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Has U.S. Foreign Policy Ever Been Such a Mess?

6:41 pm in Uncategorized by KevinZeese

Multiple Wars are Symptoms of the Need to Escape the Quagmire of Empire

By Kevin Zeese

I can’t remember a time when the U.S. military has been stuck in so many war quagmires at once. Libya seems destined to fail unless the U.S. gets a lucky shot and kills Gaddafi. U.S. militarists are openly maneuvering to stay in Iraq — the war Obama told us was over. Relations with nuclear-armed Pakistan are at their lowest levels ever.  And, Afghanistan is getting worse with Obama’s minimal, slow withdrawal looking more like staying than leaving.

The new Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, is making his first trip to the war fronts and letting it be known that the U.S. is staying, not leaving. The Wall Street Journal headline said it clearly, Panetta Slips Up on Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan, and highlights Panetta saying at a press conference “We’re going to have 70,000 there through 2014.” This is inconsistent with President Obama’s stated plan of being down to 70,000 troops next summer and continuing to draw down from there.

In Iraq, the New York Times reported Panetta as saying he expected the U.S. to have “an enduring presence” in the region while pushing the Iraqi government to “invite” U.S. forces to stay beyond 2011.  Panetta, echoed the Bush administration when he told U.S. troops in Iraq that we were there because of 9/11 (when U.S. intelligence reports Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11). He later clarified the remark by making it worse saying “we really had to deal with Al Qaeda here.” Of course, there was no Al Qaeda in Iraq until the U.S. invaded.  Last month 15 American troops died making June the bloodiest month for American combat-related fatalities since the Bush administration in June 2008. This in the war where Obama told us combat was over.

Pakistan has become a major foreign policy problem for the U.S.  The relationship has been on a downward spiral ever since the CIA led drone war got going under Commander-in-Chief Obama.  Then, the arrest of CIA hired Blackwater agent Raymond Davis for killing two Pakistanis – who Obama falsely told Pakistanis and the American people was a diplomat – added to the crisis in the Pakistan-U.S. relationship.  That mess resulted in hundreds of CIA agents being required to leave the country.  Panetta was head of the CIA at the time of those blunders and left unable to fix the situation. Finally, the reported killing of Osama bin Laden has made the relationship even worse, with Pakistan expelling US military trainers from the country and limiting the ability of US diplomats and other officials to get visas. The crisis culminated this week in the U.S. withholding $600 million in military funds to Pakistan.

Without the Pakistan supply lines the Afghanistan war becomes more difficult and expensive to fight.  And, it has become evident that when the chorus of politicians and corporate media in Washington was recently singing about the success of the Obama surge and the need to protect U.S. gains, they were deluded or lying.  Since then, the Taliban showed they could successfully attack one of the most guarded hotels in the country, the highly-protected Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul. And, this week they showed they can kill one of the most guarded people in Afghanistan, President Karzai’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, a notorious governor in Southern Afghanistan.

The bad news continues, Libya the war that was supposed to last “days not weeks” is now in its fifth month. Gaddafi has survived assassination attacks against him, mass demonstrations of support have been seen and now NATO seems divided on how to continue.  There are reports of people dancing in the streets of Tripoli as they see victory with peace talks beginning and bombing slowing.  What seems to be occurring is NATO countries are trying to find a way out of war that cannot succeed in changing the regime in Libya.

The U.S. is also supporting Syrian rebels and on July 11 supporters of the Syrian government attacked the U.S. Embassy in Damascus as well as the residence of the U.S. ambassador.  Secretary of State Clinton used the attack as an opportunity to condemn the Assad regime saying “President Assad is not indispensable and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power.” The French Embassy was also attacked. The attacks occurred just days after the U.S. and French ambassadors visited the opposition stronghold of Hama in central Syria.

And other challenges in Yemen, Somalia, and Iran have the U.S. military already acting or on edge.  Spread thin would be a mild way of describing how President Obama has positioned the military.

Obama’s lucky the Republicans don’t have a well-spoken general who could run against him and tear apart his role as commander-in-chief.  While I do not support a general being in charge of the CIA, Obama was politically smart to put General David Petraeus in as CIA head to take him out of the running for the Republican nomination.  Even with the cover of killing Osama bin Laden, Obama’s handling of foreign policy and the military could be successfully attacked as it is hard to imagine much more of a mess than exists under his leadership.

Of course, Obama’s wars are an outgrowth of George W. Bush’s wars, just as some describe George Bush’s invasion of Iraq as an outgrowth from the economic blockade of Iraq by Bill Clinton.  Each of these presidents was the commander-in-chief of a more than 100 year old empire that since World War II has been dominated by a deeply embedded weapons and war industry. The empire seeks bases around the world especially where there are important natural resources and full-spectrum dominance of other nations.

The best hope for the United States is that once again Afghanistan will be a graveyard for empire.  Sadly, it will probably take hundreds of billions more in war spending and defeats on the battlefield before U.S. leaders learn what Great Britain learned from U.S. colonists – it is difficult for a distant empire to defeat people defending their homeland.  Is the U.S. leadership capable of recognizing that empire is not consistent with a democratic republic and undermines both national and economic security as well as the rule of law?  More Americans are waking up to this fact, hundreds have signed a letter to President Obama and Congress urging an end to U.S. militarism and empire; and the signers include representatives of the Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and G.W. Bush administration’s as well people from across the political spectrum from libertarian to liberal, progressive to conservative.  Others are promising to make Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC an American Tahrir Square, planning to occupy the Plaza to protest U.S. militarism and corporatism.

Americans want an end to U.S. militarism.  Some political leaders must recognize that an empire enforced by war is counterproductive to economic and national security. Where is the leadership to lead the United States out of its self-created empire quagmire? It seems, the leadership must come from the people.

Kevin Zeese directs Come Home America and is on the steering committee of Stop the Machine: Create a New World.

President Obama Makes a Fair Trial of Bradley Manning Impossible By Declaring Him Guilty

10:04 am in Uncategorized by KevinZeese

The “Bradley Manning Exception to the Bill of Rights” Devastates the Credibility of the Military Justice System

By Kevin Zeese

The credibility of the military justice system is being undermined by the prosecution of Bradley Manning.  His abusive punishment without trial violates his due process rights; his harsh treatment in solitary confinement-torture conditions violates the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment; and now the commander-in-chief has announced his guilt before trial making a fair trial impossible.  A Bradley Manning exception to the Bill of Rights is developing as the Obama administration seeks Manning’s punishment no matter what constitutional protections they violate.

On Thursday April 21, 2011 in San Francisco a group of Bradley Manning supporters protested the prosecution of Manning at a Barack Obama fundraising event. One of Manning’s supporters was able to question the president directly afterwards and during the conversation, Obama said on videotape that Manning was guilty.

Can you imagine if the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamene’i,  pronounced an Iranian military whistle blower “guilty” before any trial was held? Khamene’i is the commander-in-chief of all armed forces in Iran, just as President Obama is the commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed services. Would anyone in the United States think that a trial before Iranian military officers that followed such a pronouncement could be fair?  The U.S. government would use the situation to make propaganda points about the phony justice system in Iran.

President Obama’s pronouncement about Manning, “He broke the law,” amounts to unlawful command influence – something prohibited in military trials because it is devastating to the military justice system.  Manning will be judged by a jury of military officers in a military court where everyone involved follows the orders of the commander-in-chief.  How are these officers going to rule against their commander-in-chief, especially after Manning has been tortured in solitary confinement for almost a year?  Any officer who finds Manning “not guilty” will have no chance of advancing his career after doing so.

Article 37 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice makes undue command influence unlawful. Unlawful Command Influence has been called “the carcinoma of the military justice system” and is often described as “the mortal enemy of military justice.” The importance of the command structure in the military makes command influence a threat to fair trails, i.e. “because the inherent power and influence of command are necessary and omnipresent facets of military life, everyone involved in both unit command and in military justice must exercise constant vigilance to protect against command influence becoming unlawful.”

Accordingly, “Unlawful Command Influence occurs when senior personnel, wittingly or unwittingly, have acted to influence court members, witnesses, or others participating in military justice cases. Such unlawful influence not only jeopardizes the validity of the judicial process, it undermines the morale of military members, their respect for the chain of command, and public confidence in the military.”  Further, even: “The ‘appearance of unlawful command influence is as devastating to the military justice system as the actual manipulation of any given trial.’”  The commander-in-chief announcing guilt before trial is an unprecedented case of unlawful command influence.

