Sunday, November 30, 2008

Letter to the local peace and justice movement

Our fellow DC area activist-organizers,

There has been much change during the last couple years within the local peace and justice movement. The changes we have witnessed have included dissolution of the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) as a group but not the commitment of several of its participants, there has been an increase in levels of nonviolent resistance actions, the revitalizing of the Washington Peace Center as a dynamic force in the wider DC metro community, and most recently the founding of a capacity-building coalition for future mobilizations, known as Activist Coalition of DC (ACDC). However, there is an important and vital need to share resources, creativity, and skills to unite collective energies and move beyond being only somewhat effective to being successful in our peace and social justice struggles. This needs to be our highest priority.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that the U.S. Government was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, and that a nation that continually spends more on military expenditures rather than human needs is approaching spiritual death. We are at that twilight moment now as our government spends trillions of dollars on war while witnessing a collapsing economy. We strongly urge our fellow activists and other concerned citizens to turn out for a peace witness at war profiteer Lockheed Martin in Bethesda on Dr. King's Birthday, January 19th. This national death Dr. King spoke of is very near, and while millions celebrate Barack Obama's victory, we are troubled by his choice of known warmongers as top-tier advisors and cabinet officials who are closely tied to those responsible for our dying economy and those who have profited from the illegitimate, illegal and immoral wars and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

We also call out and encourage everyone, followers and believers in King's dream and life of peace, to turn out early on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20th at McPherson Square for yet another witness for justice and peace. We will be handing out signs with President Obama's own most progressive quotes. President Obama must be held accountable to his own words and expressed promises. We must hold him responsible for the hope of real change he has instilled in millions. We cannot miss this opportunity. We must turn to hope and renewed life, and away from violence and death. This will be an important day for those of us working for peace and social justice to reach out to fellow citizens, encouraging them to join us in letting the new government know that we will not be silent.

We realize that different individual progressive activist-organizers have different foci, and the Washington Peace Center is interested in providing a home to all, possibly through official working groups and fiscal sponsorship. But there also comes a time when we must all come together, united in a common purpose. That common purpose is the end of war and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the restoration of civil liberties and social justice at home.

We must be the change we wish to see. President Obama even said this election belonged to we the people, not him. With this victory comes responsibility. We cannot rely on politicians alone to bring the changes we wish to see in the world. This is why we are calling for a DC peace and justice unity meeting on January 29th, after the inauguration to set our priorities for the next year, and to help prepare plans for the major national mobilization being called for March 19th, the dreadful commemoration of shock and awe. Can you believe this will be six years of an aggressive and evil war on a nation, which never attacked us, and by our government's own information, never posed a credible threat to us? Let us get to work to accomplish small things separately, but together, united in a common purpose we can accomplish a great deal more. We believe we have the power to begin to galvanize the masses to bring about a more just and peaceful world in our time. Let us begin uniting and exercising that power now.

In peace and resistance,
Pete Perry & Malachy Kilbride
Board members of the Washington Peace Center

DC Unity Meeting
Jan. 29
7PM
Reeves Center (14th and U Streets NW)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I was one of the 53 spied on by the Maryland State Police


The Maryland State Police spied on me, and placed me in a database. Despite being fully committed to nonviolence, I was categorized as a terrorist. This has been a pretty hot item with the press in Maryland. Apparently my Work with DAWN (DC Anti-War Network) and the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance attracted their attention. Below is one of the latest stories. Funny thing, I received a copy of my file and they didn't even have a physical description of me. Also, no photo, and about 80% of it was redacted. So I will most likely be part of the ACLU lawsuit against MSP.

Senators press for spying answers
Annapolis
By LIAM FARRELL, Staff Writer

U.S. Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski are pressing federal agencies for answers on whether they have any knowledge or information about the Maryland State Police's spying on anti-death penalty, anti-war, and environmental activists.

Mr. Cardin and Ms. Mikulski, both Maryland Democrats, were joined by Democratic U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin in a letter sent yesterday to federal law enforcement and intelligence officials. The senators urged the government to delete any information it has about the 53 protesters mistakenly classified by the state police as suspected terrorists.

