Americans Attacked in Cairo over Gaza March; Video Available

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A high-stakes standoff continues today in Cairo.

On New Year’s Eve — shortly after the Egyptian government had prevented buses from taking them to Gaza — hundreds of people, including scores from the U.S., who were attempting to march in Cairo were kicked, punched and dragged into a holding area by plainclothes Egyptian government forces.

See video (filmed by Sam Husseini).

Beginning Dec. 27, 1,300 activists from over 40 countries had been in Cairo attempting to go to Gaza, which has been under siege. Israel has prevented free movement to or from Gaza on its border crossings and has prevented the Gaza port and airport from functioning.

These 1,300 activists — roughly equal to the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza during the Israeli bombing “Cast Lead” of this time last year (about 13 Israelis were also killed) — have been prevented by the Egyptian government from going to Gaza through the Rafah crossing in the south of Gaza.

Protests in Cairo have been ongoing; one took place Monday in front of the Prosecutor’s Office, roughly the equivalent of the Justice Department. This protest included about 40 Egyptians and 40 internationals. On New Year’s Day, several hundred people protested in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo; protests there are virtually unheard of — prohibited by the Egyptian authorities. During protests, people have almost always been penned into areas to prevent their being seen by the general public.

The following individuals still in Cairo can speak to the violence of the Egyptian authorities as well as the Egyptian policy of maintaining the siege of Gaza and the crisis situation in Gaza:

RYAN FAY
Fay, a law student, has done legal work on behalf of Palestinians on the West Bank, attempting to prevent the demolition of their homes by Israel. See a photo of Fay shortly after being hit with a police walkie talkie.

MICK NAPIER
Napier is chair of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, one of hundreds of organizations with delegations in Cairo. He said, “It is clearer than ever that the Egyptian dictatorship is fully complicit with Israel’s crippling siege of Gaza.”

HEDY EPSTEIN
Epstein is a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust and author of Remembering Is Not Enough. See the AFP piece “Awaiting Gaza March, Holocaust Survivor Stages Hunger Strike.”

SAM HUSSEINI
Communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, Husseini has been blogging and posting videos.

MICHAEL BROWN
Brown is former executive director of Partners for Peace. He is accompanied by his 80-year-old father Edwin L. Brown, professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the classics department.

See video of the elder Mr. Brown being thrown to the ground and shoved into a penned-in area. He later reported sustaining a bruise on his hand, which he still has, and being pulled on by a cord around his neck. In the video “Demonstrators being forcibly ejected from the street,” Edwin Brown is wearing a blue hat (video by Kayvan Farchadi). Michael Brown was kicked in the ribs by plainclothes Egyptian forces; he and others witnessed Egyptian government forces pulling women by the hair.

The Browns were also penned in on Dec. 29 for over four hours while attempting to visit the U.S. embassy.

EMILY RATNER
Ratner was in Gaza in June, but she was turned away from entering Gaza this weekend by Egyptian officials. She recently wrote the piece “Freedom Marching in Circles While Winding Our Way to Gaza.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Norman Solomon, (415) 309-4359

Roots of Terrorism

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ABC News reports that “President Obama convenes a meeting of national security officials in the Situation Room today.”

AHMED SALAH http://6aprilmove.blogspot.com
A leader of the pro-democratic movement in Egypt, Salah said today: “I see the threat of groups like Al Qaeda growing by the day and much of it is the result of the actions of the Egyptian government. Egypt has been in a state of emergency since 1981. When Mubarak took over that year, Egypt was 44th in terms of economic development according to the UN. Now we are 113th. We have millions of street children who will grow up to be full of hatred and anger. We have a tiny elite around the government that is making billions of dollars from corruption. All this eventually will come crashing down and the rich will flee the country to their villas in Europe, the U.S. and the Caribbean.”

Salah, who has testified before U.S. congressional committees, added: “The American activists and others beaten in the last week trying to march to Gaza got a taste of how much collusion there is between the Egyptian dictatorship and the U.S. and Israeli governments. They also got a taste of the enormity of the police state apparatus here. It has gone from 200,000 when Mubarak took over to more than 2.5 million. Meanwhile, the army has shrunk from 1 million to 300,000. The enemy as far as the Egyptian government is concerned is its own people and anyone calling for democracy in the Mideast.

“We are now receiving reports of 2,000 Egyptian riot police surrounding the Viva Palestine convoy at [the Sinai port of] Al Arish. This convoy has been held up by the Egyptian government for weeks, having to go from one port to the next. It shows that the Egyptian president is helping to suffocate Gaza because that’s what Israel wants. I believe he is ingratiating himself to the Israelis and the U.S. so they will support him and help arrange for his son to become the next president of Egypt.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Hollie Ainbinder, (615) 893-0495

Suicide Rate for Vets Increases

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USA Today reports: “The suicide rate among 18- to 29-year-old men who’ve left the military has gone up significantly. The rate for these veterans went up 26 percent from 2005 to 2007, according to preliminary data from the Veterans Affairs Department.”

AARON GLANTZ
Aaron Glantz is an editor at New America Media and author of the book “The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle Against America’s Veterans.” He said today: “It’s good to see the VA finally admitting there’s an epidemic of suicide among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Now we’ll see if the Obama administration is willing to act on this information. Far too many veterans have killed themselves after being turned away from the VA, a national disgrace that must be stopped.”

DAHR JAMAIL
Jamail is the author of “The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.” He said today: “This is indicative of pervasive and worsening systemic problems afflicting a military mental health care system that is not only overburdened, overstressed, understaffed and ill-equipped, it is exponentially worsened by its being administered by career military with rank, but who are ill-trained to provide the complex psychiatric expertise necessary to effectively treat psychologically impaired soldiers from both occupations.”