When unlawful command influence occurs a heavy burden is put on the prosecution to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) the facts upon which the unlawful command influence is based are untrue; (2) those facts do not constitute unlawful command influence; or (3) the unlawful command influence will not affect the proceedings.” Since President Obama is on videotape announcing the finding of guilt it will be impossible to prove either of the first two points.  To prove the third point will require the court to enter into a charade where officers claim they are not influenced by the commander-in-chief.  In reality, the president announcing the guilt of Manning before he is tried will influence every officer who wants to continue to advance in his or her career.  And, since Manning has already been punished severely before trial officers will be even less likely to find Manning not guilty because that would raise questions about his abusive treatment.

Military case law indicates that “pretrial publicity itself may constitute unlawful command influence.”  When the president speaks it results in national media attention (see a google search for “Obama Manning guilty” produced 1.5 million stories by April 24th).  Of course, the president’s statement of Manning’s guilt was not the only pre-trial publicity in Manning’s case.  In addition, the brutal treatment Manning has received during pre-trial detention has also received widespread media attention.  The combination of this mistreatment and the president’s statements shows that the military from the Quantico command to the commander-in-chief saw Manning as guilty and wanted him punished harshly.

Military courts have held over and over that if unlawful command influence is proven then dismissal of the case is appropriate. (See United States v. Douglas, 68 M.J. 349 (2010) and the cases cited therein.) “[D]ismissal of charges is appropriate when an accused would be prejudiced or no useful purpose would be served by continuing the proceedings.”  There is no question Manning has been prejudiced and it is hard to imagine how the proceedings can be cleansed of this unlawful command influence so there is no useful purpose in continuing.

The White House made an inept attempt to try and change the obvious meaning of the president’s statement. Politico reports:  “White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said Obama was in fact making a general statement that did not go specifically to the charges against Manning. ‘The president was emphasizing that, in general, the unauthorized release of classified information is not a lawful act,’ he said Friday night. ‘He was not expressing a view as to the guilt or innocence of Pfc. Manning specifically.’” This clarification is inept because Obama was quite specific in his comments saying: “He broke the law.

Unlawful command influence causes “exceptional harm . . . to the fairness and public perception of military justice when it does arise”  This harm is magnified in the case of Bradley Manning because of the severe mistreatment he has received in Quantico before even being tried.  This is a case where punishment in Quantico and a finding of guilt by the commander-in-chief both came before trial.  The sooner this prosecution ends the less damage that will be done to the reputation of the military justice system.

Kevin Zeese is an attorney who directs Come Home America (www.ComeHomeAmerica.US) and is on the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network (www.BradleyManning.org).

Mistreatment of Manning Criticized by UN Torture Investigator, Hundreds of Legal Academics and Hundreds of Thousands; Colonel: “Obama Could End Torture with One Phone Call”

10:43 am in Uncategorized by KevinZeese

For Immediate Release

For Further Information
Jeff Paterson
Kevin Zeese
Bradley Manning Support Network
press@bradleymanning.org
1-202-640-4388

Mistreatment of Manning Criticized by Leading Law Professors & UN Torture Investigator

Hundreds of Thousands Write Obama Urging End to Manning Abuse

Retired Colonel: “Obama Could End Torture of Manning
With One Phone Call”

Washington, DC:  The eight months of solitary confinement of Bradley Manning at Quantico has drawn national and international criticism in the last week.  Support is growing for him around the world with 500,000 writing President Obama in the last few days and with hundreds of top U.S. legal scholars criticizing his conditions of confinement.

Lawyers representing every leading law school in the United States have written an open letter to President Obama criticizing the conditions of Manning. Among the law professors is Lawrence Tribe who was President Obama’s law professor at Harvard and served in his administration until recently. The letter, Private Manning’s Humiliation, raises questions about President Obama saying: “President Obama was once a professor of constitutional law, and entered the national stage as an eloquent moral leader. The question now, however, is whether his conduct as commander in chief meets fundamental standards of decency.”

Col. Ann Wright (ret) who served 29 years in the military noted that “President Obama could end the treatment of Manning with one phone call.  As Commander-In-Chief he is responsible for the actions of the Marines at Quantico.  Certainly he understands the constitutional right to be convicted before punished and that the condition of Manning violates protection from cruel and unusual punishment.”

The UN Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez reprimanded the United States for blocking an official visit with Manning to investigate his treatment.  The UN torture investigator has been reviewing Manning’s case since December but the United States will not allow a private meeting with no tape recording.  The military has also refused a U.S. Congressman’s request for an official visit to Manning, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, as well as a visit from Amnesty International.

Daniel Ellsberg, a veteran who graduated from Quantico and is noted for leaking the Pentagon Papers  commented: “It seems likely that the Pentagon’s refusal to allow Amnesty International and the UN Rapporteur on Torture to hold unmonitored discussion with Bradley Manning (as the UN mandate demands) reflects well-founded fear that such experts on abusive conditions and torture could conclude that Manning’s treatment is not only ‘ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid’ — as State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley was forced to resign for saying– but criminal.”

This comes at a time when the U.S. and China are challenging each other on human rights.  China issued a lengthy report regarding human rights violations in the United States this week. As PJ Crowley, former Assistant Secretary of State said when he resigned the Manning case would be an embarrassment to the U.S. internationally, highlighting “the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership. The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values.”

Around the world there is growing anger at the treatment of Manning.  Five hundred thousand people have sent letters to President Obama urging him to “immediately end the torture, isolation and public humiliation of Bradley Manning.”  The petition was put out by Azaaz.org and is addressed to President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates.

“A half million people have taken a stand in support of Bradley Manning. It’s certainly a challenge to President Obama to get on the right side of history here and finally put an end to the extreme and illegal pre-trial punishment,” said Jeff Paterson, a veteran speaking on behalf of the Bradley Manning Support Network. “After he ends the mistreatment of Manning, he could then ensure that Bradley receives the fair and public trial that is guaranteed under the Constitution.”

#   #   #

Call the White House and tell President Obama end the torture of Bradley Manning: Comments: 202-456-1111. Switchboard: 202-456-1414

If You Supported The No Fly Zone, Time To Reconsider

3:34 pm in Uncategorized by KevinZeese

The Attack on Libya is Not Merely a No Fly Zone—But an Intervention Into Libya

By Kevin Zeese

It was hard for some peace activists to look at the planned attack by Col. Gadhafi on Libyan rebels and oppose the no fly zone approved by the U.N.  Col. Gadhafi is a vicious leader who promised to make the streets run red with blood so this was an issue that divided the peace community.

Regardless of how you felt about the original no fly zone, how you feel about the Gadhafi regime or the armed rebels fighting it, we should all recognize that the United States, United Kingdom and France are going further than a no fly zone and are intervening in a civil war for their own reasons that have nothing to do with defending democracy or other humanitarian goals.  Already we are seeing evidence of the broader mission beyond a no fly zone and beyond what President Obama said would be a few days with no troops on the ground.

-          While in Egypt this week Secretary Gates hinted that the war in Libya may be open-ended.

-          There is confusion about the goals in Libya.  Does it include removal of Gadhafi as President Obama and Secretary Clinton have said? Putting in place a democracy?  Reaching those goals is beyond the UN mandate and will get the U.S. into another quagmire.

-          While President Obama promised no troops on the ground in Libya, there are reports that there are already 2,000 marines off the coast of Libya.

-          Special Forces are developing a role in Libya.  Even before the UN resolution there were reports of U.S. “advisors” on the ground in Libya in early March and Special Forces fighting with rebels in late February, a month before the mandate.

-          The U.S. is planning on sending National Guard troops to Libya. Is a longer war planned than has been admitted?

-          It is becoming more evident that this is a foreign intervention into a civil war and we’ve had enough experience with that to know that it will not end well. And, there is strong evidence that if this is not already one, it will become a civil war because of foreign intervention.

Read the rest of this entry →

Manning Must be Tortured to Make an Example of Him and to Intimidate his Supporters

6:38 pm in Uncategorized by KevinZeese

Stand With Brad, We Are All Bradley Manning

WikiLeaks threatens corporate media control over information, the government’s need to mislead to the public

The article below is from a speech given by Kevin Zeese in support of Bradley Manning at Bus Boys and Poets in Washington, DC on March 13, 2011.
His cell is six feet wide and twelve feet in length.

It has a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet.

At 5:00 a.m. he is woken up. He will not be allowed to sleep again until 8:00 p.m. If he attempts to sleep at any time from 5 AM to 8 PM he will be made to sit up or stand by the guards.

He will not be allowed to exercise in his cell, not even pushups – for his own protection, too dangerous, say his jailers.  If he tries guards stop him.

He has no clothes as they were taken away the night before.  He is forced to sleep naked with a scratchy smock over him that itches throughout the night. He tried not to use the smock because it was so uncomfortable but was forced to do so.

