Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Democracy Now: Moazzam Begg, Gareth Peirce, Michael Ratner; FBI targets indymedia

Join us for a speak-out on media issues and discussion of the protests at media outlets on Wednesday at the Judson Memorial Church at 155 Washington Square South, in Greenwich Village. Your presence and ideas are welcome. I will be there along with Robert Jenson, Tim Karr, Priya Reddy and hopefully media and anti-war activists of all persuasions. Thanks to WBAI for plugging the event.
For what's happening:
Become media active and an organizer. Pass the word.
The above is from Danny Schechter's News Dissector for today and Martha and Lewis both e-mailed to note it.  We'll make it the opening item today.  Now here are four items, selected by Bernado, Jonah, Sally and KeShawn, from today's Democracy Now! Headlines:
Mass Student Protests Continue In France
In France, student demonstrations are continuing throughout the country to protest a new employment law that will make it easier for companies to fire young workers. On Monday, hundreds of university students stormed the College de France in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Students hurled stones and cans at the police who responded with tear gas. Nearby the elite Sorbonne University remains closed. Over the weekend police raided the school to force out several hundred protesters who had taken over buildings. Sorbonne was the center of the May 1968 student uprising. Agence France Press reports student strikes are taking place at more than 40 universities across the country. More street demonstrations are planned for today.
New Poll: 36% Approve Bush; 60% Say War is Going Badly
Bush made the announcement during a speech that launched a new public relations campaign to win greater support for the war in Iraq and his presidency. The latest USA Today/CNN poll shows the president's approval rating is at just 36 percent. And 60 percent of the country says the war in Iraq is going badly.
Bush Links Iran to War in Iraq
During his same speech, Bush attempted to tie Iran to the war in Iraq by accusing Tehran of helping Shiite fighters build improvised devices that have been used against U.S.-led forces and civilians.
At Least 72 More Bodies Found in Iraq
Meanwhile back in Iraq, the bodies of 15 men have been found in an abandoned vehicle in a Sunni area west of Baghdad. This brings the total number of corpses found around the capital over the past day to at least 72.
Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):
Headlines for March 14, 2006

- Sen. Feingold Introduces Resolution to Censure Bush
- Slobodan Milosevic's Son: My Father Was Killed
- Mass Student Protests Continue In France
- UK Envoy on U.S. in Iraq: "No Leadership, No Strategy, No Coordination"
- Iranian Human Activists Say Bush Is Endangering Their Lives
- Sandra Day O'Connor Warns About U.S. Edging Towards 'Dictatorship'
- Watchdog Groups Warn About Sale of Knight Ridder
- Historian: Israel Warned Settlements Were Illegal in 1967
- UK Gives Visa to Architect of Darfur Genocide
U.S. Exclusive: Moazzam Begg Describes Abuse at Bagram and Guantanamo and Witnessing the Killing of Two Fellow Detainees

In a Democracy Now! U.S. national broadcast exclusive, we hear former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg in his own words. He was imprisoned for three years without charge by the United States at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan and Guanatanmo Bay in Cuba. We broadcast his first comments in this country since the publication of his book in Britain, "Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim's Journey to Guantanamo and Back." [includes rush transcript]
British Human Rights Lawyer Gareth Peirce and "Enemy Combatant" Co-Author Victoria Brittain Blast U.S.-Run Prison at Guantanamo Bay

As we focus on the case of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg, we speak with Victoria Brittain, co-author of his book, "Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim's Journey to Guantanamo and Back" and leading British human rights lawyer, Gareth Peirce about the U.S.-run prison camp.
***** Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights appears on today's show to discuss Bagram and to discuss the issue of censure.  Ratner also is one of the four hosts of Law and Disorder. ********
In Historic Move, Feingold Introduces Resolution to Censure President Bush

On Monday, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin introduced a resolution to censure President Bush for authorizing the no-warrant domestic surveillance program. Feingold accused Bush of breaking the law and misleading Congress about it. We play Feingold introducing the resolution as well as reaction from Republican and Democratic senators on the Senate floor.
Over 100,000 March in Chicago to Protest Immigration Reform Bill in One of Biggest Pro-Immigrant Rallies in U.S. History

