"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Call to Say No to Torture

"To be aware and be silent is to be complicit. As Christians and patriots we cannot be silent; we must say “no.”

Presbyterians Speak Out: A Call to Say No to Torture

On Oct. 12 Rick Ufford-Chase, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Ed Brogan, Director of the Presbyterian Council of Military Chaplains, issued a joint statement "A Call to Say No! to Torture."

The terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 was a heartbreaking tragedy we will never forget. That catastrophe is also an opportunity to witness to the power of God. Some have said that everything changed on the morning of 9/11, but it did not. We were challenged, but our beliefs and our society are stronger than a handful of terrorists. As Christians, we know that our hope and security come from one place only: our full trust and complete confidence in Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior.

Unfortunately, instead of taking comfort from the strength we have in God, instead of drawing on our nation’s standards of decency and justice, too often we have given way to the temptation to fear and, in fear, we have jeopardized some of the very things we value most.

Due process has given way to secret detentions, justice has given way to expediency, and humane treatment of prisoners has given way to torture. We are told that our country does not torture prisoners, but our heads and our hearts tell us differently. Hidden, institutionalized torture has become routine. Doing things beyond our borders, or having others do them for us, does nothing to lessen our responsibility.

Torture threatens the very nature of our society. Torture degrades us more than its victims. Torture puts us and our troops at risk from those seeking vengeance. We must adhere to our principles for our own sake, as well as out of concern for others. To be aware and be silent is to be complicit. As Christians and patriots we cannot be silent; we must say “no.”

We must not let fear or hatred be our motivation individually or as a nation. Instead, we must trust that “God is love... and perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God,’ but hate their brothers or sisters are liars...” (1 John 4:10b, 18–20a).

As Presbyterians we are aware of God’s sovereign call to witness to Christ’s reconciling work of justice and love. Central to this are the hard tasks of speaking the truth to power and loving our enemies. While those who conspire to terrorize innocents must be brought to justice, we cannot achieve this by terrorizing others who may be innocent.

In response to a groundswell of concern, we invite all Presbyterians to join us in a three-month period of prayer, study, discussion, and action focused on the treatment of those detained by and at the request of the United States and its allies in the four years since September 11, 2001. Our invitation is grounded in a growing concern we hear from Presbyterians who are theologically diverse, including those who have served with distinction in the Armed Forces and those who have spent their entire adult lives working for peace and the abolition of war. The 216th General Assembly spoke forcefully on matters regarding terrorism, violence, war, and the use of torture. While not all Presbyterians agree with every action of the General Assembly, we are committed to pursuing honest discussion and seeking common ground to speak to these difficult issues. Therefore, we invite individuals and congregations:

To pray: We pray for those who are detained and their families, and we pray for our troops and their families. Those who serve their country must never be asked to treat prisoners in ways that are contrary to the law, their own conscience, or basic human dignity.

We pray for ourselves and our nation. We must strive to create a climate of religious tolerance and respect, rather than perpetuate a cycle of fear and vengeance. Expressing our outrage and demanding an end to torture in all its forms is the first step.

To study: Abuse and torture are complex and difficult issues, but knowing the truth—even uncomfortable truths—can set us free to act. Therefore, a group of concerned Presbyterians has developed a curriculum to be used by congregations and others who wish to study the facts carefully in light of their faith.

To Dialogue: We are called to be in thoughtful, respectful dialogue with one another, seeking common ground and listening carefully to one another when we disagree. In so doing, we know that our witness as followers of Jesus Christ becomes ever stronger and more faithful.

To speak out: Our faith and our country’s constitution remind us that it is our duty to ask hard questions of those in power and to speak out whenever truth is compromised.

We call on the United States and its allies to invite an independent and impartial investigation of the conditions under which detainees are held and by whose orders they are being held. The truth must be convincingly told. For Jesus says, “Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not be known. Therefore, what you have said in the dark will be heard in the light and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops” (Luke 12:2–3).

We call for these investigations toward the goal of eliminating torture and holding accountable all those who are responsible. We further call for the release of those who have not been charged with any crime, and demand fair and speedy trials for those who have been accused.