A voice asks through the door: Are you alright? I need a verbal response. “Yes, I’m alright.” Five minutes later: Are you alright? I need a verbal response. “Yes, I’m alright.” Every five minutes, every day for 7 months he is asked: Are you alright? I need a verbal response.

A voice through the door orders: Get out of your bed for the morning Duty Brig Supervisor inspection.

Still no clothes.

He gets out of the bed, shivering from being naked all night in a cold cell.

He walks toward the front of the cell with his hands in front covering his genitals.

A guard orders: Stand at parade rest.

He puts his hands behind his back, with legs spaced shoulder width apart. He stands at ‘parade rest’ waiting and waiting until the Brig Supervisor arrives. Everyone is called to attention.

Brig supervisor and the other guards walk past the cell. They stop, look as he stands naked. Stare at him. Look at the room. Stare at him some more.  Then they move on to the next cell. He stands waiting for the inspection of all the cells to end.  When completed a guard orders – go sit on your bed.  Sitting naked, waiting, waiting, waiting ten minutes later, finally, clothes arrive and he can dress.  The shiver from the cold night stays with him.

This is how Bradley Manning’s day begins.  The nudity has been required for more than a week with no end in sight, but he has been in solitary in Quantico for 7 months, in total for 10 months.

Charles Dickens, who spent months at a time living with the general populations of prisons and mental hospitals throughout America in the 1800’s, wrote about solitary confinement: “I believe it to be cruel and wrong…I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.”

It is torture.  They are torturing him.  We should call it nothing else.  Long-term solitary confinement is torture.  Research shows previously healthy prisoners have “develop[ed] clinical symptoms usually associated with psychosis or severe affective disorders” including “all types of psychiatric morbidity.” Many have committed suicide.

The spokesperson for the State Department, PJ Crowley, put his career on the line to speak with disfavor against the treatment of Manning.  He described Manning’s confinement as “counterproductive and stupid.” Crowley resigned today and it has been reported in the media that Obama administration did not want the division of Manning known to the public.  Our pressure forced the president to call the Pentagon about Manning’s treatment.  Our work getting Manning’s message out resulted in PJ Crowley giving up his job as spokesperson for U.S. foreign policy.  We are having an impact.

In our Big Brother security state the military says they do it for Manning’s own protection.  It’s a lie that does not pass the straight face test.  Once again lies become truth as a compliant press writes it down and reports it as fact. The president re-enforces the lie, telling America he has talked to the Pentagon and they have said it is for his own protection. The president says this with a straight face.

Does anyone believe the president anymore? This is the president that told us – America doesn’t torture.  This is the president who said that Raymond Davis was a diplomat who deserved diplomatic immunity.  In fact he was a Blackwater mercenary working for the CIA who allegedly killed two Pakistanis. The president’s comments to the press were dutifully reported “he is a diplomat who deserves diplomatic immunity” when the press knew he was working for the CIA. The press had been told to lie to us, not tell us the truth and they did as the government demanded until a foreign newspaper told the truth. The president and the press need to lie to us; because the truth is terrifying.

Friends – we are here today because we know – we are all Bradley Manning.  That a crime against one of us, is a crime against all of us.  We need to stand together, to Stand with Brad, because this is much bigger than Bradley Manning.

We are living through a time of revolutionary change.  We see it around the world and we see it around the nation.  The corporate-government-media does not report the resistance occurring throughout the nation because if Americans knew that their fellow Americans were standing up against corporate-government, real change, shifting power to the people, would be more likely.

And, the corporate media is threatened by what Bradley Manning is accused of.  They are losing hold of their monopoly on information as WikiLeaks shows the way to the democratization of the media.  We are living through the birth of a new media that will shift the power of information control from the few to the many.  Information is a commodity that the corporate-government has sought to control because they know information is power.  But in this new media age we can all be reporters, writers, commentators.  Through email, blogs, websites and social media each of us can share information.  We all can become part of the new media.

And through encryption technology those who work inside corrupt governments including our own and abusive big businesses can provide media outlets – new and old – anonymously with information that increases transparency of these powers that control our lives.  They are scared of Bradley Manning, scared of WikiLeaks but prosecuting Manning or Assange will not stop this revolution.

If in 1450 Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press were prosecuted, the revolution of printing would have occurred any way. The information revolution has progressed too far to be stopped.  Information will flow, transparency will increase and media will be democratized.

And, Bradley Manning is paying a price because the security state is not secure.  The people already know too much of the truth and they fear us knowing more.  They know control can be lost.  The rigged system is falling apart and they are doing all they can to hold power.  Bradley Manning must be tortured to force him to testify against Assange.  Manning must be made an example of.  The revolutionary’s must be punished.

The treatment of Bradley Manning is about intimidating all of us. They know, as WikiLeaks says, courage is contagious. By standing together we respond to their intimidation with strength, joy and resolve.

For all these reasons we must Stand with Brad.  We are all Bradley Manning.

If what he is accused of is true, Manning has exposed abusive governments throughout the world.  The documents published by WikiLeaks worked hand and hand with democracy activists in Tunisia and Egypt, Libya and Saudi Arabia and so many more. The documents have shown the lie of Swedish claims of neutrality. In fact, Sweden’s Minister of Justice participated in the rendition of two innocent men from Sweden to Egypt via the CIA, where that regime tortured them. Sweden later awarded them damages for their torture. The now former Minister of Justice who handed these innocent people to the CIA for torture in Egypt, Thomas Bodstrom, is the law partner of the lawyer representing Assange’s accusers.

And, the documents have shown the truth of the largest and most powerful empire in world history – the American Empire. They have confirmed so much that we already suspected or knew is in fact true — the U.S. is a rogue superpower that bullies, threatens and blackmails to get its way.  That works with dictators and security state regimes – many of whom are now being deposed by their people. That supports coup d’état’s of democratically elected governments then tries to hide it.  It shows the most powerful military in world history, a military that has failed to win a major war since World War II, kills civilians wantonly and then covers it up, that arrests people without cause and violates the law by using torture. And, it shows a State Department whose diplomats are required by the order of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to illegally spy on other diplomats. No wonder, just before the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables were published Secretary Clinton said she would never run for office again. The threat of democratized information – the transparency of truth – is occurring at a time when the empire is faltering and behind its bluster, the empire is afraid.

If what Bradley is accused of is true, he was trying to start a debate on the abusive U.S. foreign policy and create a more perfect union.  That is in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution that we seek to form a “more perfect union” and Bradley is being tortured for doing what the Constitution demands of us.

The treatment of Bradley Manning shows their fear.  They know they have been exposed, that the truth of their crimes is becoming known to all.  Even the corporate-government-media cannot hold the truth back in a time when the media is being democratized.

But, even though Manning stands for a bigger issue – a revolution of truth – he is an individual human who is suffering at the hands of abusive jailers.  We are here today to work together to end his suffering and free Bradley Manning.

This week Brad’s father, Brian spoke for the first time.  He said his son was innocent.  He said his son was being abused.  He stood by, Brad.  When I saw him, and saw he was 55 years old – my age, and looked again at Brad, the age of my youngest son, it pierced my heart even deeper.  It made Bradley even more human, more fragile, more vulnerable to their abuse.

Many people are coming to Brad’s aid.  At the Bradley Manning Support Network, www.BradleyManning.org, thousands have donated to Bradley’s legal defense and enabled our advocacy for him.  People are also donating to the Bradley Manning Advocacy Fund which is making sure Bradley’s side of the story is told. In addition to making donations tonight, bidding on the many items here today, please sign up and stay involved.  It is Bradley Manning vs. the U.S. government – a desperate dying empire that wants someone to blame.

Manning is now facing the potential of capital punishment or life in prison, not for selling secrets to U.S. enemies, but for allegedly sharing information about war crimes as well as other criminal and unethical behavior to the media. The double standard of this potential punishment is seen clearly when compared to sentences of other soldiers.  Retired Col. Ann Wright highlighted the sad absurdity when she pointed to the sentence given to a U.S. soldier convicted of mutilating Afghan civilians.  That soldier received 9 months of work detail at his base, not even in prison.  What is the message – the message is murder, mutilation and rape are less serious offenses than allegedly providing documents that show crimes and misdeeds of government officials.

The hypocrisy does not end there.  Secretary Clinton has been lecturing the world about the need for freedom of speech, press and association in the Internet age.  At her second speech on the subject as she was talking about freedom of speech being essential to democracy, our colleague Ray McGovern, an intelligence analyst for the CIA for 27 years as well as a military veteran stood in silence to protest the U.S. wars and the treatment of Bradley Manning.  He was brutally arrested, thrown to the floor and then thrown into jail where he was left bleeding.  Secretary Clinton kept talking about the importance of freedom of speech as freedom of speech was thrown to the ground before her.

