Sunday, December 30, 2007

Citizens to pay visit to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton

Street Address of headquarters: 4420 Fairfax Drive N., Arlington, VA

WASHINGTON -- On January 2, 2008, one day before the Iowa caucus, citizens will go to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign headquarters, at 4 p.m., to follow up on a letter requesting the Senator's pledge to affirm the points put forth by Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

A small delegation of peace activists, representing the Washington Peace Center, Code Pink, Grassroots America and Northern Virginians for Peace and Justice will attempt to persuade Ms. Clinton to take measurable steps to end the Iraq War, which is entering its fifth year. Previously, Ms. Clinton has made remarks indicating her position to keep troops in Iraq through 2013, in spite of the fact that more than 70% of Americans favor a more immediate withdrawal of troops.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence www.vcnv.org, the initiator of the SODaPOP "Seasons of Discontent; a Presidential Occupation Project" has made visits to the offices of Ms. Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani in Iowa where important dialogue took place, but which ultimately ended with nonviolent resisters being arrested and being held overnight, after they refused to leave those offices. The January 2 peaceful protest will coincide with a second one in Des Moines at the same time.

Though Ms. Clinton will most probably be in Iowa that day, local activists hope to dialogue with staffers who in turn, will hopefully convey the message to Ms. Clinton. It is hopeful that this dialogue along with a presence outside the headquarters, that will highlight the ravages of war and the infamous quotes regarding the 2013 date, will pressure Ms. Clinton on a day most important for her to win the favor of the caucus attendees.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

My friend Eve arrested again for speaking truth to power!

Washington -- During the Atlantic Life Community's faith and resistance winter retreat, a 76 year-old D.C. peace and justice activist was arrested Saturday for the 11th time this year during a protest against the U.S. government's warmongering policies and commemorating the 117th year since the Wounded Knee massacre.

Tetaz, and Patrick O'Brien, a member of a Catholic Worker community in North Carolina, were arrested shortly after 12 p.m. in the picture post card zone directly in front of the White House. They refused to leave the space, declared by the Secret Service and the Park Police as an area with unconstitutional limits on the exercise of free speech. Tourists appeared puzzled as the two peaceful and solemn protesters were placed in plastic handcuffs and lead to waiting Park Police cars.

"The killing and bloodshed must end," Tetaz said. "Every life is sacred." A retired D.C. public schoolteacher, Tetaz has been a regular feature of nonviolent civil resistance actions this year. She is also the founder of Life Pathways, a non-profit dedicated to helping single mothers start a career in the health care field, and establish independence.

During the last several arrests and court-related appearances, Adams Morgan resident Tetaz has refused to pay all fines. It is also routine for Catholic Workers to refuse all fines, and defend themselves in court.

The Wounded Knee Massacre on December 29, 1890 resulted in the U.S. Army slaughtering approximately 150 Lakota Sioux men, women and children. More than another 100 Sioux fleeing the battle and the army's pursuit are believed to have died due to hypothermia.

The Atlantic Life Community consists of about 10 Catholic Worker communities located between the Carolinas and New England. Each community is dedicated to nonviolently protesting war and injustice, and feeding and assisting the poor in their areas. In D.C., the Dorothy Day House, named after the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, is located on Rock Creek Church Road, NW. It has served as host during this winter's retreat.

Monday, December 24, 2007

New Orleans City Council Bars Public From Housing Vote

This is truly disturbing, but it's apparent racism is alive and well in the good old USA. This is nothing less than ethnic cleansing in New Orleans!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

We plan on visiting Hillary's National HQ

Sen. Hillary Clinton
4420 North Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22203

Re: Seasons of Discontent; a Presidential Occupation Project

Dear Senator Clinton:

I am writing to announce a new initiative of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and several peace and justice groups in the earliest races of the presidential campaign, SODaPOP, or "Seasons of Discontent; a Presidential Occupation Project." We at the Washington Peace Center are joining VCNV in this campaign, and are inviting activists to come to Iowa and New Hampshire from around the nation "to bring nonviolent civil resistance and civil disobedience to the campaign offices and headquarters of Presidential candidates, both Republican and Democrat, who do not publicly declare that they will take the necessary concrete steps to end the Iraq war, to rebuild Iraq, to forswear military attacks on other countries such as Iran, and to fully fund the Common Good in the U.S."

