Pick Your Global Protests

Three years ago, on February 15, 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, there were quasi-global peace protests.

The streets of New York City, London, Rome, Madrid, Johannesburg, Hong Kong and many other places were filled with people protesting against the then-impending invasion of Iraq.

It's a shame that those protests didn't happen earlier -- imagine if they happened before Congress gave its dubious "authorization" for war in October 2002, for example. It's conceivable at least that Bush would have had a harder time launching the invasion.

But it is more regretful that these protests have not grown; have not continued to include more of the globe and have not become deeper in nature. Quite the contrary, they have atrophied. Over a month ago I was on a program on Pacifica station WBAI's appropriately-named program "Wake Up Call" in New York with leaders from various groups: United for Peace and Justice, International Answer and International Action Center. I challenged them on their non-follow-up on global protests. They all ignored the point. [Listen at the Wake Up Call archive blog.]

In the last few weeks we have seen very different quasi-global protests in various Arab and Muslim countries sparked by the insulting depictions of Muhammad.

I don't think the two events are un-related. The "peace movement" in the U.S. has not meaningfully reached out to the rest of the world, most notably people in Arab and Muslim countries -- even as it criticizes Bush for his "unilateralism". Where are the regular global protests? Where are the global sister cities projects? Where are the internet chat rooms where people can cross cultures and learn about others' perspectives and organize for a more just world?

Why has the peace movement not built these structures? I suspect that it is because building a new just world from the ground up would first, require alot of work that goes beyond rhetorical denunciations of Bush; but it would also open the door to what I said: a new just world. That is, the global inequalities which currently exist would have to be addressed and ultimately eliminated. However much they are opposed to Bush, many in the U.S. I think must feel threatened by such a possibility. Working with others requires working with people raised in other cultures; that can be enrolling, it can also be uncomfortable and threatening.

So there are no global protests every month expressing solidarity and demanding justice. Instead, there are protests of the sort we are now seeing: a wounded and insulted people lashing out in an unproductive fashion.

So, we need to pick our protests. If people in places of privilege who say they want change really want to establish methods by which we can all interact with mutual respect and justice; then we need to have the courage to change and build a global peace and justice movement from the ground up. If we don't really want that, we'll do nothing substantial; gripe at Bush (and pro-war Dems for that matter) and then watch as other protests develop and gradually engulf the world.

Pick your protests. Pick your world.

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 15, 2006]

A Political Confessional

As I understand it, one is not supposed to edit their own Wikipedia entry. Today I violated that rule by editing -- starting, really -- the entry on me, which was just a stub. The rub is I crited me:

Criticisms of Husseini

Husseini wrote the article "Follow the Policy: Why So Long for Iraq to Comply?" shortly before the invasion of Iraq. The piece purported to explain why Iraq hadn't complied with the United Nations disarmament demands. It ignored the possibility that Iraq had actually complied. This was the case even though Husseini in other instances had questioned the U.S. government claim that Iraq had not complied.

It felt good, but I of course reserve the right to respond to these allegations.

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 13, 2006]

What Would Muhammad Do?

People being bombed, occupied and oppressed. Would the Prophet Muhammad -- if peace is to be upon him -- do what some of his alleged followers are doing? Would he be upset at how he is depicted -- or how the poor and oppressed are treated? Is peace to come to him with some people, in his name, acting as they do?

And so, people in "the West" can pretend that it's cartoons that Muslims are upset about; not bombings and occupations and oppression.

This global non-dialogue must end. True civilization must begin. 

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 7, 2006]

Post SotU - My Day Job Goes All Night

My work at "double you double you double you dot a sea see you are a see why dot oh are gee" has led to this one-page PDF crit of the State of the Union Address. If people can get photocopies made, and have the guts and love to share information with other people they see in the course of a day, we have the tools to build an information infrastructure to foster democracy at the local level. Let the blogosphere hit the grassroots. Samizdat away!

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 2, 2006]

To Effectively Challenge Bush, Democrats Need New Leadership

On Monday Al Gore gave a speech on the NSA spying and other issues filled with accurate accusations about the Bush administration. On Tuesday, this was defused by the White House pointing to the "hypocrisy" of someone from the Clinton-Gore administration, which had a very poor record on civil liberties, being a spokesperson on the issue. There was actually some substance to the charge, though the Bush administration hardly has standing on the issue.

The same pattern has been apparent on Iraq. Whenever the Bush administration has been cornered, for example on its lies about non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, it has pointed to the Clinton administration and present-day Democratic leadership having made similar statements. Therefore the record and prominence of these Democrats is defacto helping the Bush administration continue its policies.

