But perhaps the greatest threat of all is the undermining of our Constitution and the systematic attack against the inalienable rights of the citizens of this nation, rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution. At the vanguard of this insidious attack is the tea party. This band of misguided citizens is moving perilously close to achieving villainous ends.
This gathering here today is America's wake-up call. The giant called democracy is at last stirring again. Citizens are coming together to say freedom does not sleep. It may have been fueled and lulled for the moment into a lethargy, but it's fully awake now. And we the people are its engine. We must awaken the apathetic, the cynical, the many angry doubters, who see their future as the perpetual hopelessness, and show them that our greatest weapon is the vote. And it is the answer to much that nags in us.
On November 2nd, in the millions, we must overburden our voting booths by voting against those who would see the nation become a totalitarian state. Americans know that Dr. King's dream is not dead. Let us vote on November 2nd for jobs, for jobs, for jobs, for peace, for justice, for human rights, for our children and the future of America. And let us put an end to war. Peace is necessary. For justice, it is necessary. For hope, it is necessary, for our future.
I love you all, and God bless America.
Aside from a generalized desire for "change," the Obama-crats took the Democratic presidential nomination -- and the presidency -- largely on the strength of their candidate's alleged antiwar credentials. Barack Obama's opposition to the Iraq war was the line of demarcation that set his campaign apart from that of his main rival, Hillary Clinton. What his antiwar supporters didn't know -- or want to know -- was that this opposition was based on his often-stated contention that we were fighting a war on the wrong front: Afghanistan, Obama averred, is the main battlefield in our generations-long "war on terrorism." Iraq was merely a "diversion" -- and, he suggested, we ought to go into Pakistan, if necessary, an idea that horrified even John McCain, who denounced it as "irresponsible." People believe what they want to believe, however, and the left fell into line behind Obama, who by this time had become a kind of cult figure around which liberals and self-identified "progressives" could rally after eight years in the political wilderness. What they didn't notice was that shortly after his election, which was greeted by the right with despair, the "progressive" Center for a New American Security -- the source of many high level appointments by the Obama administration -- held a joint conference with Kristol's newly-created "Foreign Policy Initiative," which hailed Obama's decision to escalate the Afghan war. The participants busied themselves with the intricacies of CNAS's new counterinsurgency doctrine -- essentially a "nation-building" scheme to set up a semi-permanent colony in the wilds of Afghanistan, and extend the war further into the heart of Central Asia.
The event was garbage. We noted that here Saturday
. Third covered it in this editorial
. Click here
for Chris Floyd's take (scroll down to "Update"). You need to remember these liars and hypocrites because when the Dems no longer control the White House, they will return to claiming that they are 'objective' and not beholden to any arty and they'll make noises about maybe a third arty is needed. But then you'll see -- as you did in 2008 -- them whore themselves to elect a Democrat yet again. What you need to watch for is the in-between. In that period, you need to starve the beast. These peole cannot keep gainful employment. They are dependent upon the Panhandle Media
and begging for a living. Starve the beast. That's the only way you'll ever take away their platforms and end their non-stop whoring for the Democratic Party. (And for those late to the party, I actually am a Democrat -- unlike many of the whores who are Socialist and Communists -- but I don't whore for anyone or anything. Nor should you. Read Janis Ian
's wonderful and heartfelt Society's Child
and you'll see she learned that truth before 17. That link, FYI, goes to the book and her double disc collection for only $16,95 -- two discs of amazing music including her best loved songs like "At Seventeen," "Society's Child," "Stars," "Jesse," "When Angels Cry," "Days LIke These" and many more -- Kat
reviewed it here
and and Janis' amazing book which, Martha and Shirley reported
was the community's choice for best book of 2008.)
