"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Friday, December 03, 2004

Iraq: The U.S. Wrong All the Way

I've heard many generals say that we should have sent more troops into Iraq. Nonsense.

We should never have gone into Iraq. That is what went wrong and is still wrong with the American action in Iraq.

First, what would you do if someone invaded your country and decided to take it over? Wouldn't you fight back? Of course you would. For those of who still have some common sense and are not hypnotized by the lies of the media--we are aware that anyone would defend his or her country. So why is it so hard for Americans to realize that what are called "insurgents" and "terrorists" are actually Iraqis defending their families, their homes and their country against outside invaders. Thus, to the Iraqis and to most of the world, at least 85% according to recent world wide surveys, our American troops are seen as the "terrorists" who do not belong in Iraq and it is our troops who are committing the atrocities with the illegal use of the outlawed napalm, poison gas and phosphorous shells.

We have also committed significant and continuing war crimes in Iraq:
1. Taking over hospitals and not allowing patients to come in for treatment.
2. Our torture and deprivation at Abu Ghraib.
3. The bombing of major civilian populations, knowing full well that there were no military targets therein.
4. Depriving civilians of medical aid, water, electricity and the freedom of move about in order to take care of their needs.
The list could go on, but these are only a few matters that have been listed by the International Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International and by the United Nations.

Somehow, the American people believe Iraq is their country to do with as they wish. This is utter nonsense, it shows our country is out of touch with reality.

American troops are told the Muslims in Iraq are "satan's people" and that they should be killed. Ironically, Islam is closer to Christianity than any other religion--yet the uneducated mass of evangelical preachers have no idea of Islam or the try Christianity--they are preaching a distorted Christianity and they have made up lies about Islam so that our troops are following these lies as truth.

American troops often have pictures of 9/11 and the Twin Towers in their camps and such words as "They did this to us," and "Now let's kill their asses for this," and other such lies.
The Iraqis had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, yet Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and others continue these lies to our troops and to our public. This is insanity of the worst sort.

We also cannot win in Iraq. All America can do is to kill a lot of people, poison them with Depleted Uranium, leave the children worse off than ever (this according to a UN health report of today that said Iraqi children are far worse off than before the American invasion of Iraq).

America is also making more enemies among Muslims throughout the world; something that will not go away in a year or two, but will be alive for possibly centuries--just as the Crusades are remembered to this day!

It it time we brought our troops home--in order to save their lives, their bodies, their physical and mental health, and to save the lives and health of thousands of Iraqis. It is not a lack of troops that is wrong in Iraq, is is that we never should have been there and do not belong there now.

And let us also understand that Vichy like puppets like Allawi are not for or from the Iraqi people--they are transplants who have been and will continue to be rejected by the Iraqi people until they either leave or are assassinated.

Sam Hamod is an expert on the Middle East and Islam. He is the former editor of 3rd World News in Wash, DC and former Director of The Islamic Center of Wash, DC; he also edits,
www.todaysalternativenews.com . He may be reached at shamod@cox.net

Torture by Americans a Nightmarish Picture

12/03/04 "Arizona Daily Star" -- It is both peculiar and chilling to find oneself discussing the problem of American torture. I have considered support of basic human rights and dignity so much a part of our national identity that this feels as strange as though I'd suddenly become Chinese or found Fidel Castro in the refrigerator.

One's first response to the report by the International Red Cross about torture at our prison at Guantanamo is denial. "I don't want to think about it; I don't want to hear about it; we're the good guys, they're the bad guys; shut up. And besides, they attacked us first."

But our country has opposed torture since its founding. One of our founding principles is that cruel and unusual punishment is both illegal and wrong. Every year, our State Department issues a report grading other countries on their support for or violations of human rights.

The first requirement here is that we look at what we are doing - and not blink, not use euphemisms. Despite the Red Cross' polite language, this is not "tantamount to torture." It's torture. It is not "detainee abuse." It's torture.

If they were doing it to you, you would know it was torture. It must be hidden away, because it's happening in Cuba or elsewhere abroad.