Jamail recently interviewed board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Kernan Manion, who treated Marines who were Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at Camp Lejeune. Dr. Manion described to Jamail what he sees happening with returning soldiers as their being in “a state of psychic implosion — someone that is literally having a psychological meltdown. It’s like having your motherboard shut down. Just like a computer motherboard shutdown, the internal psychological apparatus, the mechanism itself, fries, it shuts down. There’s currently simply no terminology in the APA (American Psychiatric Association) literature for this. When you’re dealing with cumulative stress from constant guardedness because of continuous exposure to danger — multiple firefights, patrols, losses of buddies and utter exhaustion from deployment — and then you have family problems, and relationship problems, and then on top of all of that you have commanders telling you you’re worthless, you simply can’t think straight anymore, and who could be expected to. We need to name that — this is psychological implosion — what we’re talking about here is meltdown.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Hollie Ainbinder, (615) 893-0495

Haiti Earthquake

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BRIAN CONCANNON
Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Concannon lived in Haiti for eight years. He said today: “In the short term the Haitian people need the international community to respond to this tragedy with massive amounts of disaster relief. But in the long term, the Haitian people need the international community to stop imposing policies that make them more vulnerable to natural disasters. These policies include trade and aid policies that force rural Haitians into the cities where there is no safe housing for them, and political policies that undermine or overthrow democratically-elected governments that do try to provide safe housing and services in rural areas.”

AMY WILENTZ, http://amywilentz.com
Author of “The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier,” Wilentz is now a professor at the University of California at Irvine. One of the issues she can address is practices of environmental degradation that are often pursued in Haiti because of economic conditions, thus leaving the country more vulnerable to disasters. She can also discuss Haiti’s politics, history, medicine and U.S. aid. She is available for a limited number of interviews on Wednesday, becoming more available beginning Thursday.

BILL FLETCHER
Fletcher is executive editor of The Black Commentator and former president of TransAfrica Forum.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Financial Hearings

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THOMAS FERGUSON
Ferguson recently wrote the piece “Ask Holder to Be Bolder: Resolving the Mysteries of AIG.”
He is professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston; a member of the advisory board of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He is the coauthor, with Robert Johnson, of a two-part series on the financial crisis that has just appeared in successive issues of the International Journal of Political Economy.

ROBERT JOHNSON
Johnson recently wrote the piece “FCIC hearings must shatter the ‘sociopathic nature’ of Wall Street.”
He is the director of financial reform at the Roosevelt Institute and is a regular contributor to NewDeal 2.0, which runs his “FinanceSeer” column. He serves on the United Nations Commission of Experts on Finance and International Monetary Reform. Previously, Johnson was a managing director at Soros Fund Management, where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets. He was also chief economist of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire.

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

Haiti: * Debt * Aristide * Letting Haitians Stay

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MELINDA ST. LOUIS
Melinda St. Louis is deputy director of the Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of more than 75 religious denominations, human rights organizations and development agencies. The group just released a statement, “Debt for Disaster? Jubilee USA Dismayed by IMF Proposal for $100 Million Loan to Haiti.”

The group is calling for cancellation of Haiti’s debt and an infusion of aid, not loans.

Also see: “Our Role in Haiti’s Plight: If we are serious about assisting this devastated land we must stop trying to control and exploit it.”

KEVIN PINA
Founder of the Haiti Information Project, Pina was in Haiti last week, shortly before the earthquake, and met with scores of groups. He reports that “many people were complaining of the [René] Préval government and how it was using aid in a political manner.” He also reports witnessing growing malnutrition and accounts of wrong doing by the UN forces. Pina recently wrote the piece “Allow Aristide to return to Haiti now.”

Also see ousted Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide’s recent statement as well as commentary by Randall Robinson, author of “An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President,” at Democracy Now.

See recent interviews with Pina at Flashpoints.

FRITZ GUTWEIN
Gutwein is co-director of the Quixote Center and coordinator of Haiti Reborn. He said today: “With a stroke of a pen, Obama could give Haitians in the U.S. temporary protective status so they could continue to work in the U.S., pay taxes here — and send remittances back home that are estimated to account for 20 to 30 percent of Haiti’s GDP.”

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

Martin Luther King’s Relevance Today

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From Martin Luther King’s “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence” speech on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York City:

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. … A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, ‘This is not just.’ It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, ‘This is not just.’ The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

“A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

For text and audio, see: American Rhetoric and Information Clearinghouse

BRIAN CONCANNON
Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Concannon lived in Haiti for eight years. He recently wrote “Martin Luther King Jr. and Haiti.”

JARED BALL
Professor of communication studies at Morgan State University, Ball is featured in the video “Dr. MLK Jr.: Struggling Not To Lose Him.”

He said today: “Each year we pay tribute to a man who in reality ceased to exist long before he was assassinated. … By April of 1968 King had become a national pariah. Moderate civil rights leaders became troubled by his stances against wars of aggression in Vietnam and throughout the continent of Africa and Latin America. The establishment press depicted him as inspiring ‘fear’ among White House and Justice Department officials for his continued work against structural inequality which they saw as leanings toward ‘communism,’ ‘Leninism’ and as being too friendly to the likes of Stokely Carmichael. In 2010 we must all reach the difficult conclusion that the presence of Barack Obama requires the absence of Dr. King and that the former is more a system’s protective response to the latter than any kind of continuation.”

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

Haiti: “Militarization Hinders Relief”

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The front-page headline in the Washington Post this morning says: “Haiti relief efforts stifled by chaos.”

Patrick Elie, former Haitian Secretary of State for National Defense, told Al Jazeera English: “There is no war here. We don’t need soldiers as such. … The choice of what lands and what doesn’t land [at the airport] … should be determined by the Haitians. Otherwise it’s a takeover, and what might happen is that the needs of Haitians are not taken into account — but only either the way a foreign country defines the needs of Haiti, or [tries] to push its own agenda.”

