Speakout http://www.truth-out.org Sat, 24 Sep 2016 23:53:57 -0400 en-gb If the Draft Ended in 1973, Why Do Those 18-25 Still Have to Register for Selective Service? http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37735-if-the-draft-ended-in-1973-why-do-those-18-25-still-have-to-register-for-selective-service http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37735-if-the-draft-ended-in-1973-why-do-those-18-25-still-have-to-register-for-selective-service

A few months ago, post office lobbies carried a small, blue brochure reminding "MEN, 18 through 25 [to] REGISTER" for the Selective Service System ("It's Quick -- It's Easy -- It's The Law"). By January 1, 2018, a new brochure may take its place, calling also for the registration of the 20 million women who would be eligible to serve. Indeed, the House-Senate conference committee is currently mulling the provision -- passed 85-13 by the Senate -- in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization bill to mandate women's SSS registration. That the bills got this far indicates sufficient bipartisan support for them to become law if President Obama -- the father of an 18-year-old daughter -- doesn't veto it.

A few months ago, post office lobbies carried a small, blue brochure reminding "MEN, 18 through 25 [to] REGISTER" for the Selective Service System ("It's Quick -- It's Easy -- It's The Law"). By January 1, 2018, a new brochure may take its place, calling also for the registration of the 20 million women who would be eligible to serve. 

Indeed, the House-Senate conference committee is currently mulling the provision -- passed 85-13 by the Senate -- in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization bill to mandate women's SSS registration. That the bills got this far indicates sufficient bipartisan support for them to become law if President Obama -- the father of an 18-year-old daughter -- doesn't veto it.

The August 2011 (SSS) print order for the brochure indicated the government had run off enough to last up to this year. And the nation's 31,606 US Postal Service offices obviously were among the key spots to reach draft-eligibles among the USPS's 1,500,000,000 annual snail-mail users.

The brochure -- which contains a perforated mail-in registration form -- reassured readers that registration was needed just "in case of a national emergency, determined by Congress and the President which would require rapid expansion of the Armed Forces." But most eligibles probably don't know that a president, as commander-in-chief, can bypass Congress by executive order to draft and send troops anywhere. That is how US troops got sent to Korea and Vietnam.

Then came the brochure's big threat. It warned:

Not registering is a felony. Young men prosecuted and convicted of failure to register may be fined up to $250,000, imprisoned for up to five years, or both. Failure to register also may cause men to permanently lose eligibility for student financial aid, government employment, job training, and US citizenship for male immigrants.

Eligibles were instructed they also could register online, or by telephone, at a recruitment office, or with a Selective Service "volunteer" at their high schools. As of September 2015, 87 percent of the United States' 20,989 schools were participators.

Selective Service System Still Means Business

The Selective Service System has been operating since May 1917 and still means business, draft or no draft. In 2015, out of a pool of 16,902,602 eligible men, the names of 146,997 suspected violators were sent to the Department of Justice for prosecution.

Yet the big question most young men have is, "If the draft ended in 1973, why do we stillhave to register with the Selective Service System? Doesn't the Army have all those volunteers and mercenaries?"

However in 2015, the US Army's chief recruitment officer, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, reported a shortfall of 60,000 volunteers.

Include the news that during Hillary Clinton's watch as secretary of state, a secret 2011 Pentagon memo described how it was "going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, [South] Sudan and, finishing off, Iran." Today, only Lebanon and Iran remain relatively free from the death and destruction from US policies that have sent a million refugees in 2015 alone fleeing to barbed-wire "concentration camps" of angry "transit" countries along the Mediterranean and in sections of Europe.

All the signs make it clear that "Uncle Sam [desperately] Wants You for US Army." That's why those stacks of blue brochures are in post office lobbies. And why women aged 18-25 soon may have to register, too.

Risking Nuclear Extinction     

But the most frightening to some activists, especially long-timers in the peace movement, is how the Obama administration is risking a nuclear conflict with Russia and China by provocatively staging massive "war games" at their doorsteps  through the NATO armies directly facing Russia and the US Navy in the South China Sea.

As one observer reported about the US's vast, creeping expansion plans to attain and maintain empire status:

After years of denials, the Pentagon has slowly begun admitting to the existence of some of its outposts…. [it] would create "hub" bases on three continents by expanding existing bases and cooperative security locations, then using those hubs to create yet more outposts throughout surrounding areas…. [T]he hubs would range in size from about 500 American troops to 5,000 personnel, and the likely cost would be 'several million dollars' a year, mostly in personnel expenses. 

That also means staffing at least 800 installations -- plus dozens of secret "lily pad" spots -- in 70 countries and territories. At home, "a few good men" must cover 223 installations in 47 states. And as former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell pointed out just last winter, defending Hillary Clinton's demand for a Syrian no-fly zone tactic would require 100,000 troops out of the 199,428 below a sergeant's rank.

Americans Deserve to Know What's Ahead

SSS registrants -- and Americans more broadly -- deserve to know right now what the immediate future holds from presidential and congressional candidates. If ever truth and transparency have been vital, it's now.

In the upcoming presidential debates, Americans 18-25 deserve moderators asking hard-ball questions about their positions on the draft, warming them up perhaps with a couple of these:

  •  "Name five new countries that need ‘regime change’ in the next two years."

  • "Are you willing to start a nuclear war to block Russian and Chinese trade?"

  •  "Will you continue to spend taxpayer billions for foreign wars instead of solving today's desperate domestic needs?"

  • "Given the expansion of US armed forces around the world and the troop shortage, will you solve it with a draft?”

Candidates can and do sidestep such questions or lie, but they need to get honest with those who could supply the cannon fodder if US military adventurism continues to expand.

The politicians elected on November 8 -- both for the presidency and for Congress, -- could decide the fate of young men and women, 18-25. That being the case, it's in our interest to hold those candidates' feet to the fire before and after the election.

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Speakout Fri, 23 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Crushing ISIS, Increasing Terrorism http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37732-crushing-isis-increasing-terrorism http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37732-crushing-isis-increasing-terrorism

In recent months, officials in the Obama administration have disclosed disturbing new details about their ongoing war against ISIS (also known as Daesh). Essentially, officials have acknowledged that they are waging an increasingly deadly war that they expect will result in more terrorism throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world.

In recent months, officials in the Obama administration have disclosed disturbing new details about their ongoing war against ISIS (also known as Daesh). Essentially, officials have acknowledged that they are waging an increasingly deadly war that they expect will result in more terrorism throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world.

On August 10, 2016, Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland summarized the main issues during a press briefing that was hosted by the Pentagon. In the first place, MacFarland said that coalition forces have killed tens of thousands of ISIS fighters. Currently, "we estimate that over the past 11 months, we've killed about 25,000 enemy fighters," MacFarland said. Since coalition forces had previously killed 20,000 enemy fighters, "that's 45,000 enemy taken off the battlefield."