Please sign the enclosed promise and return it to our office by FAX (VCNV) or mail (WPC) as soon as possible. In the event that the pledge is not signed and returned, participants may deliver another copy your offices in both Iowa and Arlington and wait for your positive response. We assure you that any "occupations" will be nonviolent and respectful of your staff. Despite our disappointment in your repeated threats to continue and possibly to extend the current illegal war, we have hopes that an occupation of your office will not be necessary. We hope that this letter or if need be, our actions will help you to take the action you will need to take if you will be part of the solution for our country's crisis.

This matter is extremely urgent and we hope to hear a positive response from you immediately. Please feel free to call the Washington Peace Center at 202-234-2000 with questions or concerns.

Enclosed is a copy of the promise proposal, originally posted at CounterPunch.org on August 30. We eagerly wait your signature on this document.

Respectfully,

Pete Perry,
On behalf of the Washington Peace Center

As candidate for the office of the President of the United States of America, I, Senator Hillary Clinton promise to:
∑ Complete withdrawal of the U.S. military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan within 100 days of assuming the office of President of the United States.
∑ Complete halt to any and all military actions -- including ground, air and naval against Iraq and Iran.
∑ Press Congress for full funding for the reconstruction of Iraq to repair the damage caused over these past 17 years of economic and military warfare that the U.S. and its allies waged against Iraq.
∑ Press Congress for full funding of the Common Good in the U.S. to rebuild our education and health care systems; to create jobs training programs for jobs that pay a living wage; to provide universal health care for all; to rebuild our country's inner cities, especially New Orleans and the Gulf Coast; and to initiate a campaign on the scale of a new Tennessee Valley Authority and Rural Electrification Project of the Great Depression era to create affordable, safe and sustainable alternative forms of energy and energy consumption; and for other vital social programs.
∑ Press Congress for full funding for the highest quality health care, education and jobs training benefits for veterans of our country's Armed Services.
∑ Furthermore, as a member of the United States Senate I will vote against any additional funding for the Iraq war other than those funds that are essential to fund the complete and immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
∑ Publicly commit to oppose the use of U.S. military forces against Iran, Pakistan or any other opening front in the so-called "war on terror."

_______________________________________ _________ 2007
Signature date
Please FAX signed copy to Voices for Creative Nonviolence, 773-878-4163

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

US judge orders CIA tapes hearing


A US judge has overruled Bush administration objections and ordered a hearing into
The tapes are believed to have shown interrogation methods that included simulated drowning known as waterboarding, which has been condemned as torture.

The CIA said it destroyed the tapes lawfully and did so out of concern for the safety of agents involved if the recordings were ever made public.

The White House has repeatedly denied that the US uses torture.

The justice department declined to comment on the judge's hearing order but the department last week urged Kennedy not to investigate the videotapes.

It also said that in light of other government probes into the tapes, a judicial inquiry into the destruction was inappropriate.

The government has also sought delays in congressional attempts to investigate the tapes' destruction, saying they would hamper a joint investigation by the justice department itself and the CIA.

"Plainly the government wants only foxes guarding this henhouse," Remes wrote in a court filing.whether the CIA violated a court order when it destroyed videotapes of interrogations.

US District Court Judge Henry Kennedy scheduled a court hearing on the tapes for Friday.

The federal judge had in June 2005 ordered the administration to safeguard "all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States naval base at Guantanamo Bay".

The justice department argued that the videos were not covered by the order because the two men were being held in secret CIA prisons overseas, not at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Lawyers for a group of Guantanamo Bay inmates contesting their detention had requested the hearing to learn whether the government had complied with the preservation order.

They cited reports that information obtained from the interrogations implicated five unnamed Guantanamo detainees.

