Justice for Casey Sheehan and Hundreds of Thousands of Others October 23, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: Casey Sheehan, Cindy Sheehan, cost of war, Iraq, Iraq mercenaries, iraq troops, Iraq war, maliki, war, War Crimes
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It was with great sorrow and fear that my family watched the insane and inexplicable rush of our nation to invade two countries that had absolutely nothing to do with the events on September 11, 2001.
It was with greater sorrow and fear that my family watched one of our indispensable members, Casey, march off to one of those immoral occupations in Iraq.
Our lives were shattered when he came home in a cardboard box, shortly after he was killed there on April 04, 2004. We picked Casey’s body up from the airport in San Francisco for the final time at a United Airlines loading dock, where his cardboard box was unceremoniously loaded into the hearse for his last ride home.(And the longest ride of my life).
Along with the rest of our family, Casey was opposed to these wars of aggression and before he left for Iraq, Casey, a Humvee mechanic, told everyone that he wouldn’t be able to “kill anyone.”
Well, one president, thousands of American deaths, over a million Iraqi deaths, and almost nine years later, Barack Obama has announced that all US troops would be leaving Iraq by the end of this year. I’d like to remind everyone that Barack Obama stated that ending the war in Iraq would be the “first thing” he did as President–and we could even “take it to the bank,” (probably one of the failed ones) and that this withdrawal is something Bush-Maliki scheduled back at the end of 2008.
I would like to send my deepest apologies to the people of Iraq for what my country has done there, but also my congratulations (no matter how reserved) because this is something that the people of Iraq have been fighting for and I am happy for them that US troops finally will be vacating their country.
However, did Obama just forget about the heavily fortified 104 acre US Embassy in Baghdad that employs 3000, or the enormous US consulates in Basra and Erbil, that will eventually employ about another 3000 people–or the thousands of paid mercenaries that will remain after the end of this year?
I didn’t hear Obama talk about the destruction of infrastructure and lives for the people of Iraq—or the high increases in cancer rates and birth defects from the usage of depleted uranium coated munitions.
The two most important things, though, that I did not hear Obama say are these: prosecuting members of the Bush regime for the hundreds of lies it told about Iraq, and paying reparations to the people of Iraq.
I can only hope that when US troops do pull out that the US puppet government pulls out of there, too, and the people of Iraq can finally and completely have their country back and with full and unfettered access to the natural resources that belong to the people. Unfortunately, with thousands of Americans, mercenary troops and foreign oil companies, I don’t think the struggle is over.
Also, which war will Obama send these troops that are leaving Iraq to? Pakistan? Afghanistan? Uganda? Iran? Or somewhere else that we can only imagine?
These wars have cost my family dearly and have sucked at least three trillion dollars out of our economy.
We will never get Casey back and no amount of death/destruction will make his “sacrifice” “worth it”—the only thing that could bring comfort to our family now is accountability and an end to war as the first go-to tool in the box of US foreign policy.
RIP, Casey Austin Sheehan and so many others who are dead for absolutely no reason other than profit for the few.
What Media Coverage Omits about US Hikers Released by Iran September 26, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Iran, Media.
Tags: american hikers, bilal hussein, cia prisons, Cindy Sheehan, corportate media, desmond tutu, detainee abuse, glenn greenwald, Guantanamo, human rights, ibrahim jassen, Iran, iran hikers, iran hostages, joshua fattal, Media, Mohammad Ali, Noam Chomsky, propaganda, roger hollander, roxana saberi, sami al-haj, sean penn, shane bauer, solitary confinement, torture
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Published on Monday, September 26, 2011 by Salon.com
by Glenn Greenwald
Two American hikers imprisoned for more than two years by Iran on extremely dubious espionage charges and in highly oppressive conditions, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, were released last week and spoke yesterday in Manhattan about their ordeal. Most establishment media accounts in the U.S. have predictably exploited the emotions of the drama as a means of bolstering the U.S.-is-Good/Iran-is-Evil narrative which they reflexively spout. But far more revealing is what these media accounts exclude, beginning with the important, insightful and brave remarks from the released prisoners themselves (their full press conference was broadcast this morning on Democracy Now).
Fattal began by recounting the horrible conditions of the prison in which they were held, including being kept virtually all day in a tiny cell alone and hearing other prisoners being beaten; he explained that, of everything that was done to them, “solitary confinement was the worst experience of all of our lives.” Bauer then noted that they were imprisoned due solely to what he called the “32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran,” and said: “the irony is that [we] oppose U.S. policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility.” After complaining that the two court sessions they attended were “total shams” and that “we’d been held in almost total isolation – stripped of our rights and freedoms,” he explained:
In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay; they’d remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world; and conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the U.S.
We do not believe that such human rights violation on the part of our government justify what has been done to us: not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments – including the government of Iran – to act in kind.
[Indeed, as harrowing and unjust as their imprisonment was, Bauer and Fattal on some level are fortunate not to have ended up in the grips of the American War on Terror detention system, where detainees remain for many more years without even the pretense of due process -- still -- to say nothing of the torture regime to which hundreds (at least) were subjected.]
Fattal then expressed “great thanks to world leaders and individuals” who worked for their release, including Hugo Chavez, the governments of Turkey and Brazil, Sean Penn, Noam Chomsky, Mohammad Ali, Cindy Sheehan, Desmond Tutu, as well as Muslims from around the world and “elements within the Iranian government,” as well as U.S. officials.
Unsurprisingly, one searches in vain for the inclusion of these facts and remarks in American media accounts of their release and subsequent press conference. Instead, typical is this ABC News story, which featured tearful and celebratory reactions from their family, detailed descriptions of their conditions and the pain and fear their family endured, and melodramatic narratives about how their “long, grueling imprisonment is over” after “781 days in Iran’s most notorious prison.” This ABC News article on their press conference features many sentences about Iran’s oppressiveness — “Hikers Return to the U.S.: ‘We Were Held Hostage’”; “we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten” — with hardly any mention of the criticisms Fattal and Bauer voiced regarding U.S. policy that provided the excuse for their mistreatment and similar treatment which the U.S. doles out both in War on Terror prisons around the world and even domestic prisons at home.