Over 100,000 marchers took to the streets of Chicago last Friday to fight a bill that would rewrite the nation's immigration laws. The march marked one of the biggest pro-immigrant rallies in U.S. history. We discuss the implications of the bill with discuss the demonstration with a member of one of the many organizations that spearheaded the event.
Now for the highlights. Last Thursday, in "And the war drags on (Indymedia Roundup)," Melissa noted Chicago Indymedia's "Infiltration Alert: FBI Spying at DePaul."   That article focused on a student who rejected a call to spy for the FBI. We bring it again because FBI agent Charles Rasner decided to speak to students at the Univeerist of Texas.  Liz had the details in "'Anarchists' to Domestic Terrorist Watch List" (Austin Indymedia):
Listing three categories of cause groups potentially linked to terrorist activity, Rasner named white supremacist groups, Islamic terrorist groups, and Anarchists. When asked what anarchist activity in Austin the FBI was investigating, Rasner referred the questioner to the Ted Kaczynski Unabomber case, claiming that Kaczynski "was an anarchist." He did not discuss Austin-specific anarchist activity when pressed.
Rasner used a map of Texas to illustrate the existence of the three kinds of terrorist groups in the state. Austin was listed as a site of all three kinds of terrorist activity.
Rasner then placed the FBI's Central Texas "Terrorist Watch List" on the screen. On a list of approximately ten groups, Food Not Bombs was listed seventh. Indymedia was listed tenth, with a reference specifically to IndyConference 2005. The Communist Party of Texas also made the list. Rasner explained that these groups could have links to terrorist activity. He noted that peaceful-sounding group names could cover more violent extremist tactics.
Julie e-mailed to note the above.  It's is really surprising in these dark days?  Dark days best summed up by Kevin's highlight, David Lindorff's "Moussaoui Case Shows Why Guantanamo Tribunals are a Bad Idea" (This Can't Be Happening):
The Justice Department's vile and underhanded attempt to rig the penalty-phase trial of Zacarias Moussaoui and nail him with a death penalty is Exhibit A for why Bush and Rumsfeld should not be allowed to handle the Guantanamo detainee and other detainee cases through military tribunals.
What the government did in the Moussaoui case was try to undermine a defendant's fundamental right to a fair trial by secretly coaching prosecution and defense witnesses in how to testify.
This was the government's star terrorism case. Not only has Moussaoui admitted that he was working with Al Qaeda--he admitted he was trying to learn how to fly large passenger planes into buildings. The government's argument for having him executed is that “if only” he had admitted to FBI investigators, after his arrest, that he was learning to fly so he could participate in the suicide crashing of airplanes into tall buildings, Washington would not have been so clueless about the approach of the 9-11 attacks.
It's not so much about killing Moussaoui, then, as providing a cover for the administration's incredible ineptness, or worse, in the weeks leading up to 9-11, when all kinds of warnings about a major terror attack were coming into intelligence offices, and nothing was being done about them.
On the related topic of bullying America, Dominick notes Tim Shorrock's "Watching What You Say" (The Nation) which attempts to determine who may be participating (willingly) with the Bully Boy in the illegal, warrantless spying:
For US intelligence officials looking for allies in the industry, AT&T, MCI and Sprint have a lot to offer. In 2002, when the spying program began, AT&T's CEO was C. Michael Armstrong, the former CEO of Hughes Electronic Corp. At the time, Armstrong was also chairman of the Business Roundtable's Security Task Force, where he was instrumental in creating CEO COM LINK, a secure telecommunications system that allows the chief executives of major US corporations to speak directly to senior members of Bush's Cabinet during national emergencies. Randall Stephenson, a former SBC Communications executive who is now AT&T's chief operating officer, is a member of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, a group of executives from the communications and defense industries who advise the President on security issues related to telecom.
Those executives, all of whom hold security clearances, meet at the White House once a year--Vice President Cheney was the speaker at their last meeting--and hold quarterly conference calls with high-ranking officials. (Asked if the NSA surveillance was ever discussed at these sessions, committee spokesman Stephen Barrett said, "We do not participate in intelligence gathering.") AT&T also makes no bones about its national security work. When SBC was preparing to acquire the company last year, the two companies underscored their ties with US intelligence in joint comments to the FCC. "AT&T's support of the intelligence and defense communities includes the performance of various classified contracts," the companies said, pointing out that AT&T "maintains special secure facilities for the performance of classified work and the safeguarding of classified information."
So what's the antidote to the Bully Boy's Bullying of America?  What do bullies usually fear?  Exposure.  The sunlight of democracy can send them running.
"What do we want? Peace now!" is an old chant and one that reminds me that I had intended to note the following productions of Hair in March:
1) March 9 through 12 and 16 through 19th, Brown University presents its production of the musical.
2) Glendale College (Glendale, CA) starts its performance on March 10th (concludes March 26th).
3) Rounding out the March performances, the Endicott Performing Arts Center in New York performs their production of Hair on March 10-12 and 17-19.
(For more see this at The Third Estate Sunday Review.)  The chant of "What do we want? Peace now!" is heard in the musical Hair (for those wondering why that popped up).
So how do you bring sunshine/exposure to the Bully Boy?  Speak out.  Repeatedly.  Find an event or action you can support or create your own.  Here's one that Lucy wanted noted:
Young People Resist Three Years of War
March 16, 2006 - National Day of Resistance

