Thursday, April 14, 2011

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, April 14, 2011.  Chaos and violence continue, State Of Law walks out of Parliament, Iraq still has no vice presidents, the UN confirms 34 people were killed in last Friday's assault on Camp Ashraf, a Congressional Veterans Affairs Subcommittee finds out the VA is wasting tax dollars by not using a program that they needed and purchased for millions of dollars, and more.
At the top of the Facebook page for the Great Iraqi Revolution, this report appears, "Inspite of the fact that I am really feeling ill and awful I really felt that I have to come in for a mom and update you with some wonderful news despite the fact that there is so much black - the sit-ins in Mosul and the vigils have been added to - The brave and outspoken Shaikh Salim Al Thabbab from Nassiriya, Shaikh of Rabee'a and ...Shayban came to Mosul and joined the sit in with a large party - who were also joined by a large contingent of women fro Nassiriya to keep the women of Mosul company and they were all joined by Shyoukh from Basra, Diyala, Salah Eldeen and Kut and there are more to come - also joined by a large group of poets from Baghdad - Power to the People - I believe the tidal wave has really started gathering force - Thank you Uday Al Zaidi who also gave a wonderful slap to the Islamic Politicians who visited him telling him that he had no right to want the Occupation out! That what are they to do about Iran! The people of Mosul told them that they had no place at this gathering and they had to leave. Power to the Iraqi People. Watch this page and space. I promise, as soon as I get better I will keep you updated with everything that has been happening since Saturday - but before I stop, it was a carnival scene - flags flying, poetry reading, chanting and dancing - I will post videos - I have been recording everything - Uday, a few days ago told me that they would have to kill him and his group before they stop the sitins - now I thin k it will be impossible to stop anything - Fallujah also had a very large demo today anti occupation and ruling gang. Pray for Iraq and for us everybody - support us."  Today Tim Arango (New York Times) provides a look at Iraq's young protesters:
A common sentiment from nearly three dozen interviews with young Iraqis around the country recently is a persistent disenchantment with both their political leaders and the way democracy has played out here. "The youth is the excluded class in the Iraqi community," said Swash Ahmed, a 19-year-old law student in Kirkuk. "So they've started to unify through Facebook or the Internet or through demonstrations and evenings in cafes, symposiums and in universities. But they don't have power."
As noted in yesterday's snapshot, "AFP reports that Baghdad security forces have announced that protests in the capital from now on will only be allowed in one of three football stadiums. The excuse being offered is complaints from shop keepers about traffic issues but the reality is this is yet another effort to hide the protests away." The latest assault on democracy from Nouri al-Maliki is getting some attention (here and here, for example).  Another US-installed despot is conducting a power-grab and herding people into stadium's in the nation's capital. Does it end like the National Stadium in Santiago back in 1973?  Or are we all still pretending that Nouri's not a despot?
Last week, Nouri al-Maliki, thug of the occupation, ordered attacks on Camp Ashraf.  The United Nations now has observers in the camp.  Louis Charbonneau and Bill Trott (Reuters) report the UN has confirmed that 34 people were killed and the reporters note, "The fatality count was the same number of deaths Ashraf residents had reported."  They note that the death toll had been reduced to three in claims made by Nouri's officials. Yesterday Lara Jakes (AP) reported that at least 17 injured residents of Camp Ashraf were "forcibly removed from their hospital beds" by Iraqi forces and left/dumped at Camp Ashraf. Jakes explained, "Three women were among the patients, many of whom were bandaged, according to the doctor and an ambulance driver who spoke on condition of anonymity because that were not authorized to speak to the media." Following the US invasion, the US made these MEK residents of Camp Ashraf -- Iranian refuees who had been in Iraq for decades -- surrender weapons and also put them under US protection. They also extracted a 'promise' from Nouri that he would not move against them. July 28, 2009 the world saw what Nouri's word was actually worth. Since that Nouri-ordered assault in which at least 11 residents died, he's continued to bully the residents. Iran's Fars News Agency reported last week that the Iraqi military denied allegations that it entered the camp and assaulted residents. Specifically, Camp Ashraf residents state, "The forces of Iraq's Fifth Division invaded Camp Ashraf with columns of armored vehicles, occupying areas inside the camp, since midnight on Saturday." Friday saw another attack which the Iraqi government again denied -- this is the attack that the UN has now confirmed resulted in 34 deaths.  AFP reports, "European parliamentarians on Thursday urged the United States and the United Nations to help protect residents of a camp housing Iranian dissidents in Iraq, which witnessed a deadly assault by government forces. A statement signed by more than 100 members of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe also called on the European Union to demand 'the immediate withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Camp Ashraf'."