Al Jazeera English also reports: “Two Mexican aircraft with vital lifesaving equipment were told they can’t land on Sunday.” Similarly, Doctors Without Borders released a statement: “Despite guarantees, given by the United Nations and the U.S. Defense Department, an MSF [Doctors Without Borders] cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, and was re-routed to Samana, in Dominican Republic. All material from the cargo is now being sent by truck from Samana, but this has added a 24-hour delay for the arrival of the hospital.” For video and background, see RaceWire.

BILL QUIGLEY
Quigley is legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights. He has been a longtime Haiti human rights advocate. He was also in New Orleans when Katrina hit. Quigley said today that “after Katrina, the constant looping [by the TV networks] of looting gave people the impression that looting was the major event going on. Helicopters even stopped for 24 hours when pilots feared they were being shot at — a ‘fact’ that no one was ever able to confirm as accurate. Troops on site were unnerved by thousands of hot hungry thirsty black people until General [Russel] Honoré arrived and told troops to turn their guns away from the people and restored some calm. There is a clear tendency among some to demonize the locals. Reports saying ‘the locals are restless’ or ‘it appears we are on the edge of violence’ — these feed into a ‘blaming of the victim’ mentality that will give some an excuse to say that ‘these people live in a culture of poverty and violence and there is no helping them.’

“Militarization hinders relief. The goals of humanitarian assistance are radically different from the goals of the military. There are places that the United Nations will not go, places they have never gone. In those places … there are community leaders all over Haiti who can help make sure relief goes smoothly and peacefully. The international community has to work with communities and their leaders. The international community has to give Haitians the tools to help themselves. They do not need military assistance, they need food, water, healthcare and help.”

Quigley just wrote “Why The U.S. Owes Haiti Billions.”

He also recently wrote “Ten Things the U.S. Can and Should Do for Haiti.”

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

“The Real Looting in Haiti”

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NICOLE LEE
Lee is executive director of TransAfrica Forum.

TRACIE WASHINGTON
Co-director of the Louisiana Justice Institute, Washington said today: “The real looting in Haiti is not the people trying to get food to survive. The real looting of Haiti is the economic policies of the U.S. and France, as well as institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, in addition to the disaster capitalism that is fast setting in.

“In Haiti, 200 years of crippling debt imposed by France, the U.S. and other colonial powers drained the country’s financial resources. Military occupation and presidential coups coordinated and funded by the U.S. have devastated the nation’s government infrastructure. Although the country has more than 10,000 NGOs [non-governmental organizations], many of them are profiteering off the small nation’s misery, rather than lifting up people’s lives.

“As we saw in the aftermath of Katrina, some politicians, corporations and think tanks see disasters as opportunities for profiteering. Author Naomi Klein reported that within 24 hours of the earthquake, the influential right-wing think tank the Heritage Foundation was already seeking to use the disaster as an attempt at further privatization of the country’s economy. The Heritage Foundation released similar recommendations in the days after Katrina, calling for ‘solutions’ such as school vouchers.”

Background: Shortly after the earthquake in Haiti, the Heritage Foundation posted an article titled “Amidst the Suffering, Crisis in Haiti Offers Opportunities to the U.S.” that began: “In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake [sic] offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region.” The piece has since been altered and the titled changed to “Things to Remember While Helping Haiti.” See governmentality

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

Supreme Court OKs Unlimited Corporate Campaign Money

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Reuters reports today: “The Supreme Court struck down on Thursday long-standing limits on corporate spending in U.S. political campaigns, such as this year’s congressional races and the 2012 presidential contest.”

ROBERT WEISSMAN, via Angela Bradbery
Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said today: “Shed a tear for our democracy. Today, in the case Citizens United v. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence election outcomes. Money from Exxon, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer and the rest of the Fortune 500 is already corroding the policy-making process in Washington, state capitals and city halls. Today, the Supreme Court tells these corporate giants that they have a constitutional right to trample our democracy.” Public Citizen played a key role in the Citizens United case.
A video statement by Weissman is available at the just-launched webpage DontGetRolled.org — and Public Citizen is holding a call-in news conference at 12:45 p.m. ET.

JOHN BONIFAZ
Legal director of Voter Action, Bonifaz (who will participate in the Public Citizen news conference) said today: “Free speech rights are for people, not corporations. In wrongly assigning First Amendment protections to corporations, the Supreme Court has now unleashed a torrent of corporate money in our political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in U.S. history.”
Just after the Supreme Court announced its decision, Voter Action and other groups unveiled the new website — FreeSpeechForPeople.org — to “correct the judiciary’s creation of corporate rights under the First Amendment” The webpage includes a video on whether corporations are people.

LAWRENCE JACOBS
Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies at the Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, Jacobs is author of Politicians Don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness. He said today: “A great myth is that what drives politicians is polling. It’s not — it’s interest groups, stakeholders, contributors and party activists. Those people in turn drive the nature of the polling in order to sell their preferred policies to pick up public support. This is clear in things like strong public opposition to the Afghanistan escalation or public support for reform of the financial sector.” Jacobs is in Washington, D.C. on Thursday for the annual conference of the National Academy of Social Insurance.

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

Torture: * Prosecution * Protest

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FRANCIS BOYLE
Boyle, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, earlier this week submitted a complaint to the International Criminal Court charging Bush, Cheney, et. al with crimes relating to the “extraordinary rendition” and illegal detention of individuals. While the U.S. is not a signatory to the ICC, Boyle notes that many people detained by the Bush administration where detained in countries that were signatories of the ICC at the time of detention, and thus the Court has jurisdiction on those cases. See the complaint by Boyle to the prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

MATT DALOISIO
Under the banner “Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives,” the group Witness Against Torture is holding a series of protests today. About 40 members of the group were arrested today inside and outside the Capitol; video is expected shortly at the group’s webpage.
Daloisio is a member of the group, which notes that tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Obama “signing executive orders outlawing torture and committing his administration to closing Guantanamo within a year.”
The group said today: “The United States continues to detain dozens of men at Guantanamo who have been cleared for release. In addition, the Obama administration is expanding the prison at Bagram [in Afghanistan], and [is] proposing indefinite detention without charge or trial for many and an Illinois prison facility for others. We see President Obama trying to replace the lawlessness of Guantanamo with a ‘legal black hole’ in the continental United States. The laws are broken.” The group states that “the day of action follows a twelve-day fast and vigil for justice.”
Some of their protests focus on three individuals — Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani — held at Guantanamo who were reported to have committed suicide in 2006, but a recently published investigation by Scott Horton for Harper’s magazine finds that they were likely tortured to death. See: “The Guantanamo ‘Suicides’: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle.”

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

Obama in Ohio

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AMY HANAUER
Hanauer is executive director of the Cleveland-based Policy Matters Ohio. She said today: “Last year’s recovery package pulled Ohio back from the abyss and helped cobble together a state budget that averted the worst spending cuts and job losses. But, with unemployment at 10.9 percent, we need much more to get Ohio working again. Ohio, like all states, needs additional federal assistance to ensure that the next state budget can be balanced. We also need a real jobs program – mass transit here is falling apart, homes need to be razed, brownfields need clean-up, and early childhood education has been slashed. Federal funds should be provided to hire Ohio workers to drive those buses, fix those polluted properties, help manufacturing modernize, weatherize more buildings and teach those kids. The state will emerge cleaner, greener, more educated and more efficient — prepared to take on the demands of the next generation. We’re glad that the president is here to hear how essential it is that we get a new recovery package, with a jobs program and state fiscal relief.”

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

Haiti, Costa Rica and Militarization

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ROBERTO ZAMORA
In Washington, D.C. and New York City until Jan. 27, Zamora is a Costa Rican attorney who successfully fought for the adoption of peace as a human right in the Costa Rican constitution. He said today: “The persistence of militarization stands in the way of much of what needs to happen. We see this now in Haiti, where local groups are saying that the military deployment is hindering relief efforts.”

While in Washington, Zamora will be meeting with members of the Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States regarding his petition challenging the constitutionality of the “free trade” agreement, CAFTA. He said today: “Now, there’s the danger of Costa Rica becoming a technological sweatshop for the development of weapons because of their inclusion of war machinery items in the trade agreement with the U.S. (CAFTA). In 2008 I successfully stopped President Arias’ first attempt to allow the production of weapons in Costa Rica, but as of 2009 the Central America Free Trade Agreement allows the production and exportation of weapons in Costa Rica to the United States. How could two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates [Arias and Obama] promote a trade agreement that includes war machinery?”

He added: “Costa Rica was the only country that signed CAFTA that added war machinery as acceptable items to be exported to the United States. This violates the constitution of Costa Rica and the newly recognized right to peace that many of us worked hard to achieve.”

Zamora’s legal work in Costa Rica has also been credited with obliging Costa Rica to withdraw from the “coalition of the willing” that supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Then in 2008 he won a legal challenge that made Costa Rica the first nation to write into law “peace as a human right” and nullified sections of the “Arms Decree” of President Arias because the importation and manufacture of weapons violate the right to peace and a healthy environment. In September 2009, Zamora was the keynote speaker at the UN DPI/NGO Conference on Disarmament.

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

Obama: Cut Domestic, Increase Military

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JO COMERFORD
Executive director of the National Priorities Project, Comerford said today: “President Obama’s plan to freeze ‘non-security’ discretionary spending could spell disaster for a broad range of federal programs. … The proposed ‘freeze’ is actually a cut. The proposal caps non-security spending at $447 billion for each of the next three fiscal years. During that time, inflation will erode the purchasing power of that total, requiring additional cuts in services in each successive year. While meaningless in reducing the deficit, these cuts could be devastating to non-security discretionary programs such as nutrition, education, energy and transportation. These types of programs account for only 17 percent of total federal spending, yet they will absorb all of the proposed cuts. … Military spending, which in the current fiscal year represents roughly 55 percent of discretionary spending, will be spared the budget knife. And all indications are that military spending will go up next year. In fact, based on the Office of Management and Budget’s projections as part of the FY 2010 budget request released last year, we will spend an additional $522 billion on the military over the next decade.”

KATHY KELLY
DAN PEARSON
Kelly and Pearson are with the group Voices for Creative Nonviolence, which is organizing the Peaceable Assembly Campaign, a series of actions to mark the beginning of President Obama’s second year in office and “in support of finding alternatives to U.S. militarism.” Today, over 20 Minnesotans who have come to Washington, D.C. to continue lobbying their elected representatives to stop funding war are expected to be arrested in front of the White House at a “die-in, protesting the U.S. occupation and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, highlighting opposition to the Obama administration’s recent military escalation in Afghanistan.”
Kelly, who recently wrote the piece “Tough Minds, Tender Hearts,” said today: “The U.S. government devotes massive resources and much sophistication to killing in Afghanistan. Would that it would spend a little to realize that its policies are creating anger. … It costs about $1 million a year to have a U.S. soldier — boots on the ground — in Afghanistan. Imagine what good that money could do if spent to help the Afghan people. A governor in Afghanistan makes about $1,000 per year.”

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

Supreme Court Ruling Spurs Corporation Run for Congress

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ERIC HENSAL
WILLIAM KLEIN
Following the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to allow unlimited corporate funding of federal campaigns, Murray Hill Inc. today announced it is filing to run for U.S. Congress. “Until now,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, “corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence-peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.” Murray Hill Inc. is believed to be the first “corporate person” to exercise its constitutional right to run for office.

