|Progressive Calendar 05.05.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 5 May 2009 03:11:32 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 05.05.09 1. Pawlenty o Nuttin 5.05 12noon 2. NWN4P vigil 5.05 4:45pm 3. Palestine/Indians 5.05 5pm 4. RNC court watch 5.05 6pm 5. Salon/discussion 5.05 6:30pm 6. Amnesty Intl 5.05 7pm StCloud MN 7. OutFront MN 5.05 7pm 8. Vs Israeli lobby 5.05 7pm 9. Shut down ICE 5.06 7am 10. LRT boondoggle 5.06 11am [ed head] 11. N Mpls gardners 5.06 6:30pm 12. Mary Turck - Organizing around the Central Corridor 13. Chris Hedges - Buying Brand Obama 14. David Swanson - An even worse Bybee memo --------1 of 14-------- From: Sue Ann <mart1408 [at] UMN.EDU> Subject: Pawlenty of Nuttin' 5.05 12noon Help us present Governor Pawlenty with the Golden Bush Award! Tuesday, May 5, Noon, on the Capitol Steps, St. Paul We thank the gov for his commitment to George W. Bush¹s policies of tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. We support his far-thinking intention to slash budgets for schools, health care, infrastructure, libraries, and so forth. . . . Can¹t children educate themselves? Can¹t people take care of their own roads? Put out their own fires? Formal or other attire encouraged. Minnesotans for Personal Responsibility PawLENTY for us! FFI: minn4PR [at] gmail.com Featuring: Mrs. I.M. Rich, Education Chair, Minnesotans for Personal Responsibility M. Antoinette Sans-Tete, Head (so to speak), Erase Entitlement Committee Fran E. May, President Foreclosure, Inc. Dim Murphy, Corporate CEO, A Lie & Tech Mrs. Iva Lot O'Mooney Member, Minnesotans for Personal Responsibility and other such notables. [such as: F. DaPeople Letta M'Etcake Merrily Up-Yerz Consta Pater Dik Tater Lord Andmaster Owtov Myway and other awards: Shaved Bush Award? Bush Bash? -ed] --------2 of 14-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NWN4P vigil 5.05 4:45pm NWN4P vigil every Tuesday. Corner of Winnetka and 42nd Avenues in New Hope. 4:45 to 5:45 PM. All welcome; bring your own or use our signs. --------3 of 14-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine/Indians 5.05 5pm Surmounting St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm, midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow! All households with basic cable may watch. Tues, 5/5, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 5/6, 10am Parallel Injustices: American Indians and Palestinians At an amazing gathering, for the first time in Minnesota, Native Americans and Palestinians publicly shared their respective experiences of dispossession of their land and genocide of their people. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) National Director Nihad Awad and American Indian Movement (AIM) leader Clyde Bellecourt speak at Augsburg College. April 2009. --------4 of 14-------- From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at] gmail.com> Subject: RNC court watch 5.05 6pm RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing court information, documentation and etc. RNC Court Watchers Meetings are every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our meetings. Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this intimidation, harassment and abuse! Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent people. Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55405 Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M participate and help organize RNC court solidarity. For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at] gmail.com THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! --------5 of 14-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Salon/discussion 5.05 6:30pm Tuesday, May 5 is time for Open Discussion again. There must be lots on your mind these days. Come and share and feel better for awhile. Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------6 of 14-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 5.05 7pm StCloud MN Saint Cloud Area Amnesty International meets on Tuesday, May 5th, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the St. Cloud Public Library, 1300 W. St. Germain, Saint Cloud. For more information contact Jerry Dirks, 320-251-6491 or jerry.dirks [at] gmail.com. --------7 of 14-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: OutFront MN 5.05 7pm May 5: OutFront Minnesota Community Action Training. Join OutFront Minnesota organizers to learn more about how you can help move Minnesota toward full marriage equality. Attendees are asked to bring a dish to share. 