The assault has been a big issue outside of the US media. You've had two members of England's upper house of Parliament (House of Lords) accuse the US of giving the okay for the Friday assault. Earlier this week,  David Waddington (England's House of Lords) wrote at the Independent:

Last week Iraqi forces entered a camp in Iraq housing members of the Iranian opposition group, the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI). Thirty three residents were killed and over 300 wounded. Were the US authorities, as it has been suggested, told of the intended attack by the Iraqi Government? If they were, then surely members of the US government were complicit in a crime against humanity. And of course it shows that the US administration is continuing to appease the regime in Tehran whose influence over the Iraq government grows and grows.

The raid which took place at 5am on Friday 8 April, involved 2,500 severely armed Iraqi forces entering the Camp in armoured vehicles and Humvees, with video footage filmed by the residents clearly showing Iraqi forces running over unarmed residents and firing indiscriminately at them. Under any parameter of international law such a massacre of unarmed civilians is a war crime and a crime against humanity.

Another David, David Alton who is also a member of England's House of Lords, issued his thoughts in the form of a column for The Hill calling on the US to protect Camp Ashraf and noting a similarity between Friday's attack and the July 28, 2009 attack: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq when both took place.  Alton writes, "In fact the attacks both happened only hours after a meeting between Nuri al-Maliki and Secretary Gates. Although Secretary Gates may not have had any knowledge of what was in the making by al-Maliki, this can hardly be a coincidence. There are not so many options: either Nuri al-Maliki has received some kind of green light from  the Secretary Gates or he wanted to demonstrate that he carries some sort of pre-arrangement with the US; or he is contemptuous of U.S. opinion."  AFP notes that the residents are "protected under the Geneva Convetions" and explains, "A left-wing Islamic movement, the PMOI was founded in 1965 in opposition to the Shah of Iran and has subsequently fought to oust the clerical regime that took power in Tehran after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution."
Kate Allen (Guardian) sees the treatment of the Camp Ashraf residents as a way of measuring the level of human rights progress in Iraq:

Meanwhile, the Iraqi authorities are barely paying lip-service to their obligation to properly investigate these deeply troubling events. Nouri al-Maliki's government has said it will investigate last week's violence, but it said that in 2009 as well. In common with scores of other "investigations" in the country, nothing more has been heard of it.
And neither is Iraq coming under much international pressure over Camp Ashraf. The UK's foreign office minister Alistair Burt said he was "disturbed" by the loss of life and supported a UN monitoring mission to the camp, but generally there's been relatively little reaction. A letter in the Guardian bemoaned the "blanket of silence" surrounding it.
Drowned out by Libya, Syria and Ivory Coast, violence at Camp Ashraf is at risk of being all but ignored. Amnesty is calling for an independent investigation into Friday's blood-letting as well as assurances that no one at Ashraf is going to be forced out of Iraq if their lives are put in danger.
Camp Ashraf doesn't come close to fitting into the "Arab Spring" narrative (though meanwhile Iraq's own protests have in fact been well-attended, ruthlessly put down and almost totally unreported). But the world should start paying attention to this forgotten story. How Iraq treats the residents of Camp Ashraf will provide an important window into how far Iraq has come in respecting human rights.