“The strength of America,” Murray Hill Inc. said, “is in the boardrooms, country clubs and Lear jets of America’s great corporations. We’re saying to Wal-Mart, AIG and Pfizer, if not you, who? If not now, when?” Murray Hill Inc. added: “It’s our democracy. We bought it, we paid for it, and we’re going to keep it.” Murray Hill Inc., a diversifying corporation in the Washington, D.C. area, has long held an interest in politics and sees corporate candidacy as an “emerging new market.”

The campaign’s “designated human,” Eric Hensal, will help the corporation conform to “antiquated, human only” procedures and sign the necessary voter registration and candidacy paperwork. Hensal is excited by this new opportunity: “We want to get in on the ground floor of the democracy market before the whole store is bought by China.” Murray Hill Inc. plans on filing to run in the Republican primary in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.

Campaign manager William Klein promises an aggressive, historic campaign that “puts people second” or “even third.” “The business of America is business, as we all know,” Klein says. “But now, it’s the business of democracy too.” Klein plans to use automated robo-calls, “Astroturf” lobbying and “computer-generated avatars” to get out the vote. Added Hensal: “This is the next frontier of civil rights.”

See the just-released video ad.

JOHN BONIFAZ
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC is an attack on our democracy,” says Bonifaz, legal director of Voter Action and director of FreeSpeechForPeople.org, a new campaign launched in response to the ruling. “In wrongly assigning First Amendment protections to corporations, the Supreme Court has now unleashed a torrent of corporate money in our political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in U.S. history. This ruling demands a constitutional amendment response to reclaim the First Amendment and defend our democracy.

“While some may say it is absurd to think that a corporation would run for public office, the real fiction can be found in the Court’s ruling treating corporations as persons under the First Amendment. It is time to restore the First Amendment to its original purpose: to protect people, not corporations.”

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

State of the Union

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The following analysts are available for interviews about Obama’s State of the Union address. They will also be participating in a live blog about the speech at: ipaccuracy.wordpress.com.

GWENDOLYN MINK
Mink is co-editor of the two-volume Poverty in the United States: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics and Policy and author of Welfare’s End. She has also been following various aspects of healthcare reform legislation.

MARGARET FLOWERS, MD
Flowers is a pediatrician with Physicians for a National Health Program.

DOUG HENWOOD
Henwood is editor of Left Business Observer. He writes regularly at doughenwood.wordpress.com — and his books include Wall Street.

MAX FRAAD WOLFF
Wolff is an instructor at the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School University. His most recent piece is “State of the Union, State of the Budget.”

KIM IVES
Just back in the U.S. from Haiti, where he has done extensive reporting over the years for Haiti Liberte and other outlets, Ives was recently interviewed, while in Haiti, by Democracy Now.

KATHY KELLY
Kelly is with the group Voices for Creative Nonviolence, which is organizing the Peaceable Assembly Campaign, pointing to alternatives to U.S. militarism.

DAVID SWANSON
Co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org, Swanson is author of the book Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.

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

Howard Zinn

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Howard Zinn, noted historian, writer and activist best known for his “People’s History of the United States,” died Wednesday. See Boston Globe obituary.

Some of Zinn’s statements and writings:

“Obama will not fulfill that potential for change unless he is enveloped by a social movement which is angry enough, powerful enough, insistent enough that he fill his abstract phrases for change — that he fill them with some real solid content.” At The Real News.

In “A Just Cause, Not a Just War“: “I believe two moral judgments can be made about the present ‘war’: The September 11 attack constitutes a crime against humanity and cannot be justified, and the bombing of Afghanistan is also a crime, which cannot be justified.”

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can quietly become a power no government can suppress, a power that can transform the world. Even when we don’t ‘win’ there is fun and fulfillment in the fact we have been involved.”

Further video and material is at ZNet.

DAVID BARSAMIAN
Available for a limited number of interviews, Basamian interviewed Zinn numerous times over the years and worked on two books with him, The Future of History and Original Zinn. He was to see Zinn last night in California.
Barsamian said today: “Zinn was the essence of the engaged intellectual who believed that the struggle for justice was the great work of humankind. And he engaged in that struggle with incredible humor, intelligence and grace. We have lost a great voice but the work continues.”
Barsamian is founder of Alternative Radio, which has a Howard Zinn page.

ANTHONY ARNOVE
Arnove is co-author with Zinn of Voices of A People’s History of the United States. He appeared this morning on Democracy Now.

DAVE ZIRIN
Zirin just wrote the piece “Howard Zinn: The Historian Who Made History.”
His books include A People’s History of Sports in the United States.

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

Obama on Healthcare: “Let me Know”

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During last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama stated: “But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. Let me know. Let me know. I’m eager to see it.”

MARGARET FLOWERS, MD
Flowers is a pediatrician with Physicians for a National Health Program. She has written an open letter to Obama that she is delivering to the White House today, stating that a single-payer, or expanded Medicare-for-all, plan would fulfill the criteria laid out by Obama.

Her letter states: “There was an opportunity this past year to create universal and financially-sustainable health care reform rather than expensive health insurance reform.

“As you well know, the United States spends the most per capita on health care in the world yet leaves millions of people out and receives poor return on those health care dollars in terms of health outcomes and efficiency. This poor value for our health care dollar is due to the waste of having so many insurance companies. At least a third of our health care dollars go towards activities that have nothing to do with health care such as marketing, administration and high executive salaries and bonuses. This represents over $400 billion per year which could be used to pay for health care for all of those Americans who are suffering and dying from preventable causes.”

In 2003, Obama stated: “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program. [applause] I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its gross national product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see.” See video.