Both Secretary Clinton and President Obama have praised people in foreign governments who have exposed the corruption of their governments, but both have criticized WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning for allegedly doing the same here.  The hypocrisy is so evident it is impossible to miss – but the corporate-government-media does not even report it.

As I was thinking about Bradley Manning for this speech, my mind wandered to another injustice.  The prosecution of Tim DeChristoher for boldly trying to stop or delay the sale of oil leases in Utah as Bidder 70, bidding on the lands to raise their price. Tim saw the sales as illegal and wanted to raise awareness about aggressive drilling in pristine western areas. Even though a federal judge later blocked many of the leases from being issued, on March 3, 2011 Tim was convicted and now faces up to ten years in jail when he is sentenced on June 23rd.  After his conviction, he came outside the courthouse and said:

“You’ve shown that your power will not be intimidated by any power that they have, and that’s the most important thing that has happened here this week.

“Everything that went on inside that building tried to convince me that I was alone, and that I was weak. Inside that building, they tried to convince me that I was a little finger out there on my own that could easily be broken. All of you out here were the reminder, for all of us, that I wasn’t just a finger all alone in there, but that I was connected to a hand, with many fingers that can unite as one fist, and that fist cannot be broken by the power that they have in there.

“That fist is not a symbol of violence. That fist is a symbol that we will not be misled into thinking that we are alone. We will not be lied to and told we are weak. We will not be divided, and we will not back down. That fist is a symbol that we are connected, and that we are powerful. It is a symbol that we hold true to our vision of a healthy and just world and we are building the self-empowering movement to make it happen. All the authorities in there wanted me to think like a finger, but our children are calling to us to think like a fist.”

So, we must Stand with Brad.  Bradley is not a finger. Bradley is part of a hand that connects all of us into a self-empowering movement for peace and justice.

To emphasize the point a large group of supporters from Peaceful Uprising stood outside, standing in unity, they said “We are all Bidder 70” and as Tim walked through the crowd hugging each of them, they sang:

I will stand with you – Will you stand with me

We will be the change that we hope to see

In the name of love – in the name of peace

Will you stand, will you stand with me

When injustice raises up its fist

And fights to stop us in our tracks

We will rise and as one resist

No fear nor sorrow can turn us back

I will stand with you – Will you stand with me

We will be the change that we hope to see

In the name of love – in the name of peace

Will you stand, will you stand with me

Let us show Bradley Manning that he is not alone.  That we are standing with him. We are all Bradley Manning.  Bid tonight.  Donate to his legal and advocacy funds.  And, join us next week in Quantico as we stand at the Marine Base where he is being illegally tortured.

Stand with Bradley Manning

Thank you all for being here

Information for Quantico, Virginia on March 20th rally is here; and information for the End These Wars, Expose the Lies and Free Bradley Manning civil resistance on March 19th at the White House is here.

Kevin Zeese is director of ComeHomeAmerica.US and a member of the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Stand With Brad, We Are All Bradley Manning

WikiLeaks threatens corporate media control over information, the government’s need to mislead to the public

Manning must be tortured to make an example of him and to intimidate his supporters

The article below is from a speech given by Kevin Zeese in support of Bradley Manning at Bus Boys and Poets in Washington, DC on March 13, 2011.
His cell is six feet wide and twelve feet in length.

It has a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet.

At 5:00 a.m. he is woken up. He will not be allowed to sleep again until 8:00 p.m. If he attempts to sleep at any time from 5 AM to 8 PM he will be made to sit up or stand by the guards.

He will not be allowed to exercise in his cell, not even pushups – for his own protection, too dangerous, say his jailers.  If he tries guards stop him.

He has no clothes as they were taken away the night before.  He is forced to sleep naked with a scratchy smock over him that itches throughout the night. He tried not to use the smock because it was so uncomfortable but was forced to do so.

A voice asks through the door: Are you alright? I need a verbal response. “Yes, I’m alright.” Five minutes later: Are you alright? I need a verbal response. “Yes, I’m alright.” Every five minutes, every day for 7 months he is asked: Are you alright? I need a verbal response.

A voice through the door orders: Get out of your bed for the morning Duty Brig Supervisor inspection.

Still no clothes.

He gets out of the bed, shivering from being naked all night in a cold cell.

He walks toward the front of the cell with his hands in front covering his genitals.

A guard orders: Stand at parade rest.

He puts his hands behind his back, with legs spaced shoulder width apart. He stands at ‘parade rest’ waiting and waiting until the Brig Supervisor arrives. Everyone is called to attention.

Brig supervisor and the other guards walk past the cell. They stop, look as he stands naked. Stare at him. Look at the room. Stare at him some more.  Then they move on to the next cell. He stands waiting for the inspection of all the cells to end.  When completed a guard orders – go sit on your bed.  Sitting naked, waiting, waiting, waiting ten minutes later, finally, clothes arrive and he can dress.  The shiver from the cold night stays with him.

This is how Bradley Manning’s day begins.  The nudity has been required for more than a week with no end in sight, but he has been in solitary in Quantico for 7 months, in total for 10 months.

Charles Dickens, who spent months at a time living with the general populations of prisons and mental hospitals throughout America in the 1800’s, wrote about solitary confinement: “I believe it to be cruel and wrong…I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.”

It is torture.  They are torturing him.  We should call it nothing else.  Long-term solitary confinement is torture.  Research shows previously healthy prisoners have “develop[ed] clinical symptoms usually associated with psychosis or severe affective disorders” including “all types of psychiatric morbidity.” Many have committed suicide.

The spokesperson for the State Department, PJ Crowley, put his career on the line to speak with disfavor against the treatment of Manning.  He described Manning’s confinement as “counterproductive and stupid.” Crowley resigned today and it has been reported in the media that Obama administration did not want the division of Manning known to the public.  Our pressure forced the president to call the Pentagon about Manning’s treatment.  Our work getting Manning’s message out resulted in PJ Crowley giving up his job as spokesperson for U.S. foreign policy.  We are having an impact.

In our Big Brother security state the military says they do it for Manning’s own protection.  It’s a lie that does not pass the straight face test.  Once again lies become truth as a compliant press writes it down and reports it as fact. The president re-enforces the lie, telling America he has talked to the Pentagon and they have said it is for his own protection. The president says this with a straight face.

Does anyone believe the president anymore? This is the president that told us – America doesn’t torture.  This is the president who said that Raymond Davis was a diplomat who deserved diplomatic immunity.  In fact he was a Blackwater mercenary working for the CIA who allegedly killed two Pakistanis. The president’s comments to the press were dutifully reported “he is a diplomat who deserves diplomatic immunity” when the press knew he was working for the CIA. The press had been told to lie to us, not tell us the truth and they did as the government demanded until a foreign newspaper told the truth. The president and the press need to lie to us; because the truth is terrifying.

Friends – we are here today because we know – we are all Bradley Manning.  That a crime against one of us, is a crime against all of us.  We need to stand together, to Stand with Brad, because this is much bigger than Bradley Manning.

We are living through a time of revolutionary change.  We see it around the world and we see it around the nation.  The corporate-government-media does not report the resistance occurring throughout the nation because if Americans knew that their fellow Americans were standing up against corporate-government, real change, shifting power to the people, would be more likely.

And, the corporate media is threatened by what Bradley Manning is accused of.  They are losing hold of their monopoly on information as WikiLeaks shows the way to the democratization of the media.  We are living through the birth of a new media that will shift the power of information control from the few to the many.  Information is a commodity that the corporate-government has sought to control because they know information is power.  But in this new media age we can all be reporters, writers, commentators.  Through email, blogs, websites and social media each of us can share information.  We all can become part of the new media.

And through encryption technology those who work inside corrupt governments including our own and abusive big businesses can provide media outlets – new and old – anonymously with information that increases transparency of these powers that control our lives.  They are scared of Bradley Manning, scared of WikiLeaks but prosecuting Manning or Assange will not stop this revolution.

If in 1450 Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press were prosecuted, the revolution of printing would have occurred any way. The information revolution has progressed too far to be stopped.  Information will flow, transparency will increase and media will be democratized.

And, Bradley Manning is paying a price because the security state is not secure.  The people already know too much of the truth and they fear us knowing more.  They know control can be lost.  The rigged system is falling apart and they are doing all they can to hold power.  Bradley Manning must be tortured to force him to testify against Assange.  Manning must be made an example of.  The revolutionary’s must be punished.

The treatment of Bradley Manning is about intimidating all of us. They know, as WikiLeaks says, courage is contagious. By standing together we respond to their intimidation with strength, joy and resolve.