Yes, it's true, we did sort of know this already. It was clear when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in Iraq that the infection had come from Guantanamo.

The infamous memos by Alberto Gonzales, our next attorney general, and by John Ashcroft's "Justice" Department pretty well laid it out.

In a way, Abu Ghraib, as bizarrely sadistic as it was, is easier to understand than this cold, relentless and apparently endless procedure at Gitmo. At least Abu Ghraib took place in the context of war. At Guantanamo, there is no threat to anyone.

The Red Cross report says, "The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture."

Our country, the one you and I are responsible for, has imprisoned these "illegal combatants" for three years now. What the hell else do we expect to get out of them?

In the name of Jesus Christ Almighty, why are people representing our government, paid by us, writing filth on the Qurans of helpless prisoners? Is this American? Is it Christian? What are our moral values? Where are the clergymen on this? Speak out, speak up.

The creepiest aspect of the Red Cross report is the involvement of doctors and psychiatrists in something called "Biscuit" teams.

Get used to that acronym: It stands for Behavioral Science Consultation Team and will end up in the same category of national shame as Wounded Knee. The New York Times says Biscuit teams are "composed of psychologists and psychological workers who advise the interrogators." Shades of Dr. Mengele.

An earlier Red Cross report questioned whether "psychological torture" was taking place. I guess that's what you call sleep deprivation and prolonged exposure to extremely loud noises while shackled to a chair.

The beatings reported would not be psychological torture. The Red Cross also reports a far greater incidence of mental illness caused by stress.

If you have neither the imagination nor the empathy to envision yourself in such circumstances, please consider why the senior commanders in the military are so horrified by this. It's very simple. Because, if we do this, if we break international law and the conventions of warfare, then the same thing can be done to American soldiers who are captured abroad.

Any country can use exactly the same lame rationale about "enemy combatants" to torture American troops in any kind of conflict. Then we would protest to the Red Cross, of course. I suppose one could argue that we're fighting people who chop off the heads of their prisoners, so there. Since when have we taken up Abu al-Zarqawi as a role model?

In the famous hypothetical example, you might consider torture justified if you had a terrorist who knew where a bomb was planted that was about to go off. But three years later?

Some people have got to be held accountable for this, and that would include Congress. My question is: What are you going to do about this? It's your country, your money, your government. You own it, you run it, you are the board of directors.

They are doing this in your name. The people we elect to public office do what you want them to. Perhaps you should get in touch with them.

? Molly Ivins' column is distributed by Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045; www.creators.com.

All content copyright © 1999-2004 AzStarNet, Arizona Daily Star

Berkman on War

"War paralyzes your courage and deadens the spirit of true manhood. It degrades and stupefies with the sense that you are not responsible, that 'tis not yours to think and reason why, but to do and die,' like the hundred thousand others doomed like yourself. War means blind obedience, unthinking stupidity, brutish callousness, wanton destruction, and irresponsible murder."

Alexander Berkman

Our Nukes Good, Our Allies’ Nukes Pretty Good, Others’ Very Bad’

Top officials in Washington are now promoting jitters about Iran’s nuclear activities, while media outlets amplify the message. A confrontation with Tehran is on the second-term Bush agenda. So, we’re encouraged to obliquely think about the unthinkable.

But no one can get very far trying to comprehend the enormity of nuclear weapons. They’ve shadowed human consciousness for six decades. From the outset, deception has been key.

Lies from the White House have been part of the nuclear rationalizing process ever since August 1945. President Harry Truman spoke to the American public three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Calling the civilian-filled Japanese city a “military base,” Truman said: “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.”

Actually, US planners had sought a large urban area for the nuclear cross hairs because — as Manhattan Project Director Gen. Leslie Groves later acknowledged — it was “desirable that the first target be of such size that the damage would be confined within it, so that we could more definitely determine the power of the bomb.” Thirty-five years later, when I looked at the US Energy Department’s official roster of “Announced United States Nuclear Tests,” the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were on the list.

