At State Dept: I Ask About Torture, Saudi Arabia and Israel


Went to State Department briefing on Thursday, March 22. Summary: Spokesperson Heather Nauert announced at the start of the briefing a "new regional counterterrorism academy in Jordan." ... In response to a question from another reporter about Israel sentencing Palestinian Ahed Tamimi, she stated: "I’m not going to weigh in on a case that took place in another country." ... Nauert finally called on me about the Jordanian announcement. I asked, given known use of torture in Jordan, if State viewed torture as illegal. She responded: "are we rolling back the clock to 15 years ago again today?" I responded that given the Trump's CIA nominee, Gina Haspel, "this administration is winding back the clock." ... In response to another question about China, she said, referring to me: "despite what our friend here from The Nation may think, the United States consistently stands up for human rights." I started asking about Saudi Arabia, she tried to duck. Matt Lee of the AP referenced my Saudi question and asked about Bahrain. She started talking about talking to Saudis and Bahrain about human rights. She then did call on me, I asked about Saudi Arabia and Israel, noting she talked about Bahrain, but not Israel. End briefing. Relevant portions below with emphasis added in bold: 

(1:13)   NAUERT: A couple things going on today. First, I’d like to announce a project that we’re pretty excited about, and this is in -- over in Jordan. We’re pleased to announce today that the Department of State and the Government of Jordan have inaugurated a new regional counterterrorism academy in Jordan.


(19:41)  SAID ARIKAT: Yesterday, the Israeli court, behind closed doors, sentenced [Ahed Tamimi] to eight months in prison for slapping an Israeli soldier. On the same day, they reduced the sentence of an Israeli soldier who killed an incapacitated Palestinian in cold blood to almost the same amount of time. Is, in your view, the Israelis sort of deal with the Palestinians with a different scale of justice altogether? …

(20:05)  NAUERT: See, I don’t think that I’m not going to answer that question.  That would be entirely up – no that would be entirely up to law enforcement.  I’m no there to see all the details of the case, so it would be very unfair for me to comment on that.  You know we have talked many times about the importance of – of fair trials; about the importance that all individuals be treated humanely. ... I am just saying I’m not going to weigh in on a case that took place in another country. That would entirely be a matter for them to address with you, okay?


(33:26)  HUSSEINI: You made a Jordan announcement.

(33:27)  NAUERT: Yes, I did.

(33:29)  HUSSEINI: Yes. So, can you tell us more about this so-called counterterrorism site? Jordan -- if you look at human rights organizations, there’s use of torture in Jordan. What is the State Department position on torture, including methods like waterboarding? Does the State Department regard that as illegal?

(33:47)  NAUERT: I – uh - think that the United States’ long-term cooperation with our strong partner in the Middle East, Jordan, is very well known, very well established. Our relationship with Jordan is as strong today as it was a few years ago, as it was 10 years ago, 15 years ago, and much further back than that. They have an excellent military. They have an excellent police force. They are close cooperating partners of the United States and, frankly, many other countries as well. I think our position --

(34:18)  HUSSEINI: (Off-mike.)

(34:21)  NAUERT: I think our position on that, on the part of the U.S. Government, is very clear. We will work with this government and we work with many other governments around the world in the fight against terrorism, and the fight against ISIS.

(34:31)  HUSSEINI: So you’re fine with torture, including waterboarding, with cooperating --

(34:35)  NAUERT: Are we – are we doing this again? Are we doing this? Are we – are we rolling back the clock to 15 years ago again today?

(34:42)  HUSSEINI: Well, it’s just that the CIA --

(34:45)  NAUERT: It’s my friend from The Nation here.

(34:46)  HUSSEINI: -- the CIA nominee destroy – among other things oversaw a site in Thailand that’s been accused of conducting torture and destroyed the video evidence of it --

(34:56)  HAUERT: I’m pretty sure that I work for the State Department --

(34:58)  HUSSEINI: Right.

(34:59)  NAUERT: -- and not the Central Intelligence Agency. So if you have --

(35:00)  QUESTION: So –  I’m not the one winding back the clock --

(35:03)  NAUERT: So if you have any questions about that --

(35:04)  HUSSEINI: This administration is --

(35:05)  NAUERT: -- I’d refer you over to that building.