For all these reasons we must Stand with Brad.  We are all Bradley Manning.

If what he is accused of is true, Manning has exposed abusive governments throughout the world.  The documents published by WikiLeaks worked hand and hand with democracy activists in Tunisia and Egypt, Libya and Saudi Arabia and so many more. The documents have shown the lie of Swedish claims of neutrality. In fact, Sweden’s Minister of Justice participated in the rendition of two innocent men from Sweden to Egypt via the CIA, where that regime tortured them. Sweden later awarded them damages for their torture. The now former Minister of Justice who handed these innocent people to the CIA for torture in Egypt, Thomas Bodstrom, is the law partner of the lawyer representing Assange’s accusers.

And, the documents have shown the truth of the largest and most powerful empire in world history – the American Empire. They have confirmed so much that we already suspected or knew is in fact true — the U.S. is a rogue superpower that bullies, threatens and blackmails to get its way.  That works with dictators and security state regimes – many of whom are now being deposed by their people. That supports coup d’état’s of democratically elected governments then tries to hide it.  It shows the most powerful military in world history, a military that has failed to win a major war since World War II, kills civilians wantonly and then covers it up, that arrests people without cause and violates the law by using torture. And, it shows a State Department whose diplomats are required by the order of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to illegally spy on other diplomats. No wonder, just before the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables were published Secretary Clinton said she would never run for office again. The threat of democratized information – the transparency of truth – is occurring at a time when the empire is faltering and behind its bluster, the empire is afraid.

If what Bradley is accused of is true, he was trying to start a debate on the abusive U.S. foreign policy and create a more perfect union.  That is in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution that we seek to form a “more perfect union” and Bradley is being tortured for doing what the Constitution demands of us.

The treatment of Bradley Manning shows their fear.  They know they have been exposed, that the truth of their crimes is becoming known to all.  Even the corporate-government-media cannot hold the truth back in a time when the media is being democratized.

But, even though Manning stands for a bigger issue – a revolution of truth – he is an individual human who is suffering at the hands of abusive jailers.  We are here today to work together to end his suffering and free Bradley Manning.

This week Brad’s father, Brian spoke for the first time.  He said his son was innocent.  He said his son was being abused.  He stood by, Brad.  When I saw him, and saw he was 55 years old – my age, and looked again at Brad, the age of my youngest son, it pierced my heart even deeper.  It made Bradley even more human, more fragile, more vulnerable to their abuse.

Many people are coming to Brad’s aid.  At the Bradley Manning Support Network, www.BradleyManning.org, thousands have donated to Bradley’s legal defense and enabled our advocacy for him.  People are also donating to the Bradley Manning Advocacy Fund which is making sure Bradley’s side of the story is told. In addition to making donations tonight, bidding on the many items here today, please sign up and stay involved.  It is Bradley Manning vs. the U.S. government – a desperate dying empire that wants someone to blame.

Manning is now facing the potential of capital punishment or life in prison, not for selling secrets to U.S. enemies, but for allegedly sharing information about war crimes as well as other criminal and unethical behavior to the media. The double standard of this potential punishment is seen clearly when compared to sentences of other soldiers.  Retired Col. Ann Wright highlighted the sad absurdity when she pointed to the sentence given to a U.S. soldier convicted of mutilating Afghan civilians.  That soldier received 9 months of work detail at his base, not even in prison.  What is the message – the message is murder, mutilation and rape are less serious offenses than allegedly providing documents that show crimes and misdeeds of government officials.

The hypocrisy does not end there.  Secretary Clinton has been lecturing the world about the need for freedom of speech, press and association in the Internet age.  At her second speech on the subject as she was talking about freedom of speech being essential to democracy, our colleague Ray McGovern, an intelligence analyst for the CIA for 27 years as well as a military veteran stood in silence to protest the U.S. wars and the treatment of Bradley Manning.  He was brutally arrested, thrown to the floor and then thrown into jail where he was left bleeding.  Secretary Clinton kept talking about the importance of freedom of speech as freedom of speech was thrown to the ground before her.

Both Secretary Clinton and President Obama have praised people in foreign governments who have exposed the corruption of their governments, but both have criticized WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning for allegedly doing the same here.  The hypocrisy is so evident it is impossible to miss – but the corporate-government-media does not even report it.

As I was thinking about Bradley Manning for this speech, my mind wandered to another injustice.  The prosecution of Tim DeChristoher for boldly trying to stop or delay the sale of oil leases in Utah as Bidder 70, bidding on the lands to raise their price. Tim saw the sales as illegal and wanted to raise awareness about aggressive drilling in pristine western areas. Even though a federal judge later blocked many of the leases from being issued, on March 3, 2011 Tim was convicted and now faces up to ten years in jail when he is sentenced on June 23rd.  After his conviction, he came outside the courthouse and said:

“You’ve shown that your power will not be intimidated by any power that they have, and that’s the most important thing that has happened here this week.

“Everything that went on inside that building tried to convince me that I was alone, and that I was weak. Inside that building, they tried to convince me that I was a little finger out there on my own that could easily be broken. All of you out here were the reminder, for all of us, that I wasn’t just a finger all alone in there, but that I was connected to a hand, with many fingers that can unite as one fist, and that fist cannot be broken by the power that they have in there.

“That fist is not a symbol of violence. That fist is a symbol that we will not be misled into thinking that we are alone. We will not be lied to and told we are weak. We will not be divided, and we will not back down. That fist is a symbol that we are connected, and that we are powerful. It is a symbol that we hold true to our vision of a healthy and just world and we are building the self-empowering movement to make it happen. All the authorities in there wanted me to think like a finger, but our children are calling to us to think like a fist.”

So, we must Stand with Brad.  Bradley is not a finger. Bradley is part of a hand that connects all of us into a self-empowering movement for peace and justice.

To emphasize the point a large group of supporters from Peaceful Uprising stood outside, standing in unity, they said “We are all Bidder 70” and as Tim walked through the crowd hugging each of them, they sang:

I will stand with you – Will you stand with me

We will be the change that we hope to see

In the name of love – in the name of peace

Will you stand, will you stand with me

When injustice raises up its fist

And fights to stop us in our tracks

We will rise and as one resist

No fear nor sorrow can turn us back

I will stand with you – Will you stand with me

We will be the change that we hope to see

In the name of love – in the name of peace

Will you stand, will you stand with me

Let us show Bradley Manning that he is not alone.  That we are standing with him. We are all Bradley Manning.  Bid tonight.  Donate to his legal and advocacy funds.  And, join us next week in Quantico as we stand at the Marine Base where he is being illegally tortured.

Stand with Bradley Manning

Thank you all for being here

Information for Quantico, Virginia on March 20th rally is here; and information for the End These Wars, Expose the Lies and Free Bradley Manning civil resistance on March 19th at the White House is here.

Kevin Zeese is director of ComeHomeAmerica.US and a member of the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Bradley Manning Is Punished for Seeking a More Perfect Union

2:23 pm in Uncategorized by KevinZeese

He’s Accused of Telling the Truth in a Time of Lies

By Kevin Zeese

Reports that Bradley Manning is being held nude every night at the Quantico Brig, then forced to stand naked in the hallway while he waits for his clothes, shows the inconsistency of the treatment of Manning with basic American values of due process, fair trial and human dignity.

Here is how his lawyer David Coombs describes his treatment:

“The Brig has stripped PFC Manning of all of his clothing for the past three nights, and they intend to continue this practice indefinitely.  Each night, Brig guards force PFC Manning to relinquish all of his clothing.  He then lies in a cold jail cell naked until the following morning, when he is required to endure the humiliation of standing naked at attention for the morning roll call.  According to Marine spokesperson, First Lieutenant Brian Villiard, the decision to strip him naked every night is for PFC Manning’s own protection.  Villiard stated that it would be ‘inappropriate’ to explain what prompted these actions ‘because to discuss the details would be a violation of PFC Manning’s privacy.’”

Manning, who has not been convicted of anything, has been held in virtual solitary confinement for ten months. David House who has visited him since September described him as “emotionally exhausted” and “catatonic.”  The Constitution declares a right to bail, yet Manning who is not a risk of flight is denied bail.  Americans are required to be provided due process of law and a trial before a jury of their peers before being punished.   There is no provision in the Constitution allowing punishment before trial yet Manning is being punished.

Why is Manning being treated this way?  Because this young American allegedly saw crimes being committed in U.S. foreign policy and after trying to report them to his commander, with no good result, supposedly realized he had to get the information to the public. We are living in a time of myths and lies, and, as George Orwell aptly wrote: “In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”  Manning allegedly let out the truth and is now paying the price.