We’re now six decades into the Nuclear Age. And we’re farther than ever, it seems, from a momentously difficult truth that Albert Einstein uttered during its first years, when the US government still held a monopoly on the split atom.

“This basic power of the universe cannot be fitted into the outmoded concept of narrow nationalisms,” he wrote. “For there is no secret and there is no defense; there is no possibility of control except through the aroused understanding and insistence of the peoples of the world.”

Today, no phrase could better describe US foreign policies — or American media coverage — than “narrow nationalisms.” The officials keep putting on a proudly jingoistic show, and journalists report it without fundamental challenge.

So, any whiff of sanity is conspicuous. Just before Thanksgiving, when the House and Senate voted to cut funding of research for a new line of tactical nuclear weapons including “bunker buster” warheads, the decision was reported as the most significant victory for arms-control advocates since the early 1990s. That’s because the nuclear weapons industry has been running amok for so long.

While Uncle Sam continues to maintain a nuclear arsenal capable of destroying life on Earth, the American finger-wagging at Iran is something righteous to behold.

Current alarms, wailing about an alleged Iranian program to develop nuclear weapons, are being set off by the same Bush administration officials who declared that an invasion of Iraq was imperative because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

As we now know, he didn’t. But that hasn’t stopped the Bush team from launching the same kind of media campaign against Iran — based on unverified claims by Iranian exiles with a track record of inaccuracy and a clear motive to pull Washington into military action. Sound familiar?

We ought to be able to recognize what’s wrong with US officials who lecture Iran about the evils of nuclear-arms proliferation while winking at Israel’s arsenal, estimated to include 200 nuclear weapons.

When Einstein called for “the aroused understanding and insistence of the peoples of the world,” he was describing a need that news media ought to help fill. But instead, mostly we get the official stories: Dumbed-down, simplistic, and — yes — narrowly nationalistic. The themes are those of Washington’s powerful: Our nukes good, our allies’ nukes pretty good, unauthorized nukes very bad.

That sort of propaganda drumbeat won’t be convincing to people who doubt that a Christian Bomb is good and a Jewish Bomb is good but an Islamic Bomb is bad. You don’t have to be an Einstein to understand that people are rarely persuaded by hypocritical messages along the lines of “Do as we say, not as we do.”

Norman Solomon

Copyright: Creators Syndicate

Kerik Nomination Is A Ticking Time Bomb

Campaign bodyguard to Rudy Giuliani.

Errand boy for the Saudi royal family.

Energetic exploiter of Sept. 11th tragedy.

Tough-talking publicity-hound vowing to bring law and order to Iraq - then hightailing it out of there after a disastrous 14 weeks, leaving the place far less safe than he found it.

Oh, the bullet points on Bernie Kerik's real-life resume just go on and on. But is this really the guy we want standing between us and the terrorists?

George W. Bush apparently thinks so.

White House sources were saying last night that Kerik, the scandal-scarred former commissioner of the New York Correction and Police departments, will be named today to take Tom Ridge's job as head of homeland security.

For now, let's give the Bush folks the benefit of the doubt: Maybe they've been wowed by Kerik's shameless swing-state Kerry-bashing in Bush's behalf. ("I fear another attack, and I fear that attack with ... Senator Kerry being in office responding to it.")

Maybe they've been bullied by Giuliani's bulldog lobbying for a loyal business buddy and after-hours pal. ("OK, Karl," you can almost hear Rudy say, "I won't be attorney general, but you gotta take Bernie at homeland security!")

Or maybe it's just that the FBI background check isn't back from the field.

Whatever the reason, the White House personnel office really ought to ask some probing questions around New York. You can bet they'll get an earful of heads-up about this hard-charging, thick-necked, shaved-head lightweight.

Let this be a warning from someone who's followed the man's ladder-climbing career: He's a personal and professional time bomb the Bushies will learn to regret. Don't say I didn't warn you, guys!

That's certainly the message that smart law-enforcement professionals in New York were exchanging yesterday, as they shook their heads in disbelief at Kerik's latest career goal.