Their story deserves the attention it is getting, and Iran deserves the criticism. But the first duty of the American “watchdog media” should be highlighting the abuses of the U.S. Government, not those of other, already-hated regimes on the other side of the world. Instead, the abuses at home are routinely suppressed while those in the Hated Nations are endlessly touted. There have been thousands of people released after being held for years and years in U.S. detention despite having done nothing wrong. Many were tortured, and many were kept imprisoned despite U.S. government knowledge of their innocence. Have you ever seen anything close to this level of media attention being devoted to their plight, to hearing how America’s lawless detention of them for years — often on a strange island, thousands of miles away from everything they know — and its systematic denial of any legal redress, devastated their families and destroyed their lives?
This is a repeat of what happened with the obsessive American media frenzy surrounding the arrest and imprisonment by Iran of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, convicted in a sham proceeding of espionage, sentenced to eight years in prison, but then ordered released by an Iranian appeals court after four months. Saberi’s case became a true cause célèbre among American journalists, with large numbers of them flamboyantly denouncing Iran and demanding her release. But when their own government imprisoned numerous journalists for many years without any charges of any kind — Al Jazeera’s Sami al-Haj in Guantanamo, Associated Press’ Bilal Hussein for more than two years in Iraq, Reuters’ photographer Ibrahim Jassan even after an Iraqi court exonerated him, and literally dozens of other journalists without charge — it was very difficult to find any mention of their cases in American media outlets.
What we find here yet again is that government-serving American establish media outlets relish the opportunity to report negatively on enemies and other adversaries of the U.S. government (that is the same mindset that accounts for the predicable, trite condescension by the New York Times toward the Wall Street protests, the same way they constantly downplayed Iraq War protests). But to exactly the same extent that they love depicting America’s Enemies as Bad, they hate reporting facts that make the U.S. Government look the same.
That’s why Fattal and Bauer receive so much attention while victims of America’s ongoing lawless detention scheme are ignored. It’s why media stars bravely denounce the conditions of Iran’s “notorious prison” while ignoring America’s own inhumane prison regime on both foreign and U.S. soil. It’s why imprisonment via sham trials in Iran stir such outrage while due-process-free imprisonment (and assassinations) by the U.S. stir so little. And it’s why so many Americans know Roxana Saberi but so few know Sami al-Haj.
An actual watchdog press is, first and foremost, eager to expose the corruption and wrongdoing of their own government. By contrast, a propaganda establishment press is eager to suppress that, and there is no better way of doing so than by obsessing on the sins of nations on the other side of the world while ignoring the ones at home. If only establishment media outlets displayed a fraction of the bravery and integrity of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who had a good excuse to focus exclusively on Iran’s sins but — a mere few days after being released from a horrible, unjust ordeal — chose instead to present the full picture.
Read more at Salon.com
© 2011 Salon.com
Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book “How Would a Patriot Act?,” a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, “A Tragic Legacy”, examines the Bush legacy. His next book is titled “With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.”
15 Comments so far
Posted by Paul Revere
Sep 26 2011 – 12:25pm.
” A propaganda establishment press “. Glenn, that says it all!
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Posted by Progressive101
Sep 26 2011 – 12:27pm.
Another good article by Greenwald.
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Posted by Oikos
Sep 26 2011 – 12:30pm.
Couldn’t our hikers do more to broadcast their sentiments regarding the U.S. policies towards Iran and the U.S. practice of torture and imprisonment without process? There are Facebook and other Web venues.
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Posted by der
Sep 26 2011 – 1:02pm.
For the nth time, the New York Times’ public editor has investigated Ethan Bronner’s conficts of interest for justifying Israel’s crimes, large and small, and for the nth time has found him not guilty. Something tells me the Times’ owners are getting from Bronner exactly what they pay him to do.
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Posted by Curtis
Sep 26 2011 – 1:05pm.
Maybe a travel agency can set up a trip to recreate the hike these adventurers took in Iraq. Of course it would have to stay in Iraq, but with Google Earth that shouldn’t be too hard.
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Posted by Salusa Secundus
Sep 26 2011 – 1:19pm.
Excellent article by Glenn Greenwald
The economic royalist banksters who invest in endless wars for endless profits are We The People’s truest enemies.
As I see it, they have three main weapons at their disposal:
A) Infiltration and control of the government through the rigged/money based election process
B) Infiltration and control of the Pentagon and our defense system, achieved through the corruption of the political process (A), which ensures that gov’t reps and military budget overseers remain trapped in the highly lucrative game of military spending and investiture.
C) Infiltration and control of the public’s information, through full-spectrum dominance and consolidation of the media aparatus. This is perhaps the most insidious of the usurpations by the banksters, as it normalizes the criminality and deep corruption of the first two controls. Through command of the public mouthpiece, the People will *perpetually* be told the same lies, and will have no other means of checking the validity of such narratives, other than turning to ‘underground’ sources, which by definition the mainstream is loath to do.
“Whoever controls the image and information of the past determines what and how future generations will think; whoever controls the information and images of the present determines how those same people will view the past.
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Posted by marcos
Sep 26 2011 – 1:30pm.
I was imprisoned for three years in New York City federal detention centers and even given a trial. Not only are the worst abuses not in Iran, but they are not even in U.S. prisons where Muslims have been held without charges. The worst abuses have happened right in front of your eyes in U.S. prisons and the lack of media coverage is the biggest contributing reason.
How can you not know about my case? How can even the alternative media ignore my case?
I was imprisoned for sending an email to ABC television online email center on May 19 and May 20, 1999. Actually, I had sent the email 9 times, on May 21, 22, 23, 24, 25,26 and 27, as well as May 19 and 20. Each copy said you have 30 days to answer and then 29, 28, 27 days, etc. — a countdown. I was seeking publicity for my story about the rigging of the U.S. presidency and the stock markets and the fact that I knew a huge terrorist attack was coming to U.S. shores.
But, the federal prosecutor withheld the longer series of sent copies because it would surely have shown that publicity was the goal of the emails. I was held for one and a half years before my trial and was put in the worst solitary confinement cell in federal prison in Manhattan for my trial, where I represented myself.
I claimed at trial, and still claim, that I had prior knowledge of 9/11 and that that information had been received by the government. I wanted to sit down with ABC television and three other corporations in order to discuss what I claimed was damage they had caused me and that terrorism was coming more powerfully than ever to New York. The email was a literary version of the current Wall Street occupation.