brought the news that Nouri had the support of the Iraqi National Alliance (he's had it before and lost it before but no one wants to note that reality). And yet the political stalemate continues. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported
, "A coalition of Shiite political blocs chose Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as its candidate for Iraq's top government job on Friday afternoon - a step that could break a months-long standoff over who will govern the country. Despite the new support, Maliki must still find more votes in the Iraqi parliament if he is to remain in power and form a new government. The fact that the Shiites now supporting Maliki are mostly Sadrists - followers of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who staunchly oppose the American presence here - also has the potential to alarm Washington." Today Hussam Ali and Newsweek report
on the deal al-Sadr and Nouri made: "A Sadr official tells Newsweek privately that the breakthrough came when several ranking members of Maliki's coalition, the State of Law, met with Sadr in Iran to negotiate his key demand. At issue: 2,000 of Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters who have been held since they were rounded up, with Maliki's blessing, in 2007 and 2008."
Jim Muir (BBC News) noted
Saturday that Iraq 'won' " the world record for the length of time it is taking to form the new government, passing the 208-day mark set by the Netherlands in 1977. But it seems likely that the old record will be broken by quite a substantial margin, as the process of settling the contending factions into a viable governing formation still has some way to run." In addition, Muir noted that it does not appear as though Nouri has 100% support from the Iraqi National Alliance. Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) added
, "After a meeting on Saturday, Iraqiya leaders said they would now try to court two Shiite parties that oppose Mr. Maliki, as well as two smaller parties that won 10 seats, though that would still leave the bloc without enough seats to thwart Mr. Maliki's re-election." Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) reports
, "A Shiite Muslim competitor accused Prime Minister Nouri Maliki on Sunday of hoarding power and lacking a vision for Iraq, suggesting that the incumbent still was a long way from securing a new term." That competitor would be Adel Abdul Mehdi who is currently Iraq's Shi'ite Vice President (Iraq has two vice presidents, one Shi'ite, one Sunni). Parker reports that Abdul Mehdi is using his group's twenty-five seats to attempt to form an alternative to Nouri. That would mean -- if no other group is holding out -- Nouri sits at around 134 seats currently.
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month
, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister
. It's six months and twenty-seven days with no government formed.
Meanwhile Fars News Agency reports
that the governments of Syria and Iran are denying that they are in opposition over whom the next prime minister of Iraq should be. Press TV adds
that Iran's Ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Danaeifar, states that Iran is not interfering in the process. However, Tariq Alhomayed (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) notes
the rumors swirling, "There is a belief amongst many of the Iraqi elite, as well as other Arab politicians, intellectuals and journalists, that the U.S. is conspiring with the Iranians on the issue of Iraq, and that there is a plot to divide the region. The allegation is that America is concluding a deal with its Iranian counterparts, to persuade Tehran to cooperate with America and the West on the subject of its nuclear program [in exchange for allowing the Iranians to politically intervene in Iraq]. This was already offered by the Iranians to the West, in particularly the Americans. Therefore Washington, according to those skeptical of U.S. intentions, does not see the harm in Nuri al-Maliki renewing his post for a second term, at the expense of other Iraqi components. This skepticism deserves to be analyzed, if only for the fact that it has spread like wildfire amongst the Iraqi elite, who generally do not believe in conspiracy theories, and mostly advocate rationality regarding relations with the West." Allawi is in Egypt today. Al-Masry Al-Youm reports
he's supposed to meet with Omar Suleiman ("Egyptian intelligence chief") and other officials "to discuss the ongoing deadlock over the formation of the country's next government."
Reports of blocs scrambling to make deals are coming out of Iraq. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports
that officials with Iraqiya are hinting that they might back Nouri for prime minister if Allawi became president and if the role of president came with expanded powers. This as Alsumaria TV reports
that the Kurdistan bloc states talks will take place only after "written approval" of their demands: "Referring to the National Alliance and Al Iraqiya List, Khalil clarified that the Kurdish paper includes 10 items mainly executing Constitution Article 140 that protects major components of the Iraqi people namely Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Arabs from injustice, he said." One problem already developing is that the Kurds expected Nouri's promise of an October census (oil-rich Kirkuk) to be a promise and are now learning otherwise (he's pushed it back to December this time). Which may be why the bloc plans to meet in Baghdad to firm up their demands before meeting with any non-Kurds
You don't belong here -- Leave unconditionally within 24 hours -- or else we are prepared to use all means including force, if necessary"
Armed men, in civilian clothes distributed fliers to Arab and Turkoman families in Kirkuk -- but mostly to Arab families.
