|Progressive Calendar 09.02.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Thu, 2 Sep 2010 17:18:13 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 09.02.10 1. Global 350.org 9.02 7pm 2. Ffunch strikes again 9.03 11:30am 3. Palestine vigil 9.03 4:15pm 4. Peace walk 9.04 9am Cambridge MN 5. Flyer IPAC 9.04 10am 6. CUAPB 9.04 1:30pm 7. Northtown vigil 9.04 2pm 8. Stillwater vigil 9.05 1pm 9. Rally v ICE 9.05 2:30pm 10. D Provencher - Let Pentel debate! 11. Chris Floyd - Speech defect: emissions of evil from the Oval Office 12. Normon Solomon - The business of killing/ a speech for endless war 13. Andrew Bacevich- Obama wants us to forget the lessons of Iraq 14. Quigley/Raymond- Contracting out the occupation/ another false ending 15. Paul Street - Our sacrifice for Iraq: Obama & the memory hole 16. ed - Pledge 2012 No vote for Obama/09.02.10 17. ed - Evil oval (haiku) --------1 of 17-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> From: Paul Thompson Subject: Global 350.org 9.02 7pm MN RPCVs and family members, Planning meeting for 350.org's Global Work Party on 10/10/10. This Thursday Sept 2, Common Roots Cafe 26th and Lyndale Ave in South Mpls. 7 pm Come and be a part of making this event large, diverse and successful. The focus will be on what local communities are doing to create sustainable solutions to the climate crisis. Sat the 9th and Sunday morning is devoted to neighbors doing projects in their neighborhoods, in the afternoon we will rally and elebrate together at a central location that we will determine this Thursday. The theme for the day is "let's get to work" with the underlying message to our elected officials that it is time for them to 'get to work' while we still have time. Call me with ideas/ questions. 952-920-1547 Paul Thompson Borneo 71-73 www.350solutionsrevolution.org --------2 of 17-------- From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: Ffunch strikes again 9.03 11:30am Ffunch 12.05 11:30am Meet the FFUNCH BUNCH! 11:30am-1pm First Friday Lunch (FFUNCH) for progressives. Informal political talk and hanging out. Day By Day Cafe 477 W 7th Av St Paul. Meet on the far south side. Day By Day has soups, salads, sandwiches, and waist-line-dangerous apple pie; is close to downtown St Paul & on major bus lines --------3 of 17-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine vigil 9.03 4:15pm The weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul. The Friday demo starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30. There are usually extra signs available. [Or maybe at Snelling & University, closer to the Fair - as last week. ed] --------4 of 17-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 9.04 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------5 of 17-------- From: Rowley Clan <rowleyclan [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Flyer IPAC 9.04 10am Please help us HAND OUT FLYERS this Saturday, Sept. 4th from 10 am to noon (or whatever time you have) about upcoming IPAC events as well as getting people to sign postcards to be sent to Senators Klobuchar and Franken at the Midtown Farmers Market (at Lake and 22nd Street). We'll meet at the driveway to the parking lot to the south of the farmer's market which is right across 22nd street between the Market and the YMCA. --------6 of 17-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: CUAPB 9.05 1:30pm Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South http://www.CUAPB.org Communities United Against Police Brutality 3100 16th Avenue S Minneapolis, MN 55407 Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867) --------7 of s-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 9.04 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------8 of 17-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 9.05 1pm A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2 p.m. Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be positive. Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers. If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it. Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------9 of 17-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Rally v ICE 9.05 2:30pm Rally Against Detention of Immigrants Sunday, September 5, 2:30 to 3:00 p.m. Ramsey County Adult Detention Center, 425 Grove Street, St. Paul. Join community members of all faiths and others who advocate for immigrants and immigration reform as we gather to show support to those detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Ramsey County Detention Center. Help call attention to our nation's broken immigration system and the need for Immigration Reform now. The September vigil will be led by the WAMM Immigration Committee and will focus on our country's increased militarization of the border. Sponsored by: the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration, Advocates for Human Rights, the WAMM Immigration Committee, and others. FFI: Call 612-827-5364. -------10 of 17-------- From: PRO826 [at] aol.com Subject: Let Pentel debate! LET KEN DEBATE! Ken Pentel for Governor, with the Ecology Democracy Party, has been making a great presence at the MN State Fair this year. On Friday, 11am at the fair carousel, the gubernatorial candidates will debate. Unfortunately, MPR who is hosting the debate, won't allow Ken to sit at the same lunch counter as Emmer, Horner or Dayton. Ken has worked tirelessly for decades to bring forth issues we hold dear and has been totally blacked out from the media (aside from KFAI and Staples newspaper) just as the system wants it. This election cycle, and Ken's fourth run for governor, is a paradigm shift from a usual campaign. Instead of pounding away at the issues every election cycle and not feeling that our voices are heard, the Ken Pentel for Governor campaign is focusing on structural change. The analogy we use is: why worrying about changing the wallpaper if the foundation of your house is crumbling. Through a system with proportional representative for the MN House, a shift towards an ecological based accounting where whole cost is factored in and heaven knows, until we get the corporate