The CIA, pre-empting a news report, admitted on December 6 that it had destroyed hundreds of hours of interrogation tapes, prompting an outcry from congressional Democrats and human rights activists.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Climate Change News: Bali Forum Backs Climate 'Road Map'

U.S. Accedes on Aid Pledges, Wins Fight to Drop Specific Targets for Emissions Cuts

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 16, 2007; A01

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, Dec. 15 -- Delegates from nearly 190 countries emerged from a final 24 hours of bruising negotiations Saturday with an agreement on a new framework for tackling global warming, one that for the first time calls on both the industrialized world and rapidly developing nations to commit to measurable, verifiable steps.

The deal, which will form the basis for a two-year, U.N.-sponsored process aimed at forging a binding international climate pact by the end of 2009, could transform the way rich and poor nations work together to preserve a rapidly warming Earth, observers said. But it also postpones many tough decisions and provides more incentives than penalties when it comes to addressing global warming.

The consensus document was accepted by acclamation following an acrimonious confrontation between the U.S. delegates and leaders of developing nations, who bluntly accused Washington of pressing them for commitments while refusing to make its own. Finally, after a succession of delegates lambasted the American position, the U.S. delegation acceded to language pledging industrialized countries to provide quantifiable technological and financial aid to less well-off nations, including the economically burgeoning China, India and Brazil.

In a session marked by high drama and temporary setbacks, the developing nations also agreed to take specific steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions with the assistance of wealthier nations.

"Bali has delivered what it needed to do," U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer said in a final news conference Saturday night. "That road forward is ambitious, it is transparent, and it is flexible."

Bush administration officials, who fought to keep mentions of specific emissions targets out of the document, said they were pleased with the progress that had been made. The agreement will guide negotiators in their quest to produce an accord outlining how deeply the industrialized countries should cut their emissions between 2012 and 2016, after commitments made under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expire. The United States never accepted that pact.

"We, in coming here to Bali, have not foreclosed options," said Paula J. Dobriansky, U.S. undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs. "We have our work cut out for us. There's a real need to look at the developed countries and the developing countries, especially the major emerging economies, and pull together on behalf of the planet."

The consensus among the delegates here, however, came about only after two weeks of tense and emotional discussions that included last-minute exhortations by former vice president Al Gore and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as well as a final confrontation in which the developing nations took turns chastising the United States for not, in their view, doing its part.

Despite the difficult bargaining that lies ahead to produce an actual treaty, several participants said the conference's success in reaching a compromise showed that politicians across the ideological and geographical spectrum no longer feel they can afford to ignore public concern over global warming.

"As we saw in the room today, the political price for blocking things has come up in recent months," said Connie Hedegaard, the Danish climate and energy minister, whose government will host the 2009 treaty talks.

Among other things, Hedegaard was referring to the moment when the Bali session nearly collapsed after Dobriansky told delegates that the United States was "not willing to accept" language calling on industrialized nations to deliver "measurable, reportable and verifiable" assistance. Her comments sparked a stunning round of boos and hisses from the audience and sharp rebukes from representatives of developing countries.

Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa's minister of environmental affairs and tourism, called Dobriansky's comments "unwelcome" and questioned why Washington was not doing more after leaders from emerging economies had dropped their resistance to taking measurable and verifiable steps to reduce their emissions.

"It has never happened before," van Schalkwyk said of his and other developing countries' willingness to be monitored. "A year ago it would have been unthinkable."

In rapid succession, an array of developing nations reprimanded the Americans.

"If you cannot lead, leave it to the rest of us. Get out of the way," declared Kevin Conrad, Papua New Guinea's ambassador for climate change.

In many ways, the Bali "road map" agreement marks a turning point in how the North and South will seek to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions, participants and observers said. Rapidly industrializing nations such as China and Brazil pledged to account for their global warming contributions as long as developed nations provide them with clean energy technology and help bolster their ability to respond to climate change.

By contrast, the Kyoto Protocol exempted emerging economies from any climate obligations, even though they are poised to overtake industrialized nations in greenhouse gas emissions within a matter of years.

"What we've seen disappear today is what I would call 'the Berlin Wall of climate change,' " the United Nations' de Boer said. "This document opens up the possibility of countries who are seeing their economies grow rapidly move into a new spectrum level of commitment, supported by developed countries."

