tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Sam Husseini 2020-02-07T17:54:40Z Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1506017 2020-02-03T20:47:00Z 2020-02-07T17:54:40Z Big ABC Debate Friday Night. Tell Them What You Think Saturday. ]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1482875 2019-11-27T19:00:26Z 2019-11-28T21:15:53Z Giving Thanks for Political Disagreements
How a Would-be Thanksgiving Argument Can Help Birth a Revolution
by Sam Husseini

It's become something of a cliché: Many people dread Thanksgiving in part because they have to break bread with friends -- and especially relatives -- who they adamantly disagree with politically. 

One is pro-immigration, the other wants to build a bigger wall, etc. 

But what if this annoying encounter was actually a blessing?

I don't identify as either a Democrat or a Republican, but I recognize that there are millions of people who identify as "Democrats" for some good reason and there are lots of people who identify as "Republican" for good reason.

Thing is, those "good reasons" mostly have to do with how bad the other party is.

And a further rub is that many rank and file Democratic voters and Republican voters agree on certain core issues: They are sick of Wall Street and big business domination. They are skeptical of perpetual wars, etc. This is in spite of the fact that the establishment of both the Democratic and Republican parties are deeply tied to Wall Street and back perpetual wars, occasional rhetoric to the contrary.

Indeed, when a somewhat popular figure comes before the base -- whether it's Democratic Obama or Republican Trump -- they take the guise of being critical of Wall Street and of war.

But that's not how they govern.

They back Wall Street.

They back wars, occasionally what speaking against them.

And they get away with it.


Because if you're not at the table, you're on the menu.

Rather than the bases being divided by the establishment of the parties, seemingly hypnotized by the venom spewed by Fox and MSNBC against the other, they need to have honest, and even loving, dialogue to break out of their partisan boxes.

The key may be to engage and turn the discussion in way that what could be an annoyance is blissful food for the soul.

Manna from heaven, even.

That's what the VotePact strategy is about.

Instead of a disenchanted Democrat and disenchanted Republican (relatives, coworkers, partners, lovers, friends) cancelling out each other -- one self-loathingly voting for Biden and the other for Trump at year from now, they could both vote for candidates they deeply believe in.

Imagine if instead of "Trump sucks and everyone who likes him sucks" it's "Hey, I understand, you think Biden is corrupt. I prefer him to Trump, but I actually agree that he's corrupt. So, instead of you voting Trump and me voting Biden -- let's both vote for other candidates." That could be Greens, Libertarians, whatever you like.

Of course, part of the victory of the establishment is that voting for independent or third party candidates seems unthinkable to many right now. That's because it's a hate-fueled system.

The establishment wants you to hate and be driven by it.

It doesn't want you to see that while you are arguing about immigration for example, keeping you in your partisan boxes, the Democratic and Republican party "leaderships" are actually work together on the causes of desperate immigration: Interventions and wars in Latin America and the Mideast, drug polices and trade policies that all fuel desperate migration.

Of course we're now in primary season. But we need to be thinking along these lines and get other people to be doing so because it frames the debate now.

Consider that Carlos Rojas recently confronted former Vice President Joe Biden about the Obama administration’s record on immigration.

How did Biden respond?

“Well, you should vote for Trump," Biden said. “You should vote for Trump.”

That's the mindset of the Democratic -- and Republican -- establishment: I don't have to deliver for you. Because the other guys are worse. You're my prisoner.

But you can break out of the and others can too. As hokey as it sounds, through dialogue and love. That person who annoys you across the Thanksgiving day table can be your salvation. You can both stop being a pawn of the DNC or RNC.

If this isn't challenged now, then less establishment candidates like Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard (who merit criticism, but are clearly distinct from Biden and other candidates) will be further marginalized.

We need to be talking about a radical center emerging now. And doing so can help those more anti-establishment candidates.

Thus, the Sanders campaign is wrong when it says there's "No Middle Ground."

There should be no middle ground for the establishments.

But there should be a radical middle ground.

A common ground.

Where principled progressives and conscious conservatives can break out of the establishment that has at its heart being an Empire, fueling wars, oppression, exploitation in every community and on a global scale.

It would be most fitting that the turning away from Empire would take a step forward on this holiday considering the role of Thanksgiving in helping spawned the U.S. as Empire centuries ago.

Sam Husseini is founder of VotePact.org.
Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1480874 2019-11-22T16:50:05Z 2019-11-22T18:29:06Z Can the Religious Left Take Down Nuclear Weapons?
Pope Francis will travel to Hiroshima and Nagasaki this weekend. On Sunday, he will give a public address at the ground-zero site of the nuclear attack on Nagasaki. He is expected to give the clearest articulation yet of the Vatican's position, since 2017, that condemns the "very possession" of nuclear weapons. This is something Plowshares activists have been arguing -- and acting upon -- since 1980.


Prosecutor E. Greg Gilluly railed to the jury as he held up a copy of Daniel Ellsberg's book -- The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner: It was evidence, but not "for the truth of it." Judge Lisa Godbey Wood of the US District Court for the Southern District of Georgia only grudgingly allowed the book to be entered into evidence since the seven activists, who could face decades in prison, had left it at Kings Bay base which houses the Trident submarine nuclear weapons arsenal on the Atlantic coast.

In her testimony, Plowshares defendant Clare Grady of the Ithaca, New York Catholic Worker community tried to explain to the jury the motivation and urgency of the group: US government is using nuclear weapons daily as a gun pointed at the head of the planet. But even as she spoke, she had a series of legal guns pointed at her own head. She and her fellow defendants had been threatened with contempt if they disobeyed Wood's edict not to cite evidence or legal arguments that might result in acquittal. As law professor Francis Boyle  warned before the trial: “This is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp and a railroad all put together.”

So, Grady and the six others -- the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 -- pleaded with the jury to look to their conscience. The activists were following the biblical edict to turn swords into plowshares, after all. But the jury seemingly didn't crack open either Ellsberg's book or their hearts, deciding on guilty verdicts on all four counts, including conspiracy, destruction of property and depredation, against all seven defendants in under two hours late last month.

Defendant Elizabeth McAlister, the 79-year-old widow of Phil Berrigan from Jonah House in Baltimore, who donated her own blood for the action said: “The government has set up a religion of nuclearism. It is terrifying and dead, dead wrong. It is a form of idolatry in this culture." 

If that seems like hyperbole, consider that Wood allowed prosecution witnesses to state -- under oath -- that they could "neither confirm or deny" the existence of nuclear warheads at the base. The defense had objected to this -- which had been allowed in prior trials of Plowshares activists -- in pretrial motions, but as with much else, the prosecution got away with things without so much as an objection being heard by the jury. Thus Wood effectively denied the central empirical reality of the case, that Kings Bay houses six Trident submarines each submarine can carry 24 submarine-launched ballistic missiles designated Trident D5. Each of those missiles can carry up to eight 100-kiloton nuclear warheads -- about 30 times the explosive force of the Hiroshima bomb. All the while, the defense was effectively dismissed for acting on their "subjective" beliefs.

After entering the base on April 4, 2018, exactly 50 years after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, McAlister, Steven Kelly, a Jesuit priest, and Carmen Trotta of the New York Catholic Worker went to "limited area." Like a prophetic expedition of Fivers out of Watership Down that had seen the signs that others couldn't understand, they went down Rabbit Run Road to the actual weapons.

Trotta testified of looking over the bunkers. “Each one of them the equivalent of a mass grave ... and that's an understatement." But the meaning of "bunker," like much else, was likely obscure to the jury. They may well have thought of defensive fallout shelters for people, not casings for offensive nuclear weapons. Indeed, at one point a the judge -- while the jury was out of the courtroom -- read a question from a juror who was puzzling over whether there were actually nuclear weapons at the base.

Mark Colville of the Amistad Catholic Worker House in New Haven and Pat O'Neill went to a monument to nuclear weapons at the base. They wrote "Swords into Plowshares" and "Idol" on the missiles. Colville tore down the backlit lettering of the command: "STRATEGIC WEAPONS FACILITY ATLANTIC," hung banners such as "The Ultimate Logic of Trident is Omnicide" and spilled blood on the emblem of the command, representing both their religious beliefs and the blood of the victims of US foreign policy -- in sacramental language, "making the invisible visible."

O'Neill took a hammer to missile replicas while wearing a head mounted camera to actually document his "crime." So the jury saw eerie footage of his shadow swinging a hammer upon upon a replica of a Trident missile. As the shadow of the hammer approaches the surface of the missile, the actual hammer becomes visible and strikes the missile.

One of the guilty charges was "depredation" defined by Wood as "rob, plunger or lay waste" but obviously the activists were not stealing and a case could be made that they made the items of greater value -- even artistic value. As even prosecution acknowledged at one point, they "transformed" what they saw.

Grady and Martha Hennessy went to the administrative building, spray painted "May Love Disarm Us All" on the sidewalk, posted an indictment of the base and left the Ellsberg book.

Indeed, the book was the one item the prosecution didn't place into evidence. Special Officer Kenney, a juiced up contemporary Officer Obie from "Alice's Restaurant" produced photo after photo of Kind bar wrappers, spray paint cans, as well as the the actual fence the activists cut through to get into the base. The purpose of his prolonged testimony was ostensibly to "prove" that the activists did what they openly declared they did, but the actual effect allowed the prosecution to continually depict the defendants as vandals and to portray the goverment as the source of "facts."

The government produced "witnesses" -- security people who dealt with the activists -- but never the first ones who came across them; ie, it's quite likely that the government produced people at trial based on their willingness to portray the activists in the most negative light. Grady at one point cross examined Kenney, who had claimed the activists had put "caution" tape -- compelling him to concede that they in fact clearly had put "crime scene" tape.

At 10:10 p.m. on the Friday before the trial began the following Monday, Wood ruled against virtually all affirmative defenses, writing that the international law defense that Boyle had enabled in past cases at the state level would not be allowed. Wood wrote: "whether nuclear weapons are *actually illegal under international or domestic law…is not relevant or an appropriate issue to litigate in this case.” Thus, the court adopted the relativism of the government while posing as a neutral upholder of "truth" and "law."

In his closing arguments Gilluly demanded the jury render a verdict based on US law, "not some other law that someone else wants to believe in." But part of the point of Boyle's argument is that international law is part of US domestic law.

With expert testimony excluded, the court room became the domain of an authoritarianism without authority.

Wood repeatedly warned the jury of fliers they might receive from the scores of supporters for the activists assembled, allegedly since what is written on the flyer might "not be true." "Anyone can write anything on a flier" said Wood, thus pretending that her criteria for evidence being admitted was based on search for fact rather than upon government interest.

Wood's statements that the burden of proof was on the government and the defense "need not present evidence" -- a phrase that typically helps the defense -- took an extremely ironic, insidious meaning since she was actively preventing the defense from introducing entire bodies of evidence.

And while the activists were deemed guilty of "conspiracy" -- there was ample evidence that the actual conspiracy at play was between the judge and prosecution. Time and again, Wood sustained all but the most laughable of the prosecutions objections, and at times seemed to be doing their thinking for them. Over and over, some movement by the activists was cut off, a sidebar was called and the line of questioning was dropped.

Another defense rendered mute by Wood was that of necessity or justification as Ellsberg had filed an affidavit with the court arguing that the defendants were justified in their actions because they are attempting to prevent “omnicide, the collateral murder of nearly every human on earth in a war in which the nuclear missiles aboard Trident submarines were launched.” Ellsberg in his declaration also highlighted the history of civil disobedience, echoing testimony by Howard Zinn in a prior plowshares case.

But without an outside party to make the case, it was raised by the defendants themselves -- though they spoke of "civil resistance," not "disobedience," since they assert they are upholding the law. Prosecutor Karl Knoche derided Grady: "You get to decide to run red lights," accusing her of being a "bully" -- while he was attempting convict her for crimes that could send her to prison for the next 20 years.

But Colville would later talk about how he ran every single red light when he drove his wife to the hospital to give birth. And Grady later cited a statement from Martin Luther King: "when a fire is raging, the fire truck goes right through that red light, and normal traffic had better get out of its way." Effectively a necessity defense was articulated to a degree, since the prosecution had opened the door to it, but it was not sufficiently fleshed out.

There was insufficient challenge to the prosecution "run red light" soundbite to the effect that it's the government that's running every red light on the planet by careening its massive nuclear weapons arsenal. Not just the illegality, but the reality, destructive power and threatening first strike capacities of Trident were not allowed. The fears of the defendants may as well have been like a child afraid of the monsters in the dark. Ironically, much of the thus far paltry media coverage of the trial, even that which is seemingly sympathetic to the activists, similarly avoided legal defenses and articulating the threat of Trident.