"He couldn't run the Rikers commissary without getting greedy and making a mess, in a jam," one correction veteran said. "Now he's gonna be in charge of the Department of Homeland Security? Let's just hope the terrorists don't decide to come back."

This former subordinate was referring to just one of many petty scandals that have hung over Kerik's career. When he ran Correction, nearly $1 million of tobacco-company rebates were diverted into an obscure foundation Kerik was president of. This was for cigarettes bought with taxpayer money and then sold at inflated prices to jail inmates. But this rebate money - would kickbacks be a better word? - got spent entirely outside the normal rules for public funds.

No one was criminally charged. But a whole rash of IRS rules were seemingly violated. One board member quit in protest when the foundation treasurer refused to provide him with financial reports. And no one has ever explained where all the money went.

It was a typical Kerik deal. He behaved from start to finish like normal rules didn't apply to him.

It isn't possible in so little space to give an adequate tour of the man's rise from Jersey high-school dropout to prospective anti-terror boss.

As a public service, however, let me suggest a few ripe areas of personal inquiry that someone in Washington might like to pursue.

Along the way, don't lose sight of this: The homeland security chief stands between Osama bin Laden and our good-night sleep.

Why did he pull out of Iraq so suddenly? Does he think he did a pretty good job teaching the Baghdad police how to keep order and how to behave in "a free and democratic society," to use his words at the time?

Was Sept. 11th Commission member John Lehman on to something when he called Kerik's leadership after the terror attack "scandalous" and "not worthy of the Boy Scouts."

What exactly does he do at Giuliani Partners? How's that anti-crime campaign in Mexico City going? What companies and foreign governments are on his client list?

Why did Kerik send a New York City homicide detective to rouse TV hair and makeup artists in the middle of the night when his book publisher (and workout-partner) lost her cell phone?

What new job does he have in mind for John Picciano, his perennial chief of staff? Could Picciano really pass a federal background check? What about the complaint (later dropped) that he'd beaten up his correction-officer girlfriend and waved his gun around?

There are answers for all of it, I am sure. Answers to these few questions and many racier ones.

Over the weeks to come, Kerik will have a chance to answer all of them.

I, for one, am waiting.

So are a lot of people who've gotten to know the man in New York.

Email: henican@newsday.com

The Bill of Rights: Antipathy to Militarism

The Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that “no Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

Obviously, the Third Amendment has little relevance today. But what is relevant for us today is the mindset that underlay the passage of that amendment — a mindset of deep antipathy toward militarism and standing armies. Our ancestors’ fierce opposition to a powerful military force was consistent with their overall philosophy that guided the formation of the Constitution and the passage of the Bill of Rights.

While the Framers understood the need for a federal government, what concerned them was the possibility that such a government would become a worse menace than no government at all. Their recent experience with the British government — which of course had been their government and against which they had taken up arms — had reinforced what they had learned through their study of history: that the biggest threat to the freedom and well-being of a people was their own government.

Thus, after several years operating under the Articles of Confederation, the challenge the Framers faced was how to bring a federal government into existence that would be sufficiently powerful to protect their rights and liberties but that would not also become omnipotent and tyrannical.

Their solution was the Constitution, a document that would call the federal government into existence but limit its powers to those expressly enumerated in the document itself. Thus, a close examination of the Constitution shows that the powers of the U.S. government originate in it. The idea was that if a power wasn’t enumerated, federal officials were precluded from exercising it.

Even that, however, was not good enough for our American ancestors. They wanted an express restriction on the abridgement of what had become historically recognized as fundamental and inherent rights of the people. In other words, they wanted what could be considered an express insurance policy for the protection of their rights. While government officials could not lawfully exercise powers that were not enumerated in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights would make the point even more emphatically that federal officials had no authority to abridge the fundamental rights of the people.

The Constitution provided other measures to protect against the rise of omnipotent and tyrannical government. One was the division of government into three separate branches, with the aim of establishing a system of “checks and balances” that would prevent the rise of powerful centralized government. Another was the Second Amendment, which ensured that the people would retain the means of resisting tyranny or even violently overthrowing a tyrannical government should the need arise.