Manning shows the true meaning of patriotism. Patriotism is not blind nationalism.  If Manning is guilty of what he is accused of, he sought to make the country more fair and just in the best traditions of America. He sought to make us a “more perfect union,” a concept enshrined in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution.  The idea of creating a better country is sung about in “America the Beautiful:”

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

Manning is now being punished for allegedly disclosing the flaws of U.S. foreign policy in order to mend them.  He is a young man from Oklahoma who voluntarily joined the U.S. Army.  Manning believed the United States played a positive role in the world and was not anti-military.  He volunteered to serve his country, in doing so he saw how the U.S. conducts its military and foreign policy. He saw war crimes, violations of law and constant deception.   Manning is a principled American who wants his country to be all it promises to be but is not.

Manning was ordered “to round up and hand over Iraqi civilians” to the government the United State put in power and he saw they “were then torturing them with electrical drills and other implements.”  He examined what 15 Iraqi prisoners who were being tortured had done and found they were accused of printing “anti-Iraqi literature.” In fact, the literature was merely a scholarly critique of corruption in the government that asked “Where did the money go?”  He brought his concerns to the chain of command and was told to “shut up” and find more detainees. Evidently, Manning realized he “was actively involved in something that I was completely against…”

According to the unverified chat logs with the informant Adrian Lamo, Manning said that he hoped the publication of the documents and videos would spur “worldwide discussion, debates, and reform.” He went on to say, “I want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” He had already learned that the command structure would not listen, so Manning went beyond them to the people who are supposed to control the military in our democratic republic. He wanted Americans to know the truth.

The WikiLeaks documents that Manning allegedly released did help spur dramatic change by providing much-needed information about abusive security-state governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain among others.  It is disgraceful that America – which constantly proclaims itself as supporting democracy around the world – is now punishing Manning without trial for allegedly providing information that did so much for democracy and ending security state regimes around the world.

Manning now faces charges that include the potential of capital punishment.  He was charged with 22 additional counts for his alleged role in a massive leak of classified information to WikiLeaks, including a charge of “aiding the enemy” that can result in the death penalty.  This charge is particularly disturbing as Glenn Greenwald points out: “This prosecution theory would convert acts of whistle-blowing into a hanging offense.”

This is particularly ironic since the former constitutional law professor who is now the U.S.  president, said in 2008 when he was running for office “Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal.”  Further, as Secretary of State Clinton reminded us during a speech on Internet freedom, when President Obama spoke in China, “he spoke about how access to information helps citizens hold their own governments accountable. . . .”

Indeed, Hillary Clinton is lecturing the world on the importance of freedom of speech and press in the Internet age saying these are “values etched in stone” that “every generation of Americans has worked to protect.”  Last month, in her second speech on freedom in the 21st Century she stated “We govern with the consent of the people, and that consent must be informed to be meaningful.” She applauded people around the world who used the Internet to “expose public corruption” and criticized countries that attempt to restrict the free flow of information. She proclaimed “Governments have to choose to live up to their commitments to protect free expression, assembly, and association.”

How are the statements of President Obama and Secretary Clinton consistent with charging Manning with a death penalty offense based on allegations of leaking documents that showed war crimes as well as crimes by U.S. diplomats?  How is it consistent with the rule of law to punish Manning before he is convicted and hold him in solitary confinement with forced nudity? Doesn’t the United States like other countries need informed citizens who can hold their government accountable?

The president and secretary of state should apply the standards they tell the rest of the world to live up to, to the United States and in particular to Bradley Manning.  If they did, not only would he be released on bail but the charges against him would be dropped and he would be proclaimed a hero for living up to the greatest ideals of patriotic Americans, generations of whom have worked to create a more perfect union.

Kevin Zeese serves on the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network.

The Security Budget vs. the Necessities of Americans

7:41 pm in Uncategorized by KevinZeese

By Kevin Zeese

President Obama and the Congress have taken 66% of discretionary spending in the federal budget off the table – the Security Budget – while proposing a freeze to the rest of the budget and deep cuts to some programs that provide necessities for the American people. His budget crystalizes a choice that U.S. presidents have been making since President Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex – investment in the military vs. investment in the civilian economy.

The bloated and sacrosanct security budget – the military, domestic security and intelligence budgets –all saw rapid growth under President Bush when the DoD doubled its budget. Under President Obama the trend has continued with record military, intelligence and domestic security budgets.

And, while the so-called recovery has only been a recovery for Wall Street and big business, the administration and congress are focused more on the deficit then on re-starting the economy for the rest of us. But there is more talk of cutting Social Security and Medicare than cutting the security budget. In fact, these two items are called entitlements because they are a contract with working Americans who pay for them in every paycheck. For this reason they should not even be considered part of the deficit. Payroll taxes fund these two programs that are essential for older Americans in their retirement years. Both face budget challenges but can be fixed, indeed Social Security has more than $2.5 trillion in Treasury Notes in reserve.

President Obama has proposed the largest DoD budget since World War II, $553 billion (not including war funding and nuclear weapons funding in the Department of Energy). Much attention has been shined on Secretary of Defense Gates’ proposal to “cut” $78 billion in the Pentagon budget. Those “cuts” take place over five years with reductions taking place after the 2012 election in 2014 and 2015. And, the “cuts” do not include the cost of wars. The Afghanistan war alone could eat up projected “savings” and if the CIA’s war in Pakistan escalates that will be an even bigger budget item. Further, we have not seen what the continuing U.S. military footprint in Iraq will cost. These projected cuts are more image than reality.

How does military spending impact Americans? President Reagan’s former assistant secretary of defense Lawrence Korb describes the military budget as “an annual tax of more than $7,000 on every household in the country.” While increasing the security budget, Obama and the Democrats have proposed widespread cuts to critical programs from a 50% cut in low-income heating assistance to nearly a 30% cut to the clean drinking water fund. They have also proposed a 25% cut ($1.3 billion) to the community development block grants used to fund local community development including affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, and infrastructure development. These are essential services needed for Americans health, safety and economic security. Of course, Republican cuts in the House budget are even more extreme but Obama set the table for them by making the debate about deficits and both parties will not touch the security budget. Military analyst, William Hartung, writes “These cuts will be painful, and they will be felt in every middle- and lower-income household in America.”

Cities and states are cutting essential services to balance their budgets. U.S. taxpayers will spend $737 billion for Pentagon spending for FY2011 including war funding). To get a sense of what these means, for the same amount of money tax payers could provide funding for 11.3 million elementary school teachers for one year or 93.5 million scholarships for university students for one year or restart the economy by providing 166.9 million households with renewable electricity – solar photovoltaic for one year. Instead all these programs face cutbacks, while military spending grows.

To get a sense of the absurdity of protecting all military spending, the federal government spends $500 million each year for military marching bands. In comparison it spends $430 million a year on public broadcasting. More than half of all Americans use PBS each year, 170 million people, but PBS faces cutbacks while military bands are protected from budget cuts.

The greater damage will be in the failure to restart the economy. Economists like Nobel Prize winner, Paul Krugman and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, are convincingly urging more spending. Big business is sitting on $2 trillion in cash stifling job creation and a real economic recovery. There are no signs of inflation because the recovery – if you can even it call it a recovery – is non-existent for working Americans and the unemployed/underemployed whose consumer purchases are needed to drive the economy. Obama risks a 1937 mistake – cutting spending too soon and causing another collapse.

Cutting $1 trillion from the federal budget is the goal of the Obama administration deficit plan. All of these cuts could come from military spending and still leave the U.S. militarily dominant. In fact, since the administration has projected an increase in spending of $6.5 trillion from 2011 to 2020, even a trillion would be a slowing of growth more than a real cut. Lawrence Korb lays out a five point plan to reduce military spending by $1 trillion without jeopardizing national security and thereby protecting U.S. economic security.

He is not alone, the Sustainable Defense Task Force provides specific cuts without harming U.S. national security including:

•The $238 billion Joint Strike Fighter program: Cancelling the program and relying instead on upgraded versions of current aircraft would save almost $50 billion over ten years.

•The MV-22 Osprey: Replacing this dangerous, overpriced, and underperforming aircraft with cheaper alternatives would save over $10 billion over ten years.

•Reducing the number of U.S. troops in Europe and Asia to 100,000 from current levels of 150,000 would save $80 billion over a decade.

•Reforming Pentagon health care systems so that retirees pay modest, reasonable premiums could save $60 billion over a decade.

•Scaling back missile defense and space weapons programs could save over $50 billion over a decade.

•Further reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, including deployment of fewer ballistic-missile launching submarines, could save over $100 billion in a ten year period, much of it in operating costs.

•Reducing the size of the Navy from 286 to 230 ships would save over $125 billion over ten years.