The extreme threat of Trident was made especially clear years ago by the whistleblower Robert Aldridge, a former a missile designer for Lockheed, who went public, highlighting that it even violated prevailing international political theory of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), which dictated that both the US and the USSR were safe from nuclear war because they would both be assured of annihilation. Trident, because of its ability to go to the shores of Russia and because of its accuracy would effectively force the USSR/Russia to be on a hair trigger alert to avoid having their command and control being obliterated. This is a process the US is accelerating.

Indeed, there's a deep seated connection between such direct action such as the Plowshares actions and whistleblowers. The Plowshares activists are effectively highlighting secrets in plain sight. The extraordinary threat that nuclear weapons pose is continuously averted. Ellsberg in his affidavit for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 notes that he himself was inspired to expose the Pentagon Papers because of religiously inspired direct actions against draft boards, writing "I am a link in Frank Kroncke’s causal chain.”

Hennessy's testimony initially seemed a high point for the defense. To the palpable relief of supporters of the defendants filling the pews, the defense was finally able to able to speak meaningfully about their religious motivations. Hennessy talked about her grandmother, Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement, how she is up for sainthood and their work with the poor. She spoke about how she gave her a book on the Hiroshima bombing as a child, how she opposed nuclear weapons and more.

But any empirical connection to nuclear weapons was not allowed. Thus, Hennessy was not even allowed to speak about how she worked with victims of atomic bombing as an occupational therapist.

Then the prosecution asked Hennessy if in prior Plowshares actions, others had been prosecuted. She simply answered "yes" and her attorney didn't follow up to remedy the situation.

In fact, Art Laffin, editor of the two-volume work Swords into Plowshares, who spoke to supporters at a nearby church one night after their common dinners noted of the  more than 100 actions since 1980, there have been "several Plowshares actions where people were not charged with a felony; Aegis Plowshares in 1991 in Maine; Riverside Plowshares in 2004 in NYC and Crane Plowshares in 2011 in Kansas City, MO." 

That serious problem for the defense from Hennessy's testimony would then be compounded.

O'Neill, a jovial father of six from North Carolina was especially effective in attempting to overcome any anti-Catholic prejudices the jury may have had, referring to himself as a "Christian" while the others had repeatedly branded themselves "Catholics". While the centuries-long debate of "faith vs works" seemed a subtext in the trial, O'Neill engaging talked about "one Bible".

However, his free spirited style under cross examination had him blurt out: "if you do the crime, you do the time." He would later attempt to walk that back, but the prosecution predictably went to town on the statement, quoting it twice in their closing arguments.

By managing to invoke their sincere religious beliefs, the defense succeeded in ensuring that the case was not just about bolt cutters -- but those beliefs were ultimately amorphous. And an actual defense based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act -- the first attempt in this kind of case -- was prohibited by Wood  because of an alleged compelling government interest. Before the trial began, Wood also claimed that the government had used the least restrictive means to stop the activists.

"Religous liberty" has been seemingly monopolized by the right, see a recent report from the The Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School. Wood's decisions ensured that Fordam University theologian Jeannine Hill Fletcher would not be heard by the jury, so her speaking of "Seven Catholic prophets felt compelled to wake us up to the threat of nuclear destruction" was only heard outside the courthouse.

In the courtroom, the Jesus who drove the money changers from the Temple was referred to, but was rarely seen. Indeed, even when he was referenced, the prosecution would object and Wood would quickly sustain. Having been thus bludgeoned, the defendants embodied an ethos of speaking well of those who prosecute you.

There was a stark lack of anger expressed on the part of the defense that the prosecution perversely filled at the end. The prosecutor acted outraged that the activists would cause such damage to the military base, so that paint had to be removed and some fencing replaced.

Of course, the defendants were in a bind. If they denounced the proceedings or in any way seemed to polarize with Wood, or even the prosecutors, they likely feared a harsher sentence. Not just for each of them alone, but for each other. What they likely faced was a strange sort of prisoners dilemma.

Nor were they totally alone in this. At any time, the hundred or so supporters seated in the pews in the courtroom could have stood up and told the jury that the judge was preventing them from hearing about international law and various other defenses. That would likely have simply caused a mistrial and possibly a banning of family and other supporters from the courtroom.

After the lengthy verdict was read, there was not a sound in the packed courtroom, but as the community of supporters from around the country went to the hallway, women wailed and then the supporters all sang: "Rejoice in the Lord always; And again I say, rejoice!"

The soft spoken public interest lawyer Bill Quigley -- who represents Liz McAlister -- asked in his closing remarks if the activists committed a crime or prevented one. Outside the courthouse that an "appeal is almost certain"

Sentencing by Wood is expected shortly after Christmas. Fr. Kelly, the only defendant still in jail looked as though his incarceration had taken a genuine toll on him. He sat in his prison clothes, but often wore someone else's jacket for warmth in the cold courtroom. He never stood for either the judge or jury, but did hop up when identified as having done the action. Instead of speaking to the court, he wrote to the 200 or so supporters at a "Festival of Hope" that was organized just before the trial started:

“We engage the judiciary in the courtroom, one of the more dangerous rooms in the Pentagon. The judiciary at the District, Appellate Circuit and Supreme level have precluded truth telling in the courtroom so that in the words of Daniel Berrigan, a nuclear holocaust will be legal. ... You are the hope you have arrived to find.”

Indeed, the supporters who came for the trial all made it something of an all-volunteer barn-raising. They consisted largely of Catholic Workers from around the country, filling the courtroom as well as an overflow room with a video feed. Other supporters, including Buddhists with drums, where usually outside the courthouse, some with signs. Chrissy Nesbitt of the Rose of Sharon Catholic Worker, still grieving the death of her wife, came from North Durham, North Carolina and helped organize the line of supporters outside the courthouse and tried to get the hang of doing courtroom sketches. Sarah Cool, who currently lives in Atlanta and helps organized continuing protests outside the Trident base, did much of the work to provide food for the assembled at a nearby church during the week of the trial.

Still, a mass attended by many of the activists the Sunday before trial made no reference to them. A Presbyterian minister, Eric Johnson from North Carolina, who has been supportive of the activists said that many of his fellow clergy "are paying the rent and losing the Kingdom."
Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1470774 2019-10-27T20:52:58Z 2019-10-30T17:36:23Z Plowshares History Talk by Art Laffin
Plowshares History Talk 

(Talk by Art Laffin given on Oct. 22, 2019 at evening support gathering during  the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 Trial at St. Athanasius Episcopal Church, Brunswick, Georgia. This version Includes some slight revisions. Audio is here. Laffin is member of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community in Washington, D.C. He is also editor of the two-volume work Swords into Plowshares, which has a forward by the late Father Daniel Berrigan.)

I am honored to be invited to speak tonight and to share this presentation with Rosalie Riegel.

I would like to begin by thanking God for the miracle of this day, for the miracle of life and for the Kings Bay Plowshares7, for Martha, Liz, Clare, Steve, Patrick, Mark, Carmen and their families and communities, for their amazing legal and support teams. Let's give them all a standing ovation!!! 

I would like to call into our presence the crucified and risen Jesus, and all the Holy Cloud of witnesses, including those plowshares friends who have gone home to God--Fr. Paul Kabat, Larry Cloud Morgan, Mary Lyons, Elmer Maas, Sr. Anne Montgomery, Peter DeMott, Kees Koning, Joe and Jean Gump, Sr. Jackie Hudson, Larry Morlan, Agnes Bauerlein, Macy Morse, Judy Beaumont, Tom Lewis, Bill Bichsel, Lynne Greenwald, Brian Law, Phil and Dan Berrigan. I believe they, along with countless others, including peacemakers who recently died--Frances Crowe, John Downing,  Mary Grace McCoy, Ned Smith--(other names are invoked from the audience)-- and all are beloved departed, are advocating for us and cheering us on! 

In Dan Berrigan's book, Testimony, there is a chapter titled "An Ethic of Resurrection." Towards  the end of the chapter Dan speaks about the teachers who influenced him. After naming different people, Dan writes: 

"Incomparably, the greatest of these (teachers) is Jesus, who for His part took bread, broke it, and said "This is my body given for you." Then He took the cup and said, this is My blood, given for you." The ethic of the body, given, the blood outpoured! The act led straight to the scaffold and to that "beyond" we name for want of a better word, resurrection..." We have yet to experience resurrection, which I translate: the hope that hopes on…

A blasphemy against this hope is named deterrence, or Trident submarines, or star wars, or preemptive strike, or simply, any nuclear weapon…That is why we speak again and again of 1980 and all the plowshares actions since, how some continue to labor to break the demonic clutch on our souls of the ethic of Mars, of wars and rumors of wars, inevitable wars, just wars, necessary wars, victorious wars, and say our no in acts of hope. For us, all of these repeated arrests, the interminable jailings, the life of our small communities, the discipline of nonviolence, these have embodied an ethic of resurrection.”

Dan's words go right to the heart of the spirituality of plowshares actions. Indeed, these (and other acts of nonviolent resistance as well), of beating the swords of our time into plowshares, are manifestations of an ethic of resurrection. They are rooted in the belief that the God of all Creation has the last word, not the principalities and powers. The God of Life has overcome the powers of this world and the forces of death! Consequently, this abiding faith in the God of Life leads us to commit our lives to making God's reign of love, justice and peace a reality by doing the works of mercy, accompanying the poor and the victims, embracing the way of nonviolence and community, actively resisting the forces of death and trying, trying to build a new world within the shell of the old. 

The 39 year history of plowshares actions, I submit, are connected to and a continuation of the resistance of the Baltimore Four and Catonsville Nine actions and subsequent draft board actions, where peacemakers believed that it was better to destroy draft files (licenses to kill) than to burn children and destroy entire villages in Vietnam. Likewise today, sisters and brothers who have carried out plowshares actions, believe it is their duty to nonviolently and symbolically disarm weapons of mass murder that can end all life and civilization, and incinerate the planet.

I would like to give a brief background of plowshares actions, reflect on the underlying spirit and hope of these actions and address how the courts have responded. It is my intent here not to be exhaustive on covering all these issues in great detail, but to give a general sense of what plowshares-disarmament actions are about.

On September 9, 1980, the “Plowshares Eight” carried out the first of what have come to be known as plowshares actions. Eight peacemakers entered the General Electric plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, where the nose cones from the Mark 12-A nuclear warheads were manufactured. With hammers and blood they enacted the biblical prophecies of Isaiah (2:4) and Micah (4:3) to “beat swords into plowshares” by hammering on two of the nose cones and pouring blood on documents. Thus, the name “plowshares” has been used to identify this action. The eight were subsequently arrested and tried by a jury, convicted and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 1 1/2 to 10 years. After a series of appeals that lasted 10 years, they were resentenced to time served—from several days to 17 1/2 months. How many were here at the Plowshares 8 trial? I did support for this action and trial as Dean Hammer, from our Covenant Peace Community in New Haven, was one of the eight. I also knew all of the others who acted. 

Since the Plowshares Eight action, others, acting in community and some individually, have entered military bases and weapons facilities and have symbolically and actually disarmed components of U.S. first-strike nuclear weapons systems: the MX, Perishing II, Cruise, Minuteman ICBM’s, Trident II missiles, Trident submarines, B-52 bombers, P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft, the Navstar system, the ELF communication system, the Milstar satellite system, a nuclear capable battleship and the Aegis destroyer. Combat aircraft used for military intervention such as the F-111 fighter bomber, the F-15A fighter, the F-18 bomber, the A-10 Warthog, the Hawk aircraft, as well as combat helicopters and other conventional weapons, including aircraft missile launchers, bazookas, grenade throwers, and AK-5 automatic rifles, have been disarmed. Model weapons have been disarmed at an “Arms Bazaar.” 

In the Transform Now Plowshares action in 2012 at Oak Ridge Y-12 Nuclear Facility at Oak Ridge, TN, Mike Walli, Sr. Megan Rice (who are here at the trial) and Greg Boertje-Obed hammered on the cornerstone of the newly built Highly Enriched Uranium Manufacturing Facility, poured blood and spray-painted messages on the facility. Because of so-called security issues, this action prompted authorities to close, what's been called the "Ft. Knox of Uranium," for an unprecedented three weeks.

People who have been involved in plowshares actions have undertaken a process of intense spiritual preparation, nonviolence training and community formation, and have given careful consideration to the risks involved. Plowshares activists, accepting full responsibility for their actions, remain at the site of their action so that they can publicly explain their witness.

Resonating closely with this spirit of nonviolent direct disarmament, other people, though not seeing their action arising out of the biblical prophecy of Isaiah and Micah, have been compelled to nonviolently disarm components of nuclear and conventional weapons. Although individuals who have carried out these actions have been inspired by plowshares participants who embrace a biblical vision, they view their action as being primarily motivated by a deeply held conscience commitment to nonviolence or by other spiritual or moral convictions.

