|Progressive Calendar 08.05.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2008 03:33:57 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 08.05.08 1. Hiroshima 8.06 4:30pm 2. Bicycle ride 8.05 6pm 3. Hiroshima/film 8.05 6:30pm 4. 3CD Green Party 8.05 7pm 5. Natl Night Out 8.05 6. Hiroshima 8.06 7:30am/8:30am/7:30pm 7. Hiroshima/film 8.06 7pm Duluth MN 8. RNC 8.06 7pm Northfield MN 9. New Hope demo 8.07 4:30pm 10. Eagan vigil 8.07 4:30pm 11. Ntown vigil 8.07 5pm 12. HR/EEO director 8.07 6pm 13. Costs of war 8.07 7pm Duluth MN 14. Hiroshime/f 8.07 7pm 15. Dave Lindorff - The Cheney Doctrine: shoot your friends first 16. Christian Wright - We're protesting at the Democratic convention 17. Jeff Cohen - Americans move left, New York Times misses it 18. Chalmers Johnson - Military-Industrial Complex/later than you think --------1 of 18-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Hiroshima 8.06 4:30pm Tuesday, 8/5, Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration events at the Lyndale Park Peace Garden, Roseway Rd just north of Lake Harriet, Mpls. 4:30 pm Pathway to Peace procession, assembles at 40th St and Bryant Ave for walk to Peace Garden; 5:30 recorder music by the Arden Consort, 6 pm Japanese tea ceremony. http://www.wilpfmn.org/hn/ or JoAnn at msphncc [at] gmail.com or 952-922-0308. --------2 of 18-------- From: Matty Lang <voidoid21 [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Bicycle ride 8.05 6pm Great event taking place in Summit-U: http://www.tcstreetsforpeople.org/node/152 8.05 6-8pm Meet up at Nina's Coffee Cafe, 165 Western Ave N, St. Paul Major Taylor Bicycling Club Ride. Enjoy a ride around St. Paul with volunteers from the premier African-American cycling club in Minnesota. Meet up at Nina's Coffee CafeŠ, 165 Western Ave N at 6:00 p.m. Presented by St. Paul Smart Trips. --------3 of 18-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Hiroshima/film 8.05 6:30pm Documentary: "White Light, Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" Tuesday, August 5, 6:30 p.m. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 West 7th, St. Paul. "In this extraordinary HBO Documentary Film, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki, presents shocking archival footage, stunning photography and heartrending interviews--from both Japanese survivors of the attacks and the Americans who believed their involvement would help end a brutal conflict--for a deeply moving look at the painful legacy of the first use of nuclear weapons in war." 85 minutes. Sponsored by: Pax Conversational Salons. --------4 of 18-------- From: alforgreens [at] comcast.net Subject: 3CD Green Party 8.05 7pm 3rd CD Green Party Local 8.05 7 PM Tuesday, August 5: 3rd Congressional District Green Party Local meeting Ridgedale Library Rm 172 Betsy Barnum a long time member of the Green Party and knowledgeable about the development of corporate growth and effects on society will present her talk on Corporate Personhood. Following her talk we will hold elections for chairperson and treasurer for a one year term. Any questions or need a ride please contact: Allan Hancock, Chair 3rd Congressional District Green Party (763)-561-9758 or 3rdCDGreenParty [at] gmail.com --------5 of 18-------- From: Andrew Hine <amhine2 [at] gmail.com> Subject: National Night Out 8.05 Tuesday, August 5, 2008 is the 25th National Night Out (NNO). --------6 of 18-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Hiroshima 8.06 7:30am/8:30am/7:30pm Wednesday, 8/6, Hiroshima/Nagasaki events at the Lyndale Park peace garden, Roseway Rd, just north of Lake Harriet, Mpls. 7:30 am, Ceremony of the Cranes with moment of silence at the time the bomb dropped, followed by hanging of origami cranes in the garden and retelling of the legend of Sadako; 8:30 am all day vigil in the peace garden; 7:30 pm concert for peace at the Lake Harriet bandshell with Rabbi Sim Glaser and the Social Action Figures and KAIROS International Dance Theater. http://www.wilpfmn.org/hn/ or JoAnn at msphncc [at] gmail.com or 952-922-0308. --------7 of 18-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Hiroshima/film 8.06 7pm Duluth MN Wednesday, 8/6, 7 pm, film and discussion of "White Light/Black Rain" about the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima, First United Methodist (Coppertop) Church, 230 E Skyline Pkwy, Duluth. earthmannow [at] gmail.com or http://www.wnpj.org --------8 of 18-------- From: Bill McGrath <billmcgrath52 [at] gmail.com> Subject: RNC 8.06 7pm Northfield MN Activists to Speak about Republican Convention An information forum will be held for people interested in learning about alternative citizen-sponsored activities to occur in the Twin Cities in response to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Sponsored by Northfield People for Peace and Goodwill (PPG), the event at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6, in the Northfield Public Library will feature short presentations by representatives from five Twin Cities organizations. One of these groups is "Peace Island," which plans to provide educational sessions at Concordia College in St. Paul. That speaker also will describe a peace festival that will occur at Harriet Island in St. Paul. Another group is "Veterans for Peace," which is organizing a legal march to call attention to the war in Iraq. A third group is the "Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War," which is organizing a legal march past the convention site. A fourth group, "The RNC Welcoming Committee," is facilitating protests during the week of the convention. Finally, there will be a representative from the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Supporters of Paul plan to hold an alternative convention, separate from the main Republican gathering. More information is available from Bill at (507) 645-7660. --------9 of 18-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: New Hope demo 8.07 4:30pm NWN4P-New Hope demonstration every Thursday 4:30 to 6 PM at the corner of Winnetka and 42nd. You may park near Walgreens or in the larger lot near McDonalds; we will be on all four corners. Bring your own or use our signs. --------10 of 18-------- From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at] msn.com> Subject: Eagan peace vigil 8.07 4:30pm CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south of the river speaking out against war. --------11 of 18-------- From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 8.07 5pm NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine. Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids. We'll have extra signs. For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at] aol.com. --------12 of 18-------- From: James Lockwood <lockwoodjg [at] yahoo.com> Subject: HR/EEO director 8.07 6pm The City of Saint Paul is searching for a Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity director. People are invited to provide input on this crucial new City role. These meetings are open to the public. All interested parties are welcome to attend one or both meetings: Thursday, August 7, 2008 6 to 7:30 p.m. El Rio Vista Recreation Center 179 Robie Street E 651-789-2500 Thursday, August 14, 2008 6 to 7:30 p.m. Martin Luther King Recreation Center 270 Kent Street 651-290-8695 Attendees will have an opportunity to submit written (in any language) and/or oral comments. This input will assist the committee in conducting the selection process and identifying top candidates for the position. Those unable to attend may send comments (in any language) before August 22 to: Human Resources, 400 City Hall Annex, 25 W. 4th St., Saint Paul, MN 55102, HResEmployment [at] stpaul.gov. For special needs accommodations, including language interpretation, please call 651-266-6500 or 651-266-6483. The need for a director of this new city office was outlined in a set of recommendations in June stemming from an audit of the City's minority and women contracting opportunities. --------13 of 18-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Costs of war 8.07 7pm Duluth MN Thursday, 8/7, 7 pm, a community conversation of The Costs of War, Unitarian Universalist Building, 835 W College St, Duluth. earthmannow [at] gmail.com or http://www.wnpj.org --------14 of 18-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Hiroshime/f 8.07 7pm Film: "Hiroshima: Repentance and Renewal" Thursday, August 7, 7:00 p.m. Parish Community of St. Joseph, 8701 36th Avenue North (Corner of Boone), New Hope. "Hiroshima: Repentance and Renewal" provides an overview of the scourge of nuclear weapons and resistance to them from the 1940s until today. Combining archival materials, quotes, and interviews with and footage of peace activists), this short DVD uses the annual Hiroshima Day events at Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico to provide information about nuclear weapons and action suggestions. Includes information on how Catholic social teaching is related to nuclear weapons. 38 minutes. Sponsored by: Northwest Neighbors for Peace. FFI: Call Mary, 763-577-5907. --------15 of 18-------- Shoot Your Friends First The Cheney Doctrine By DAVE LINDORFF August 4, 2008 CounterPunch Some people are expressing consternation and disbelief at a report by journalist Seymour Hersh that Vice President Dick Cheney had discussed the idea in his office of having some Navy Seals dress up as Iranians, and then put them in faked Iranian speedboats to make a fake attack on US ships in the Persian Gulf. The ensuing faked battle, with fake Iranians shooting at US ships and US ships firing back, he suggested, could be used to spark a war between the US and Iran. I don't know why people would find it hard to believe that this vice president would think up an idea like having Americans shoot at other Americans in the interest of his own warped view of national security. After all, this is a guy who shoots his own friends. Besides, Cheney is in good company in this kind of thinking. We know from reports of the meeting filed by British intelligence that President Bush engaged in the same kind of thing when he was having trouble getting the country and the rest of the civilized world behind his and Cheney's plan to attack Iraq. It was disclosed years later that in early 2003, Bush suggested to Prime Minister Tony Blair that the US could paint a U-2 spy plane in UN colors and fly it over sensitive parts of Iraqi airspace, so that Saddam Hussein would order it shot down. That, he argued, would anger enough UN member states to win a security resolution to support a war on Iraq, and failing that, would give the US an excuse to go in on its own. Blair was reportedly horrified at this kind of kamikaze thinking - but not horrified enough to expose the president as a nutcase. So that's where we are today folks. A president and a vice president who both think that it's a great idea to either send some of your own troops under false flags into harm's way to get shot at so you can start a war, or, even worse, to dress up some of your soldiers as the enemy you want to go after, and have them open fire on your own guys so that you can claim you were attacked, and then go to war. Who gets tricked by all these mad schemes? Not the Iranians, or in the earlier instance, the Iraqis. They know they aren't attacking American forces. No. It's us, the American people, who are being tricked. Cheney knows that most Americans think the idea of attacking Iran - especially when we're five years into an interminable war in Iraq and seven years into another war in Afghanistan, neither of which has an end in sight - is really, really stupid. So they're trying to think up a way to trick us into supporting doing such a stupid thing. And the only thing they can come up with to overcome of reticence is making us think that our guys are being attacked. Now let me say that I've been a skeptic about people who claim the 9-11 attacks were an "inside job" - that the US government actually organized those attacks - I know all the arguments and evidence, but it always seemed to me that it was over the top to think that our leaders would try to deliberately kill Americans in order to achieve some policy goal. And yet, here we have Dick Cheney, the real brains (such as they are) behind the Bush administration, discussing a plan, using American forces, to fake an attack on other American forces. It makes me wonder whether maybe Cheney deliberately shot his friend Harry Whittington, either to flush those damned elusive quail he was after, or so that he could generate public sympathy for the embattled President Bush. And it even makes me wonder whether crazy Dick actually did have a hand in bringing down those Twin Towers. He may be too stupid to pull something like that off, but he has made it clear that it isn't moral scruples that would prevent him from doing such a monstrous thing. As ludicrous, pathetic and outrageous as this administration is, we need to take this latest Hersh report seriously. It seems clear that Cheney has a predilection for using fratricide to achieve his nefarious ends. It's one thing when he does it with his own rifle, though. It's another when he does it with the world's most mighty military machine. DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist. His latest book is .The Case for Impeachment. (St. Martin.s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback edition). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net --------16 of 18-------- And You Should Come Join Us! We're Protesting at the Democratic Convention By CHRISTIAN WRIGHT CounterPunch August 4, 2008 In just a few weeks the Democratic National Convention will be held in Denver, Colorado, where I live. For the past few months leading up to it I have been organizing with Alliance for Real Democracy (ARD), one of the local formations that is building towards a week of protests, teach-ins, and concerts at this event. It has occurred to me that the reasons for protesting the Democratic Convention are not clear to everyone. As usual, much of the mainstream press coverage has centered on speculations about "Seattle, '99- style" confrontations, and this has served well the purpose of burying the actual issues involved. Coverage on local TV, in the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News have all vied for our attention with competing headlines, ranging from the benign to the absurd. But the general "theme" has been established as "multi-million dollar security appropriations" versus "the masked Spectre of anarchism." But what are the fundamental issues addressed. Is the Democratic Party an inept opposition that is out of touch with its constituency? Don't citizens have a right to assemble publicly and air their grievances? Isn't a country that welcomes debate and dissent, even when it is "civilly disobedient", preferable to a National Security State where all dissent as attacked for even existing as such? The reason why most in ARD are protesting is to call this party to account for its record, and to make sure that progressive, and specifically antiwar politics, are heard loud and clear. In every election, we are told to vote Democrat because the Republicans are worse. It's as basic and ingrained as the colors of a stoplight. Whether it's done with bright eyes and high hopes, or with gritted teeth and muttered cynicism, almost the entire American left accepts the logic to some extent: If we want to end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, if we want environmental justice, if we want to challenge the racist criminal justice system, if we want to support immigrant rights, if we want equality for the LGBT community, if we want to truly support a woman's right to choose, and if we want to build real progressive social movements in the United States, then, we're told, the first step is to get Democratic politicians into office. The problem today with this argument is that Democrats have had a majority in congress since the 2006 elections. Since then, they have taken an overwhelmingly antiwar, anti-Bush mandate, and used it to: * Pass "non-binding" resolutions expressing "disagreement" with the Iraq war, while simultaneously voting for hundreds of billions more in funding for it. * Declare that "Impeachment is off the table". * Join Republicans to gut civil liberties and allow the government to spy on anyone, at any time, without a warrant. On broader social justice issues the record is just as lukewarm. * Abortion remains unavailable in most counties in the United States and access to it continues to be restricted. * Education today is more racially segregated and unequally funded than it was decades ago, and college itself is increasingly unaffordable. * While productive industries crumble into recession and outsourcing, there is a "bipartisan" consensus on the need to expand both prison construction as well as military recruitment in schools. Voting Democratic hasn't brought the rosy results that were promised. A lot of hopes were raised as the returns came in two Novembers ago, and what has (or more importantly, what hasn't) happened sense then has significantly changed the political landscape. There is no more post-2004 "awe" of mythical "red state" domination. Farmers in Kansas aren't keeping the war going. Democratic votes in Congress are. The period of "wait and see" has come puttering to its inevitable end, and the leadership of the Democratic party has failed to live up to the mandate of its voters. Barack Obama, whose early opposition to the war and community organizing background inspired many liberals to support him in the primaries, is bunkered down in right-wing positions on a wide range of issues (much to the concern of those to whom he owes his victory). Tragically, many social movements have tended to demobilize in election years. For the antiwar movement, this was quite obvious in 2004, happened again in 2006, and is going on this year as well. The political effects of this have been to leave the movement, and most antiwar activists, confused, disorganized, demoralized, and unsure of how to proceed. This has occurred at a time when a confident, progressive voice in the streets has been more important (and conspicuously absent!) than ever. This is most clear today in the interaction between the war in Iraq and the new war on Immigrants. Very few people were concerned about immigration before 2006. But in that year, with the war going horribly, many Republicans found out they could still win elections by appealing to anti-immigrant phobias. The way this rhetoric has been articulated since then would have been confined to far-right hate groups, and the extreme fringe of the Republicans, at any time before the war on terror. But now, with the acceptability of racial profiling, with a public already taught to view brown and foreign people as enemies first, racist language has found a new acceptability. As the economy slides into a war-related recession millions of Americans are looking for someone to blame. The Republican Party offers to the outraged citizenry a sacrificial lamb. Meanwhile hundreds die crossing a desert border every year, and families are destroyed as ICE raids workplaces. The legacy of the civil rights movement seems to be forgotten. Meanwhile in Iraq over the past year and a half exactly two major policy developments have occurred. The first is that George Bush is marketing a "surge" in troop levels as the solution to help stabilize things (under firm US control). The second is that the Democratic Party has decided that possibly sending some troops home within 18 months is really the same thing as ending a war. Among the many less reported developments are quite a few "inconvenient truths". One is the invisible (to the American media) crisis of over 4 million Iraqi refugees - almost none of whom have been granted asylum by the US. Another is the completely overwhelmed VA that can't respond to the overload of physically and mentally wounded veterans. A third is the scam of "reconstruction" that costs billions of dollars, generates super-profits for American companies, yet does not actually reconstruct! That's the short list. Every country but ours has massive protests on the anniversary