14 years or older. Sometimes they storm into business offices and arrest the breadwinners of the families without any charges.

"These arrests and detentions are based on military orders; we live under a kind of Marshall Law which rules every aspect of Palestinian life: where we live, our license plates that restrict our movement and limited voting rights. Under these military orders the Israeli government is free to hold anyone eight days without accusations or charges. They can hold anyone up to 180 days for interrogation and up to 60 days without benefit of a lawyer.

"The Israeli government never agreed to the Second Geneva Convention, the Knesset never ratified it, and when it comes to the Occupied Territories they totally ignore it. Israel is the only State that approved torture of detainees. I know there are dictators who use torture, but Israel is the only State that supported torture until 1999. That is when International, Israeli and Palestinian pressure groups forced the issue and Barack was confronted about it when he visited the United States.

"The IDF will round up and arrest family members and use threats against their relatives to force confessions. The interrogations lead to Military Trials which is theoretically like court with three Judges presiding but only one is required to have an education and a law degree is not at all necessary. The Military Commander appoints the translators, issues all orders, assigns the judges, and has total control. One appeal is allowed, but if the judges are settlers the Palestinian is in deep SH#T!

"Administrative Detentions are issued by the Military Commander for a period of six months and the reason is always labeled ‘Security’ and the charges can be renewed indefinitely.

"One Palestinian spent eight years under Administrative detention and hundreds have endured four or more years. Today fifty are being held for the past four years. They may be released for a day or two and then they are rearrested because they are social or political activists but reasons are not given by the Israeli government.

"At any given moment 10% of those in prison are under Administrative Detention. There are currently 8,000 prisoners and 800 of them are under Administrative Detention. The government does not have to inform anyone about these arrests except the Red Cross and only if they are imprisoned over two weeks, but most arrests go unreported.

"Any Palestinian under the age of 16 is tried as an adult, but for an Israeli Jew it is 18 years of age. Under 12 years old the child can be arrested but not detained. Over 12 they can be arrested, detained, interrogated, prosecuted and sentenced for throwing stones.

"Most of the Israeli Jews that are imprisoned are in for violent crimes against society and they are mixed in with the Palestinian population. The guards encourage them to do what ever they want to do against the Palestinian population. This is an open invitation by the Israeli government to incite violence and terror in the prison system. We have sworn affidavits from Palestinians claiming it was the guards who encouraged the violence inflicted upon them.

"In August 2004 the Palestinians went on a hunger strike to raise awareness of this problem and the Minister of Health who is responsible for them stated publicly: 'Our hospitals are off limits to them They can all starve themselves to death.'

"No human rights organizations are allowed access to the prisoners. Only lawyers and the Red Cross can visit them but have no access to the facilities where they are detained.

"The methods and photos from Abu Grahib and Guantanamo were no shock to any Palestinian who had been in prison between 1967 and the ‘80’s. All the methods used in Abu Grahib were normal procedures against Palestinians. In 1999 Internationals, Palestinians and Israelis for human rights threatened a boycott against Israel and that is what forced the Supreme Court to address the torture issue. They did not ban torture and the General Prosecutor can choose not to prosecute those who still use it." [2]


2. THIRD INTIFADA: NONVIOLENT But With Words Sharper Than a Two-Edged Sword by Eileen Fleming

Eileen Fleming, Author, Reporter, Activist

Founder of


Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu"

Author of:

"Keep Hope Alive"

"Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory"

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New Study Shows Capital Gains Tax Cuts Biggest Contributor to Income Inequality

Published on Alternet ( [1] / By Mijin Cha [2]

New Study Shows Capital Gains Tax Cuts Biggest Contributor to Income Inequality

February 23, 2013

A new study [3] looking at changes in wages and salaries, capital income, and in taxes found that capital gains and dividends made the largest contribution to income inequality. As the study states:

By far, the largest contributor to this increase (in income inequality) was changes in income from capital gains and dividends. Changes in wages had an equalizing effect over this period as did changes in taxes. Most of the equalizing effect of taxes took place after the 1993 tax hike; most of the equalizing effect, however, was reversed after the 2001 and 2003 Bush-era tax cuts.

Capital gains were already the largest contributor to income inequality in 1991. But by 2006, the contribution of capital gains to income inequality almost doubled. Capital gains contributes so much to income inequality because of the large increase in their share of after-tax income. Continuously cutting the tax rate meant that more after-tax income came from capital gains and dividends.

The rise in income inequality is due more to changes at the top of the income distribution than at the bottom. While income for all Americans grew [4] 25 percent from 1996 to 2006, it grew 74 percent for the top 1 percent and 96 percent for the top 0.1 percent. A large part of this was again driven by continuous cuts to income and capital gains taxes.