money and influence out of our government, our voices will be drowned by the money. If you feel it is an injustice that Ken will be excluded from the State Fair gubernatorial debate on Friday, please call MRP and tell them to LET KEN DEBATE! MPR contact information _smeyers [at] mpr.org_ (mailto:smeyers [at] mpr.org) Sara Meyers, MPR Program Director) 651-290-1424 (newsroom) --------11 of 17-------- Speech Defect: Emissions of Evil From the Oval Office [Speech Defect: Emissions of Oval From the Evil Office -ed] Chris Floyd Wednesday, 01 September 2010 On Tuesday night, Barack Obama gave a speech from the Oval Office on Iraq that was almost as full of hideous, murderous lies as the speech on Iraq his predecessor gave in the same location more than seven years ago. After mendaciously declaring an "end to the combat mission in Iraq" - where almost 50,000 regular troops and a similar number of mercenaries still remain, carrying out the same missions they have been doing for years - Obama delivered what was perhaps the most egregious, bitterly painful lie of the night: "Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility." "We have met our responsibility!" No, Mister President, we have not. Not until many Americans of high degree stand in the dock for war crimes. Not until the United States pays hundreds of billions of dollars in unrestricted reparations to the people of Iraq for the rape of their country and the mass murder of their people. Not until the United States opens its borders to accept all those who have been and will be driven from Iraq by the savage ruin we have inflicted upon them, or in flight from the vicious thugs and sectarians we have loosed - and empowered - in the land. Not until you, Mister President, go down on your knees, in sackcloth and ashes, and proclaim a National of Day of Shame to be marked each year by lamentations, reparations and confessions of blood guilt for our crime against humanity in Iraq. Then and only then, Mister President, can you say that America has begun - in even the most limited, pathetic way - to "meet its responsibility" for what it has done to Iraq. And unless you do this, Mister President - and you never will - you are just a lying, bloodsoaked apologist, accomplice and perpetrator of monstrous evil, like your predecessor and his minions - many of whom, of course, are now your minions. I really don't have anything else to say about this sickening spectacle - which is being compounded in Britain, where I live, by the sight today of Tony Blair's murder-tainted mug plastered on the front of the main newspapers, as he makes the rounds pushing his new book, doling out "exclusive interviews" full of crocodile tears for the soldiers he had murdered in the war crime he committed and the "great suffering" of the Iraqi people which, goodness gracious, he never foresaw and feels, gosh, really bad about. All this laced with venomous comments about his former colleagues - those who, like Gordon Brown, sold their souls to advance Blair's vision of aggressive war abroad and corporate rapine at home - along with, of course, earnest protestations of his God-directed good intentions, and his unwavering belief that killing a million innocent human beings in Iraq was "the right thing to do." Pol Pot could not have been more blindly self-righteous than this wretched moral cretin. I will say again what I have said here many, many times before: What quadrant of hell is hot enough for such men? Words might fail me, but wise man William Blum has a few that put the "end of combat operations in Iraq" in their proper perspective. Let's give him the last word here [the ellipses are in the original text]: No American should be allowed to forget that the nation of Iraq, the society of Iraq, have been destroyed, ruined, a failed state. The Americans, beginning 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, killed wantonly, tortured ... the people of that unhappy land have lost everything - their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women's rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives ... More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile ... The air, soil, water, blood and genes drenched with depleted uranium ... the most awful birth defects ... unexploded cluster bombs lie in wait for children to pick them up ... an army of young Islamic men went to Iraq to fight the American invaders; they left the country more militant, hardened by war, to spread across the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia ... a river of blood runs alongside the Euphrates and Tigris ... through a country that may never be put back together again. http://www.chris-floyd.com/articles/1-latest-news/2016-speech-defect-emissions-of-evil-from-the-oval-office.html --------12 of 17-------- The Business of Killing A Speech for Endless War By NORMAN SOLOMON September 1, 2010 CounterPunch On the last night of August, the president used an Oval Office speech to boost a policy of perpetual war. Hours later, the New York Times front page offered a credulous gloss for the end of "the seven-year American combat mission in Iraq". The first sentence of the coverage described the speech as saying "that it is now time to turn to pressing problems at home". The story went on to assert that Obama "used the moment to emphasize that he sees his primary job as addressing the weak economy and other domestic issues - and to make clear that he intends to begin disengaging from the war in Afghanistan next summer". But the speech gave no real indication of a shift in priorities from making war to creating jobs. And the oratory "made clear" only the repetition of vague vows to "begin" disengaging from the Afghanistan war next summer. In fact, top administration officials have been signaling that only token military withdrawals are apt to occur in mid-2011, and Obama said nothing to the contrary. While now trumpeting the nobility of an Iraq war effort that he'd initially disparaged as "dumb," Barack Obama is polishing a halo over the Afghanistan war, which he touts as very smart. In the process, the Oval Office speech declared that every