The U.S. government knew about 9/11 from me more than two years before it was carried out. I was rendered in Mexico, brought to New Jersey by the FBI, transferred and imprisoned in New York City for three years and had a trial about half way through about an email that was sent to ABC, the New York Times, Newsweek and Time Magazine.
But, not one word about my imprisonment, my email, my claims of prior knowledge of 9/11 or my trial has appeared in any media.
I have 11 years of university education, two degrees, have taught in high schools and universities, including recently in Beijing. I have worked for David Geffen, the William Morris Agency, Anaconda Corporation, covered three national political conventions (two in Madison Square Garden).
It’s more than something being wrong with the USA, Iran and Qaddafi, and other places of extreme injustice.
All you nice, good-intentioned people are living in darkness, absolute darkness about the real conditions of a virtually totalitarian American system
Details of my story and claims are in my http://www.lulu.com/product/file-download/revolution-or-extinction/16532855
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Posted by Galenwainwright…
Sep 26 2011 – 1:31pm.
Dmitri Orlov, a Russian Ex-pat, once observed that the only difference between the USSR and the US was that in America people believed the propaganda.
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Posted by Kane Jeeves
Sep 26 2011 – 1:41pm.
Studied Russian years ago. The instructor, an ex-pat, told us day one about the main newspaper in USSR and the popular saying “Pravda nyet Pravda”. (Pravda/Truth is not true)
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Posted by sheepherder
Sep 26 2011 – 2:45pm.
I recall an old joke about Pravda (Truth) and Izvestia (News). It went: there is no truth in the new and no news in the truth.
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Posted by Aaronica
Sep 26 2011 – 3:07pm.
I thought the joke went that you could find some news in Pravda, and some truth in Izvestia.
Either way, the Ruskies knew they were reading stories that couldn’t be trusted. The western peoples don’t. (sorry OP, the rest of us westerners seem to be believing the propaganda now too.)
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Posted by HailCODEPINK
Sep 26 2011 – 1:45pm.
Glenn Greenwald, Chris Hedges and David Swanson–three treasures of humanity, shining a bright light on our present plight. We, however, must be our own saviors. Can we organize a coherent educational and political action based on their insights to resist our own destruction, and that of our planet?
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Posted by Kane Jeeves
Sep 26 2011 – 1:46pm.
Can someone point to a link that describes why the hikers were there in the first place? I find it almost impossible to believe they were “just hiking”. If that were the case, then the US has a real problem on it’s hands…what to do with all the “just hikers” around the Mexican border.
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Posted by sheepherder
Sep 26 2011 – 2:47pm.
I wonder about the same thing. Why were they in Iraq in the first place, and why were they hiking anywhere close to a national border, especially the one with Iran?
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Posted by Brian Brademeyer
Sep 26 2011 – 1:49pm.
These “hikers” look a lot healthier than any Gitmo unfortunates that I have seen pictures of. They can still walk upright, and make complex compound sentences.
The Facts Thwart Rehab of Colin Powell May 29, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: Casey Sheehan, cheney, Cindy Sheehan, Colin Powell, counterinsurgency, George Bush, george tenet, good samaritan, guernica, gulf war, gulf war syndrome, Iraq, Iraq invasion, Iraq war, james baker, jay rockerfeller, john mclaughlin, kamasiyah, lawrence wilkerson, leon panetta, prophet isaiah, ray mcgovern, roger hollander, rumsfeld, wmds
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Watching retired Gen. Colin Powell refer to the parable of the Good Samaritan during Sunday’s Memorial Day ceremonies on the Mall in Washington, it struck me that Powell was giving hypocrisy a bad name.
Those familiar with the Good Samaritan story and also with the under-reported behavior of Gen. Powell, comeback kid of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), know that the two do not mesh.
Powell’s well-documented disregard for those who have borne the brunt of the battle places him in the company of the priest and the Levite – in the Good Samaritan parable – who, seeing the man attacked by robbers on the side of the road, walked right on by.
Sadly, Powell has a long record of placing the wounded and the vulnerable on his list of priorities far below his undying need to get promoted or to promote himself. Powell’s rhetoric, of course, would have us believe otherwise.
At the Memorial Day event, Powell hailed our “wounded warriors” from Iraq and Afghanistan as the cameras cut to several severely damaged veterans. Lauding the “love and care” they receive from their families, Powell noted in passing that some 10,000 parents are now full-time care providers for veterans not able to take care of themselves.
It was a moving ceremony, but only if you were able to keep your eye on the grand old flag and stay in denial about thousands of wasted American lives, not to mention tens and tens of thousands wasted Iraqi lives – as well as many thousands more incapacitated for life – and not ask WHY.
The wounded warriors’ former commander in chief, President George W. Bush, argued that the deaths were “worth it.” They were casualties suffered in pursuit of a “noble cause.”
Some claim that to suggest that those troops killed and wounded were killed and wounded in vain is to dishonor their memory, belittle their sacrifice, and inflict still more pain on their loved ones.
But Bush never could explain what the “noble cause” was, despite months and months of vigils by those camping outside the Bush house in Crawford asking that question. Our hearts certainly go out to the wounded, and to the families of the killed or wounded.
But I think that the surest way to dishonor them all is to avoid examining the real reasons for their loss, and to use lessons learned so that their own sons and daughters will not be sacrificed so glibly.
I lost many good Army colleagues and other friends in Vietnam. Back then, generals and politicians – the military and civilian leaders who promoted Powell and the careerists like him – helped to obscure the real reasons behind that carnage, too. And that was even before the corporate media became quite so fawning.
As the hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on and the casualties continue to mount, I feel an obligation to do what I can to help spread some truth around – however painful that may be. For truth is not only the best disinfectant, it is the best protection against such misadventures happening again…and again.
It is, I suppose, understandable that only the bravest widows and widowers – and parents like Cindy Sheehan whose son Casey Sheehan was killed in Sadr City on April 4, 2004 – have been able to summon enough courage out of their grief to challenge the vacuous explanations of Bush and people like Powell.
You can see it in microcosm in the Sheehan family. Casey’s father, Pat Sheehan, cannot agree that Casey’s death was in vain. Pat told me that Casey met an honorable death, since he was sent to rescue comrades pinned down by hostile forces in Sadr City.
