Friday, January 31, 2014

The Pike Committee and the Death of its Leader

The Pike Committee and the Death of its Leader By Karl Grossman These days it’s the scandal involving widespread surveillance by the National Security Administration. Four decades ago it was the investigation of U.S. intelligence agency abuses by a committee of chaired by Congressman Otis G. Pike. The panel’s report, revealing a pattern similar in matters of arrogance and deception to the disclosures in recent times, was suppressed¬ scandalously ¬by the full House of Representatives. Pike, who died last week at 92, was the greatest member of Congress from Long Island I have known in 52 years as a journalist based on the island. He was simply extraordinary. He was able to win, over and over again as a Democrat in a district far more Republican than it is now. His communications to constituents were a wonder¬a constant flow of personal letters. As a speaker he was magnificent, eloquent and what a sense of humor! Indeed, each campaign he would write and sing a funny song, accompanying himself on a ukulele or banjo, about his opponent. He worked tirelessly and creatively for his eastern Long Island district. With his top political lieutenants, attorney Aaron Donner and educator Joseph Quinn, and his dynamic wife Doris, and his many supporters ¬including those in Republicans for Pike ¬he was a trusted, unique governmental institution on Long Island. And he was a man of complete integrity. That, indeed, was why, after 18 years, Pike decided to close his career in the House of Representatives. In 1975, as issues about global U.S. intelligence activities began to surface, Pike became chair of the House Special Select Committee on Intelligence. A U.S. Marine dive bomber and night fighter pilot in the Pacific during World War II, who with the war’s end went to Princeton and became a lawyer, he embarked with his committee, Donner its chief counsel, into an investigation of the assassinations and coups in which the Central Intelligence Agency was involved. His panel found systematic, unchecked and huge financial pay-offs by the CIA to figures around the world. And, yes, it found illegal surveillance. On the Central Intelligence Agency’s website today is an essay by a CIA historian, Gerald K. Haines, which at its top asserts how “the Pike Committee set about examining the CIA’s effectiveness and costs to taxpayers. Unfortunately, Pike, the committee, and its staff never developed a cooperative working relationship with the Agency...” A “cooperative working relationship” with the CIA? Pike’s committee was engaged in a hard-hitting investigation, a probe by the legislative branch of government, into wrongdoing by the executive branch. It was not, in examining the activities of the CIA and the rest of what historian Haines terms the “Intelligence Community,” interested in allying with and being bamboozled by them. To make matters worse, leading components of the media turned away from what the Pike Committee was doing. Pike told me how James “Scotty” Reston, the powerful columnist and former executive editor of The New York Times, telephoned him to complain: “What are you guys doing down there!” The Times and other major media began focusing on the counterpart and less aggressive Senate committee on intelligence chaired by Senator Frank Church of Idaho. Then, in 1976, even though a majority of representatives on the Pike Committee voted to release its report, the full House balloted 246-to-124 not to release it. What an attempted cover-up! Fortunately, the report was leaked to CBS reporter Daniel Schorr who provided it to The Village Voice which ran it in full. I still vividly recall sitting with Pike and talking, over drinks in a tavern in his hometown of Riverhead, about the situation. He had done what needed to be done ¬and then came the suppression. He thought, considering what he experienced, that he might be more effective as a journalist rather than a congressman in getting truth out. I knew Otis as a reporter and columnist for the daily Long Island Press. Dave Starr, the editor of The Press and national editor of the Newhouse newspaper chain, always thought the world of Pike. Starr and Pike made an arrangement under which Pike would write a column distributed by the Newhouse News Service. Pike didn’t run for re-election for the House of Representatives ¬and starting in 1979, for the next 20 years, he was a nationally syndicated columnist. His columns were as brilliant as the speeches he gave as a congressman. They were full of honesty, humor and wisdom¬as was the man. Starr, still with Newhouse Newspapers, commented last week on Pike’s death: “The country has lost a great thinker, a mover and shaker, and a patriot.” Yes. 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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

83-Year-Old American Nun to Be Sentenced for Sabotage Loller reports: "Sister Megan Rice is one of three Catholic peace activists convicted of sabotage last year after they broke into the nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn." Nuclear protesters, from left, Michael Walli, Sister Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed, arrive for their trial for in Knoxville, Tenn. on May 6, 2013. (photo: AP/Knoxville News Sentinel/J. Miles Cary) 83-Year-Old American Nun to Be Sentenced for Sabotage By Travis Loller, Associated Press 29 January 14 An 83-year-old Catholic nun convicted in a protest and break-in at the primary U.S. storehouse for bomb-grade uranium will find out Tuesday whether she spends what could be the rest of her life in prison. Sister Megan Rice is one of three Catholic peace activists convicted of sabotage last year after they broke into the nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Sentencing for all three is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Knoxville. The government has recommended sentences of about six to nine years each for Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed (bohr-CHEE' OH-bed'). It also is seeking restitution of nearly $53,000 for damage incurred when the three cut through fences and painted slogans on the outside wall of the uranium processing plant. The protesters also splattered blood and hammered on the wall. The activists are asking for leniency. They say their actions at the Y-12 National Security Complex were symbolic and meant to draw attention to America's stockpile of nuclear weapons, which they call immoral and illegal. "These people have been committed peace and justice advocates for decades," defense attorney Bill Quigley said. He noted that there is no minimum sentence, so the judge has a lot of discretion. The activists have been in prison since they were convicted last May, and it is possible that they could be sentenced to time served. However, U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar has refused previous requests for leniency from the defendants, including his decision that they would remain jailed until sentencing. In a ruling last October denying requests for acquittal and a new trial, Thapar wrote, "The defendants are entitled to their views regarding the morality of nuclear weapons. But the defendants' sincerely held moral beliefs are not a get-out-of-jail-free card that they can deploy to escape criminal liability." Since their convictions last May, the activists have presented the judge with thousands of support letters from around the world, which Quigley called the greatest show of support he has seen in his two decades of working with protesters. "I think that is mostly because of Sister Rice," he said. "She's very well loved and has lots of people praying for her and supporting her." One of the letters entered into the court record is from a nun in London, Sister Katharine Holmstrom. "Your court faces a great challenge - making a careful distinction between persons who act in clear conscience, guided by a moral vision, and others whose actions may be self-serving or maleficent in nature," she wrote to Thapar. "In cases like these, the law is sometimes incapable of making such distinctions. The heavy burden of seeking a just disposition then falls to the jurist who will render a sentence." Another letter is from Rice herself, in which she states, "As a defendant, I ask only that you allow your conscience to guide you." Quigley said he has spoken with all three defendants, and they are prepared for the possibility of longer sentences. "Sister Rice has said that if the judge lets them go, that's great, but if the judge sentences her to 10 years in prison and she has to die in prison, that's OK also," he said. Rice turns 84 on Friday. © 2014 Reader Supported News 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, January 29, 2014

When Will They Ever Learn? An Interview with Pete Seeger

Published on Portside ( When Will They Ever Learn? An Interview with Pete Seeger John W. Whitehead Wednesday, January 4, 2006 The Rutherford Institute Arlo Guthrie post on Facebook [1] I usually do a little meditation and prayer every night before I go to sleep - Just part of the routine. Last night, I decided to go visit Pete Seeger for a while, just to spend a little time together, it was around 9 PM. So I was sitting in my home in Florida, having a lovely chat with Pete, who was in a hospital in New York City. That's the great thing about thoughts and prayers- You can go or be anywhere. I simply wanted him to know that I loved him dearly, like a father in some ways, a mentor in others and just as a dear friend a lot of the time. I'd grown up that way - loving the Seegers - Pete & Toshi and all their family. I let him know I was having trouble writing his obituary (as I'd been asked) but it seemed just so silly and I couldn't think of anything that didn't sound trite or plain stupid. "They'll say something appropriate in the news," we agreed. We laughed, we talked, and I took my leave about 9:30 last night. "Arlo" he said, sounding just like the man I've known all of my life, "I guess I'll see ya later." I've always loved the rising and falling inflections in his voice. "Pete," I said. "I guess we will." I turned off the light and closed my eyes and fell asleep until very early this morning, about 3 AM when the texts and phone calls started coming in from friends telling me Pete had passed away. "Well, of course he passed away!" I'm telling everyone this morning. "But that doesn't mean he's gone." = = = = = When Will They Ever Learn? An Interview with Pete Seeger by John W. Whitehead The Rutherford Institute, 2006 “Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.”