U.S. war - no matter how mendacious or horrific - is worthy of veneration. Obama closed the speech with a tribute to "an unbroken line of heroes" stretching "from Khe Sanh to Kandahar - Americans who have fought to see that the lives of our children are better than our own". His reference to the famous U.S. military outpost in South Vietnam was a chilling expression of affinity for another march of folly. With his commitment to war in Afghanistan, President Obama is not only on the wrong side of history. He is also now propagating an exculpatory view of any and all U.S. war efforts - as if the immoral can become the magnificent by virtue of patriotic alchemy. A century ago, William Dean Howells wrote: "What a thing it is to have a country that can't be wrong, but if it is, is right, anyway!" During the presidency of George W. Bush, "the war on terror" served as a rationale for establishing warfare as a perennial necessity. The Obama administration may have shelved the phrase, but the basic underlying rationales are firmly in place. With American troop levels in Afghanistan near 100,000, top U.S. officials are ramping up rhetoric about "taking the fight to" the evildoers. The day before the Oval Office speech, presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs talked to reporters about "what this drawdown means to our national security efforts in Afghanistan and Southeast Asia and around the world as we take the fight to Al Qaeda". The next morning, Obama declared at Fort Bliss: "A lot of families are now being touched in Afghanistan. We've seen casualties go up because we're taking the fight to Al Qaeda and the Taliban and their allies". And, for good measure, Obama added that "now, under the command of General Petraeus, we have the troops who are there in a position to start taking the fight to the terrorists". If, nine years after 9/11, we are supposed to believe that U.S. forces can now "start" taking the fight to "the terrorists," this is truly war without end. And that's the idea. Nearly eight years ago, in November 2002, retired U.S. Army Gen. William Odom appeared on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" program and told viewers: "Terrorism is not an enemy. It cannot be defeated. It's a tactic. It's about as sensible to say we declare war on night attacks and expect we're going to win that war. We're not going to win the war on terrorism." With his Aug. 31 speech, Obama became explicit about the relationship between reduced troop levels in Iraq and escalation in Afghanistan. "We will disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists," he said. "And because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense". This is the approach of endless war. While Obama was declaring that "our most urgent task is to restore our economy and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work," I went to a National Priorities Project webpage and looked at cost-of-war counters spinning like odometers in manic overdrive. The figures for the "Cost of War in Afghanistan" - already above $329 billion - are now spinning much faster than the ones for war in Iraq. One day in March 1969, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist spoke at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Our government has become preoccupied with death," George Wald said, "with the business of killing and being killed". More than four decades later, how much has really changed? Norman Solomon is the author of Made Love, Got War. --------13 of 17------- Obama Wants Us To Forget the Lessons of Iraq by Andrew Bacevich Wednesday, September 1, 2010 The New Republic Common Dreams The Iraq war? Fuggedaboudit. "Now, it is time to turn the page." So advises the commander-in-chief at least. "[T]he bottom line is this," President Obama remarked last Saturday, "the war is ending." Alas, it's not. Instead, the conflict is simply entering a new phase. And before we hasten to turn the page - something that the great majority of Americans are keen to do - common decency demands that we reflect on all that has occurred in bringing us to this moment. Absent reflection, learning becomes an impossibility. For those Americans still persuaded that everything changed the moment Obama entered the Oval Office, let's provide a little context. The event that historians will enshrine as the Iraq war actually began back in 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Iraq's unloved and unlovable neighbor. Through much of the previous decade, the United States had viewed Saddam as an ally of sorts, a secular bulwark against the looming threat of Islamic radicalism then seemingly centered in Tehran. Saddam's war of aggression against Iran, launched in 1980, did not much discomfit Washington, which offered the Iraqi dictator a helping hand when his legions faced apparent defeat. Yet when Saddam subsequently turned on Kuwait, he overstepped. President George H.W. Bush drew a line in the sand, likened the Iraqi dictator to Hitler, and dispatched 500,000 American troops to the Persian Gulf. The plan was to give Saddam a good spanking, make sure all concerned knew who was boss, and go home. Operation Desert Storm didn't turn out that way. An ostensibly great victory gave way to even greater complications. Although, in evicting the Iraqi army from Kuwait, U.S. and coalition forces did what they had been sent to do, Washington became seized with the notion merely turning back aggression wasn't enough: In Baghdad, Bush's nemesis survived and remained defiant. So what began as a war to liberate Kuwait morphed into an obsession with deposing Saddam himself. In the form of air strikes and missile attacks, feints and demonstrations, CIA plots and crushing sanctions, America's war against Iraq persisted throughout the 1990s, finally reaching a climax with George W. Bush's decision after September 11, 2001, to put Saddam ahead of Osama bin Laden in the line of evildoers requiring elimination. The U.S.