Monday, April 30, 2007
The private security firm Blackwater USA is planning to build a new military training center on an 800-acre ranch near Potrero, a tiny rural town east of San Diego. The project, known as Blackwater West, is being opposed by a growing coalition of local residents, environmentalists and peace activists. We speak with Rep Bob Filner who is exploring legislation to block the project
Chris Taylor, Blackwater's vice president for strategic initiatives, referred to the planned facility in southern California as "Blackwater West." Blackwater Vice Chairman Cofer Black said the company is interested in creating a small army for hire - a brigade-size force that could be contracted for peacekeeping and stability operations in troubled regions of the world.
I will not allow this immoral mercenary training facility to exist in my state. In joining the East County Democratic Resolution against Blackwater West, I hope to raise awareness about the potential evil that could come to our backyard.
WHEREAS, Blackwater USA, a North Carolina-based private security firm under contract to the Pentagon to supply armed personnel for duties in the Iraq War, proposes to build a large mercenary and paramilitary training compound called Blackwater West near Potrero, in San Diego County, on an 824-acre parcel that includes Cleveland National Forest acreage, borders a proposed wilderness area adjacent to the Hauser Wilderness, and is both an important watershed and an environmentally sensitive habitat for wildlife; said mercenary and paramilitary activities are inherently dangerous and pose serious risks--including severe fire danger--to surrounding communities and wilderness areas, will deplete groundwater, substantially increase traffic, increase noise from shooting ranges, driving track, and helicopter activities, among many other environmental concerns.
WHEREAS, Blackwater USA and other private contractors are not subject to an effective system of oversight and accountability with respect to their operations and government contracting activities, and are the subject of ongoing hearings before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee regarding allegations of waste, fraud, and abuse; Blackwater USA has resisted attempts to subject its private soldiers to the Pentagon's Uniform Code of Military Justice, claiming they are civilians, and has simultaneously claimed immunity from litigation under civil law in the United States, asserting its forces are part of the Pentagon's "Total Force."
AND WHEREAS, the "John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007" (H.R. 5122), which was signed into law by President Bush in October 2006, seriously weakens two bulwarks of liberty--the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act of 1807--by expanding the power of the president to declare martial law and use troops as a domestic police force in response to a "public emergency" or any "other condition"; and Blackwater troops (which were deployed domestically in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina) or other private mercenary and paramilitary forces pose a severe threat to the civil liberties of the American people and now could be deployed to quell public dissent, put down popular uprisings, or even to stop opposing points of view through intimidation or outright force.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party opposes mercenary training by private concerns anywhere in the State of California, including the Blackwater West project.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all military, paramilitary, or related security/law enforcement training operations in California, whether private, governmental, or some combination of the two, will be conducted on, and only on, secured U.S. military bases or other established government-regulated facilities designed for that purpose.
77th AD Delegate
President, East County Democratic Club
Alternate, San Diego County Democratic Central Committee
1. "H.R. 5122 [109th]: John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007" http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-5122
2. "Making Martial Law Easier," The New York Times, 02/19/2007 editorial http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/19/opinion/19mon3.html?ei=5088&en=b6389062c9533ffe&ex=1329541200
3. "Bush Moves Toward Martial Law," Frank Morales; , GlobalResearch ?.ca, October 29, 2006, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=MOR20061029&articleId=3618
• Section 1076 of HR 5122 - This is the house resolution that made the changes http://www.eastcountydemocraticclub.org/twiki/bin/view/Ecdc/HR5122-109-1076
• Section 333 of Title 10 - This is the resulting law. http://www.eastcountydemocraticclub.org/twiki/bin/view/Ecdc/Title10Section333
Pass the ammo
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The f-word crops up in the most respectable quarters these days. Yet if the provocative title of this exposé by Hedges (War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning)—sounds an alarm, the former New York Times foreign correspondent takes care to employ his terms precisely and decisively. As a Harvard Divinity School graduate, his investigation of the Christian Right agenda is even more alarming given its lucidity. Citing the psychology and sociology of fascism and cults, including the work of German historian Fritz Stern, Hedges draws striking parallels between 20th-century totalitarian movements and the highly organized, well-funded "dominionist movement," an influential theocratic sect within the country's huge evangelical population. Rooted in a radical Calvinism, and wrapping its apocalyptic, vehemently militant, sexist and homophobic vision in patriotic and religious rhetoric, dominionism seeks absolute power in a Christian state. Hedges's reportage profiles both former members and true believers, evoking the particular characteristics of this American variant of fascism. His argument against what he sees as a democratic society's suicidal tolerance for intolerant movements has its own paradoxes. But this urgent book forcefully illuminates what many across the political spectrum will recognize as a serious and growing threat to the very concept and practice of an open society. (Jan. 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Killer Elite - Michael Smith
A Bloody Business - Gerry Shumacher
Licensed to Kill - Robert Young Pelton
The Assassins' Gate - George Packer
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy - Greg Palast
Conservatives Without Conscience - John Dean
Just to be balanced -
Failed States - Noam Chomsky
Hegemony or Survival - Noam Chomsky
Michael C. Ruppert - Crossing The Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil (The phrase "crossing the Rubicon" has survived to refer to any people committing themselves irrevocably to a risky and revolutionary course of action – similar to the current phrase "passing the point of no return". It also refers, in limited usage, to its plainer meaning of using military power in a non-receptive homeland.)