Given their view that the federal government they were bringing into existence constituted the biggest threat to their freedom and well-being, constantly on the minds of our ancestors was the primary means by which governments had historically subjected their people to tyranny — through the use of the government’s military forces. That is the primary reason for the deep antipathy that the Founders had for an enormous standing military force in their midst. They understood fully that if such a force existed, their own government would possess the primary means by which governments have always imposed tyranny on their own people.

Using armies for tyranny

Historically, governments had misused standing armies in two ways, both of which ultimately subjected the citizenry to tyranny. One was to engage in faraway wars, which inevitably entailed enormous expenditures, enabling the government to place ever-increasing tax burdens on the people. Such wars also inevitably entailed “patriotic” calls for blind allegiance to the government so long as the war was being waged. Consider, for example, the immortal words of James Madison, who is commonly referred to as “the father of the Constitution”:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.... [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and ... degeneracy of manners and of morals.... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

The second way to use a standing army to impose tyranny was the direct one — the use of troops to establish order and obedience among the citizenry. Ordinarily, if a government has no huge standing army at its disposal, many people will choose to violate immoral laws that always come with a tyrannical regime; that is, they engage in what is commonly known as “civil disobedience” — the disobedience to immoral laws. But as the Chinese people discovered at Tiananmen Square, when the government has a standing army to enforce its will, civil disobedience becomes much more problematic.

Consider again the words of Madison:

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.
The idea is that governments use their armies to produce the enemies, then scare the people with cries that the barbarians are at the gates, and then claim that war is necessary to put down the barbarians. With all this, needless to say, comes increased governmental power over the people.

Sound familiar?

The Founding Fathers

Here is how Henry St. George Tucker put it in Blackstone’s 1768 Commentaries on the Laws of England:

Wherever standing armies are kept up, and when the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.
Virginian Patrick Henry pointed out the difficulty associated with violent resistance to tyranny when a standing army is enforcing the orders of the government:

A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny; and how are you to punish them? Will you order them to be punished? Who shall obey these orders? Will your mace-bearer be a match for a disciplined regiment?
When the Commonwealth of Virginia ratified the Constitution in 1788, its concern over standing armies mirrored that of Patrick Henry:

... that standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.

Virginia’s concern was expressed by North Carolina, which stated in its Declaration of Rights in 1776,

that the people have a Right to bear Arms for the Defence of the State, and as Standing Armies in Time of Peace are dangerous to Liberty, they ought not to be kept up, and that the military should be kept under strict Subordination to, and governed by the Civil Power.

The Pennsylvania Convention repeated that principle:

... as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military shall be kept under strict subordination to and be governed by the civil power.
The U.S. State Department’s own website describes the convictions of the Founding Fathers regarding standing armies:

Wrenching memories of the Old World lingered in the 13 original English colonies along the eastern seaboard of North America, giving rise to deep opposition to the maintenance of a standing army in time of peace. All too often the standing armies of Europe were regarded as, at best, a rationale for imposing high taxes, and, at worst, a means to control the civilian population and extort its wealth.

In fact, as Roy G. Weatherup pointed out in his excellent article, “Standing Armies and Armed Citizens: A Historical Analysis of the Second Amendment” (www.saf.org/journal/ 1_stand.html), the abuses of their government’s standing army was one of the primary reasons that the British colonists took up arms against that army in 1776:

[The Declaration of Independence] listed the colonists’ grievances, including the presence of standing armies, subordination of civil to military power, use of foreign mercenary soldiers, quartering of troops, and the use of the royal prerogative to suspend laws and charters. All of these legal actions resulted from reliance on standing armies in place of the militia.
Moreover, as William S. Fields and David T. Hardy point out in their excellent article, “The Third Amendment and the Issue of the Maintenance of Standing Armies: A Legal History” (www.saf.org/LawReviews/FieldsAnd Hardy2.html), the deep antipathy that the Founders had toward standing armies followed a long tradition among the British people of opposing the standing armies of their king:

The experience of the early Middle Ages had instilled in the English people a deep aversion to the professional army, which they came to associate with oppressive taxes, and physical abuses of their persons and property (and corresponding fondness for their traditional institution the militia). This development was to have a profound effect on the development of civil rights in both England and the American colonies.... During the seventeenth century, problems associated with the involuntary quartering of soldiers and the maintenance of standing armies became crucial issues propelling the English nation toward civil war.
Did the antipathy against standing armies mean that our ancestors were pacifists? On the contrary! After all, don’t forget that they had only recently won a violent war against their own government and its enormous and powerful standing army.