(35:05)  HUSSEINI: This administration is winding down the clock, so I’d like an answer to the question rather than a divergent that I’m winding back the clock, because this administration is winding back the clock.

(35:15)  NAUERT: I don’t know – I don’t know how you --

(35:16)  HUSSEINI: So you don’t want to answer the question.

(35:17)  NAUERT: I don’t know how you think that. I think our position on torture, on human rights, is very well known.

(35:25)  HUSSEINI: What is it then?

(35:26)  NAUERT: We support the Government of Jordan. We do not support, we do not encourage, any of that kind of use that you – that you allege.

(35:32)  HUSSEINI: Is waterboarding legal, in your view?

(35:35)  NAUERT: The U.S. Government has declared that. Uh - I don’t recall the exact year, but a few years back, maybe it was seven or eight years ago, said that that is not a technique that the U.S. Government endorses. There was a time that the U.S. Government had told personnel that it could use that.

(35:50)  And I will remind you, let me just remind you and go on a little sidetrack here, that our military forces, when our Special Ops go through that training to become Special Forces, Navy SEALs, all of that, they go through that training. They go through what you’re referring to as torture. I just want to put that out there, that that still exists today.

(36:08)  HUSSEINI: So the State Department view is that waterboarding is torture and is illegal?

(36:11)  NAUERT: I’m not gonna – I’m not going to go back and have this conversation --

(36:13)  HUSSEINI: It’s a simple question.

(36:14)  NAUERT: -- with you once again. Okay?

(36:16)  HUSSEINI: It’s a simple question.

(36:16)  NAUERT: I think we’ve taken enough time on this and let’s move on. Said, go right ahead. 
...

(40:47)  QUESTION: Thank you very much, madam. As far as China actually is concerned, finally this president took action against China, because I have been saying for many, many years, according to the press report, China has been using as far as prison labor and also cheap labor. So, my question is: Are you sending message to China that respect human rights and rule of law, freedoms of press and freedom of religion, among others? And also, stop arresting the prison – the innocent people for their cheap labor.

(41:21)  NAUERT: Yeah. Sir, despite what our friend here from The Nation may think, the United States consistently stands up for human rights. China is one of those countries where we may have those conversations, where we talk about the importance of freedom of religion, human rights, fair trials, and all of those other things and ideals that the United States Government holds near and dear to our hearts, because that’s fundamentally what we believe in. We speak to other governments, China in particular, about media freedoms and all of those things consistently in all our diplomatic conversations.

(41:51)  HUSSEINI: (Off-mike.)

(41:52)  NAUERT: I’m going to have to leave it at that.

(41:53)  QUESTION: One more.

(41:54)  NAUERT: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

(41:55)  HUSSEINI: Heather, can you tell us about Saudi Arabia?

(41:56)  QUESTION: I want to ask you about --

(41:55)  HUSSEINI: Can you talk about the meetings with Saudi Arabia --

(42:01)  LEE: Bahrain.

(42:00)  HUSSEINI: -- since my name was just invoked?

(42:01)  NAUERT: Go right ahead. Go ahead.

(42:01)  QUESTION: Or, do you --

(42:02)  QUESTION: Heather, I’ve got one --

(42:03)  QUESTION: Before you get to – before --

(42:03)  HUSSEINI: So she’s mentioning my name and not respond --

(42:04)  LEE: Excuse me. Before you get to Saudi, can you uh–

(42:07)  NAUERT: Yeah.

(42:07)  LEE: I have this question I’ve been trying to ask for three days now about this case in Bahrain, about Duaa Alwadaei, who was convicted yesterday and sentenced to two months in absentia. Do you have anything to say about that, given what you just said about the calls for free – fair trials and --

(42:19)  NAUERT: Yeah. Sure. And – and - that is something that we talk with our partners in Bahrain. We have those conversations with the Government of Bahrain, with Saudi Arabia. We have difficult conversations with countries that we also have relationships with. That is a fact. We hold our ideals near and dear to our hearts. Those consistently come up in our private conversations with other governments, who don’t adhere to those ideals that we believe are so important. You ask about – you ask --

(42:47)  HUSSEINI: (Off-mike.)