After making his point, MacFarland then explained what he expected to result from all of the killing. Rather than declaring that coalition forces would defeat ISIS, MacFarland argued that the military campaign would only succeed in transforming ISIS from an aspiring state into a stateless terrorist organization. "Military success in Iraq and Syria will not necessarily mean the end of Daesh," MacFarland said. "We can expect the enemy to adapt, to morph into a true insurgent force and terrorist organization capable of horrific attacks."

With his remarks, MacFarland provided a stark assessment of the main trends in the ongoing war. Not only did he confirm that coalition forces are delivering a massive death blow against ISIS, but he also predicted that the war would lead to more violence.

In fact, MacFarland gave voice to aspects of the war that are well understood in Washington. Although US officials have made few serious efforts to advertise the fact that coalition forces are killing large numbers of people on the expectation that terrorism will increase, many officials share the same basic understanding of what is happening in the war.

For starters, the Obama administration has made it clear that it intends to kill as many ISIS fighters as possible. Condemning ISIS as a genocidal organization that poses an unacceptable threat to the people of Iraq, Syria and the rest of the world, the administration has determined that it must eradicate the group from the planet.

On June 10, 2016, State Department official Brett McGurk articulated the administration's basic goal during a press briefing at the White House. After presenting a map of ISIS-controlled territory to the press corps, McGurk announced that "we have to wipe them off this map."

Sharing the same conviction, numerous administration officials identified the same basic goal. Although they typically refrained from using the kind of language that has been called genocidal in other contexts, administration officials agreed that they must wipe ISIS off the map.

Just days after McGurk made his comments, President Obama confirmed the strategy. "Our mission is to destroy ISIL," President Obama stated.

The following month, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter provided additional confirmation. Certainly, "we need to destroy the fact and the idea that there can be a state based upon this ideology," Carter said. "That has to be done in Syria and Iraq."

More recently, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook has reaffirmed the same basic mission. Coalition forces must "try and make sure that the end result here is that ISIL is degraded, destroyed, removed from Syria," Cook said.

At the same time, administration officials have remained well aware of the likely consequences of their mission. As they have worked to eradicate ISIS from the world, administration officials have largely agreed that their military campaign will result in more terrorism.

On June 12, 2016, CIA Director John Brennan made the point when he argued before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that ISIS would respond to the military campaign by launching more terrorist attacks. "In fact, as the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda," Brennan said.

A little over a month later, FBI Director James Comey envisioned a similar outcome. As he commented on the potential consequences of the war, Comey described a situation in which the collapse of ISIS resulted in a massive diffusion of terrorists throughout the broader region. Clearly, "at some point there is going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we've never seen before," Comey said.

Moreover, Comey left no doubt about the cause of the coming terrorist diaspora. Making a fist with his right hand, he explained that by "crushing the Islamic State, through the fingers of that crush are going to come hundreds of really dangerous people." Indeed, Comey argued that the military campaign to crush ISIS would send more terrorists throughout the world. "And this is an order of magnitude greater than any diaspora we've seen before," he added. "A lot of terrorists fled out of Afghanistan in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This is ten times that or more."

More recently, other officials have only continued to make similar predictions. When the US General and Commander of US Central Command Joseph Votel discussed the issue during a press briefing at the Pentagon on August 30, 2016, he could only imagine a comparable outcome. As coalition forces "dismantle" ISIS, the group's fighters will probably "return to more of their terrorist-like roots," Votel said. In short, Votel agreed that the ongoing effort to crush ISIS would cause ISIS fighters to launch more terrorist attacks around the world. "And so they will continue to try to either direct or support or potentially inspire attacks outside of -- outside of the core in Iraq and Syria," Votel stated. "So I think we -- we should expect to see that."

In sum, administration officials are now acknowledging that they are waging an increasingly deadly war that they expect to produce more terror and violence throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world. Not only are they killing tens of thousands of ISIS fighters in one of the deadliest military campaigns in the world today, but administration officials are saying that their military campaign will have the ultimate effect of increasing terrorism. 

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Speakout Fri, 23 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400
My Name Is David Daniel and I Stand With Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37730-my-name-is-david-daniel-and-i-stand-with-standing-rock-and-the-dakota-access-pipeline http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37730-my-name-is-david-daniel-and-i-stand-with-standing-rock-and-the-dakota-access-pipeline

To begin with, I briefly want to share part of the currently operational Keystone XL southern leg regulatory experience that we went through in the hopes that our experience may help provide some insight into the Army Corps/federal regulators mode of operation and finally what we all may be able to do about it. I am a Texas landowner who stood in the way of construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline on our property. 

Douglas, Texas, February 19, Keystone XL pipeline being installed on Michael Bishop’s property. The Southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline was approved and fast-tracked by President Obama in 2012, though the northern segment was put on hold for further environmental studies. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)Douglas, Texas, February 19, Keystone XL pipeline being installed on Michael Bishop’s property. The Southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline was approved and fast-tracked by President Obama in 2012, though the northern segment was put on hold for further environmental studies. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

Resistance.

To begin with, I briefly want to share part of the currently operational Keystone XL southern leg regulatory experience that we went through in the hopes that our experience may help provide some insight into the Army Corps/federal regulators mode of operation and finally what we all may be able to do about it.

I am a Texas landowner who stood in the way of construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline on our property. Despite years of fighting, having both a restraining order and lawsuit against me, sustaining a three-month long aerial tree top blockade with brave protesters from around the country, 24/7 armed security (including assault rifles), many people arrested, helicopters, light-towers, Tasers, pepper spray, the FBI, arrests of those trying to resupply protesters with food and water (including Jill Stein), and being labeled eco-terrorists -- the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline went through, was built and now carries tar sands from Alberta, Canada, via its direct and originally planned connection to Keystone 1 and 2, on down to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. It is only the Northern leg of Keystone XL, which would have terminated in Steel City, Nebraska, that was officially blocked.

East Texas is the water wealthy region of Texas and we understood the potential threat to our water, especially when the US State Department declared in their Environmental Impact Statement for Keystone XL, that as much as 1.7 million gallons per day could be leaking up and down the line without triggering any real time leak detection system. This 1.7 million gallons per day for this one line alone is actually an allowable limit by our federal regulators. Regulators both know and accept that small cumulative leaks can go undetected for years and are an everyday occurrence on pipelines.

This risk to water supplies is not acceptable and yet these pipelines get pushed through via loopholes that circumvent the actual laws that look good on paper, like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), but really mean little in the current court system.

For example, under NEPA it is a federal violation to segment a proposed project, and yet the Keystone XL project was ultimately segmented which was aided by Presidents Obama's rejection of the entire Keystone XL project, which was then promptly followed by a presidential executive order calling for an expedited review of the southern half of Keystone XL stretching from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Port Arthur, Texas.

Obama said, and I quote:

We're making this new pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf a priority. So the southern leg of it we're making a priority, and we're going to go ahead and get that done. The northern portion of it we're going to have to review properly to make sure that the health and safety of the American people are protected.

I'm directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.

The people of Texas and Oklahoma understand why Obama said that the northern portion would need to be reviewed properly to make sure that the health and safety of the people are protected, but we wonder why Obama did not even bother to think that the health and safety of our lives on the southern leg needed any protection.