In their minds, the military bedrock of a free society lay not in an enormous standing army but rather in the concept of the citizen-soldier — the person in ordinary life in civil society who is well-armed and well-trained in the use of weapons and who is always ready in times of deepest peril to come to the aid of his country — but only to defend against invasion and not to go overseas to wage wars of aggression or wars of “liberation.” As John Quincy Adams put it in his July 4, 1821, address to Congress, America “does not go abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

U.S. foreign policy

Are the ideas and principles of the Founding Fathers relevant today? They couldn’t be more relevant. Many decades ago, President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about the growing power of the military-industrial complex in American life. Unfortunately, the American people failed to heed his warning. The result has been an ever-growing military cancer that is bringing death, ruin, shame, and economic disaster to our nation — just as our Founding Fathers said it would.

More and more people are finally recognizing that the anger and hatred that foreigners have for the United States is rooted in morally bankrupt, deadly, and destructive foreign policies — policies that have been enforced by America’s enormous standing military force. The resulting blow-back in terms of terrorist attacks, such as those on the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001, have been used as the excuse for waging more wars thousands of miles away, and those wars have produced even more anger and hatred, with the concomitant threat of even more terrorist counter-responses. All that, in turn, has provided the excuse for more foreign interventions, ever-increasing military budgets, consolidation of power, increasing taxes, and massive infringements on the civil liberties of the American people.

It is not a coincidence that the president’s indefinite detention and punishment of American citizens for suspected terrorist crimes without according them due process, habeas corpus, right to counsel, jury trials, freedom of speech, or other fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are being enforced by the standing army that our ancestors warned us against. And make no mistake about it: Given orders of their commander in chief, especially in a “national security crisis,” to establish “order” in America, U.S. soldiers will do the same thing that soldiers throughout history have done — they will obey the orders given to them. Just ask the survivors of the massacre at the Branch Davidian compound at Waco or the victims of rape and sex abuse at Abu Graib prison in Iraq or Jose Padilla, an American citizen who is currently in Pentagon custody, where he has been denied due process, habeas corpus, and other rights accorded by the U.S. Constitution.

In determining the future direction of our nation, the choice is clear: Do we continue down the road of empire, standing armies, foreign wars and occupations, and sanctions and embargoes, along with the taxes, regulations, and loss of liberty that inevitably come with them? Do we continue a foreign policy, enforced by the U.S. military, that engenders ever-increasing anger and hatred among the people of the world, which then engenders violent “blowback” against Americans, which is in turn used to justify more of the same policies?

Or do we change direction and move our nation in the direction of the vision of our Founding Fathers — toward liberty and the restoration of a republic to our nation — toward a society in which the government is limited to protecting the nation from invasion and barred from invading or attacking foreign nations — a world in which the United States is once again the model society for freedom, prosperity, peace, and harmony — a nation in which the Statue of Liberty once again becomes a shining beacon for those striving to escape the tyranny and oppression of their own governments?

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.

This article was originally published in the September 2004 edition of Freedom Daily.

The REAL BOSS in Iraq

Bush Dismisses Talk of Delaying Iraq Vote

He Cites Need to Bring U.S. Forces Home

President Bush yesterday flatly ruled out any delay in Iraqi elections scheduled for Jan. 30 despite the unrelenting insurgency, rejecting Sunni Muslim boycott threats and framing the vote as a critical step toward bringing U.S. troops home.

In his strongest reaffirmation of the election plan, Bush attempted to end any doubt about whether the vote would go forward after days of debate among Iraqi politicians. Organizations representing the once-powerful Sunni minority have demanded the elections be put off until security is restored, while leaders of the majority Shiites have insisted the balloting proceed.