In short, the affluent have been keeping more and more of their income while ordinary Americans have faced stagnant wages and disappearing benefits.

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hubris Isn't the Half of It

Hubris Isn't the Half of It

Friday, 22 February 2013 09:14 By David Swanson, War Is a Crime

(Photo: Seth Anderson / Flickr)As our government was making a fraudulent case to attack Iraq in 2002-2003, the MSNBC television network was doing everything it could to help, including booting Phil Donahue and Jeff Cohen off the air. The Donahue Show was deemed likely to be insufficiently war-boosting and was thus removed 10 years ago next week, and 10 days after the largest antiwar (or anything else) demonstrations in the history of the world, as a preemptive strike against the voices of honest peaceful people.

From there, MSNBC proceeded to support the war with mild critiques around the edges, and to white-out the idea of impeachment or accountability.

But now MSNBC has seen its way clear to airing a documentary about the fraudulent case it assisted in, a documentary titled Hubris. This short film (which aired between 9 and 10 p.m. ET Monday night, but with roughly half of those minutes occupied by commercials) pointed out the role of the New York Times in defrauding the public, but not MSNBC's role.

Yet, my primary response to that is joy rather than disgust. It is now cool to acknowledge war lies. Truth-tellers, including truth-tellers rarely presented with a corporate microphone, made that happen.

MSNBC host and Obama promoter Rachel Maddow even introduced Hubris by pointing to another war lie -- the Gulf of Tonkin incident that wasn't -- and a war lie by a Democrat in that case. Similar lies can be found surrounding every war that has ever been, which is why I wrote War Is A Lie. We have to stop imagining that "bad wars" are a subset of wars.

But, of course, using Maddow as the presenter and narrator of a film about Republican war lies during a period of unacknowledged Democratic war lies unavoidably gives the thing a partisan slant. Watching Hubris, I was reminded of something that Michael Moore tweeted last Friday: "Senate Repubs: U started 2 illegal wars that broke the treasury & sacrificed the lives of thousands of our troops & countless civilians."

Of course, the Senate that gave us the two wars in question was in reality controlled by Democrats, and the war lies were pushed hard by Senators Kerry, Clinton, and their comrades. Hubris touches on this reality but not with sufficient clarity for most viewers -- I suspect -- to pick up on it.

The film presents a great deal of good evidence that the war on Iraq was based on lies. Unavoidably, endless terrific bits of such evidence were not included. Less excusably, also left out was an analysis of the evidence that only dishonesty -- not incompetence -- explains the propaganda that was produced.

Hubris is the wrong word for what took the United States into war with Iraq. The forces at work were greed, lust for power, and sadistic vengeance. The word "hubris" suggests the tragic downfall of the guilty party. But the war on Iraq did not destroy the United States; it destroyed Iraq. It damaged the United States, to be sure, but in a manner hardly worthy of mention in comparison to the sociocide committed against Iraq.

Hubris, the film, provides a reprehensibly ludicrous underestimation of Iraqi deaths, and only after listing U.S. casualties.

It was not pride but a disregard for human life that generated mass murder. Congressman Walter Jones, who voted for the war, is shown in Hubris saying that he would have voted No if he had bothered to read the National Intelligence Estimate that very few of his colleagues bothered to read.

Another talking head in the film is Lawrence Wilkerson. He is, of course, the former chief of staff of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson is shown explaining that the reason not to attack Iraq was that doing so would take a focus away from attacking Afghanistan. Clearly this was not a reason that led to Wilkerson or Powell taking any kind of stand.

Wilkerson says in this film that he and Powell knew the war was based on lies, that the claims were junk, that no WMDs were likely to be found, etc. Yet, when confronted last week by Norman Solomon on Democracy Now! with the question of why he hadn't resigned in protest, Wilkerson claimed that at the time he'd had no idea whatsoever that there were good arguments against the war. In fact, he blamed opponents of the war for not having contacted him to educate him on the matter.

The Hubris version of Colin Powell's lies at the United Nations is misleadingly undertold. Powell was not a victim. He "knowingly lied."

The same goes for Bush, Cheney, and gang. According to Hubris it may have just been incompetence or hubris. It wasn't. Not only does overwhelming evidence show us that Bush knew his claims about WMDs to be false, but the former president has shown us that he considers the question of truth or falsehood to be laughably irrelevant. When Diane Sawyer asked Bush why he had claimed with such certainty that there were so many weapons in Iraq, he replied: "What’s the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger."

What's the difference? In a society based on the rule of law, the difference would be a criminal prosecution. MSNBC and Hubris steer us away from any ideas of accountability. And no connection is drawn to current war lies about Iran or other nations.