When questioned at a town hall meeting on May 14, 2009, Obama stated in response to a question: “For those of you who don’t know … Medicare is sort of like a single-payer system, but only for people over 65. And the way it works is that you don’t have insurance companies as middlemen; the government goes directly and pays doctors or nurses. If I were starting a system from scratch, I think the idea of moving to a single-payer system could very well make sense, that’s the type of system you have in most industrialized countries around the world. The only problem is that we’re not starting from scratch.” See video.

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

“Deception and Abuse at the Fed”

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The Senate voted yesterday to approve a second term for Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman.

ROBERT AUERBACH
Professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, Auerbach is author of the book Deception and Abuse at the Fed. His recent articles include “Stop the Federal Reserve From Shredding Its Records.”

Auerbach said today: “The Fed has no effective way of examining these monstrosities that its policies have allowed to become so large — like Bank of America or Citibank or Goldman Sachs.

“With bank reserves rising from $68 billion in September 2008 to an astounding $1.14 trillion in December 2009, what has been the Fed’s real interest policy since September 2008? It began to pay interest on their reserves, a clear incentive to hold the reserves rather than to lend them.

“William T. Gavin, a Federal Reserve economist, wrote: ‘First, for the individual bank, the risk-free rate of 1/4 percent must be the bank’s perception of its best investment opportunity.’ (March/April 2009 St. Louis Federal Reserve Review)

“The Federal Reserve should phase out these interest payments and end Chairman Bernanke’s false argument (National Press Club luncheon, February 18, 2009) that the billions of dollars in interest payments are a method of insuring banks do not lend at a lower rate. Given that the target Fed short-term interest rate is zero to 1/4 of one percent, is he afraid the banks will pay borrowers to take the reserves at less than zero percent interest if the Fed does not pay interest on them?”

See “Did Ben Bernanke Pull the TARP Over Eyes?

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

“Largest Pentagon Budget”

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Reuters reports: “President Barack Obama on Monday asked Congress to approve a record $708 billion in defense spending for fiscal year 2011, including a 3.4 percent increase in the Pentagon’s base budget and $159 billion to fund U.S. military missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

JO COMERFORD
Comerford is executive director of the National Priorities Project, which analyzes budget choices. She said today: “The Obama administration has handed us the largest Pentagon budget since World War II, not including the $160 billion in war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. It contains some small progress on Cold War weapons, but these are ‘low-hanging fruit.’ The president has called for ‘hard choices’ in federal spending, but the Pentagon hasn’t been asked to make any.”

MIRIAM PEMBERTON, via Tamar Abrams
Research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies’ Foreign Policy in Focus, Pemberton said today: “At $744 billion, the military budget (including military programs outside the Pentagon, such as the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons management) is a budget of add-ons, rather than choices. And it makes the imbalance between spending on military vs. non-military security tools worse. The Secretary of Defense himself has said, repeatedly, that the extreme imbalance between what is spent on military and on non-military foreign engagement is not in our best interests. The budget released today actually makes this situation worse, and his own department’s budget is primarily responsible.”

Pemberton, who is on a task force that produces the annual “Unified Security Budget of the United States,” just co-wrote the piece “A Military Budget of Add-ons, Not Choices, Makes the Security Imbalance Worse.”

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

U.S. Night Raids in Afghanistan

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ANAND GOPAL
Based in Afghanistan, Gopal has just published the results of an investigation in TomDispatch.com and The Nation magazine, “America’s Secret Afghan Prisons.”

He writes: “Sometime in the last few years, Pashtun villagers in Afghanistan’s rugged heartland began to lose faith in the American project. Many of them can point to the precise moment of this transformation, and it usually took place in the dead of the night, when most of the country was fast asleep. In the secretive U.S. detentions process, suspects are usually nabbed in the darkness and then sent to one of a number of detention areas on military bases, often on the slightest suspicion and without the knowledge of their families. …”

Gopal reports on a team of U.S. troops, “most of them tattooed and bearded,” who came at 3 a.m. on Nov. 19, 2009 and broke into the Ghazni city home of Majidullah Qarar, the spokesman for the Minister of Agriculture, killing two of his visiting relatives before taking away Habib-ur-Rahman, a computer programmer and government employee, and another cousin, to one of the secret detention centers on a nearby U.S. military base. “After two days, U.S. forces released Rahman’s cousin. But Rahman has not been seen or heard from since.”

Writes Gopal: “Night raids are only the first step in the American detention process in Afghanistan. Suspects are usually sent to one among a series of prisons on U.S. military bases around the country. There are officially nine such jails, called Field Detention Sites in military parlance. They are small holding areas, often just a clutch of cells divided by plywood, and are mainly used for prisoner interrogation.

“In the early years of the war, these were but way stations for those en route to Bagram prison, a facility with a notorious reputation for abusive behavior. As a spotlight of international attention fell on Bagram in recent years, wardens there cleaned up their act and the mistreatment of prisoners began to shift to the little-noticed Field Detention Sites.

“Of the 24 former detainees interviewed for this story, 17 claim to have been abused at or en route to these sites. Doctors, government officials, and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, a body tasked with investigating abuse claims, corroborate 12 of these claims.”

Gopal has reported in Afghanistan for the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal. He is currently working on a book about the Afghan war. The research for this story was supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

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

Obama Shielding Torture Memo Lawyers?

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Newsweek recently told readers that “an upcoming Justice Department report from its ethics-watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), clears the Bush administration lawyers who authored the ‘torture’ memos of professional-misconduct allegations.”

MARJORIE COHN
Cohn is immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She said today: “A prior draft of the Office of Professional Responsibility’s report reportedly determined that John Yoo and Jay Bybee violated their professional obligations by writing the now infamous 2002 torture memo. After several months and likely pressure from the White House, the OPR’s conclusion was downgraded to ‘poor judgment,’ which will not trigger potential discipline of Yoo and impeachment of Bybee. This is consistent with Obama’s approach of shielding Bush officials from accountability to curry favor with Republicans.”