7 - 9 PM at White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church, 328 Maple Street, Mahtomedi. --------8 of 14-------- From: William Bailey <wbailey [at] visi.com> Subject: Vs Israeli lobby 5.05 7pm Middle East Peace Now endorses the following event and strongly recommends it: The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) - Twin Cities presents: Tuesday May 5th from 7-9pm at the Carlson School of Management Building, Room 1-147 on the U of M West Bank Campus What Explains US Policy Toward the Middle East--The Israel Lobby, Imperial Interests, or Both? Why does the US unconditionally support Israeli atrocities? Panel includes: August Nimtz, Professor of Political Science at the U of M Sylvia Schwarz, Engineer and IJAN member Jordan Kushner, Civil Rights Attorney and National Lawyers Guild member Moderated by Lisa Albrecht, Associate Professor U of M School of Social Work, Social Justice Minor, and IJAN member This event is endorsed by the Al Medina Cultural Center, Minnesota Cuba Committee, Middle East Peace Now, and Northfielders for Justice in Palestine/Israel. --------9 of 14-------- From: Shutdown Ice <shutdownice [at] gmail.com> Subject: Shut down ICE 5.06 7am Direct action protest to shut down I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) operations in Bloomington Minnesota May 6th Rally: 7:00am Press Conference: 7:15am I.C.E. Headquarters, 2901 Metro Drive Bloomington, MN 55425 We are part of a national movement that has been calling on the Obama administration to declare a moratorium on raids and deportations during the first 100 days. We are here today put our bodies on the line to show what our consciences believe - that the immigration system and enforcement is dehumanizing and destructive of families and communities. There is a long tradition of people committing civil disobedience in order to call on the conscience of the nation. Just last week, for example, even Representative Ellison was arrested for protesting at the Sudanese embassy. He was speaking out about human rights in Sudan. We are speaking out about human rights here in the U.S. Our immigration laws are broken, as President Obama himself has said, and they are unjust laws. We believe that unjust laws need to be changed, not obeyed. OUR DEMAND IS SIMPLE: We demand that President Obama sign an executive order declaring an immediate moratorium on raids and deportations until a JUST immigration law is passed. Erika Zurawski : 612-702-4169 Loren McGrail: 612-386-9789 From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] gmail.com> Subject: [AntiWarMN] Shut Down Immigration and Customs Enforcement! Wednesday, May 6th @ 7:00am @ ICE Headquarters in Bloomington, MN, 2901 Metro Drive There will be a civil disobedience action and a legal rally to demand immigration reform. For those who are not planning / able to get arrested, we will need to fill a lot of key positions, including: marshalls, jail support, press, etc. Let us know if you are interested in filling any of those positions. If you have any questions, email us at shutdownice [at] gmail.com --------10 of 14-------- From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at] driscollgroup.com> Subject: LRT boondoggle 5.06 11am [ed head] TRUTH TO TELL KFAI 11am 5.06 CENTRAL CORRIDOR UPDATE: Are Community Advocates Winning? After a half-dozen years or more of public scrutiny and controversy over community demands for constituent services along the light rail corridor soon to break asphalt in St. Paul and Minneapolis, many of those communities' continue to voice frustrations with decision-makers treating transit-dependent populations as second in line for the resources necessary to make the revamping of this umbilical cord between the two downtowns actually serve them. Coalitions of groups have seen themselves marginalized in a billion-dollar process that promises much but guarantees far less as the state and Met Council vie for federal transit funds, argue over local and state matches required for completion and, especially the important issues of sufficient station stops, business loss mitigation along University Avenue during construction, and the loss of parking to accommodate small retailers, among other. TTT's ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN talk with several community leaders deeply engaged in advisory committees and other efforts trying to affect ivory tower decisions that separate political leaders from neighborhood representatives. GUESTS: ANNE WHITE - Chair, District Councils Collaborative of St. Paul & Minneapolis (DCC); member, Central Corridor Advisory Committee (CCAC) VERONICA BURT - Community Organizer; member, CCAC VIC ROSENTHAL - Executive Director, Jewish Community Action; member, Campaign to Add Transit Stops Along Central Corridor INVITED: METRIC GILES - Aurora-St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corp.; member, CCAC AND YOU! CALL IN - 612-341-0980 CAN'T GET US OVER THE AIR? STREAM TTT LIVE and LATER at KFAI.ORG [Corridor a huge developer boondoggle that will leave the cities in worse shape. The (mis)developers don't have to live here after they've got their loot; the rest of us will be stuck living here and paying for it. -ed] --------11 of 14-------- From: lois swenson <swenson2206 [at] yahoo.com> Subject: N Mpls gardners 5.06 6:30pm Folks from North Mpls interested in community gardens are welcome to attend