But the production of programs like this one that prolong Americans' awareness of the lies that destroyed Iraq are the best hope Iran has right now. MSNBC should be contacted and applauded for airing this and urged to follow up on it.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Ecotourism Helps Promote Sea Turtle Conservation in Mexico

Ecotourism Helps Promote Sea Turtle Conservation in Mexico

By Ashley Curtin

Poached and hunted for their shells, meat and eggs, sea turtles are considered a lucrative commodity on Mexico’s black market. More than 35,000 are “slaughtered” off the coast of Baja California Sur each year, making six out of the seven subspecies of sea turtles endangered, according to WILDCOAST—an international ecosystems and wildlife conservation team. While the illegal practices of harvesting or consuming sea turtles has yet to stop, ecotourism is one-way grassroots organizations and sustainable travel companies raise awareness and promote the survival of such sea life.

The seven species of sea turtles—flatback, green turtle, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley—inhabit the world’s oceans except the Arctic. For the most part, sea turtles’ habitats never overlap; each species swims in distinctly different areas and possesses unique characteristics. Since the Mexican government banned the harvesting of sea turtles in 1990, they are the only remaining species of “ancient reptiles,” dating back 200 million years when dinosaurs walked the earth, according to the Association for the Protection of the Environment and the Marine Turtle in Southern Baja (ASUPMATOMA).

ASUPMATOMA, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to the protection of endangered sea turtles off the coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico. With five out of the seven subspecies of sea turtles inhabiting the ocean and beaches of Baja California Sur, this region is a vital nesting habitat and feeding ground for the species, according to ASUPMATOMA. But as “rapid land development, pollution and illegal hunting and fishing practices” continue to endanger sea turtles, many conservation projects, formed by grassroots organizations and travel companies, rely on ecotourism to promote sea turtle conservation.

One travel company, RED Sustainable Travel—a leader in conservation adventures—was founded through the integration of conservation and “socioeconomic well-being.” The company, which is based out of La Paz in Baja California Sur, aims to bring people to the center of conservation and is committed to making local people the “solution to long-term environmental issues.”

RED Sustainable Travel's focus is to “create sustainable economic alternatives to poaching or hunting sea turtles in local communities,” Jaime Campos, communications and project coordinator, said.

“Ecotourism changes both locals’ and travelers’ experiences by their direct participation such as in our sea turtle conservation efforts,” Campos said. “The process of getting involved with conservation is a cultural link to our efforts.”

The company transitions conservation projects into conservation adventures or trips by promoting ecotourism in several rural coastal communities in Baja California Sur including Cabo Pulmo, Las Animas, Punta Abreojos, Verde Camacho and Magdelena Bay. One of their featured trips, Magdalena Bay Sea Turtle Conservation Adventure, attracts travelers from all over the world to take part in “conservative-based volunteer work.” The trip helps support an ongoing research project conducted by their “brother organization,” Grupo Tortuguero, a worldwide network of individuals, communities, organizations and institutions focused on sea turtle conservation, Campos said.

The two-day trip teaches travelers about the “biology of sea turtles, their important ecological function” and the threats that cause the endangerment. The monitoring process of the trip allows travelers a closer look at the species. Boats carry them through Magdalena Bay—a natural habitat for sea turtles—and, together with trained guides, travelers capture sea turtles, weigh, measure and tag them for research purposes, and then release them back into the bay.

In turn, the trip’s efforts provide recorded data “about the health, migration patterns and habitat use of sea turtles in Magdalena Bay,” Campos said. He went on to say that the information collected on each trip is used in studies and by policymakers “to make strategic decisions towards the species' conservation.” The trip’s fees also help RED Sustainable Travel fund a local children’s education program in an effort to educate them about sea turtle conservation starting at a young age, Campos said.

“Children in the local community learn about sea turtles and their habitat, which helps them get engaged in conservation,” he said. “We educate children about the benefits of sea turtles because we feel the child will have a strong influence on their parents and get them involved too.”

Not only are sustainable travel companies in Baja California Sur providing travelers with sea turtle conservation trips, most of Mexico’s coastal communities promote ecotourism and sustainable travel. And more travelers are participating in such conservation trips.

Sherry Viray, travel enthusiast, spent several days along the beach of Mazunte in Oaxaca, Mexico learning about the endangered sea turtles native to that region and shared her experience on her blog, Colorful Footsteps.

“I’ve always believed that the hallmark of a great society is one, which protects those that cannot protect themselves,” Varay said in her story. “So the next time you are in Mexico, head to Mazunte to play with the native sea turtles and see for yourself why they're worth saving.”

As sea turtles continue to decline at an “alarming rate,” ecotourism provides the social and environmental commitment needed in sea turtle preservation, Campos said.