A general census is to be held in Iraq on October 24.
And all through the political crisis -- and until this day, PM Nouri al Maliki keeps on statements affirming the date of the census -- again and again, as if there was nothing else on his mind.
The oil-rich Kirkuk is disputed territory, claimed by the KRG and by the central government or 'government' out of Baghdad. The Iraqi Constitution mandates a census and then a vote which will determine who gets Kirkuk. Prior to the start of the Iraq War, Kurds were forced out of Kirkuk and after the start of the war -- as documented by Edward Wong (New York Times)
, among others, the KRG began forcing Kurds back into the region. While trying to continue holding on to the post of prime minister, Nouri announced that a census would be held in October and it would be held regardless of whether or not the issue of the prime minister had been resolved. It is now October. Nouri, spin tells you, is set to be the next prime minister. And lo and behold we have a new announcement. Aseel Kami (Reuters) reports
that the census has been pushed back to December 5th. And it needs to be noted that the US government wanted it postponed. This is the census the Constitution mandated be taken in 2007. This is the census that one of the White House benchmarks (in 2007) was that Nouri would hold it. Or as AFP puts it
, "The October 24 census has now been delayed until December 5, the latest in a string of deferrals that have consistently put back a count originally due in 2007." News of the delay comes as Azzaman reports
that Ashawees (Kurdish security forces) are terrorizing Arab and Turkmen residents of Kirkuk in an attempt to scare them into leaving. MP Omer Khalaf is quoted stating, "Kurdish security forces, known (locally) as Ashawees, have withdrawn papers from Arab immigrants in the city and have warned them to leave within 24 hours." As a result, DPA reports
, US forces have been sent into Kirkuk "to protect Arab Sunni and Shiite residents".
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports
, "A magnetic bomb that was stuck to the private car of Tahrir Kathim, a media assistant who works for U.S. backed al Hurra satellite channel, detonated Monday morning killing him straight away." Reporters without Borders issued a statement
today which included:
Reporters Without Borders condemned the killing today of cameraman Tahrir Kadhem Jawad, working for the Arabic-language service of the US TV channel al-Hurra, who was killed by a bomb placed under his car as he was going to work near Jasr al-Korma, east of Fallujah.
Jawad died instantly after a bomb attached to his car exploded in Garma, 50 miles west of Baghdad in volatile Anbar province, according to local press freedom groups and online news reports. Jawad was driving to the capital to deliver footage when the bomb exploded. Security forces swiftly cordoned off the blast site and initiated an investigation, but made no arrests at the scene.
Jawad had worked as a journalist for seven years, first as an editor with the weekly Al-Karma, and then as a freelance cameraman who supplied numerous television broadcasters with footage. The slain journalist was "a courageous cameraman" who obtained distinguished footage "where others had failed to do so," according to Mohammad al-Jamili, the Baghdad bureau chief for U.S.-government-backed Al-Hurra television, one of Jawad's employers. Jawad is survived by his wife and five children.
"We extend our condolences to the family of our fallen colleague Tahrir Kadhim Jawad," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "As the country's internal security situation has steadily deteriorated over the past months, we have witnessed Iraq 's rapid degeneration into one of the most dangerous places for journalists to work, and this only after a short-lived period of relative calm. Jawad is the third journalist to be murdered in Iraq in less than a month."