-led assault on Baghdad in 2003 finally finished the work left undone in 1991 - so it appeared at least. Here was decisive victory, sealed by the capture of Saddam Hussein himself in December 2003. "Ladies and gentlemen," announced L. Paul Bremer, the beaming American viceroy to Baghdad, "we got him." Yet by the time Bremer spoke, it - Iraq - had gotten us. Saddam's capture (and subsequent execution) signaled next to nothing. Round two of the Iraq war had commenced, the war against Saddam (1990-2003) giving way to the American Occupation (2003-2010). Round two began the War to Reinvent Iraq in America's Image. With officials such as Bremer in the vanguard, the United States set out to transform Iraq into a Persian Gulf "city upon a hill," a beacon of Western-oriented liberal democracy enlightening and inspiring the rest of the Arab and Islamic world. When this effort met with resistance, American troops, accustomed to employing overwhelming force, responded with indiscriminate harshness. President Bush called the approach "kicking ass." Heavy-handedness backfired, however, and succeeded only in plunging Iraq into chaos. One result, on the home front, was to produce a sharp backlash against what had become Bush's War. Unable to win, unwilling to accept defeat, the Bush administration sought to create conditions allowing for a graceful exit. Marketed for domestic political purposes as "a new way forward," more commonly known as "the surge," this modified approach was the strategic equivalent of a dog's breakfast. President Bush steeled himself to expend more American blood and treasure while simultaneously lowering expectations about what U.S. forces might actually accomplish. New tactics designed to suppress the Iraqi insurgency won Bush's approval; so too did the novel practice of bribing insurgents to put down their arms. Yet as a consequence the daily violence that had made Iraq a hellhole subsided - although it did not disappear. Meanwhile, once hallowed verities fell by the wayside. U.S. officials stopped promising that Saddam's downfall would trigger a wave of liberalizing reforms throughout the Islamic world. Op-eds testifying to America's enduring commitment to the rights of Iraqi women ceased to appear in the nation's leading newspapers. == Respected American generals-by 2007, about the only figures retaining a shred of credibility on Iraq-disavowed the very possibility of victory. In military circles, to declare that "there is no military solution" became the very height of fashion. By the time Barack Obama had ascended to the presidency, this second phase of the Iraq war-its purpose now inverted from occupation to extrication-was already well-advanced. Since taking office, Obama has kept faith with the process that his predecessor set in motion, building upon President Bush's success. (When applied to Iraq, "success" has become a notably elastic term, easily accommodating bombs that detonate in Iraqi cities and insurgent assaults directed at Iraqi forces and government installations.) Which brings us to the present. After seven-plus years, Operation Iraqi Freedom has concluded. Operation New Dawn, its name suggesting a skin cream or dishwashing liquid, now begins. (What ever happened to the practice of using terms like Torch or Overlord or Dragoon to describe military campaigns?) Although something like 50,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, their mission is not to fight, but simply to advise and assist their Iraqi counterparts. In another year, if all goes well, even this last remnant of an American military presence will disappear. So the Americans are bowing out, having achieved few of the ambitious goals articulated in the heady aftermath of Baghdad's fall. The surge, now remembered as an epic feat of arms, functions chiefly as a smokescreen, obscuring a vast panorama of recklessness, miscalculation, and waste that politicians, generals, and sundry warmongers are keen to forget. Back in Iraq, meanwhile, nothing has been resolved and nothing settled. Round one of the Iraq war produced a great upheaval that round two served only to exacerbate. As the convoys of U.S. armored vehicles trundle south toward Kuwait and then home, they leave the stage set for round three. Call this the War of Iraqi Self-Determination (2010-?). As the United States removes itself from the scene, Iraqis will avail themselves of the opportunity to decide their own fate, a process almost certain to be rife with ethnic, sectarian, and tribal bloodletting. What the outcome will be, no one can say with certainty, but it won't be pretty. One thing alone we can say with assurance:As far as Americans are concerned, Iraqis now own their war. "Like any sovereign, independent nation," President Obama recently remarked, "Iraq is free to chart its own course." The place may be a mess, but it's their mess not ours. In this sense alone is the Iraq war "over." As U.S. forces have withdrawn, they have done so in an orderly fashion. In their own eyes, they remain unbeaten and unbeatable. As the troops pull out, the American people are already moving on: Even now, Afghans have displaced Iraqis as the beneficiaries of Washington's care and ministrations. Oddly, even disturbingly, most of us-our memories short, our innocence intact-seem content with the outcome. The United States leaves Iraq having learned nothing. 2010 The New Republic Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His new book, Washington Rules: America.s Path to Permanent War, has just been published. His other books include, The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (American Empire Project), and The Long War: A New History of U.S. National Security Policy Since World War II. --------14 of 17-------- Contracting Out the Occupation Another False Ending By BILL QUIGLEY and LAURA RAYMOND September 1, 2010 cp Another false ending to the Iraq war is being declared. Nearly seven years after George Bush's infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln, President Obama has just given a major address to mark the withdrawal of all but 50,000 combat troops from Iraq. But, while thousands of US troops are marching out, thousands of additional private military contractors (PMCs) are marching in. The number of armed security contractors in Iraq will more than double in the coming