Cohn’s books include Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and the forthcoming The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse. She is featured in a new documentary film called “Tortured Law.” Cohn’s writing and an excerpt from the documentary are at MarjorieCohn.com.

See Cohn’s past piece ” War Criminals, Including Their Lawyers, Must Be Prosecuted.”

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

Haiti: * Canceling Debt * Adoptions * Just Back

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MELINDA ST. LOUIS
Melinda St. Louis is deputy director of the Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of more than 75 religious denominations, human rights organizations and development agencies. She said today: “This weekend the G-7 finance ministers [who are meeting in Canada] must respond to the mounting global consensus to drop Haiti’s debt. It’s time our leaders announced their commitment to cancel Haiti’s debts once and for all, including the new IMF loan. Debt cancellation is a critical step in the long road to Haiti’s recovery.” The Jubilee USA Network states that Thursday 94 members of Congress sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Geithner calling for the complete cancellation of debts claimed against Haiti.

FRANCIS BOYLE
Boyle, a professor of international law at the University of Illinois in Champaign, said today: “Various countries are right to say that the U.S. is occupying Haiti. As such, under the Fourth Geneva Convention the United States cannot be deporting or transferring Haitian children out of Haiti unless for emergency, life-saving medical treatment only available in the United States and not in Haiti.”

KIM IVES
Recently back in the U.S. from Haiti, where he has done extensive reporting over the years for Haiti Liberte and other outlets, Ives was recently interviewed, while in Haiti, by Democracy Now for a segment titled “How Western Domination Has Undermined Haiti’s Ability to Recover from Natural Devastation.”

AMY WILENTZ
Author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier, Wilentz is a professor at the University of California at Irvine. While in Haiti, she blogged for Time magazine; see her webpage: AmyWilentz.com.
She can address practices of environmental degradation that are often pursued in Haiti because of economic conditions, thus leaving the country more vulnerable to disasters. She can also discuss Haiti’s politics, history, medicine and U.S. aid.

JOHANNA BERRIGAN
Physician assistant and co-founder of the House of Grace Catholic Worker in Philadelphia, Berrigan has been to Haiti over 15 times since 2004. She returned from Haiti very early Tuesday morning after a week-long trip with other healthcare professionals and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton. She said today: “There has been such an outpouring of donations but aid, food, water, tents are not getting distributed in a manner that’s timely and efficient. In every community we went to, there was a lack of food and water. The distribution as far as we could tell is disorganized, uncoordinated and sporadic.

“Some distribution efforts are even creating mob scenes by just pulling up with some materials and/or tickets for people to obtain food. I watched this happen on Sunday. It would be best if those who are doing aid distribution could reach out and enlist the help of local organizations in the communities and to the Haitian people who are well known in these communities to assist them with the distribution. There has to be better communication with the Haitian people so that they are informed about what is happening.

“There has been such an emphasis on military shipments; Haiti does not need the military with arms. What is needed are commercial flights going into Haiti. There are so many people who want to go to Haiti with much-needed supplies and be of service in a manner that is truly critical for the Haitian people at this time: those who would provide health care, food, water, tents and compassion.”

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

Soldier Faces Court-Martial in Iraq for Hip Hop Song About Stop-Loss

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JEFF PATERSON
SARAH LAZARE
Paterson is project director of Courage to Resist; Lazare is an organizer with the group. She just wrote the piece “Soldier Faces Iraq Court-Martial for Writing Angry Hip Hop Song About Stop-Loss,” which states: “Any day now, Marc Hall — a Fort Stewart soldier and Hip Hop artist — will be whisked off to Iraq for a military court-martial, out of reach of the public eye and his own civilian defense lawyers. His crime: writing an angry hip hop song about stop-loss.

“President Obama has publicly pledged to phase out stop-loss, the practice of involuntarily extending soldiers’ contracts. However, with two ongoing wars, the practice is still being used to fill the ranks, with 13,000 soldiers currently serving involuntary extensions of their contracts.”

Paterson has talked to Hall and is currently in touch with Hall’s mother.

Hall’s song, “Stop Loss”

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

So Much for Global Warming

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MICHAEL DORSEY
Professor of global environmental policy at Dartmouth College, Dorsey said today: “We live on a planet. … While snow falls in footloads in D.C., on the other side of the planet, Rio was hotter than Sahara; and 32 elderly people died silently in their apartments.”

DAPHNE WYSHAM
Wysham is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. She is a content adviser to the short film “The Story of Cap and Trade.”

Wysham said today: “As global average temperatures rise, there will be more moisture in the atmosphere causing major storms such as the record-breaking snowstorm that just brought Washington, D.C., to its knees if not its senses. Some ignorant politicians interpret the record snowfall as yet another reason to question the science of climate change rather than take action on it.” She just wrote the piece “Is Our Democracy Becoming a Joke?”

See: “Words Matter: call it ‘climate disruption’ says John P. Holdren

See: “Sidelining Cap and Trade’s Green Critics: As with healthcare,
right-wing complaints framed the debate

See: “Last Decade Warmest Ever: NASA

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

Protesting the Olympics?

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DAVE ZIRIN
Sportswriter Zirin’s latest book is “A People’s History of Sports in the United States.” He just wrote the piece “When Snow Melts: Vancouver’s Olympic Crackdown,” which states: “News Flash: Winter Olympic officials in tropical Vancouver have been forced to import snow — on the public dime — to make sure that the 2010 games proceed as planned. This use of tax dollars is just the icing on the cake for increasingly angry Vancouver residents.”