—Pete Seeger Before the Byrds or Joan Baez or Peter, Paul and Mary, there was Pete Seeger. With his five-string banjo in hand, Seeger helped to lay the foundation for American protest music, singing out about the plight of everyday working folks and urging listeners to political and social activism. Born in New York City on May 3, 1919, Seeger, whose father was a pacifist musicologist, was plunged into the world of music and politics from an early age. He studied sociology at Harvard University until 1938, when he dropped out and spent the summer bicycling through New England and New York, painting watercolors of farmers’ houses in return for food. Looking for but failing to get a job as a newspaper reporter in New York City, he then worked at the Archives of American Folk Music at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. In 1940, Seeger met Woody Guthrie at a Grapes of Wrath migrant-worker benefit concert. Seeger, Guthrie, Lee Hays and Millard Lampell joined together to form the Almanac Singers, which became known for its political radicalism and support of communism. In 1942, Seeger was drafted by the U.S. Army and sent to Saipan in the Western Pacific. After the war, he helped start the People’s Songs Bulletin, later Sing Out! magazine, which combined information on folk music with social criticism. In 1950, Seeger formed The Weavers with Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman. Targeted for the political messages behind some of their songs, the group was blacklisted and banned from television and radio. In 1955, the House Committee on Un-American Activities subpoenaed Seeger to appear before them (read his testimony here). During the hearings, Seeger refused to disclose his political views and the names of his political associates. When asked by the committee to name for whom he had sung, Seeger replied, “I am saying voluntarily that I have sung for almost every religious group in the country, from Jewish and Catholic, and Presbyterian and Holy Rollers and Revival Churches, and I do this voluntarily. I have sung for many, many different groups—and it is hard for perhaps one person to believe, I was looking back over the twenty years or so that I have sung around these forty-eight states, that I have sung in so many different places.” He was sentenced to one year in jail but, quoting the First Amendment, successfully appealed the decision after spending four hours behind bars. However, he has been blacklisted most of his life from normal radio and television work. During the 1960s, Seeger traveled around the country, continuing to play his folk songs for the peace and civil rights movements. Deeply offended by the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Seeger, along with other folk singers such as Joan Baez, led many protests. “Wherever he was asked, when the need was the greatest, he, like Kilroy, was there. And still is,” said his long-time friend, Studs Terkel. “Though his voice is somewhat shot, he holds forth on that stage. Whether it be a concert hall, a gathering in the park, a street demonstration, any area is a battleground for human rights.” In 1963, Seeger recorded the now-famous gospel song “We Shall Overcome.” In 1965, he sang it on the 50-mile walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, with Martin Luther King, Jr. and 1,000 other marchers. That song would go on to become the anthem for the civil rights movement and be translated into many languages. Seeger also turned his attention to cleaning up the Hudson River that ran past his home. In 1966, he helped form the Clearwater, an organization dedicated to educating the public on environmental concerns such as pollution and protecting the river. The group offers educational programs for children on a 76-foot replica of a traditional Hudson cargo sloop and holds a two-day festival on the banks of the Hudson River every June. Seeger was awarded the Presidential Medal of the Arts and the prestigious Kennedy Center Award in 1994. In 1996, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his contribution to music and to the development of rock and folk music. In April of that year, he received the Harvard Arts Medal, and after decades of creating songs, in 1997, Seeger won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for his album, Pete. Seeger, however, has not always been so lavishly praised. Often chastised for his “communist beliefs,” Seeger has dealt with criticism and misunderstanding. “I say I’m more conservative than Goldwater. He just wanted to turn the clock back to when there was no income tax. I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other,” he says. In May 2005, countless tributes were held across the country to celebrate Seeger’s 86th birthday. While many of the legendary men and women Seeger associated with are gone, he continues his political and environmental endeavors. He still seems to subscribe to the same philosophy he held to four decades ago, when he advised young people to follow their hearts and take initiative: “Well, here’s hoping all the foregoing will help you avoid a few dead-end streets (we all hit some), and here’s hoping enough of your dreams come true to keep you optimistic about the rest. We’ve got a big world to learn how to tie together. We’ve all got a lot to learn. And don’t let your studies interfere with your education.” In this OldSpeak interview with John Whitehead, Pete Seeger—described by Studs Terkel as “the boy with that touch of hope in the midst of bleakness”—speaks out, and even sings out, about his life’s work and his concerns for America’s future. John Whitehead: In February 1940, you met Woody Guthrie. How did that change your life? Pete Seeger: Woody showed me the old folk songs, which I loved so much. They were made up by real people about real things, and he was a live ballad-maker. I was working for Alan Lomax at the time and had always wanted to meet the kind of person who wrote “The Ballad of Jesse James.” And here he was in the flesh. A thoughtful guy making up new songs about real events—that was Woody Guthrie. JW: You were doing the same thing, weren’t you? PS: I had not yet started. As a kid, I tried to write poetry occasionally. My father used to tell me stories as a small child. I had an uncle who was a poet, but I didn’t really get into songwriting until I met Woody. And then only hesitantly because I didn’t dream that I would be able to actually write songs. But Woody showed me that it is not as difficult as you think. You find an old tune that you like, and you change it around a little bit—put new words to the old melody. I did that with a song called “C for Conscription.” At that time, I didn’t want to be conscripted into the Army. I took Jimmie Rodgers’ song “It’s T for Texas, T for Tennessee” and I decided “C for Conscription, C for Capitol Hill and so on. JW: Then you started collecting songs. I seem to recall that the 1947 collection People’s Songs included “We Shall Overcome.” That song became the big ballad and hymn for the Civil Rights Movement. PS: All I did was add a couple of verses. The song was actually an old gospel song, “I’ll Overcome,” usually sung fast. Then about 100 years ago, Union folks made a Union song out of it—“We Will Overcome.” The original was simply a verse, “I’ll Overcome Some Day.” Lord knows who wrote it. It might have been a slave back in the 19th century. It had other verses like “I’ll be like him, I’ll wear the crown, I’ll be alright.” As a matter of fact, that is the way most gospel singers know the song—fast, “I’ll be alright, I’ll be alright some day...” In 1946, 300 tobacco workers in Charleston, South Carolina were on strike and one of the women, Lucille Simmons, liked to sing this song very slowly. In gospel churches, sometimes you can sing a song extremely slowly, which gives time for the basses and other voices to harmonize. A white woman, Zilphia Horton, who taught at a little labor school in the South, learned the song from the strikers. She taught the song to me, and I printed it and started singing it. But it wasn’t until 1960 that a fellow named Guy Carawan added some interesting rhythm to it. It’s still slow, but it has a very steady, strong beat. In 1960, Carawan taught it to the founding convention of the SNNC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee). A month later, it was all around the South and eventually all around the world. JW: What did you think when people like Martin Luther King started singing the song? PS: I was very proud to have helped introduce the song. Actually, I think I was the first person that sang it to him in 1957. I was at that little labor school—it was called the Highlander Folk School—in the mountains of Tennessee. Very small little place. They had their 25th anniversary reunion, and Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy and Rosa Parks all drove up from Montgomery, Alabama. It must have been a four or five hour drive. I sang the song, and a friend of mine drove Dr. King to a speaking engagement the following day in Kentucky. She remembers him sitting in the back seat saying “We shall overcome. That song really sticks with you, doesn’t it?” However, it wasn’t until Guy Carawan added the rhythm in 1960 that it really took off. JW: The song had an amazing impact. In fact, people still sing it today. Then you got into some trouble for your alleged activities with Communists or singing for Communist groups and so on. PS: My father first got me marching in a May Day parade in 1933, and I found him up to his ears in the Communist movement. He was writing articles for the Daily Worker. When I was 14, I remember asking him, “What are the bad things about Communism? Aren’t there good and bad things about everything in the world? He took all of 10 to 15 seconds away from his work and said, “No, it’s all good.” Then he went back to his desk. About 1937, I was in college and people were wondering what to do about Hitler. I was impressed by the fact that Litvinov, the Soviet Representative to the League of Nations, said that “any aggressor should be quarantined”—that is, boycotted. He was talking about Japan, Manchuria, Italy, Ethiopia and Hitler helping Franco take over Spain. So when I was 18, I became a member of the Young Communist League. After the war, I was actually a card-carrying member for about four years. However, I drifted out when I moved up to the country, although I still have friends who are Communists and I still read the Communist newspaper from time to time. Occasionally, there are some very good articles in it. But I also read Fortune magazine and the New York Times. I am a magazineaholic. JW: So, would you say that you are still a Communist? PS: Only in the broadest sense of the word. When I was 7, I loved the books of Ernest Thompson Seton. Born in Scotland and raised in Canada, he became a well-known author in the first two or three decades of the 20th century. Seton held up Native American Indians as a role model. In his writings, he said, “Don’t go back to Greece or to the age of chivalry.” He said there were people on this continent who were brave and strong and completely honest. For the Indians, to tell a lie was a terrible crime that could mean being exiled from your tribe. I remember Seton’s book, Rolf in the Woods, where an older Indian teaches a 13-year-old white boy. The Indian said, “You know your books, but I can teach you the book of nature.” I built myself a teepee and started tracking animals. Seton was my guru. Years later, I found that what I admired was the fact that the Indians shared everything they had. If there was food, everybody in the tribe ate. Since there were no ice boxes, where would you put the food if you shot a deer? If there was hunger, everybody in the tribe was hungry, including the Chief’s wife and children. There was no such thing as one member of the tribe being well-fed and the others being hungry. Anthropologists call this tribal communism. All of us are descended from tribal communists, if you go back enough thousands of years. In a sense, it was a form of Communism. It was Communism for their tribe. But I would say, John, that the Communists I knew were the bravest, the least selfish people I ever knew. They fought against racism—put it at the top of their agenda. But lest there be misunderstanding, I must explicitly say that I drifted out of the Communist Party around 1950. And after visits to several Communist countries (USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Slovenia, East Germany, Vietnam, China, Cuba), I feel strongly that most “revolutionary” types around the world don’t realize the importance of freedom of the press and the air, a right to peaceably assemble and discuss anything, including the dangers of such discussions. I often quote Rosa Luxembourg, the German Communist who, in 1919, wrote: “Comrade Lenin, I read that you have censorship of the press, and you restrict the right of people to assemble to express their opinions. Don’t you realize that in a few years all the decisions in your country will be made by a few elite, and the masses will only be called in to dutifully applaud your decisions?” JW: You found yourself in trouble and were called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1954. PS: That foolish Committee was started way back in the ‘30s by a man named Martin Dies of Texas who didn’t like Roosevelt. Dies felt there were a lot of Communists in the New Deal. My father worked for the New Deal. However, he got out of the Communist movement when he read the transcripts of the Moscow trials in 1938. He said these are obviously tortured confessions. Stalin is just trying to take over the country. I think if it hadn’t been Stalin doing this, it would have been somebody else. I am very strongly against one party rule of any sort. As a matter of fact, in my home town, in the