months. While the mainstream media is debating whether Iraq can be declared a victory or not there is virtually no discussion regarding this surge in contractors. Meanwhile, serious questions about the accountability of private military contractors remain. In the past decade the United States has dramatically shifted the way in which it wages war - fewer soldiers and more contractors. Last month, the Congressional Research Service reported that the Department of Defense (DoD) workforce has 19% more contractors (207,600) than uniformed personnel (175,000) in Iraq and Afghanistan, making the wars in these two countries the most outsourced and privatized in U.S. history. According to a recent State Department briefing to Congress's Commission on Wartime Contracting, from now on, instead of soldiers, private military contractors will be disposing of improvised explosive devices, recovering killed and wounded personnel, downed aircraft and damaged vehicles, policing Baghdad's International Zone, providing convoy security, and clearing travel routes, among other security-related duties. Worse, the oversight of contractors will rest with other contractors. As has been the case in Afghanistan, contractors will be sought to provide "operations-center monitoring of private security contractors (PSCs)" as well as "PSC inspection and accountability services". The Commission on Wartime Contracting, a body established by Congress to study the trends in war contracting, raised fundamental questions in a July 12, 2010 "special report" about the troop drawdown and the increased use of contractors: "An additional concern is presented by the nature of the functions that contractors might be supplying in place of U.S. military personnel. What if an aircraft-recovery team or a supply convoy comes under fire? Who determines whether contract guards engage the assailants and whether a quick-reaction force is sent to assist them? What if the assailants are firing from an inhabited village or a hospital? Who weighs the risks of innocent casualties, directs the action, and applies the rules for the use of force? "Apart from raising questions about inherently governmental functions, such scenarios could require decisions related to the risk of innocent casualties, frayed relations with the Iraqi government and populace, and broad undermining of U.S. objectives". We'd like to pose an additional question to the ones listed above: when human rights abuses by private military contractors occur in the next phase of the occupation of Iraq, which certainly will happen, what is the plan for justice and accountability? This massive buildup of contractors in Iraq takes place at a time when the question of contractor immunity - or impunity - is at a critical point. In one example, since 2004 our organization, the Center for Constitutional Rights, has been demanding - in US courts and through advocacy - that private military contractors who commit grave human rights abuses be held accountable. Contractors have responded by claiming something known as the "government contractor defense," arguing that because they were contracted by the US government to perform a duty they shouldn't be able to be held liable for any alleged violations that occured while purportedly performing those duties - even when the alleged violations are war crimes. Contractors also argue that the cases CCR has brought raise "political questions" that are inappropriate for the courts to consider. These technical legal arguments have been the focus of human rights lawsuits for years - and so far the question of the contractors' actual actions have not been reviewed by the federal courts. One case that should be watched closely this fall is Saleh v. Titan, a case brought by CCR and private attorneys against CACI and L-3 Services (formerly Titan), two private military contractors who military investigations implicated as having played a part in the torture at Abu Ghraib and other detention centers throughout Iraq. Saleh v. Titan was filed six years ago on behalf of Iraqis who were tortured and otherwise seriously abused while detained and currently includes hundreds of plaintiffs, including many individuals who were detained at the notorious "hard site" at Abu Ghraib. The plaintiffs in Saleh v. Titan, many of whom still suffer from physical and psychological harm, are simply seeking their day in court, to tell an American jury what happened to them. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed the case last September and the Supreme Court will be deciding whether or not to take the case this fall. This and a handful of other cases will signal how civil lawsuits on behalf of those injured or killed by contractors will be handled in US courts - and decide whether victims of egregious human rights violations will obtain some form of redress and whether contractors who violate the law will be held accountable or be granted impunity. And how will human rights abuse by contractors be handled by criminal prosecutors in the coming years? Given its track record, it is safe to say that Iraqi civilians cannot count on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute many contractor abuse cases. The DOJ was given an "F" by Human Rights First in their 2008 report Ending Private Contractor Impunity: Report Cards on the U.S. Government Response since Nisoor Square. The DOJ has never pursued criminal prosecutions for contractor involvement in the crimes of Abu Ghraib; something CCR still demands today. Iraq's Parliament signed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in 2008 which gave it the power to prosecute some US contractors who commit crimes against Iraqi civilians. We can all hope Iraq's justice system will be able to overcome the political challenges involved in prosecuting US companies or US contractors and other foreigners in Iraq's courts. But even that will not stop the common practice of contractor companies simply pulling their employees out of the country when a crime happens. With these fundamental questions left unanswered and legal loopholes left open, thousands more armed contractors will soon be filing into