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports
a Baghdad sticky bombing wounded two people, another Baghdad sticky bombing injured one person, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 bodyguard for the Science and Technology Minister and wounded four more people, another Baghdad roadside bombing targeting police Brig Gen Amer Hameed which wounded him, two of his bodyguards and four bystanders, another Baghdad sticky bombing wounded one person, Baquba stun bombs drew the police and Iraqi military in time for another bombing which claimed 4 of their lives and left two more wounded, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and a Mosul sticky bombing which wounded eleven Iraqi soldiers, two Mosul roadside bombings which wounded two Iraqi soldiers.
Turning to the US, Friday, September 24th
FBI raids took place on at least seven homes of peace activists -- the FBI admits to raiding seven homes -- and the FBI raided the offices of Anti-War Committee. Just as that news was breaking, the National Lawyers Guild issued a new report
, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US
." Along with being a National Lawyer Guild member (she's actually Executive Director of the national office), Heidi co-hosts WBAI
's Law and Disorder Radio
(9:00 a.m. EST Mondays -- also plays on other stations around the country throughout the week) with fellow attorneys Michael Ratner and Michael Smith and today the program explores the raids with guest Jim Fennerty. And that's 9:00 a.m. I wrongly said 10:00 a.m. EST. WBAI is no longer airing Democracy Now! twice a day and Law and Disorder
has moved up an hour. My apologies to anyone who missed today's broadcast because of my error. You can stream the broadcast at Law and Disorder Radio
online and, for the next 89 days only, at the WBAI archives
. Today, we're going to excerpt the conversation that took place at the top of the show. We'll note the interview with Jim Fennerty later in the week. Excerpt:
Michael S. Smith: Heidi Boghosian, you're the Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild and you've been following this story very closely. As you know, at around 7:00 a.m. Friday, September 24th, agents of the Joint-Terrorism Task Force of the FBI barged into eight homes in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Chicago, Illinois breaking down doors and in coordinated raids against leftist activists. Agents seized papers, computers, cell phones and personal items of Hatem Abudayyeh, Joseph Iosbaker and Stephanie Weiner in Chicago and served Thomas Burke of Chicago with a subpoena ordering him to appear before a grand jury investigating "material support to terrorism." In Minneapolis - St. Paul, agents raided the homes of Meredith Aby, Mick Kelly, Tracy Molm, Anh Pham, Jess Sundin and the offices of Twin City's Antiwar Committee. FBI spokesmen said that, "interviews" were being conducted across the country. No arrests have been made or charges reported, yet about a dozen activists have been supoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury whose proceedings are secret. Heidi, put this in context for our listeners please.
Heidi Boghosian: Michael, these raids are actually not surprising. Over the last decade, the National Lawyers Guild has witnessed a pattern of government intimidation of activists ranging from infliltrating, spying on peace, antiwar and other political organizations, targeting individuals whom they perceive as lead organizers so that before national special security events -- for example, the 2004, 2008 Republican National Conventions -- we saw FBI agents and members of Joint-Terrorism Task Force going around the country, visiting activists at their homes, going to their families, their place of work, asking them questions about their political views, whether they plan to attend the conventions, sending what we call a chilling effect on free speech. Other tactics we've seen take place at these mass assemblies such as the RNC and the DNC where police engage in a wide range of really fearful activities -- not only the use of less lethal weapons against crowds but using horses, bicycles, motorcycles to push crowds to then trap detain and then mass arrest without probably cause. Meaning that they're taken off the streets, out of the site of the media, out of the sight of the delegates, detained for often days with no charges and then released. Many individuals are charged with anti-terrorism laws and that's the trend that we're seeing that these trends are apart of, vilifying domestic activists. And the Supreme Court has a body of case law that supports vigorous language such as "Shut down the convention." We've been seeing that for decades. All of the sudden, such words and even ordinary household objects that are picked up in these raids become "Oh, the makings of a molotov cocktail!" Police and law enforcement are ascribing evil intent to political literature, political jargon and household objects. In these recent raids, I think we have to look at the recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. And that means that any politically active entity or individual who provides what they call material support -- and it can be in the form of legal advice, the writing of an amicus [friend of court -- supporting] brief, humanitarian aid, any kind of dialogue even if it's aimed at coming up with peaceful resolutions or ways to work together , that becomes a terrorist activity.