Permitting for the "the southern part of Keytsone XL" then became the responsibility of the US Army Corps of Engineers who approved the project without conducting any NEPA analysis, and without analyzing the project's cumulative impacts pursuant to Nationwide Permit 12 and Clean Water Act (CWA) 404.

The Army Corps used a Nationwide Permit 12 that granted blanket approval for the southern legs 2,227 crossings of federal waterways, in Oklahoma and Texas without any environmental impact review or public input, despite the determination by EPA Region VI Associate Director Dr. Jane Watson that the original Keystone XL project was ineligible for this blanket water permit.

The Army Corps abused the nationwide permit program by utilizing tricky legal loopholes to push through Keystone XL's southern half. The Army Corps artificially divided up what the pipeline company itself refers to as one pipeline, into thousands of individual projects to avoid environmental review. So the Army Corps treated the southern leg of Keystone XL as 2,227 single and complete projects, so as to qualify under the Nation Wide Permit 12 and avoid NEPA compliance.

A temporary injunction was sought out in the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The court decided not to grant a temporary injunction on the construction of the southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline. The 10th Circuit decided that it did not even need to address whether the Army Corps violated the law, because the Court decided that the financial harms to the pipeline company would be too great if the pipeline was stopped.

I tell you all of this because I just read the Department of Justice joint statement regarding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe versus the US Army Corps of Engineers and in my opinion, the very last line is one of the most important lines and possibly the best way forward for our future generations.

The line states: "It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest."

Now, what I have seen in court, these pipeline companies argue that they are the status quo and therefore they serve the broadest public interest, even though these companies, usually due to the claim of proprietary information, do not provide tangible evidence to support their claim.

Evidence actually shows a declining demand for oil.

I think that we and our future generations need to make the fact based scientific argument that the broadest public interest is the health and safety of Earth's biosphere which supports all life on this planet.

We have alternative sources of energy, however, we do not have alternative sources of available fresh water. Less than 1 percent of the world's fresh water is accessible for direct human use, and that tiny number is getting smaller because demand is increasing while the supply is decreasing.

The fact that the population is growing rapidly, which puts more pressure on our water supply, combined with the fact that the amount of water is effectively being reduced by pollution and contamination, should make water security a pivotal and primary part of any Public Interest and National Interest Determination regarding projects such as this. 

It is not just the inherent environmental risks to water, but it is also the inherent environmental risks associated with climate change and the cost of greenhouses gasses which these fossil-fuel infrastructure projects contribute to through cumulative impacts that collectively result in significant negative actions that take place over a period of time from the past, present and reasonably foreseeable future.

Only recently has the White House ordered federal agencies to consider the environmental costs of greenhouse gases and that they should take climate change into consideration when they review a federal project under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

Scientific data firmly show that climate change is being caused by human action, or anthropogenic global warming (AGW). The Defense Department states that climate change is a "threat multiplier," "a present security threat, not strictly a long-term risk." The Defense Department says global warming "poses immediate risks to US national security" and will exacerbate national security-related threats ranging "from infectious disease to terrorism."

Therefore, I cannot emphasize enough that just as the Department of Justice joint statement regarding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe versus the US Army Corps of Engineers states: "It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest." Then we should use the established scientific data as evidence that projects like these contribute to global warming, and as the Defense Department says, global warming "poses immediate risks to US national security." Combine that with the fact that production demand is in decline, then the broadest public interest is arguably not projects like this, but rather projects that move us toward alternative energy projects that actually increase our national security and do not pose such a risk to the health of our environment, which is then mirrored in the health of the people.

I believe that new legislation should be proposed in which broadest public interest and National Interest Determination should define projects, such as those related to fossil-fuel burning, as a contributor to national security threats, and for starters, not be allowed to use eminent domain and the court enforced violent use of force that comes with it. 

In Solidarity,

David Daniel

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Speakout Fri, 23 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Around the World, Statements of Solidarity for the Standing Rock Protesters http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37718-around-the-world-statements-of-solidarity-for-the-standing-rock-protesters http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37718-around-the-world-statements-of-solidarity-for-the-standing-rock-protesters

With the developments of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests by the Standing Rock Sioux and other groups and individuals, organizations around the world have come out with statements of solidarity for the protesters. Below are some messages of support from Friends of the Earth Mexico (Amigos de la Tierra México), the Mexican Network of Those Affected by Mining (REMA), the National Agrarian Council of Colombia, the Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model (M4) and the California Faculty Association.

With the developments of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests by the Standing Rock Sioux and other groups and individuals, organizations around the world have come out with statements of solidarity for the protesters. Below are some messages of support from Friends of the Earth Mexico (Amigos de la Tierra México), the Mexican Network of Those Affected by Mining (REMA), the National Agrarian Council of Colombia, the Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model (M4) and the California Faculty Association.

***

Statement of Solidarity From Amigos de la Tierra México

To the free media of Mexico and the world and to the international community:

Stop the repression against the Sioux of North Dakota and solidarity with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

We demand the immediate withdrawal of the arrest order issued against the US journalist Amy Goodman, anchor and producer of the free media Democracy Now!   She was unjustly accused by a judge in North Dakota of "having invaded private property" while she was covering events on September 3 around the construction of the "Dakota Access Pipeline" near the reservation of Standing Rock, where the native Sioux people live.

Her video shows how guards of security employees of the pipeline builder Dakota Access L.L.C., a private US corporation, attacked with pepper spray and dogs persons demonstrating against this megaproject. No arrest warrants were issued against these aggressors. We demand the immediate end of repression against the Sioux and we are indignant about the arrest of Cody Hal, who was jailed for two days after having participated in the September 3 protest.

We stand in solidarity with the dignified struggle of the Sioux, who rightly reject the destruction of their sacred territory in the interest of a project financed by some of the least ethical banks in the world (Goldman Sachs, HSBC, UBS, Bank of America) who threaten their right to water. We applaud the victory won on September 9 when the White House ordered the suspension of the work under lake Oahe. Their struggle continues to obtain a definitive end of this project in the entire area that would have been affected. 

End the repression against the Sioux of Standing Rock! 

Respect the Voice of the First Peoples!

No arrest of Amy Goodman!

#WeStandWithStandingRock

#NoDakotaAccess

***

Statement of Solidarity From the Mexican Network of Those Affected by Mining

We the members of the Mexican Network of Those Affected by Mining (REMA) send a fraternal greeting in solidarity with the Native sisters and brothers of the Sioux Tribe who have decided to avoid the installation on their sacred ancestral lands of a Dakota oil pipeline as part of the current worldwide pillage.

We will remain alert to any act of violence or persecution by the police, the government or the corporations against the Sioux people. 

We support the stance by the Sioux people to permanently cancel this project of death, in order to fully enjoy their territory.

No to building of the Dakota oil pipeline

Out with the Dakota Access Corporation from Sioux territory

Yes for territories where megaprojects are prohibited

Yes for the protection of peoples territories

End the repression, criminalization and threats against the Sioux people

No more criminalization of the media coverage

***

Statement of Solidarity From the National Agrarian Coordination of Colombia

To: Indigenous Brothers and Sisters of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota

Companions in Struggle:

We have learned with a great sense of hope and happiness that the ancestral spirits today live among you who have courageously decided to fight for your rights, for Mother Earth and for the protection of life.