Greg Palast - Armed Madhouse
May 1, 7pm
Unitarian Universalist Church, Hillcrest
May 2, 7pm,
La Mesa Community Center
4975 Memorial Drive, La Mesa
I live in San Diego, a heavily conservative military society, the people who live here all work for the government, directly or indirectly. They tend to be fundamentally worshipers, and have no problem with government use of their religious symbols. They are supernatural absolutist, and thus believe they are always right without reason. Their fear is tangible, in the way they support government unquestioningly. The smell of paranoia here is stifling, from the gated communities, to the gun-loving ex-military 'consultants', all seem to be suffering symptoms of P.T.S.D. Whenever a demonstration of dissent occurs, there are often more police at the rally than demonstrators.
At the California State Democratic Convention this weekend, the far left fringe of the democratic party was free to communicate. People calling for Bush's impeachment or trying to prevent the war on Iran were allowed to stand at the front doors of the convention center. Still the anti-government demonstrators were under constant surveillance by police who outnumbered them. But they talked to the police, even complained to them, there was a mood of honest communication. When the Republicans held their national convention in San Diego in 2000, they didn't even let demonstrators into down town without a permit, and absolutely none near the convention center, so much for free speech. When your ideas are week, you can not allow others to debate them.
When republican government officials travel they go with armed guards, or even private mercenary armies, like General Petraeus' Blackwater mercenary detail in Iraq. Yet in a world where any U.S. government official would be unwise to travel without a huge security contingent, John Edwards actually shook the hands of most of his supporters. His willingness to reach out and touch anyone who is with him is more than just a courageous act or an unwise security risk, it signals the basic difference between the democrats and the republicans. Democrats believe in the basic goodness of human kind, while republicans believe that all people are sinners. Democrats trust one another, and we are willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. Republicans trust only those who swear loyalty to their cause, and trust no one outside their incestuous family. Democrats are egalitarians, to us every person has value as our equals, they are our family, but Republicans are elitists, chosen people, so others are respected only by what they can do for, or against, you.
The truth of our world is that whenever a democrat becomes too popular, too powerful, he is martyred by a fanatic. Think of Gandhi, or MLK, or Bobby Kennedy. But for some reason you never hear of a progressive assassin killing off some Fascist right-wing politician. That's because democrats are not absolutists, we know that everyone is capable of both good and evil, and that we all have the free will to change. Our world view is more enlightened, we are not animals, we are rational human beings with free thought and the ability to learn. Our basic democratic values require hope for all people in this world, and the republican fatalists just don't have that.
No one who is afraid of people should become President of the USA. When paranoid people gain the power to destroy the world it is not a good thing. That's why the next U.S. President must be a democrat. We need someone who will revoke the Military Commissions Act, and end sanctioned torture. Someone who will restore Habeius Corpus as a universal right, and give every prisoner their day in court. Someone who will put an end to overseas prisons like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib and any other secret CIA prisons that we are not allowed to know about. Anyone who would do that job will be risking their lives, and their families. We need someone with courage, who isn't afraid to risk everything for their country. Someone to help create a country worthy of risking everything. From what I witnessed on Sunday, John Edwards is that kind of person we need for President of the USA.
Friday, April 27, 2007
However, there was something in "Buying the War" that I hadn't heard before, that then Secretary of State, Collin Powell, in his now infamous speech to the United Nations, in February 2003, used fabricated intelligence plagiarized from the internet, from a University of California student dissertation, written 15 years earlier, about the IRAQ pre-first Gulf War.