If you combine these recommendations of the five point plan of Lawrence Korb, which includes items like bringing home 50,000 of the 150,000 troops stationed in Asia and Europe, reducing the size of the Army and Marine Corps to their pre-Iraq invasion level and reducing nuclear weapons from 1,968 to the 311 the Military War College says is needed for defense, the U.S. would save another $200 billion.

For many, these would only be the starting points of correctly prioritizing military spending. President Eisenhower warned about the military industrial complex 50 year ago. During that time, U.S. spending on the military adjusted for inflation has more than doubled and we have moved to a permanent war state. Columbia University’s Seymour Melman, a professor of industrial engineering, pointed out that “Industrial productivity, the foundation of every nation’s economic growth, is eroded by the relentlessly predatory effects of the military economy.” In fact, we have seen – as we see in the Obama budget – a constant conflict between the military economy and the civilian economy. The civilian economy is losing that battle.

Thomas Woods, Jr. recently wrote in the American Conservative that military spending is parasitic as it feeds off the economy rather than grows it. The scale of resources used by the military is exorbitant, Woods writes: “To train a single combat pilot, for instance, costs between $5 million and $7 million. Over a period of two years, the average U.S. motorist uses about as much fuel as does a single F-16 training jet in less than an hour. The Abrams tank uses up 3.8 gallons of fuel in traveling one mile. Between 2 and 11 percent of the world’s use of 14 important minerals, from copper to aluminum to zinc, is consumed by the military, as is about 6 percent of the world’s consumption of petroleum. The Pentagon’s energy use in a single year could power all U.S. mass transit systems for nearly 14 years.”

To get a sense of the competition between the civilian and military economy, the Department of Commerce estimated the value of the nation’s plants, equipment, and infrastructure (capital stock) at just over $7.29 trillion in 1985; and from 1947 to 1987 the military spent the equivalent, $7.62 trillion in capital resources.

With the long record of the ascendency of military spending it is not surprising to see the U.S. economy in collapse, industry disappearing and the infrastructure crumbling. Not only has the U.S. failed to win a major war since World War II, but the cost of the standing army has become a burden on all of us and a drag on the economy. Some describe the U.S. Empire in decline and others see a collapse as possible at any moment.

Kevin Zeese is executive director of Voters for Peace (www.VotersForPeace.US) and an editor of the book ComeHomeAmerica.US (visit ComeHomeAmerica.US for more information and to purchase the book).

The False Narrative of the Corporate Media: Obama Becoming Business Friendly

9:29 am in Uncategorized by KevinZeese

By Kevin Zeese

The unrelenting narrative from the corporate media – that Obama must mend fences with American business – is disconnected from the reality of Obama’s policies and appointments.  It is inconsistent with the rise in the stock market, the record profits and the hordes of cash big business are sitting on.

There is no question that small businesses are still being choked by the unavailability of credit and that the lack of job creation is preventing a real economic recovery, but the businesses Obama spoke to when he visited the Chamber of Commerce are not in that category.  In recent years, the national Chamber has evolved into a spokesperson for transnational corporations, not Main Street America’s businesses. They have pushed U.S. job killing policies that send jobs overseas so transnational corporations can reap the biggest profits from the cheapest labor.

Rather than scolding the Chamber for killing American industry, Obama kow-towed to them.  He seeks to raise $1 billion for his re-election campaign and neutralize opposition from concentrated corporate capital.  As a result his promises to the Chamber were a policy agenda that will fail to ignite the U.S. economy but continue to grow the power of concentrated corporate interests, especially transnational corporations.

The business agenda Obama promised will be good for big business interests but bad for the U.S. economy, workers and small business interests. It included:

-          A freeze on domestic spending for five years, excluding the military and national security.  This McCain campaign promise opposed by Obama during his campaign, will result in austerity budgets for programs that attempt to meet the needs of Americans while the military and national security budgets continue to devour more and more federal spending. In fact, Obama failed to mention the urgent need to dramatically reduce the rapidly rising military and intelligence budgets, which make up more than half of federal discretionary spending, so as not to offend the Military Industrial Complex.

-          Obama continued the falsehood that Social Security and Medicare are the driving force of deficit spending, when in fact both are contracts with American workers for essential health care and retirement services funded by payroll taxes. This contract, paid for by American workers, must be honored. Social Security in particular has built up over $2.5 trillion worth of Treasury Bonds at the end of fiscal 2009. These produce more than $100 billion annually in interest. Social Security will continue to remain solvent by merely raising the cap on the Social Security tax so the wealthy pay their share will ensure retirement security long into the future.  To really control debt the U.S. must lower health care costs. The Obama reforms will not do this, only improving and expanding Medicare to cover all Americans will accomplish this objective.  If you are concerned with deficit spending you should support single payer health care.

-          Obama promised to reduce the corporate tax, another McCain campaign proposal that the Obama campaign called a “gift basket” for corporate America. In fact, 72 percent of foreign corporations and about 57 percent of U.S. companies doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes for at least one year between 1998 and 2005. Revenue from the corporate income tax fell from between 5 and 6 percent of GDP in the early 1950s to 2.1 percent of GDP in 2008. At a time when corporations are seeing record profits and sitting on huge cash reserves, of $2 trillion, while failing to hire Americans, Obama gently urged them to get back into the economy was inadequate.

-          Obama promised less regulation, pledging to reduce regulation without pointing out that the deregulation era that began with Reagan and continued with every president, Democrat and Republican, was a primary cause of the economic collapse, as even Alan Greenspan, the former libertarian-leaning Federal Reserve Chairman has admitted.

-          Obama promised more corporate trade agreements with developing nations. These types of trade agreements have created a huge trade deficit and the net loss of 5.1 million manufacturing jobs and 43,000 factories since America started its experiment with the current trade model in the 1990s. The Korea pact which Obama trumpeted is projected to cost another 159,000 U.S. jobs.

The Chamber speech and Obama’s recent appointments have the media claiming a new business agenda. His recent appointments of William Daley, a JP Morgan executive and former board member of the Chamber of Commerce as his chief of staff, Gene Sperling, formerly with Goldman Sachs, to head Obama’s National Economic Council, and Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric to heat the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, are certainly pro-business. The latter selection is particularly obnoxious since GE has cut 10,000 jobs in the U.S. while creating 30,000 jobs in India in the last decade.

But these appointments are consistent with the appointments in his first two years. The previous chief of staff,  Rahm Emanuel, received more donations from Wall Street than any other member of Congress.  His Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geitner, was the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York where the failure to control Wall Street gambling was the chief cause of the economic collapse.  Larry Summers was appointed head of the National Economic Council even though he played a large role in deregulating the derivatives market and repeal of Glass-Steagall, two major contributors to the economic collapse.

And, his policy proscriptions have also been in favor of concentrated businesses. His health reform gives hundreds of millions to the insurance industry in new annual tax subsidies and strengthens their grip on health care.  His financial reform was inadequate, did not confront the causes of the collapse and was applauded by the financial industry. He has failed to deal with urgent environmental issues and did not even mention climate change in the State of the Union.  Wars have escalated, expanding to a third front Pakistan, while escalating in Afghanistan and failing to truly get out of Iraq.  Obama has produced record weapons and war budgets, record intelligence budgets and record arms sales.

While Obama is a brilliant communicator who suggests a progressive agenda rhetorically, his appointments and policy proscriptions have been consistently corporatist in nature favoring big business over the necessities of the American people.

The corporate media spin that Obama is now becoming business friendly is false.  He has always been business friendly.  Every proscription to critical issues facing the nation has consistently been to add to the profits of concentrated corporate power.  What Obama is doing now, is laying out his continuing agenda for big business to position him with them for the next election.

Americans who hope that a different President Obama will appear if he is re-elected need to keep the agenda laid out before the Chamber of Commerce in mind.  These are the promises he is making to the big business community as he begins preparation for his re-election.  The billion dollars he seeks for his re-election campaign will come primarily from concentrated corporate capital and they will not donate unless they are assured that their agenda is Obama’s.

Kevin Zeese is executive director of Prosperity Agenda (www.ProsperityAgenda.US).

Wake Up Call for U.S. Empire: Egypt an Opportunity for a Transformational New Beginning

6:19 pm in Uncategorized by KevinZeese

Egypt is an alarm that highlights the urgent need for change in U.S. foreign policy. It provides President Obama an opportunity to transform a foreign policy that has often had the opposite effect that was sought and is undermining U.S. economic and national security.