a meeting Wed May 6 6:30pm at Plymouth Christian Youth Center 23rd and Oliver North A master gardner frrom Hennepin County Extension will be present, so bring your gardening questions and any extra seeds or plants you would like to share --------12 of 14-------- Organizing around the Central Corridor By Mary Turck TC Daily Planet May 04, 2009 Nieeta Presley says she is "not going to stand still and let the Central Corridor train run me over". Along with hundreds of neighbors along the Central Corridor route in St. Paul and Minneapolis, she is organizing to protect and promote the interests of the people who live and do business along that route. The executive director of the Aurora St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, Presley was one of the organizers who showed up at an April 28 meeting at the Central Corridor Resource Center in St. Paul. At the meeting, leaders of more than a dozen community groups that organized a two-day community summit in March, issued a Draft Community Statement on the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Project April 28. Organizers are asking for more community feedback. Michelle Dibblee, an organizer with Transit for Livable Communities, said she saw two hot-button issues at the summit: the desire of members of the community to have a place at the table as active participants when decisions are being made, and the feeling that what residents and community members have to offer is not always part of Central Corridor discussions. She characterized the summit as "an optimistic event," and very solutions-focused. When people talk about the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, the Metropolitan Council is often a target for criticism. Dibblee said that's not helpful now. "The real thrust," she insisted, "is the desire for development of housing and business mitigation that respects the community and cultures as they are, and don't displace businesses, families, and community members". To achieve those aims, said Dibblee, organizers need to focus on elected officials, including the city council, mayor and legislators. Veronica Burt of the Aurora St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation is not willing to let the Met Council off the hot seat yet. One thing the community needs, she said, is additional stops that are more accessible to community residents, but a deeper, more critical issue is jobs for local residents. While the Met Council has insisted that there is no money for additional stops, Burt said she doesn't believe it, pointing to agreements reached with MPR and the University of Minnesota. "When they say there's no money," she said, "it's all about will". "In fairness to the Met Council," Burt said, "they have made adjustments, but it's about how deep those adjustments are". She said the project has to change to become "win-win for everybody, as opposed to making it 'others win and we lose' and we're the sacrificial lambs". Several participants in the April 28 meeting expressed concern that the Central Corridor's impact on the community will parallel the destruction of the Rondo community by the construction of I-94. Stan Gartner addressed business issues, both during and after construction. "If I lose 25% of my business [during construction]," he said, "I'm going to shut the door". He also expressed concern about property values and property taxes: "How are some of the people on University Avenue going to afford those property values to continue to rise? They are small business people, and their property taxes are going to go up." John Slade of MICAH agreed with Gartner, and spoke about the negative impacts of gentrification on both renters and property owners. "The largest impact of light rail is increased property values," said Slade. "They rocket up right around the station like a volcano. Do all the people who live there get rolled off the side and a new group of people come in to benefit?" The coalition will gather input on the Draft Community Statement on the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Project throughout May. For further information or to read, download or give feedback on the Draft Community Statement, go to the District Councils Collaborative website or call Carol Swenson, District Councils Collaborative of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, 651-249-6877. Organizations participating in the Community Summit Planning Group include: Alliance for Metropolitan Stability Aurora Saint Anthony NDC Community Stabilization Project District Councils Collaborative of Saint Paul and Minneapolis ISAIAH JUST Equity Jewish Community Action Minnesota Project Ramsey Chapter of MICAH Saint Paul NAACP Transit for Livable Communities UFCW Local 789 University Avenue Business Association University UNITED Wm Mitchell Community Development Clinic --------13 of 14-------- Buying Brand Obama by Chris Hedges Monday, May 4, 2009 TruthDig.com Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest. What, for