Below is an excerpt - see original.
The media spin after U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's UN speech on February 5, 2003, was about as dynamic as a Fox News debate. Cheerleading talking heads immediately took to the airwaves to discern whether or not Powell succeeded in building a consensus for war. Did he pull it off?
Missing from the whole "was Powell convincing?" choir was any question regarding whether Powell was telling the truth. Yes, I thought Powell was convincing, but historian Howard Zinn's voice suddenly popped into my head, arguing as a key rule that journalists "never trust government officials--from any government."
One embarrassing revelation about Powell's speech was that a key part of his evidence against Iraq was cut and pasted from a California graduate student's outdated academic paper, ripped directly from the Internet. In academia, we call this plagiarism. Stealing something straight off of a website, an act easily detected by feeding a string of words into a Google search, is plagiarism in its cheesiest form. Students who do it fail classes--this is nonnegotiable. In Powell's case, he isn't the plagiarizer. He properly cited a British intelligence service report--four pages of which were ripped off without citation, complete with spelling and grammatical errors--from a paper that appeared in October 2002 in an obscure academic journal.
The Brits, for their part, changed a few words here and there, inflated numbers, and added the term terrorist to make the Iraqis appear more ominous than the student-author intended. The student told the British newspaper, the Mirror, that the misuse of his doctored work represented "wholesale deception." Ominous or not, however, 97 percent of the citations in his paper were three to fifteen years old, rendering the whole package useless in a speech challenging Iraq's compliance to the UN inspection regimen. The U.S. Secretary of State--with this trash in his hand--addressed the United Nations Security Council, calling for the commencement of a war that might never end. For the U.S. media, the only question worth asking was whether Powell's sham was convincing.
For those who are appaled that the Bush Administration would lie to the world see:
New Mission Accomplished Bumper Sticker -
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I love in-depth interviews, long format, informational, personal and deep.
I know you pride yourself on being the penultimate gentleman and civil to a fault, but your pandering to General Petraeus was inexcusable.
This man is in charge of the mess in IRAQ, a swarming chaos he inherited true, but he is not a leader prepared to lead Iraq out of the darkness, he is a SOLIDER, controlled and directed by the executives in office. You treated him as if he could speak truthfully and candidly, as if his answers were informed opinions, instead of the war propaganda they actually are.
Did you hear him say that "HE AND HIS U.S. ARMY MEN gave THE IRAQIS THEIR RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH?"
YOU DIDN'T EVEN BLINK.
The right to dissent against any invading force is unquestionable.
Hell, you can't really fault them for killing our soldiers, if our positions were reversed ... if they invaded our country without provocation ... we would do the same.
But the right to wave their own flag ... the right to free speech ... our First Amendment rights, are not GIVEN to us, or to Iraq, by our government, or anyone.
These truths are self evident, all men are endowed by their creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom of speech, and thought, are part of that LIBERTY thing.
Invading U.S. Armies don't GIVE people their freedom!
ARE YOU AWAKE CHARLIE?
Freedom, or more precisely LIBERTY, must be earned, and defended, and YOU are failing to defend ours.
In the end, you even thanked him profusely for the interview, revealing your repulsive sycophantic patronage.
This guy is the dude in charge of waging a war, an illegal war of aggression!
His interview is not a GIFT TO YOU!
IT IS HIS OBLIGATION!
This wasn't a scoop, or a coup, or some kind of bow to your reputation.
This kind of access to our government officials is the minimum necessary condition for accountability, transparency, and responsible government.
It is the minimum needed in an informed democracy.
And it is not your JOB to kiss his ass, the GENERAL should be straightforward and truthful, out of respect for his SACRED OATH to uphold the Constitution, and defend it against all attacks, both foreign and domestic. An oath he has forsaken.
You didn't even jump on him when he admitted that he doesn't even use his own troops for his personal security.
He admitted that he uses private mercenaries!
BLACKWATER! For god sake CHARLIE! He admitted that he can't even protect himself.
He has the best Army in history, and he can't protect himself, so he outsources, to WAR PROFITEERS!
I like how he just said it in passing, that part about "trying to hold them to some kind of 'code' of conduct". Implying that his Mercs are operating outside of all Military and Civilian Law, free to kill who they please, at a profit. And you gave him a pass.