The agreement also establishes a mechanism for giving tropical nations financial compensation for preserving their rain forests and calls for expanding financial aid for countries struggling to adapt to climate change.

"We want to do our part," said Conrad, of Papua New Guinea, which has led the fight for a program to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. "It's just a matter of how do we do our part, in an equitable way."

While the Bush administration made some concessions, it also scored a key victory by eliminating explicit language calling on industrialized countries to cut their emissions 25 to 40 percent, compared to 1990 levels, by 2020, a high priority for the European Union. Eventually the Europeans relented, settling for a footnote in the document's preamble that refers to a section in the 2007 scientific report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That section suggests that cuts that deep will be required to keep Earth's average temperature from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels.

Hans Verolme, who directs the World Wildlife Fund's climate change program, said the compromise produced a consensus, but "in the process, we lost substance" in specifying how much developed nations must cut emissions.

James L. Connaughton, who participated as chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said reducing developed countries' emissions by even 25 percent over the next 13 years was not achievable. "We want to be ambitious, but cuts that deep, that fast, are beyond reach."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Libraries and Information Sciences -- Yes, that's what I am studying

Upon completing the course Information and Libraries in Society, I believe I have a richer understanding and appreciation for the information professional’s role within American society. In an increasingly interconnected world where rapid access to information is more easily attainable than at any other point in human history, the need to organize such an enormous amount of data is critically important. Civilizations will continue to need those trained in organizing data and helping researchers obtain information through the most effective means.

This class helped me realize that in addition to learning about metadata tags and the finer points of Online Public Access Catalogs (OPACs), and which references are the best when studying a great author or learning more about a particular nation, that it is important that an information professional understand his or her role within modern society. The librarian, or information professional, of today will need to be competent in the services he or she provides, ethical in the way he or she behaves as a professional, and be willing to adapt with changing technologies and evolving expectations within a given society.

Professional standards for librarianship and the overall information profession has been a source of debate for a little more than a century. There were simply no standards for the librarian in the 19th century, however, in 1902 the American Library Association (ALA) directed its Committee on Library Training to issue a report on existing library training programs (Rubin, 247). This report generated a set of library school standards the following year. Since that time, ALA has been responsible for the accreditation process of library and information science schools. However, some might argue that there need to be concrete competency standards for those currently engaged in the information profession, whether in libraries or elsewhere.

In 2002, the ALA Committee on Accreditation issued a report from its Standards Review Subcommittee, which highlighted a need to update the standards from a decade previously in the following areas (American Library Association 2002):

∑ Distance education
∑ Impact of technology in general on information science education
∑ Impact of technology, distance education, and enrollment growth on expectations of productivity from faculty
∑ Are there expectations on faculty to secure outside funding?
∑ Comments on diversity need to be better integrated

It appears that ALA is still struggling with many of these questions about its own standards, and there are many questions we need to ask ourselves. One key question is “Am I well-versed in some of the latest information technology?” Information professionals are on the front lines of the evolving wired world, and it’s best for our own future if we try and become early adopters of these technological tools.
I enjoyed the class discussions on ethical standards within the information profession, and I think these will serve to continue internal discussions.

Librarianship and the entire information science arena needs to have a set of ethical standards in order to provide a high-quality of professional service to patrons. The ALA has an eight-point code of ethics, the Society of American Archivists has a 13-point code of ethics, and a few other professional associations have their own ethical standards.

Somewhere along Daft’s continuum, with codified law on one end and free choice on the other, ethics will help guide us through difficult choices. A couple questions to always keep in mind are (Rubin, 331):

∑ What extent is the organization or individual professional socially responsible or irresponsible when acting in a particular manner?
∑ What extent are the actions of the organization or individuals acting in its behalf harming or benefiting other individuals, organizations, or the profession?

Somewhat related to the above discussion is the issue of censorship, and the need to weigh a community’s values vs. the right of the individual to have open access to information. Personally, I believe the information professional should be an activist for open access and equal service to all patrons. I tend to take Ranganathan’s five laws of librarianship to heart: books are for use, books are for all, every book its reader, save time for the reader, and the library is a growing organism.