The Democrats are being led by people who voted to authorize the unconstitutional war -- such as Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton; and people who made warrentless claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction such as Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean, who have failed to even indicate repentance about their statements when given the opportunity to do so.

Republicans, when targeting a Democratic president have ditched their leadership to achieve their goal. In December 1998, as Clinton was facing the prospect of impeachment, Republican Bob Livingston was about to replace Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House. It was then revealed that Livingston had had affairs. On December 17, 1998, Livingston admitted to having affairs, but said he would not relinquish becoming House Speaker. Two days later, he resigned and the impeachment of Clinton proceeded. Notable, the Clinton administration appealed to Livingston to stay on.

There are Democrats who stood up to Bush before the war in one manner or another and have continued to so. The most obvious are Jim McDermott, who in 2002 said Bush was lying about Iraq, when it was manifestly unfashionable to do; Barbara Lee, who voted against one of the initial 9-11 presidential powers resolutions; Cynthia McKinney, who lost her seat in 2002 for her questioning of the administration and Dennis Kucinich who, among other things, held a series of hearings during the buildup to the Iraq invasion about the Bush administration's disinformation (I was a panelist at one of the hearings). I'm sure there are others.

If the Democratic Party wants to be a serious entity, the people who have been manifestly complicit with the Bush administration plans for war and unconstitutional actions -- or who claim to be so naive that they believed Bush's rhetoric -- need to step aside; and people who scrutinized Bush and have continued to do so need to become the leadership. If it wants to enable more of the Bush administration's policies, it will continue on its current track.

[originally published at husseini.org on Jan. 19, 2006]

Beyond Vietnam and Iraq: Martin Luther King and the Deeper Malady

I can't count the number of times someone has told me that the antiwar movement is going great because it's so far ahead of "where we were in Vietnam." That is, the notion that we should compare the timeline of US intervention in Vietnam and that of Iraq.

It's a thought designed to make one feel good, to say that there is progress when a closer examination would indicate otherwise. A big problem with this line of reasoning is that it implies that the U.S. government attack on Iraq began in 2003. Of course it didn't; you had the U.S. bombing of the infrastructure of Iraq and imposition of sanctions in 1990-91. The sanctions were maintained throughout the first Bush administration, through two Clinton administration terms and remained virtually invisible through 9-11. But somehow activists in the U.S. are supposed to be happy with how much better we're doing than "during Vietnam."

The self-congratulations is also dubious when bearing in mind these words of Martin Luther King Jr. in his "Beyond Vietnam" speech:

"The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality...and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing 'clergy and laymen concerned' committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. And so, such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God."

The sad fact is that the Vietnam War happened, and seemed to end, but that there was no serious addressing of the deeper malady; it festers and grows and is even invisible as we pretend to congratulate ourselves.

[originally published at husseini.org on Jan. 16, 2006]

Pre-script of Bush's Oval Office Address Tonight: "Please Forgive Me"

Oval Office, the White House

9:01 P.M. EST, Dec. 18, 2005

My fellow citizens -- and fellow citizens of the world -- tonight I want to speak to you from my heart about the war in Iraq and the direction of my presidency.

The last time I spoke to you from this room, I told you that I had ordered the invasion of Iraq. I said it was about disarmament; it wasn't. I said I was doing it for your security; I wasn't. I said we had no designs on Iraq and simply wanted freedom for the Iraqi people; that was false. I also told you I attempted to avoid war -- that was perhaps the biggest lie.

The situation in Iraq is dire. We have cynically played factions off against each other. Our troops are killing Iraqis on a regular basis, terrorists which now operate in Iraq are killing innocents wantonly. The way we conducted ourselves has inflamed the most fanatic elements in the region. Apparently one of those groups has abducted members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams and now threatens to kill them.

My administration methodically drove toward an illegal war. We did this for our vanity, because the institutions which support us wanted it that way and those that claim they were opposed to that course didn't do what was needed to stop us. We've lied at virtually every turn before the invasion and we've lied since to keep up the rationale and to position ourselves to dominate the region. We have used the rhetoric of democracy, as with the recent vote in Iraq, to mask our true intentions and give Iraq a veneer of democracy and sovereignty while we have laid our plans for domination as we build 14 permanent military bases there. I want to let go of those plans and help in whatever way I can to ensure authentic democracy in Iraq -- and around the world. Our current course is fueling resentment and it is only a matter of time when the U.S. will be attacked in a manner even worse than 9-11.