(42:47)  NAUERT: Excuse me. I’m talking to Matt here. You ask about Duaa Alwadaei. She is residing in London. So, we saw the report that a Bahraini criminal court sentenced her in absentia to two – I believe it was two months in prison for allegedly insulting a state institution. Really? For allegedly insulting a state institution, they sentenced her to two months in prison. So we would say to the Government of Bahrain – and this is a way that we can deliver a message to governments around the world – we strongly urge the government to abide by its international obligations and commitments to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and that includes the freedom of expression.

(43:25)  Okay.

(43:25)  HUSSEINI: Heather, when you were -- earlier, about Israel you refused to comment.

(43:26)  QUESTION: Heather, yesterday --

(43:28)  NAUERT: Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.

(43:29)  QUESTION: Excuse me, sir. Excuse me.

(43:30)  HUSSEINI: You refused to comment on Israel.

(43:30)  QUESTION: Heather, yesterday Susan Thornton met with an official from Taiwan. Can – do you have a readout of that?

(43:38)  NAUERT: I do not. I do not. I’m sorry. I don’t.

(43:40)  QUESTION: There was a tweet and a photograph of them meeting yesterday.

(43:44)  NAUERT: Okay. I’ll see if I can provide a readout of that meeting for you, okay? Okay.

(43:48)  QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

(43:49)  NAUERT: Sir, I will let you take that last question. Then we got to go. Go ahead.

(43:52)  HUSSEINI: So you talk about – first of all, could you address Saudi Arabia and why is it that your closest ally in the region seems to be Saudi Arabia -- and Israel? You talk about a trial in Bahrain, but you don’t address it when it comes to the -- when the -- when it comes to Israel. Why is that?

(44:09)  NAUERT: Look, that is a -- uh a uh -- a very sensitive matter, and we handle conversations with different governments differently about sensitive matters. We don’t take the same approach with every single government, the kinds of conversations we have.

(44:22)  HUSSEINI: So Israel’s off the hook?

(44:23)  NAUERT: And uh - No, I’m not saying that at all. Not saying that at all. We have to leave it there. Thank you.

(44:30)  QUESTION: Thanks, Heather.

(44:31)  == Briefing Ends ==

Video and full but somewhat problematic transcript at State Department website. YouTube.

Trump Spokesperson Commemorates Invading Iraq by Claiming U.S. Doesn't Dictate to Other Countries; State Dept. Defends Invasion that Trump Campaigned Against


Trump campaigned on his alleged opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Now his State Department is defending it.

Exactly 15 years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders on Tuesday, in response to a question about President Trump calling President Putin of Russia "We don't get to dictate how other countries operate." 

That prompted a back and forth at the beginning of the State Department briefing, which I followed up on toward the end of the Q and A there: 

HUSSEINI: Earlier in your discussion with Matt [Lee of the AP] about the U.S. doesn’t dictate to other countries. It’s the 15th anniversary of the Iraq war, and of course, the --

MS NAUERT: I don’t think that I said – I don’t think that I said to Matt that we don’t dictate to other countries.

HUSSEINI: It might have been him. I wasn’t sure.

MS NAUERT: I think Matt said that.

HUSSEINI: Sometimes it's hard to tell.

LEE: I was quoting the --

MS NAUERT: Yeah, yeah, he --

LEE: -- the White House spokeswoman.

MS NAUERT: Yeah.

HUSSEINI: Should the U.S. apologize for regime change operations from meddling in elections in multiple countries through many means over the years?

MS NAUERT: That is a big question. You’re asking me about the entire history of the United States -- should we apologize? That’s the question?

QUESTION: Well, let’s start with the Iraq War.

MS NAUERT: Should we apologize for our government all around the world?

HUSSEINI: No, no.

MS NAUERT: I think that the United States Government does far more good --

HUSSEINI: Are you asking me to clarify?

MS NAUERT: -- than we ever do bad. And certain people in the United States and in other countries have a look or have the perspective that America does more harm than good. I’m the kind of American that looks at it from the other way around. We do far more good.

HUSSEINI: Most Americans are opposed to the Iraq War. Should the U.S. Government apologize for things that were put out by that podium, people who are in this administration who fabricated information to start the Iraq War?

MS NAUERT: Look --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS NAUERT: -- I get what you’re getting at. You want to be snarky and take a look back.

HUSSEINI: No, I don’t want to be snarky. I want to get real.