Perhaps the most intriguing and challenging of Ranganathan’s five laws is the last, as libraries and other places of information services are constantly evolving (growing). The librarian, or information professional, must stay abreast of these changes and I personally think he or she should try their best to be early adopters of information technology.

In the 1980s libraries shifted dramatically from card catalogs to OPACs, and today we are witnessing the beginnings of Web 2.0. There are new challenges and opportunities for librarians and others in the information sciences field to go to the patron via the Internet, rather than always having the user come to them. Although some have criticized the name Web 2.0, as it was not an entirely new version of the World Wide Web, but rather there were “new things coming, and the ‘2.0’ referred to whatever those might turn out to be. (Paul Graham, 2005)”

What we are witnessing now in regards to libraries and librarians, and other information professionals, is an attempt to reach out through more collaborative and user created Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook and Del.icio.us. There will no doubt be further information technology advancements, and it’s important for information specialists, librarians included, to quickly adopt these, perhaps even quicker than the society at large.

Bibliography

American Library Association. 2007. COA Standards Review Subcommittee.
http://www.ala.org/ala/accreditation/accredstandards/index.cfm
(accessed December 4, 2007).

Graham, Paul. Web 2.0. http://www.paulgraham.com/web20.html
(accessed December 4, 2007).

Rubin, Richard. 2004. Foundations of Library and Information Science. New York:
Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why the CIA tapes were destroyed...


Americans often need their memories refreshed. This is an old report, but apparently this came out within a month of when the now infamous CIA interrogation tapes were destroyed... Retired agent John Kiriakou is now making major headlines, finally admitting that yes the CIA used water-boarding, and yes it is in fact a form of torture. Anyhow, it's helpful to see what was going on regarding the agency and torture at the time.

ASIL Insight
Alleged CIA Kidnapping of Muslim Cleric in Italy
By Frederic L. Kirgis
July 7, 2005

Introduction

In late June 2005, it was reported that an Italian judge had issued arrest warrants for 13 U.S. CIA agents accused of kidnapping imam Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in Italy in 2003, and sending him to Egypt for questioning regarding possible terrorist activities. Nasr apparently is an Egyptian national, although he was living in Italy when he was abducted. Allegedly, when he arrived in Egypt he was imprisoned and tortured during interrogations. The Italian government has denied that it condoned his abduction, but former CIA agents have said that an Italian intelligence official gave his implicit approval.[1]

The case raises several questions under international law. Did the United States violate Italy’s sovereignty if CIA agents abducted Nasr in Italy, as alleged? Did the United States violate its international legal obligations if it delivered Nasr to the control of a government that would be likely to torture him or to acquiesce in acts of torture against him? Could Italy obtain extradition of the CIA agents (who apparently are no longer in Italy)? If Italy does get custody of them, would they be immune under international law from prosecution in Italian courts?

Italy’s Sovereignty

In 1927 the World Court set forth a basic rule: “the first and foremost restriction imposed by international law upon a State is that – failing the existence of a permissive rule to the contrary – it may not exercise its power in any form in the territory of another State.”[2] Agents of one State who abduct someone in another State would be exercising State power. There is no general rule of international law permitting that kind of State power in the territory of another State. Nevertheless, the latter State – Italy in this case – could waive its right to object, by consenting to the exercise of power. If Italian officials did consent, even tacitly, that should do away with the violation-of-sovereignty issue.

The Torture Issue

Torture is universally regarded as a violation of international law. No government openly asserts that torture is lawful. It is condemned under several treaties, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, a multilateral treaty to which 139 States (including Egypt, Italy and the United States) are parties. Article 3 of the Convention against Torture says, “No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” It goes on to say that the existence of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights should be taken into account in ascertaining whether that standard is met. The United States understands “substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture” to mean “if it is more likely than not that he would be tortured.”[3]

It could be argued that even if U.S. agents kidnapped Nasr and had him delivered to Egypt for questioning, the United States did not “expel, return or extradite him” within the meaning of the Convention. Clearly, the United States did not extradite him, and it probably could not be said to have “expelled” him within the meaning of the Convention. The question then would be whether it “returned” him to Egypt. Arguably not, since he apparently was living in Italy and had not come there from Egypt. But the contrary argument could also be made, since he apparently is an Egyptian national who lived in Egypt at some time in the past.

