Monday, June 27, 2005

Democracy Now: Barbara Olshansky & Arundhati Roy (World Tribunal on Iraq); Bob Somerby, Tom Hayden, CODEPINK

Democracy Now! ("always worth watching" as Marcia says)
Headlines for June 27, 2005

- Italy Orders Arrest of 13 CIA Agents Over Kidnapping
- Rumsfeld: Iraqi Resistance Could Last A Decade
- U.S. Suffers Worst Attack on Women in Uniform Since 1945
- U.S. Plans To Produce Plutonium 238 Again
- U.S. Criticized For Detaining Muslims as "Material Witnesses"
- Israeli Tribunal Convicts Soldier in Tom Hurndall Killing
- South Africa Marks 50th Anniversary of Freedom Charter
Israeli Tribunal Convicts Soldier in Tom Hurndall Killing
In Israel, a military tribunal has convicted a former soldier in the killing of British peace activist Tom Hurndall. The 22-year-old Hurndall was shot in 2002 as he helped Palestinians take cover. He was visiting Gaza as a member of the International Solidarity Movement. After nine months in a coma, he died last year.
Conservative Tehran Mayor Wins Upset Victory in Iran Run-Off Presidential Election

Tehran's conservative mayor won an upset victory in Iran's run-off presidential election on Friday. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad garnered 62 percent of 28 million votes, beating reformist former-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. We speak with Baruch College professor Ervand Abrahamian and Norman Solomon of the Institute for Public Accuracy.
Italy Judge Orders Arrest of 13 CIA Agents For Illegally Kidnapping Cleric in Milan

The agents are accused of seizing the cleric - without permission from Italian officials - and then sending him to Egypt where he was reportedly tortured. This marks the first time a foreign government has filed criminal charges against US citizens involved in counter-terrorism work abroad. [includes rush transcript]
The World Tribunal on Iraq wrapped its three-day session today in Istanbul, Turkey. The tribunal investigated various issues on Iraq including the legality of the war, the role of the United Nations, war crimes and the role of the media, as well as the destruction of the cultural sites and the environment. We play excerpts of addresses by human rights attorney Barbara Olshansky and Indian writer Arundhati Roy. [includes rush transcript]
Introduction to this segment:
The World Tribunal on Iraq wrapped its three day session today in Istanbul, Turkey. Torture and rendition was a main theme of the testimony heard there.

Among the speakers at the tribunal this weekend was human rights attorney Barbara Olshansky of the Center for Constiutional Rights. She is author the book, "America's Disappeared: Secret Imprisonment, Detainees, and the "War on Terror."

  • Barbara Olshansky, attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights addressing the World Tribunal on Iraq, June 26, 2005.

The gathering was modeled after the International War Crimes Tribunal that British philosopher Bertrand Russell formed in 1967 during the Vietnam War. Speakers included Indian writer Arundhati Roy, former UN Assistant Secretary General Dennis Halliday, independent journalist Dahr Jamail and others.

This year's gathering was the culminating session of commissions of inquiry and hearings on the Iraq war held around the world over the past two years.

The Istanbul Tribunal consisted of three days of hearings investigating various issues related to the war on Iraq, such as the legality of the war, the role of the United Nations, war crimes and the role of the media, as well as the destruction of the cultural sites and the environment.

A 17-member Jury of Conscience at the Tribunal heard testimonies from a panel of advocates and witnesses who came from across the world, including from Iraq, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The jury delivered its verdict and recommendations at a news conference this morning. The preliminary verdict read in part, "Recognizing the right of the Iraqi people to resist the illegal occupation of their country and to develop independent institutions, and affirming that the right to resist the occupation is the right to wage a struggle for self-determination, freedom, and independence as derived from the Charter of the United Nations, we the Jury of Conscience declare our solidarity with the people of Iraq."

We go now to jury chair Arundhati Roy's remarks yesterday, following testimony from witnesses of the war and occupation.

  • Arundhati Roy, Chair of Jury of Conscience, addressing the World Tribunal on Iraq, June 26, 2005.
Beyond Marriage: A Progressive Gay Rights Agenda

As the religious right puts gay marriage at the center of national politics, we look at a broader agenda for the progressive queer rights movement. As the government cuts back on social spending, the family unit has to pick up the slack and therefore marriage is enshrined as never before even as fewer households have access to its benefits. We speak with Richard Kim of the Nation Magazine.
Moving from Democracy Now! to  The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby's dealing with those who rushed to get Rove's back as well as Woody's Plan of Attack and Bully Boy's fixing the intell.  We'll note this section:

SEQUEL--PIMPING STRONG LEADER: Plan of Attack is full of passages which show the Bush Admin "fixing the intel." But it's also driven by peculiar anecdotes which tilt things in Bush's favor. For example, when the Bush Admin starts faking the intel in August 2002, it turns out that it isn't Bush's fault. Cheney is to blame, we're told; according to Woodward's implausible account, Bush didn't ask his VP what he planned to say in that August 26 speech--the speech where Cheney "issued his own personal National Intelligence Estimate" of Hussein and stopped "just short of a declaration of war" (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/23/05). And that puzzling anecdote from December 2002 takes Bush off the hook as well. In this case, Tenet is the fall guy. He assures Bush that the WMD are "a slam dunk;" Bush is portrayed as a knowing Wise Leader, warning everyone, "several times," that they shouldn't "stretch" the intelligence (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/25/05). Of course, Bush himself has been "stretching the intel" for months--but Woodward agrees not to notice. Chronologically, this story makes little sense--but journalists ran to recite it.

Yes, there's a string of puzzling anecdotes in Plan of Attack which tilt the tale in Bush's favor. But before we review the most laughable Bush-friendly passage, let's examine the anecdote from this book which may be most telling of all. We refer to the passage in which we learn how Attack came to be written.

How did Woodward come to write Plan of Attack? For this, we return to December 2002. Woodward is attending a party:

WOODWARD (page 243): That evening, December 18, my wife, Elsa Walsh, and I attended a huge White House Christmas Party for the media hosted by the president and his wife. The Bushes stood for hours in a receiving line as a photographer snapped pictures with the first couple. When we reached the front of the line, the president remarked that my book Bush at War was selling well.

"Top of the charts," he said, and asked, "Are you going to do another book?" He then stretched out his arms and indicated with his body language that there might be a story there, that it should be done.

"Maybe it will be called 'More Bush at War,'" I said.

"Let's hope not," Laura Bush said, almost mournfully.

Instead, the new book was called Plan of Attack, and upon its release in April 2004, it too was selling well--and journalists stampeded to recite that "slam dunk" tale, the one which made Bush such a wise, honest leader. The anecdote made no chronological sense, but all good scribes ran to recite it.

Yes, scribes all knew which tale to pimp--and which tales to ignore. But for the record, when they speed-read Plan of Attack, they encountered one more Bush-friendly story--an anecdote which is laugh-out-loud funny. The events take place on Bush's Christmas vacation in early 2003, shortly after the pleasing meeting at which Wise Leader warns his aides not to stretch. In this passage, Woodward describes a meeting between Bush and Karl Rove, in which Rove foolishly tries to get Bush to think about self-interest. Not since Chairman Mao swam that river has anyone peddled a sillier portrait of a Dear, Wise Leader in action.

Now, we're turning over the rest of this post to Tom Hayden excerpts.
Shelia e-mailed to note how much she enjoyed the Baby Cries a Lot entry and wanted to add to it by noting Tom Hayden's "Al Franken, liberal hawk?" (The Huffington Post):
Is anyone else disappointed with Al Franken's daily defense of the continued war in Iraq? Not Bush's version of the war, because that would undermine Air America's laudable purpose of rallying an anti-Bush audience. But, well, Kerry's version of the war, one that can be better managed and won, somehow with better body armor and fewer torture cells. This morning Franken was endorsing Sen. Joe Biden's proposal to send 5,000 NATO troops to close the Syrian-Iraq border, bring in foreign trainers for the Iraqi officer corps, and put Iraqis to work cleaning up the destruction of our invasion. "Last chance to get it right."

But get what right? Now that Bush has manipulated us into the invasion, Franken thinks, we have no choice but to...stay until we crush the insurgents. It's a humanitarian excuse for open-ended American occupation. And it's shared widely by the professional political and pundit class who think of themselves as the conscience of the American establishment and the leadership of the Democratic Party.


Now from Hayden's "Letter to MoveOn re: Iraq" (The Huffington Post):

Friend. Sorry we argued without getting to a conclusion in DC, then I saw the latest MoveOn mailing and it moves me to respond. First of all, MoveOn has been a true innovation with historical impacts and implications, no doubt about that. My concern is with the invisible, perhaps unconcious framework that seems to shape the direction.

First, MoveOn seems very much tied to the direction of the Democratic Party in its posture against the Republicans. That makes it difficult, perhaps impossible, for MoveOn to take on Democrats like Pelosi for their pro-war positions of the past six months, or the general Democratic view that Iraq was a mistake but it would be a bigger mistake to withdraw (or, the war was a mistake to enter, but now we have to win). The result is that the broad and independent anti-war movement can only rely on MoveOn where Republicans are the problem. That weakens the movement by taking away resources and spurring divisions.