MS NAUERT: No, hold on, and take a look – okay, and take a look back --

HUSSEINI: I want to get real.

MS NAUERT: -- at the past 15 years. And Iraq is certainly a country that has been through a lot.

HUSSEINI: Yes.

MS NAUERT: I’ve been to Iraq; many of you have been to Iraq in covering what has taken place there, okay.

HUSSEINI: I’m being anything but snarky.

MS NAUERT: Let me finish, okay. They’ve faced a lot of challenges. Right now the most significant challenge there is ISIS, and the United States remains there at the invitation of the Iraqi Government to fight and take on ISIS. I want to commend the Iraqi Government for something – that is, for the past 15 years, that they have had a history of free and fair elections over 15 years. That is remarkable given where they were under the regime of Saddam Hussein. I recall having met Iraqis at that time – and this dates back to 2004, 2005 – and certainly everyone that I had talked to, an Iraqi citizen had had a family member that was killed in some sort of horrific fashion or disappeared and was never heard from again. I mean, that is something that as an American, when you start talking to citizens, and that is their experience, that is something that’s very difficult for the average American to understand, because that is simply the way of life there.

The United States has a strong relationship with the Government of Iraq. I’m going to look forward from this podium in this room. We have a good relationship with the Government of Iraq; I’m not going to look back at this point, okay?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

HUSSEINI: So no responsibility for --

MS NAUERT: Go right ahead.

HUSSEINI: -- the bloodshed of --

MS NAUERT: Go right ahead.

QUESTION: A follow-up question --

HUSSEINI: -- or anything else?

Full video at State Department website at about 32:15. 

Pence Claims about Saddam's WMDs and Terrorist Ties in Speech Backing Iraq Invasion

For Saddam Hussein has been America’s warring foe for more than a decade. In 1991, we ceased hostility.  We ended the battle, but Madam Speaker his war took no rest and it shows no mercy, and if in some horrible, yet possible day Saddam and the metastasizing network of terrorists he harbors and protects bring to America another world trade center, another Pentagon, another Oklahoma City, or Khobar Towers. When and not if, but when Saddam creates and uses nuclear weapons what will we tell the American people then?

Questions at State Dept: U.S. as Israeli-Palestinian Mediator and Honduran AP Drug Story

Today I started asking questions at the State Department. [Full text and video at 29:50]: 


QUESTION: But how can you maintain both things at the same time, that you have a special relationship with Israel and you want to be the mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, to have --

MS NAUERT: Well, we’ve covered this numerous times before. This administration looks back at the many – numerous decades of inability to bring peace to the Middle East. So the administration is determined that it wants to look at things perhaps a little differently. And that may confound some people --

QUESTION: But --

MS NAUERT: Let me finish. And that may confound some people, and that’s fine. But the administration is still saying that we are willing to sit down and have peace talks, and both sides are going to have to give a little, and that’s something that they’ve not – we’ve not backed away from in terms of our standpoint.

QUESTION: I’m not saying that you’re unique in this respect.

MS NAUERT: Yeah.

QUESTION: Multiple administrations have said we have a special relationship with Israel and we’re going to be the mediator, and it hasn’t worked out well. So aren’t you actually sort of doing the same thing that past administrations have?

MS NAUERT: No, I think the administration is handling this – handling this differently. And there are a lot of examples that I could think of that --

QUESTION: Can I ask about Honduras?

MS NAUERT: Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS NAUERT: I’m not sure I’m going to have anything for you on Honduras today, but you can --

QUESTION: Well, perhaps --

MS NAUERT: -- take a stab at it.

QUESTION: Thank you, for next time. On January 27th, the AP published a report based on Honduran Government documents describing the involvement of a new national police chief in assisting a drug cartel leader in transporting, quote, “nearly a ton of cocaine.” Subsequently, the Honduran police have formally requested a criminal investigation, quote, “preparatory to a complaint,” not into the police chief, but into the AP reporters who broke the story. It seems a clear attempt to retaliate and intimidate a U.S. media outlet. Is the State Department doing anything on this, especially considering that the revelations are about the police chief Jose David Aguilar Moran’s involvement and that the U.S. Government provides assistance to the Honduran police?