As the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaches, the war's impact on our generation is increasingly alarming:

- The vast majority of US troops killed in Iraq have been youth of college-age (18-25)

- Military recruiters have escalated their aggressive and deceptive campaigns in our schools, preying upon young people as the Pentagon struggles to enlist enough youth to fight a war based on lies.

- The war's soaring cost (nearly $400 billion!) has forced massive budget cuts, leaving young people with under-funded schools, diminishing social services and fewer alternatives to the military.

- The President has now announced he plans to make this a "long war" with no end in sight, burdening OUR generation with ongoing violence and growing national debt.

But young people all over the country are organizing and fighting back!
On March 16, as part of the United for Peace & Justice week of anti-war resistance (Mar. 15-22), the NATIONAL YOUTH & STUDENT PEACE COALITION (NYSPC) is joining with our allies across the movement to call for a national day of youth- and student-led cultural resistance against three years of needless war.  

We are calling for creative grassroots actions across the country to demand an end to this occupation, as it becomes more deadly, costly and disastrous each day.  Outraged by the war's soaring costs to our communities, and the war machine's endless grip on our economy, we will organize opposition to war and militarism by amplifying the youth movement's call for Books Not Bombs!  Young people everywhere will organize locally to demand that our leaders stop funding this illegal occupation, which is robbing us of resources we need for schools, services and real alternatives to military enlistment.


**Raise Your Voice!**
On March 16, as part of a week of national resistance to the war, we are urging young people to organize open-mic nights, anti-war concerts and other creative forums where our generation can raise our voices against the Bush Administration's reckless policies of greed and destruction.

By organizing unified local efforts across the country, we can build the youth movement's power to speak out against the impact of endless militarism on our generation.

-          It is our peers losing their lives for Bush's lies.
-          It is our schools that have been invaded by aggressive military recruiters.
-          And it is our opportunities for education and job training that are being slashed to fund war.

Now it is OUR generation that must rise up to SPEAK OUT against endless war!

So start organizing an open-mic night, anti-war concert, teach-in, speak out or other event in your area -- or do something completely different!  The important thing is that this day of resistance brings forward the unique voices, demands and creative ideas of our generation.  And this means we need to hear from YOU to make this day a national success!  So check out www.NYSPC.net http://www.NYSPC.net  to get in touch and access a bunch of organizing tools.  You can use our website to:

* Register and publicize your local Books Not Bombs event.
* Endorse the Books Not Bombs National Day of Resistance.
* Learn about/connect with other Books Not Bombs events around the country and in your area.
* Download organizing resources, media tips, petitions, postcards and more.
* Find other youth-led peace and justice groups, counter-recruitment links, and more.
* Help us build a massive and powerful National Day of Resistance!

**Take It to Congress!**
While we have taken our resistance to the streets for more than three years, now is the time to take it to Congress.  With the 2006 elections just around the corner, we need to send our elected leaders a clear message:  if you will not pay attention to young people's demands, then get out of our way!  NYSPC will provide organizing resources to all local participants, including petitions, postcards and sample letters you can use to collect stacks of signatures, calling upon your reps to end this occupation and stop the cycle of endless war by voting to fund books not bombs!

Immediately following the third anniversary of the war, Members of Congress will be in their local districts (your neighborhoods!) from March 20 to 24.  This is the perfect time for you to take all the postcards, petitions and letters you get signed at your events on the 16th and hand-deliver them to the Congressional office in your district!  We must make our voices heard, from our campuses and communities to Capitol Hill!