The list of recent policy failures in the Middle East is quite astounding:

The Iraq War, intended to create a western style democracy and a base of operations for the U.S. in the region has weakened U.S. influence. U.S. military vulnerability to local resistance fighters was exposed. A wide range of abuses of civilians were reported. Perhaps the most damaging were the indelible mark left from the images of Americans torturing Iraqis.  The war put in place a Shi’a government that is closely allied with Iran. The war and occupation have weakened U.S. economic security by costing $3 trillion, much of which will be spent over the next decade taking care of injured soldiers.

The U.S. has escalated the war in Afghanistan where once again local insurgents are holding the world’s only super power at bay, and according to some reports defeating the U.S. military. Last year saw increasing civilian and military casualties and 2011 is expected to be worse.  The Afghan war-quagmire has the U.S. spending $1 million per year to keep each soldier in Afghanistan.

A third front, the CIA-led undeclared war in Pakistan, is escalating. Drone attacks have increased from 35 in 2008 to 124 in 2010. They killed 1,184 people in 2010, creating increasing hatred and new enemies for the United States.  Pakistan has also become an area to attack the supply lines to troops in Afghanistan.  As a nuclear-armed state the stakes in Pakistan are very high and its stability is becoming more fragile in part due to these U.S. policies.

The special relationship with Israel continues to undermine the reputation of the U.S. in the region.  Israel has continued to build illegal settlements, the illegal separation wall and Israeli only roads on Palestinian land all of which make a viable Palestinian state more difficult to achieve. Recently released documents showed Israel as inflexible in peace negotiations, while the Palestinians were will to compromise on almost every important issue. Israel’s brutal attack on Lebanon, which the U.S. failed to criticize, has strengthened Hezbollah. Democracy brought Hamas to power in response to Israeli abuse, PLO corruption and U.S. intransigence.

These are some recent examples, but the mistaken policies in the region are long term dating back to the 1953 coup in Iran removing elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh with disastrous consequences.  The attack on the World Trade Center should have been a wake-up call that led to a re-examination of Middle East policy.  The U.S. was attacked because of U.S. policy in the region especially on Palestine-Israel, U.S. military bases in the region and support of autocrats. Much of the energy for al Qaeda came out of the prisons of Hosni Mubarak where torture is all too common. Ayman al-Zawahiri, a medical doctor who is Osama bin Laden’s closest adviser and often described as the brains of al Qaeda, was tortured in Mubarak’s jails and left determined to destroy the United States for keeping Mubarak in power. And, the alleged 9/11 mastermind Mohammed Atta, an Egyptian engineer who was radicalized because of Mubarak’s domestic policies.

These mistakes have been costly not only in lives but in treasure. Hundreds of billions have been spent on war and trillions will be spent taking care of the injured. Israel and Egypt are the two largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid, each receiving billions annually. Egypt has received more than $50 billion in aid, mostly military support, since the Camp David’s accords.  The U.S. provides Israel with 20% of its military budget.  And, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are bleeding the U.S. treasury at a time when the nation is in economic collapse and austerity measures are creating hardship across the nation.

The fall of Mubarak could be the beginning of massive change across the region.  Tunisia has revolted and replaced its government. The government of Jordan has been replaced.  The president of Yemen has announced he will not seek another term, nor will his son run for office.  The people of the region are on the edge of massive change that will further undermine U.S. interests unless the mistakes of U.S. policy are acknowledged and Obama leads transformational change.

Egypt is one example among many of the U.S. being on the wrong side.  Giving billions of dollars and selling sophisticated weapons to the regime of Hosni Mubarak, despite his abusive, autocratic rule of Egypt, is now coming back to haunt America.  Tear gas canisters with “Made in the USA” printed on them and U.S.-made jets flying overhead to intimidate Egyptians all demonstrate the mistakes of U.S. foreign policy under multiple presidents.

Thus far, the United States is denying the reality of a failed policy. When WikiLeaks documents showed the abuse and crimes of U.S. wars as well as the corruption of diplomacy the reaction was to find some way to prosecute Julian Assange and to mistreat PFC Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker, by putting him in pre-trial solitary-like confinement.  The WikiLeaks documents show the U.S. spying on allies, bribing and threatening them, supporting coup’s against democratically elected officials, allying with dictators and royalists, looking the other way when governments the U.S. put in power tortures civilians and U.S. troops killing civilians for no good reason. With these documents available in the media and on the web President Obama can no longer deny reality and retain credibility.

President Obama’s credibility is also on the line in the Arab world. On June 4, 2009 President Obama gave a speech to the Muslim and Arab world, ironically from Cairo calling for “A New Beginning.” Mohamed ElBaradei is already calling Obama administration comments on Mubarak a “farce” and urged President Obama to take more forceful action or it will cost the United States “whatever is left” of its credibility.  President Obama promised the Muslim and Arab world that he would speak the truth:

“As the Holy Koran tells us, ‘Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.’ That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.”

The time has come to speak the truth about Hosni Mubarak.  He needs to publicly tell Mubarak to step down, urge a truly democratic process to replace him and the Parliament and stop U.S. foreign aid until he does. President Obama’s failure to forcefully act at this historic juncture will lead him to the mistake he acknowledged could be easily made:

“Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.”

This is the time to act to get the United States on the right side of history and begin to make up for decades of mistaken foreign policy in the region for, as he said, “whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it.”

In urging the exit of Mubarak, President Obama can remind the people of Egypt and the world of his words in Cairo about the human yearning for real democracy:

“I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.”

In acknowledging this President Obama can also point to those who want to see security and stability because we all know that democracies are “ultimately more stable, successful and secure.”

Opposing Mubarak will not be enough.  The U.S. is likely to see an Islamist leaning government in Egypt unless broader changes are made in U.S. policy in the region.  In particular, the U.S. relationship with Israel must be radically altered.  Failure to face this reality virtually ensures Arab countries that will be hostile to the United States.

President Obama, I quote your words back to you because in your Cairo speech you described some high ideals that are now achievable because: “We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning.”  The time is now to make that new beginning.

Kevin Zeese is executive director of Voters For Peace (www.VotersForPeace.US).

Bradley Manning White House Call-In Day This Thursday

7:22 am in Uncategorized by KevinZeese

The United States is torturing an american soldier-citizen who has not been convicted of any crime. Pfc Bradley Manning is accused of leaking a video to WikiLeaks that shows the wanton killing of civilians by Amercian soldiers and is being investigated of leaking the Iraq and Afghanistan war diaries as well as a trove of diplomatic cables. VotersForPeace.US is working with the Bradley Manning Support Network (www.BradleyManning.org) to organize a show of suport for Manning and make sure the commander-in-chief takes responsibility for the actions of the military. Please join us in calling the White House this Thursday.


PLEASE JOIN US – PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY – SPREAD THE WORD – STAND WITH BRAD

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National White House Call-in Day to Support Bradley Manning

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
Whitehouse switchboard: 202-456-1414
(or Whitehouse comments: 202-456-1111)

Call the White House Thursday to voice your support for accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower US Army PFC Bradley Manning, specifically that his human rights be respected by the Quantico, Virginia, brig authorities. Bradley has been held in solitary confinement-like conditions for over eight months, and his trial is still months away. This American citizen-soldier has been convicted of no crime, yet continues to endure inhumane conditions of pre-trial confinement like no other inmate at the Quantico brig. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs recently stated that the White House was not paying attention to Bradley Manning’s extreme confinement conditions, or the fact that recent pre-approved visitors of Bradley’s have been detained and interrogated by military police in order to block their scheduled visit. It is critical that we educate the White House of this ongoing injustice!

Recommended points to make:

- US Army PFC Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower being held at the Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia, is an American citizen who is innocent until proven otherwise. Yet, he has been subjected to continuous illegal pre-trial punishment since his arrest in May 2010. Based on these abuses alone, Manning should be freed pending court martial.

- Military pre-trial confinement is supposed to be about ensuring a soldier’s presence at court martial, yet for eight months now Manning has been subjected to extreme pre-trial punishment through the arbitrary use of rarely applied regulations–specifically the “maximum security classification” and the “prevention of injury” order. If he is not freed pending court martial, then at the very least, Manning’s human rights need to be respected, and the illegal pre-trial punishment must end.

- The arbitrary restrictions placed on Manning, and no other inmates at Quantico, mean that: Manning is allowed no meaningful physical exercise, he is allowed no social interaction with other inmates, he is kept in his cell at least 23 hours per day, and he is not allowed out of his cell without restraints.

- If the charges against him are true, they actually show that Manning is a patriot acting to advance an informed democracy. There is no allegation that Manning did anything but share truthful information with the American public regarding the realities of our nation’s ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with absolutely no benefit to himself, in order to spark public debate regarding foreign policy.

The Bradley Manning Support Network: www.bradleymanning.org
Sign-up and join us: www.standwithbrad.org

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