"The elections should not be postponed," Bush said. "It's time for the Iraqi citizens to go to the polls. And that's why we are very firm on the January 30th date."

Bush acknowledged that the precarious security environment had prompted him to approve Pentagon plans to increase the U.S. troop presence to 150,000 until after the elections. But he promised that "at some point in time, when Iraq is able to defend itself against the terrorists who are trying to destroy democracy -- as I have said many times -- our troops will come home with the honor they have earned."

Speaking to reporters alongside visiting Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Bush weighed in again on the political crisis in Ukraine, insisting that fresh elections be "free from any foreign influence," an implicit warning to Russia. And on another brewing international dispute, Bush declined to say whether he thinks U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan should resign because of an investigation into fraud in the U.N. oil-for-food program that managed sanctions against Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule.

The Iraqi election schedule has dominated the dialogue in Baghdad in recent days as leaders of the Sunni community, which exercised power under Hussein disproportionate to its 20 percent share of the population, warned that they would sit out the elections in January that they would almost certainly lose. The Sunnis demanded a delay of as long as six months, citing the instability fueled by a Sunni-dominated resistance.

Shiite political leaders and their religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, rejected the demand, and Iraq's interim President Ghazi Yawar, a Sunni Muslim tribal sheik, agreed on Wednesday that the election should take place as planned. Many Shiites see the elections as a chance to finally assume power in a country where they have been largely shut out despite their greater numbers.

Bush said last week that he "would hope they would go forward in January," but yesterday's statement made clear he will brook no delay. Analysts said the Bush administration needs the elections for a 275-member National Assembly to be conducted on schedule to secure legitimacy for a new Iraqi government, particularly in the eyes of the Shiites.

"The thing that has kept the Shias out in the country quiet is that there would be an election by January," said Henri J. Barkey, a former Clinton State Department official now teaching at Lehigh University. "Any backing off from that date would be seen as abandonment."

Any delay, he added, would be considered caving in to the insurgents and would encourage further violence. "Not having elections would be taking the lid off the powder keg . . . and anything can happen after that."

Bush expressed hope that the elections would represent a defining turn for Iraq. "It's one of those moments in history," he said, "where a lot of people will be amazed that a society has been transformed so quickly from one of tyranny and torture and mass graves to one in which people are actually allowed to express themselves at the ballot" box.

Under the plan adopted by the Iraqi election commission, the National Assembly chosen in January would then select a new government and draft a constitution.

To enhance security for the vote, the Pentagon said this week that it will increase the number of troops there by 12,000, with the hope of reducing the force again by March.

On Ukraine, Bush sent a veiled message to Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop interfering. Putin met yesterday with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and seconded his refusal to hold a new runoff election to replace the Nov. 21 balloting that international observers deemed corrupted by widespread, blatant fraud in favor of Kuchma's hand-selected candidate.

Kuchma wants a new vote open to any candidates, rather than a rerun pitting his prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych, against opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

"There are different options on the table, and we're watching very carefully what is taking place," Bush said. "But any election in any country . . . must reflect the will of the people and not that of any foreign government." Bush thanked the leaders of Poland, Lithuania and other members of the European Union for their help while pointedly not mentioning Putin.

Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 3, 2004; Page A01

Coalition Seeks FBI's Files on Protest Groups

The American Civil Liberties Union joined with dozens of activist groups yesterday in demanding information about federal counterterrorism surveillance efforts, alleging that the FBI and local police departments have targeted peaceful protest groups and law-abiding citizens for scrutiny based on their political beliefs.

In Freedom of Information Act requests filed in the District and 10 states, the ACLU and its affiliates are seeking FBI files about groups and individuals allegedly under surveillance. They are also asking for details about the operations of Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which include federal and local law enforcement officers and which coordinate counterterrorism probes regionally.

The ACLU points to several incidents over the past year involving antiwar protesters, environmental groups and religious organizations that have raised questions about the scope of counterterrorism investigations. The organization argues that the evidence suggests a pattern of broader harassment of left-leaning groups.