“It is an altogether different travel experience,” Campos said. “Travelers leave the trip having made new friends and discovering their inner-conservationist.”

This article was published at NationofChange at: All rights are reserved.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Ríos Montt and the Need for International Accountability for War Crimes in Guatemala

From: Cyril Mychalejko

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Ríos Montt and the Need for International Accountability for War Crimes in Guatemala

On December 4, 1982, former President Ronald Reagan spoke in Honduras after meeting with Efraín Ríos Montt, the evangelical Guatemalan General who seized power in a military coup a little over 8 months earlier.

“I know that President Ríos Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment,” said Reagan. “I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice. My administration will do all it can to support his progressive efforts.”

Two days later the regime that Reagan said was getting a “bum rap” sent a contingent of Kabiles, Guatemala's notorious special forces unit, to the department of Peten. There they entered the village of Dos Erres, where they tortured the men, raped the women, took hammers to the children, and in the end murdered as many as 250 people. Afterwards they burnt the village to the ground as part of Rios Montt's “scorched earth” campaign against the country's Mayan population.

Thirty years later Ríos Montt may finally face justice. On January 28, 2013 a Guatemalan judge ruled that the former head of state accused of responsibility for “1,771 deaths, 1,400 human rights violations and the displacement of 29,000 indigenous Guatemalans” would be tried for genocide in a domestic court. This precedent-setting decision was lauded internationally by human rights activists and NGOs.

“Until recently, the idea of a Guatemalan general being tried for these heinous crimes seemed utterly impossible,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “The fact that a judge has ordered the trial of a former head of state is a remarkable development in a country where impunity for past atrocities has long been the norm.”

The Association for Justice and Reconciliation and the Center for Human Rights Legal Action issued a joint statement on the day of the decision, also emphasizing the significance of the trial.

“This event represents the path walked by thousands of victims of genocide. It allows for the path of memory, truth and justice to continue, which offers a solid foundation for the construction of a more just country,” the statement noted. “We are hopeful that this case will continue on its course according to law and that soon there will be a final judgment against those who ordered genocide in Guatemala.”

However, in order for justice to overcome impunity in Guatemala there needs to be an international component.

The cozy relationship between Ríos Montt and the Reagan administration needs to be dug up from the graveyards of history, much like the bodies that are still being dug up from mass graves in Guatemala.

The US media should use this case as an opportunity to act like the forensic anthropologists in Guatemala to sort through Washington's skeletons when it comes to the history of foreign policy in Guatemala. This could be done very simply by sifting through declassified documents, old press articles, and other past reports to accurately retell the story of modern US-Guatemalan relations and Washington's role in aiding and abetting what the United Nations declared a genocide, a genocide in which over 200,000 mostly Mayan Guatemalans were killed and tens of thousands tortured, disappeared, raped and displaced.

While the recovery and discussion of national historical memory is central to creating lasting peace and justice in war-ravaged countries like Guatemala, US citizens must consider their own country’s history of promoting systemic violence in Guatemala if there is to be an improvement in US foreign policy toward the country.

Meanwhile, former US officials like Elliott Abrams, Reagan's State Department point man for Latin American policy, should be called to testify as a witness at Ríos Montt's trial, much like he did for a case in Argentina in January 2012.

Abrams testified via video conference that the Reagan administration knew that Argentina's military regime were stealing babies from political prisoners and giving them to right-wing and military families. After finding out about such crimes, the Reagan administration then provided the military junta political cover by certifying its “improving” human rights record.

In the case of Guatemala, complicity in war crimes is not limited to the United States; there are other international actors with blood on their hands.

In December 2012 the Jubilee Debt Campaign released a report, Generating Terror, which made the case that the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) helped legitimize and subsidize Guatemala's genocidal regimes of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The report uses the Chixoy Dam project as a case study. The World Bank and IDB funded this dam project, the construction of which resulted in a series of massacres that resulted in over 400 deaths. Even after the documented massacres, these same international financial institutions provided additional funding to the same project seven years later.

Guatemala also turned to countries like Israel, Switzerland, France and Belgium during the civil war for aid, equipment and training.

There can be no peace in Guatemala without justice. In order for justice to prevail, the war crimes and impunity in the country need to be dealt with as an international issue, not just a local problem. While the Guatemalan government, again with the assistance of Washington, is re-militarizing the country, and corpses once more pile up, the need for accountability becomes more urgent—people's lives depend on it.


Also see Dawn Paley's investigation for Toward Freedom: Strategies of a New Cold War: US Marines and the Drug War in Guatemala

"There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones: search for understanding, education, organization, action ... and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future." (Noam Chomsky)

Cyril Mychalejko

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs