News Release Archive - 2008

Significance of Shoes Thrown

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AP is reporting: “On a whirlwind trip shrouded in secrecy and marred by dissent, President George W. Bush on Sunday hailed progress in the wars that define his presidency and got a size-10 reminder of his unpopularity when a man hurled two shoes at him during a news conference in Iraq. ‘This is your farewell kiss, you dog!’ shouted the protester in Arabic, later identified as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt. ‘This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.'”

AS’AD ABUKHALIL
AbuKhalil is author of several books on the Mideast including The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power. He said today: “The level of Arab media interest (especially in the Arab blogosphere) is like nothing I have seen. It is being treated as a vindication for the Arab peoples who opposed the war — the president who arrogantly believed that his occupation troops would be greeted by Iraqis with ‘sweets and flowers’ was himself greeted with shoes.

“This is significant and indicates how Arab public opinion feels about Bush. Al-Jazeera (Arabic) is reporting that up to 100 Arab lawyers have volunteered to defend Zaydi. [The Lebanon-based newspaper] As-Safir is reporting that he is a leftist, and not some Muslim fundamentalist as some speculated. Before the media rush to draw associations between shoes and Arab or Muslim cultures, we can assert that the fellow would have preferred rotten eggs and tomatoes if they were as easy to sneak through the tight security checks as … shoes.”

AbuKhalil is a professor in the department of politics at California State University, Stanislaus. He edits the “Angry Arab News Service” blog.

RAED JARRAR
An Iraqi blogger and activist now living in Washington, D.C., Jarrar said today: “Sources in Iraq are telling me Mr. Al-Zeidi was heavily beaten, then he was put under arrest. His family does not know where he is being detained. Mr. Al-Zeidi will join other tens of thousands of Iraqi prisoners who have been detained for months or years with no charges, no trial, and no access to lawyers. In the few hours following his arrest, dozens of prominent Iraqi political and tribal leaders called Al-Baghdadia TV station where Mr. Al-Zeidi works and expressed their support and compassion. Al-Baghdadia has issued a statement asking for the release of Mr. Al-Zeidi.

“I have started an online petition to ask for the immediate release of Mr. Al-Zeidi. Journalists Without Boarders did issue a statement last year condemning the kidnapping of the same Mr. Al-Zeidi. He was apparently kidnapped for three days before being released.” Jarrar also writes the blog Raed in the Middle.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Gates in Afghanistan

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AP reports: “Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the Pentagon is moving to get three of the four combat brigades requested by commanders into Afghanistan by next summer. …

“The Pentagon chief spoke with reporters traveling with him to Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he was to meet with military leaders Thursday.”

STEPHEN KINZER
Available for a limited number of interviews, Kinzer is a former New York Times foreign correspondent. In a Boston Globe piece titled “The Reality of War in Afghanistan,” he recently wrote: “Emotion leads many Americans to want to punish perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. They see war against the Taliban as a way to do it. Suggesting that victory over the Taliban is impossible, and that the United States can only hope for peace in Afghanistan through compromise with Taliban leaders, has been taken as near-treason.

“This knee-jerk response ignores the pattern of fluid loyalties that has been part of Afghan tribal life for centuries. Alliances shift as interests change. Warlords who support the Taliban are not necessarily enemies of the United States. If they are today, they need not be tomorrow. …

“A relentless series of U.S. attacks in Afghanistan has produced ‘collateral damage’ in the form of hundreds of civilian deaths, which alienate the very Afghans the West needs. As long as the campaign continues, recruits will pour into Taliban ranks. It is no accident that the Taliban has mushroomed since the current bombing campaign began. It allows the Taliban to claim the mantle of resistance to a foreign occupier.”

Kinzer’s books include Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror and A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It.
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ROBERT NAIMAN
Naiman, senior policy analyst and national coordinator at Just Foreign Policy, is available for interviews and can help arrange interviews with Kinzer. His latest piece is “Kinzer: Surge Diplomacy, Not Troops, in Afghanistan,” based on an interview with Kinzer. Video is available on the Just Foreign Policy blog.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

* Killing 9/11 Suspects? * Pardoning Bush Officials?

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LISA HAJJAR
Hajjar, chair of the Law and Society Program at the University of California-Santa Barbara, said today: “The paradox is that both KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] and his fellow ‘high values’ are aligned with still-President Bush and his allies in wanting the death of the former. But the difference between ‘war’ and ‘law’ includes the prohibition in the case of the latter in killing someone without ‘due process.’ So what if the suspect wants death and repudiates the system-legitimating due process? To ‘give it’ (death) to him functions as both a reward for crime for the would-be martyr, and a further discrediting of the legal system that confuses death with justice. … The deception started in November 2001 when President Bush decreed the law-deficient basis for pursuing and punishing suspects. Fast forward to Bush’s last days, and we see that his final legacy might be to give al-Qaeda the ‘bump’ they could never get for themselves from the musty caves of the Northwest province. To kill KSM or not to kill KSM? That is the question for Obama. Ironically, KSM’s talented defense team is ‘against’ their client and ‘for’ the rule of law. Which side will the new administration come down on?”
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MICHAEL RATNER
President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Ratner recently wrote the piece “Obama Should Prosecute Bush Officials Who Designed Torture Policy,” which states: “A popular refrain in Washington these days is that criminal prosecutions would be an unnecessary look backward. Some argue that in order for the new administration to move forward, presidential pardons should be granted and a Truth Commission assembled to investigate the circumstances that gave rise to the brutal interrogations and deaths of prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and CIA black sites around the world.