No one can be sure what was going through Casey’s mind. And only later did it become clear that, rather than “volunteering” for an ill-conceived rescue mission, Casey, a truck mechanic, was ordered onto that open truck by superiors unwilling to risk their own hides. (This is what one of Casey’s comrades on the scene later told his mother.)
But let us assume that Casey was nonetheless eager to rescue his comrades. This still begs the question that I asked Pat Sheehan: Why were Casey and his comrades in Iraq in the first place? What was the “noble cause?” Pat’s reaction, or lack thereof, almost made me regret having asked him. Remembering it almost makes me want to stop this essay here. Almost.
With ministers, priests and rabbis officiating at funerals and other memorial services for “the fallen” and spinning their own renditions of “Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori” – “it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country” – small wonder that even those who should know better choose this escape from reality. There is so much pain out there…and if denial helps, well…
It does not help when it comes to charlatans like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell – the latter now trying to re-establish his poster-boy status with an eagerly cooperative FCM.
Aside from those whose TVs are stuck at Fox News and radios at Rush Limbaugh, fewer and fewer Americans now believe the lingering lies. Even funeral directors and preachers tread sparingly with the once-familiar rhetoric – used cynically in Washington to facilitate further careless carnage – that these dead “must not have died in vain.”
Isaiah on the Mall
Besides the Good Samaritan parable, Powell quoted from Isaiah about bringing comfort to the people. Surely Isaiah did not mean this to be done with lies on top of lies. Isaiah was no shrinking violet. He got himself killed for speaking out bluntly against lies that in his time justified the oppression of those on the margins.
I imagine this is what Isaiah would say to us now:
“Hear this, Americans. It is time to be not only sad, but also honest. You must summon the courage to handle the truth, which is this: our young warriors and (literally) countless Iraqis died in vain, and there is no excuse for their needless sacrifice. Nothing will bring them back – least of all meretricious rhetoric that is an insult to their memory.
“Their sacrifice was in vain, hear? Our task now is two-fold: (1) Bury the dead with respect and care for the wounded and their families; and (2) ensure that the truth gets out, so that a war built on lies will not soon happen again.”
Isaiah, I think, would add that this is also precisely why we owe it to the “fallen” and their families to hold to account those responsible for sending them into battle “on false pretenses,” to quote then-Senate Intelligence Committee head, Jay Rockefeller last June.
After a five-year investigation and a bipartisan vote approving the Senate Intelligence Committee report, Rockefeller summed it up:
“In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.” As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.”
There is plenty of blame to go around – to be shared by an adolescent president who liked to dress up and call himself a “war president,” and openly savored presiding over what he called “the first war of the 21st Century.”
Not to mention the power-hungry, sadistic bent of the men he chose to be vice president and secretary of defense and the treachery of CIA seniors George Tenet and John McLaughlin.
But there would have been no war, no dead, no limb-less bodies, no loved ones for whom to recall Isaiah’s words of comfort or mention the Good Samaritan, if Colin Powell had a conscience – if he had not chosen to “walk right on by.”
Let’s face it; neither the Texas Air National Guard’s most famous pilot nor the five-times-draft-deferred former vice president had the credibility to lead the country into war – especially one based on a highly dubious threat.
They needed the credibility of someone who had worn the uniform with some distinction – someone who, though never in command of a major Army combat unit, had been good at briefing the media while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the glorious Gulf War in 1991, which most Americans have been led to believe was virtually casualty-free.
Actually, since we are trying to spread some truth around, this is worth a brief digression.
The Casualty-Lite Gulf War
According to Powell’s memoir, My American Journey, before the attack on Iraq Powell was warned by his British counterpart, Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir David Craig, about the risks involved in bombing Iraq’s so-called “weapons of mass destruction” installations. After Powell told him that this was indeed part of the plan, Craig expressed particular worry about release of agents from biological installations: “A bit risky that, eh?”
Powell writes that he told Craig the attendant risk of release was worth it and: “If it heads south, just blame me.”
Powell writes he was “less concerned” about chemical exposures. He should have been more concerned, not less. As the hostilities ended, U.S. Army engineers blew up chemical agents at a large Iraqi storage site near Kamasiyah. About 100,000 U.S. troops were downwind.
Many of those troops are now among the 210,000 veterans suffering from nervous and other diseases – and FINALLY now receiving disability payments for what came to be known as Gulf War Syndrome.
Far from his pre-war posture of “just blame me,” Powell joined Pentagon and CIA efforts to cover up this tragedy. When reports of the horrible fiasco at Kamasiyah hit the media, he erupted in macho outrage saying that, were he still on active duty, he would “rape and pillage” throughout the government to find those responsible. Of course, Kamasiyah happened during his watch. Typically, the FCM reported his macho remark, and then gave him a pass.
Despite numerous veterans’ pleas for support, Powell, in effect, went AWOL on the issue of Gulf War illnesses, never acknowledging that he shared any of the responsibility.
He took no interest and, in effect, made a huge contribution to the unconscionable delay in recognizing Gulf War illnesses for what they are. One out of every four troops deployed to the Gulf in 1991 are now receiving the benefits to which they have long been entitled – no thanks to Gen. Powell.
You didn’t know that? Thank the FCM and its persistent romance with Gen. Powell. Sorry for the digression; just had to get that off my chest.
Back to the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld quest for someone to sell the attack on Iraq, someone whom the media loved, someone with military credentials who would do what he was told.
Perhaps they had read Powell’s memoir, in which he brags about his subservience to the “wisdom” of those up the line. They needed someone who was not too bright but could be eloquent – someone who was so used to taking orders that he would squander his own credibility for his boss, if the boss would just ask.
Not too bright? Apparently, during the three years between when Powell and I, as fledgling infantry officers, had been instructed at Fort Benning on counterinsurgency, the Army’s understanding of how to fight it had improved. Either that, or Powell was not able to master the key learnings of the course.
Here is what Powell writes in his memoir about how he bought into his superiors’ notion about how to win hearts and minds – what Powell calls “counterinsurgency at the cutting edge”:
“However chilling this destruction of homes and crops reads in cold print today, as a young officer I had been conditioned to believe in the wisdom of my superiors, and to obey. I had no qualms about what we were doing. This was counterinsurgency at the cutting edge. Hack down the peasants’ crops, thus denying food to the Viet Cong…It all made sense in those days.”