You are enabling the military industrial congressional complex.
You're pandering to the administration, Charlie. Stop it.
Go watch the BILL MOYERS special on the failure of the PRESS.
Then realize that YOU ARE THE MEDIA, it is your responsibility to question authority.
Instead, you provide accommodation for the enemies of our freedom.
When are you going to do a show about the end of America?
The effects of the Military Commissions Act, the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill, and the 'Patriot' Act?
I am embarrassed for you Charlie Rose.
The First Amendment, The Bil of Rights, United States Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
How did the mainstream press get it so wrong? How did the evidence disputing the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the link between Saddam Hussein to 9-11 continue to go largely unreported? "What the conservative media did was easy to fathom; they had been cheerleaders for the White House from the beginning and were simply continuing to rally the public behind the President — no questions asked. How mainstream journalists suspended skepticism and scrutiny remains an issue of significance that the media has not satisfactorily explored," says Moyers. "How the administration marketed the war to the American people has been well covered, but critical questions remain: How and why did the press buy it, and what does it say about the role of journalists in helping the public sort out fact from propaganda?"
On Wednesday, April 25 at 9 p.m. on PBS, a new PBS series BILL MOYERS JOURNAL premieres at a special time with "Buying the War," a 90-minute documentary that explores the role of the press in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. Two days later on April 27, BILL MOYERS JOURNAL airs in its regular timeslot on Fridays at 9 p.m. with interviews and news analysis on a wide range of subjects, including politics, arts and culture, the media, the economy, and issues facing democracy. "Buying the War" includes interviews with Dan Rather, formerly of CBS; Tim Russert of MEET THE PRESS; Bob Simon of 60 MINUTES; Walter Isaacson, former president of CNN; and John Walcott, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel of Knight Ridder newspapers, which was acquired by The McClatchy Company in 2006.
In "Buying the War" Bill Moyers and producer Kathleen Hughes document the reporting of Walcott, Landay and Strobel, the Knight Ridder team that burrowed deep into the intelligence agencies to try and determine whether there was any evidence for the Bush Administration's case for war. "Many of the things that were said about Iraq didn't make sense," says Walcott. "And that really prompts you to ask, 'Wait a minute. Is this true? Does everyone agree that this is true? Does anyone think this is not true?'"
In the run-up to war, skepticism was a rarity among journalists inside the Beltway. Journalist Bob Simon of 60 Minutes, who was based in the Middle East, questioned the reporting he was seeing and reading. "I mean we knew things or suspected things that perhaps the Washington press corps could not suspect. For example, the absurdity of putting up a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda," he tells Moyers. "Saddam…was a total control freak. To introduce a wild card like Al Qaeda in any sense was just something he would not do. So I just didn't believe it for an instant." The program analyzes the stream of unchecked information from administration sources and Iraqi defectors to the mainstream print and broadcast press, which was then seized upon and amplified by an army of pundits. While almost all the claims would eventually prove to be false, the drumbeat of misinformation about WMDs went virtually unchallenged by the media. THE NEW YORK TIMES reported on Iraq's "worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb," but according to Landay, claims by the administration about the possibility of nuclear weapons were highly questionable. Yet, his story citing the "lack of hard evidence of Iraqi weapons" got little play. In fact, throughout the media landscape, stories challenging the official view were often pushed aside while the administration's claims were given prominence. "From August 2002 until the war was launched in March of 2003 there were about 140 front page pieces in THE WASHINGTON POST making the administration's case for war," says Howard Kurtz, the POST's media critic. "But there was only a handful of stories that ran on the front page that made the opposite case. Or, if not making the opposite case, raised questions."
"Buying the War" examines the press coverage in the lead-up to the war as evidence of a paradigm shift in the role of journalists in democracy and asks, four years after the invasion, what's changed? "More and more the media become, I think, common carriers of administration statements and critics of the administration," says THE WASHINGTON POST's Walter Pincus. "We've sort of given up being independent on our own."
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Listen to the show on you local station, or listen online: http://www.airamerica.com/node/3552 then report back.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Monday, April 02, 2007
But thanks to the age of the internet and the Web 2.0 concept of coordinated cooperating minds, any avalanche of information can be sifted and sorted, then assessed and edited in little time. Which is just what a blog called the "Talking Points Memo" did last week. Thus forcing the congress to investigate and hold accountable the political wrong doers, and keeping the scandal warm so that it can spread to reveal the whole truth.