election a couple of weeks ago, they elected a fully Democratic slate to the City Council. I am now arguing with some of my Democratic friends. I said, “If you have any sense, you will realize the danger you are in. If things go wrong, you can’t blame anybody else. It’s your fault. And furthermore, now is a good time to discuss proportional representation.” I attended a high school where we elected the student council by proportional representation. There are several different systems, but I think the idea of “winner take all” elections is foolish. JW: You have indicated that your politics have changed. You once said that you were more conservative than Goldwater. What did you mean by that? PS: Most conservatives just want to turn back the clock to a time before the income tax—100 years or so. I would like to turn the clock back thousands of years to a time when people lived in small communities and took care of each other. It may sound romantic, but I am not optimistic about the future of the world unless we realize the very real danger we are in. JW: What is that danger? PS: Well, scientists have invented things they never should have invented. JW: Such as? PS: Einstein is supposed to have said, “Ach, mankind is not ready for it.” Had he known what his E=mc2 would bring about, he might have said, “Well, maybe I should just bury this invention. Who needs world fame?” My father was overly optimistic all his life. I told you he was overly optimistic about Communism in the early ‘30s. But in his eighties, my father said, “Peter, I can’t persuade the scientists that I know they have the most dangerous religious belief in the world. The scientists that I am talking to say, ‘Charlie, I don’t have a religious belief. I base my actions on observations—double-checked around the world as all science should be. Then I draw logical conclusions.’” “Oh no,” replies my father, “haven’t you observed that there are insane, power hungry people all around the world—people like Hitler? Is it logical to put in their hands the ability to destroy the human race?” The scientist replies, “But you are attacking all science! If I didn’t discover these things, somebody else would.” And my father replies, “Yes, I suppose that if you didn’t rape this woman, somebody else would.” And the poor scientist staggers away saying, “You have no right to ask questions like this.” And my father goes after him, and says, “Face it, you think that an infinite increase in empirical information is a good thing. Can you prove it?” My father turned to me with a smile and said, “Of course, Peter, if I am right, maybe the committee that told Galileo to shut up was correct.” All you can do is laugh. JW: You are involved in environmental work with the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater project and the clean-up of the Hudson River. What do you think of global warming and all the environmental crises we see today? PS: They’re very, very serious. If a chunk of the Greenland ice cap crashes in the ocean a few weeks later, the oceans all around the world could go up by five feet. You never can tell. Nobody knows for sure. It is a real crisis. And one of the most stupid things done by the Bush Administration was to back out of the Kyoto agreement. Kyoto didn’t go far enough, anyway. It’s only the beginning. But there are many things that can go wrong. If you fly over the Midwest, you see big circles down on the ground. These are the results of deep, deep wells going down thousands of feet to get water that was put there back during the ice ages—perhaps hundreds of thousands of years ago. With strong pumps, they can irrigate the fields of Kansas and so on with big circular sprayers. That’s why you see these huge circles on the ground several hundred yards in diameter. This water down there is not going to last forever. Moreover, the pesticides they’re spraying on the crops are filtering down and poisoning those huge aquifers. So all sorts of things are being done, which should not be done. At the moment, they may appear to be very profitable—but not in the long run. About 10 years ago, Oren Lyons, the elected leader of the Onondaga Longhouse near Syracuse, gave a speech to Clearwater’s annual gathering. Lyons said he found himself at a world economic conference in Switzerland. In the same room were CEO’s of billion dollar corporations. Lyons asked them if they realized that they were all headed for a brick wall because of the way they were using up the world’s resources. They said, “Of course, we know that. But you should realize that we have been put in our jobs to make as much money as we can for our stockholders. If we don’t do that, we are out of a job.” Lyons then said, “Are any of you grandfathers?” Several said, “Oh, yes” and pulled out photographs of their grandchildren. Lyons said, “When do you stop being a CEO and start being a grandfather?” They were silent. JW: How do you feel about the Iraq war? You opposed FDR during the buildup to World War II. PS: I was going right along with the Communist Party line back in the late 30s. I went along with a number of acquaintances I knew and was making up peace songs. In 1940, we even put out a record called “Songs for John Doe” with such lyrics as: “Remember when the AAA killed a million hogs a day, instead of hogs it’s men today, plow the fourth one under, plow under, plow under, plow under every fourth American boy.” I was working with Lee Hays, who was a wonderful songwriter. Lee was the son of a Baptist preacher in Arkansas. He knew gospel songs in white churches and in black churches. Lee came to New York wanting to put out a book of Union songs, and I got together with him. He made up the words of “If I Had a Hammer” and “Kisses Sweeter than Wine.” He wrote an extraordinary poem that I tried to make a tune for but decided that it was a better poem. I have to recite it to you: “If I should die by violence/please take this as my written will/and in the name of simple common sense/treat my destroyer only as one ill/as one who needed more than I could give/as one who never really learned to live/in peace and love and joy of life/but was diseased and plagued by hate and strife/my vanished life might have some meaning still/when my destroyer learns to know…good will.” JW: You have generally opposed war, including the war in Iraq. PS: For the past 20 to 30 years. I feel that when a dictator starts abolishing freedom of speech and freedom of the press in his own country, it should be perfectly legal for the United Nations or some other country to drop satirical leaflets on that country. Hitler took power in Germany in 1933, mainly because the Communists and Socialists couldn’t work with each other. They had 55 percent of the vote, and Hitler had 33 percent of the vote. But the moment Hitler abolished freedom of speech and freedom of the press, the League of Nations should have dropped leaflets exposing Hitler and the Nazis. The first country conquered by any dictator is his own country. JW: Are you saying the United Nations should fly over America and drop leaflets? PS: We have more freedom of the press than any other country in a similar position. Even way back in the frightened ‘50s, Communists, for example, could publish their magazine. The KKK published their own books. But face it, the mass media is controlled by money. JW: In the ‘60s, there were many people, such as Bob Dylan, yourself and others, who sang out against the war. We don’t see that with the young people today. PS: There is more than you think, but it is kept off the air. JW: Maybe it is kept off the air now, but in the ‘60s it was broadcast. Do we really have that much freedom of the media if the media doesn’t report what is going on? PS: You’re right. Town after town has but one newspaper or one radio station. It is often owned by Murdoch. Yes, we don’t have as much freedom of the press as we think we have—although the traditional freedom of speech is strongly rooted in American culture. JW: I noticed in your book Where Have All the Flowers Gone that you mention God. You indicate that you once thought religion was the opiate of the people. But you now indicate that you have changed your belief of God. How do you view God? PS: I don’t think of God as an old white man with no belly button, nor even an old black woman with no belly button. But I agree that God is something eternal. Something cannot come out of nothing. I believe God is Everything. And I believe in infinity. In Alfred North Whitehead’s essay called “The Aims of Education,” near the end is a beautiful sentence. He writes that education must be religious. Whitehead was a scientist, but he goes on to say that a religious education inculcates both duty and reverence. “Duty arises because of our potential control over the course of events. And the source of reverence lies in this perception: that the present holds within itself the complete sum of existence—forwards and backwards, that great amplitude of time which is eternity.” When I am chopping trees out in the woods because I heat my house with wood, I feel myself right in the middle of God. Mahalia Jackson said “I have seen God. I have seen the sun rise.” So, in a sense, when anyone looks in the mirror, they look at an infinitesimally small part of God. JW: There are some people who say they see God in earthquakes and when people are killed. In other words, God is punishing people. Do you see God in that sense? PS: I don’t think of it in that personal sense. That’s a poetic way of looking at it, and personalizing God may not be the best kind of poetic way of looking at infinity. However, I sometimes use the word God. So I have religious friends who raise their eyebrows when I sing about the tides in the Hudson. I sing “the gods of moving waters.” JW: Your slogan is “think globally, act locally.” What do you mean by that? PS: I got that phrase from the great biologist, Rene Dubos, who taught at the Rockefeller Institute about 20 years ago. He gave that to me, and it is a very important part of my religious belief. When it comes to action, people are always saying, “What is the most important thing to do?” Dubos said, “Right where you are, there are important things to do.” You don’t need to look for some glamorous, far-away place. On the other hand, I have to admit that some of my greatest heroes and heroines are people who have gone to far-away places like Barbara Lubin who started the Middle East Children’s Alliance three or four decades ago. She raises money to help children get education in Arab countries. She is Jewish, but she has this wonderful movement raising money for children in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and other Muslim countries. JW: Are you an optimist? PS: I used to think I was an optimist, but I have to laugh. Let me quote a Malvina Reynolds poem: “If this world survives, and every other day I think it might.” She was one of my heroes. But if anybody asks what the chances are that the human race makes it, I’d have to give it a 50-50 chance. But that’s because this implies that any one of us might be the grain of sand to make the scales go the right way, instead of the wrong way. I am not the only person who feels like this. JW: In your song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” you ask repeatedly, “When will they ever learn?” Have you found an answer to your question? When will they ever learn? PS: We will never know everything. But I think if we can learn within the next few decades to face the danger we all are in, I believe there will be tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions, of human beings working wherever they are to do something good. I tell everybody a little parable about the “teaspoon brigades.” Imagine a big seesaw. One end of the seesaw is on the ground because it has a big basket half full of rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air because it’s got a basket one quarter full of sand. Some of us have teaspoons and we are trying to fill it up. Most people are scoffing at us. They say, “People like you have been trying for thousands of years, but it is leaking out of that basket as fast as you are putting it in.” Our answer is that we are getting more people with teaspoons every day. And we believe that one of these days or years—who knows—that basket of sand is going to be so full that you are going to see that whole seesaw going zoop! in the other direction. Then people are going to say, “How did it happen so suddenly?” And we answer, “Us and our little teaspoons over thousands of years.” But I don’t think we have forever. I now believe that all technological societies tend to self-destruct. The reason is that the very things that make us a successful technological society, such as our curiosity, our ambition and determination, will also cause us to fall. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson corresponded for 13 years before they died on the same day. They asked, “How can one have prosperity without commerce? How can one have commerce without luxury? How can one have luxury without corruption? How can you have corruption without the end of the Republic?” And they really didn’t know the answer. Today I would ask, “How can one have a technological society without research? How can one have research without researching dangerous areas? How can one research dangerous areas without uncovering dangerous information? How can you uncover dangerous information without it falling into the hands of insane people who will sooner or later destroy the human race, if not the whole of life on earth?” Who knows? God only knows! Source URL: Links: [1] 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