It could also be argued that there were not substantial grounds for believing that Nasr would be in danger of being subjected to torture, even if Egypt had tortured some prisoners in the past. But here again, a counter-argument could be made -- particularly if the United States had substantial grounds for believing that Egypt in the past had consistently tortured prisoners, or had in particular tortured prisoners like Nasr (for example, those suspected of terrorist activities).[4] If there were substantial grounds, it would not matter for purposes of Article 3 of the Convention whether he was actually tortured once he got there. If there were not substantial grounds in advance to believe he would be in danger of torture, Article 3 would not be violated even if he was actually tortured after he arrived. Article 3, in other words, looks to what could be expected rather than to what actually happened after the individual has been turned over.

Extradition

News reports have not indicated where any of the 13 CIA agents are now. Since they apparently are not in Italy, the Italian prosecutors are hoping to have them extradited back to Italy for trial if they can be located.[5] Extradition is normally accomplished under an extradition treaty between the requesting and the requested State. Extradition requests are made through diplomatic channels, not directly by prosecutors or by the judge who issued the arrest warrants. If the Italian government acquiesced in the kidnapping, it is unlikely that it would request extradition of those who carried it out. That would end the matter, at least if none of the 13 return to Italy on their own.

If an extradition request were made to the United States government, and if any or all of the 13 agents are in the United States, the controlling international legal instrument would be the 1984 Extradition Treaty between the United States and Italy.[6] It says that an extraditable offense is one that is punishable under the laws of both States by a prison sentence of one year or more. Assuming that the conduct of the 13 agents would be treated as kidnapping under Italian law, the next question would be whether it would fall within a relevant kidnapping statute in the United States. Looking just at the federal kidnapping statute (which does provide for sentences of at least one year), it applies to “[w]hoever unlawfully . . . kidnaps . . . or carries away and holds for ransom or reward or otherwise any person . . . when the person is willfully transported in interstate or foreign commerce . . . .” Because of the words “or otherwise,” the statute has been held not to require that the abductors’ purpose be pecuniary gain. But the U.S. Supreme Court has said that Congress’ evident purpose in adding the words “or otherwise” was to reach abductors who seek some benefit for themselves, even if it is non-pecuniary.[7] That probably would not be the case with respect to the CIA agents, who presumably would not have been seeking direct benefits for themselves if they were carrying out instructions from their superiors in the U.S. government.

The United States-Italy Extradition Treaty does not permit either State party to decline extradition simply because the person sought to be extradited is its own national. But the Treaty does say that extradition shall not be granted when the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense. Many other extradition treaties say the same thing. There is doubt about just how far the “political offense” exception extends. It has been said that “[t]he purpose of the political offense exception is to shield persons whose prosecution or punishment by the requesting state is politically motivated or for an offense whose genesis is the criminalization of conduct which constitutes an expression of political or religious belief.”[8] It has also been noted that in practice, the political offense exception is rarely used successfully.[9] The exception certainly could be asserted in the case of the CIA agents, but whether it would be successful (assuming that the kidnapping is otherwise covered by the Treaty) is hard to predict.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Declaration of Peace's 9-Point Peace Plan

1. An End to All Funding for U.S. Military Operations in Iraq

2. Safe and Rapid Withdrawal of All U.S. Troops and Coalition Forces
from Iraq, With No Future Deployments

3. No Permanent U.S. Military Bases or Installations in Iraq

4. Support for an Iraqi-led Peace Process, Including a Peace Conference
to Shape a Post-occupation Transition

5. Return Control of Iraqi Oil to the People of Iraq, as Well as Complete
Sovereignty in their Economic and Political Affairs

6. Support for Reparations and Reconstruction to Address the
Destruction Caused by the U.S. Invasion, Military Occupation,
and Thirteen Years of Economic Sanctions