Iraq, onto the streets where Iraqis work, study and go about their everyday lives. As Senator, Obama called for less dependence on private military contractors and for accountability when they committed human rights abuses. He told Defense News in 2008 that he was "troubled by the use of private contractors when it comes to potential armed engagements". Senator Clinton co-sponsored legislation to phase out the use of security contractors in war zones. As President, Obama pretends the occupation of Iraq is ending with the withdrawal of combat troops while he and Secretary of State Clinton quietly hire a shadow army to replace them. For more information about Saleh v. Titan, please see: http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/saleh-v-titan Bill Quilgley and Laura Raymond work at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Contact Bill at quigley77 [at] gmail.com and Laura at lauraraymond21 [at] gmail.com --------15 of 17-------- Our Sacrifice for Iraq: The Memory Hole and Obama's Iraq Address By Paul Street Thursday, September 02, 2010 ZNet PREDICTABLE MIND TORTURE The rhetoric of the imperial governing class is so predictable once you know the doctrinal codes. Here's my forecast - issued on Facebook at around 6:00 pm central time - on Obama's "end of combat operations" speech from the oval office, delivered with folded presidential hands in a cardboard cutout delivery at 7 pm last night: "Get ready for some serious imperial bullshit from the Oval Office on your Telescreen in one hour. Make your content predictions now. Here's mine: there'll be lots of rhetoric about how the U.S. 'sacrificed' out of good and noble intentions; reference to war perhaps as a mistake but of course no mention of it as a monumentally mass murderous petro-imperial CRIME. A main thing missing - will be the degree of Iraqi death and crippling; the remarkable extent to which the U.S. murdered Iraq, the scale of the U.S.-imposed devastation. The millions of Iraqis killed and maimed. It'll be all about "our sacrifice" for them". "Obama's address will be an exercise in Orwellian mind torture and reality-inversion. 2+2=5. This one-sided imperial "war" was worse than the Mongols sacking Baghdad in the 13th century. It was sheer sociopathic butchery. Fallujah 2004, for example. Tommy Frank's computer program name for likely Iraqi civilian casualties on the eve of the invasion? It was called "BUGSPLAT". Yes, "bugsplat".. "These and other little inconvenient facts are of course doctrinally unmentionable. They didn't happen. All down the 1984 memory hole". OUR "SACRIFICE" FOR THEM So how did I do? I get marked down for incomplete and being too kind but I did pretty good on the whole. I was completely correct on the "our sacrifice for them" theme and on the total, intimately related deletion of the devastation the U.S. imposed. Here are some telling and predictable/ predicted passages from Obama's address last night (I am writing on the morning of Wednesday September 1, 2010): "A war to disarm a state became a fight against an insurgency. Terrorism and sectarian warfare threatened to tear Iraq apart. Thousands of Americans gave their lives; tens of thousands have been wounded. Our relations abroad were strained. Our unity at home was tested". "And like all Americans, I'm awed by [the troops'] sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families". "The Americans who have served in Iraq completed every mission they were given. They defeated a regime that had terrorized its people. Together with Iraqis and coalition partners who made huge sacrifices of their own, our troops fought block by block to help Iraq seize the chance for a better future. They shifted tactics to protect the Iraqi people, trained Iraqi Security Forces, and took out terrorist leaders. Because of our troops and civilians -- and because of the resilience of the Iraqi people -- Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny, even though many challenges remain". "Iraqis are a proud people. They have rejected sectarian war, and they have no interest in endless destruction. They understand that, in the end, only Iraqis can resolve their differences and police their streets. Only Iraqis can build a democracy within their borders. What America can do, and will do, is provide support for the Iraqi people as both a friend and a partner". "Ending this war is not only in Iraq's interest -- it's in our own. The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We've persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people -- a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility". "Most painfully, since the war began, 55 members of the Fourth Stryker Brigade made the ultimate sacrifice -- part of over 4,400 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq... .Those Americans gave their lives for the values that have lived in the hearts of our people for over two centuries. .Along with nearly 1.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq, they fought in a faraway place for people they never knew. They stared into the darkest of human creations -- war -- and helped the Iraqi people seek the light of peace". INVISIBLE HOLOCAUST How grotesque these words must sound to Iraqi survivors of the latest American imperial assault (following in the wake of a previous invasion and decade-plus U.S.-imposed "sanctions" regime that killed more than a million Iraqis) on their country. There was nothing of course in Obama's comments about: the 1.5 million or is it now 2 million or more Iraqis "we" (Washington) killed; the Iraqi technical and social infrastructure "we" leveled; the professional class exodus "we" caused, the water and air "we" poisoned, the cancer rates "we" pushed sky high (higher than what the Hiroshima bomb did) in Fallujah. The Iraqi people - reduced to the moral status of insects by the Pentagon in the spring of 2003 - have experienced what has amounted to a U.S.