In Colombia, the Family farmers, Indigenous and Afro-Descendent Peoples that make up the National Agrarian Coordination (CNA) send this expression of our solidarity, our rebellious shout, our breath in unity.

An old indigenous text states: "The day that the Eagle of the North and the Condor of the south meet, the world will change." You and the peoples of the North are represented by the Eagle, we the peoples of the south are represented by the Condor. If we unite, the world will change.

Companions in Struggle:  We move forward in the defense of our territories, in the defense of our identity, in the defense of our peoples saying NO to the corporations that destroy Mother Earth, our lives, our culture and humanity.

From Colombia we send our embrace in struggle and resistance.

***

Statement of Solidarity From the Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model

The Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model -- M4 -- embraces the struggle of the Sioux Tribe as they resist the construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota, USA.

The extractive model advancing upon the territories of indigenous and farming peoples has no national allegiance. Compañeros and compañeras of the Dakota and Lakota peoples of the Sioux reservation of Standing Rock are being repressed for defending their sacred territory. Last September 3, while they were demonstrating against the mega project, they were attacked by private security in the employ of the corporation of this project.

The Native populations have the right to defend their way of life against the capitalists who wish to impose themselves at the cost of violating people's' rights.  At the same time, the local government, instead of condemning the unjust attack perpetrated in the name of "security" and in favor of the holders of capital, issued an arrest order against the US journalist Amy Goodman, anchor of Democracy Now!, an alternative media outlet, in the course of her doing her job as a journalist.  We repudiate this and claim the right of freedom of information, which is the only thing allowing the whole truth to be known, which the corporate media generally ignore.

The peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, who also suffer the impacts of extractivism of the common goods, express and promote another kind of development which respects culture, ancestral ways, ecology and spirituality.  We extend solidarity among the peoples as a form of defense of their territory and life.

From here, we condemn these acts of censure and repression and we send our warm greetings to the peoples in resistance at Standing Rock.

For a dignified struggle against megaprojects in the Americas!

#EstamosConStandingRock #WeAreWithStandingRock

***

Statement of Solidarity From the California Faculty Association

The California Faculty Association (CFA) stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the coalition of Native leaders and activists defending their cultural heritage, sacred grounds, right to protest, sovereign rights and right to clean water.

These brave activists have taken a stand as "water protectors." The treatment of the protectors by private and state law enforcement officials echoes the violent and exploitative history of racism and genocide experienced by the Sioux Nation during the violent conflict with the US Army during the Whitestone Massacre of 1863.

Native people have a continuous experience of colonization -- the transfer of the wealth of the community to private interests -- that continues to this day. The Sioux Nation has faced conflict with the Army Corps of Engineers during the building of Oahe dam that has eroded their land rights and degraded their land.

To end this history of violence and environmental degradation of tribal land, the Sioux Nation and over 100 tribal leaders are taking a stand. CFA supports their right to freedom of expression and protest, freedom of access to the media, and the right to defend their land and their only source of clean water.

"Particularly disturbing were the photographs and video of water protectors being pepper sprayed and attacked by the dogs of the private security guards of the Dakota Access pipeline. As a progressive labor union committed to anti-racist activism, CFA is disturbed by the clear violation rights of peaceful demonstrators and feel compelled to lend our voice," said CFA President Jennifer Eagan. 

Dr. Erma Jean Sims, a CFA activist, Lecturer at Sonoma State University, and member of the Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama said:

I stand in solidarity with our Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Brothers and Sisters to protest an oil pipeline proposed to run through tribal land in North and South Dakota. Our sacred sites and ceremonial grounds are "sacred."

As Native American people, it is our "sacred duty" to protect these lands, the history of our people, and the burial grounds of our ancestors. The care of the EARTH and the environment has been entrusted to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all Native American people. Join us in prayer and protection our "sacred sites," tribal lands, waters, and the EARTH.

CFA represents more than 27,000 tenured and tenure-track instructional faculty, lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches on the 23 campuses of the California State University system. Learn more about CFA at www.calfac.org.

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Speakout Thu, 22 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Lawrence Davidson Discusses Turkey, Russia and the Autocratic Age http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37717-lawrence-davidson-discusses-turkey-russia-and-the-autocratic-age http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37717-lawrence-davidson-discusses-turkey-russia-and-the-autocratic-age

In this interview, Daniel Falcone interviews Lawrence Davidson, a progressive activist and academic who has written several notable works on US foreign policy and the Middle East. Davidson offers some insights on the complexity of political matters in Turkey, and additional far-reaching global concerns, as well as providing context for Russia's current relationship with the US.

In this interview, Daniel Falcone interviews Lawrence Davidson, a progressive activist and academic who has written several notable works on US foreign policy and the Middle East. Davidson offers some insights on the complexity of political matters in Turkey, and additional far-reaching global concerns, as well as providing context for Russia's current relationship with the US.

Daniel Falcone: What do you see as the US interest in Turkey and Russia? Can you tell me about how our relationship is with each country in the context of a post-Cold War world while also addressing how human rights in Turkey remain a major concern?

Lawrence Davidson: US interest in Turkey has always been based on its geographical proximity to Russia/Soviet Union. During the Cold War, the US maintained airbases and intermediate missile launchers, as well as intelligence listening posts in Turkey (most of them are still there). Turkey's readiness to cooperate in this endeavor paved its way into NATO. 

There was really no secondary interest for the US either in democracy or human rights in Turkey. Today, the European Union does show such interest as a basis for Turkey's admission to that group, but that is a European affair. 

US attitudes toward today's Russia seem to be a knee-jerk carry-over from the Cold War. For instance the precipitous expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe could not help but be seen as a provocation by Russia -- essentially an act of encirclement against a state that had just voluntarily given up both its empire and its anti-capitalist ideology. Again, there is no evidence that concern for civil or human rights in Russia or Russian democracy played any role in the expansion of NATO eastward. 

Richard Falk was in Turkey during the coup and later wrote that he was interested in media coverage to see how it might be presented to Western audiences by CNN International and BBC. He remarked that this type of "passive witnessing contrasted with existential fears produced by F-16 military jets flying continuously over the city at low altitudes, causing ear-splitting sonic booms, strongly reminded [one] of the ordeal faced by the people of Gaza often traumatized by the sound of sonic booms from overflying Israeli jets and Syrians huddled in ruined cities." Do you think that people in Turkey, sympathetic to human rights and critical of Erdoğan, make this intersection with Gaza? And what are your thoughts on a balanced position on Turkey? Is it suggestive of condoning human rights violations?  

I am not sure how many Turks pay attention to or are aware of conditions in Gaza. They would know more about conditions in next door Syria, but again, what they know would come to them through a government influenced media. 

Certainly, for most of them, the experience of active military engagements in Istanbul and other cities would be a traumatizing event. I would think that most citizens would just want the turmoil over with and would accept either side as winner to achieve an end to the violence and disruption of their lives. 