of the war, as citizens around the world pressure their governments to stand up to Bush's aggression. Yet we're supposed to rest? If Democrats know they have our votes in their pocket without having to even promise us anything, they're going to be spending their time making promises to everyone else to get their votes too. The result is a political establishment that lurches ever-rightward. The voices of the left, minorities, women, immigrants, veterans, students, and pretty much anyone else who isn't independently wealthy or politically connected, are left out in the cold. These are the costly lessons of recent experience. They teach us that unless we organize our own communities, keep our movements politically independent, and actively pressure ALL politicians - whatever their party affiliation - no progressive agenda will be moving forward any time soon in the United States. The Alliance For Real Democracy is a coalition representing some of the most insistent voices of protest from Colorado and the nation. Member groups include Iraq Veterans Against the War, CODEPINK, United for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, the Colorado Green Party, Students for a Democratic Society, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, the International Socialist Organization, Progressive Democrats of America, Jobs with Justice, and many others. ARD is a model. The fact that it can even exist, bringing together such diverse constituencies, is a testament to just how deep the credibility gap of the Dems has become. Its s members not only tolerate - but welcome - debates on our attitude to the Democratic Party and that's inspiring in and of itself. I don't think I've ever been in a meeting where members of PDA, the Greens, Anarchists, and third-party Socialists are all working collaboratively on something, and where there is (in spite of media and police-induced paranoia) such a general level of goodwill among people of diverse ideological backgrounds. We are a non-partisan organization. We're not in ARD because we like long, endless meetings, or haggling with a wary city over permit details, or because we enjoy insurmountable fundraising challenges. There's certainly not a lot of NGO-political career advancement out there for people who are really good at protesting the Democrats! ARD exists for the simple fact that we're tired of the war and people we know getting killed. We're tired of watching our nation descend descend ever deeper into a national security state, where the government is above the people, and no one knows if anything they write or say is private anymore. We're tired of seeing racism and ignorance become acceptable. I remember in 1999 after the Columbine shootings when the whole country was up in arms about the need to get counseling to the weird kids before they get so frustrated they try to resolve their problems with violence (I myself was sent by my school for such counseling). Today military recruiters are more often seen than college recruiters by a lot of kids. At least one Colorado high school has an Apache Helicopter mounted proudly on its front lawn* . I can't think of a more fitting irony, or tragic confession, of just how upside down our country has become. It's time to take it back. People's lives are more important than any election, or any politician's career. We're going to speak truth to power this August and judge the actions of all politicians by the same, "non-partisan" standards. We hope you'll join us. If you can not make it, but you agree with our aims and would like to support ARD, we ask that you still help us to get this message heard. We are planning numerous events, including large-scale marches, innovative workshops, teach-ins, non-violence trainings, and concerts featuring major musical acts. To support us contact www.realdemocracy2008. *West Grand High School in Kremmling, Grand County, has an Apache Helicopter mounted in its front lawn. A picture I took of it on my camera phone can be seen at: http://www.noisenobodys.com/xian/laugh/attack2.jpg Christian Wright lives in Denver and can be reached at cawright2007 [at] yahoo.com --------17 of 18-------- Americans Move Left, New York Times Misses It by Jeff Cohen Published on Monday, July 28, 2008 by CommonDreams.org The headline atop Saturday;s op-ed page was a hallowed standby for the New York Times: "Americans Move to the Middle". Assembled by Times "visual columnist" Charles Blow, the text of the column was dwarfed by 15 graphs tracking recent movement in American public opinion, based on Gallup polls. There was one problem: the headline totally distorted the data. An accurate headline would have been "American Opinion Moves Leftward" - but accuracy was apparently trumped by centrist ideology. (Yes, there are ideologues of the center, as well as of Left or Right.) It's a cherished myth of many in establishment punditry that most Americans perpetually and happily find their way to the safe center of American politics. This pleasant status quo consensus is marred, in Blow's text, by "party extremists sharpening their wedge issues" to rally their bases and caricature their opponents. Here's the data presented by Blow and the Times: 15 public opinion graphs on various issues starting in 2001-2003 and ending in 2006-2008. Of the 15, about a dozen track issues on which there are recognizable positions associated with Right and Left. Of those dozen, the trend in opinion is unmistakenly leftward on virtually every one. On foreign policy: . "The Iraq war has made the U.S. less safe from terrorism." 37% in 2003 and 49% four years later. . "The U.S. should not attack another country unless it has been attacked first". 51% in Oct. 2002 and 57% in 2006 . "The government is spending too much for national defense and military purposes". 19% in Feb. 2001 and 44% in Feb. 2008. On cultural issues: . "Organized religion should have less influence in this nation". 