In other violence, Reuters notes 2 Mahmudiya roadside bombings claimed 2 lives and left thirteen people injured, a Baghdad roadside bombing left three Iraqi soldiers injured, a Taji roadside bombing left three people injured and, dropping back to yesterday, a Mosul sticky bombing ("bomb attached to the front door of a house") killed a husband and wife.
Today in the Parliament, Aswat al-Iraq reports 89 MPs with Dawlat al-Qanoon walked out in protest over a vote on the vice presidents.  Dawlat al-Qanoon is also known as "State Of Law" -- Nouri's political slate.  Alsumaria TV reports, "Iraq's Parliament session held today in the presence of 240 lawmakers was supposed to vote on Iraq's three Vice Presidents namely Adel Abdul Mehdi, Tareq Al Hashemi and Khudair Al Khizali and carry out the first read out of the draft laws to cancel Resolution no. 456, 1985, and Resolution no 1194 of the Defunct Revolution Command Council, 1983. The session was expected to read out as well the draft laws of anti-smoking, foreigners' residence and the cancellation of defunct interim coalition authority order no 64, 3004. [. . .]  Today's Parliament session failure was due to an incomplete secret deal between Iraqiya Party and the National Alliance that stipulates allocating the Sunni Endowment to the Dialogue Party led by Saleh Al Motlak in return for Iraqiya's support to the National Alliance candidate Khudair Al Khizaii for the position of Vice President, Al Wasat Alliance said."  If you're scratching your head and thinking, "Wait, Adel Abdul Mehdi -- ??? didn't he pull his name from consideration and state he didn't want to be v.p. anymore?"  You are correct.  From the March 28th snapshot:
 Al Rafidayn notes a development with regards to Iraq's still unnamed vice presidents, Iraq's current Shi'ite vice president Abdul-Mahdi has allegedly withdrawn his name from consideration.  Alsumaria TV adds that he notified Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, of his decision yesterday and "Abdul Mehdi did not want to be nominated in the first place, however, he respected the will of PresidentTalabani, the adviser added."  NINA explains, "The vice presidents have not yet assumed their posts because the post of a third Vice President has not been solved yet, after having the other two vice pesidents nominated, Adel Abdul and Tariq al-Hashimi; while the third has not yet been determined because of the debate over the rejection of nominating Khdayer al-Khuza'e, where other blocs prefer the third vice president be of a Turkman nationally."
But that changed, according to Alsumaria, when "President [Jalal] Talabani [. . .] persuaded Adel Abdul Mehdi not to refuse his candidature to the position of Vice President". Reidar Visser (Gulf Analysis) offers:
It should be stressed that as far as the legal aspect is concerned, State of Law seems to be right in insisting on a vote on the deputies in a single batch. The law on the deputies of the president simply refers to a nomination (tarshih) in the singular, which would require a minimum of consensus beforehand. A complicating factor has been added because of an alleged legal challenge by Fakhri Karim, an adviser to President Jalal Talabani, against Tareq al-Hashemi because of his use of the title of vice-president in the period after the end of the presidency council in November 2010. Whereas it is possible to appreciate the legal aspects of that challenge, it seems strange that it should come from someone so close to Talabani: According to another of the vice-presidential candidates, Adel Abd al-Mahdi, Talabani had personally ordered his deputies from the presidency council to continue as interim deputies for him in his new position as ordinary president of Iraq! (Some reports actually say the legal challenge by Karim is directed against two of the deputies, in which case one would assume that the other one is Adel Abd al-Mahdi, who has done the same thing as Hashemi in terms of continuing to use his vice-presidential title.)