When it comes to the attempted coup in Turkey, people with humanitarian concerns are in a difficult position. Turkey's elected government, whatever its faults, can only be seen as the more legitimate alternative to a military takeover. However, there are no mistaking Erdoğan's authoritarian tendencies. So what do you do? The only consideration that readily comes to mind is that civilian governments are usually more open to pressure to act in a civilized way than are military ones.

The recent events in Turkey have also been very difficult for media outlets and people on the left to contextualize. On the one hand, progressive liberals want to support say, students and professors in Turkey that are being affected by the increased size of the state. And on the other hand, the activist left remains skeptical of the West's opportunistic interest in Turkey and their audacity to present themselves as honest brokers while they cynically uphold Turkey as a member of NATO and threaten Russia with aggressive geopolitical posturing. What do you make of this?

Again, we are in a bad position. Erdoğan has taken advantage of the failed coup to launch a massive purge of not only the military, but of the government bureaucracies and educational institutions. He will push for changes in the Turkish constitution and we may end up with a civilian dictatorship instead of a military one. Most of the mass media in the US will follow the government line and adopt a watch and wait position while mildly scolding the Turks to be mindful of their democratic traditions. But this doesn't mean much.  

The other day on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," commentator Fareed Zakaria remarked of Erdoğan's "Putinism" as more egregious than the other threat related to "Islamism." According to his op-ed in The Washington Post, Zakaria defines "Putinism" as "nationalism, religion, social conservatism, state capitalism and government domination of the media." At best, this to me sounds a lot like the definition of an American corporation that must profit by law in conjunction with receiving massive federal subsidies while acting in secret, and totally out of public or citizen control. At worst, it sounds like an invented term in order to call Putin defiant of Western orthodoxy, while irrational and anti-democratic. How do you suggest that those on the left in America criticize our own conception of international norms, but at the same time remain critical of corrupt heads of state?

Well, that is the level of awareness that most Americans simply do not possess. Our form of government is based on competing oligarchies embedded within which are lots of little "Putins." Mr. Trump is an exception to the rule only in the way he fails to hide his disdain for the way the game is supposed to be played. In Turkey and Russia, the number of oligarchical groups are less and the "Putins" stand out more. 

Americans have to become aware that governmental forms stand on continuum running from anarchy to totalitarianism. Our corporate style "democracy" is on that continuum and so is Zakaria's "Putinism." Close examination might show that they are not all that far apart. 

Back in the late 1990s, Professor Noam Chomsky referred to our interests in Kosovo as the "new military humanism." Do you see any parallels potentially in regards to Turkey with our actions in Kosovo? In other words, it seems that while human rights abuses occurred there, it was not our reason for intervening and never is. Can you comment on this?

We are not going to intervene in Turkey militarily or otherwise. And, where we do intervene, as we did belatedly in the Balkans -- the reasons were not primarily human rights or democracy. In that case, there was growing concern that the civil wars were spreading both north in the direction of Bulgaria and Romania and south in the direction of Macedonia and Greece. Eastern Europe has always been an area of factionalized minorities and when Yugoslavia went, the whole region threatened to unravel. NATO intervened to stop that unraveling process.

Unfortunately, the message that US foreign policy seeks to spread democracy and protect human rights is primarily for domestic consumption -- a form of internal propaganda sustaining an idealized image of the country in the mind of its own citizens. However, the ideal does not shape foreign policy.

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Speakout Thu, 22 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400
There Is Nothing Unusual About Ignorance: An Analysis http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37692-there-is-nothing-unusual-about-ignorance-an-analysis http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37692-there-is-nothing-unusual-about-ignorance-an-analysis

The vast majority of people "live locally." Wherever they are residing, that is the arena of their life, and it is that environment that they know best. Even up-and-coming American political leaders are subject to this rule. This became embarrassingly obvious when, on September 8, 2016, Gary Johnson made his now famous faux pas.

Part I: Gary Johnson's Ignorance

The vast majority of people "live locally." Wherever they are residing, that is the arena of their life, and it is that environment that they know best. Even up-and-coming American political leaders are subject to this rule. This became embarrassingly obvious when, on September 8, 2016, Gary Johnson made his now famous faux pas. 

Gary Johnson, who once was governor of New Mexico and therefore knows a lot about that state and its strengths and weaknesses, appeared on MSNBC's weirdly named, but widely watched, am program "Morning Joe" (the "Joe" referring, I assume, to the local US term for coffee). The principal reason Mr. Johnson was on the show was that he is running for president of the United States on the Libertarian Party ticket. And, of course, the president of the US is the world's most powerful leader and his or her awareness level is expected to reflect that. 

Therefore, those running for president are assumed to know everything about what isgoing on in the world as well as in their own country. This is of course impossible, though there is always a short list of issues that are center-stage. So, what happens isthat leaders have "briefing books" prepared on these priority issues. But again, the priorities are judgment calls and can be different for different leaders. Unfortunately for Johnson, foreign policy issues were low on the priority list for the Libertarians -- who are more or less isolationist.  

That is why, when Gary Johnson was asked by another guest on that "Morning Joe" show, what he would do, if he were president, about the crisis in Aleppo, he answered "And what is Aleppo?" It was a real gaffe, and Johnson was almost immediately taken to task by the "pundits" of social media for being a dummy.

One might ask why would anyone expect an ex-governor of New Mexico to know anything about a Syrian city mostly wrecked by civil war? Well, again, because he isrunning for president. And Aleppo should, many assume, be on his short list. Be that as it may, it was not on Johnson's, whose ideological outlook puts Syria in someone else's local venue. His is New Mexico and maybe, eventually, the rest of the US.

Part II: The Power of the Briefing Book

Do you think that this unusual? Unfortunately, it is not. What is unusual is that Johnson got caught in his ignorance. Fear of just such exposure is one of the reasons leaders now give so few press conferences. Yet history has also shown us that recent presidents have been unafraid to make foreign policy decisions which impact millions, often fatally. As we will see, these decisions almost always reflect their own conditioned ignorance but are made in a way that allows them to be obscured and rationalized after the fact. It just so happens that such decisions helped lead to the Syrian civil war and the destruction of Aleppo. 

In the time since his gaffe on "Morning Joe," Johnson has had created the appropriate briefing book and is now speaking in a seemingly authoritative way about Aleppo and the Syrian civil war. For him, the transformation has worked like magic. The gaffe itself increased the level of attention he has received from the official mass media, and given his new level of superficial knowledge, there are even calls for him to be included in the upcoming presidential debates. Go figure!

Johnson's situation points to the power of the briefing book, so it is important to ask where these analyses come from.

They are put together by the leader's staff as well as alleged "experts." For instance, in the case of the president, that would be department heads. When it comes to foreign policy, that would include the Secretary of State, the Director of National Security,  the heads of the CIA, the DIA and other "intelligence agencies." Of course, these folks are also political appointees who may know next to nothing about particular topics. So they have their own versions of briefing books prepared by people down the line who may actually know something about what is going on. 