all our faith and hope, has the Obama brand given us? His administration has spent, lent or guaranteed $12.8 trillion in taxpayer dollars to Wall Street and insolvent banks in a doomed effort to reinflate the bubble economy, a tactic that at best forestalls catastrophe and will leave us broke in a time of profound crisis. Brand Obama has allocated nearly $1 trillion in defense-related spending and the continuation of our doomed imperial projects in Iraq, where military planners now estimate that 70,000 troops will remain for the next 15 to 20 years. Brand Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan, including the use of drones sent on cross-border bombing runs into Pakistan that have doubled the number of civilians killed over the past three months. Brand Obama has refused to ease restrictions so workers can organize and will not consider single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. And Brand Obama will not prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes, including the use of torture, and has refused to dismantle Bush's secrecy laws or restore habeas corpus. Brand Obama offers us an image that appears radically individualistic and new. It inoculates us from seeing that the old engines of corporate power and the vast military-industrial complex continue to plunder the country. Corporations, which control our politics, no longer produce products that are essentially different, but brands that are different. Brand Obama does not threaten the core of the corporate state any more than did Brand George W. Bush. The Bush brand collapsed. We became immune to its studied folksiness. We saw through its artifice. This is a common deflation in the world of advertising. So we have been given a new Obama brand with an exciting and faintly erotic appeal. Benetton and Calvin Klein were the precursors to the Obama brand, using ads to associate themselves with risqué art and progressive politics. It gave their products an edge. But the goal, as with all brands, was to make passive consumers mistake a brand with an experience. "The abandonment of the radical economic foundations of the women's and civil-rights movements by the conflation of causes that came to be called political correctness successfully trained a generation of activists in the politics of image, not action," Naomi Klein wrote in "No Logo." Obama, who has become a global celebrity, was molded easily into a brand. He had almost no experience, other than two years in the Senate, lacked any moral core and could be painted as all things to all people. His brief Senate voting record was a miserable surrender to corporate interests. He was happy to promote nuclear power as "green" energy. He voted to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He reauthorized the Patriot Act. He would not back a bill designed to cap predatory credit card interest rates. He opposed a bill that would have reformed the notorious Mining Law of 1872. He refused to support the single-payer health care bill HR676, sponsored by Reps. Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers. He supported the death penalty. And he backed a class-action "reform" bill that was part of a large lobbying effort by financial firms. The law, known as the Class Action Fairness Act, would effectively shut down state courts as a venue to hear most class-action lawsuits and deny redress in many of the courts where these cases have a chance of defying powerful corporate challenges. While Gaza was being bombarded and hit with airstrikes in the weeks before Obama took office, "the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of "'smart bombs' and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel," according to Seymour Hersh. Even his one vaunted anti-war speech as a state senator, perhaps his single real act of defiance, was swiftly reversed. He told the Chicago Tribune on July 27, 2004, that "there's not that much difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who's in a position to execute." And unlike anti-war stalwarts like Kucinich, who gave hundreds of speeches against the war, Obama then dutifully stood silent until the Iraq war became unpopular. Obama's campaign won the vote of hundreds of marketers, agency heads and marketing-services vendors gathered at the Association of National Advertisers' annual conference in October. The Obama campaign was named Advertising Age's marketer of the year for 2008 and edged out runners-up Apple and Zappos.com. Take it from the professionals. Brand Obama is a marketer's dream. President Obama does one thing and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertiser wants because of how they can make you feel. Celebrity culture has leeched into every aspect of our culture, including politics, to bequeath to us what Benjamin DeMott called "junk politics." Junk politics does not demand justice or the reparation of rights. Junk politics personalizes and moralizes