Friday, December 17, 2004

Democracy Now's exclusive interview with Aidan Delgado -- Abu Ghraib witness; and DNC debate: Donna Brazile & Manning Marable

Please try to check out Democracy Now! today.  Lead story:
"In a Democracy Now! national broadcast exclusive, we speak with former Army Reserve Specialist Aidan Delgado. He served in Iraq from April 2003 to April 2004 where he was deployed in Nasiriyah and Abu Ghraib. Soon after his arrival in Iraq, he sought conscientious objector status and turned in his weapon. At Abu Ghraib, he witnessed U.S. soldiers abuse and kill Iraqi detainees. After serving his full tour of duty, Aidan Delgado was finally granted conscientious objector status and was honorably discharged."
You can listen, watch or read the transcripts for all segments.

AIDAN DELGADO: Well, by the time I got into Abu Ghraib, I had made it clear to the command that I was very critical of the war, that I was a pacifist, virtually, that I had no interest in doing what they were doing. So they knew I was not going to play ball. They knew I was not going to tow the party line. So they tried to keep me as far away from prisoners, prison operations as possible. Ultimately, they relegated me to the very undesirable duty of working in the battalion headquarters. It was a long shift, and it was far away from my company. But there I got a good inside view of sort of the running of the prison and I got to know a lot of what was going on there. I was working in the command with bunch of officers and with sort of all of the key paperwork. That's where I found some things that really disturbing like I discovered that the majority of prisoners at Abu Ghraib weren't even insurgents. They weren't even there for crimes against the coalition. They were there for petty crimes: Theft, public drunkenness. And they were here in this horrible, extremely dangerous prison. That's when I began to feel, oh, my God, I can't believe I'm even participating in this. Then there was sort of a series of demonstrations or prisoner protests against the conditions, against the cold, against the lack of food and the type of food. And the military's response to these demonstrations was, I felt, extremely heavy-handed. I'm not going to say it was illegal. I don't have the background to bring a legalistic challenge, but I will say that it was immoral, the amount of force they responded with. And I think I shared some images of prisoners beaten to within an inch of their life or dead, by the guards. And five prisoners that I know of were shot dead during a demonstration for what amounted to throwing stones. I just felt it was extremely heavy-handed. I was very disillusioned with how the military handled it.

Manning Marable vs. Donna Brazile on the Future of the Democratic Party


MANNING MARABLE: It's a pleasure to be on Democracy Now! this morning and especially with Donna Brazile. Many things that Donna has said this morning I agree with. I think that clearly mainstream democrats represent, both ideologically and in terms of public policy, positions that are clearly centrist and relatively speaking to the left of the Republican Party. Unfortunately, it's not very hard to be to the left of the Republican Party these days. I think that two things concern me. One: Voter mobilization, or the lack of it, in 2004 in central cities. Any veteran voter organizer knows the five-touch rule. You have got to individually touch – and Donna, I'm sure, knows this, a prospective voter five times with literature, face-to-face contact, to insure that that voter is truly motivated to turn out at the polls. And despite the left’s mobilization of voters in central cities, and unprecedented voter mobilizations and as Juan says correctly, in certain suburban areas, in our central cities, we did not adequately see the Democratic Party put major resources, sufficiently to insure that those who are -- have less than high school education, those who are unemployed, those who are immigrants or recent immigrants, racialized minorities, Latinos and Blacks, truly have the turnout rates we needed to have in order to win this election. Secondly, I think that the media's done a disservice not just to the Democratic Party, but more broadly to working Americans by making the case that the right wing somehow has a magical mandate in 2004. It just isn't so. If you had a switch of 150,000 votes in Ohio. You will have President Kerry right now. Now, we don't have a real democracy in the United States because we still have an electoral college, and constitutionally, it's going to be extremely difficult to get rid of it.


DONNA BRAZILE: Well, let's put something on the table, and I said it publicly and I have written about it. Karl Rove and the republicans had one focus, and that was to energize and to enlarge their base. That was the key to their success. They understood the electorate was deeply polarized and that the goal was to insure that they -- you know, got their base out. The democrats had a different approach. If you look at how the money was spent, both at the 527's, the, the Democratic Party the formula was the same. And the formula was to reach 'tweens, persuadables, independents. Base voters, and I saw it -- Move On did ads in the last two months of the campaign, the Kerry people did them, the last two, the 527's, they didn't go after the base, two, three months out. They went after the base, you know, just a couple of weeks out. That was a strategic error on the party of the Kerry Campaign, and I have criticized them for having leftover money, money that could have been used to reach people. You know, you reach them where they live, where they eat, where they play and where they pray. You reach them multiple times. But In the inner cities, as I said some months ago, Send my dad a bumper sticker! We donÂ’t do it, and thatÂ’s a strategic flaw in the Democratic party and thatÂ’s why this fight for the party chair is a very important strategic struggle for the left and for progressive forces. And I am not going to allow the D.L.C. and the more centrist conservative leadership to determine and dictate who the next chair will be based on the fact that they want somebody who can go out and speak on Sunday shows. I want somebody who can go out and organize in the inner cities as well as the suburbs and ex-urbs, and go out and enlarge our base and to be able to make our party more competitive across the -- across the country.

AMY GOODMAN: Donna Brazile, you said D.L.C., Democratic Leadership Council. Who do you mean by the D.L.C.?

DONNA BRAZIL: What I mean by that -- because I have seen several stories written, and often when democrats lose, I saw this in 2000 and 2002 and some other years, they constantly blame it on the -- you know, the party focused too much time on the base. That's ludicrous. Look at the money. I have run a presidential campaign, so I can speak from experience. 85% of the resources in a presidential campaign is spent on persuadables, of swing voters which is -- they're important, don't get me wrong, but I often believe we need a parallel strategy.

The transcripts are up and these are topics that on this blog that we are talking and talking about.  Who will head the DNC?  Where is the humanity with regards to our actions in Iraq?  These are stories worth reading, listening and/or viewing. 

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