Wednesday the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personell held a hearing.  Yesterday's snapshot noted the first panel (Senator Bill Nelson was the first panel).  There were two other panels.  The second panel was Sgt Maj Raymond Chandler (Army), Master Chief Petty Officer Rick West (Navy), Sgt Maj Carlton Kent (Marines) and Chief Master Sgt James Roy (Air Force).  This panel moved quickly and nothing new was offered with the exception of the Marine's Kent stating the Marines would like a one-stop shop where they could go to learn about and access their benefits.  The third panel was composed of the Fleet Reserve Association's Joseph Barnes, the National Military Family Association's Kathleen Moakler, Miliary Officers Association of America's Steven Strobridge, the Association of the US Navy's Ike Puzon and Blue Star Families' Kathy Roth-Douquet. As the third panel speakers were taking their seats, the second panel flew out of the room as did the bulk of the press with them.
Col Steven Strobridge: Our primary concern is protection of military beneficiaries against dramatic budget-driven fluctuations in this vital element of service member's career compensation package. One example is the Defecit Commission's proposal to reduce the value of TRICARE for Life by $3,000 per year for a retiree; $6,000 for a couple; for older and disabled beneficiaries through deductable and co-payment increases.  That would be a major about-face from what Congress saw as "earned coverage" when TRICARE for Life was enacted ten years ago.  We hope this subcommittee would oppose  inclusion of any such change in the budget resolution. We also  urge this subcommittee to continue its ovesight of wounded warrior and caregiver issues. Although we believe that both DoD and VA are pursuing seemless transition initiatives in good face, we urge joint-hearings by the Armed Services and the Veterans Affairs Committees to track progress and any stumbling blocks on a wide variety of ongoing issues.  The coaltion  continues to be concerned about the adequacy of provider participation in TRICARE  especially for TRICARE standard beneficiaries. We're grateful to the Subcommittee for establishing statutory surveys of participation adquacy.  But that requirement expires this year. We hope you'll renew the requirement and establish more specific actions to ensure compliance with participation standards.  On the issue of TRICARE fees, the coalition has a diversity of views but believes strongly that the DoD proposed indexing methodology is inappropriate.  Speaking for MOA and the 13 other associations that endorsed our statement, we haven't take the position that TRICARE fees should never rise but that Congress should establish principals in that regard  to explicitly recognize that the bulk of what military people pay for their health care isn't paid in cash  but is paid upfront through decades of service and sacrifice.  We're encouraged that the new DoD proposal does a far better job of acknowledging that than did those of several years ago.  Our principal objection is to DoD's plan to index future TRICARE Prime increases to some undetermined health care index they project to rise at 6.2% per year. In our view, the main problem is that current law leaves much of the fee setting process  to the secretary's discretion. DoD went years proposing no changes, making beneficiaries believe there wouldn't be any. And then a new secretary with a new budget situation proposed tripling fees which upset beneficiaries and implied they hadn't earned their health care. We have statutory guidelines for setting and adjusting basic pay, retirement pay, survivor benefits and most other military compensation elements. We believe strongly that the law should specify several principals on military health care. First it should acknowledge, if only as a sense of Congress, military retirement and health care packages is the primary offset for the extraordinary demands and sacrifices inherent in a multi-decades military career.Second, it should acknowledge that those decades of service and sacrfice constitute a very large pre-paid premium for their health care and retirement over and above what they pay in cash. And finally it should explicitly acknowledge that extraordinary upfront premium in the adjustment process by limiting the percentage growth in TRICARE fees in any year to the percentage growth in military retired pay. In the meantime, MOA and the military coalition pledge our support to work with DoD and the Subcommittee to find other ways to hold down military health care cost growth.  We believe much more can be done to encourage voluntary use of the mail-order pharmacy system, reduce costs of chronic conditions, reduce systemic duplications, and cut contract and procurement costs, to name a few.