Second, the marketing/direct mail philosophy which makes MoveOn successful can also make the organization go AWOL when the anti-war struggle hits a downturn, as during the past six months. As you described in detail, MoveOn not only polls its members with questions that MoveOn frames, MoveOn pours through data to determine how to move voters, say in red states. This is the stuff of the two-party system and corporate marketing, so it must work. But there is no role for leadership when voters slip into confusion, ambiguity, etc. the result is that MoveOn can be missing when times are really hard (the last six months), then seem like the 600 pound gorilla when public opinion is running strongly against the war (as in the present). Again, the result is unreliable partnership (winter soldier versus sunshine patriot).

 Lastly, we'll note Hayden's "Strategy for Anti-War Movement" (The Huffington Post):

On the battlefield: a sinking quagmire

It is risky to base an analysis on battlefield reports, especially given the Pentagon’s propaganda, the media’s limitations, and the general lack of information about the Iraqi insurgency. Anything is possible, but clearly a sense of panic has set in among Washington decision-makers since the installation of the new Iraqi client regime a few months ago. For example, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel says the war is being lost (NYT, June 21). Baghdad is “effectively enemy territory, with an ability to strike at will, and to shake off the losses inflicted by American troops.” (NYT, January 20, 2005) US casualties from guerrilla bomb attacks have reached "new heights", with 700 attacks with improvised weapons killing 71 Americans during the past six weeks (NYT, June 22). Military analysts recognize that the US cannot hold the territory it occupies. The airport road remains a nightmare. These are the classic contradictions of an occupying power trying to prop up an unpopular regime against a nationalist-based resistance. The training and deployment of Iraqi counter-insurgency troops (Iraqization) has failed so far, with US commanders saying it will take several years. “American troops have been conducting nighttime patrols to make sure the Iraqis stay awake”, according to an unusually candid front-page NY Times article (June 19). Sen. Biden was informed privately that of 107 Iraqi battalions, only three were fully-operational (June 6).

Against all evidence, however, senior correspondents like the Times’ John Burns continue to see the war through the filters of previous conflicts. Burns calls the Syrian-Iraqi border a new “Ho Chi Minh Trail”, ignoring the fact that there is no North Vietnam, no China, no Soviet Union serving as a “rear base” for the insurgents, but inadvertently lending support to the argument that the US should send more troops to seal the border. More unfortunately, Burns has penned an opinion piece called “The Mystery of the Insurgency” (May 15) which says “counter-insurgency experts are baffled”. Sounding like Mr. Kurtz in Conrad’s Heart of Darknesss, Burns cannot simply conclude that the US invasion itself is the cause of a fiery Iraqi nationalism, because that would imply that US withdrawal might lessen the violence.

Perhaps the most significant factor on the ground is the rise of an Iraqi movement calling for US withdrawal and ending the occupation. The peace movement should consider calling for US peace talks with the Iraqi peace movement.
The above are all excerpts, click links if you're interested in reading further.
And check out CODEPINK for July 4th activies.  We'll note one in particular:
This Independence Day, American flags declaring: "Torture Is Immoral and Unpatriotic, Shut down Guantánamo" will be distributed across the country and displayed in a show of support for the democratic values outlined in our United States Constitution. Ordinary citizens are mobilizing to read from testimonials of Guantánamo detainees, their families, and their lawyers this July 4th in a show of support for the laws under which this country was founded.
Join us as we gather across the country to stage rallies, readings, and other activities in our communities.  We will be gathering signatures for a petition to Congress, and following up on Tuesday, July 5th with a massive telephone and online campaign to members of our Congress to call for an end to torture and the closing of all offshore, illegal detention centers.
These July 4 & 5 actions are just the beginning of a growing movement 
- Join Us, Help Shut Down Guantánamo! Help spread forward this email to your friends, family, colleagues and bring this action to your community. Over this holiday weekend, take one step in the name of democracy and freedom.
Fliers, the petition, and  "Torture Is Immoral and Unpatriotic, Shut down Guantánamo" American Flag, will be available for download at the Guantánamo Action Center:
In New York City:
JOIN: Eve Ensler, Gloria Steinem, Center for Constitutional Rights, CODEPINK, The Culture Project, Not in Our Name, United for Peace and Justice, and WEDO
WHAT:  Readings from testimonials of detainees, their families, and their lawyers.
WHEN:   Monday, July 4th, 2005 10am – 12NOON
WHERE: 34th Street and 6th Ave., New York, NY
The e-mail address for this site is

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