**Build the Movement!**
While NYSPC is calling for the Books Not Bombs Youth & Student Day of Resistance on March 16, there will be many other opportunities to take action as the world mourns three years since the invasion of Iraq.  We are calling for youth-led actions in solidarity with these other events, which we urge you to support:

March 14-19:  Veterans and Survivors March for Peace and Justice From Mobile to New Orleans
On March 14, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War will undertake an historic, six-day, 135-mile march from Mobile, AL across Mississippi to New Orleans, in order to highlight the connection between the illegal, multi-trillion dollar war in Iraq and the shameful neglect of communities devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Thousands of hurricane survivors and community residents are expected to join the walk along the way, which will culminate with a mass rally in New Orleans on March 19.  Mobilize to get to the rally or support these events locally by raising funds and awareness of young veterans' resistance.  Find out how to help at www.VetGulfMarch.org http://www.VetGulfMarch.org

March 15-22:  Three Years Too Many -- Local Actions to End the War  
As a member of United for Peace and Justice, NYSPC supports the call for local community actions around the third anniversary of the war.  To build the power of young people within the broader peace and justice movement, we urge you to find out what's happening in your area and get involved!  Many communities will be having local rallies, vigils and marches over the weekend of March 18-19, so find out what's happening near you at www.UnitedforPeace.org http://www.UnitedforPeace.org  and organize a strong showing of youth activists in your area.


More Info About NYSPC:
The National Youth and Student Peace Coalition is sponsoring the Books Not Bombs National Youth and Student Day of Resistance.  NYSPC is the largest coalition of youth and student organizations from around the country committed to fighting for peace and justice in our schools, communities, and around the world. Formed in the Fall of 2001, we have been organizing youth and students to fight back against wars and occupations and to demand a real future for young people in the US and around the world.  NYSPC has developed the Books Not Bombs agenda, which addresses the real concerns of young people today.

The Books Not Bombs Agenda:
Fund Education--Not Empire!
Military Out of Our Schools--No to the Poverty Draft!
Protect Our Civil Liberties!
Campuses For Peace--Not War!
Schools Not Jails!

To find out more about NYSPC and learn how you can get involved visit us at www.nyspc.net http://www.nyspc.net  or email us at info@nyspc.net

National Youth and Student Peace Coalition
235 W. 23rd Street      New York, NY 10011
212.868.5545 (office)     989.621.1934 (cell)
646.723.0996 (fax)      info@nyspc.net
Lastly, this item from today's Democracy Now! Headline prompted a question from Abbie:
U.S. Arrests Vietnam War Resister
Here in this country a former Vietnam war resister who has been living in Canada since 1968 has been arrested and jailed on desertion charges. The 56-year-old Allen Abney has lived in Canada since he quit the Marines to protest the Vietnam War. He was arrested on Thursday at the Canadian-Idaho border. Last week USA Today reported the U.S. military has been intensifying its hunt for Vietnam-era war resisters. The paper also reported 8,000 U.S. soldiers have deserted the military since the war in Iraq began.
Abbie's question is how?  The amensty Jimmy Carter offered (immeditately after being inaugurated) covered those who refused induction and those who refused registration.  Those who were serving weren't covered by Carter's amnesty and there were those (including Amnesty for Americans) who critized that omission (and others) when it was enacted.   In January, Democracy Now! noted another arrest:
Former Marine Jailed For Avoiding Vietnam Service
And in Texas, a 55-year old former Marine has been arrested for avoiding military service in the Vietnam War. Ernest McQueen, born Ernest Johnson Jr, fled his North Carolina military base in 1969 -- over 36 years ago. McQueen told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Monday his desertion was motivated by news of the My Lai massacre of Vietnamese civilians, growing anti-war protests in the US and disturbing stories he had heard from returning Marines. McQueen said: "I just decided I didn't want to be part of killing anybody. That's as plain as I can say it." McQueen is currently a Texas prison. He could face up to three years in jail.
On the same episode, the following exchange took place:
AMY GOODMAN: Larry Colburn, we read in the headlines at the top of the program about a 55-year-old former Marine who's been arrested for avoiding military service in the Vietnam War. His name is Ernest McQueen, born Ernest Johnson, Jr., fled his North Carolina military base in 1969, over 36 years ago. He told the Fort Worth Star Telegram on Monday that his desertion was motivated by news of the My Lai massacre. He now sits in a jail in Texas. Your thoughts about him?
LAWRENCE COLBURN: I didn't know about that. I thought there was a blanket amnesty back in the 1970s, Jimmy Carter administration. Wouldn't he fall into that category somehow? This is news to me.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, he's now in current -- he's in military custody, could face up to three years in jail. He said, "I just decided I didn't want to be part of killing anybody. That's as plain as I can say it," he said.
I wondered the same thing when I listened.  I'd forgotten that the amensty wasn't a blank one and had to ask around.  So that appears to be the answer.  The "why"?  While they don't want to draw attention to the over 8,000 troops that have gone AWOL today, they can still send a message by prosecuting those from an earlier war.   Let's hope this time around we get a more encompassing amensty after the Bully Boy leaves the oval office in disgrace.
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