In fact, as this process goes on, you do usually reach a level of staff who are real experts in, say, both the history of and the state of the crisis in Syria. They speak and read the local language, have in-country intelligence sources and so can produce a fairly accurate, unbiased assessment of the situation. They make their analysis and pass it up the ladder. 

Here comes the problem. At some level of this process the relatively accurate analysiscomes to people, usually those department chiefs or their immediate assistants, who are working in and responding to a preexisting political and ideological environment. Consciously or unconsciously they begin to censor the analysis of the experts so as to reconcile it with the prevailing groupthink of the leadership. 

Part III: Conclusion

The ignorance of the leadership, superficially hidden by what turns out to be censored analyses, is by no means unique to US politicos. Vladimir Putin of Russia, Ali Khamenei of Iran, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Xi Jinping of China -- and the list can go on and on -- all see the world as through glasses darkened by cultural, ideological, political and historical preconceptions. And they all have their experts who do their best to give the boss a more or less accurate picture of the world. And, also, they all have their own versions of department heads who censor the picture to support the present preconceived worldview.  

I offer this account of policy making to the reader not as an excuse for the nearsightedness of almost all of the world's politicians, but as an explanation, the backstory so to speak, out of which so many bad policies come. The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once commented that "false knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance." Actually, the two are so tied to each other that most of us can't recognize false knowledge when we are confronted with it. There are too many panes of dark glass in the way.

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Speakout Wed, 21 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Embracing Reconciliation as a Core Value http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37691-embracing-reconciliation-as-a-core-value http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37691-embracing-reconciliation-as-a-core-value

The colonial structures and systems that settler societies have built will always pale next to the Indigenous knowledge and lands they are built upon. Despite colonial efforts to assimilate and kill the First Peoples of Turtle Island, their resilience is unfailing. Not only have they survived the colonizers' best and continued attempts at cultural genocide, but they also have the beauty of Spirit to share with us their wisdom and leadership on the path toward healing.

The colonial structures and systems that settler societies have built will always pale next to the Indigenous knowledge and lands they are built upon. Despite colonial efforts to assimilate and kill the First Peoples of Turtle Island, their resilience is unfailing. Not only have they survived the colonizers' best and continued attempts at cultural genocide, but they also have the beauty of Spirit to share with us their wisdom and leadership on the path toward healing.

One such leader is Chief Robert Joseph, Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, Ambassador for ReconciliationCanada, and Special Advisor to Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. On September 8, 2016, he spoke at Simon Fraser University on unceded Coast Salish territory as part of the "President's Dream Colloquium on Returning to the Teachings: Justice, Identity and Belonging."

"It's important to remember that we have a collective history that has been very broken. We have to deal with that and come to terms with it, so we can find new ways forward," explained Chief Joseph, who was one of more then 150,000 Aboriginal children to be forcibly removed from their families and put into Canada's residential school system. "When I was six years old I was taken to residential school and I spent eleven years there. I was moved from an environment of love, caring and nurturing to one of abuse and hopelessness."

The assault on Aboriginal identity as well as the trauma of the physical and sexual abuse experienced in the residential schools has had devastating generational consequences. The legacy of this can be seen today in the unjust over-representation of First Nations people in both the foster care and criminal justice systems and in the fact that half of First Nations children live in poverty with shorter life expectancy then others, lower secondary school graduation rates and higher TB rates. "It is an indictment on how we have treated Aboriginal people" explains Chief Joseph, "we need to confront this and I think we will, but we have to predicate all of that with the idea that we are embracing each other, because we really care and we want never to leave anyone behind again."

"Reconciliation is an ancient imperative that has been with humanity for a long time and somehow we have forgotten that" says Chief Joseph who served as a Special Advisor to Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission which sought to create an accurate and historical record of the past regarding residential schools and which provided former students with the opportunity to share their experiences. "I told survivors, sitting at the table, I want to acknowledge you as very beautiful, strong, resilient people who told your stories, you don't know it, but you are now part of a process that will remake our country, we are going to transform Canada together."

"You have to start with your heart to embrace reconciliation. It is the most powerful imperative in the universe to say to yourself and others, we shall live reconciled, it means that we must love each other. The principals of reconciliation always seek peace, always honour balance, always summon harmony and if we lived by those basic principals everyday, I am sure we would do far less harm to each other. Such are the views that have been passed on to us from the ancestors. Reconciliation will mean far less if we don't act out these imperatives with much love."

Chief Joseph spoke these words on a day when his own heart was heavy with grief. He had just lost two people close to him and earlier in the day he had been at a ceremony for his nephew who passed away. He was candid about the pain he carried: "How can I speak to people with no joy in my soul? Then I said, I have to be there, whatever else happens, life goes on, children and grand children go on and we have to talk about how we can live reconciled lives. 'We are one' is an old idea as ancient as time itself and when our young ones grow with that idea, they grow to respect each other. It must start with our heart and embracing reconciliation as a core value."

When survivors and descendants of cultural genocide have the resilience and courage to not only survive, but then also show up with compassion to help educate and heal others, settlers and their descendants must match their courage and confront the historical and ongoing oppression from which our colonial societies profit. 

Reflecting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process, Chief Joseph explained that it was about acknowledging that what people went through was wrong and also people wanting to be responsible for that. "It is about understanding the brokenness that we have among us sometimes and the need to heal that together. Not all of it will be beautiful and easy. Reconciliation is a contested idea and there will be people who don't like the idea. You have to be courageous, bold and a visionary who is not afraid to go out and do what you can do. It means waking up in the morning and going to bed at night asking yourself, 'did I live up to that core value of reconciliation?' You are the ones who can carry this dream forward." 

At the end of his talk, Elders from the Squamish Nation honoured Chief Joseph for his work with a cedar ceremony which is ten thousand years old. The drumbeats and songs of the Squamish Nation filled the room as he was brushed with the sacred cedar boughs and for a moment time stood still. In that moment the wound of colonial violence could not be seen. You could hear the echo of time before that wound occurred, and its beautiful song was calling us all to return.

"We are going through a period of transformative change," said Chief Joseph, "I see a future that is breathtaking, together we can move forward, continue to make connections and grow the idea that it is time to reconcile."

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Speakout Wed, 21 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400
US Media Ignores CIA Cover-Up on Torture http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37680-us-media-ignores-cia-cover-up-on-torture http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37680-us-media-ignores-cia-cover-up-on-torture

We write to thank you for your unwavering support for your extraordinarily courageous and tenacious staff in (1) investigating CIA tortureunder the Bush/Cheney administration and (2) resisting CIA/White House attempts under the Obama administration to cover up heinous torture crimes like waterboarding. We confess to having been shocked at the torture detailed in the version of the executive summary your Committee released on December 9, 2014.  We found ourselves wondering what additional behavior could have been deemed so repugnant that the White House and CIAinsisted it be redacted; and if the entire 6,700-page investigation -- with whatever redaction might be truly necessary -- would ever see the light of day. We think you could take steps now to make it less likely that the full report be deep-sixed, and we will make some suggestions below toward that end.

A group of US  intelligence veterans chastises the mainstream US media for virtually ignoring a British newspaper's account of the gripping inside story on how the CIA tried to block the US Senate's torture investigation.