That was an opening statement (verbal, written differed and the four witnesses had a joint-written statement).  And the questions?  None.  Jim Webb feels the best way to chair a hearing is by boring everyone with tales of his father and tales of his own schooling. "I think we're doing everything we can for the people who serve," he insisted.  The senator whose one term will be most distinguished by his attacks on the the victims of Agent Orange. The reason we're noting the above remarks is because they go back to the March 15th Armed Services Subcomittee hearing when Chair Joe Wilson explained:
The proposed TRICARE Prime fee increase for Fiscal Year 2012, while appearing to be modest, is a 13% increase over the current rate.  The Dept of Defense proposes increasing the fee in the out years based on an inflation index.  You suggest 6.2% but it is unclear exactly which index you are using? You plan to reduce the rate that TRICARE pays Sole Community Hospitals for inpatient care provided to our active duty, family members and retirees.  Several of these hospitals are located very close to military bases -- in fact, some are right outside the front gates -- especially important for 24-hour emergency care.  What analysis have you done to determine whether reducing these rates will affect access to care for our beneficiaries and in particular the readiness of our armed forces?  I would also like our witnesses to discuss the range of efficiency options that were considered but not included in the President's budget.
At that hearing, Democrats and Republicans expressed their dismay and displeasure over what was being proposed.  At this hearing, it was Jim Webb.  And nothing else.  And so the military and their families were out of luck. 
Unless they'd showed up for the hearing in hopes of hearing the red headed wonder bore them.  "I personally have been stuggling with this notion of increases, modest increases for the time being -- increases, the TRICARE like program [. . .]," Jim Webb yammered away, unable to find his point and after asking for view points, speaking and speaking and speaking and still speaking while claiming he wanted everyone's opinion on the issue. 
That was yesterday afternoon.  Yesterday morning the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing.  Chair Bill Johnson explained in opening remarks that the hearing was entitled "Inspect What You Expect: Construction Contracting Practices at VA."  Chair Johnson observed, "VA has acknowledged it could improve the quality of its contracting process through use of the Electronic Contract Management System, or 'eCMS.'  In June of 2007, an Information Letter was issued by VA's Executive Director of the Office of Acquisition and Logistics mandating the use of eCMS.  This database would record and track procurement actions of over $25,000, and the data could then be easily and comprehensively reviewed to determine the effectiveness of VA's contracting processes and make changes where necessary.  Cost overruns could be identified and addressed early on, and perhaps even prevented in the first place. This sensible approach to overseeing the contracting process could prevent wasted funding, potential fraud, and reduce overall contract mismanagement.  For some reason, despite its mandated usage, many supervisors and managers across VA chose to ignore eCMS, instead allowing the contracting system and runaway associated costs to continue as before. VA's Office of Inspector General found clear cases of missing and incomplete information, and in one test discovered that 83 percent of the transactions that should have gone into eCMS were left out."
The Subcomittee heard from two panels.  The first was composed of Belinda Finn and Cherie Palmer of the Office of Inspector General, US Department of Veterans Affairs.  The second panel was composed of VA's Glenn Haggstrom. Excerpt from the first panel.
US House Rep Jerry McNerney:  One of your statements is that you have trained 14,000 VA employees annually and that's a pretty -- is that a factual -- I mean, that's a pretty big number of people to train effectively in a year.
Belinda Finn: Yes, sir. That's in fraud awareness. We provide regular briefings to people in VHA as well as the Benefits Administration on issues that they should be aware of, as, you know, managers and people on the front line who might see fraud situations.
US House Rep Jerry McNerney: How much effort is devoted to training people in the eCMS system?
Belinda Finn: From the OIG office, we don't provide that training, the department provides that training.
US House Rep Jerry McNerney: So you're not aware of how much training is involved in that?
Belinda Finn: No, sir, I'm not.
US House Rep Jerry McNerney:  If we were to hold a hearing a month from now and ask you to provide names of managers that are fail-falling -- At the VA' they're -- so -- in terms of their employees complying with eCMS, could you do that?
Belinda Finn: A month might be a very short time in order to give you comprehensive information.
US House Rep Jerry McNerney: What would be an appropriate time  frame?
Belinda Finn:  Uhm, several months at least. I would think. I don't know because I don't know the scope of what we might need to look at it.  If were trying to make a determination across the entire department that would take quite a quite a long time.