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Almost Everything in "Dr. Strangelove" Was True Schlosser writes: "... we now know that American officers did indeed have the ability to start a Third World War on their own. And despite the introduction of rigorous safeguards in the years since then, the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear detonation hasn't been completely eliminated." A scene from the film Dr. Strangelove. (photo: New Yorker) Almost Everything in "Dr. Strangelove" Was True By Eric Schlosser, The New Yorker 25 January 14 This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of Stanley Kubrick's black comedy about nuclear weapons, "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." Released on January 29, 1964, the film caused a good deal of controversy. Its plot suggested that a mentally deranged American general could order a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, without consulting the President. One reviewer described the film as "dangerous … an evil thing about an evil thing." Another compared it to Soviet propaganda. Although "Strangelove" was clearly a farce, with the comedian Peter Sellers playing three roles, it was criticized for being implausible. An expert at the Institute for Strategic Studies called the events in the film "impossible on a dozen counts." A former Deputy Secretary of Defense dismissed the idea that someone could authorize the use of a nuclear weapon without the President's approval: "Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth." (See a compendium of clips from the film.) When "Fail-Safe"-a Hollywood thriller with a similar plot, directed by Sidney Lumet-opened, later that year, it was criticized in much the same way. "The incidents in 'Fail-Safe' are deliberate lies!" General Curtis LeMay, the Air Force chief of staff, said. "Nothing like that could happen." The first casualty of every war is the truth-and the Cold War was no exception to that dictum. Half a century after Kubrick's mad general, Jack D. Ripper, launched a nuclear strike on the Soviets to defend the purity of "our precious bodily fluids" from Communist subversion, we now know that American officers did indeed have the ability to start a Third World War on their own. And despite the introduction of rigorous safeguards in the years since then, the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear detonation hasn't been completely eliminated. The command and control of nuclear weapons has long been plagued by an "always/never" dilemma. The administrative and technological systems that are necessary to insure that nuclear weapons are always available for use in wartime may be quite different from those necessary to guarantee that such weapons can never be used, without proper authorization, in peacetime. During the nineteen-fifties and sixties, the "always" in American war planning was given far greater precedence than the "never." Through two terms in office, beginning in 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower struggled with this dilemma. He wanted to retain Presidential control of nuclear weapons while defending America and its allies from attack. But, in a crisis, those two goals might prove contradictory, raising all sorts of difficult questions. What if Soviet bombers were en route to the United States but the President somehow couldn't be reached? What if Soviet tanks were rolling into West Germany but a communications breakdown prevented NATO officers from contacting the White House? What if the President were killed during a surprise attack on Washington, D.C., along with the rest of the nation's civilian leadership? Who would order a nuclear retaliation then? With great reluctance, Eisenhower agreed to let American officers use their nuclear weapons, in an emergency, if there were no time or no means to contact the President. Air Force pilots were allowed to fire their nuclear anti-aircraft rockets to shoot down Soviet bombers heading toward the United States. And about half a dozen high-level American commanders were allowed to use far more powerful nuclear weapons, without contacting the White House first, when their forces were under attack and "the urgency of time and circumstances clearly does not permit a specific decision by the President, or other person empowered to act in his stead." Eisenhower worried that providing that sort of authorization in advance could make it possible for someone to do "something foolish down the chain of command" and start an all-out nuclear war. But the alternative-allowing an attack on the United States to go unanswered or NATO forces to be overrun-seemed a lot worse. Aware that his decision might create public unease about who really controlled America's nuclear arsenal, Eisenhower insisted that his delegation of Presidential authority be kept secret. At a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he confessed to being "very fearful of having written papers on this matter." President John F. Kennedy was surprised to learn, just a few weeks after taking office, about this secret delegation of power. "A subordinate commander faced with a substantial military action," Kennedy was told in a top-secret memo, "could start the thermonuclear holocaust on his own initiative if he could not reach you." Kennedy and his national-security advisers were shocked not only by the wide latitude given to American officers but also by the loose custody of the roughly three thousand American nuclear weapons stored in Europe. Few of the weapons had locks on them. Anyone who got hold of them could detonate them. And there was little to prevent NATO officers from Turkey, Holland, Italy, Great Britain, and Germany from using them without the approval of the United States. In December, 1960, fifteen members of Congress serving on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy had toured NATO bases to investigate how American nuclear weapons were being deployed. They found that the weapons-some of them about a hundred times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima-were routinely guarded, transported, and handled by foreign military personnel. American control of the weapons was practically nonexistent. Harold Agnew, a Los Alamos physicist who accompanied the group, was especially concerned to see German pilots sitting in German planes that were decorated with Iron Crosses-and carrying American atomic bombs. Agnew, in his own words, "nearly wet his pants" when he realized that a lone American sentry with a rifle was all that prevented someone from taking off in one of those planes and bombing the Soviet Union. The Kennedy Administration soon decided to put locking devices inside NATO's nuclear weapons. The coded electromechanical switches, known as "permissive action links" (PALs), would be placed on the arming lines. The weapons would be inoperable without the proper code-and that code would be shared with NATO allies only when the White House was prepared to fight the Soviets. The American military didn't like the idea of these coded switches, fearing that mechanical devices installed to improve weapon safety would diminish weapon reliability. A top-secret State Department memo summarized the view of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1961: "all is well with the atomic stockpile program and there is no need for any changes." After a crash program to develop the new control technology, during the mid-nineteen-sixties, permissive action links were finally placed inside most of the nuclear weapons deployed by NATO forces. But Kennedy's directive applied only to the NATO arsenal. For years, the Air Force and the Navy blocked attempts to add coded switches to the weapons solely in their custody. During a national emergency, they argued, the consequences of not receiving the proper code from the White House might be disastrous. And locked weapons might play into the hands of Communist saboteurs. "The very existence of the lock capability," a top Air Force general claimed, "would create a fail-disable potential for knowledgeable agents to 'dud' the entire Minuteman [missile] force." The Joint Chiefs thought that strict military discipline was the best safeguard against an unauthorized nuclear strike. A two-man rule was instituted to make it more difficult for someone to use a nuclear weapon without permission. And a new screening program, the Human Reliability Program, was created to stop people with emotional, psychological, and substance-abuse problems from gaining access to nuclear weapons. Despite public assurances that everything was fully under control, in the winter of 1964, while "Dr. Strangelove" was playing in theatres and being condemned as Soviet propaganda, there was nothing to prevent an American bomber crew or missile launch crew from using their weapons against the Soviets. Kubrick had researched the subject for years, consulted experts, and worked closely with a former R.A.F. pilot, Peter George, on the screenplay of the film. George's novel about the risk of accidental nuclear war, "Red Alert," was the source for most of "Strangelove" 's plot. Unbeknownst to both Kubrick and George, a top official at the Department of Defense had already sent a copy of "Red Alert" to every member of the Pentagon's Scientific Advisory Committee for Ballistic Missiles. At the Pentagon, the book was taken seriously as a cautionary tale about what might go wrong. Even Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara privately worried that an accident, a mistake, or a rogue American officer could start a nuclear war. Coded switches to prevent the unauthorized use of nuclear weapons were finally added to the control systems of American missiles and bombers in the early nineteen-seventies. The Air Force was not pleased, and considered the new security measures to be an insult, a lack of confidence in its personnel. Although the Air Force now denies this claim, according to more than one source I contacted, the code necessary to launch a missile was set to be the same at every Minuteman site: 00000000. The early permissive action links were rudimentary. Placed in NATO weapons during the nineteen-sixties and known as Category A PALs, the switches relied on a split four-digit code, with ten thousand possible combinations. If the United States went to war, two people would be necessary to unlock a nuclear weapon, each of them provided with half the code. Category A PALs were useful mainly to delay unauthorized use, to buy time after a weapon had been taken or to thwart an individual psychotic hoping to cause a large explosion. A skilled technician could open a stolen weapon and unlock it within a few hours. Today's Category D PALs, installed in the Air Force's hydrogen bombs, are more sophisticated. They require a six-digit code, with a million possible combinations, and have a limited-try feature that disables a weapon when the wrong code is repeatedly entered. The Air Force's land-based Minuteman III missiles and the Navy's submarine-based Trident II missiles now require an eight-digit code-which is no longer 00000000-in order to be launched. The Minuteman crews receive the code via underground cables or an aboveground radio antenna. Sending the launch code to submarines deep underwater presents a greater challenge. Trident submarines contain two safes. One holds the keys necessary to launch a missile; the other holds the combination to the safe with the keys; and the combination to the safe holding the combination must be transmitted to the sub by very-low-frequency or extremely-low-frequency radio. In a pinch, if Washington, D.C., has been destroyed and the launch code doesn't arrive, the sub's crew can open the safes with a blowtorch. The security measures now used to control America's nuclear weapons are a vast improvement over those of 1964. But, like all human endeavors, they are inherently flawed. The Department of Defense's Personnel Reliability Program is supposed to keep people with serious emotional or psychological issues away from nuclear weapons-and yet two of the nation's top nuclear commanders were recently removed from their posts. Neither appears to be the sort of calm, stable person you want with a finger on the button. In fact, their misbehavior seems straight out of "Strangelove." Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, the second-highest-ranking officer at the U.S. Strategic Command-the organization responsible for all of America's nuclear forces--was investigated last summer for allegedly using counterfeit gambling chips at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa. According to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, "a significant monetary amount" of counterfeit chips was involved. Giardina was relieved of his command on October 3, 2013. A few days later, Major General Michael Carey, the Air Force commander in charge of America's intercontinental ballistic missiles, was fired for conduct "unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." According to a report by the Inspector General of the Air Force, Carey had consumed too much alcohol during an official trip to Russia, behaved rudely toward Russian officers, spent time with "suspect" young foreign women in Moscow, loudly discussed sensitive information in a public hotel lounge there, and drunkenly pleaded to get onstage and sing with a Beatles cover band at La Cantina, a Mexican restaurant near Red Square. Despite his requests, the band wouldn't let Carey onstage to sing or to play the guitar. While drinking beer in the executive lounge at Moscow's Marriott Aurora during that visit, General Carey made an admission with serious public-policy implications. He off-handedly told a delegation of U.S. national-security officials that his missile-launch officers have the "worst morale in the Air Force." Recent events suggest that may be true. In the spring of 2013, nineteen launch officers at Minot Air Force base in North Dakota were decertified for violating safety rules and poor discipline. In August, 2013, the entire missile wing at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana failed its safety inspection. Last week, the Air Force revealed that thirty-four launch officers at Malmstrom had been decertified for cheating on proficiency exams-and that at least three launch officers are being investigated for illegal drug use. The findings of a report by the RAND Corporation, leaked to the A.P., were equally disturbing. The study found that the rates of spousal abuse and court martials among Air Force personnel with nuclear responsibilities are much higher than those among people with other jobs in the Air Force. "We don't care if things go properly," a launch officer told RAND. "We just don't want to get in trouble." The most unlikely and absurd plot element in "Strangelove" is the existence of a Soviet "Doomsday Machine." The device would trigger itself, automatically, if the Soviet Union were attacked with nuclear weapons. It was meant to be the ultimate deterrent, a threat to destroy the world in order to prevent an American nuclear strike. But the failure of the Soviets to tell the United States about the contraption defeats its purpose and, at the end of the film, inadvertently causes a nuclear Armageddon. "The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost," Dr. Strangelove, the President's science adviser, explains to the Soviet Ambassador, "if you keep it a secret!" A decade after the release of "Strangelove," the Soviet Union began work on the Perimeter system--a network of sensors and computers that could allow junior military officials to launch missiles without oversight from the Soviet leadership. Perhaps nobody at the Kremlin had seen the film. Completed in 1985, the system was known as the Dead Hand. Once it was activated, Perimeter would order the launch of long-range missiles at the United States if it detected nuclear detonations on Soviet soil and Soviet leaders couldn't be reached. Like the Doomsday Machine in "Strangelove," Perimeter was kept secret from the United States; its existence was not revealed until years after the Cold War ended. In retrospect, Kubrick's black comedy provided a far more accurate description of the dangers inherent in nuclear command-and-control systems than the ones that the American people got from the White House, the Pentagon, and the mainstream media. "This is absolute madness, Ambassador," President Merkin Muffley says in the film, after being told about the Soviets' automated retaliatory system. "Why should you build such a thing?" Fifty years later, that question remains unanswered, and "Strangelove" seems all the more brilliant, bleak, and terrifyingly on the mark. © 2014 Reader Supported News 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

The Fukushima Secrecy Syndrome – From Japan to America

Published on Portside ( The Fukushima Secrecy Syndrome – From Japan to America Ralph Nader Saturday, January 25, 2014 The Nader Page Last month, the ruling Japanese coalition parties quickly rammed through Parliament a state secrets law. We Americans better take notice. Under its provisions the government alone decides what are state secrets and any civil servants who divulge any “secrets” can be jailed for up to 10 years. Journalists caught in the web of this vaguely defined law can be jailed for up to 5 years. Government officials have been upset at the constant disclosures of their laxity by regulatory officials before and after the Fukushima nuclear power disaster in 2011, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). Week after week, reports appear in the press revealing the seriousness of the contaminated water flow, the inaccessible radioactive material deep inside these reactors and the need to stop these leaking sites from further poisoning the land, food and ocean. Officials now estimate that it could take up to 40 years to clean up and decommission the reactors. Other factors are also feeding this sure sign of a democratic setback. Militarism is raising its democracy-menacing head, prompted by friction with China over the South China Sea. Dismayingly, U.S. militarists are pushing for a larger Japanese military budget. China is the latest national security justification for our “pivot to East Asia” provoked in part by our military-industrial complex. Draconian secrecy in government and fast-tracking bills through legislative bodies are bad omens for freedom of the Japanese press and freedom to dissent by the Japanese people. Freedom of information and robust debate (the latter cut off sharply by Japan’s parliament in December 5, 2013) are the currencies of democracy. There is good reason why the New York Times continues to cover the deteriorating conditions in the desolate, evacuated Fukushima area. Our country has licensed many reactors here with the same designs and many of the same inadequate safety and inspection standards. Some reactors here are near earthquake faults with surrounding populations which cannot be safely evacuated in case of serious damage to the electric plant. The two Indian Point aging reactors that are 30 miles north of New York City are a case in point. The less we are able to know about the past and present conditions of Fukushima, the less we will learn about atomic reactors in our own country. Fortunately many of Japan’s most famous scientists, including Nobel laureates, Toshihide Maskawa and Hideki Shirakawa, have led the opposition against this new state secrecy legislation with 3,000 academics signing a public letter of protest. These scientists and academics declared the government’s secrecy law a threat to “the pacifist principles and fundamental human rights established by the constitution and should be rejected immediately.” Following this statement, the Japan Scientists’ Association, Japan’s mass media companies, citizens associations, lawyers’ organizations and some regional legislatures opposed the legislation. Polls show the public also opposes this attack on democracy. The present ruling parties remain adamant. They cite as reasons for state secrecy “national security and fighting terrorism.” Sound familiar? History is always present in the minds of many Japanese people. They know what happened in Japan when the unchallenged slide toward militarization of Japanese society led to the intimidating tyranny that drove the invasion of China, Korea and Southeast Asia before and after Pearl Harbor. By 1945, Japan was in ruins, ending with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The American people have to be alert to our government’s needless military and political provocations of China, which is worried about encirclement by surrounding U.S.-allied nations and U.S. air and sea power. Washington might better turn immediate attention to U.S. trade policies that have facilitated U.S. companies shipping American jobs and whole industries to China. The Obama administration must become more alert to authoritarian trends in Japan that its policies have been either encouraging or knowingly ignoring – often behind the curtains of our own chronic secrecy. The lessons of history beckon. 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

Hancock 17 Drone War Crimes Resisters Rest Their Case