To these ends, we encourage Presbyterians to lift up their conerns with their elected officials. Current information and advocacy suggestions will be posted on the Act Now section of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Web site: www.pcusa.org/peacemaking/ To come together: All are invited to become part of a rapidly growing grassroots network by signing on at www.no2torture.org.

We also invite all those who are concerned to a meeting in Miami on January 6 and 7, 2006, to make a public witness and further organize our efforts to call upon our nation and allies to treat all detainees humanely and justly. More information about this gathering will be posted on the No2Torture and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Web sites listed above.

We give thanks for the overwhelming grace that comes as a free gift from our God. We know, however, that the gift of God’s grace is not cheap, and we dare not cheapen it by living lives of timidity and fear. God commands that we seek the truth and say “no” to what is wrong, that we might be free to join with God and our neighbors to build what is just. The cross of Jesus Christ makes it clear that God’s love is stronger than torture and fear.

Rick Ufford and Ed Brogan
10/13/05 "ICH"
Rick Ufford Moderator, 216th General Assembly (2004)

Chase Ed Brogan Director, Presbyterian Council for Chaplains Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


Judith (WMD) Miller

"Judith is a walking treasure trove of all kinds of information that the government and powerful corporations -- like the New York Times -- don’t want you to know."

The Public’s Right to Know All About Judith Miller

Upon her release from voluntary incarceration, it didn’t take long for Judith Miller to arrange for an appointment with CNN’s Lou Dobbs. After finally conceding that Libby was involved in the Plame scandal, she appeared on Lou’s show and declared that, “If people can't trust us to come to us to tell us the thing the government and powerful corporations don't want us to know, we're dead in the water.”

Miller continues to insist on playing the farcical role of a First Amendment martyr. She is now demanding the passage of a federal shield law “so that the public’s right to know can be protected.” Maybe I missed something -- but I thought she spent twelve weeks in jail to avoid providing the public with some essential facts about the role of high-powered administration insiders in the Plame affair.

There is a whole bunch of questions that the public wants answers to. And Judith is a walking treasure trove of all kinds of information that the government and powerful corporations -- like the New York Times -- don’t want you to know.

If Judy ever finds herself inclined to concede the public’s right to know, she can start by telling her fellow citizens all about her designated role in the Plame games. If that day ever comes, Miller should consider writing a book on the role of the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans in manufacturing intelligence to make the case for invading Iraq.

The first chapter would include detailed profiles of Paul Wolfowitz, Ahmed Chalabi, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Lewis “Scooter Libby”, Elliot Abrams, John Bolton and William Lutti. Judith Miller can give us a little background on how and when these actors teamed up to make the case for this war of choice. Why did Wolfowitz and Feith set up the Office of Special Plans and staff it with neocon ideologues affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute -- a front for the Israeli Lobby that masquerades as a think tank? Judith Miller knows all about the American Enterprise Institute -- having co-authored a book with Laurie Mylroie, a resident fellow at AEI.

Another chapter of the book might reveal how The New York Times teamed up with the Office of Special Plans to deliberately bamboozle the public with doctored reports on Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction. Nothing would excite the public more than an inside profile of Arthur Sulzberger -- the godfather at the grey lady -- and how he captained his squad of neocon yellow journalists. To what extent was he involved in the project to produce and disseminate an endless stream of fiction about Iraq’s threat to American national security?

Did Sulzberger hold daily meetings to direct the misinformation traffic? What role was Thomas Friedman assigned in the WMD hoax? When William Safire was not busy ghost writing editorials for Ariel Sharon -- was he conferring with Sulzberger on which neocon warmonger should be invited to write a guest editorial?

Nothing could better open the eyes of the public to mischief in high places than a detailed personal account of Miller’s own assigned role in the pre-war propaganda campaign. How was she recruited for the assignment, or did she volunteer? How far back does her personal relationship go with Libby, Feith and Chalabi? Did they all vacation together in Aspen? Before she got out of jail, Libby sent Miller what appears to be a coded message. “Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them.” My translation “we’re all connected by our ideological roots. Be very careful. If I go down -- the whole neocon project bites the dust.”