As of this year, more than 200 people have participated in some 101 plowshares and related disarmament actions that I am aware of. [1] (I want to acknowledge Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa, co-editors of the Nuclear Resister, (who are both here) for their amazing work at  in keeping records of all the different actions that have happened. I have drawn on this information to compile the Plowshares chronology). 58 of these actions have taken place in the U.S. and 43 have been international actions. Also several groups and individuals were stopped by security and arrested at or near a weapons site before being able to complete their intended disarmament action. Some plowshares activists have gone on to participate in other plowshares actions.

Plowshares actions have occurred in the U.S., Australia, Germany, Holland, Sweden, New Zealand and Scotland and  England. 21 of these plowshares actions have been directed at the Trident submarine program--16 actions in the U.S. and 5 in England and Scotland. The backgrounds of plowshares activists vary widely. Parents, grandparents, veterans, lawyers, teachers, artists, musicians, priests, sisters, house-painters, carpenters, writers, health-care workers, students, advocates for the poor and homeless, and members of Catholic Worker communities have all participated in plowshares actions. I would like to ask all those present who have participated in Plowshares actions to please stand so we can acknowledge them. I want to affirm something Carmen Trotta said Sunday at the Festival of Hope. We all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Jonah House for being the inspiration and sustaining force for the Plowshares actions. I also want to hold up Elmer Maas, and Peter DeMott, who in the years before their deaths provided invaluable support to Plowshares communities. And I want to acknowledge my dear friend, Sr. Anne Montgomery, who did 6 Plowshares actions-we did two together. We also co-edited two Swords into Plowshares books.  

In my view, the basic hope of the plowshares actions (and here I’m not attempting to speak for other people involved in these actions) is to communicate from the moment of entry into a plant or base—and throughout the court process and prison witness—an underlying faith that the power of nonviolent love can overcome the forces of violence; a reverence for all life and creation;  an acceptance of personal responsibility for the dismantling and the physical conversion of the weapons; and a spiritual conversion of the heart to the way of justice and reconciliation. Thus, plowshares participants believe that the physical dismantling of the weapon and the personal disarmament of the heart is a reciprocal process. As Philip Berrigan states: “We try to disarm ourselves by disarming the weapons.”

The main symbols used in plowshares actions are hammers and blood. Hammers are used to literally begin the process of disarmament that thousands of talks and numerous treaties have failed to accomplish. The hammer is used to take apart as well as create, and to point to the urgency for conversion of war and weapons production to products that enhance life. The blood symbolizes the mass killing that weapons of mass destruction can inflict, as well as the murderous cost they now impose on the poor. Blood speaks too of human unity and the willingness to give one’s life rather than to take life.

Seeking to expose the violence, secrecy, and idolatry of the national nuclear security state, some plowshares defendants have tried to present a “justification” or “necessity” defense. During their defense they have tried to show, through personal and expert witness testimony, that their actions were morally and legally justified and that their intent was to protect life. In most cases, the courts have shown their complicity in protecting the interests of the government and have disallowed this defense. In the Sperry Software Pair plowshares case in 1984, John LaForge (who is here) and Barb Katt were allowed to present a justification defense but they were convicted.  Some plowshares groups have also presented a defense declaring that a state religion of “nuclearism” has been established, which is unconstitutional, in violation of the First Amendment. Moreover, nuclearism is in violation of God’s law, which forbids the worship of “gods of metal.” Plowshares defendants have moved for dismissal of all charges brought against them; for the law, as applied in these cases, is used to protect this unconstitutional state religion. Such motions have been consistently denied. For the first time in a plowshares case, the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 introduced in court the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to be used as part of their defense. But as we all know this, too, was denied. 

With the exception of the G.E. 5 in 1981, the Kairos Plowshares in 1988, the Aegis Plowshares in 1991, the first Australian Plowshares action in 1987,  the Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares action in 2000 (after 7 days in jail their charges were dropped), and the Riverside Plowshares in 2004, all plowshares activists have been prosecuted for their actions.  While most plowshares-disarmament activists have plead not guilty and have gone to trial, several opted to plead “no contest” or “guilty” to charges brought against them. 

Most of the trials to date, mainly jury trials, have ended in convictions. However, members of the Epiphany Plowshares were tried an unprecedented five times with three trials ending in hung juries and mistrials. Also, Chris Cole’s first trial for a plowshares action in England ended in a hung jury. The first ever acquittal in a plowshares case occurred in Liverpool, England where a jury found the Seeds of Hope—East Timor Ploughshares not guilty. There was also another plowshares acquittal, which occurred in Edinburgh, Scotland during the trial of three women who disarmed Trident-related technology as part of the Trident Ploughshares 2000 campaign. And in another plowshares-disarmament action against Trident in England, a trial for two women ended in a hung jury for one charge and an acquittal for the second charge. 

Here's an overview of other plowshares actions where cases were either not prosecuted, resulted in hung juries or found not guilty.

--Bread not Bombs Ploughshares, Sept. 13, 1998, VSEL Barrow in England. Hung Jury in first trial. Peacemakers convicted in second trial.

--HMS Vengeance Disarmament Action, Nov. 23, 1999, Barrow Shipyard in England. Jury verdict of Not Guilty.

--Aldermaston Women Trash Trident, Feb. 1, 1999, Barrow Furness shipyard, England. Jury found peacemakers not guilty on one charge and could not reach a verdict on second charge.  A second trial resulted in jury not be able to reach a verdict.

--Trident Three Disarmament Action, June 8, 1999, Laboratory Barge with Trident Equipment in Loch Goil, Scotland. Not Guilty Verdict.

--Pit Stop Ploughshares, Feb. 3, 2003, Shannon Airport, Ireland. Two mistrials. Third trial resulted in jury Acquittal. 

--Waihopai Plowshares, April 30, 2008, GCSB/U.S. National Security Agency Spy Base in New Zealand. Jury acquitted three peacemakers. The first Plowshares case in Federal court was the Griffiss Plowshares in 1984, which Liz and Clare were part of. They were acquitted by a jury of sabotage, but were convicted of conspiracy and destruction of government property. 

During the trials in the U.S., which have occurred in both state and federal courts, most of the defendants have represented themselves and have been assisted by legal advisers. The  trial tactics by judges and government prosecutors have become extremely repressive. A “Motion In Limine,” which calls for the complete prohibition of “affirmative” defenses, has been introduced by the government and accepted by the Courts in most, if not all of the plowshares trials at least since the Epiphany Plowshares trial. For example, prior to the third and fourth trials of the Epiphany Plowshares, the trial judge, complying with the U.S. prosecutor’s request, imposed a “gag” order forbidding any mention of such subjects as God’s law, the Bible, international law, U.S. military intervention in Central America, nuclear weapons and the poor. For speaking about these subjects, two defendants were given contempt charges and 20-day jail sentences. And during their opening statement to the jury in North Carolina, members of the Pax Christi-Spirit of Life Plowshares in 1994 were found in contempt of court for not complying with the judge’s instruction to refrain from speaking about crimes of the national security state and their moral and legal intent.

Prison sentences have varied for each plowshares-disarmament action. These sentences have ranged from suspended sentences to 18 years. The average sentence for plowshares activists has been between one and two years. I want to note here that, as a consequence of their Plowshares actions, Fr. Carl Kabat has spent close to 18 years in prison, Helen Woodson over 12 years in prison, and Fr. Steve Kelly about 10 years in prison. [2] (Please see below Notes regarding other plowshares activists who have served long prison sentences for their actions). These, and all Plowshares activists, in the U.S. and internationally, who have served prison sentences, have made great sacrifices and risked their freedom to help bring about a disarmed world.

With respect to the Transform Now Plowshares, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned their sabotage conviction as they were already serving over a year and a half their 3 and 5 plus year prison sentences. This resulted in their sentence being vacated and they were released from prison and resentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution.

Regarding pre-trial detention for plowshares people who were not willing to bond out or comply with other pre-trial release conditions, the case of the KBP7 is unprecedented. Mark served over a year, Liz, 17 months and Steve, 18 months and counting.

Doing support work on behalf of plowshares activists has also been an integral part of the plowshares actions. Efforts by local support groups, including now here in Georgia, have been invaluable in supporting plowshares activists during trial and imprisonment and in helping to educate the public about the meaning of these actions. As people have been sentenced to long prison terms, support for prisoners and their families has been, and continues to be, crucial.  

While plowshares activists have different perspectives on a variety of issues, most would undoubtedly agree with the following viewpoint articulated by Philip Berrigan in 1992:

Plowshares began disarmament in 1980, doing what the government refused to do for 35 years. With equal concern, Plowshares appealed to the hearts, minds and spirits of the American people—‘You must share disarmament!’ The twin goals of Plowshares—symbolic yet real disarmament and sharing disarmament—have reciprocity. The weapons exist because our fear, violence and hatred built them... The imperative is to be human in an inhuman time, to act in season and out despite the prospect that the American empire might not break up in our lifetime, nor disarmament happen while we live. If that be the case, modesty of means will sustain us as another face of faith. And faith is not faith except for the long haul. [3]

Regarding this notion of faith, Elizabeth McAlister asserts:

 There is not going to be any real disarmament until there’s a disarming of hearts. And so one puts oneself on the line to symbolically, but really, disarm the weapons in a hope and prayer that the action might be used by the Spirit of God to change minds and hearts. One puts oneself on the line—at risk and in jeopardy—to communicate the depth of commitment to that hope. [4]

Based on my experience, it is important to note that each of the plowshares participants I’ve met has carefully reflected on these and other important considerations prior to an action. While there does exist among plowshares participants a basic unanimity about the underlying spirit for plowshares actions, there is a diversity of opinion among plowshares participants about certain issues including defenses to use in court, the level of cooperation with court and probation authorities, and the payment of fines and restitution. Clearly, these and other issues that I have addressed have generated important discussion among plowshares activists and the wider disarmament movement.

In the final analysis, people who do plowshares actions are ordinary people who, with all their weaknesses, are attempting to respond in faith and conscience to a moral mandate, which must be enacted in our violent world, and for those in the U.S. arguably the most empire in history. These actions are not to be glamorized or taken lightly. People have taken great risks, experienced the loneliness and dehumanization of prison, and have had to cope with many difficult personal and family hardships. Building and sustaining an acting community takes extraordinary commitment and is certainly not problem-free. Yet, with all their limitations and imperfections, these actions are a powerful reminder that we can live in a world without weapons and war if people are willing to begin the process of disarmament by literally beating the swords (weapons) of our time in plowshares. While these actions are deemed criminal by the state, they should be considered, in light of the great evil we face, the norm. Although each plowshares action has many similarities to others, in the end each is unique, each is a learning process, each is an experiment in truth.

Friends, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have turned its Doomsday Clock to two minutes before midnight because of the apocalyptic twin dangers of climate chaos and nuclear war. Russia and the U.S. possesses over 6,000 nuclear weapons each, many of which are on hair trigger alert. U.S. and NATO Missile Defense systems ring Russia and China, increasing already heightened tensions. A new U.S. Space Force has been created to oversee military control and domination of space. Meanwhile, during this past year, the U.S. withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal and the INF Treaty with Russia. On February 13, 2019, the U.S. carried out a sub-critical nuclear test, a flagrant violation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the new UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. And Pentagon policy makers have declared that a limited nuclear war could be waged and won, according to a new nuclear doctrine titled "Nuclear Operations."  These actions, along with the fact that there have been 32 nuclear accidents (broken arrows), have further exacerbated the nuclear peril.

With an unpredictable president in office, and the development of a new smaller nuclear warhead, the W76-2, to be deployed this fall, the U.S. will now have the nuclear "flexibility" to wage what is called a limited-nuclear war. Let's be clear: The stated U.S. nuclear policy is that it must be prepared to use any military means necessary, including using nuclear weapons, to protect and ensure its "vital" national security and geo-political interests. And all this is supposedly "legal!" Remember that since the U.S. used nuclear weapons against the Japanese people in 1945, every U.S. president has threatened to use nuclear weapons to bolster U.S. imperial ambitions--at least 30 such threats have been made.

This reality of the use and threatened use of nuclear weapons being "legal," came home to me in a powerful way in 1982 during the Trident Nein plowshares trial, in which I was a defendant. The Trident Nein action was carried out on July 5, 1982 when nine peacemakers hammered and poured blood on the USS Florida Trident nuclear submarine and components at the General Dynamics-Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, CT. We also spray-painted USS AUSCHWITZ on the submarine and poured blood and hung a banner on sonar equipment. The banner said: TRIDENT A HOLOCAUST-AN OVEN WITHOUT WALLS! At one point during the trial an extraordinary exchange with the trial judge took place. He stated that we defendants may very well be right, that the world might be blown up, but the law must still be upheld! I was astonished by this statement! By implication, the judge was clarifying how the civil law of the United States protects nuclear weapons. Even though the use of such weapons pose an unprecedented peril for our world, the "law's" sanctioning them cannot be questioned. In short, the use of nuclear weapons, which could end the world as we know it, would be technically lawful.