Contacts: Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council, Syracuse, NY, (315) 472-5478, (315) 383-5738 (cell) Judy Bello, Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, Rochester, NY, (585) 733-4058 Mary Anne Grady Flores, Catholic Worker, Ithaca, NY, (607) 280-8797 Ed Kinane, Upstate Drone Action/Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, Syracuse, NY, (315) 478-4571 Elliott Adams, Past President of Veterans for Peace, Sharon Springs, NY, (518) 441-2697 Hancock 17 Drone War Crimes Resisters Rest Their Case Closing Arguments are Friday, January 31; Verdict is Friday, February 7 The Hancock 17 Drone War Crimes Resisters trial rested their case on January 23. Closing arguments will be Friday, January 31 at the Town of DeWitt Court, 5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY at 4:45 pm. The verdict is expected on Friday, February 7. The defendants had hoped to begin the evening with testimony from international law expert Francis Boyle but he was not allowed to testify. Fifty supporters watched then as the last six more defendants testified about the intentions that brought them to the nonviolent action at Hancock Air Base on October 25, 2012. The defendants all came to Hancock to ask their government for redress of grievance, and to fulfill their duties as citizens upholding International Law, under which wars of aggression and indiscriminate killing are crimes. Reaper drones flown by pilots at Hancock are used commit Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes and violations of Human Rights law. Three defendants had returned from Pakistan just weeks before the action, having spoken with drones survivors. Judy Bello, an activist from Rochester, showed a video of Afghan youth, Raz Mohammed, whose brother-in-law had been killed in a drone attack, speaking about drone attacks in his home town. James Ricks of Ithaca noted that 100% of drone attack victims have been people of color. Defendant Paki Wieland wished to share the depth of compassion she felt for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan after meeting them. Martha Hennessy, a Catholic Worker from New Hampshire who has traveled to Afghanistan twice, stated “My conscience brought me here." Mark Scibilia-Carver made clear that the Nuremberg Principles authorized his conduct, and was moved to tears as he shared the story of a child killed by drones. Brian Hynes, a Catholic Worker from Brooklyn, NY said “We always target civilians. We don't ever target the Afghan army.” The Pledge of Nonviolence that all the defendants had spoken together before going to the Base was entered into evidence, as well as the Citizen's Indictment they read to the military personnel. The testimony of both the prosecution and defense witnesses made it clear that the defendants were peaceful, pleasant and not disorderly in any way. The charges against Paul Frazier, a Catholic Worker from Syracuse, were dismissed because the arresting officer could not identify him in court. The Hancock 17 are on trial for having symbolically blocked the three gates at Hancock Air National Guard Base on October 25, 2012. They called for an end to drone warfare and read a Citizen's War Crimes Indictment at Hancock, from which MQ9 Reaper drones are piloted over Afghanistan and where MQ9 Reaper pilots, sensor operators and technicians are trained. They were charged with Trespass and Disorderly Conduct (both violations) and were issued Orders of Protection for Col. Earl Evans, requiring them to stay away from his place of work (Hancock Air Base), thereby greatly limiting their freedom of speech. The defendants are a part of Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, which seeks to educate the public and Hancock Air Base personnel about the war crimes perpetrated in Afghanistan with the MQ9 Reaper Drone piloted from Hancock Air National Guard Base. See and follow #Hancock and #Drones on twitter on after 5pm January 31. Judith Bello The Deconstructed Globe The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

Neocons Take Aim at Syrian Peace Talks Parry writes: "The Washington Post's neoconservative editorial page is still beating the drums for U.S. military intervention in Syria, but its latest demand for violent reprisals against the Syrian government dropped a key element in the previous propaganda campaign." Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (photo: AP) Neocons Take Aim at Syrian Peace Talks By Robert Parry, Consortium News 24 January 14 The Washington Post's neoconservative editorial page is still beating the drums for U.S. military intervention in Syria, but its latest demand for violent reprisals against the Syrian government dropped a key element in the previous propaganda campaign: the claim that President Bashar al-Assad had "gassed his own people." Without admitting that those earlier Sarin gas allegations have fallen apart, the Post editors simply moved on to new accusations - that the Syrian government tortured thousands of captives who were subsequently killed. Those claims came from an anonymous "defector" who claims he took photographs to document the deaths and then turned the images over to the anti-Assad government of Qatar. Of course, the Post editors treat the new allegations as flat fact, much as they did with earlier charges against the Syrian regime - and with the Bush-43 administration's claims in 2002-03 that Iraq was hiding stockpiles of WMD. The Post was catastrophically wrong in the Iraq case, but none of those top editors lost their jobs over the fiasco. Instead, they're still around treating the new Syrian accusations with the same lack of professional skepticism that they displayed regarding Iraq. But what's interesting about the Post's editorial on Thursday calling for the Obama administration to threaten a U.S. military assault if the Assad regime doesn't comply with U.S. government demands is that the editorial makes no direct reference to the Sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of Syrians on Aug. 21. Last summer, the Obama administration and the mainstream U.S. news media blamed that Sarin attack on the Syrian government with the same certitude and outrage as we're now seeing over the "torture photos." Indeed, the conventional wisdom over the Sarin attack very nearly led to a U.S. military bombardment. The rush to judgment was spurred on by Human Rights Watch, which had been pushing for a U.S. intervention, and the New York Times, when they jointly concluded that a vectoring of the reverse flight paths of the two rockets involved in the attack tracked back 9.5 kilometers and intersected at an elite Syrian military base near Assad's Presidential Palace. Despite this supposedly conclusive "proof," a U.S. attack was headed off by a mix of U.S. public opposition, President Barack Obama's willingness to test out a diplomatic alternative, and Assad's agreement to surrender his chemical weapons (while still denying a role in the Aug. 21 attack). Recently, however, the certitude about the Assad government's responsibility for the Sarin attack has collapsed. First, the Obama administration refused to release any of the evidence that it claimed to possess that would have supported its claims that the rockets were launched from government-controlled areas. Second, the UN inspectors determined that one of the two rockets - the one that landed in Moadamiya, south of Damascus - contained no Sarin. The rocket also clipped a building in its descent, making any calculation of its flight path unreliable. Third, when UN inspectors and independent rocket experts studied the one Sarin-laden rocket that struck Zamalka, east of Damascus, they concluded that its maximum range was only about two kilometers, meaning that the HRW/NYT analysis was impossible, a reality that the Times only grudgingly acknowledged last month. The two-kilometer range also meant that the rocket could not have come for any territory under the Syrian government's control, based on a U.S. government map released on Aug. 30. [See's "The Mistaken Guns of Last August."] 'Torture Photos' But the Washington Post editors didn't bother to inform their readers about the collapse of this earlier propaganda theme that nearly justified a U.S. war against the Syrian government. In Thursday's editorial, the Aug. 21 allegations vanish, replaced by the "torture photos" and other accusations of human rights violations. Of course, it is certainly believable that the Syrian government did engage in torture and murder of Islamic militants and other rebels captured during the current civil war. A decade ago, George W. Bush's administration relied upon the Syrian government and other authoritarian Arab states to torture U.S. detainees in the "war on terror." Some of them also died in captivity. So, it wouldn't be beyond belief that Syrian officials have continued to deploy similar techniques against their domestic "terrorists" and jihadists flocking to Syria from other Muslim lands. But that doesn't mean the photos provided by a "defector" to the government of Qatar, which is actively supporting the anti-Assad militants, should be accepted at face value. During the run-up to the war in Iraq, at least 18 Iraqi "defectors" - many managed by the neocon-allied Iraqi National Congress - provided detailed allegations about the Iraqi government's WMD stockpiles and Iraq's collaboration with al-Qaeda. Though the claims were widely promoted by the Bush administration and gullibly accepted by most of the mainstream U.S. press, they all turned out to be false. [For details, see Neck Deep.] If the Washington Post's editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt learned anything from the disastrous Iraq War, it should have been to treat "defector" claims with many grains of salt. But it's probably a safe bet that Hiatt and his fellow neocon opinion-shapers are not really interested in applying the normal skepticism of professional journalism. They're looking more toward advancing the neocon agenda. The Post's only reference to the discredited accusations blaming the Aug. 21 Sarin attack on the Syrian government is implicit, mentioning how Obama's threat of a military strike had gotten the Assad regime to surrender its chemical weapons. So, the Post argues, Obama should forsake the current Syrian peace talks - what the editorial calls "feckless diplomacy" - and go back to the well of making more military threats to enforce new demands: "President Obama demonstrated last year that the credible threat of force could change the regime's behavior. His promise of airstrikes caused Mr. Assad to surrender an arsenal of chemical weapons. Yet the president seems not to have learned the lesson of that episode. "Now he makes the defeatist argument that, as he put it to David Remnick of the New Yorker, 'It is very difficult to imagine a scenario in which our involvement in Syria would have led to a better outcome, short of us being willing to undertake an effort in size and scope similar to what we did in Iraq.' In fact, Mr. Obama probably could force the measures [demanding more concessions] by presenting Mr. Assad with the choice of accepting them or enduring U.S. airstrikes." The problem with the Post's threat of a military attack is that President Obama would have to be ready to carry it out if Assad did not comply with the new U.S. demands. But that may well be what the Post's neocon editors really desire, another war against another Arab nation. © 2014 Reader Supported News 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, January 25, 2014

Baltimore Activist Alert Jan. 27 – 29, 2014

Baltimore Activist Alert Jan. 27 – Feb. 2, 2014 "I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours." - Martin Luther King Jr. Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center. Go to If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski [at] Tune into the Maryland Progressive Blog at 1] Books, buttons & stickers 2] Web site for info on federal legislation 3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists 4] Buy coffee through HoCoFoLa 5] Vietnam Photograph Exhibit – through Feb. 23 6] National Downwinders Day – Jan. 27 7] Marc Steiner on WEAA – Jan. 27 – Jan. 31 8] World Without War meeting – Jan. 27 9] End Gun Violence – Jan. 27 10] Interfaith Prayer Vigil to Close Guantanamo – Jan. 27 11] City Hall Youth Poetry Slam – Jan. 27 12] Film "A Force More Powerful" – Jan. 27 13] Pentagon Vigil – Jan. 28 14] Sentencing hearing for Transform Now Plowshares – Jan. 28 15] State of the Union Keystone XL Action – Jan. 28 16] Philadelphia Peace Vigil – Jan. 28 17] Protest JHU’s drone research – Jan. 28 18] First Vegan Drinks event of 2014 – Jan. 28 19] Annual Awards Gala – Jan. 28 20] "Nuclear Weapons: Do We Even Need Them" – Jan. 29 21] Egypt & The Struggle for Democracy – Jan. 29 22] Film "Justice on Trial; The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal" – Jan. 29 23] The Prawer Plan – Jan. 29 24] Go after extreme poverty – Jan. 29 25] Zunar at Busboys and Poets – Jan. 29 26] The Harvest Collective – Jan. 29 27] Red Emma’s host the author of BUCK – Jan. 29 ----- 1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available. “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Donate your books to Max. Call him at 410-366-1637. 2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at 3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR]. It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed. It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq. To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to mobuszewski at Verizon dot net. Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe. THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe. It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing. To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to mobuszewski at Verizon dot net. 4] – You can help safeguard human rights and fragile ecosystems through your purchase of HOCOFOLA Café Quetzal. Bags of ground coffee or whole beans can be ordered by mailing in an order form. Also note organic cocoa and sugar are for sale. For more details and to download the order form, go to The coffee comes in one-pound bags. Fill out the form and mail it with a check made out to HOCOFOLA on or before the second week of the month. Be sure you indicate ground or beans for each type of coffee ordered. Send it to Adela Hirsch, 5358 Eliots Oak Rd., Columbia, MD 21044. Be sure you indicate ground (G) or bean (B) for each type of coffee ordered. The coffee will arrive some time the following week and you will be notified where to pick it up. Contact Adela at 410-997-5662 or via e-mail at 5] – An-My Lê's photographs come to the Baltimore Museum of Art's Front Room. 21 Black-and-white and color photographs explore the roles of the military and war, showing tensions between nature and human influence and machinery. The exhibit runs through Feb. 23 at the Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive. Call 443- 573-1700. Go to 6] – Monday, January 27 is National Downwinders Day. 7] – The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday through Friday from 9 to 11 AM 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 8] – is birthing a global coalition of peace and justice groups to abolish war. See the pledge at Can you attend the first Mid-Atlantic/Southeast meeting on Mon., Jan. 27 from 2 to 6 PM at the CODEPINK House, 1241 Evarts St. NE, WDC 20018. Use the Rhode Island Metro. RSVP at 9] – On Mon., Jan. 27 from 4 to 5 PM - End Gun Violence! Join the Washington Chapter of Heeding God’s Call at their second and fourth Monday of the month vigil at REALCO Guns, 6108 Marlboro Pike, District Heights, MD 20747. This is an effort to convince the gun shop owner to sign the 10-Point Code for responsible gun dealers based on the one signed with Wal-Mart by Mayors against Illegal Guns. According to the Post, Realco Guns in District Heights sold 86 guns linked to homicides within the last twenty years with 300 guns sold there being linked to non-fatal shootings, as of 2010. In that article Major Andy Ellis of the Prince George’s (MD) Police Department is quoted as saying, “I can only imagine how much lower our violent-crime rate would be if Realco sold shoes instead of guns.” Go to 10] – Be at an Interfaith Prayer Vigil to Close Guantanamo on Mon., Jan. 27 at 5:30 PM, but first gather at 5 PM in the NCC Conference Room (110 Maryland Ave NE) before proceeding outside to hold the vigil. The conference room will be used as a warming center. On the eve of President Obama’s 5th State of the Union and after 5 years of the President’s Executive Order directing the closure of the Guantanamo Detention Center, the faith community will gather in prayer and reflection. Lit panels will spell “CLOSE GITMO NOW” to send a message to the President to live up to his promise to close Guantanamo and announce the closing of Guantanamo in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Go to 11] – There is a City Hall Youth Poetry Slam (Powerful Youth speaking Powerful Truth) on Mon., Jan. 27 at the Baltimore City Hall, 100 Holliday St. [photo ID required] at the 6 PM. Contact Kenneth Morrison, co-director of Dew More Initiative, at or 443 850-8177 or This is the 2nd Annual City Hall Youth Poetry Slam. Does Youth Voice Matter? Can youth inspire change through art? Do adults listen to what youth have to say? 12] – Beyond the Classroom presents "A Force More Powerful" on Mon., Jan. 27 at 7 PM at 1104 South Campus Commons, Building 1, 0200 Calvert Hall, University of Maryland, College Park 20742. This documentary is about one of the 20th century’s most important and least-known stories – how nonviolent power overcame oppression and authoritarian rule. In South Africa in 1907, Mohandas Gandhi led Indian immigrant in a nonviolent fight for rights denied them by white rulers. The power that Gandhi pioneered has been used by underdogs on every continent and in every decade of the 20th century to fight for their rights and freedom. Go to 13] – On Tues., Jan. 28 from 7 to 9 AM, get over to the Pentagon Vigil In Support of the Transform Now Plowshares. The Dorothy Day Catholic Worker (DDCW) Pentagon vigil is held each Monday from 7 to 8 AM, Tuesday when there's a holiday. This vigil is special. Mike Walli (member of the DDCW), Sr. Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed have been jailed since their jury trial conviction last May and face a maximum 30 year prison sentence for their Plowshares action at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on July 28, 2012. Numerous people have written to trial Judge Amul Thapar appealing for leniency in stark contrast to the U.S. District Attorney who, in filing its response to defense motions for downward departures in the sentencing guidelines, requested Judge Thapar to sentence the three within the sentencing guidelines, ignoring the nonviolence nature of their action, disposing of them, instead, as though they were armed terrorist saboteurs. The vigil will be outside the Pentagon's south Metro entrance and in the designated "protest zone" behind bicycle fences across from the entrance to the Metro. By Metro, take Yellow Line and get out at the "Pentagon" stop. Do not go to the Pentagon City stop! Go up south escalators and turn left and walk across to protest area. By car from D.C. area, take 395 South and get off at Exit 8A-Pentagon South Parking. Take slight right onto S. Rotary Rd. at end of ramp and right on S. Fern St. Then take left onto Army Navy Dr. You can "pay to park" on Army Navy Dr., and there is meter parking one block on right on Eads St. Payment for both of these spots begin at 8 AM. No cameras are allowed on Pentagon grounds. Restrooms are located inside Marriott Residence Inn on corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Dr. Email 14] – On Tues., Jan. 28 at 9 AM, the Transform Now Plowshares sentencing hearing will begin. They were convicted for sabotage, jeopardizing national security, trespassing and defacing government property related to their July 28, 2012 nonviolent protest at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant at Oak Ridge, TN. The hearing will be held in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Tennessee, U.S. Courthouse, 800 Market St., Suite 130, Knoxville, TN. There will be a Faith and Resistance gathering the evening before. Max and several other Baltimore activists are going to Knoxville to support the Plowshares. See: 15] – There will be a State of the Union Keystone XL Action on Tues., Jan. 28 from 11:30 AM to 1 PM. Meet in front of the Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. at the corner of 2nd St SE. The closest Metro stations are Capitol South (Blue/Orange) and Union Station (Red). Join and other activists as they gather to send a message to President Obama: Reject Keystone XL. They will parade the giant pipeline around the Capitol grounds, and send a message to President Obama that he has a choice to make: Pipeline President or Climate Champion? Due to the quick turnaround organizing this action, all appropriate permits have yet to be secured. There will be appointed police liaisons. Contact Rachel at 914-548-8187 or 16] – Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq gathers at the Suburban Station, 16th Street & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine. The next vigil is Jan. 28. Call 215-426-0364. 17] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 34th & North Charles Sts. Join this ongoing vigil. The next vigil is Jan. 28 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Call Max at 410-366-1637. 18] – On Tues., Jan. 28 at 7 PM @ Red Emma's Bookstore and Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., be at the first Vegan Drinks event of 2014. Come and hang out with other awesome vegans, and enjoy drink specials, food specials, socializing and more! Call 410-230-0450. Go to 19] – Get to the Annual Awards Gala on Tues., Jan. 28 at 7 PM at Martin's Crosswinds, Greenbelt. Celebrate the progressive gains with Maryland's best lawmakers, leaders, and candidates. Honor Wal-Mart worker-activists and Ben Jealous, NAACP President, CEO and Baltimore Sun 'Marylander of the Year!' Start with hors d'oeuvres and relaxed mingling among friends and fellow activists, followed by the sit-down multi-course dinner and program. Radio host Marc Steiner will emcee the program. Call 301-494-4998 or visit Email to get pay-what-you-can tickets. I have donated the amount I can afford on Progressive Maryland's form at Please hold __ ticket(s) for MY NAME: _______ at Email: ______ or Phone: ________. MY GUEST is ------ at Email: __________ & Phone: _________. 20] – On Wed., Jan. 29 from 8 to 9 AM, hear Rebeccah Heinrichs, Heritage Foundation, answer the question "Nuclear Weapons: Do We Even Need Them" at George Washington University, Funger Hall, Room 207, 2201 G St. NW, WDC. RSVP to 21] – Egypt & The Struggle for Democracy is a conference happening on Wed., Jan. 29 from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM at Georgetown University, Fisher Colloquium, 4th floor, Rafik B. Hariri Building. The Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies present four panels on "Critical Stages of the Egyptian Revolution: Was the Coup Inevitable?", "The Current Status of Democracy, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law", "The Role of the Youth Movements and NGOs After the Coup", and "Restoration of Democracy and the Rule of Law in Egypt: The Roles of the Pro-Democracy Groups and the International Community." Email or go to 22] – See the film "Justice on Trial; The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal" on Wed., Jan. 29 from noon until 1:30 PM at IPS Conference Room, 1112 16th St. NW, Suite 600. Mumia Abu-Jamal was the most recognized death row inmate in the world today, but his death sentence was commuted in December of 2011 to life without parole. Join the Institute for Policy Studies for a screening of a documentary that deconstructs with precision all the things one might want to know about Mumia's case. See 23] – The Prawer Plan: Implications for Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab is a talk with Dr. Morad Elsana, legal scholar, on Wed., Jan. 29 from 12:30 to 2 PM at The Palestine Center, 2425 Virginia Ave. NW. Approved by the Knesset in June of 2013, the Prawer-Begin Plan, if implemented, will see the destruction of over 40 unrecognized Palestinian Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) desert. The Plan is the second step taken by the Israeli government to confiscate Palestinian land in the Naqab, after the "Negev 2015" plan in 2005 and the appointment of the Goldberg committee in 2007. Dr. Morad Elsana will discuss the implications of the Prawer Plan in more depth, focusing on the impact of the plan's goals on the thousands of Palestinian Bedouin living in the Naqab. Join the Palestine Center and the Jerusalem Fund for the lecture. RSVP to 24] – On Wed., June 29 at 6:30 PM at St. John's Episcopal Church Undercroft, 9130 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City 21042, there will be a ONE event. Enjoy food, drinks and a walk through of an easy way to take action in the fight against extreme poverty: how to write a letter to the editor. Contact Sharon Runge at RSVP at, 25] – On Wed., Jan. 29 at 7:30 PM at Busboys and Poets, 5th & K Sts., hear Malaysian cartoonist Zunar. He will be signing copies. 26] – Be The Change at BloomBars Featuring Davey Rogner on Wed., Jan. 29 from 7:30 to 9 PM at BloomBars, 3222 11th St. NW. After 3,672 miles walked, 201,678 pounds of trash picked up, 8 major eco-art projects, 7,000 students presented to, being named ABC's person of the week, and living in constant, direct community with Pick Up America, Davey Rogner is now back at home and starting The Harvest Collective with the help of many friends, colleagues, and his partner Jayne Matt. They view their work as primarily opening people's minds up to new possibilities of how community can live with each other and nature to bring greater resources to community and shift the power dynamic we live within. The evening will open up as a meditation and continue with a short presentation, discussion, and questions/answers. Go to 27] – On Wed., Jan 29 at 7:30 PM @ Red Emma's Bookstore and Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., MK Asante has written a memoir BUCK about his life as a poet, author, and filmmaker. Also note he was a rebellious boy, who survived a journey through the wilds of urban America and the shrapnel of a self-destructing family. BUCK is a powerful memoir of how a precocious kid educated himself through the most unconventional teachers—outlaws and eccentrics, rappers and mystic strangers, ghetto philosophers and strippers, and, eventually, an alternative school that transformed his life with a single blank sheet of paper. Call 410-230-0450. Go to 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