-imposed Holocaust. As "Iraq" was increasingly pushed to the margins of the U.S. presidential campaign (and of mainstream news) in January of 2008, the intrepid antiwar writer Tom Engelhardt observed the following: "Whether civilian dead between the invasion of 2003 and mid-2006 (before the worst year of civil-war level violence even hit) was in the range of 600,000 as a study in the British medical journal, The Lancet reported, or 150,000 as a recent World Health Organization study suggests, whether two million or 2.5 million Iraqis have fled the country, whether 1.1 million or more than two million have been displaced internally, whether electricity blackouts and water shortages have marginally increased or decreased, whether the country's health-care system is beyond resuscitation or could still be revived, whether Iraqi oil production has nearly crept back to the low point of the Saddam Hussein-era or not, whether fields of opium poppies are, for the first time, spreading across the country's agricultural lands or still relatively localized, Iraq is a continuing disaster zone on a catastrophic scale hard to match in recent memory". According to the respected journalist Nir Rosen in the December 2007 edition of the mainstream journal Current History, "Iraq has been killed, never to rise again. The American occupation has been more disastrous than that of the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in the thirteenth century. Only fools talk of solutions now. There is no solution. The only hope is that perhaps the damage can be contained". The damage included untold thousands tortured in U.S. military prisons and thousands more butchered in Fallujah, site for colossal U.S. war atrocity (the crimes included the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the targeting even of ambulances and hospitals, and the practical leveling of an entire city) by the ever-"sacrificing" U.S. military in April and November of 2004. The town was designated for destruction as an example of the awesome state terror promised to those who dared to resist U.S. power. Also part of the devastation was the sacking and devastation of much of Mesopotamia's precious cultural history (the looting of many original artifacts from what Obama acknowledged was "the cradle of civilization") - this permitted by Superpower's unmatched military while Washington's imperial gendarmes maintained full security and lockdown at Iraq's critical Oil Ministry. The monumental suffering imposed on the Iraqis by the warlords in Washington was of course unmentionable/invisible in Obama's address - and in the obedient dominant war media coverage of his address, which focused on among other things his wooden "body language". It was at best weakly half-suggested in Obama's horrifying insinuation that the U.S. had granted Iraq "new [democratic] beginning" through "the ashes of war" (didn't candidate/author Obama criticize [in his reactionary book The Audacity of Hope] what he claimed was Bush's desire to export democracy through the barrel of a gun?) It does not square with the doctrinal, so-called American exceptionalist truism that We Are Good, with the deeply embedded idea that - as Obama has himself said on repeated occasions (explaining why Washington must never apologize for its actions) - the U.S. never really commits crimes because it is "overwhelmingly a force for good in the world". The propaganda system has an interesting way of dealing with the U.S. infliction of mass agony in Iraq: deletion/erasure/airbrushing. The crime didn't happen. It goes down Orwell's "memory hole" even as it occurs/doesn't occur. Suffering and the sacrifice? As with the Vietnam "war" (really what Noam Chomsky in the late 1960s called "the [imperial U.S.] crucifixion of Southeast Asia") it's all about supposedly noble and benevolent Americans. So what if the U.S. killed 3 million Indochinese between 1962 and 1975 and millions of Iraqis between 1990 and the present? The real victims are the selfless American people, who died and suffered in much smaller numbers. They are supposedly part of a virtuous democratic "nation at war" even though the "wars" in question are bloody colonial operations fought in profoundly one-sided ways by the Empire in distant and impoverished nations and even as the military establishment has learned never to repeat the critical Vietnam mistake of trying to enlist the broad civilian populace in such ugly imperial operations. Where's the war? Not over here. NOBLE INTENTIONS Equally unmentionable by The Empire's New Clothes (Barack Obama) last night or by the dominant media today was/is the reason for the epic destruction imposed by Superpower on a weak and defenseless population in Iraq. As most Iraqis and indeed most world citizens anyone with a few functioning gray cells and elementary information knew very well, the U.S. "war" (invasion and occupation) initiated in March of 2003 had nothing to do with the official and quickly adjusted pretexts. Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL - the original acronym was too darkly accurate and the invasion had to be re-christened with "Freedom"/F at the end) was about clamping the imperial boot down on the hyper-strategic Middle Eastern oil spigot, consistent with the State Department's 1945 reference to that region's unmatched fossil fuel reserves as "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in history". (Control of the "prize," leading Cold War planner George Kennan observed, granted the U.S. "veto power" over leading industrial rivals.) If Iraq were not oil-rich, it would not have been invaded under the false post-9/11 (or any other) pretexts, which moved quickly and transparently from taking down Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) to the even more laughable claim of a desire to promote democracy once it became overly obvious that the Iraqi dictator (sustained in power by the U.S. sanctions regime) had (as numerous informed observers and inspectors had been saying) no such munitions. How sad and yet, yes predictable it was last night to hear Obama's talking head regurgitate the imperial nonsense about pretexts. He said without irony or criticism that Bush launched "a war to disarm a state" and then moved effortlessly into the idea that America has been trying to help Iraq "build a democracy" - the essence of "the new beginning" we