22% in Jan. 2001 and 34% in Jan. 2008. Asked if the following were "morally acceptable," trend lines were leftward. "Gay relationships": 40% in May 2001 to 48% in May 2008. "Divorce": 59% to 70% in same time period. "Medical research using stem cells from human embryos": from 52% in May 2002 to 62% in May 2008. Some might argue that there is one Times graph that trends rightward: "The state of moral values in the country as a whole is getting worse". It went from 67% in May 2002 to 81% in May 2008. Yet I'm no conservative and I'm absolutely part of the 81% - given the declining morals that descend from corporate, government and religious elites. So the Times presents Gallup data showing a clear trend toward the left, and calls it a "Move to the Middle". Is the assumption that we were mostly rightwingers a few years ago? Or is the "move to the middle" line simply more reassuring to an establishment newspaper? The reality is that longterm trends in American opinion are generally leftward on issues, as documented in well-researched studies. It's a reality that troubles those Beltway pundits who constantly goad Barack Obama toward "the center" on issues like Iraq and NAFTA - when they mean, move away from the center of mass opinion and upwards toward the center of elite opinion. A demagogue like Sean Hannity instinctively knows this reality, which is why his attacks on Obama emphasize WrightAyresBitterMichelle more than issues. Jeff Cohen is director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. He founded the media watch group FAIR in 1986. These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. --------18 of 18-------- The Military-Industrial Complex It's Much Later Than You Think By Chalmers Johnson July 28, 2008 Source: TomDispatch ZNet Most Americans have a rough idea what the term "military-industrial complex" means when they come across it in a newspaper or hear a politician mention it. President Dwight D. Eisenhower introduced the idea to the public in his farewell address of January 17, 1961. "Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime," he said, "or indeed by the fighting men of World War II and Korea... We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions... We must not fail to comprehend its grave implications... We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." Although Eisenhower's reference to the military-industrial complex is, by now, well-known, his warning against its "unwarranted influence" has, I believe, largely been ignored. Since 1961, there has been too little serious study of, or discussion of, the origins of the military-industrial complex, how it has changed over time, how governmental secrecy has hidden it from oversight by members of Congress or attentive citizens, and how it degrades our Constitutional structure of checks and balances. >From its origins in the early 1940s, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was building up his "arsenal of democracy," down to the present moment, public opinion has usually assumed that it involved more or less equitable relations - often termed a "partnership" - between the high command and civilian overlords of the United States military and privately-owned, for-profit manufacturing and service enterprises. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that, from the time they first emerged, these relations were never equitable. In the formative years of the military-industrial complex, the public still deeply distrusted privately owned industrial firms because of the way they had contributed to the Great Depression. Thus, the leading role in the newly emerging relationship was played by the official governmental sector. A deeply popular, charismatic president, FDR sponsored these public-private relationships. They gained further legitimacy because their purpose was to rearm the country, as well as allied nations around the world, against the gathering forces of fascism. The private sector was eager to go along with this largely as a way to regain public trust and disguise its wartime profit-making. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Roosevelt's use of public-private "partnerships" to build up the munitions industry, and thereby finally overcome the Great Depression, did not go entirely unchallenged. Although he was himself an implacable enemy of fascism, a few people thought that the president nonetheless was coming close to copying some of its key institutions. The leading Italian philosopher of fascism, the neo-Hegelian Giovanni Gentile, once argued that it should more appropriately be called "corporatism" because it was a merger of state and corporate power. (See Eugene Jarecki's The American Way of War, p. 69.) Some critics were alarmed early on by the growing symbiotic relationship between government and corporate officials because each simultaneously sheltered and empowered the other, while greatly confusing the separation of powers. Since the activities of a corporation are less amenable to public or congressional scrutiny than those of a public institution, public-private collaborative relationships afford the private sector an added measure of security from such scrutiny. These concerns were ultimately swamped by enthusiasm for the war effort and the postwar era of prosperity that the war produced. Beneath the surface, however, was a less well recognized movement by big business to replace democratic institutions with those representing the interests of capital. This movement is today ascendant. (See Thomas Frank's new book, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, for a superb analysis of Ronald Reagan's slogan "government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.") Its objectives have long been to discredit what it called "big government," while capturing for private interests the tremendous sums invested by the public sector in national defense. It may be understood as a slow-burning reaction to what American conservatives believed to be the socialism of the New Deal. Perhaps the country's leading theorist of democracy, Sheldon S. Wolin, has written a new book, Democracy Incorporated, on what he calls "inverted totalitarianism" - the rise in the U.S. of totalitarian institutions of conformity and regimentation shorn of the police repression of the earlier German, Italian, and Soviet forms. He warns of "the expansion of private (i.e., mainly corporate) power and the selective abdication of governmental responsibility for the well-being of the citizenry." He also decries the degree to which the so-called privatization of governmental activities has insidiously undercut our democracy, leaving us with the widespread belief that government is no longer needed and that, in any case, it is not capable of performing the functions we have entrusted to it. Wolin writes: "The privatization of public services and functions manifests the steady evolution of corporate power into a political form, into an integral, even dominant partner with the state. It marks the transformation of American politics and its political culture, from a system in which democratic practices and values were, if not defining, at least major contributory elements, to one where the remaining democratic elements of the state and its populist programs are being systematically dismantled." (p. 284) Mercenaries at Work The military-industrial complex has changed radically since World War II or even the height of the Cold War. The private sector is now fully ascendant. The uniformed air, land, and naval forces of the country as well as