“But pardons would be the final refuge for an administration whose egregious violations of human rights have, for all too long, gone unpunished. And a Truth Commission is not applicable.

“This is not Latin America; this is not South Africa. We are not trying to end a civil war, heal a wounded country and reconcile warring factions. We are a democracy trying to hold accountable officials that led our country down the road to torture. And in a democracy, it is the job of a prosecutor and not the pundits to determine whether crimes were committed.

“Criminal prosecutions are not about looking to the past; they are about creating a future world without torture. They will be the mark of the new dawn of America’s leadership and our new era of accountability.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Blagojevich and Stadium Deal

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Reuters reports: “Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on criminal charges on Tuesday, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by fellow Democrat President-elect Barack Obama, federal prosecutors said.

“Blagojevich was also accused of threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of the Chicago Cubs’ baseball home Wrigley Field ‘to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical’ of him.”

NEIL DEMAUSE
DeMause is co-author of Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit. He said today: “From what we know, the Tribune Company’s attempted sale of Wrigley Field to the state of Illinois would have ended up costing taxpayers, much like the Yankees and Mets deals in New York. Typically, stadium deals end up subsidizing private interests out of public pockets — I’m used to seeing that. This looks like the rare case of a governor trying to get something in return — in this case, the head of an editor.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Questioning Plans to Increase U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

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The lead story in USA Today this morning reports that the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan told the newspaper “he has asked the Pentagon for more than 20,000 soldiers, Marines and airmen” to augment the American forces in that country.

Gen. David McKiernan is quoted as saying that U.S. troop levels of 55,000 to 60,000 in Afghanistan will be needed for “at least three or four more years.” He added: “If we put these additional forces in here, it’s going to be for the next few years. It’s not a temporary increase of combat strength.”

The magnitude of the planned U.S. military buildup in Afghanistan is becoming more apparent on a daily basis, Institute for Public Accuracy executive director Norman Solomon said today: “This fits the pattern of escalation of the Vietnam War. Rather than unveiling the plans for escalation all at once, the government releases information partially, in stages. The parable of the boiled frog comes to mind: the temperature is being raised one degree at a time, while Americans become gradually acclimated to an open-ended and escalating commitment to war in Afghanistan.”

In a live interview Sunday on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” program, Solomon challenged the conventional wisdom of proceeding with escalation of the war in Afghanistan. He warned against acquiescence to larger U.S. troop deployments, likening the current period to the political and media atmosphere in the United States that enabled escalation of the Vietnam War during the mid-1960s. Solomon is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

Video of the “Washington Journal” interview is online.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Chicago Sit-in

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AP is reporting: “The 200 workers demanding severance and vacation pay have become a national symbol for thousands of employees laid off nationwide as the economy continues to sour. They occupied the plant of their former employer, Republic Windows and Doors, after the company abruptly fired them last week.”

BILL FLETCHER
Fletcher is co-founder of the Center for Labor Renewal and author of the book Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice. He said today: “The workers have it right. Enough is enough. Working people have been continuously stepped on, and in the midst of this economic crisis the bailouts have ignored the working person. People should stand in support of the demands of the workers and maybe a few other workplaces — including some Wall Street brokerage firms — need to also be taken over.” He is executive editor of the BlackCommentator.com.

NELSON LICHTENSTEIN
Lichtenstein is professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy. He is the author of State of the Union: A Century of American Labor, and Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First-Century Capitalism.

He said today: “As in the 1930s, this factory occupation is to uphold the spirit of the law, not subvert it. In 1936 and 1937 American workers occupied scores of Midwest factories to force employers to obey the recently enacted labor law. Today, the employees of Republic Window are occupying their workplace to uphold the laws that require employers to pay them their wages and severance pay. But beyond that, the occupation is designed to put pressure on banks and employers to fulfill the letter and spirit of the financial bailout package which was designed to keep credit flowing and production humming.”
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JAMES THINDWA
FRAN TOBIN
The group Jobs with Justice is organizing to help the Chicago sit-in. Thindwa is executive director of Chicago Jobs with Justice; Tobin is the group’s Midwest regional organizer. The protest in Chicago begins at noon Chicago time in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Tobin said: “Only weeks after taking $25 billion in bailout money, Bank of America is turning its back on hundreds of workers making energy-efficient doors and windows in Chicago by refusing to continue credit to Republic Windows and Doors. To make matters even worse than putting 300 people out of work, Bank of America has instructed Republic to refuse to pay workers compensation they are legally entitled to, either earned vacation pay or the severance pay legally required under the WARN Act, in lieu of proper notice of plant closing.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Sunday on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” — Norman Solomon and “War Made Easy”