The senators also are asking the agencies to identify how much of the information reached federal databases; the extent the information has been used, shared, or resulted in someone being placed on a federal terrorism-related watchlist; any plans to eliminate the data; and whether any federal officials told the state police the information was being improperly collected.

The state police did not use any federal funds for the surveillance and none of the activists were placed on any federal terrorism watchlists, said Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the state police.

"We did not take any overt, adverse law enforcement actions against any individual," he said.

The letter was sent to Michael Mukasey, the U.S. attorney general; Michael Chertoff, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Robert Mueller, the director of the FBI; Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency; and Michael E. Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

"Anti-war protesters, environmental protesters, and anyone exercising their First Amendment right to nonviolent protests should not be unlawfully spied upon nor should they be grouped together with criminals and terrorists," Mr. Cardin said in a prepared statement. "The actions uncovered over the last month are unacceptable and need to be addressed before they happen again."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland released documents this summer that uncovered a covert surveillance operation of regional protest groups conducted by the state police during 2005 and 2006.

A report on the spying ordered by Gov. Martin O'Malley, who was not governor when the investigations were occurring, and compiled by former Maryland Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs, criticized the state police for "overreaching" by continuing to monitor groups when there was no evidence of criminal conduct.

A total of 53 people were mistakenly classified as terrorists in police databases, and some of the information was placed in the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, a federally funded database used to communicate between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Mr. Sachs' report states the police may have violated federal regulations by sharing data about individuals when there was no reasonable suspicion they were involved in criminal activity.

Although the covert operation originally appeared limited to anti-death penalty and anti-war groups, three staffers for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network revealed in October they were also on the list.

David Rocah, an attorney for the ACLU, said the state police have not been "terribly forthcoming" on how far the bad information was spread, and there are reasons to be skeptical about any positive assurances.

"We are thrilled that (the senators) are asking these important questions," Mr. Rocah said. "These are questions we have been asking since day one."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Demanding Indictment of Bush and Cheney: Nov. 10th


Dear friends,

By the time you read this letter we will likely know who our next president will be. But whether Obama or McCain wins the election, we need to continue our work calling for peace and justice. We must continue to demand that the new president ends the occupation of Iraq and does not escalate military action in Afghanistan. We also must call for justice and demand that Bush and others in his administration are held accountable for the murders of millions of innocent people from Iraq, from Afghanistan, and almost 4200 US soldiers.

Our work is far from over. I will be flying to Washington, DC to join other activists from around the country in an action on November 10 at the Department of Justice. This action is being organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) www.irqpledge.org following the principles of nonviolence that we have learned from Gandhi, King, Day and others.

In September organizers from NCNR sent a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey (See letter below). In the letter we called for the indictment of Bush and Cheney for war crimes. We asked for a meeting with AG Mukasey to discuss this matter. We have not heard back from AG Mukasey, so on November 10 at 12 noon we will go to the Department of Justice in Washington, DC and demand a meeting, demand that Bush, Cheney and others are held accountable. If we are not granted a meeting, some of us will be led by our conscience to take action in the spirit of nonviolence where we may be risking arrest. We take this action knowing that we are doing what we are called to do, knowing that we are doing the only thing we can do as our leaders have continued to disobey the laws of the United States and to trample on and shred the U.S. Constitution for the last 8 years.

If possible, please join us in DC on November 10 for this action. If you are not able to make it to DC, we ask citizens all around the country to join us in solidarity through local actions on November 10.

First, call the attorney general’s office on November 10 to encourage him to meet with the citizenry outside who want to discuss the indictment of Bush and Cheney: Department of Justice Main Switchboard – 202-514-2000 and Office of the Attorney General – 202-353-1555.

Second, if possible, hold a solidarity demonstration at your local federal building on November 10. During the demonstration, you would have a copy of the NCNR letter requesting a meeting. You would emphasize that the AG must meet with these concerned citizens and must consider an indictment.

It is time, no matter who becomes our next president, to bring the criminals of the Bush regime to justice. Please, wherever you are, do your part in joining us in this call for justice and truth.

We, the people, have the power to make this happen.

For more information or to join this action, please contact:

Max mobuszewski@verizon.net or Joy jsfirst@tds.net