On Sept. 4, 1989, six peacemakers (including Kathy Boylan and Jackie Allen who are here) and I carried out the Thames River Plowshares action in New London, Connecticut. We were able to swim and canoe to the docked USS Pennsylvania, the 10th Trident, and hammered and poured blood on the hull. Elmer Maas, Jim Reale and I beached our canoe on the fin end of the Trident and were able to climb on top of the submarine. There, kneeling in prayer on the submarine, we read from the entire 15th chapter of John's Gospel and prayed for the abolition of nuclear weapons. As MP's used fire-hoses from a distance to try and get us to leave the submarine, I made an appeal to them to become conscientious to war. We were then taken into custody by the Coast Guard. 

From aboard this most destructive weapon on earth, I believed then, and I believe now, that if people have the faith to believe that disarmament is possible, and act on that faith, it can occur. I, along with other Plowshares activists and many other peacemakers, know this can happen because we were, in fact, able to literally begin the process of true disarmament. 

Let’s thank God for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 who risked their freedom and lives on April 4, 2018 to enflesh God's dream for the human family to abolish weapons of mass murder and war! Now is the time to heed the pleas of the Hibakusha to the world that Jim Douglass referred to in his powerful reflection on Sunday at the Festival of Hope: HUMANITY CANNOT COEXIST WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS! And that the U.S. must now lead the way to repent  of the nuclear sin and ratify the UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. Now is the time to renew our commitment to join with them to eradicate the triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism that Dr. King implored us to do. As all of you are already doing, let us recommit ourselves, through God's amazing grace, to bringing about a nonviolent and disarmed world and create the Beloved Community! For with God and community all things are possible! Let us all continue to strive to embrace and embody an Ethic of Resurrection! 

Thank you very much!


[1] See: Swords Into Plowshares: A Chronology of Plowshares-Disarmament Actions, 1980-2003, by Arthur J. Laffin, WIPH and STOCK Publishers. Expanded Plowshares Chronology: 2003-2015, by Arthur J. Laffin, See link on kingsbayplowshares7.org

[2]There have also been other Plowshares activists who were sentenced to long imprisonment, including Fr. Paul Kabat, Larry Cloud Morgan, Martin Holliday, Jean Gump, Joe Gump, Jerry Ebner, Richard Miller, Jeff Leys, George Ostensen, Peter Lumsdaine and Sachio Ko-Yin, Katya Komisaruk, Lin Romano, Sr. Jackie Hudson, Sr. Megan Rice,and members of the Plowshares Eight, Trident Nein, Griffiss Plowshares, AVCO Plowshares, Trident II Plowshares, Trident Two Pruning Hooks, Pershing Plowshares, Silo Plowshares, Anzus Peace Force Plowshares, Jubilee Plowshares East, Pax Christ-Spirit of Life Plowshares, Thames River Plowshares, Prince of Peace Plowshares and Gods of Metal Plowshares and Plowshares VS. Depleted Uranium. And there have been plowshares activists who did multiple plowshares actions and served substantial prison time, including Elmer Maas, Peter DeMott, Sr. Anne Montgomery, Daniel Sicken, Susan Crane, Sr. Ardeth Platte, Sr. Carol Gilbert, Phil Berrigan, Liz McAlister, Greg Boertje-Obed, Michele Naar-Obed, Michael Walli, Kathy Boylan and Turi Vaccaro. This is a partial listing and does not include international actions. Please see Swords Into Plowshares (book) and KBP7 link for all those who have been imprisoned for their courageous and prophetic witness!

[3] Phil Berrigan, The Nuclear Resister, December 23, 1992.

[4] Liz McAlister, The Catholic Agitator, November 1992.


Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1469108 2019-10-23T01:03:00Z 2019-10-23T01:03:01Z Art Laffin on Plowshares 2 ]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1469105 2019-10-23T01:02:35Z 2019-10-24T01:17:07Z Art Laffin on Plowshares Actions Part 1
Part 2
Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1454942 2019-09-13T14:28:22Z 2019-09-16T22:42:46Z Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Presidential candidate Joe Biden is adding lies on top of lies to cover up his backing of the Iraq invasion.

At last night's ABC/DNC debate Biden lied about his Iraq record, just like he did at the first two debates.

In the July debate, Biden claimed: “From the moment ‘shock and awe’ started, from that moment, I was opposed to the effort, and I was outspoken as much as anyone at all in the Congress.”

When he first said that, it received virtually no scrutiny except for Mideast scholar Stephen Zunes, who wrote the piece "Biden Is Doubling Down on Iraq War Lies." Zunes outlined much of Biden's record, including his insistence in May 2003 -- months after the Iraq invasion -- that “There was sufficient evidence to go into Iraq.”

At last night's debate on ABC, Biden claimed that he voted for the Iraq invasion authorization to "to allow inspectors to go in to determine whether or not anything was being done with chemical weapons or nuclear weapons."

But the congressional vote happened on October 11 (see Biden's speech then). And by that time Iraq had agreed to allow weapons inspectors back in. On Sept. 16, 2002, the New York Times reported: "U.N. Inspectors Can Return Unconditionally, Iraq Says." (This was immediately after a delegation organized by the Institute for Public Accuracy -- where I work -- had gone to Iraq.)

Now, independent journalist Michael Tracey, who interviewed Biden in New Hampshire recently, reports that Biden made the ridiculous claim that he opposed the invasion of Iraq even before it started. Said Biden: “Yes, I did oppose the war before it began." See Tracey's piece: "Joe Biden's Jumbled Iraq War Revisionism" and video.
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1450129 2019-08-30T15:46:28Z 2019-09-10T15:07:13Z Film "Official Secrets" Points to a Mammoth Iceberg
Two-time Oscar nominee Keira Knightley is known for being in "period pieces" such as "Pride and Prejudice," so her playing the lead in the new film "Official Secrets," scheduled to be release in the U.S. this Friday, may seem odd at first. That is until one considers that the time span being depicted -- the early 2003 run-up to the invasion of Iraq -- is one of the most dramatic and consequential periods of modern human history. 

It is also one of the most poorly understood, in part because the story of Katharine Gun, played by Knightley, is so little known. I should say from the outset that having followed this story from the start, I find this film to be, by Hollywood standards, a remarkably accurate account of what has happened to date. "To date" because the wider story still isn't really over.

Katharine Gun worked as an analyst for Government Communications Headquarters, the British equivalent of the secretive U.S. National Security Agency. She tried to stop the impending invasion of Iraq in early 2003 by exposing the deceit of George W. Bush and Tony Blair in their claims about Iraq. She was prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act -- a juiced up version of the U.S. Espionage Act, which has in recent years been used repeatedly by the Obama administration against whistleblowers and now by the Trump administration against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange.  

Gun was charged for exposing -- around the time of Colin Powell's infamous testimony to the UN about Iraq's alleged WMDs -- a top secret U.S. government memo showing it was mounting an illegal spying “surge” against other U.N. Security Council delegations in an effort to force approval for an Iraq invasion resolution. The U.S. and Britain had successfully forced through a trumped up resolution, 1441 in November 2002. In early 2003, they were poised to threaten, bribe or blackmail their way to actual United Nations authorization for the invasion. See recent interview with Gun.  

The leaked memo, published by the British Observer, was big news in parts of the world, especially the targeted countries on the Security Council, and effectively prevented Bush and Blair from getting a second UN Security Council resolution they said they wanted. 

U.S. government started the invasion anyway of course -- without Security Council authorization -- by telling the UN weapons inspectors to leave Iraq and issuing a unilateral demand that Saddam Hussein leave Iraq in 48 hours -- and then saying the invasion would commence regardless

It was the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where I work (accuracy.org), Norman Solomon, as well as Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg who in the U.S. most immediately saw the importance of what Gun did. Dan would later comment: “No one else -- including myself -- has ever done what Katharine Gun did: Tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it. Hers was the most important -- and courageous -- leak I’ve ever seen, more timely and potentially more effective than the Pentagon Papers.”

Of course, we didn't know her name at the time. After the Observer broke the story on March 1, 2003, we at accuracy.org put out a series of news releases on it and organized a sadly sparsely attended news conference with Dan on March 11, 2003 at the National Press Club, focusing on Gun's revelations and Dan calling for more such truth telling to stop the impending invasion. 

Even though I followed this case for years, I didn't realize until recently that our work helped compel Gun to expose the document. I didn't know till a recent D.C. showing of "Official Secrets" that Gun had read a book co-authored by Norman, published in January 2003 which included material from accuracy.org as well as the media watch group FAIR that debunked many of the falsehoods for war and was published in January of 2003. 

Said Gun about the period just before she disclosed the document: "I went to the local bookshop, and I went into the political section. I found two books, which had apparently been rushed into publication, one was by Norman Solomon and Reese Erlich, and it was called Target Iraq. And the other one was by Milan Rai. It was called War Plan Iraq. And I bought both of them. And I read them cover to cover that weekend, and it basically convinced me that there was no real evidence for this war. So I think from that point onward, I was very critical and scrutinizing everything that was being said in the media." 

Thus, we see Gun shouting at the TV to Tony Blair that he's not entitled to make up facts, so the film may be jarring to some consumers of major media who might think that Trump invented lying in 2017. 

But Gun's immediate action after reading critiques of U.S. policy and media coverage is a remarkable case for trying to reach government workers, handing out fliers, books, having billboards outside government offices, to encourage them to be more critically minded. 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1447496 2019-08-22T18:59:57Z 2019-08-22T23:48:33Z “One America" -- To What Ends?
The report is 121 pages. I've delved into it. I could immerse myself in it and write a dissertation, but who would read it? For a short piece, it's enough to just look at the cover -- and consider how this administration uses this issue as cover.

"One America in the 21st Century" is the title. Not "Finally Overcoming Racism." Not "Towards an America of Equality." "One America" -- is that really the point? Should that be the goal of this race initiative?

National cohesion is the driving concern here. How can we make these differing ethnicities get along well enough to ensure that this stays one nation is a question elites must ask themselves. We are called to "overcome the burden of race." In some respects, the people -- their very genetic makeup and heritage -- is implicitly viewed as a threat to the great goal: "One America." Is that more important than reaffirming our humanity with regards to ethnicity? Indeed, humanity is viewed at best as a mere lever, a tactic for national unity, just as racial diversity is viewed as a means to economic success.

There is some truth in the notion that governments should not legislate morality. So the issue foremost on this administration's mind should be: "Are we doing anything that is fostering racism? Are we carrying out the laws that are on the books properly? Or are we applying punishments, such as the death penalty, in a manner that is prejudicial? Are police harassing African Americans on the highways? Are security personnel stopping Arab Americans more than others at airports?” Bill Clinton can ask himself: “Did I do virtually nothing to stop the disaster in Rwanda because their skin was darker than mine?” and “Am I keeping the sanctions in place in Iraq because the greatest victim -- 4,500 Iraqi children dying every month -- belong to a group that has been cast as ‘the other’ – the great non-American  ethnicity?” 

Can we really talk about "The President's Initiative on Race" with some seriousness? Clinton lied to -- and about -- Lani Guinier; he signed the crime and the welfare bills. Clinton -- when he had a Democratic majority -- did not invoke "one person one vote" to rally support for DC statehood. The president did, however, run down to DC from Martha's Vineyard when he ordered the launching of missiles, in total violation of international law at a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan, apparently to distract from his sex scandals. Few recall that this same man, when the Gennifer Flowers story was breaking, pulled his first "wag the dog" stage on the national by running down to Arkansas to oversee the frying of a retarded black man.

Of course, "One America in the 21st Century: Forging a New Future" could be used as a title for things other than “The President's Initiative on Race." Say, on economics. What would that title mean in that context? Perhaps on healthcare, where this administration portrayed itself as challenging the health insurance companies while it was actually in cahoots with the insurance giants as they clashed with the smaller players. The Clinton administration doesn't seem interested in forging "One America" economically, where we "overcome the burden of economics." "One America" was not of a great deal of concern to the 14 billionaires who gave up their US citizenship to avoid paying taxes a few years back.

Bill Clinton's presumed hero, John F. Kennedy, said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. " And here, we are asked to address the "burden of race" -- for the good of the country.

We have accepted Divine Right of Nations. Walter Mondale said that "America is forever." Wouldn't true religious people view that as idolatry? Nations are made to serve humans. It is people who are born with inalienable rights. It is governments that must not trample on those rights. Patriotism has become an less expression of love for those around you, or a devotion to timeless principles, than blind allegiance.

Sam Husseini is former media director for the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. [Originally published in the Jan/Feb 1999 issue of Poverty & Race.]
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1418795 2019-06-10T20:02:09Z 2019-06-12T20:13:46Z "Radical": Frank Lloyd Wright interviewed by Mike Wallace
I came across this wonderful pair of interviews with Frank Lloyd Wright years ago. They are on the website of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. While their site has transcripts of the interviews, there seems to be no easy way of linking to them, so I've posted their transcript here, while making a few corrections. See my piece "Frank Lloyd Wright, Used by GOP, Since His Actual Ideas Are So Little Understood."

Video is also on youtube, but audio isn't as good:

WALLACE: Good evening, what you are about to witness is an unrehearsed, uncensored interview. My name is Mike Wallace, the cigarette is Philip Morris. (OPENING CREDITS) 

WALLACE: Tonight we go after the story of one of the most extraordinary men of our time. You see him behind me, he is eighty-eight-year-old Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps the greatest architect of the twentieth century. And in the opinion of some, America's foremost social rebel. According to a story in Life Magazine not many years back, fellow architects have called him everything, from a great poet to an insupportable windbag. The clergy has deplored his morals, creditors have deplored his financial habits, politicians, his opinions. And we'll get Frank Lloyd Wright's views on morals, politics, religion and architecture in just a moment. My guest's opinions are not necessarily mine, the station's, or my sponsor's Philip Morris Incorporated, but whether you agree or disagree we feel sure that none will deny the right of these views to be broadcast. 

WALLACE: And, now to our story. Admirers of Frank Lloyd Wright hail him as a man one hundred years ahead of his time. Now, eighty-eight years old, he is still designing homes and buildings which are revolutionary, including plans for a mile-high skyscraper for which he's had no buyers yet. But just as radical as Frank Lloyd Wright the architect is Frank Lloyd Wright the social critic. Mr. Wright, before we go any further, I'd like to chart your attitudes specifically, by getting your capsule opinions as an architect or as a social critic of the following: First of all, organized Christianity. 

WRIGHT: Why organized it? Christianity doesn't need organizing according to the Master of it, the great master poet of all times didn't want it organized, did he?. Didn't Jesus say... that wherever a few are gathered in my name, there is my Church? 

WALLACE: Therefore you, would just as see... er... just as soon see your religion unorganized? 

WRIGHT: Well, that may be why I am building a synagogue in Philadelphia, a Unitarian church in Madison, a Greek Orthodox church in Milwaukee, and (CLEARS THROAT) a Christian Science church in California. 

WALLACE: Are you a religious man yourself? 

WRIGHT: I've always considered myself deeply... 

WALLACE: Do you go... 

WRIGHT: ...religious 

WALLACE: Do you go to any specific church? 

WRIGHT: Yes, I go occasionally to this one, and then sometimes to that one, but my church I put a capital N on Nature and go there. 

WALLACE: All right, sir, what do you think... 

WRIGHT: You spell God with a G, don't you? 

WALLACE: I spell God with a G, you will spell it with...? 

WRIGHT: I spell Nature with an N, capital. 

WALLACE: What do you think of the American Legion, Mr. Wright? 

WRIGHT: I never think of it, if I can help it. 

WALLACE: What do you mean by that? 

WRIGHT: They're professional warriors, aren't they? 

WALLACE: Uh-huh. 

WRIGHT: I'm against war. Always have been, always will be. And everything connected with it, is anathema to me. I have never considered it necessary. And I think that one war only breeds another. And I think I've been borne out by the reading of history, haven't I? One war always has in it, in its intestines, another, and another has another... 

WALLACE: Mr. Wright... 

WRIGHT: Why be for war? And if you are not for war, why are you for warriors? 

Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1408041 2019-05-12T00:49:36Z 2019-06-12T19:33:18Z From Mother's Day to #SexStrike: The Obscured Roots of Global Peace Solidarity
To much attention, the actress Alyssa Milano ‏on Friday tweeted: "Our reproductive rights are being erased. Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy. JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back. I’m calling for a #SexStrike. Pass it on." Much of the reaction online focused on the alleged irony of a liberal woman advocating abstinence from sex. 

The same day, Donald and Melania Trump hosted a celebration of military mothers at the White House. Said Donal Trump: "To the active-duty moms here today: We thank you for your courage, and we applaud your noble service. You have two of the most important jobs in the world: bravely defending America from our enemies and helping to raise the next generation of American patriots."

While Trump focuses on Mother's Day, Milano hearkens back to the sex strike as depicted in the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes.

What's striking is that both of these are rooted in movements against war. In the case of Milano, it's obscured, while Trump actively opposes the antiwar roots of Mother's Day.
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1390753 2019-03-27T17:06:18Z 2019-04-29T15:17:47Z Debunking "Russiagate" in Real Time -- List of Accuracy.org News Releases
Here's a list of news releases on "Russiagate" and related issues that the Institute for Public Accuracy -- accuracy.org -- where I work, put out from roughly March 2017 to March 2018. These news releases are sent to thousands of producers and reporters, mostly in the US:
Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1388293 2019-03-21T12:51:17Z 2019-04-29T15:18:44Z Iraq War Lies: My Letter to Rob Reiner on "Shock and Awe" Here's a letter that was sent to Rob Reiner in April 2016. At the time, he was directing the film "Shock and Awe" which would be released the following year. 

Dear Rob Reiner --

I've of course enjoyed your work over the years.

I recently tweeted "Finally saw 'The Big Short'. Good. Sure they'll produce a film about folks who were right about Iraq wmds any decade now."

Immediately, a couple of McClatchy reporters I know responded, tweeting that you are working on "Shock and Awe."

At the Institute for Public Accuracy, we got a lot of critical information out scrutinizing claims regarding alleged Iraq WMDs from 2002-03 and I thought you'd be interested in learning of it.

A sample: in October, 2002, John R. MacArthur, author of Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War, noted on one of our news releases: "Recently, Bush cited an IAEA report that Iraq was ‘six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need.’ The IAEA responded that not only was there no new report, ‘there’s never been a report’ asserting that Iraq was six months away from constructing a nuclear weapon." That's just the tip of the iceberg of what was knowable at the time. See other such news releases we put out from before the invasion: "White House Claims: A Pattern of Deceit" and "Bush’s War Case: Fiction vs. Facts at Accuracy.org/bush" and "U.S. Credibility Problems" and "Tough Questions for Bush on Iraq Tonight." 

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1382322 2019-03-06T20:53:54Z 2019-07-23T13:56:54Z Rep. Omar's Choice
As a virtual lynch mob moves to chastise Rep. Ilhan Omar over her recent remarks around Israel, the new congresswoman basically has three options before her: (1) Fold; (2) Continue the back and forth of the last several weeks or (3) Get more specific and expand the public critique. 

Fold: Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Omar herself can go largely silent on Israel. She can perhaps even offer a bigger apology than she did before or she can find some other way to draw closer to the establishment. This is a convenient path. 

Continue the Current Pattern: Thus far, Rep. Omar has made statements about the Israel lobby and support for Israel that at one level are obviously true: 

* "It's all about the benjamins": The pro-Israel lobby uses money to further its interests in Congress, just as virtually any other well-funded lobby does; 

* "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is ok for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. And I want to ask, why is it ok for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, of fossil fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby." There are some in the U.S. establishment that have loyalty to Israel rivaling if not exceeding what they have for the United States. 

The issue with these statement is that in addition to being true, is that they are being read by some to play to ugly anti-Jewish refrains if limited to Jews: They use money to control, they love Israel, not the U.S. The problem with the second readings of them is that they require -- at best -- a remarkably a high level of sensitivity regarding Rep. Omar's actual words. This may well be the reason the draft text of the resolution effectively targeting Rep. Omar reportedly doesn't actually mention her -- because they're not actually referencing her words. As Abba Solomon noted to me: "AIPAC allies should stop hiding behind Jews, and Democratic politicians should stop feigning such sensitivity to Jewish feelings when Zionist lobbying is the subject." Indeed, some of the readings are akin to being offended by someone saying the word "gypped" -- it really is an offensive word to Roma, but it is widely used with hardly anyone blinking an eye. 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1366717 2019-01-24T17:26:59Z 2020-01-21T18:25:21Z Questions at Doomsday Clock Event

I asked about Russiagate and Israel's nuclear arsenal at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock event Thursday at the National Press Club. 

Here's transcript: 

Sam Husseini: I'd like to raise two things that I don’t believe have come up explicitly and I'd like you address them. One, explicitly, is Russiagate. Several people including fellow Nation writer Steve Cohen, a Russia expert, have warned that the focusing and the charges and demonization of Putin have reached such a level that they cause a threat, that they increase the instability and the dangers between the U.S. and Russia. If someone could make an assessment about the dangers of that. I am not talking about Trump’s tweets. I am talking about the Democratic party establishment and allied media. And the other thing that I don’t believe has come up, there's been some discussions about Iran, is Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal. Israel just targeted Iranian forces inside Syria. We have Turkey, a NATO member bound by Article 5, involved in Syria as well. It is my understanding that the U.S. government has refused to even acknowledge the existence of Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal, which was of course exposed years ago by Mordichai Vanunu . Do you recommend a change in that and can you address how that long-standing abnormal can be addressed?

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1360244 2019-01-04T19:25:11Z 2019-04-29T15:21:17Z Warren Works Up Economy, Not War
In her New Years Eve announcement forming an exploratory committee for the presidency, Sen. Elizabeth Warren made a great point: "Right now, Washington works great for the wealthy and the well-connected. It's just not working for anyone else."

In case you missed that, she pointedly did not say "the economy isn't working well" or such, as we've all heard numerous politicos say countless times.

She rather said the opposite of that -- repeatedly: "The way I see it right now, Washington works great for giant drug companies, but just not for people who are trying to get a prescription filled. Washington works great for for-profit colleges and student loan outfits, but not for young people who are getting crushed by student loan debt. And you could keep going through the list. The problem we have got right now in Washington is that it works great for those who've got money to buy influence."

And in case anyone at all missed the point, she said it yet again: "We want a government that works not just for the rich and the powerful. We want a government that works for everyone."

It's laudatory that Warren is using her perch and analytical skills to avoid a common rhetorical trap and is articulating the truism that the political establishment largely does the bidding of the wealthy and connected when it comes to the economy.

The problem is that she doesn't articulate that in the same manner when it comes to bloody wars. Quite the contrary. That is, she says that she goes down a list -- drug companies, for-profit colleges and student loan outfits -- but that list doesn't seem to include those who have an interest in continuing horrific wars.

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1343512 2018-11-13T15:38:40Z 2018-11-13T15:38:40Z Trump and Big Media: Clash or Collusion?

My latest piece, "Trump and Big Media: Clash or Collusion?" -- pegged to the Trump-Acosta controversy -- was published over the weekend at Consortium News. Among other things, it gets into Acosta's misreporting about my expulsion from the Trump-Putin news conference in Helsinki and the symbiotic relationship between Trump and much of the major media. 

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1333571 2018-10-18T14:44:42Z 2019-08-28T09:22:47Z The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
[Portrait of House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer by Sarah Darley made up of logos of his largest funders.]

Especially with Brett Kavanaugh's accession to the Supreme Court, many are understandably absorbed with the importance of trying to end the Republican majorities in Congress for the midterm elections.

But simply always backing Democrats will likely propel the party further toward the establishment corporate right. If voters are just going to get behind a Democratic candidate no matter what, there's no incentive for them to be progressive in any sense.

Some may point to some new left-leaning candidates coming out of the Democratic Party. But even the most optimistic assessment of these candidates much acknowledge they are far outnumbered by establishment Democratic Party incumbents.

And there's a reason for that: Establishment apparatchiks in the Democratic Party go around the country kneecapping candidates who might, maybe, have some actual progressive tendencies.

Exhibit A is Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Whip in the House of Representatives who was caught on a secret audio recording doing exactly that earlier this year.

Now, noted activist and author Pat Elder is challenging Hoyer. If people of whatever stripe -- Democratic, Green, independent, whatever -- want to challenge the Democratic Party establishment, then strongly backing Elder's campaign is perhaps the shrewdest move they can make right now.

Earlier this year, Lee Fang of The Intercept reported, based on secretly taped audio, how Hoyer works "to crush competitive primaries and steer political resources, money, and other support to hand-picked candidates in key races across the country." 