“Duty, Honor, Country” is what I remember made sense in those days. That was the watchword for young Army officers in the early Sixties – not supreme faith in the wisdom of superiors and blind obedience. But most of the rest of us did not make it beyond colonel.
Small wonder that the hapless Powell was easy prey for Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld. They needed him to sell the war to the American people and, they hoped, to the rest of the world.
It is hard to fathom what “wisdom” Powell saw in his superiors’ decisions; what is clear is that he lacked the courage to challenge them, whether out of blind faith, a highly exaggerated – and dubiously moral – notion of obedience, a lack of conscience, or simple cowardice.
Tell lies to support the White House decision for war on Iraq? No problem. As was his wont, Powell saluted sharply, even though four days prior to his Feb. 5, 2003 U.N. speech he and his chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, had decided that some of the “intelligence” the White House had conjured up to “justify” war was pure “bull—t,” according to Wilkerson. Powell ended up using it anyway.
Powell and his handlers were acutely aware that war would be just weeks away after Powell spoke. One small but significant sign of this was what seemed to me the earliest cover-up related to the soon-to-begin attack on Iraq.
It was a literal cover-up, accomplished even before Powell conducted his post-speech press briefing in the customary spot in front of the Security Council wall adorned with a reproduction of Picasso’s famous anti-war painting, Guernica.
Prior to the press conference, that wall hanging had been covered up by another fabric. Some PR person had recognized the impropriety of trying to justify a new war of aggression with Guernica as backdrop. As usual with Powell, the speech and press conference went swimmingly, and the gullible or shameless (your choice) FCM was embarrassingly generous with their accolades.
Once it became clear — by mid-2003 — that there were no WMD stockpiles or mobile bio-weapons labs or anything else that had been conjured up in the U.N. speech, Powell smoothly shifted the blame to the CIA, and his fans in the FCM transformed Powell into a noble victim, now tragically suffering from a “blot on my record” for no real fault of his own.
Though it is abundantly clear that then-CIA Director George Tenet and his accomplice/deputy John McLaughlin did play a treacherous role, no CIA director has ever made a secretary of state worth his salt do anything – and certainly not help start an unnecessary war.
Besides, it is a safe bet that what was already clear to us Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) was at least equally clear to Powell. On the afternoon of Powell’s U.N. speech, we formally warned President Bush that the evidence adduced by Powell fell far short of justifying an attack on Iraq and that such an attack would be a huge fillip to terrorism around the world.
And since it was obvious that Powell had thrown in his lot with those rolling the juggernaut to war, we urged the president to “widen the circle of your advisers beyond those clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason, and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”
Why Powell simply saluted, in full knowledge that his imprimatur would grease the skids to a highly dubious war can be debated. It may be as simple as the clues he provided in his memoir about honoring the “wisdom of superiors” and his penchant to obey, even when it made little sense and even when lots of folks would lose their homes and their lives.
Who was the colonel in Vietnam who insisted he was duty bound to destroy a village in order to save it from the communists? Powell was cut from similar cloth, albeit with a greater sense of subtlety and a much better knack for PR.
In April 2006, Powell admitted to journalist Robert Scheer that top State Department experts never believed that Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat, but that the president followed the misleading advice of Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA in making the claim.
It may simply be that by the time other generals promote you to general (the current system) you have distinguished yourself first and foremost by saluting smartly – by obeying and not asking too many questions.
But why Powell acquiesced is less important than THAT he went along. Though perhaps not the brightest star in the galaxy, he certainly was aware he was being co-opted, and that he needed not only to bless the war but also to wax enthusiastic about it, in order to remain welcome in the White House.
Surely he had learned something since his days in Vietnam – something about the “wisdom” of superiors, and of blind obedience. He could have said no, but he just did not have it in him to do so.
Powell’s stature (especially with the FCM) made his blessing of the Iraq War especially valuable to Cheney/Rumsfeld and the war-hungry neocons.
“The Only Guy Who Could Perhaps Have Stopped It”
Don’t take my word for it. Take it from the quintessential Republican elder statesman, former Secretary of State James Baker – hero of the Florida escapade that stopped the recount in Florida and, with the help of the U.S. Supreme Court, gave the 2000 election to George W. Bush.
In his book The War Within, Bob Woodward wrote: “Powell…didn’t think [Iraq] was a necessary war, and yet he had gone along in a hundred ways, large and small…He had succumbed to the momentum and his own sense of deference – even obedience – to the president…Perhaps more than anyone else in the administration, Powell had become the ‘closer’ for the president’s case on war.”
On Oct. 19, 2008, Tom Brokaw asked Powell about this on “Meet the Press;” Brokaw alluded to Woodward’s revelations and how Baker had grilled Powell when he appeared before the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group. Here’s Brokaw quoting Woodard’s book:
“‘Why did we go into Iraq with so few people?’ Baker asked. … ‘Colin just exploded at that point,’ [former Secretary of Defense William] Perry recalled later. ‘He unloaded,’ [former White House Chief of Staff and now CIA Director Leon] Panetta added, ‘He was angry. He was mad as hell.’… Powell left [the Iraq Study Group meeting].
“Baker turned to Panetta and said solemnly. ‘He’s the only guy who could have perhaps prevented this from happening.’”
I added the bold, so you wouldn’t miss it.
Powell responded to Brokaw’s question by again pointing his finger at the CIA – “a lot of the information that the intelligence community provided us was wrong” – and then insisting that his war role wasn’t that consequential.
Stung by Baker’s observation, Powell said, “I also assure you that it was not a correct assessment by anybody that my statements or my leaving the administration would have stopped” going to war.
Unlike the Good Samaritan who went out of his way to help a stranger in trouble, Powell simply looked to his own convenience, carefully protecting his status within the Bush administration and keeping his place at fashionable Washington dinner parties.