MS NAUERT: I will certainly have to take a look into that. I was not aware of that story. I’ll check with our experts in Honduras and at our Western Hemisphere Bureau as well. Okay, thank you.

ADDENDUM: On Feb. 21, I got an email from a State Department official: 

Below is a response to your taken question of 2/20/18.   Please attribute to a State Department official.

Q:  Is the State Department doing anything on this, especially considering that the revelations are about the policechief Jose David Aguilar Moran’s involvement and that the U.S. Government provides assistance to the Honduran police?


·        We are unwavering in our support for press freedom and the right of journalists to operate without interference in Honduras and around the world.

·        We would refer further questions to the Government of Honduras.

I thought it spoke volumes that State would actually refer questions about this back to the Government of Honduras. 

Putting the PRO in Protest

[Unpublished piece from 2008]

"I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."
-- Dwight Eisenhower

People are used to being against Bush, to protesting against Bush. It's been easy for some the last several years -- whatever Bush is for, we're against it.

That will no longer do.

We need to be for things and to change the world to achieve those things.

It's alot easier to just say everything is wrong. It's harder to say, this is what needs to happen -- or atleast, this is how we can figure out what needs to happen.

Some are noting that Obama's policies are highly flawed. Others don't want to seem to be undermining a new president promising fundamental change. Both groups can work and can PROtest if that protest is FOR something. No need to be defined as being against Obama, nor to be passively waiting for him to do the right thing.

Part of the crux is defining the "us" in this equation. The "us" needs to be global. Progressives in the U.S. need to have more in common with an Afghan child or an African child than with Dick Cheney.

The anti-war movement was at its height on Feb. 15, 2003 when a global day of protest saw millions on the streets of London, Madrid, New York, Barcelona, Rome, Johannesburg, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Hong Kong and hundreds of other cities. The establishment in the voice of the New York Times called the anti-war movement the "second super power."

That has seemingly died.

Or has it?

Certainly, it should not.

We can now build an even greater movement, with millions on those streets as well as millions of others -- including more Muslim countries. Tools of the internet, media like Democracy Now, The Real News, and Al Jazeera can be utilized in such an effort and then the corporate media will be forced to acknowledge that global force. 

Unlike Bush, Obama must listen to such a movement. The lines of communication and coordination must be built on a global scale from the grassroots. Indeed, whenever they have been, progressive forces in the U.S. have been at their strongest. The other high point of progressive action in the last ten years -- other than the Feb. 15 protests -- was the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999. Those too were global in nature. People and organizations -- including environmentalists and labor unions -- on the streets of Seattle in effect made common cause with the representatives of poorer countries against the governments of richer countries and their corporate allies.

It would be tragic if the global stage is dominated by governments of dubious legitimacy and hierarchical corporate elites as they meet and determine the world's future. Meetings that do take place of non-governmental organizations, which gain little attention in the public consciousness -- even the World Social Forums -- are no substitute for visible global PROtests.

And let us learn from Bush. It is wrong to simply be against whatever he says. Bush says that he wants democracy in the Arab world. I've always been for authentic democracy in the Arab world. But Bush claims he wants democracy in the Mideast as he occupies the Iraq, backs the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the despotic rule of the Saudi government. While many in the anti-war movement have been attacking Bush for being unilateral, have they not also been unilateral by not building the needed global structures, by not reaching out to the rest of the world which agrees with so many of their stated goals?

Failure to do this now will be a historic tragedy. It will either be a great failure or a tacit admission that people living in the West are not interested in reaching out to the rest of the world. That their economic and national privilege is too enticing. Indeed, this may well help to reach into the "internal third world" -- so that poor people in the United States meaningfully participating in political action. That too is threatening to largely middle class movements.

An immediate test of this is at the United for Peace and Justice meeting this weekend: Will it plan to have a protest on the anniversary of the start of the invasion of Iraq, looking backward, being ANTI. Or will it have a PROtest on Feb 15 -- sooner, global, looking forward being for a new world?

There are oppressive forces to be sure, but there are substantial opportunities. If WE decide to take them -- together. The bigger that WE, the better.

Sam Husseini founded the web page www.compassroses.org on Feb. 15, 2003.


Rumi: This place is a dream....