7. Establish a U.S. “Peace Dividend” for Job Creation, Health Care,
Education, Housing, and Other Vital Social Needs at Home

8. Increased Support for U.S. Veterans of the Iraq war

9. No War Against Iran or Any Other Nation

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Former State Dept. Official Jailed for Nonviolent Resistance


ANN WRIGHT SENTENCED TO 3 DAYS INCARCERATION IN PROTEST OF AMB RYAN CROCKER TESTIMONY IN SEPT 2007

Dec. 5, 2007

Former US State Department official and retired Army Colonel Ann Wright was sentenced today to three days in jail, for her role in a protest of testimony by US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, at hearings on Sept. 11, 2007. Col. Wright was tried by a jury in DC Superior Court on the charge of “Unlawful Conduct in Congress” (disorderly and disruptive conduct) in connection with hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee. At that hearing, Col. Wright spoke out at the conclusion of Amb. Crocker’s testimony, saying “I am a diplomat, a diplomat for peace. No peace through occupation!” Following her brief statement (which did not interrupt any speaker) she was placed under arrest and charged with unlawful conduct on US Capitol Grounds.

At a jury trial today, Col. Wright was found guilty, following a spirited defense focusing on her personal acquaintanceship with Amb. Crocker and her need to speak to him about his views on Iraq. (Col. Wright was one of the Foreign Service officers who helped Amb. Crocker reopen the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in Dec. 2001.)

After her conviction by the jury, DC Superior Court Associate Judge Zinora Mitchell-Rankin sentenced Col. Wright to a period of 6 months supervised probation, 6 months suspended sentence with 3 days served, community service and a small fine. She was remanded by US Marshals immediately to begin serving her 3-day sentence in the DC Correction Center.

Col. Wright will resume her speaking tour next week, speaking on her forthcoming book and the situation in Iraq and Iran.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Republican candidates failed a quiz on the U.S. Constitution

Tonight, the Constitution Died
Wed Nov 28, 2007

There was a moment in tonight's YouTube Republican debate that terrified me.

No, it wasn't Romney's chilling equivocation on waterboarding: that was expected, and at least for this electoral cycle, thank God, the party still has John McCain's awesome moral clarity on that issue. Nor was it Tom Tancredo's conflation of the U.S. armed forces with medieval Christian crusaders; after all, the guy doesn't have a chance, any more than does Ron Paul, whose views on the Trilateral Commission reveal him to be only one missed day of meds shy of the reeking lunatics with hand-lettered signs who prowl Lafayette Square.

No, what had me shaking with anger and fear tonight was the moment when the Constitution slipped into the abyss for good, and nobody--but nobody--in that auditorium appeared to notice that it has. Did you?

I'm talking about the moment when an ordinary American--an all too typical American--
--held up a Bible and said (I write from memory, but this was his meaning): "I'm going to ask you a question whose answer will tell us all we need to know about every one of you: do you believe that every single word of this book is true?"

And Giuliani answered like a sensible Catholic. And Romney answered like a Mormon scared to admit to the Book of Mormon. And Huckabee answered like a good Baptist minister, a good pastoral answer balancing faith and reasoned understanding. . . .

And I looked up and realized that the Constitution had vanished. Because no one--not one candidate, not Anderson Cooper the moderator, not a single person in that packed and often raucous audience--spoke the only possible Constitutionally permissible answer:

Article.VI. . . . no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

No religious test. None. Yet what we saw tonight was a religious test. A crystal-clear, absolutely open and direct violation of Article VI of the Constitution.

And no one in that roomful of politicians and political experts and politically committed Americans had the courage to say so, or perhaps even the knowledge to recognize it for what it was.

In that silence, we had to know: the Constitution has died, and we are so encircled by those who killed it that we cannot even see that it is gone.

UPDATE: In fairness, I should clarify that what shocked me was not that the question was asked (which was itself an exercise of individual right)--it was how it was (not) answered. A citizen said: your religious opinion tells us all we need to know to decide whether you should be president. And no one onstage or off objected to that at all.