"We aren't trying to say that they can't and don't need to investigate people who happen to be members of political or religious groups when they have concrete evidence of criminality," said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson. "But we have evidence that they are targeting these groups with nothing at all. . . . They shouldn't be wasting their time or our money infiltrating peace groups or collecting files on the Quakers or the Catholic Peace Ministries."

An FBI official, who would discuss details of counterterrorism cases only on the condition of anonymity, said some of the incidents highlighted by the ACLU did not involve the FBI. In other cases, the FBI was investigating legitimate potential threats connected to the national political conventions or other events, the official said.

"They've drawn their conclusion before they've done their research," the FBI official said. "All of our cases are predicated on allegations of criminal activity or national security issues. . . . If there is a threat involved, we have to look at it."

The debate is the latest in a series of disputes over the aggressive counterterrorism tactics used by federal authorities since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which prompted a restructuring of the FBI to focus on thwarting future terrorist strikes and ushered in legislation that strengthened the Justice Department's ability to conduct secret searches and surveillance.

The ACLU and other groups have been particularly critical of an FBI "intelligence bulletin" issued in October 2003 that urged local police to monitor antiwar protests and to "report any potentially illegal acts to the nearest FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force."

The ACLU also highlighted several specific cases across the country that have previously drawn condemnation from activist groups. They include subpoenas issued, and then withdrawn, in Des Moines in connection with an antiwar protest; a series of interviews conducted by federal and local authorities in connection with alleged threats on media organizations at the Democratic National Convention in Boston; and the discovery by peace activists in Fresno, Calif., that their group had been infiltrated by a member of the local sheriff's department.

Several cases have revolved around groups in Colorado, where the Denver Police Department agreed in a legal settlement last year to stop keeping "spy files" on protesters. The ACLU says some of those files were shared with the local JTTF and the FBI.

"The FBI has a history of being heavy-handed," said David Crawford, executive director of Rocky Mountain Animal Defense of Boulder, an organization whose name was among those shared with the federal terrorism task force because the Denver police had labeled it a "criminal extremist" group. "People are concerned that their name is going to end up on a list somewhere, all because they are participating in peaceful activities and exercising their free-speech rights."

Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 3, 2004; Page A03

Homeland Secrecy

THE GOVERNMENT keeps too many secrets. It classifies information that would do no harm if published; this impedes information-sharing within the government and erodes public confidence. Now the Department of Homeland Security is adding a new twist: aggressive secrecy concerning information that isn't even classified.

In recent months, the department has been requiring new employees and contractors to sign non-disclosure agreements regarding "sensitive but unclassified" information they learn at work. Signers must acknowledge that they "could be subject to administrative, disciplinary, civil or criminal action" for violations and that the government may "conduct inspections, at any time or place, for the purpose of ensuring compliance." In other words, as a condition of their employment, DHS workers have to accept a gag agreement and permit potentially intrusive searches as well.

Labor unions have understandably complained, and a DHS official says the agreements are being reviewed. This official explains that the agreements merely duplicate regulations that already protect certain categories of information; they don't actually do much at all, he says, and may therefore not be necessary. It's true they're not necessary, but anti-secrecy activist Steven Aftergood disputes the contention that they would have little effect. He says they could chill whistle-blowing and more basic discussion between government employees and the outside world. Mr. Aftergood notes that the military doesn't require its employees to sign such documents. DHS shouldn't either.

The department is also is keeping secret Transportation Security Administration rules, known as "security directives," that guide who can get on an airplane. Not all criteria for airport screening should be public; they could give terrorists a road map for sneaking through. But there's no need for the entirety of all such directives to be secret. For basic legal authorities -- the rules that define Americans' interactions with government -- to be kept under wraps presents a challenge to the U.S. tradition of transparency in law. The department needs to remember that the homeland whose security it is protecting is one in which democratic debate is supposed to be open and freewheeling.

Washington Post Editorial
Friday, December 3, 2004; Page A26