MEMORANDUM FOR: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: US Media Mum On How Your Committee Faced Down Both CIA and Obama

We write to thank you for your unwavering support for your extraordinarily courageous and tenacious staff in (1) investigating CIA torture under the Bush/Cheney administration and (2) resisting CIA/White House attempts under the Obama administration to cover up heinous torture crimes like waterboarding.

We confess to having been shocked at the torture detailed in the version of the executive summary your Committee released on December 9, 2014.  We found ourselves wondering what additional behavior could have been deemed so repugnant that the White House and CIA insisted it be redacted; and if the entire 6,700-page investigation -- with whatever redaction might be truly necessary -- would ever see the light of day. We think you could take steps now to make it less likely that the full report be deep-sixed, and we will make some suggestions below toward that end.

With well over 400 years of intelligence experience under our collective belt, we wondered how you managed to get the investigation finished and the executive summary up and out (though redacted). We now know the backstory -- thanks to the unstinting courage of the committee's principal investigator Daniel Jones, who has been interviewed by Spencer Ackerman, an investigative reporter for The (UK) Guardian newspaper. The titanic struggle depicted by Ackerman reads like a crime novel; sadly, the four-part series is nonfiction:

I. "Senate investigator breaks silence about CIA's 'failed coverup' of torture report"

II. "Inside the fight to reveal the CIA's torture secrets"

III. " 'A constitutional crisis': the CIA turns on the Senate"

IV. "No looking back:  the CIA torture report's aftermath"

Ackerman's reporting on Jones's tenacity in facing down the gorilla CIA makes abundantly clear how richly deserved was the encomium you gave Jones when he left the committee staff in December 2015.

You noted, "Without his indefatigable work on the Intelligence Committee staff, the Senate report on the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program would not have been completed, nor would its 525-page executive summary have been released to the public."

It seems equal praise might well be due to any Snowden-like patriot/whistleblower who "inadvertently" included the "Panetta Review" in the reams of material given your committee by the CIA.

Remarkably, a full week after The Guardian carried Ackerman's revelations, none has been picked up by US "mainstream" newspapers. Not the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post -- not even The Hill.

(As for alternative media, Charles P. Pierce's timely piece for Esquire whetted his readers' appetite for the gripping detail of theGuardian series, explaining that it would be "unfair both to Ackerman's diligence and Jones's courage" to try to summarize even just the first installment. "Read the whole damn thing," Pierce advises.)

And so, the culprits who should be hanging their heads in shame are out and about, with some still collecting book royalties and some blithely working for this or that candidate for president. As if nothing happened. Sadly, given the soporific state of our mainstream media -- particularly on sensitive issues like these -- their silence is nothing new, although it does seem to have gotten even worse in recent years.

The late William Colby, CIA director from 1973 to 1976, has been quoted as saying: "The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the major media." Whether or not Colby was quoted correctly, the experience of the past several decades suggests it is largely true. Better sourced is a quote from William Casey, CIA director from 1981 to 1987: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."

In these circumstances, we know from sad experience that there is no way any of US can get on any of the Sunday talk shows, for example -- despite our enviable record for getting it right. Nor does it seem likely that any of the "mainstream" media will invite you to discuss the highly instructive revelations in The Guardian. We respectfully suggest that you take the initiative to obtain media exposure for this very important story.

One additional request: As you and your investigators know better than anyone, it is essential to safeguard the integrity not only of the unredacted executive summary but also of the entire 6,700-page committee report on the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.

And, again, you are aware that as soon as Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, took the gavel from you, he took steps seemingly aimed at ensuring that the full report never sees the light of day. Could you ask him why, as soon as he became chair, he asked the executive branch to transfer their copies to the Senate Intelligence Committee?

Many interpreted that as an ill-disguised attempt to thwart holding accountable those responsible for the abuses. Moreover, if the report cannot be reviewed by those who might be asked to participate in activities like torture in the future, how is it even possible for anyone to learn from the prior unfortunate experience?

The public is entitled to the entire story about the CIA torture program and its lies to Congress, the White House, and to US. Any attempt to bury the fullest investigation of the torture program -- an investigation that provides an example of Congressional oversight at its best -- would undermine the democratic accountability that is supposed to be provided by the separation of powers.

Furthermore, as you were quoted in the Guardian series, the agency searches "may have undermined the constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activities or any other government function . . ."

Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, was exactly on point: "You either have oversight and separation of powers with the checks and balances that come with that, or you don't. It's amazing that, once again, no one at the CIA was held accountable."  Consequently, the issue now is not only the cover-up of torture by the CIA but -- at least equally important -- the "unbridled agency that spied onAmericans (including Senate Intelligence Committee staffers) as eagerly as they spied on foreign adversaries," as the Guardian described it in referring to the Church Committee investigation in the 1970s.

Does American democracy deserve any less than an intense investigation of the CIA's obstruction of the democratic process in the 2000s?

The Guardian revelations make it still more difficult for the kind of excuses made by those who can hardly pretend to be disinterested observers -- former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, for example -- who wrote Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee's Study of Its Detention and Interrogation Program, published on September 9, 2015. We published our own (VIPS) critique of "Rebuttal" five days later. And before the final vote on John Brennan's nomination to become CIA director, we tried to warn you not to trust him.

We believe you will agree that more needs to be done to replant the moral moorings of honesty that must anchor the intelligence profession to which we have given so many years. And we think that one step in that direction would be for you to seize this new opportunity to give prominence to the edifying story of how your committee and its staffers stepped up so effectively to their responsibilities in investigating and exposing the very sad and delicate chapter of CIA torture.

The play-by-play provided by the Guardian series, with its appropriate focus on the top investigator Daniel Jones, has created an opportunity we hope will not be squandered; a chance to tell a truly uplifting story sure to encourage others to behave in similarly exemplary manner.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Jean Maria Arrigo, PhD, member of 2005 American Psychological Association task force evaluating the role of psychologists in US intelligence and military interrogations of detainees (associate VIPS)

Eugene DeFriest Betit, Ph. D., DIA, US  Army (ret.)

Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive, NSA

Bogdan Dzakovic, Former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security, (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter IntelligenceCorps and former United States Senator

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., US MC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Larry C Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, US AF (Ret.); ex-Master SERE Instructor for Strategic Reconnaissance Operations (NSA/DIA) and Special Mission Units (JSOC)

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, US DA (ret.) (associate VIPS)

David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US  Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Near East, CIA and National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US  Army Judge Advocate (Ret.)

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)

Scott Ritter, former MAJ., US MC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq

Peter Van Buren, US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel (USA, ret.), Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary (associate VIPS)

Valerie Plame Wilson, former CIA Operations Officer

Ann Wright, Col., US  Army (ret.); Foreign Service Officer (resigned)

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Speakout Tue, 20 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Educational Inequality and the Ballot Booth http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37678-educational-inequality-and-the-ballot-bootheducational-inequality-and-the-ballot-booth http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37678-educational-inequality-and-the-ballot-bootheducational-inequality-and-the-ballot-booth

As election time approaches, voters are lukewarm on the candidates. While this story is familiar, a greater crisis should command our attention: class biases in elections. In 2008, the wealthiest 1% of the US voted at a 99 percent participation rate (pg. 3). For those around median income, the number hovered at about 65 percent. A similar divide exists with voters who graduated college versus those who only completed high school. The former voted at just over 70 percent participation while the latter struggled to break 50 percent. If we hope to address this problem and strive for a truly representative democracy, we must observe the role income plays in education and voting.