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1329587 2018-10-06T13:31:23Z 2018-10-06T18:55:25Z Young and Professional Kavanaugh: "It's All Part of the Same Scummy Guy" I don't often think fondly of Christopher Hitchens, but an insight of my ex-friend did brighten my eyes the last week.  

Specifically, after I sent out a series of news releases effectively arguing that then-president Bill Clinton should be impeached "for the right reasons" -- specifically, illegal bombings, Hitchens objected. He argued that the distinction between Clinton's personal and professional actions was a false one, that "it's all part of the same scummy guy."

As some argue that Kavanaugh shouldn't be judged on actions he committed when he was 17, are they pretending they are ignorant of his professional record, of his pattern of lying under oath even before Ford came forward?

Are we to act as though Kavanaugh's apparent attempted rape of Christine Blasey Ford has no relation to his backing torture?

Are we supposed to pretend that there's no connection between being a privileged hoodlum and flacking for corrupt presidents and corporations?

Are we supposed to just go along as though there's no relationship between putting misogynistic crap on your high school yearbook and expecting to get away with it and brazenly lying about it under oath decades later?  

Should we really pretend that having a high school cabal who clearly seem to use their sense of privilege (Kavanaugh's mother was a judge) to get away with whatever they want to do doesn't relate to cliquish associations like the Federalist Society, using the law to further the interests of elites?

The problem is that the power of privilege is used to cause silence among those who are not part of it.

Where are those "values voters" I hear about? 

I've heard feminists say to the point of cliché that rape "isn't about sex, it's about power". I've seen a few articles pointing out the "power of sexual violence" exposed by Ford's testimony, but virtually no utterance connecting that violence and will to power to Kavanaugh's professional work.

Kavanaugh didn't just apparently try to rape Ford years ago, he shamelessly lied about it now, openly falsifying what terms he used meant -- as he lied under oath about other things regarding is professional work to the Senate Judiciary Committee. With Barely. Anyone. Raising. Their. Voice. At. Him

Kavanaugh -- like Oliver North and Clarence Thomas before him -- was able to use a faux anger to bully punching bag Democrats who seemed more concerned about appearing judicious than winning. Many ask if Kavanaugh has the temperament to be a judge, almost to preclude more substantial arguments against him. The unasked question is if the Democrats have the temperament to be effective. 

Who showed fire in their belly and articulated Kavanaugh's lying under oath? Who went for the jugular? Sen. Dick Durbin came close to doing so about Kavanaugh failing to call for an FBI investigation -- and then a (pathetic) FBI investigation happened. That should be a lesson. 

Kavanaugh, when he was working for Ken Starr, suggested that Clinton be asked “If Monica Lewinsky says you inserted a cigar into her vagina while you were in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?”

Where was the senator asking "If someone says 'boofing' means anal sex and not flatulence as you claim and 'Devil's Triangle isn't a drinking game as you claim under oath, but a reference to sex between two males and a female, would they be lying?" or "Amnesty International has recommended that your nomination be slowed since you could be involved in violations of international law. So, are you a war criminal?"

Such a senator was not to be found. Some senators laid the basis for showing Kavanaugh lied under oath. And perhaps they expect that he will be impeached once they get a majority. But who knows what happens between now and then. 

In terms of making the case to the public in a way that could not be ignored, they at best fell short. The best a few senators could bring themselves to do was mumble something about perjury when what was needed was to do down the litany. 

By contrast, it would appear Kavanaugh, who was charged with getting right-wing judges through congress during the Bush administration, rolled out his own nomination by inoculating himself against the weakness he knew he had: Stressing his credentials as a girl's basketball coaching, loving dad to his daughters and mentor to females in the legal profession. 

And then he and Republican senators put on their act of moral outrage that should have come from the critics of Kavanaugh. Perhaps there was some of the genuine anger in the streets in protests against Kavanaugh -- that seem to have come too little too late -- but at best rarely from the committee hearing room. 

And those optics largely prevailed -- all part of the same scummy system. 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1325617 2018-09-25T21:25:13Z 2018-12-02T11:56:13Z Craig Newmark on Open Source Social Media Platform: "Don't know if there is a need for that" @craignewmark
Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist spoke at the National Press Club yesterday, largely about spending $20 million to back The Markup. 

Only one of my several questions got in without getting mangled: 

Question: "Do you think there should be an open source social media platform?"

Craig Newmark: "Boy, I don't know if there is a need for that. Just reflexively almost, I supports open source almost automatically. The idea is that some people have tried to do that -- I think one of them recently shut down because of lack of interest. I do think as more and more of the ethics of our social media platforms, as more and more of that is explored, I think things are going to get better for all of us. One of the big problems for example is the lack of informed consent. A social media platform should clearly tell you what it is collecting, who they will share it with and so on. And those things are happening. I am involved with the Center for Humane Technology which is doing that kind of thing, and for that matter, there is the European GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation], which goes ways in that direction, requiring platforms to tell you, hey, here is what we are going to tell about you and here is what we are going to show about you. Different countries have different flavors. Some opt in, some opt out. And that's a controversial topic because implementing that is going to be hard for some people but I can see all of those areas improving. And I am committed."

Here's the video, that question is at about 45 min.

(Other questions I submitted included if Russiagate possibly threatens humanity (totally garbled so the point was unclear) and couple of questions on possible nationalization or democratic control over internet corporations (dumbed down to "do you favor regulation"). Newmark  repeatedly said he doesn't think any good regulation will come from DC, kept mentioning Sacramento, was kind of a running gag in his talk.)
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1317027 2018-08-31T19:16:56Z 2019-04-29T15:29:19Z McCain as Confederate
The day after John McCain died, I happened to visit a memorial to Confederate prisoners of war at Point Lookout, Maryland. Flying a Confederate flag overhead, the monument seemly ironically features a quote at the base from Maya Angelou. 

I realized there the way I felt about the soldiers commemorated there was decidedly similar how I felt about John McCain the POW in Vietnam: They both fought for a cause that was unjust and ended up enduring real suffering.

We can feel some measure of compassion for human agony regardless of the morality of the person living it. Celebrations of anguish, whether of John McCain's death or Usamah Bin Ladin's killing leave me simply sad. 

Of course, celebrations over the assassination of Bin Ladin were commonplace in the U.S. and McCain's death has prompted a virtual media and political deification of a serial war criminal. In a sense, he represents the latest example of Trumpwashing -- that is, the laudatory echo chamber around McCain is fueled in large part by an at least implicit put down of the current psudo isolationist president who, for better or worse, got multiple military draft deferments.  

Of course, the greatest discrepancy, rarely hinted at, is how humanized someone like McCain is and how rarely victims of the wars he pushed are. Does the average American know the name of a single civilian Vietnamese or Iraqi victim of the U.S. military? 

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1314169 2018-08-22T12:17:22Z 2019-11-14T21:55:36Z Elizabeth Warren's Anti Corruption Specificity Evaporates When Foreign Policy is Raised
On Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren addressed the National Press Club, outlining with great specificity a host of proposals on issues including eliminating financial conflicts, close the revolving door between business and government and, perhaps most notably, reforming corporate structures.

Warren gave a blistering attack on corporate power run amok, giving example after example, like Congressman Billy Tauzin doing the pharmaceutical lobby's bidding by preventing a bill for expanded Medicare coverage from allowing the program to negotiate lower drug prices. Noted Warren: "In December of 2003, the very same month the bill was signed into law, PhRMA -- the drug companies’ biggest lobbying group -- dangled the possibility that Billy could be their next CEO.

"In February of 2004, Congressman Tauzin announced that he wouldn’t seek re-election. Ten months later, he became CEO of PhRMA -- at an annual salary of $2 million. Big Pharma certainly knows how to say 'thank you for your service.'"

But I found that Warren's tenacity when ripping things like corporate lobbyists' "pre-bribes"  suddenly evaporated when dealing with issues like the enormous military budget and Israeli assaults on Palestinian children.

The Press Club moderator, Angela Greiling Keane, early in the news conference asked about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's keeping press out of town hall meetings, pairing that with Trump's outright attacks on media

Husseini: Sam Husseini with The Nation and the Institute for Public Accuracy. Cortez, who was mentioned earlier, and other likely incoming congressional members next year propose slashing the military budget to help pay for human and environmental needs. Do you agree? And if I could, a second question: would you consider introducing and sponsoring [a version of] Betty McCollum's bill on Palestinians children's rights in the Senate?

Warren: I now sit on Armed Services and I have been in the middle of the sausage making factory on that one. And that has pushed me even more strongly in the direction of systemic reforms. I want to be able to have those debates. I want to be able to get them out in the open and talk about these poor issues that affect our government, affect our people. I want to be able to debate them on the floor of the senate. I want to be able to do amendments on them. Right now the whole of big money over our government stops much of that. It chokes off much of the debate we should have. So I am going to give you a system-wide answer because I think that's what matters here. This is not about one particular proposal, this is all the way across. How is it that we get the voices of the people heard in government instead of over and over the voices of the wealthy and the well connected. The voices of those with higher armies of lobbyists. So for me that's what this is about.

But part of the power that the wealthy and well connected have is getting direct responses to their specific concerns. Political funders are unlikely impressed with broad "system-wide answers". 

In a sense, her non-response to very direct questions rather highlighted the problem she is presumably addressing. 

And we've been here before. 

Bernie Sanders, in his 2016 presidential run, was remarkably vague or even outright repressive regarding foreign policy, especially early on. This reach almost comical proportions when during a debate on CBS just after the November 2015 bombing in Paris, he tried to avoid substantially addressing the issue, wanting instead to fall back on income inequality. Certainly, Sanders was arguably treated very unfairly by the Democratic Party and media establishment, but he was greatly diminished by not having serious foreign policy answers. 

Warren and other "progressive" candidates may be set to repeat that. Sanders did address foreign policy more at the end of the campaign and since, but his answers are still problematic at times and at best it was all too little too late. 

One question is, realistically, what are Warren's goals here? It could well be a good faith effort by someone committed to changing the world for the better. But then, why the selectivity?

If it was enactment of these policies, then the strongest way to do that might have been to find a rogue Republican to pair up with on at least some aspects of her proposals so as to avoid charges being purely politically motivated. When questioned by a New York Post reporter at the news conference, Warren couldn't name a Republican whom she might work with. This would especially be the case since Trump -- like Obama before him -- ran against the establishment

Is it to make her a leading contender for the Democratic nomination? If so, the hope would be that she's not simply playing the role of what Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report calls "sheepdogging" -- that is, the presidential run or promise of a run by a Sanders or Warren as simply a tool the Democratic Party establishment uses to keep enough of the public "on the reservation". 

Said Warren of her own financial reform proposals: "Inside Washington, some of these proposals will be very unpopular, even with some of my friends. Outside Washington, I expect that most people will see these ideas as no-brainers and be shocked they’re not already the law.

Why doesn't the same principle apply to funding perpetual wars and massive human rights abuses against children? 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1312389 2018-08-16T14:25:49Z 2018-08-22T20:10:27Z The Trump-Media Logrolling
Today, hundreds of newspapers, at the initiative of the Boston Globe, are purporting to stand up for a free press against Trump's rhetoric.

Today also marks exactly one month since I was dragged out of the July 16 Trump-Putin news conference in Helsinki and locked up until the middle of the night. 

As laid in my cell, I chuckled at the notion that the city was full of billboards proclaiming Finland was the "land of free press".

So, I've grown an especially high sensitivity to both goonish behavior toward journalists trying to ask tough questions -- and to those professing they are defending a free press when they are actually engaging in a marketing campaign. 

As some have noted, the editorials today will likely help Trump whip up support among his base against a monolithic media. But, just as clearly, the establishment media can draw attention away from their own failures, corruptions and falsehoods simply by focusing on some of Trump's.

Big media outlets need not actually report news that affects your life and point to serious solutions for social ills. They can just bad mouth Trump. And Trump need not deliver on campaign promises that tapped into populist and isolationist tendencies in the U.S. public that have grown in reaction to years of elite rule. He need only deride the major media.

They are at worst frenemies. More likely, at times, Trump and the establishment media log roll with each other. The major media built up Trump. Trump's attacks effectively elevate a select few media celebrities. 

My case is a small but telling one. Major media outlets were more likely to disinform about the manhandling I received in my attempt to ask about U.S., Russian and Israeli nuclear threats to humanity -- I'll soon give a detailed rebuttal to the torrent of falsehoods, some of which I've already noted on social media -- than to crusade against it. 

Other obvious cases: None of the newspaper editorials I've seen published today mention the likely prosecution of Wikileaks. If there were solidarity among media, the prospect of Julian Assange being imprisoned for publishing U.S. government documents should be front and center today. 