Whether he could have stopped the war or not, the truth is that Colin Powell didn’t even try. He would not risk his reputation for all those victims – Iraqi and American – who have died or suffered horribly from an unnecessary war. The blot on his record was self-inflicted; the FCM is likely to run out of Clorox trying to remove the stain.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. During his career as a CIA analyst, he prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief and chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
The Day of the Dead May 26, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: Afghanistan War, bill of rights, Casey Sheehan, Cindy Sheehan, free speech, free speech zones, freedom, Iraq, Iraq war, iraqi dead, memorial day, military industrial complex, obama war crimes, patriotism, roger hollander, U.S. imperialism, War Crimes, warrantless wiretapping
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Monday 25 May 2009, www.truthout.org
I was on an airplane flying to Orange County from Sacramento to attend the al-Awda Conference, which is a Palestinian Right’s Conference (al-Awda translates to “The Returning”), when the pilot’s voice filled the cabin to make an announcement that I think went unnoticed by most of my fellow passengers, but I heard it.
As the plane was on the approach to John Wayne airport, the Captain came on the intercom to remind us all to “remember our brave troops who have died for our freedom.” Even in this post 9-11 paranoid paradigm, if I wasn’t belted in for landing, I would have popped out of my seat at 13D and charged up to the cockpit to let the pilot know that my son was killed in Iraq and not one person anywhere in this world is one iota more free because he is dead.
As a matter of fact, the people of Iraq, the foreign country thousands of miles away where my oldest child’s brains, blood and life seeped into the soil, are not freer, unless one counts being liberated from life, liberty and property being free. If you consider torture and indefinite detention freedom, then the pilot may have been right, but then again, even if you do consider those crimes freedom, it does not make it so.
Here in America we are definitely not freer because my son died, as a matter of fact, our nation can spy on us and our communications without a warrant or just cause, and we can’t even bring a 3.6 ounce bottle of hand cream into an airport, or walk through a metal detector with our shoes on. Even if we do want to exercise our Bill of Rights, we are shoved into pre-designated “free speech” zones (NewSpeak for; STFU, unless you are well out of the way of what you want to protest and shoved into pens like cattle being led to slaughter), and oftentimes brutally treated if we decide we are entitled to “free speech” on every inch of American soil.
If you watch any one of the cable news networks this weekend between doing holiday weekend things, you will be subjected to images of row upon row of white headstones of dead US military lined up in perfect formation in the afterlife as they were in life. Patriotic music will swell and we will be reminded in script font to “Remember our heroes,” or some such BS as that.
Before Casey was killed, a message like that would barely register in my consciousness as I rushed around preparing for Casey’s birthday bar-be-que that became a family tradition since he was born on Memorial Day in 1979. If I had a vision of how Memorial Day and Casey’s birthday would change for my family, I would have fled these violent shores to protect what was mine, not this murderous country’s. Be my guest; look at those headstones with pride or indifference. I look at them now with horror, regret, pain and a longing for justice.
I can guarantee what you won’t see this holiday weekend are images of the over one million Iraqi dead. Say we assign, in an arbitrary way for purely illustrative purposes, an average height of five feet for every person killed in Iraq and then line those people up from head to toe. That gruesome line would stretch from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon… 950 driving miles up Interstate 5. If we count the Iraqis who have been forced to flee, we would have to go back and forth between Los Angeles and Portland another four times.
There are obscene amounts of people who have been slaughtered for the US Profit Driven Military Empire who do not count here in America on any day. People in Vietnam are still dying from the toxins dumped on their country by the US, not to mention the millions who died during that war. Let the carnage escalate in Afghanistan while we protect our personal images by turning a blind eye to Obama’s war crimes. Are you going to feel a lump of pride in your bosom when the coffins start to be photographed at Dover for this imperial crime of aggression? Will you look at those flag-draped boxes of the lifeless body of some mother’s child and think: “Now, I am free.” Is it better to be dead when Obama is president?
A tough, but real, aspect of this all to consider is, how many of the soldiers buried in coffins in military cemeteries killed or tortured innocent people as paid goons for the Empire? To me, it is deeply and profoundly sad on so many levels. If I have any consolation through all of this, I learned that my son bravely refused to go on the mission that killed him, but he was literally dragged into the vehicle and was dead minutes later – before he was forced to do something that was against his nature and nurture.
Casey will always be my hero, but he was a victim of US Imperialism and his death should bring shame, not pride, as it did not bring freedom to anyone. I will, of course, mourn his senseless death on Memorial Day as I do every day.
However, we do not need another day here in America to glorify war that enables the Military Industrial Complex to commit its crimes under the black cloak of “Patriotism.”
From Palestine to Africa to South America, our quest for global economic domination kills, sickens, maims or oppresses people on a daily basis, and about 25,000 children per day die of starvation. I am not okay with these facts and I am not proud of my country.
I will spend my reflective time on Memorial Day to mourn not only the deaths of so many people all over the world due to war, but mourn the fact that they are the unseen and uncared for victims of US Empire.
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Bush’s war of terror on 04/04/04. She is the co-founder and president of Gold Star Families for Peace and the Camp Casey Peace Institute. She is the author of three books; the most recent is “Peace Mom: A Mother’s Journey Through Heartache to Activism.” Following an unsuccessful challenge to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sheehan launched a radio show on 960AM in the San Fransisco Bay Area that can also be heard on Soapbox.com.
IWD 2009: Gallery of Honor March 8, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Women.