supposedly granted it through "the ashes of war" in "its own borders". "We" are of course doing no such thing and never have been given the fundamental contradiction between the beliefs and aspirations of the Iraqi people and the reality of American occupation - an occupation that continues, by the way, with a continuing large scale U.S. military (including a large scale "private" military contractor presence) within Iraq and just "over the horizon" beneath all the blather about "the end of combat operations". TO MOVE BEYOND DIFFERENCE How sad and predictable is was also to hear the Great Imperial Re-Brander (Obama) seek to silence domestic dissent and division - to quell democratic ferment in the imperial homeland - with nationalistic rhetoric confusing popular rule with patriotic unity and with post 9/11 fear-mongering inherited from Cheney and Dubya: "This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It's well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one can doubt President Bush's support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I've said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hopes for Iraqis' future". "The greatness of our democracy is grounded in our ability to move beyond our differences, and to learn from our experience as we confront the many challenges ahead. And no challenge is more essential to our security than our fight against al Qaeda". Beware of "charismatic" (that term seems less and less applicable to the current, ever-more cardboard like president) imperial officials who connect democracy to the suppression of difference and who cite "love of country" and enemies (real and/or concocted) abroad as justification for the suppression of difference. "The fetters imposed on liberty at home," James Madison once noted, "have ever been forged out of the weapons for defense against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers abroad". Postscript. It is perhaps worth recalling here that Obama's habit of Orwellian whitewash when it comes to American imperial atrocity long predates his arrival to the White House. It was strongly evident in his speeches and writings from 2004 through his presidential campaign and inauguration. I gave very many examples of this in Chapter 4 ("How Antiwar? Barack Obama, Iraq, and the Audacity of Empire") of my book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (and Chapter 6 ("We Were Warned") of my new book The Empire's New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (http://www.paradigmpublishers.com/books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=243410). See also Paul Street, "The Audacity of Imperial Airbrushing: Barack Obama's Whitewashed History of U.S. Foreign Policy and Why it Matters," ZNet (July 5, 2008) at http://www.zcommunications.org/the-audacity-of-imperial-airbrushing-barack-obama-s-whitewashed-history-of-u-s-foreign-policy-and-why-it-matters-by-paul-street and Paul Street, .Keynote Reflections,.. ZNet (July 29, 2010) at http://www.zcommunications.org/keynote-reflections-by-paul-street. Paul Street (www.paulstreet.org)is the author of many books, including (just out) The Empire.s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (http://www.paradigmpublishers.com/books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=243410). Street will discuss his new book and the current political situation during a book salon at FiredogLake (FDL). Go to www.fdlbooksalon.com/ on Saturday September 4, 2010 5 to 7 pm eastern time (4 to 6 central); readers without an FDL log-in ID should go online at least 15 minutes before to obtain one. Paul can be reached at paulstreet99 [at] yahoo.com and through his new Web site (above). --------16 of 17-------- From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: Pledge 2012 No vote for Obama/09.02.10 [Here, after a 3 month rest, is your chance to pledge no vote for Obama in 2012. Each month, week, day, gives more reasons for the pledge. -ds] Pledge 2012 No vote for Obama Some of Barack Obama's bad actions: 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan record high military budget bombing by unmanned drones in Pakistan continued Iraq war rejection of landmine treaty continued torture and coverup of past torture support for Honduras coup support for Israeli occupation of Palestine suppression of Goldstone Gaza war report bank bailout no prosecution or even investigation of Bush & Co reaffirmation of Patriot Act for insurance companies & vs single payer support for expanded nuclear power For these, and many other bad actions, We the undersigned publicly pledge not to vote for Barack Obama for US president in 2012. Robert Halfhill Amber Garlan Tom Cleland David Weisberg Dave Bicking Andy Hamerlinck Doug Mann Ted Dooley Melissa Hill Dori Ullman Ryan Carey Jan McGee Bill Oldfather Carol Mellom Michelle Gross Mike Whelan Robert Palmer Tom Dooley Tim Nolan Johnny Hazard Suzanne Linton Michael Cavlan Steven Boyer John Simcox Louise Bouta Vanessa Vogl Lisa Grant M J Schoen Clinton Dietrich Lydia Howell Farheen Hakeem Jan Nye Margaret Beegle Dave Berger Brandy Baker (MD) Myles Hoenig (MD) Danene Provencher Donald L Maxwell Neil Lageson Molly Reiter Mustafa Adam Bob Schmitz Mary Metchnek Dan Dittman James Benthall [Rochester MN] Maria Balla Alan Maki Judy Bjorke Kenny Kalligher Diane Williams Paul Busch David Shove [room for YOUR name] ==end of pledge To sign this pledge, send to shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu an email from your standard personal email address, with your name, and the words: No Obama 2012 vote. The above will be published regularly on the Progressive Calendar, Green Party lists, etc. Continuing chances for additional people to sign. If you need to research any topic raised here, go to eg: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones MD = Maryland --------17 of 17-------- US presidents run the Death Empire from the Evil Office. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - 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 for governor now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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