issues rather than clarifying them. "It's impatient with articulated conflict, enthusiastic about America's optimism and moral character, and heavily dependent on feel-your-pain language and gesture," DeMott noted. The result of junk politics is that nothing changes - "meaning zero interruption in the processes and practices that strengthen existing, interlocking systems of socioeconomic advantage." It redefines traditional values, tilting "courage toward braggadocio, sympathy toward mawkishness, humility toward self-disrespect, identification with ordinary citizens toward distrust of brains." Junk politics "miniaturizes large, complex problems at home while maximizing threats from abroad. It's also given to abrupt unexplained reversals of its own public stances, often spectacularly bloating problems previously miniaturized." And finally, it "seeks at every turn to obliterate voters' consciousness of socioeconomic and other differences in their midst." An image-based culture, one dominated by junk politics, communicates through narratives, pictures and carefully orchestrated spectacle and manufactured pseudo-drama. Scandalous affairs, hurricanes, earthquakes, untimely deaths, lethal new viruses, train wrecks - these events play well on computer screens and television. International diplomacy, labor union negotiations and convoluted bailout packages do not yield exciting personal narratives or stimulating images. A governor who patronizes call girls becomes a huge news story. A politician who proposes serious regulatory reform, universal health care or advocates curbing wasteful spending is boring. Kings, queens and emperors once used their court conspiracies to divert their subjects. Today cinematic, political and journalistic celebrities distract us with their personal foibles and scandals. They create our public mythology. Acting, politics and sports have become, as they were during the reign of Nero, interchangeable. In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we do not seek reality. Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion. We ask to be indulged and comforted by clichés, stereotypes and inspirational messages that tell us we can be whoever we seek to be, that we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities, and that our future will always be glorious and prosperous, either because of our own attributes, or our national character, or because we are blessed by God. Reality is not accepted as an impediment to our desires. Reality does not make us feel good. In his book "Public Opinion," Walter Lippmann distinguished between "the world outside and the pictures in our heads." He defined a "stereotype" as an oversimplified pattern that helps us find meaning in the world. Lippmann cited examples of the crude "stereotypes we carry about in our heads" of whole groups of people such as "Germans," "South Europeans," "Negroes," "Harvard men," "agitators" and others. These stereotypes, Lippmann noted, give a reassuring and false consistency to the chaos of existence. They offer easily grasped explanations of reality and are closer to propaganda because they simplify rather than complicate. Pseudo-events - dramatic productions orchestrated by publicists, political machines, television, Hollywood or advertisers - however, are very different. They have, as Daniel Boorstin wrote in "The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America," the capacity to appear real even though we know they are staged. They are capable, because they can evoke a powerful emotional response, of overwhelming reality and replacing reality with a fictional narrative that often becomes accepted truth. The unmasking of a stereotype damages and often destroys its credibility. But pseudo-events, whether they show the president in an auto plant or a soup kitchen or addressing troops in Iraq, are immune to this deflation. The exposure of the elaborate mechanisms behind the pseudo-event only adds to its fascination and its power. This is the basis of the convoluted television reporting on how effectively political campaigns and politicians have been stage-managed. Reporters, especially those on television, no longer ask if the message is true but if the pseudo-event worked or did not work as political theater. Pseudo-events are judged on how effectively we have been manipulated by illusion. Those events that appear real are relished and lauded. Those that fail to create a believable illusion are deemed failures. Truth is irrelevant. Those who succeed in politics, as in most of the culture, are those who create the brands and pseudo-events that offer the most convincing fantasies. And this is the art Obama has mastered. A public that can no longer distinguish between truth and fiction is left to interpret reality through illusion. Random facts or obscure bits of data and trivia are used to bolster illusion and give it credibility or are discarded if they interfere with the message. The worse reality