[Over the last few years, I've tremendously enjoyed listening to Rumi poetry, especially recited by Duncan Mackintosh and Coleman Barks. Here's one by Mackintosh that I've transcribed (based on this), below. I hope to write about my interpretations of them over time, but for now, I felt it would be good to simply start posting them.] 


This place is a dream.
Only a sleeper considers it real.

Then death comes like dawn,
and you wake up laughing
at what you thought was your grief.

But there's a difference with this dream.
Everything cruel and unconscious
done in the illusion of the present world,
all that does not fade away at the death-awakening.

It stays,
and it must be interpreted.

The Potential Miracle of Dreaded Thanksgiving Political Discussion

Many seem to dread political discussion over the Thanksgiving Day table. What to do about you relative who voted for Trump (or Clinton)?

A bit of courage can turn it all around.

Solution is VotePact.org. The duopoly is dividing you and your family. The grassroots left and right want meaningful change and actually agree on some issues.

They keep getting sold out by establishment figures posing as agents of meaningful change like Trump and Obama.

Both sides should acknowledge problems with each major party and candidates and what disagreements they have with them. Do you both want perpetual war? Do you want the government to back Wall Street? That what both Trump and Obama get you.

In the next election, instead of cancelling out each other, you can team up and both vote for the independent candidates of your choice. Syphoning votes in pairs from the establishment parties.

Start now.

You can talk it out so you’re not motivated by nothing better than Trump (or Clinton) hatred. Freedom from hatred. That would be truly something to be thankful for.

With Trump in China, Henry Rosemont's Moral Reflections

God I so hate it when this happens. I want to get in touch with an expert, someone whose voice and wisdom is so needed, and find they've died. I remember it happening with China scholar Robert Weil and Kurdish expert Vera Beaudin Saeedpour in years past. 

Today I was -- later than I should have -- trying to get hold of Henry Rosemont, a great scholar of Chinese philosophy and author of Chinese Mirror: Moral Reflections on Political Economy and Society among other books only to find out he died in July from this fine obituary

I think Noam Chomsky originally pointed me in his direction. I never met him, but had several fascinating talks by phone and emailed back and forth at times, putting him on several news releases.

I also enjoyed seeing several of his talks online. Here's one he gave in 2012, titled "Individual Freedom and Human Rights vs Social Justice: A Confucian Meditation", which begins: "Some of what I say this evening will worry liberals greatly. Some of the things I will say will annoy conservatives even more greatly. So that suggests that either I'm totally bipolar -- or Confucius is -- or that it might be helpful for you to try to bracket those kinds of labels and try hard to listen to what I'm going to say on its own terms about the Confucian persuasion." Here's that talk:


Perhaps my favorite quote of his of the dozen or so times I had him on Institute for Public Accuracy news releases over the last 20 years was this one:

“I first went to live in China in 1982. I thought they should build hostels and welcome foreigners to visit inexpensively, in keeping with the egalitarianism the government supposedly championed. Instead, they built five star hotels. Partly it was a matter of the capital needed from Western companies like Holiday Inn but partly they bought into a certain Western economic model.

“While the Cultural Revolution was successful in many respects — it stopped the famines, provided enough clothing — the leadership over the last two decades pursued a plan of growth that virtually no one thought they could achieve, quadrupling the economy. But this came at enormous human and environmental cost. Inequality is stark and worsening in China, life in the countryside is very bleak, especially for women; only in China do more women than men commit suicide, almost 60 percent of the world’s total.

“Many hawks would make China out to be a grave military threat to the U.S., but consider, for example, some very simple facts: The U.S. has 12 aircraft carriers, China has none; the United States has over 700 military bases and other installations outside its borders, while China has none; 250,000 U.S. military are stationed overseas — not counting the mercenaries — but again, China has none. China has 100-400 nuclear weapons, the U.S. has 10,000. The Chinese have much better grounds for fearing the United States than the other way around.”

My latest real interaction with him was after I wrote the posting "'Democracy Now' Gets Nuclear Ban Vote Totally Wrong" late last year. He saw it and responded:

Excellent letter, Sam; thanks for doing it. I'm quite disappointed in Amy Goodman; what has happened?
Have a good weekend,
Henry

I thanked him for his note, wrote that I wanted to get him on a news release soon. I emailed him again in April with no response and -- especially since he was just about the age of my father who died in January -- had an occasional worried thought in the back of my mind, until today.