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For the first time, the recent documentary film “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” — based on the book of the same name by Norman Solomon — will be the subject of a C-SPAN focus this Sunday, December 7. Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, is scheduled to appear as a guest on the “Washington Journal” program for a 45-minute segment, which may include historic excerpts from the documentary.

Solomon will assess the relevance of the Vietnam War and other U.S. military interventions to the war in Iraq and current plans toescalate the war in Afghanistan. The program will air live on C-SPAN starting at 7:25 a.m. ET, and is likely to be repeated later in theday. Details on “Washington Journal” scheduling for Sunday are available online.

The full “War Made Easy” documentary, narrated by Sean Penn, has aired on national TV networks in more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe. Details about the film, including a complete transcript, are posted at: WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Escalating the War in Afghanistan

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ANAND GOPAL
Afghanistan correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor.
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SONALI KOLHATKAR
Co-author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence.
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NORMAN SOLOMON
Solomon, the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He said today: “Among the ‘best and brightest’ who are set to oversee foreign policy for the next president, there appears to be a consensus for escalating the war in Afghanistan. The assumption bears an ominous resemblance to the political atmosphere and media tone during the mid-1960s, when the conventional wisdom was that everyone with a modicum of smarts knew that upping U.S. troop levels in Vietnam was a necessity.

“No less than in Vietnam several decades ago, the prospects for a military victory in Afghanistan are extremely slim. Far more likely is a protracted version of what CBS anchor Walter Cronkite famously called ‘a bloody stalemate’ in February 1968. But, in 2008, more important than whether the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan can bring ‘victory’ is the question of whether it should continue.

“Right now, the basic ingredients of further Afghan disasters are in place — including, pivotally, a dire lack of wide-ranging debate over Washington’s options. In an atmosphere reminiscent of 1965, when almost all of the esteemed public voices concurred with the decision by newly elected President Lyndon Johnson to deploy more troops to Vietnam, the tenet that the United States must send additional troops to Afghanistan is axiomatic in U.S. news media, on Capitol Hill and — as far as can be discerned — at the top of the incoming administration.

“But the problem with such a foreign-policy ‘no brainer’ is that the parameters of thinking have already been put in the rough equivalent of a lockbox. Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara and Lyndon Johnson approached Vietnam policy options no more rigidly than Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and Barack Obama appear poised to pursue Afghanistan policy options. Such destructive group-think, including wonkish faith in the efficacy of massive violence, caused Martin Luther King Jr. to denounce what he called ‘the madness of militarism.'”

Solomon was an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He will be in Washington, D.C., until December 9.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

“Cutting Auto Wages Not the Answer”

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MARK BRENNER
JANE SLAUGHTER
Brenner and Slaughter are with Labor Notes, an independent periodical on labor based in Detroit. They just wrote the piece “Cutting Wages Won’t Solve Detroit 3’s Crisis” for the Detroit News in which they state: “No matter how you cut the numbers, demolishing auto workers’ living standards will not transform the industry. The Big Three have been trying for years. They have slashed at least 200,000 jobs since 2004, and they last year wrung billions of dollars in concessions from the United Auto Workers. The union instituted a second-tier wage of $14.50 an hour for new hires, lower than pay in the nonunion, foreign-owned auto companies in the South. …

“Automakers’ decisions have been disastrous. While competitors developed gasoline-electric hybrids, Detroit mined the gas-guzzling truck and SUV market, making $104 billion in profits between 1994 and 2003. Wall Street and Congress weren’t calling for more research and development or curbing the company’s dividend payments and high-flying executive salaries back then.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Richardson and Wen Ho Lee

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ROGER HU
An Obama volunteer and Obama delegate, Hu is a spokesperson for WenHoLee.org, a grassroots effort that has sent a letter to the Obama transition team. The letter begins: “As concerned citizens, we write to express our opposition to the appointment of Bill Richardson as the Secretary of Commerce. Our objection relates to Richardson’s actions as Energy Secretary in violating Dr. Wen Ho Lee’s due process rights by prematurely terminating Dr. Lee’s employment, advancing the indictment of Dr. Lee when there was no evidence that he had engaged in espionage, and fueling suspicion about the loyalties of dedicated, hard-working Chinese-Americans. Richardson’s actions raise serious questions about his judgment and sense of fairness, requisite qualifications of a presidential Cabinet nominee. Until Richardson concedes and apologizes for his actions, we will continue to object to his nomination.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167