Tags: anne hollander, aung san suu kyi, barbara lee, betty friedan, carmen vascones, cathy crowe, Cindy Sheehan, fannie lou hamer, feminism, international womans day, iwd, louise michel, miriam makeba, revolutionary women, rigoberta menchu, roger hollander, rosa luxemburg, soujourner truth, women, women leaders, women's history
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Betty Friedan: Modern Day Pioneer
Aung San Suu Kyi: Burmese Resistance Leader
Cathy Crowe: Canadian Anti-poverty Activist
Fannie Lou Hamer: Civil Rights Leader
Anne Korabiak Hollander: Humanitarian (my mother)
Barbara Lee: Only Vote in House of Representatives Against Iraq Invasion
Rosa Luxemburg: Revolutionary Philosopher, Activist and Martyr
Rigoberta Menchu: Guatemalan Community Organizer
Miriam Makeba: Mama Africa
Louise Michel: Paris Commune Revolutionary Leader
Cindy Sheehan: Mother, Tireless Peace Activist
Soujourner Truth: Ain”t I a Woman
Carmen Váscones: Ecuadorian Poet (and Inspiration)
The War in Common December 17, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in George W. Bush, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: antiwar, Cindy Sheehan, George Bush, Iraq, Iraq war, iraqi oil, journalism, mission accomplished, Muntazer al-Zaidi, roger hollander, shock and awe, shoe, War Crimes, william pitt
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Bush ducks one of two shoes in Baghdad on Sunday. Both missed. (Photo: AP) www.truthout.org 17 December 2008 I met a chef from Texas who was like an oak tree with tattoos, and made a mean barbecue sauce. He’d been in the 101st Airborne and was about to be deployed to Iraq, but destroyed his knee in a training exercise and wound up getting discharged. He knew the war was nonsense and thought the Bush guys all deserved to rot in jail, but he still wanted to go to Iraq, and wept whenever a soldier he knew died over there because he should have been there and maybe could have saved that person if his knee hadn’t buckled. I met a woman in Texas who sat down in a fire-ant-infested mud puddle because her son died in Iraq. Everything was “Mission Accomplished” and high approval ratings, but she didn’t get it and wanted an explanation from the man who’d sent her son to die for a banner on a ship and a bump in the polls. So, she sat in a mud puddle outside his house and waited for an explanation, and by doing so, began the final and inexorable turning of popular opinion against the war. The mothers of dead soldiers all had a face after this one mother sat in that mud and waited for an explanation that never came.
I met a journalist, a fourth-generation American of Lebanese descent, whose horror and disgust at the mainstream media’s insipid cheerleading coverage of the Iraq war in 2003 compelled him to travel to Iraq and do some reporting on his own. Through his unfiltered and most decidedly unembedded perspective, we learned of the Iraqi hospitals overflowing with feces and urine, of villages targeted by Coalition forces for reprisal attacks, about bodies rotting in the streets of devastated towns, about dogs feasting on those corpses as they bloated in the sun, about gas lines lasting two days and about what America’s war really looked and smelled like when the media’s self-serving airbrush treatment was not applied.
I met a tank driver who had served along the Berlin line during the cold war, who marched next to me at antiwar demonstrations carrying an upside-down American flag. Whenever some outraged patriot challenged him, this man would reel off his service number, his billet, his AO and his record, and then dare his challenger to say something about his love of country. “The flag like this means ‘Distress, Send Help,’” he would always say. “This country needs help.”
I met a kid from upstate New York who was slinging burgers with this perplexed look on his face because he didn’t know what to do with himself, so he was slinging burgers until he figured out what to do. For as long as he could remember, he had wanted to be a soldier and had bent his whole life towards that end. He ran the farthest, worked the hardest and even joined a competitive shooting league so his aim would be the best. He got himself into one of the best military schools in the country, and then Bush and Iraq and everything else happened and he knew it was wrong, and knew he could not devote his life and honor to all that, so he quit the military academy and abandoned his dream of military service, and was flipping burgers until he could figure out what else he could do.
I met a woman who was a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, who worked next to Doug Feith and his merry men down in the Office of Special Plans. She saw them gin up all the false and misleading reasons for an invasion of Iraq we eventually saw on TV and read in the papers, and she decided to go public about what she’d seen. Very few mainstream media outlets wanted to talk with this Air Force lieutenant colonel about what she knew and what she’d seen because it made a mess of the accepted storylines coming out of the White House, the Pentagon and the Office of Special Plans.
I met an Air Force pilot who was protesting the war because he was pretty sure he’d committed serious war crimes on several occasions by following the orders he’d been given to drop bombs on places in Iraq we were not supposed to drop bombs. If he could have turned himself in for his crimes, he probably would have, because he had a haunted face and he knew that “I was just following orders” only goes so far. Nobody would arrest him, because he was a hero of course, so he was protesting the war with that haunted look on his face.
I met a corporal who fired artillery during the opening credits for “Shock and Awe.” He’d been in uniform well before the invasion, and recalled his commanding officer’s instructions for the green recruits who didn’t know better. “You’re not liberating anyone with this war,” the CO said to the confused consternation of the new troops. “We’re going in to get Iraq’s oil, and you’re going in to protect the guys around you, and that’s the deal.” The corporal nodded along with all the other old salts who knew better, and they went in, and the greenies learned a lot of new things in a hurry.
I met a woman in New York City who had lost beloved family in a pillar of fire and smoke and jet fuel when the Towers went down. She was part of a group whose members had all lost someone on that day, and they went from city to city demanding that Bush and America not use the deaths of their loved ones as a rallying cry for some stupid, useless, brutal, illegal bloodbath of an Iraq invasion. She knew all about how everything changed after 9/11, and she was right, and that’s why she spoke out.
I’ve met a lot of other people like this. I met a staff sergeant whose Iraq tour got bumped back three weeks because someone in his unit failed a drug test, but after three weeks he still had to go. I met a Green Beret who wants to meet me again in 30 years so he can tell me all the stuff I don’t know, but need to. I even met a guy with two prosthetic legs who would go from bar to bar and get people to buy him drinks because he said he was a wounded Iraq veteran. He wasn’t; he was a spoiled brat from California who passed out drunk on some train tracks and got run over and lost his legs, and that was terrible for him, but he got no mercy from the real Iraq veteran who figured out this kid was lying, and that kid will never come back to my bar again, ever.
I want to meet the guy who threw his shoes at Bush on Sunday. I think he and all these others I’ve met would have a lot to talk about. They all have so much in common.
It won’t happen, of course. But I do want to meet the man who threw his shoes. I would like to shake his hand, too.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: “War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know” and “The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.” His newest book, “House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America’s Ravaged Reputation,” is now available from PoliPointPress.
My Ideal Cabinet and Congressional Leadership November 21, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in A: Roger's Original Essays, About Barack Obama, Political Commentary.
Tags: Al Gore, Baltazar Garzon, Barbara Boxer, Bill, Bill Ayers, Cabinet, Cindy Sheehan, Dennis Kucinich, jocelyn elder, Joe Lieberman, Joe the Plumber, Noam Chomsky, Obama, Ralph Nader, Ramsay Clark, roger hollander
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I have posted this under “political commentary,” but many, I suppose, will argue it should have been posted under “humor.”