The Hidden History of the CIA's Prison in Poland Goldman reports: "The CIA prison in Poland was arguably the most important of all the black sites created by the agency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." A car drives past barbed-wire fence surrounding a military area in Stare Kiejkuty village in Poland. (photo: Kacper Pempel/Reuters) The Hidden History of the CIA's Prison in Poland By Adam Goldman, The Washington Post 24 January 14 An a cold day in early 2003, two senior CIA officers arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw to pick up a pair of large cardboard boxes. Inside were bundles of cash totaling $15 million that had been flown from Germany via diplomatic pouch. The men put the boxes in a van and weaved through the Polish capital until coming to the headquarters of Polish intelligence. They were met by Col. ¬Andrzej Derlatka, deputy chief of the intelligence service, and two of his associates. The Americans and Poles then sealed an agreement that over the previous weeks had allowed the CIA the use of a secret prison - a remote villa in the Polish lake district - to interrogate al-Qaeda suspects. The Polish intelligence service received the money, and the CIA had a solid location for its newest covert operation, according to former agency officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the interrogation program, including previously unreported details about the creation of the CIA's "black sites," or secret prisons. The CIA prison in Poland was arguably the most important of all the black sites created by the agency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It was the first of a trio in Europe that housed the initial wave of accused Sept. 11 conspirators, and it was where Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-declared mastermind of the attacks, was waterboarded 183 times after his capture. Much about the creation and operation of the CIA's prison at a base in one of the young democracies of Central Europe remains cloaked in mystery, matters that the U.S. government has classified as state secrets. But what happened in Poland more than a decade ago continues to reverberate, and the bitter debate about the CIA's interrogation program is about to be revisited. The Senate Intelligence Committee intends to release portions of an exhaustive 6,000-page report on the interrogation program, its value in eliciting critical intelligence and whether Congress was misled about aspects of the program. The treatment of detainees also continues to be a legal issue in the military trials of Mohammed and others at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. And in December, the European Court of Human Rights heard arguments that Poland violated international law and participated in torture by accommodating its American ally; a decision is expected this year. "In the face of Polish and United States efforts to draw a veil over these abuses, the European Court of Human Rights now has an opportunity to break this conspiracy of silence and uphold the rule of law," said Amrit Singh, a lawyer with the Open Society Justice Initiative, which petitioned the court on behalf of a detainee who was held at the Polish site. Wanted: A better location The story of a Polish villa that became the site of one of the most infamous prisons in U.S. history began in the Pakistani city of Faisalabad with the capture of Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, better known as Abu Zubaida, in March 2002. The CIA needed a place to stash its first "high-value" detainee, a man who was thought to be closely tied to the al-Qaeda leadership and might know of follow-on plots. Cambodia and Thailand offered to help the CIA. Cambodia turned out to be the less desirable of the two. Agency officers told superiors that a proposed site was infested with snakes. So the agency flew Abu Zubaida to Thailand, housing him at a remote location at least an hour's drive from Bangkok. The CIA declined to comment, as did Polish authorities through their country's embassy in Washington. Derlatka, the Polish intelligence officer, did not return messages seeking comment. Several months after the detention of Abu Zubaida, the CIA caught Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, suspected of ties to an al-Qaeda attack on a U.S. warship in Yemen. He, too, was taken to the Thai site. With the prospect of holding more and more captives, the CIA required a better location. "It was just a chicken coop we remodeled," a former senior agency official said of the facility in Thailand. The CIA reached out to foreign intelligence services. The agency's station chief in Warsaw reported back with good news. The Polish intelligence service, known as Agencja Wywiadu, had a training base with a villa that the CIA could use in Stare Kiejkuty, a three-hour drive north of Warsaw. Polish officials asked whether the CIA could make some improvements to the facility. The CIA obliged, paying nearly $300,000 to outfit it with security cameras. The accommodations were not spacious. The two-story villa could hold up to a handful of detainees. A large shed behind the house also was converted into a cell. "It was pretty spartan," the agency official recalled. There was also a room where detainees, if they cooperated, could ride a stationary bike or use a treadmill. On Dec. 5, 2002, Nashiri and Abu Zubaida were flown to Poland and taken to the site, which was code-named "Quartz." Five days later, an e-mail went out to agency employees that the interrogation program was up and running, and under the supervision of the Special Missions Department of the Counterterrorism Center (CTC). Officials then began shutting down the prison in Thailand, eliminating all traces of the CIA presence. Harsh interrogations Agency executives tapped Mike Sealy, a senior intelligence officer, to run the Polish black site, according to former CIA officials. He was called a "program manager" and was briefed on an escalating series of "enhanced interrogation techniques" that were formulated at the CIA and approved by Justice Department lawyers. These included slapping, sleep deprivation and waterboarding, a technique that involved pouring water over the shrouded face of the detainee and creating the sensation of drowning. "I do believe that it is torture," President Obama said of waterboarding in 2009. In Poland, Sealy oversaw about half a dozen or so special protective officers whom the CIA had sent to provide security. The number of analysts and officers varied. Polish officials could visit a common area where lunch was served, but they didn't have access to the detainees. There would soon be problems in the implementation of the interrogation protocols. Agency officers clashed over the importance of Nashiri's alleged role in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000; the attack killed 17 U.S. sailors. "He was an idiot," said the former CIA official, who supported the program. "He couldn't read or comprehend a comic book." Other CTC officials thought Nashiri was a key al-Qaeda figure and was withholding information. After a tense meeting in December 2002, top CIA officials decided that they needed to get tougher with him, two former U.S. intelligence officials recounted. A decision was made to dispatch a CIA linguist who had once worked for the FBI in New York. Albert El Gamil was of Egyptian descent and spoke Arabic fluently, but he was not a trained interrogator. Gamil flew to Poland, where he subjected Nashiri to a mock execution and put a drill to the head of the blindfolded man, according to several former CIA officials. The CIA inspector general also reported on those events. Top CIA officials learned about the incidents in January 2003 after a security guard at the facility sounded the alarm. Sealy and Gamil were pulled out of Poland and dismissed from the program, according to several former agency officials. They left the CIA a little later. Both Sealy and Gamil declined to comment. 'Dramatic positive results' In March 2003, Khalid Sheik Mohammed was captured in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi and brought to Poland. He proved difficult to break, even when water¬boarded, according to several former CIA officials. Mohammed would count off the seconds, between 20 and 40, knowing that the simulated drowning always ended within a certain period. An agency official said that one time, Mohammed fell asleep on the waterboard between sessions. But agency officials have said that he finally crumbled after extended sleep deprivation. CIA officials assert that while in Poland, Mohammed, who has a sizable ego, began talking. He liked to lecture the CIA officers, who would then steer the conversations in ways that benefited them. He also liked to joust with his inquisitors. Once a female officer, who was later killed in Afghanistan, questioned Mohammed in Poland. She told him that she knew everything about him and that he shouldn't lie to her, two CIA former officials said. Mohammed leaned back in his chair and said, "Then why are you here?" Abu Zubaida also provided important information to his interrogators, officials said. He identified people in photographs and gave what one official called "hundreds of data points." Officials said Abu Zubaida was even willing to help get new detainees to talk. "Allah knows I am only human and knows that I will be forgiven," a former official recalled him saying. Former agency officials directly involved in the program, such as the CIA's former deputy director of operations, Jose Rodriguez, have said that the harsh techniques produced "dramatic positive results." The Senate Intelligence Committee intends to challenge such assertions when its report is made public. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee chairman, said her investigation "will provide a detailed, factual description of how interrogation techniques were used, the conditions under which detainees were held, and the intelligence that was - or wasn't - gained from the program." Eventually, the CIA had to leave Poland, fearing that maintaining one location for too long risked exposure. In September 2003, the Polish site was emptied. The CIA scattered detainees to Romania, Morocco and, later, Lithuania. Looking for a long-term solution, the CIA paid the Moroccans $20 million to build a prison it never used that was code-named "Bombay." In 2005, The Washington Post reported that the CIA had operated secret prisons in Eastern Europe. Human Rights Watch soon identified locations in Poland and Romania, and multiple European officials and news accounts have since confirmed the presence of these sites. Before Porter J. Goss stepped down as CIA director in May 2006, the facilities in Romania and Lithuania were closed. Some of the detainees were sent to a Moroccan jail that had been previously used, and others were sent to a new CIA prison in Kabul called "Fernando," which had replaced one known as "the Salt Pit." From those locations, 14 high-value detainees were shipped to the Guantanamo Bay military detention center in September 2006. Obama ended the interrogation program in 2009. The previous year, Polish prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into what happened at the training base. They also quietly issued arrest warrants for CIA officials who had visited the black site. It is not clear whether the warrants are still in effect. © 2014 Reader Supported News 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