Many did criticize my policies, but in the cocoon that is this office, all I heard were partisan and personal attacks, and all that did was harden my heart even more. The Democrats who engaged in similar deceptions about Iraqi WMDs in the Clinton administration and in today's Congress made all I did easier, not harder.

It was my recently learning of the work of the Christian Peacemaker Teams and the members now held hostage in Iraq that set me on a journey. I privately found out about their work after they were abducted. Their web page asks "What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war?" People proclaiming any faith or ethical structure can ask themselves such questions.

And these people have made an effort to do that. They have bravely gone to Iraqi neighborhoods, knowing full well that -- largely because of our governmental policies -- they may be resented and be in grave danger. They have lovingly talked and broken bread with Iraqis. More than talked, they documented the testimony of Iraqis about the torture going on in the prisons we run there. They did this even before many of you saw the horrible pictures from Abu Ghraib.

The group Swords of Righteousness says it will kill these good people unless all prisoners are released from Guantanamo and from Iraqi prisons. I cannot do that, but I can now say that all Guantanamo detainees will quickly either have charges put up against them and be tried in a constitutional manner -- or they will be freed; the same for all prisoners in Iraq.

If you are truly Swords of Righousness, and your criminal act was misdirected but your intentions just, you will now release the members of the Christian Peacemaker Team -- Tom Fox, Harmeet Sooden, Norman Kember, and James Loney. Upon their release, given the work that they have selflessly done, I fully expect that it is they who will be greeted with flowers and sweets in the streets of Baghdad. They will certainly be greeted with warmth and love here whenever they decide to visit me.

I am ordering our military command to withdraw all troops from Iraq within six months. This will include military contractors and will be done in an orderly manner. I request international peacekeepers from other nations with no major interests in Iraq to help the Iraqi people whom we have so damaged. I pray the families of those Iraqis killed -- and the number of such people likely far exceeds the 30,000 I claimed recently -- will forgive me for what I have done, and will now embrace what I am doing. We will pay compensation as a small token of our regret to the Iraqis killed in this war we have started. [Bush weeps, but continues with the address.]

I pray that the families of the soldiers who bravely went to fight a war they thought was just will please forgive me. I will attend as many funerals of U.S. service people as I possibly can and will do whatever I can to help put together shattered lives. I hope my actions will bring near the day when I can be accepted in Iraq so I can visit with Iraqis who have lost loved ones as a result of my actions and apologize in person. [Bush wipes his tears.]

My taking this course should not have rested on my spiritual journey; Congress should have stopped me from violating the Constitution and its War Powers clause; it did not. The United Nations should have stopped our nation from violating the UN Charter; it did not. The major media outlets should have exposed our lies; instead they amplified them. And you, the public at large, should have arisen in revulsion in a sustained manner. You did not. We must all change radically.

I believe that I have committed crimes; but I do now have sovereign immunity. I will now use that to redress wrongs I have done. I fully accept responsibility for what I have done and will accept the ruling of a legitimate legal authority when my term as president ends.

The best way to stop the insurgency now is to speak the truth and to listen, to change our policies when they are unjust, and they have been unjust long before 9-11, and to lovingly criticize others in legitimate ways. And that is what I am doing. Up until now, I have used fear to bully people into going along with war for illegitimate goals.

I am asking for the resignations of Vice President Cheney and of my entire cabinet; none of them expected to hear this speech tonight. I wish them the best, but I believe I need a new cabinet to do what we must do. Many people who are unwilling to grow, embrace and change will likely viciously attack what I am saying tonight; this does not mean I don't welcome criticism. But I know how it works, it's when a person or group stands for what is right that illegitimate power strikes against them; indeed I know all too well how it works.

To those of you who have been right, and have criticized me for reasons of principle: I ask for your forgiveness and hope you will now work with me to truly build a better world. To those of you who have been wrong as I have been wrong: I ask that you now change and grow with me. To those of you who have backed Bin Ladin and his crimes: I ask that you now also radically change as we together overcome our worst demons and embrace each others' -- and everyones' -- humanity.

Goodnight and may God bless all Humanity.

9:12 P.M. EST

This text was pre-scribed by Sam Husseini.

[originally published at husseini.org on Dec. 18, 2005]

Thanks for Dancing...