its intelligence agencies, including the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), the NSA (National Security Agency), the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), and even clandestine networks entrusted with the dangerous work of penetrating and spying on terrorist organizations are all dependent on hordes of "private contractors." In the context of governmental national security functions, a better term for these might be "mercenaries" working in private for profit-making companies. Tim Shorrock, an investigative journalist and the leading authority on this subject, sums up this situation devastatingly in his new book, Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing. The following quotes are a prcis of some of his key findings: "In 2006... the cost of America's spying and surveillance activities outsourced to contractors reached $42 billion, or about 70 percent of the estimated $60 billion the government spends each year on foreign and domestic intelligence... [The] number of contract employees now exceeds [the CIA's] full-time workforce of 17,500... Contractors make up more than half the workforce of the CIA's National Clandestine Service (formerly the Directorate of Operations), which conducts covert operations and recruits spies abroad... "To feed the NSA's insatiable demand for data and information technology, the industrial base of contractors seeking to do business with the agency grew from 144 companies in 2001 to more than 5,400 in 2006... At the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency in charge of launching and maintaining the nation's photoreconnaissance and eavesdropping satellites, almost the entire workforce is composed of contract employees working for [private] companies... With an estimated $8 billion annual budget, the largest in the IC [intelligence community], contractors control about $7 billion worth of business at the NRO, giving the spy satellite industry the distinction of being the most privatized part of the intelligence community... "If there's one generalization to be made about the NSA's outsourced IT [information technology] programs, it is this: they haven't worked very well, and some have been spectacular failures... In 2006, the NSA was unable to analyze much of the information it was collecting... As a result, more than 90 percent of the information it was gathering was being discarded without being translated into a coherent and understandable format; only about 5 percent was translated from its digital form into text and then routed to the right division for analysis. "The key phrase in the new counterterrorism lexicon is 'public-private partnerships'... In reality, 'partnerships' are a convenient cover for the perpetuation of corporate interests." (pp. 6, 13-14, 16, 214-15, 365) Several inferences can be drawn from Shorrock's shocking expos. One is that if a foreign espionage service wanted to penetrate American military and governmental secrets, its easiest path would not be to gain access to any official U.S. agencies, but simply to get its agents jobs at any of the large intelligence-oriented private companies on which the government has become remarkably dependent. These include Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), with headquarters in San Diego, California, which typically pays its 42,000 employees higher salaries than if they worked at similar jobs in the government; Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the nation's oldest intelligence and clandestine-operations contractors, which, until January 2007, was the employer of Mike McConnell, the current director of national intelligence and the first private contractor to be named to lead the entire intelligence community; and CACI International, which, under two contracts for "information technology services," ended up supplying some two dozen interrogators to the Army at Iraq's already infamous Abu Ghraib prison in 2003. According to Major General Anthony Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib torture and abuse scandal, four of CACI's interrogators were "either directly or indirectly responsible" for torturing prisoners. (Shorrock, p. 281) Remarkably enough, SAIC has virtually replaced the National Security Agency as the primary collector of signals intelligence for the government. It is the NSA's largest contractor, and that agency is today the company's single largest customer. There are literally thousands of other profit-making enterprises that work to supply the government with so-called intelligence needs, sometimes even bribing Congressmen to fund projects that no one in the executive branch actually wants. This was the case with Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Republican of California's 50th District, who, in 2006, was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in federal prison for soliciting bribes from defense contractors. One of the bribers, Brent Wilkes, snagged a $9.7 million contract for his company, ADCS Inc. ("Automated Document Conversion Systems") to computerize the century-old records of the Panama Canal dig! A Country Drowning in Euphemisms The United States has long had a sorry record when it comes to protecting its intelligence from foreign infiltration, but the situation today seems particularly perilous. One is reminded of the case described in the 1979 book by Robert Lindsey, The Falcon and the Snowman (made into a 1985 film of the same name). It tells the true story of two young Southern Californians, one with a high security clearance working for the defense contractor TRW (dubbed "RTX" in the film), and the other a drug addict and minor smuggler. The TRW employee is motivated to act by his discovery of a misrouted CIA document describing plans to overthrow the prime minister of Australia, and the other by a need for money to pay for his addiction. They decide to get even with the government by selling secrets to the Soviet Union and are exposed by their own bungling. Both are sentenced to prison for espionage. The message of the book (and film) lies in the ease with which they betrayed their country - and how long it took before they were exposed and apprehended. Today, thanks to the staggering over-privatization of the collection and analysis of foreign intelligence, the opportunities for such breaches of security are widespread. I applaud Shorrock for his extraordinary research into an almost impenetrable subject using only openly available sources. There is, however, one aspect of his analysis with which I differ. This is his contention that the wholesale takeover of official intelligence collection and analysis by private companies is a form of "outsourcing." This term is usually restricted to a business enterprise