Chief of Staff: Ralph Nader
Secretary of State: Noam Chomsky
Secretary of Defense: Cindy Sheehan
Attorney General: Ramsay Clark (my first choice would have been the Spanish Judge, Baltazar Garzon, he who tried to prosecute Pinochet, and I see nothing in the Constitution to prevent a Spanish citizen being Attorney General; but I don´t want anyone to think I am being frivoulous here).
Environment: Al Gore (who else?)
Homeland Security (I would abolish this position, but if it stays my choice would be Robert F. Kennedy Jr.)
Senate Leader: Barbara Boxer
House Leader: Dennis Kucinich
Dog Catcher: Joe Lieberman
Secretary of the “Interior”: Joe the Plumber
CIA: Bill Ayers
Surgeon General: Jocelyn Elder (bring her back!)
If you have Obama´s ear, I would appreciate your passing this on to him. He´s going to need some sound advice from those who elected him (as opposed to the Party establishment).
“Stink-eye Politics” – Running Against the Republicans AND the Democrats: Why I’m Campaigning for Cindy Sheehan October 31, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in U.S. Election 2008.
Tags: Ann Wright, anti-war, Bush Cheney crimes, Casey Sheehan, Cindy Sheehan, Cindy Sheehan candidate, Democratic Party Iraq War, Democratic Party priorities, Dennis Kucinich, House Judiciary Committee, Impeach Bush Cheney, Iraq war, John Conyers, Nancy Pelosi, peace mom, Republican Party Iraq War, roger hollander, U.S. Election 2008
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Thursday 30 October 2008
by: Ann Wright, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Cindy Sheehan is running against both the Republican and Democratic establishments, but more specifically against Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. (Photo: Chris Usher / TIME)
I am in San Francisco this week before the election, campaigning for Cindy Sheehan. She is running against both the Republican and Democratic establishments, but more specifically against Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.
As speaker of the House, Pelosi represents and leads the Democratic Party that failed to end the war in Iraq, failed to hold the president and vice president of the United States accountable for the lies in the war in Iraq, taking impeachment out of the constitution and “off the table,” knowing about the torture program and refusing to make it public and stop it, voting for FISA eavesdropping on American citizens, OK-ing the $700 billion bailout and a lot more. She knew these things and didn’t stop them.
In the summer of 2007 while we were in hot, dusty Crawford, Texas, for the third summer in a row protesting Bush’s continuation of the war in Iraq, Cindy decided to challenge Pelosi for taking impeachment off the table. In one of her first statements upon becoming speaker of the House of Representatives in January 2007, Pelosi had said impeachment hearings would be too divisive for America. As recently as yesterday, October 29, she has said there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the administration. (Congressman Dennis Kucinich spoke for hours on the floor of the House of Representatives about the administration’s criminal acts and many books have been written on the subject.)
In July 2008, Cindy announced that she was giving Pelosi ten days to put impeachment back into the Constitution. In those ten days, Cindy and a team numbering from 20-60 persons from Camp Casey traveled from Crawford to Washington, DC, stopping at towns and cities along the way to talk about the lack of accountability for criminal acts by government officials while in office (war in Iraq, kidnapping, torture, illegal eavesdropping.) When we arrived in Washington, DC, 400 persons joined us to march from Arlington National Cemetery to the House of Representatives, where we sat all day in the hallways around Pelosi’s and House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers’ offices.
Cindy, the mother of Casey Sheehan (who was killed in Iraq in April 2004); former CIA presidential briefer and US Army Captain Ray McGovern, and minister and ex-US Air Force Captain and Chaplain Rev. Lennox Yearwood, met with Conyers for over two hours, urging him to begin Congressional hearings that could lead to the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
They emerged from Conyers’ office visibly shaken after Conyers told them that the Democrats were more concerned about winning the 2008 presidential election than about ending the war in Iraq or about holding Bush and Cheney accountable for their criminal actions.
Upon hearing the results of the talk with Conyers, 47 of us surged into Conyers’ office and refused to leave until Conyers called for impeachment hearings. About 8 o’clock that night, the Capitol police came into his office and arrested all of us.
Since Pelosi had not put impeachment back onto the table, while in Washington, DC, Cindy announced that she would run for Congress against the speaker of the House.
In January 2008, Cindy moved from her home close to the Bay area to Pelosi’s district in San Francisco and began her campaign for Congress. She relentlessly spoke at hundreds of civic events in San Francisco and attended meetings of virtually every organization in the city. In a short time, she became a visible presence in the city.
Running as an independent, she had to collect 10,000 signatures to be on the ballot, and despite all odds, she became only the sixth independent candidate for Congress from California to raise the required number.
Then the Democratic Party and corporate media machine kicked into gear. No mainstream media in San Francisco covered her official announcement for Congress and none have covered her race against Pelosi. Suddenly, the “peace mom” whose talks and appearances had been covered extensively in San Francisco around the country by the media – was iced out. Print, TV and radio interviews dried up. Only internet news media would publish her writings and cover her active campaign in San Francisco.
This week I joined the many volunteers from all over the country who have knocked on doors, held signs on street corners, passed out issue position papers and talked to voters about why Cindy is challenging the woman in the leadership position of the House of Representatives.
It turns out that the voters in San Francisco are just as angry as Cindy is about Pelosi’s refusal to stop funding war, her knowledge about torture from briefings of the administration and her refusal to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their criminal acts. From the informal polls I have taken this week of voters coming out of the City Hall’s early voting station, Cindy’s campaign against Pelosi has triggered a strong response against Pelosi.
It has been very interesting to see the expressions of longtime Democrats who work in City Hall as we ask them to consider voting for Cindy. They have the same expression, the “stink eye” on their faces, as the Republicans with whom we have argued in Congress over the past five years about the war in Iraq and torture.
In those moments, the “stink eye” reflex to accountability and to standing up to the existing political system reveals the real challenge – forcing the two major political parties that have been tacitly working together to promote and continue war and to hold no one accountable – to move over for real change in our political system.
VOTE CINDY FOR CHANGE!
Ann Wright is a retired Army Reserve colonel and a 29-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserves. She was also a diplomat in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia. She resigned from the Department of State on March 19, 2003, in opposition to the Iraq war. She joined Cindy Sheehan and 12,000 others in the ditches of Crawford, Texas, in August 2005 to protest President Bush’s war on Iraq. She is also the co-author of the book, “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”