[Bush stayed put in Crawford this year; I'd guess that the protests that met him there were more subdued than those what would have had he gone to Iraq again -- assuming that people in Iraq could exercises democratic rights Bush claims to be helping to bestow upon them. Below is a piece I wrote in 2003 with Bob Jensen when Bush popped up in Iraq for Thanksgiving. It makes reference to "Dances with Wolves", which was shown on PBS today.

[Most striking scene on this viewing for me was John Dunbar dancing alone around the fire in his camp -- made a nice connection between Native American and modern dance. Standout line was Dunbar saying that white hunters, who slaughtered a field of buffalo only for their pelts and tongues, were "a people without value and without soul."

[Until I did a search today, I didn't realize that the hit movie came out the year before the 1991 Gulf War; guess it's harder for some to make the connections than others. "The Journal of John Dunbar." Now there's a potential best seller.]

New Purported Bush Tape Raises Fear of New Attacks

by the Disassociated Press 

A tape today surfaced in U.S. media outlets of someone purporting to be George W. Bush at a U.S. military base in Baghdad.

Intelligence analysts around the world are studying the videotapes. "It certainly looked and sounded like him, but we get so few glimpses at Bush in real-life situations that it is hard to tell," said one operative from a Western intelligence agency.

People who know Bush said it appeared to be him. "That's him, all right," said one longtime associate.

The tape shows the man claiming to be Bush praising U.S. attacks in Iraq. "We will stay until the job is done," he threatened.

The videotape was delivered to the Baghdad bureau of FOX News by an intermediary courier who has brought material before from the U.S. military, according to the U.S. network.

There were calls for FOX to be banned from some Arabic countries for broadcasting American militaristic propaganda.

While the quality of the tape was not poor, the alleged Bush did appear tired in portions of it, prompting speculation that he is on the run.

The man claiming to be Bush said: "We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq, pay a bitter cost in casualties, defeat a brutal dictator and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins."

Analysts pointed out that given the ongoing nature of the Iraqi resistance since "the end of major combat operations," that comment could have been recorded anytime in the past six months.

"When the man identified as Bush tells U.S. troops, 'You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq so we don't have to face them in our own country,' well, it's a little hard to believe that even the Bush White House would try to spin that," said the operative from a Western intelligence agency.

"How could anyone believe, after all that has been disclosed about the lies and distortions used to manipulate the public into accepting this war, that U.S. troops are defending the American people in Iraq? No major world leader would be so obtuse or so low as to try to sell that to people at this stage."

Members of the Iraqi Governing Council who met with the man identified as Bush said they had met with a man identified as Bush and were delaying comment until Paul Bremer was available to tell them what their comments would be.

Omar Ali, an Iraqi in a poor area of Baghdad said: "I don't understand why he didn't stay. Just because the U.S. nearly starved us with the sanctions for 12 years, killed my cousin during the invasion, busted down my door last week and is trying to find a way to steal our oil -- does he think that Iraqis would want to hurt him, our great liberator?"

Private Charles Sanders, who has been stationed in Iraq since the invasion said: "I was supposed to be back home by now. It was really getting depressing, but this is great. Sure, I don't get to look into the eyes of my little girl, or hold my wife tenderly in my arms, but the president served me turkey!"

Susan Jones in Pittsburgh, who this morning was driven to tears while watching "Dances with Wolves" on cable TV, said: "I was planning on talking over the Thanksgiving Day table with my family about how we slaughtered the Indians and enslaved the blacks, bullied Latin America and bombed Vietnam, and now were occupying Iraq. I don't know, is it just me, or do we just have this brutal aggressive side to us? But now I guess, well, just talk about Bush's visit instead."

When asked whether she was certain the president had gone to Iraq, Laura Bush said she hadn't noticed her husband had left the Crawford ranch. "I assumed he was out clearing brush," the First Lady said.

Correspondents Robert Jensen and Sam Husseini contributed to this report.

[originally published at husseini.org on Nov. 25, 2005]

Confronting Miller: Kalb Covers for Miller who Covers ... for Whom?

I admit it, I was angry. Tens of thousands killed, the rule of law under major assault, the United States driven to war on a pack of lies. And there, Judith Miller was having a very pleasant chat with Marvin Kalb of the "Kalb Report" at the National Press Club last Monday night.

Before the event, I'd discussed with Jon Schwarz the best question to ask Miller. We decided it should be about her two famous "aluminum tubes" stories published in September, 2002 claiming Iraq had an ongoing nuclear weapons program.