US House Rep Jerry McNerney: And in your determination, would that be something that would be effective in terms of enforcing compliance with eCMS?
Belinda Finn: It would certainly get their attention.                                                                  
US House Rep Jerry McNerney: I think it would, yes. 
Chair Johnson did not buy some of the excuses offered by VA for their inability to adapt to the computer program.  He noted his own experience in IT and in government systems (Johnson served in the Air Force for over a quarter of a century). 
Committee Chair Bill Johnson: Outside of the technical aspects of the system, and it's subjective whether that's cumbersome or not, depending on the user, every one of the other reasons for inconsistent use are management decisions, right?  I mean that's -- that's what management is supposed to do. Is to provide training. Training is an integral part of the aquisition of a -- of a system like eCMS.  Everybody has work loads to deal with and certainly time constraints. It seems to me, eCMS, that kind of system that does contract writing is designed to break down time constraints. So would -- would -- and I'd appreciate a response from both of you -- would you agree that the inconsistent use reasons given are primarily focused around management issues.
Belinda Finn: Yes, sir, I would agree that those are management issues. We obviously had a recommendation related to training from this report and VA did provide a great deal more training and address some of the other management issues such as having conflicted guidance as to what people were expected to do.  As VA worked to obligate money from the recovery act, it mandated that every contract, no matter what size, funded with recovery act money, be completed in eCMS and as we looked at those contracts we-we didn't find any lapse with the contract for sure being there, but we did still find problems with some of the documentation being there.  But, yes, these are management issues that will take continued attention in order to address.
Committee Chair Bill Johnson: Mrs. Palrmer, any comments on that?
Cherie Palmer: No, sir. I don't have anything to add.
And an excerpt from the second panel, the VA's Glenn Haggstrom.
Committee Chair Bill Johnson: What is the purpose of using eCMS?
Glenn Haggstrom: The purpose of eCMS is an electronic contract writing system.  As the requirements of our contracting officers have increased over the years for reporting certain measures -- data -- up to the federal procurement data system, the federal complexities of the contracting business at large, the majority of our executive agencies have brought on these contract writing systems to have a central repository for our contracting officers to develop those contracts and do any modifications or keep track of what is happening with that specific contract.  This information, if you will, then flows to what's called the procurement data system which is the system of record, if you will, for the federal government, the federal procurement data system.  And it also tracks much of the same information that is resident in eCMS.  eCMS, if you will, performs that backshop capability of the details that surround the contract.
Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson: Do you consider this eCMS an effective tool?
Glenn Haggstrom: There's always improvements that can be made to integrated systems.  I believe it is.  Uh, in my past, uh, workplace I was part of bringing online a very tool similar to this -- the integrated acquisition system.  All of the federal agencies that I'm aware of, the large procuring offices have done this as part of the government's eprocurement initiative. And while each of the agencies uses different types of software and protocols, in general at electronic contract management systems across government, they're very similar in terms of the performance and capabilities that they have.
Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson: Do you -- do you consider eCMS as being properly used by the VA at this point?
Glenn Haggstrom: Mr. Chairman, we agree with what Ms. Finn was saying. eCMS is not used to the full capacity and we recognize that. And I believe there are two components to that. First is the technology component, if you will. And then I believe it's our responsibility as the headquarters and the providers of this system to ensure that what we have in terms of the system meets the performance requirements of our people.  And that includes the training and the functionality and the response time. And all of these things were noted in Ms. Finn's testimony, that they looked at several years ago.  The second piece of that is exactly what was discussed with the previous panel and that is the management and that is the accountability of our mid-level managers and our senior managers who are out in these contracting offices throughout the VA to ensure enforcement of this policy and work with their people to ensure that they're using the system as it has been mandated to be used.
Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson:When did the -- when did that management accountability process begin? I mean, you heard the testimony of the previous panel: 20 of 29 contracts written by the Office of Acquisitions, Logistics and Construction, totalling over $10 million were not correctly developed and entered into eCMS.  You've heard figures of 87%.  I've been a leader, I've been a commander, I've been a senior executive in business, how long does it take to address these managment issues?
Glenn Haggstrom: Unfortunately, in this particular case, it's taken much too long.
To put it mildly. And excuses about FY 2006 don't cut it though Jan Frye (also of the VA) tried to pretend it did and wanted to insist that, by July 2007, the VA was fully operational capable.  It's 2011.  As Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson observed, "Four years later, 20 million dollars of American tax payer dollars and we've got a system that's not being used -- for the most part, when you consider previous testimony, 83% of the data not being in the system.  That's a long time and a lot of money being spent with very low return on investment by the American tax payers. Something's wrong here."
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ruth Benn, NWTRCC Coordinator
Brooklyn, New York
800-269-7464 (718-768-3420) or
Tax Day - Antiwar Protests
Public Demonstrations and Individual Refusal to Pay for War
On April 18 thousands of people across the United States will be refusing to pay some or all of their federal income tax to protest U.S. wars and escalating military spending. These tax refusers, who see themselves as responsible citizens, want their money used for peaceful purposes and often give taxes to social programs instead.
Monday, April 18, is the final day to file tax returns, and "war tax resisters" will be among those participating in events around the country to protest what they see as the skewed priorities of the U.S. government. Many hand out the pie chart produced by the War Resisters League, which calculates nearly 50% of federal income taxes pay for current or past wars.
Erica Weiland in Seattle, Washington, decided to refuse to pay for war in response to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Our money and time are much better spent addressing the issues in the U.S. and around the world that cause wars in the first place," she says. Groups in Seattle are organizing leafleting with federal budget information at area post offices.
John K. Stoner, a retired Mennonite minister in Akron, Pennsylvania, says, "I keep wondering why people who say they oppose war continue to pay for it without a whimper of protest." He and others in his community have launched a campaign of symbolic protest called 1040 for Peace, to encourage U.S. taxpayers to express their opposition to U.S. military spending by refusing $10.40 of any taxes due, telling the government why, and giving that money to projects that promote peace or fund human needs.
War tax resistance has a long history in the U.S. and worldwide. The most famous case was Henry David Thoreau's refusal of $1 for the Mexican-American War. He spent a night in jail for this act of resistance. Today's resisters refuse to pay anything from $1 to thousands of dollars of federal income taxes, while risking collection from the Internal Revenue Service for their stand.
Patricia Tompkins, a farmer in Bakersville, North Carolina, speaks for many as she accepts the risks of confronting the IRS to stand up for her beliefs. "I made the decision to become a war tax resister in protest to our government's policies in the Middle East and Afghanistan. For me, the essence of life is connection to the land and to each other, because without the first we cannot live and without the second we cannot be fully human.
In St. Louis activists are taking their message to cut the military budget and fund human needs to Senator Roy Blunt's office and announcing grants to humanitarian groups. In Milwaukee, the protest will be in front of the Federal Courthouse. Lincoln Rice, a Milwaukee organizer, says, "My war tax resistance is grounded in my Catholic Christian spirituality. I cannot in good conscience pay my federal income taxes and contribute to the harming my Muslim brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and elsewhere."

The list of events and contacts around the country can be found online at
The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC), founded in 1982, is a coalition of local, regional and national groups providing information and support to people who are conscientious objectors to paying taxes for war. NWTRCC initiated the War Tax Boycott, which includes a list of public war tax refusers at
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Individual resisters are available for interviews. Please contact NWTRCC if you need contacts in your area.
Please see the list of actions at
Ruth Benn, Coordinator
National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC)
PO Box 150553
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 768-3420 * (800) 269-7464
Fax: (718) 768-4388
"Death and Taxes" – watch our 30-minute film about motivations, methods, risks, and rewards of war tax resistance