Miller continues to assert that she isn’t “covering for anybody.” Technically, that’s not a lie. Because Judith Miller is “covering for everybody” involved in a very elaborate campaign of deception engineered by a consortium of government and mass media operators. Incidentally, federal law specifically prohibits intelligence operatives from waging a propaganda campaign against American citizens.

For good reasons, Miller and Sulzberger have gone to great lengths to obstruct any progress in Fitzgerald's two-year-old investigation of the administration insiders who outed a CIA agent in an act of vengeance against her husband, Joseph Wilson. At great expense, they took their case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Wilson’s revelations about the yellow cake uranium were judged to be very threatening by the neocons -- including Judith Miller. Why? Did the neocon cabal overreact or did they correctly size up the ambassador as a mortal threat who would expose their role in the WMD hoax? By the time Wilson went public with his accusations, the invasion of Iraq was already a done deal. Other individuals like Hans Blix and Scott Ritter had made valiant attempts to warn the public about the WMD hoax even before the war started. Why then was Joseph Wilson singled out for such dire treatment?

Miller can answer all these questions and plenty more. If that woman ever decides to switch careers from the misinformation industry and consider a job as a journalist -- the public would be in for one sweet treat.

The reason Miller and her neocon co-conspirators got all worked up about Wilson is that he not only disputed their WMD claims -- he demolished their fallback position which was to blame the whole mess on an “intelligence failure.” When Sulzberger published his mea culpa editorial apologizing for WMD reporting “errors” in his paper, he conveniently omitted any mention of Judith Miller. Like the rest of the neocon gang, he blamed the mistakes on “circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on regime change in Iraq.” Everybody understood that to mean Ahmed Chalabi and Company. In an effort to cover for their co-conspirators in the administration, the scandalous apologia noted that “Complicating matters for journalists, the accounts of these exiles were often eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq. Administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources.”

All along, the neocon plan was very simple -- even elegant. Before the war, they would make a ruckus about Iraq’s phantom weapons of mass destruction. After, the war they would claim it was all a big mistake based on an honest ‘intelligence failure’ and place the blame on Chalabi -- who was counted on to fall on his sword as a “hero in error.” Enter Ambassador Wilson with his assertions that the Niger Yellow Cake Uranium was an amateurish hoax. Even if Chalabi had volunteered to take the blame for the “Niger” scam, he couldn’t credibly take the fall for “bad intelligence” that originated in Italy by way of the Tel Aviv.

Wilson’s unforgivable crime was that he had blown up the bridge to the neocon fallback “intelligence failure” position. With a single article, he managed to mess up the neocon plan to divert attention from the Office of Special Plans -- the Pentagon assembly line charged with systematically manufacturing bogus intelligence.

Fortunately for Sulzberger and his in-house neocon brigades, his paper wasn’t the only major news outlet to team up with the administration in executing the WMD propaganda campaign. You could find Judith Miller clones embedded in virtually every mass media corporation. Sulzberger’s rivals had no incentive to take him down a notch. At CNN, Wolf Blitzer played Judy’s role with Likudnik passion. Charles Krauthammer was the anointed Miller impersonator at The Washington Post. As for FOX, Rupert Murdoch insisted that his whole crew show up in Judy Miller drag to perform their neocon chores.

Before getting out of jail, Miller insisted that the Grand Jury confine their inquiry to Lewis Libby’s role in outing Valerie Plame. If she ever comes clean with what she knows about the WMD hoax -- it would cause a volcanic eruption on the political landscape of the United States. But it would also expose the role of The New York Times in duping their readers into supporting the Iraq war. The price of doing that would require both Sulzberger and Miller to accept their fair share of the blame for a monstrous and unnecessary war that has wasted so much in blood and treasure. That’s not going to happen. So much for Miller’s concern about our right to know “what governments and powerful corporations don't want us to know.”

Right about now, I would settle for the public’s right to know all about Judith Miller.

For more information on the role of the New York Times in propagating the WMD hoax, please follow this link: Will the Times Ever Pay For Its Crimes?

Ahmed Amr is the Editor of NileMedia. He can be reached at: Montraj@aol.com.