Neither did I see a mention of RT or, as of this week, Al Jazeera, being compelled to register as foreign agents. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert has openly refused to take questions from reporters working for Russian outlets. Virtual silence -- in part because Russia is widely depicted as the great enemy, letting U.S. government policy around the world off the hook.  

The above are actual policies that the Trump administration has pursued targeting media -- not rhetoric that dominates so much establishment coverage of Trump. 

Then there's the threat of social media. 

My day job is with the Institute for Public Accuracy. Yesterday, I put out a news release titled "Following Assassination Attempt, Facebook Pulled Venezuela Content." Tech giants can decide -- possibly in coordination with the U.S. government -- to pull the plug on content at a time and manner of their choosing. 

You would think newspaper people might be keen to highlight the threat that such massive corporations thus pose, not least of all because they have eaten up their ad revenue (the Boston Globe page on the effort is actually behind a paywall.) 

The sad truth is that this is what much of the media have long done: Counter to the lofty rhetoric of many of today's editorials, the promise of an independent and truth-seeking press has frequently been subservient to propaganda, pushing for war or narrow economic and other interests. 

The other major story of the day -- quite related to this -- is that of Trump pulling former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance. NPR tells me this is an attempt to "silence a critic". But Brennan has an op-ed in today's New York Times and is frequently on major media. He oversaw criminal policies during the Obama administration, including drone assassinations. If anything, this has elevated Brennan's major media status. 

Those who have been truly silenced in the "Trump era" are those who were critical of the seemingly perpetual U.S. government war machine since the invasion of Iraq. 

Trump attacks on the establishment media -- like many media attacks on him -- are frequently devoid of substance. But recently one of his rhetorically tweets stated that media "cause wars". I would say "push for war", but that's quibbling. 

Trump is technically right on that point, but it's totally disingenuous coming from him. He's actually been the beneficiary of the media compulsion he claims to deride. When he exalts U.S. bombing strikes in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere, CNN calls him "presidential". 

Many consider "Russiagate" critical to scrutinizing the Trump administration, but the two reporters, apparently picked by the White House, during the Helsinki news conference focused on "Russiagate" -- which eventually led to Brennan and others attacking Trump as "treasonous". Meanwhile, much more meaningful collusion that can be termed Israelgate is being ignored as the U.S. and Israeli governments attempt to further mold the Mideast. 

The need for genuinely free sources of information is greater than ever. It is unclear to me if traditional newspapers can be part of the equation. Quite likely, the institutions desperately needed to carry out that critical mission are yet to be born. 

Sam Husseini is an independent journalist who contributes to The Nation, CounterPunch, Truthdig, Consortium News, CommonDreams and other outlets. He is also senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy and founder of VotePact.org
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1298287 2018-06-30T04:14:44Z 2018-07-17T12:47:50Z Anthony Bourdain: The Last Gasp of CNN’s Original Vision

CNN began with the slogan, articulated by its founder Ted Turner: “The news is the star.”

That has long since ceased to be a reflection of what CNN does. Despite promoting itself with its dubious “facts first” slogan, the network endlessly touts its celebrity pundits and anchors: Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo, Christiane Amanpour, Fareed Zakaria, et al. The view of the world that they depict is what the viewer needs to understand—not the world itself.

Anthony Bourdain didn’t join CNN until 2013, didn’t do “news” per se, and his own personality was certainly a major part of his show, Parts Unknown, but the lens was largely on the places Bourdain went, whether Armenia or West Virginia, and the people he met there. This work was more mini-doc than anything else typically found on CNN.

At his best, to Bourdain, the world was the star. The people, the cultures, the varied beliefs, the booze, the music, the rivers, the cities, the ethnic groups, what they share and their tensions. He’d often at least indicate class distinctions in his shows, at times gender dynamics as well. He spoke up in defense of the many immigrants in the restaurant industry, and was an ally of the #MeToo movement.

See full piece by Sam Husseini at FAIR: "Anthony Bourdain: The Last Gasp of CNN’s Original Vision." 

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1297370 2018-06-26T18:38:34Z 2018-08-18T13:03:52Z The Immigration Con: How the Duopoly Makes the Public Forget about Roots Causes of War and Economics
Many are focusing on the travel ban, largely targeting Muslim countries, and the separation and detention of asylum seekers separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. The the U.S. media and political establishment has put the issue of immigration front and center, causing all manner of political venting and pro and anti Trump venom to spew forth.

A silver lining seems to be that it has helped raise issues that -- unlike the Russiagate story much of the establishment media has obsessed over -- at least have some currency with the general public.

But the manner in which immigration issues have been focused on has obscured the root causes of those issues. Desperate migration is ultimately caused by economics, like so-called trade deals, corrupt Central American governments, often U.S.-backed, U.S.-backed coups and other policies.

And refugees desperately flee countries like Syria largely because of prolonged U.S.-backed wars.

In virtually all these instances, there is left-right opposition to the establishment policy that is often at the root of the problem. The establishment of the Republican and Democratic party have rammed through trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA and global pro-corporate policies. The U.S. government -- with both Obama and Trump administrations -- has backed coups like Honduras in 2009 or rigged elections like in 2017.

Corporate deals and coups and such give rise to governments unresponsive to their citizens, enacting economic policies that have impoverished most of the people of these countries. It's a testament to the long term effects of U.S. interventions that regions like Central America, which have been the focus of so much U.S. government attention over the decades, are in such dismal condition.

Such circumstances breed gangs, which means a lack of safety, causing desperate migration. Parts of grassroots economies, like small farmers growing corn, have been decimated because deals like NAFTA allow for dumping of U.S. agribusiness corn. Drug cartels rise as a way to make money for some -- and to fulfill a demand for narcotics in the U.S., an escape for USians form their own economic plights and often nihilistic lives. Meanwhile, transpartisan efforts at drug legalization and pushed to the background.

Similarly, many leftists and some rightwingers, like Ron Paul, oppose constant U.S. interventions in the Mideast as well. The invasion of Iraq lead to the rise of ISIS, the destablization of Syria, Libya and other countries. The U.S. establishment and its allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel have effectively sought to prolong the war in Syria and to destabilize other counties in the region for their geostrategic designs.

The rank and file bases of the Democratic and Republican parties are largely against NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. -- while the elites in both parties are for them, so they get done. Clinton and Obama were duplicitously for them (pretending that side deals on labor and environment will do much and thus to distract from their pushing corporate agenda). Trump rants and raves about much, but hasn't put forward a serious crit of them.

So, the bases of the two parties end up fuming at each other over status of migrants from Central America and travelers from largely Muslim countries. They become further entrenched into either establishment party structure while the people running those structures continue to perpetuate policies that the bases agree with each other about.

Wars cause refugees. Then, the left and right scream at each other over the refugees, forgetting how the establishment continues the wars that the left and right are significantly opposed to.

All this has the effect of further entrenching people in their partisan boxes. Progressives with problems with the Democratic Party do their duty to fight against the Trumpsters and vice versa.

So, you get more war and more pro-corporate policies.

The manner of these debates tears people apart just enough to prevent dialogue. Sarah Sanders is told to leave a restaurant, but pundits on CNN urge the public not to be out in the streets arguing. Voting is the one and only path to making your voice heard. Shut up and get in line.

The debates rarely question national myths. Quite the contrary, they are an opportunity for "both sides" to appear to more loudly vocalize how they embody the goodness inherent in the U.S. "We need to reclaim our values... We're a good nation, we're a good people. And we should be setting a standard on this planet of what humanity should be about," says Sen. Cory Booker after the Supreme Court upholds President Trump's travel ban.

What "humanity should be about". This from a member of a Democratic Party establishment that has fueled polarization with the other nation on the planet with thousands of nuclear warheads. From a party establishment that has dismissed apparent progress toward finally ending the bloody Korean War. Just this week, Senators from both sides of the aisle voted to allocate more and more money for wars. The recent increases in the Pentagon budget are more than the entire military budget of the great threat, Russia.

But pay no attention to that. National piety is upheld. The U.S. is so wonderful, the immigrants want in. That proves it. Never mind U.S. government policies helped impoverish them. Never mind U.S. government wars destroyed the countries of millions of refugees. Never mind what you think might be wrong with the country, just be grateful you're here.

U.S. benevolence is to be proven by taking in a nominal number of refugees to some self-proclaimed liberals. So-called conservatives preserved the dignity of the nation not by insisting that the rule of law be applied to high officials, but that we should have zero tolerance for helping some desperate souls.

They diminishing economic state of USians emanating from economic inequality is largely off the agenda of both parties. They entrench the partisan divide, but in a way that obscures deeper issues. Party on.

Sam Husseini is founder of VotePact.org, which encourages intelligent left-right cooperation. 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1289876 2018-06-01T17:59:21Z 2020-01-06T13:39:18Z Sam Hussein CV
Living in Maryland, near Washington, D.C. 

1997 to Present: Communications Director and Senior Analyst, Institute for Public Accuracy
Assembled thousands of news releases that resulted in tens of thousands of interviews on a wide array of policy areas on a variety of major and independent media outlets. News releases included some of the most critical examination of claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Attempted to question Trump and Putin at Helsinki summit while covering it for The Nation in 2018 and was locked up, leading to major media coverage from outlets around the world. Questioned Elizebeth Warren on her foreign policy which got substantial pickup online; questioned former governor Jerry Brown, now head of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, leading him to call the Democratic Party's posture toward Russia "stupid."

Regularly attended new conferences at the National Press Club and other venues in D.C., questioning numerous officials including NATO spokesperson Jamie Shea, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, journalists Dan Rather and Judith Miller and former head of Saudi intelligence Amb. Turki bin Faisal al-Saud. The questioning of the former lead to a suspension by the executive director of the National Press Club, which was overturned by the Ethics Committee.

Have had op-eds published in various publications including the Washington Post and USA Today. Appeared on various media including ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CNN, Al Jazeera, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and C-SPAN's "Washington Journal." 

For visual art work and writing, see: BeThatEmpty.org

Summer 2007: Consultant to The Real News Network
Produced several video segments and proposed a long-term strategy for the network. 

2006 to 2011: Founded Washington Stakeout
Questioned officials as they exit Sunday morning news talk shows, including politicos Paul RyanHeath Shuler and Mike Simpson and Colin Powell. In addition to individual segments, produced complied video: "The Absurd U.S. Stance on Israel's Nukes: A Video Sampling of Denial" which included questioning of then-Congressman Mike Pence and DNI John Negroponte. 

2000 to Present: Founded VotePact.org
Encouraged "disenchanted Democrats" and "disenchanted Republicans" to engage in honest dialogue which would result in them each voting for their preferred independent candidates by pairing up rather than simply voting for one major party or the other because they detested the other more.

2000 to 2003: Chaired the local board of Pacifica station WPFW
Played a role in preventing the total implosion and/or hijacking of the largest independent media network in the U.S., ensuring the WPFW board push for reform of national board. 

1996 to 1997: Media Director, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Oversaw the ADC’s media strategy. Broke ground in terms of policy positions, making the ADC publicly critical of the sanctions against Iraq as well as both Israeli policies and increasingly authoritarian tendencies of the Palestinian Authority, which the organization was reluctant to do. Did interviews on scores of TV and radio stations. Had op-eds published in Newsday, Knight-Ridder wire and numerous other outlets. Did outreach to Arab-American community. 

1990 to 1996: Worked at Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting 
Starting as a volunteer, worked in a number of roles at the media watch group. Research and wrote for magazine, Extra! while doing other freelance work. Worked to increase distribution for FAIR’s syndicated radio program, CounterSpin. Also acted as activism coordinator for a period. 

1988 to 1989: Math teacher - Homeless shelter manager
Did substitute stints in the New York City public school system, lasting from a day to several months, mostly at the junior high level. Also managed a homeless shelter, Arthur Sheehan House in Brooklyn (Catholic Worker), and worked to fend off nonprofit that was granted ownership as a trustee from selling the property. 

1987 to 1988: Programmer, Moody’s Investors Service - Art student
Did SQL and C programming in a corporate environment. During this period also studied art at Hunter College and the School of Visual Arts.

1987: Graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University
Receiving a double major in Applied Math (Computer Science specialty) and Logic and Computation (from Department of Philosophy).

Select media appearances: 

2001: Two days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, argued against war on "The O'Reilly Factor" -- segment ended with microphone being cut. (Fox News Channel)

Selected writings: 


"The Trump-Media Logrolling" CommonDreams 
"McCain, Confederate" Counterpunch 

"Questioning Pelosi and Schumer" (about impeachment and Israel's nuclear arsenal) CounterPunch


"Obama Photo Op with Helen Thomas" Palestine Chronicle 



"A Statement from Mother Nature" (in the aftermath of Katrina) CounterPunch 


"Compass Roses" CounterPunch 
"Follow the Policy" (about Iraq) CounterPunch

"A New Way To Vote -- As A Duet" {about VotePact) CommonDreams 

Twisted Policy on Iraq” Washington Post
"'One America' -- To What Ends?" Poverty & Race  

"The Dogs of War" Newsday 
FAIR's magazine Extra! 
"Brookings: The Establishment’s Think Tank" FAIR's magazine Extra! 