As election time approaches, voters are lukewarm on the candidates. While this story is familiar, a greater crisis should command our attention: class biases in elections. In 2008, the wealthiest 1% of the US voted at a 99 percent participation rate (pg. 3). For those around median income, the number hovered at about 65 percent. A similar divide exists with voters who graduated college versus those who only completed high school. The former voted at just over 70 percent participation while the latter struggled to break 50 percent. If we hope to address this problem and strive for a truly representative democracy, we must observe the role income plays in education and voting.

The cyclical nature of poverty and education is well understood; children from lower income backgrounds perform worse on standardized tests than their affluent peers. Median earnings rise with education. Escape from poverty would seemingly be found in our universities. But because educational quality suffers in impoverished areas, and because lower-income students underperform on college-placement tests, this escape becomes an ever-distant dream. To break the cycle of poverty and to achieve a more democratic system, we must heed the rallying cry of the youth and favor educational equality. We must push for tuition free public universities so that all students can have meaningful choices in their futures.

Remove Financial Barriers to Education

Cost is an obstacle to greater college graduation rates. Students drop out largely due to the struggles of working to support themselves while in school. In other words, students cannot invest in their education. Even among those who do graduate, their investments are hardly maturing. It takes more than six years for more than one-third of public university graduates to earn an annual income of $25,000.

One solution offered is a promise of "debt-free" college education. Under this plan, students graduate owing nothing towards tuition. The methods proposed to ensure this vary, but all consider a student's familial income and expected family contribution (EFC) to tuition. Out of the gate, this is a non-starter.

The Department of Education (DOE) currently uses familial income to assess a student's EFC. Based on EFC, the DOE then determines a student's eligibility for tuition assistance. While this sounds like a good practice, it has many shortcomings. For example, students who have no family support are still considered to have an EFC. While a student may petition FAFSA for a discretionary override, the student must not only be aware of this option but also articulate their "unusual circumstances" convincingly. Suffice to say, this presents additional challenges to fairly funding education.

Those proposing "debt-free" college also suggest that students should "work some hours" to cover a portion of their tuition. However, what this would amount to is a college workforce made up primarily of the most disadvantaged. A student from a wealthy and supportive family would not need to work to graduate "debt-free." Requiring disadvantaged students to work would not further the goal of creating "debt-free" graduates considering that holding a job concurrent with academic labor promotes higher dropout rates. Instead, we should advocate for educational equality where any student, regardless of income, can attend a public university at no cost and with no obligation.

Class Bias Impedes Democracy

The US ideal of a truly representative democracy is a mirage. We create this attractive image of parity in elections but when we move closer to inspect it, that image disappears. If the impoverished voted at the same rate as the wealthy, we would see greater support for unions, educational spending and government provided health care.

The question then becomes why this great underclass does not participate. A recurring reason is electoral futility. Forty percent of non-voters do not believe that their vote would impact the system. Clearly, the wealthy elites disagree. The difference is not merely one of feelings; there is "substantial evidence" that "government represents voters more than nonvoters." In the US, that means that government represents the rich at the expense of the poor.

This electoral inaction arises not from any one interaction with the system but instead from the system as a whole. With wages decreasing in comparison to productivity and college education now a financial albatross, the cycle of poverty and non-representation is very real and seems poised to grow. That is, it will grow unless we take tangible steps through educational equality that address this intersection of multiple marginalizations.

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Speakout Tue, 20 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0400
Let Peacemakers Like the Standing Rock Sioux Be Our New Generals and Champions http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37662-let-peacemakers-like-the-standing-rock-sioux-be-our-new-generals-and-champions http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/37662-let-peacemakers-like-the-standing-rock-sioux-be-our-new-generals-and-champions

The history of the United States is one of a nation built on robbery, murder, massacre, exploitation by armed force and predatory capitalism. Knowing this and reckoning with it all are two vastly different things. If ever a people showed us the path forward, it is the Standing Rock Sioux, peaceful but forceful, warriors but nonviolent, confrontational but invitational. They just want to preserve the land, sacred sites, maybe a bit of their Indigenous lifeways.

The history of the United States is one of a nation built on robbery, murder, massacre, exploitation by armed force and predatory capitalism.

Knowing this and reckoning with it all are two vastly different things. If ever a people showed us the path forward, it is the Standing Rock Sioux, peaceful but forceful, warriors but nonviolent, confrontational but invitational. They just want to preserve the land, sacred sites, maybe a bit of their Indigenous lifeways. They will even take the initiative to greet and shake hands with those who douse them with pepper spray and sic biting, snarling dogs on them.

Meanwhile, what has rich white powerful militarized US society done with the land?

Just think of Fort McClellan, in Alabama, polluted above, below and all around. Even the local Anniston Star editorial board is at wits end about the failure of the US Army to clean up its colossal mess there. Alabama, it may be noted, is a Muskogean word and Anniston is in the general vicinity of the Alabama and Muskogee tribal lands. When they lived there before Europeans the environment was pristine. 

To be fair, the US Army made much of this gigantic polluted mess, and many others across our land, before there were any meaningful environmental protection laws in the US. Or, as one colonel once stormed at an environmental group attorney, "We here to defend the land, not protect it!" Huh?

All cultures bring much good to our society; at this tough point the mature, wise citizenry would ask, what is the best from each that we can take? What has outlived its utility and should be discarded? What is hurting us and can be transformed? 

At the core of most societal ills, from pollution to climate change and even to our general sense of well-being, is how we manage conflict. We even have our high-ranking military officers acknowledge that climate change is a serious national security threat and that "inaction is not a viable option."

Since the US military is the single largest polluter in the US and the single largest consumer of oil products (and therefore a major driver of climate chaos), we have to challenge ourselves at a deeper level to examine new methods of dealing with conflict that don't involve thousands of military jet flights daily all around the world, thousands of truck-miles of military vehicles on every continent daily, and millions of gallons of fuel use daily by the hundreds of ships and thousands of boats deployed by the US military on the seven seas. 

Over on the peaceful methods side, we are getting new research, new competencies and new successes constantly -- the most recent being the strong, innovative and effective participation of Notre Dame's Kroc Institute in the long-sought peace in Colombia.

As we make history, let us learn from it and turn away from destruction. Perhaps it "worked" in the past. It no longer does and even the readiness and preparation and ongoing investment in destruction and threat of destruction is clearly massively harmful to us now and will only get worse until we take a breath and pivot toward peace. Let the activists -- like the Standing Rock Sioux -- and the researchers -- like Erica Chenoweth -- and the transformational practitioners -- like John Paul Lederach -- be our new generals and champions.

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Speakout Mon, 19 Sep 2016 13:43:18 -0400