The first story was published on September 8. It indicated the tubes were surely intended for uranium enrichment, with no hint of the vociferous debate within U.S. intelligence agencies over this. The second story, on September 13, did mention the debate -- but also included this:

An administration official called discussions about the aluminum tubes and Iraq's intentions "a normal part of the intelligence process"... He added that the best technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the C.I.A. assessment [the tubes were for a nuclear program].

This would seem to settle the matter for any normal reader of the New York Times -- sure, there are a few uninformed holdouts, but the people who really know what they're talking about think the tubes are part of a program for nuclear weapons.

There's just one problem: what this "administration official" said was flatly false. Indeed, it's one of the most brazen lies told by the Bush administration in the lead up to war.

As the Senate Intelligence Committee found in July, 2004 the director of Oak Ridge's Field Intelligence Element said "the vast majority of scientists and nuclear experts at the DOE and the National Labs did not agree with the CIA's analysis."

Several month later in October, 2004, the New York Times itself reported that the government's "A-Team" of experts -- including the head of Oak Ridge's national security advanced technology group -- strongly disagreed with the C.I.A.

So I was curious: what would Judith Miller now say about this? Would she break her confidentiality agreement with an administration official who'd given her a falsehood to help deceive the world toward war?

No. No, she wouldn't.

Miller was given incredible leeway to talk and not talk about what she pleased by Kalb. In the course of their discussion, Miller did rather proudly cite her second aluminum tubes story of September 13, 2002.

So I asked: "Your second story on the aluminum tubes, which you referenced, talked about administration officials saying that the scientists in Oak Ridge thought that the aluminum tubes were suited towards nuclear weapons production. We now know that that's false. The scientist at Oak Ridge thought no such thing. But the administration officials lied to you. Are you going to continue to protect these administration officials who use you as a conveyor belt or are you right here and now --"

[audience clapping]

Kalb, silencing audience: "Hold on, Hold on."

I continued: "-- are you right here and now going to start to come clean and put your readers allegedly above the people who you schmooze with and your sources in the government who pushed toward war … Are you going to tell us who that administration official was who put forward that false fact?"

Kalb turned to Miller and asked her: "Do you want to answer the question?"

Miller responded: "Um -- I reported what I knew at the time and you will see that the New York Times reported, finally, the Oak Ridge story."

I immediately challenged the evasion, asking her to answer my question. Kalb tried to stop me; Miller then said: "I'm not going to answer it ... because I don't even remember writing that sentence about Oak Ridge because I haven't even looked at the story, certainly not for a year before I went to jail. If you want to see what it's like to protect officials, trying going to jail and then you can judge my reporting. I did the best I could, I'm not perfect, but the only thing we can do is keep going out and keep trying to get to the truth; the Times did that."

When I tried to point out the fallacy of her talking about "trying to get to the truth" when she just refused to do so by not giving the us the name of the official who dispensed propaganda through her, Kalb interrupted my follow-up: "You're being unfair." When I told him he, like Miller, was a pathetic excuse for a journalist, he told me to leave; I didn't and was naive enough to blandly say I wouldn't leave, rather than offer to be happy to leave if Miller would answer the question, which she never did.

The blogger (who I don't know) Lost in America, covered it thus: "Marvin Kalb, the last man hired by Murrow, used the Kalb Report's one hour and 15 minutes to let Judith talk about whatever she was most comfortable with. And when a member of the audience asked a tough question about her unnamed sources, Kalb got upset, Miller did not answer and three security people showed up quickly in the back. ... Kalb served a lot of fluff tonight -- a tea party for the elite, where no mud shall be thrown and no exposures shall be made."

So, Miller is saying she "doesn't remember writing that sentence about Oak Ridge," which no one cares if she remembers writing. And that after going to jail to protect official sources "then you can judge my reporting," which is ridiculous on its face.

More broadly, Miller says she wants continue reporting, but what she's doing is continuing to coverup. In this attitude, she is a distilled microcosm of the mass of U.S. media which was at bare minimum complicit in the WMD lies.

If Miller were really interested in getting at the "truth" by doing good reporting to overcome bad, then she could begin by telling us the name of that official; who, if she were interested in the "truth," she would be furious with. Also, she said in her chat with Kalb that Bush was bent on war no matter what, which directly contracts what Bush himself claims; if she were a bit of a journalist, clearly she'd be interested in revealing more of that.

But it's worse than her being a pathetic excuse for a journalist, she is part of the continuing efforts to lie about this war, and proved that Monday night once again by refusing to share with us who the source was that used her -- or was she using the source? -- to deceive for a war that killed tens of thousands...

[originally published at husseini.org on Nov. 16, 2005]