"Israeli Espionage Against the U.S." [ADC research document]  

"Profile in Unfairness: What Happened to TWA 800 Is No Reason to Endanger Passengers' Civil Rights" Washington Post  


"Media Not Doing Justice To Mideast Peace" FAIR's magazine Extra! 
"Hillary & Bill & Harry & Louise" The Nation

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1289863 2018-06-01T17:30:48Z 2018-06-01T17:30:49Z I hack the ridiculous new automated faucets at the National Press Building
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1289572 2018-05-31T18:55:02Z 2018-05-31T18:55:02Z "Arrested Development" as Allegory for U.S. Political Institutions
Stephen Walt‏, professor of international relations at Harvard, several years ago remarked that "Arrested Development" is both a "great show and a terrific description of U.S. political institutions."

Recent events involving the actors perhaps illustrate the limits of parody: A show about the people with no self awareness hardly precludes such behavior among at least the male real-life actors

Indeed, while U.S. media seems increasingly drenched in satire, genuine improvement in the society seems tragically rare and slow. So, to the extent that the Bluth family is an allegory for twisted U.S. political institutions, perhaps a straightforward analysis would be of benefit. Walt didn't elaborate on his analogy, so I have endeavored to connect the characters to their appropriate institutions: 

George: Represents the presidency. His very name is presidential. He's prone to criminal activity, but at times attempts to maintain plausible deniability by using his twin brother, Oscar.

Lucille: Is the nominal vice president, but, as is often the case in U.S. administrations, is the actual cold, calculating power behind the throne. In seeming contrast to the actress Jessica Walter depicting her, Lucille hatches insidious plots that she strong-arms the president and others to carry out, like buying land to build The Wall on the border with Mexico. She has an affinity for criminality on the high seas, perhaps stemming from the VP living at the Naval Observatory.

Buster: Literally joined the army. He does the dirty work. He's -- big stereotype here -- not too bright. He has an affinity for robotization, at times killing with drones and himself has a mechanical arm.

Tobias: Represents the NSA. While he's a never nude, he can use his cat-like agility to spy and move stealthily around a home. Or, after he says "I blue myself" -- is capable of surveilling on the go. His photography of his own body parts was seemingly mistaken as evidence of Iraqi WMDs. 

Gob, or G.O.B: Is the C.I.A., frequently dispatched by the president to execute covert ops. With his "illusions" is capable of cluelessly killing innocents. He teams up with the Buster army in the Sword of Destiny and the Tobias NSA in Gobias Industries. He's continuously trying to cover up his various shameful actions, including from himself, by popping Forget-Me-Nows. He's guilty of spawning blowback, such as giving the seal that bit off Buster's arm the taste for mammal blood.

Michael is the State Department. He gets sent to Iraq with Buster and Gob. He had often been seen as more sane, the adult in the room, but ultimately has been shown to be as twisted as the rest of the family -- foreshadowing the current unfortunate trajectory of the institution he represents.

Lindsay: Is the non-profit sector, perpetually putting on ridiculous fundraisers and staging particularly pointless protests -- all the while eager to sell out, intentionally or not. 

George Michael is Silicon Valley and its connection to academia. While ostensibly pursuing an education, he focuses on projects like his anti-social software Faceblock.

Maeby of course is Hollywood -- she worked at a studio. While her parents Tobias and Lindsay are inept, she's a skilled con artist. But she does have incredible lapses, displaying incredible ignorance of basic religious knowledge and simple mathematics. She was last seen eyeing more money in Silicon Valley as part of her varied incestuous relationship with her cousin George Michael.

Ann Veal ("Egg") represents the politically organized right-wing mega churches: Opulent in their wealth, banal in their persona, shallow in their beliefs, hypocritical in their conduct -- yet with seemingly functioning family structures. 

Lucille 2: Is the donor class, perpetually funding and in bed with one Bluth or another.
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1284454 2018-05-17T14:22:48Z 2018-05-17T14:33:18Z To US Gov, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Tuesday stopped responding to questions on the Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.

While proclaiming a regret of loss of life, she effectively justified the killing: "Israel has a right to defend itself. When people are being sent to the border, they are bringing weapons, they are threatening to cross through the fence, they are throwing Molotov cocktails – Israel has a right to defend itself."

When asked "But in so many flashpoints that are sensitive around the world, regularly the U.S. Government calls for restraint on all sides. It’s such a common, simple thing to say. Why in this case is it so difficult? What would be wrong with calling for restraint on the part of Israel?" Nauert responded: "I think this is a complex region. We’re looking at exactly why protests are taking place, why Hamas is encouraging people to go out and protest, why Hamas is encouraging people to go out right up to the border fence, why they’re encouraging people to try to knock down that fence and go into Israel, why they’re sending kites with Molotov cocktails to try to burn down the fields. Michelle, this is not as innocent as it may seem to many people. Hamas is trying to encourage people to do that, and by doing that, they are putting Palestinian lives at risk. ... Let’s move on. I don’t have anything more for you on this, okay?"

I tried to get questions in a several points and she manged to avoid me through the news conference until the very end, which I attempted to pursue a line of questioning starting with examining the notion that Israel was justified. I wish I came up with more creative way to approach this, but her non response and justification for massive killing is notable.

(36:35) HUSSEINI:  How is it not justification for killing – for Israel killing when you say Israel has the right to defend itself?

MS NAUERT:  Okay, we’re – we’re done with this.

HUSSEINI:  Israel has a right to defend itself --

MS NAUERT:  We’ve already been there.

HUSSEINI:  -- and there are no Israeli casualties --


HUSSEINI:  -- and there are literally tens of – there’s over ten thousand --

MS NAUERT:  I think – I think we’ve covered this extensively already.

HUSSEINI:  -- Palestinian casualties in the – and a hundred dead.

MS NAUERT:  Okay.  Go on, one last question?


MS NAUERT:    Do you have something else?

HUSSEINI:  Excuse me.

QUESTION:  Yes.  On the Lebanese.

HUSSEINI:  Excuse me.  No, no, no.  That requires a response.  And furthermore, I mean, the U.S. isn’t, you know, mowing down people along the U.S.-Mexican border.

MS NAUERT:   We are --

HUSSEINI:  Isn’t that accurate?

MS NAUERT:  We are done with this issue.  We’ve covered it extensively already.  I’ve taken many questions on this, and we’ve --

HUSSEINI:  So, Israel is off the hook again.  Israel is off the hook again.

MS NAUERT:  Sir, thank you – thank you for your question.  I think we’ve covered this already, okay?  I’m sorry; I’ll get back to you another time, okay?

QUESTION:  That’s okay.

MS NAUERT:  Thank you.

See my last questioning at a State Department briefing on March 23, which similarly ended with me asking: "So Israel’s off the hook?"
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1281579 2018-05-08T15:37:56Z 2018-05-08T15:37:57Z Gina Haspel and Torture: Not Just Immoral, but a Tool for More War
With the nomination of Gina Haspel to be director of the CIA, there's rightfully some interest in her record regarding torture

Of course, there are questions of legality and ethics and with respect to torture and it's possible as some have argued that the motivation of Haspel and others in overseeing torture and covering it up may be simple sadism

But -- especially given how little we know about Haspel's record -- it's possible that there's an even more insidious motive in the U.S. government practicing torture: To produce the rigged case for more war. Examining this possibility is made all the more urgent as Trump has put in place what clearly appears to be a war cabinet. My recent questioning at the State Department failed to produce a condemnation of waterboarding by spokesperson Heather Nauert. 

Gina Haspel's hearing on Wednesday gives increased urgency to highlighting her record on torture and how torture has been "exploited." That is, how torture was used to create "intelligence" for select policies, including the initiation of war. 

Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, has stated that neither he nor Powell were aware that the claims that Powell made before the UN just before the invasion of Iraq where partly based on torture. According to Wilkerson, Dick Cheney and the CIA prevailed on Powell to make false statements about a connection between Al-Qaeda and Iraq without telling him the "evidence" they were feeding him was based on tortured evidence. See my piece and questioning of Powell: "Colin Powell Showed that Torture DOES Work." 

The 2014 Senate torture report noted (in an obscure footnote) the case Wilkerson speaks of: “Ibn Shaykh al-Libi" stated while in Egyptian custody and clearly being tortured that "Iraq was supporting al-Qa’ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons. Some of this information was cited by Secretary Powell in his speech at the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ibn Shaykh al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February [censored], 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [censored, likely ‘Egyptians’], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear." (Libi would in due course be turned over to Muammar Gaddafi during a brief period when he was something of a U.S. ally and be conveniently "suicided" in Libyan custody; see my piece "Torture Did Work — to Produce War (See Footnote 857)

The Senate Armed Services Committee in 2008 indicates the attempt to use torture to concoct "evidence" was even more widespread. It quoted Maj. Paul Burney, who worked as a psychiatrist at Guantanamo Bay prison: “A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq and we were not successful. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link ... there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.” The GTMO Interrogation Control Element Chief, David Becker told the Armed Services Committee he was urged to use more aggressive techniques, being told at one point “the office of Deputy Secretary of Defense [Paul] Wolfowitz had called to express concerns about the insufficient intelligence production at GTMO.”

McClatchy reported in 2009 that Sen. Carl Levin, the chair of the Armed Services Committee, said: “I think it’s obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq) ... They made out links where they didn’t exist.”

Exploiting false information has been well understood within the government. Here’s a 2002 memo from the military’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency to the Pentagon’s top lawyer — it debunks the “ticking time bomb” scenario and acknowledged how false information derived from torture can be useful:

"The requirement to obtain information from an uncooperative source as quickly as possible — in time to prevent, for example, an impending terrorist attack that could result in loss of life — has been forwarded as a compelling argument for the use of torture ... The error inherent in this line of thinking is the assumption that, through torture, the interrogator can extract reliable and accurate intelligence. History and a consideration of human behavior would appear to refute this assumption."

The document (released by the Washington Post, which minimized its most critical revelations and was quickly forgotten in most quarters) concludes:

"The application of extreme physical and/or psychological duress (torture) has some serious operational deficits, most notably, the potential to result in unreliable information. This is not to say that the manipulation of the subject’s environment in an effort to dislocate their expectations and induce emotional responses is not effective. On the contrary, systematic manipulation of the subject’s environment is likely to result in a subject that can be exploited for intelligence information and other national strategic concerns." [See PDF]

So torture can result in the subject being “exploited” for various propaganda and strategic concerns.

New York Times reported in Feb. 2017: “Gina Haspel, C.I.A. Deputy Director, Had Leading Role in Torture,” that “Mr. Zubaydah alone was waterboarded 83 times in a single month, had his head repeatedly slammed into walls and endured other harsh methods before interrogators decided he had no useful information to provide. The sessions were videotaped and the recordings stored in a safe at the CIA station in Thailand until 2005, when they were ordered destroyed. By then, Ms. Haspel was serving at CIA headquarters, and it was her name that was on the cable carrying the destruction orders.” 

Some have made an issue of videos of torture being destroyed --  but it’s been widely assumed that they were destroyed simply because of the potentially graphic nature of the abuse or to hide the identity of those doing the torture. But there’s another distinct possibility: They were destroyed because of the questions they document being asked. Do the torturers ask: “Is there another terrorist attack?” Or do they compel: “Tell us that Iraq and Al-Qaeda are working together.”? The video evidence to answer that question has apparently been destroyed by order of Haspel -- with barely anyone raising the possibility of that being the reason.

Even beyond the legal and ethical concerns, the following questions are in order: 

* Are you familiar with the case of Ibn Shaykh al-Libi? Do you acknowledge that he was tortured at the behest of the U.S. government by the Egyptian government to produce a false confession that Iraq was linked to al Qaeda and therefore a pretext for war; Colin Powell presenting that at the UN?

* Why were others similarly tortured in 2002 and 2003? Was it really to allegedly protect us, or was it to gain fabricated statements that could be used to rig the case for the Iraq invasion?

* Are you familiar with the practice of exploiting torture?

* Have you ever participated in in any way -- or helped cover up -- the exploitation of torture? 

* Why did you order the destruction of the video tapes of the torture?

* What assurance do we have that you and others who were involved in this won't do it all again?

* Why do you approve of and cover up for torture? Is it sadism or is it to achieve strategic purposes? What of the motives of your cohorts and superiors? 

Sam Husseini is senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy. 
]]> Osama Husseini