buying goods and services that it does not want to manufacture or supply in-house. When it is applied to a governmental agency that turns over many, if not all, of its key functions to a risk-averse company trying to make a return on its investment, "outsourcing" simply becomes a euphemism for mercenary activities. As David Bromwich, a political critic and Yale professor of literature, observed in the New York Review of Books: "The separate bookkeeping and accountability devised for Blackwater, DynCorp, Triple Canopy, and similar outfits was part of a careful displacement of oversight from Congress to the vice-president and the stewards of his policies in various departments and agencies. To have much of the work parceled out to private companies who are unaccountable to army rules or military justice, meant, among its other advantages, that the cost of the war could be concealed beyond all detection." Euphemisms are words intended to deceive. The United States is already close to drowning in them, particularly new words and terms devised, or brought to bear, to justify the American invasion of Iraq - coinages Bromwich highlights like "regime change," "enhanced interrogation techniques," "the global war on terrorism," "the birth pangs of a new Middle East," a "slight uptick in violence," "bringing torture within the law," "simulated drowning," and, of course, "collateral damage," meaning the slaughter of unarmed civilians by American troops and aircraft followed - rarely - by perfunctory apologies. It is important that the intrusion of unelected corporate officials with hidden profit motives into what are ostensibly public political activities not be confused with private businesses buying Scotch tape, paper clips, or hubcaps. The wholesale transfer of military and intelligence functions to private, often anonymous, operatives took off under Ronald Reagan's presidency, and accelerated greatly after 9/11 under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Often not well understood, however, is this: The biggest private expansion into intelligence and other areas of government occurred under the presidency of Bill Clinton. He seems not to have had the same anti-governmental and neoconservative motives as the privatizers of both the Reagan and Bush II eras. His policies typically involved an indifference to - perhaps even an ignorance of - what was actually being done to democratic, accountable government in the name of cost-cutting and allegedly greater efficiency. It is one of the strengths of Shorrock's study that he goes into detail on Clinton's contributions to the wholesale privatization of our government, and of the intelligence agencies in particular. Reagan launched his campaign to shrink the size of government and offer a large share of public expenditures to the private sector with the creation in 1982 of the "Private Sector Survey on Cost Control." In charge of the survey, which became known as the "Grace Commission," he named the conservative businessman, J. Peter Grace, Jr., chairman of the W.R. Grace Corporation, one of the world's largest chemical companies - notorious for its production of asbestos and its involvement in numerous anti-pollution suits. The Grace Company also had a long history of investment in Latin America, and Peter Grace was deeply committed to undercutting what he saw as leftist unions, particularly because they often favored state-led economic development. The Grace Commission's actual achievements were modest. Its biggest was undoubtedly the 1987 privatization of Conrail, the freight railroad for the northeastern states. Nothing much else happened on this front during the first Bush's administration, but Bill Clinton returned to privatization with a vengeance. According to Shorrock: "Bill Clinton... picked up the cudgel where the conservative Ronald Reagan left off and... took it deep into services once considered inherently governmental, including high-risk military operations and intelligence functions once reserved only for government agencies. By the end of [Clinton's first] term, more than 100,000 Pentagon jobs had been transferred to companies in the private sector - among them thousands of jobs in intelligence... By the end of [his second] term in 2001, the administration had cut 360,000 jobs from the federal payroll and the government was spending 44 percent more on contractors than it had in 1993." (pp. 73, 86) These activities were greatly abetted by the fact that the Republicans had gained control of the House of Representatives in 1994 for the first time in 43 years. One liberal journalist described "outsourcing as a virtual joint venture between [House Majority Leader Newt] Gingrich and Clinton." The right-wing Heritage Foundation aptly labeled Clinton's 1996 budget as the "boldest privatization agenda put forth by any president to date." (p. 87) After 2001, Bush and Cheney added an ideological rationale to the process Clinton had already launched so efficiently. They were enthusiastic supporters of "a neoconservative drive to siphon U.S. spending on defense, national security, and social programs to large corporations friendly to the Bush administration." (pp. 72-3) The Privatization - and Loss - of Institutional Memory The end result is what we see today: a government hollowed out in terms of military and intelligence functions. The KBR Corporation, for example, supplies food, laundry, and other personal services to our troops in Iraq based on extremely lucrative no-bid contracts, while Blackwater Worldwide supplies security and analytical services to the CIA and the State Department in Baghdad. (Among other things, its armed mercenaries opened fire on, and killed, 17 unarmed civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad, on September 16, 2007, without any provocation, according to U.S. military reports.) The costs - both financial and personal - of privatization in the armed services and the intelligence community far exceed any alleged savings, and some of the consequences for democratic governance may prove irreparable. These consequences include: the sacrifice of professionalism within our intelligence services; the readiness of private contractors to engage in illegal activities without compunction and with impunity; the inability of Congress or citizens to carry out effective oversight of privately-managed intelligence activities because of the wall of secrecy that surrounds them; and, perhaps most serious of all, the loss of the most valuable asset any intelligence organization possesses - its institutional memory. Most of these consequences are obvious, even if almost never commented on by our politicians or paid much attention in the mainstream media. After all, the standards of a