Michael Smith: Remember that Lynne Stewart issuing a press release was 'material support to terrorism.' Heidi, what's your take on the level of government where these recent September 24th raids originated. My thinking is that they happened in Illinois, they happened in Minnesota. This wasn't a local decision. It must have been a decision that went up at least as high as [Eric] Holder, the Attorney General, and maybe in consultation with advisers in the White House -- perhaps even former Constitutional Law professor President Obama. Have you thought about that?
Heidi Boghosian: There's no doubt that this originates from the top. This comes from the Oval Office. This now is a hallmark of the Obama administration. One of the interesting developments is that at the same time as the same time these raids took place, the Obama administration announced it was supporting new regulations to compell popular internet messaging services like Facebook, Blackberry, to open up their systems to FBI surveilance. So it was reported right after the raids and one may wonder if the raids are also a distraction from pushing through this kind of legislation that more deeply erodes our fundmental rights to privacy.
Michael S. Smith: I think it's ominous. There was discussion last month about their ability to turn off the internet so that those of us that had hopes about the internet being this marvelous way to organize, you know, unless you have meetings where you actually, physically rub shoulders with people, we could be in a lot of trouble because they'll turn off our lights.
Heidi Boghosian: Michael, I think it's worth noting also that we see greater repression on the part of the government at times when the popular movement begins to have measures of success. So, for example, we've seen the creations of domestic anti-terrorism laws aimed at shutting down the very successful animal rights welfare movement in this country, the environmental movement -- laws that were particularly designed to penalize actions that are related to those two groups. Why? I think because they've had success.
Michael S. Smith: I think that you're absolutely correct. Look at the three sorts of groups that were targeted in the September 24th raids. One of the people, Abudayyeh, a Palestinian living in Chicago was the head of the solidarity movement in Chicago of the Palestinian people. And this is coming just a time when more and more Americans and particularly more and more Jewish Americans and younger Jewish Americans are disgusted with Israel's policy towards Palestinians and want to change. Or, a second example, the Twin Cities' Antiwar Movement against the escalating war in Afghanistan and the fake pull-out from Iraq and the drone bombings in Pakistan, this excellent group of antiwar activists in Minneapolis gets targeted.
Heidi Boghosian: Now we saw that under the [Richard Tricky Dick] Nixon administration, we had the same kind of crackdown on domestic dissent . We had the use of grand juries as fishing expeditions to gather personal information rather than to seek an indictment. We had raids, we had the villification of activists as subversive entities. We've seen the use of informants. And I'm going to mention the case of the RNC 8 which happened during the 2008 RNC in the Twin Cities. Individuals were arrested, their homes raided, materials confiscated on the basis of search warrants that had been based on informants false information. What happens? Then these individuals are caught up in the legal system for two or more years. That, in and of itself, is a disruption of one's life, costly even if they get lawyers who donate some of their services, it still brings an enormous cost to their lives and their immediate community. Now, in a postivie development, but I think it's telling about where these indictments come from, recently charges were dropped against three of the RNC 8. There are four remaining who will stand trial on October 25th of this year. But I think the fact that the charges were dropped is an indication that there really was nothing other than rhetorical speech -- "Shut down the convention" -- and good organizing on the part of these individuals. And I should remind you that these individuals did nothing other than organize and the police are saying that one or two acts of vandalism or property damage that happened at the RNC are the direct result of that and they tie them in under state terrorism laws to riot. But we see this, what I think is pre-emptive punishment that sends a chilling message of 'If you are an organizer, if you have literature that calls for people to take action, you risk arrest under severe anti-terrorism statutes. And you risk not only having your life ruined but the specter of decades in prison.