becomes - the more, for example, foreclosures and unemployment skyrocket - the more people seek refuge and comfort in illusions. When opinions cannot be distinguished from facts, when there is no universal standard to determine truth in law, in science, in scholarship, or in reporting the events of the day, when the most valued skill is the ability to entertain, the world becomes a place where lies become true, where people can believe what they want to believe. This is the real danger of pseudo-events and why pseudo- events are far more pernicious than stereotypes. They do not explain reality, as stereotypes attempt to, but replace reality. Pseudo-events redefine reality by the parameters set by their creators. These creators, who make massive profits peddling these illusions, have a vested interest in maintaining the power structures they control. The old production-oriented culture demanded what the historian Warren Susman termed character. The new consumption-oriented culture demands what he called personality. The shift in values is a shift from a fixed morality to the artifice of presentation. The old cultural values of thrift and moderation honored hard work, integrity and courage. The consumption-oriented culture honors charm, fascination and likability. "The social role demanded of all in the new culture of personality was that of a performer," Susman wrote. "Every American was to become a performing self." The junk politics practiced by Obama is a consumer fraud. It is about performance. It is about lies. It is about keeping us in a perpetual state of childishness. But the longer we live in illusion, the worse reality will be when it finally shatters our fantasies. Those who do not understand what is happening around them and who are overwhelmed by a brutal reality they did not expect or foresee search desperately for saviors. They beg demagogues to come to their rescue. This is the ultimate danger of the Obama Brand. It effectively masks the wanton internal destruction and theft being carried out by our corporate state. These corporations, once they have stolen trillions in taxpayer wealth, will leave tens of millions of Americans bereft, bewildered and yearning for even more potent and deadly illusions, ones that could swiftly snuff out what is left of our diminished open society. © 2009 TruthDig.com Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com . Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His most recent book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, will be out in July, but is available for pre-order. Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/05/04 --------14 of 14-------- The Iraq War Memo An Even Worse Bybee Memo By DAVID SWANSON May 4, 2009 CounterPunch Jay Bybee wrote another memo that nobody has noticed, one purporting to authorize crimes far worse than torture, the same crimes the torture was itself intended to create false justifications for. On October 23, 2002, Assistant Attorney General Bybee signed a 48-page memo to the "counsel to the president" (Alberto Gonzales) titled "Authority of the President Under Domestic and International Law to Use Military Force Against Iraq." This was another secret law, but instead of authorizing particular uses of torture (which in reality were far exceeded, engaged in prior to the memos, etc.), this one authorized any president to single-handedly commit what Nuremberg called "the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." And while the torture memos extensively and grotesquely limited the days of sleep deprivation and the hours of waterboarding, the aggressive war memo included only a single paragraph at the bottom of page 47 requiring that: "Were the President to determine that the use of force in self-defense is necessary to counter the threat posed by Iraq's WMD program, such force should be proportional; in other words, it should be limited to that which is needed to eliminate the threat posed by Iraq." When this memo was written, our president, vice president, and top cabinet officials were screaming about Iraq's vast quantities of weapons, but Bybee was already crafting his justifications around the idea of weapons "programs." The result was guaranteed to be massive death, no matter how "proportional" to the nonexistent threat. But the permission was also guaranteed to be wildly exceeded by anybody's definition. The result has been 1.2 - 1.3 million deaths according to Just Foreign Policy's updated figure based on the Johns Hopkins / Lancet report, and according to the British polling company Opinion Research Business's estimate as of August 2007. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of Iraqis who have fled their homes has reached 4.7 million. If these estimates are accurate, a total of nearly 6 million human beings have been displaced from their homes or killed. Many times that many have certainly been injured, traumatized, impoverished, and deprived of clean water and other basic needs, including the need to have parents. And what has accumulated in the evil of the whole? The current occupation of Iraq has seen the United States target civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances; use antipersonnel weapons including cluster bombs in densely settled urban areas; use white phosphorous as a weapon; use depleted uranium weapons; employ a new version of napalm found in Mark 77 firebombs; engage in collective punishment of Iraqi civilian populations; including by blocking roads, cutting electricity and water, destroying fuel stations, planting bombs in farm fields, demolishing houses, and plowing down orchards; detain people without charge or legal process without the rights of prisoners of war; imprison children; torture; and murder. Michael Haas has published a well-documented book with the clear title: "George W. Bush, War Criminal? The Bush Administration's Liability for 269 War Crimes." Jay Bybee's liability must not be minimized. Bybee's memo declares that a president has the power to launch wars. Period. The "authorization to use force" passed by Congress is treated as gravy on top of this basic power. According to Bybee's copy of the U.S. Constitution, Congress can "issue formal declarations of war." According to mine, Congress has the power "to declare war," as well as every related substantive power. In fact, there are no incidental formal powers anywhere in my copy of the Constitution. Bybee dismisses the War Powers Act by citing Nixon's veto of it rather than the law itself, and upholds the "authorization to use force" without mentioning the requirements it included for the president, requirements he later met by lying about weapons and ties to 9-11. Bybee cites letters written by Bush as authoritative. He even cites a Bush signing statement. And, of course, he cites and relies on previous memos produced by his office, the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice. Bybee relies heavily on the "Bill Clinton sort-of did it and might have done it, and therefore it is legal," argument. For good measure, he throws in Truman and Bush Sr. and Kennedy and Reagan, not to mention an Israeli ambassador's opinion of a U.N. declaration condemning an aggressive attack by Israel. The thrust of the argument is that, because Bush Sr. and Clinton launched strikes into Iraq it's OK for Bush Jr. to launch a whole lot of them. This would be the same as arguing that because Bush Jr. and Obama launched strikes into Pakistan, Obama or any future president can launch a full-scale war there. Legally, this is nonsense. The strikes are as illegal as the war would be. Politically, it's something to consider: do we really want to maintain silent acceptance of such strikes? Bybee claims not only that a president can simply launch any war he wants, and that the "authorization to use force" somehow adds to that complete and total power, but also that - in terms of international law - attacking Iraq would be justified both as authorized by the UN Security Council and as an act of self-defense. The war would not be so much a new war, Bybee claims, as the suspension of a cease-fire that Iraq suspended first. And the Security Council would have authorized a war even though the Security Council itself might claim otherwise. Bybee redefines self-defense as "anticipatory self-defense" and argues that the authors of the UN Charter could never possibly have meant otherwise. And he adds that, in an age of nuclear weapons, anticipatory self-defense can justify launching a war against any nation that might conceivably acquire nukes, even if there was no reason to think that nation would use them to attack yours: "We observe, therefore, that even if the probability that Iraq itself would attack the United States with WMD, or would transfer such a weapon to terrorists for their use against the United States, were relatively low, the exceptionally high degree of harm that would result, combined with a limited window of opportunity and the likelihood that if we do not use force, the threat will increase, could lead the President to conclude that military action is necessary to defend the United States." This memo justified a war of aggression and all the crimes and abuses of power abroad and at home that were justified by the war. Jay Bybee has a lifetime appointment as a federal judge wearing black robes drenched in the crimson blood of his victims. His crimes are on paper in black and white for the world to see. If he is not impeached and prosecuted, similar horrors await our planet in the near future. David Swanson is the author of "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union" by Seven Stories Press. He can be reached at: david [at] davidswanson.org ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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 vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
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