career CIA officer are very different from those of a corporate executive who must keep his eye on the contract he is fulfilling and future contracts that will determine the viability of his firm. The essence of professionalism for a career intelligence analyst is his integrity in laying out what the U.S. government should know about a foreign policy issue, regardless of the political interests of, or the costs to, the major players. The loss of such professionalism within the CIA was starkly revealed in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction. It still seems astonishing that no senior official, beginning with Secretary of State Colin Powell, saw fit to resign when the true dimensions of our intelligence failure became clear, least of all Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet. A willingness to engage in activities ranging from the dubious to the outright felonious seems even more prevalent among our intelligence contractors than among the agencies themselves, and much harder for an outsider to detect. For example, following 9/11, Rear Admiral John Poindexter, then working for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the Department of Defense, got the bright idea that DARPA should start compiling dossiers on as many American citizens as possible in order to see whether "data-mining" procedures might reveal patterns of behavior associated with terrorist activities. On November 14, 2002, the New York Times published a column by William Safire entitled "You Are a Suspect" in which he revealed that DARPA had been given a $200 million budget to compile dossiers on 300 million Americans. He wrote, "Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every web site you visit and every e-mail you send or receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book, and every event you attend - all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as a .virtual centralized grand database.'" This struck many members of Congress as too close to the practices of the Gestapo and the Stasi under German totalitarianism, and so, the following year, they voted to defund the project. However, Congress's action did not end the "total information awareness" program. The National Security Agency secretly decided to continue it through its private contractors. The NSA easily persuaded SAIC and Booz Allen Hamilton to carry on with what Congress had declared to be a violation of the privacy rights of the American public - for a price. As far as we know, Admiral Poindexter's "Total Information Awareness Program" is still going strong today. The most serious immediate consequence of the privatization of official governmental activities is the loss of institutional memory by our government's most sensitive organizations and agencies. Shorrock concludes, "So many former intelligence officers joined the private sector [during the 1990s] that, by the turn of the century, the institutional memory of the United States intelligence community now resides in the private sector. That's pretty much where things stood on September 11, 2001." (p. 112) This means that the CIA, the DIA, the NSA, and the other 13 agencies in the U.S. intelligence community cannot easily be reformed because their staffs have largely forgotten what they are supposed to do, or how to go about it. They have not been drilled and disciplined in the techniques, unexpected outcomes, and know-how of previous projects, successful and failed. As numerous studies have, by now, made clear, the abject failure of the American occupation of Iraq came about in significant measure because the Department of Defense sent a remarkably privatized military filled with incompetent amateurs to Baghdad to administer the running of a defeated country. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates (a former director of the CIA) has repeatedly warned that the United States is turning over far too many functions to the military because of its hollowing out of the Department of State and the Agency for International Development since the end of the Cold War. Gates believes that we are witnessing a "creeping militarization" of foreign policy - and, though this generally goes unsaid, both the military and the intelligence services have turned over far too many of their tasks to private companies and mercenaries. When even Robert Gates begins to sound like President Eisenhower, it is time for ordinary citizens to pay attention. In my 2006 book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, with an eye to bringing the imperial presidency under some modest control, I advocated that we Americans abolish the CIA altogether, along with other dangerous and redundant agencies in our alphabet soup of sixteen secret intelligence agencies, and replace them with the State Department's professional staff devoted to collecting and analyzing foreign intelligence. I still hold that position. Nonetheless, the current situation represents the worst of all possible worlds. Successive administrations and Congresses have made no effort to alter the CIA's role as the president's private army, even as we have increased its incompetence by turning over many of its functions to the private sector. We have thereby heightened the risks of war by accident, or by presidential whim, as well as of surprise attack because our government is no longer capable of accurately assessing what is going on in the world and because its intelligence agencies are so open to pressure, penetration, and manipulation of every kind. [Note to Readers: This essay focuses on the new book by Tim Shorrock, Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008. Other books noted: Eugene Jarecki's The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril, New York: Free Press, 2008; Thomas Frank, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008; Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.] Chalmers Johnson is the author of three linked books on the crises of American imperialism and militarism. They are Blowback (2000), The Sorrows of Empire (2004), and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (2006). All are available in paperback from Metropolitan Books. [This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing, co-founder of the American Empire Project, author of The End of Victory Culture (University of Massachusetts Press), thoroughly updated in a newly issued edition covering Iraq, and editor and contributor to the first best of Tomdispatch book, The World According to Tomdispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso).] -------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 vote third party for president for congress now and forever
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