Michael S. Smith: And the movement that you're part of being sidetracked and depleted in its effort to defend you. And you risk having your computer taken and downloaded. Your Blackberry, same thing. The list of how your organization raises money and who gives it, same thing. This is what they ripped off when they went into these various homes and offices on September 24th.
Heidi Boghosian: Well they're building enormous data banks and what they call terrorists watch lists. And the government itself has admitted that a lot of the information on these lists is inaccurate but there's no way to get your name off it once you're there. And as you know, it's shared widely with law enforcement all around the country.
Michael S. Smith: Believe me, I know. Every time I try to get on the airplane. Heidi, when the FBI knocks, what do you do?
Heidi Boghosian: It is crucial that if anyone listening to this show is contacted by the FBI or if your friends or family members are, that you do not talk to them. You just say, "I would like to consult with my lawyer. May I have your business card? My lawyer will get back to you." Never say anything because anything you say, no matter how seemingly mundane -- answering a question: Do you live here?, Is your name such and such? -- can be used against you in further grand jury proceedings.
Michael S. Smith: Well they can go after you saying that you lied to them. Don't talk to them. Call your lawyer. Call our hotline. Get out a pencil. Heidi, give them the hotline.
Heidi Boghosian: If you're visited by the FBI, you can call the NLG's Hotline. It's 888-NLG-ECOL. Or 888-654-3265.
Michael S. Smith: Heidi, please repeat the hotline.
Heidi Boghosian: The hotline is 888-NLG-ECOL. And how you can remember that is that originally we started this as a hotline for environmental and animal rights activists so it was for ecology. It was Eco Law but we shortened it.
Michael S. Smith: It may be that the government bit off more than it could chew here, that democratic rights are cherished by a lot of people in this country. In the wake of their September 24th raids, demonstrations were called to happen simultaneously in 27 cities across the country. So we can fight back on this one, we can win on this one. We can shame them and hold them off.
Heidi Boghosian: I think the response has been great and it must continue to have a groundswell of support from everyone who cares about protecting their Constitutional rights.
Again, the plan is to note the discussion with Jim later in the week. And later in the week, there's an event this week in NYC:
For immediate release
Contact: Kimber Heinz, National Organizing Coordinator, War Resisters League
(NYC) cell: (941) 266-8033
, firstname.lastname@example.org A cross-section of local and national community, legal, and global justice organizations will speak in New York City on the ninth anniversary of the Afghanistan war and will be available for interview on-site at the press conference and by phone.
OCT 7: NINE YEARS INTO AFGHAN WAR, U.S. VETERANS, COMMUNITY GROUPS, AND GLOBAL JUSTICE ACTIVISTS SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, IN PRESS CONFERENCE
WHO: Former Afghan Parliamentarian Malalai Joya, members of Iraq Veterans against the War, organizers with the South Asia Solidarity Initiative, Human Rights attorney Pardiss Kebriaei from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Iraqi refugee organizer Fatima Hindi, representatives from the Freedom Party of NY State, immigrant youth members of Vamos Unidos, and national organizers from the War Resisters League
WHEN: Thursday, October 7 -- 11am
WHERE: Center for Place, Culture and Politics, CUNY Graduate Center – room TBA [365 Fifth Avenue, between E 34th and 35th Street]
WHAT: On the ninth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, veterans, community organizations, and global justice activists will gather in Manhattan for a press conference with the united message that the ongoing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is "bad for Afghan people of all genders, bad for U.S. soldiers, and bad for the people of the U.S."
VISUALS/DETAILS: Personal testimony from a cross-section of speakers from represented groups and organizations, including a statement from former Afghan Parliamentarian Malalai Joya and members of Iraq Veterans against the War (IVAW) on the day of their Operation Recovery campaign launch. Members of represented organizations will be available for interview on-site.
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