HARSHA WALIA
Walia is a member of the Olympic Resistance Network. She cites a number of problems with how the Olympics are being run, including their “overt militarization, with visible troops, helicopters and jet fighters [and] the criminalization of poor people and street vendors who are being forced out of the city center.” Another issue is the environmental impact of the games, such as forest clearing, as well as “greenwashing” by oil companies sponsoring the games, including companies involved in the Alberta tar sands.

The group has also criticized the Canadian government for barring some journalists and indigenous rights activists from Canada; and the Canadian government’s general treatment of indigenous people.

For background, see:

NPR, “Olympics Met With Mixed Emotions By First Nations

France 24, “Vancouver’s poverty Olympics

Democracy Now, “Vancouver Activists Greet Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony With People�s Summit, Protest

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

New Offensive in Afghanistan: U.S. Poised to Commit War Crimes?

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ROBERT NAIMAN
Naiman is policy director of Just Foreign Policy. He just wrote the piece “U.S. Poised to Commit War Crimes in Marjah,” which states: “The United States and NATO are poised to launch a major assault in the Marjah district in southern Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians are in imminent peril. Will President Obama and Congress act to protect civilians in Marjah, in compliance with the obligations of the United States under the laws of war?”

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

Billions to Subsidize Nuclear Energy

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The New York Times reports today: “In a speech in Lanham, Md., Mr. Obama announced government approval of an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help the Southern Company build two reactors in Burke County, Georgia, near Augusta.”

ROBERT ALVAREZ
A former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Energy and now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, Alvarez just wrote the piece “Nukes Aren’t the Answer,” which states: “Wall Street has refused to finance nuclear power for more than 30 years, rendering new construction impossible. The Obama administration, in a move to placate Senate Republicans, proposes to fund new power reactors with some $54.5 billion in federal loan guarantees. Because of the way the guarantees are structured, the actual loans will be made by the Federal Financing Bank out of the U.S. Treasury. Last year, the Government Accountability Office estimated that these loans have more than a 50-50 chance of failing. … [D]espite Obama’s rhetoric about reshaping America’s energy future, he’s asking for a budget that would have the Energy Department continue to spend 10 times more on nuclear weapons than energy conservation.”

KEVIN KAMPS
Kamps, a specialist in nuclear waste at Beyond Nuclear, said today: “President Obama’s nuclear loan guarantee now forces American taxpayers to bear 80 percent of the financial risks for two proposed new Toshiba-Westinghouse so-called ‘Advanced Passive (AP) 1000’ atomic reactors. The Japanese export bank will bear the financial risks for much of the rest. This leaves Southern Nuclear Company of Georgia free to engage in a ‘moral hazard’ with a radiological risk twist, given the major safety design flaw with the reactor’s shield building identified by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission just last October. Thus, taxpayers are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. If the reactors go belly-up, taxpayers will be on the hook for many billions in loan repayment. If the flawed design actually gets built and operates, communities downwind and downstream will be at radiological risk from tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, or crashing airliners releasing catastrophic amounts of deadly radioactivity from the vulnerable reactors.”

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

From Afghanistan

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ANAND GOPAL
Available for a limited number of interviews, Gopal has reported for the Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor; he is currently working on a book and doing independent reporting from Afghanistan. In a recent interview, he said: “Almost all the reporters who are there are the embedded reporters, so they’re only seeing one side of the story.” See full interview.

MATTEO DELL’AIRA
Matteo dell’Aira is medical coordinator of the NGO Emergency‘s hospital in Lashkar Gah and has worked as a nurse in Afghanistan for the past ten years. The group Emergency released a statement saying dozens of seriously injured civilians are being prevented from reaching its hospital in Lashkar Gah due to NATO military blockades. See interview here.

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

* Obama’s Healthcare Proposal * New Credit Card Law

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TRUDY LIEBERMAN
Today, the White House released its new plan on healthcare. Lieberman is a contributing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review. A complete archive of her Campaign Desk articles can be found at CJR.org.
Lieberman stresses the need for media outlets and others to examine the contents of the proposal rather than focusing on the political jockeying.

ROBERT MANNING
also via Molly Weimer
Manning is author of Credit Card Nation. He recently wrote the piece “Five myths about America’s credit card debt” for the Washington Post. He has several criticisms of the new credit card law, which was passed last spring but only took effect today. He is also involved with alternative proposals that have gained backing at state levels.

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

* Airstrikes in Afghanistan * Back to Square One in Iraq?

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BEAU GROSSCUP
AP reports today: “A NATO airstrike killed at least 27 Afghan civilians, officials said Monday, in the third coalition strike this month to kill noncombatants and draw a sharp rebuke from Afghanistan’s government about endangering civilians.”

Author of the book Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment, Grosscup is professor of international relations at California State University in Chico.

He said today: “U.S. counter-insurgency experts readily acknowledge that NATO’s use of ‘airborne weapons’ that continue to kill Afghan civilians only undermines the ultimate goal of ‘winning hearts and minds’ essential to defeating the Taliban and bolstering the Karzai government. The hope is that mild criticism from President Karzi and the usual ‘accidents will happen,’ the ‘fog of war,’ and the enemy’s ‘human shield tactics’ will hold the Afghans’ trust in NATO�s ‘noble cause.'”

RAED JARRAR
Today, McClatchy reports on escalating violence in Iraq, including several killings in the last day and two katusha rockets hitting the Green Zone.

Jarrar is an Iraqi-born political analyst who just came back from a visit to Iraq. He is a senior fellow with Peace Action.

Jarrar said today: “Violence in Iraq is escalating; a local news report claims that dozens of dead bodies were found on Iraqi streets in the last day, bringing back memories from the 2005-2006 Iraqi civil conflict when dozens of assassinated and tortured bodies were found on Baghdad’s streets every day.

“The Iraqi National Dialogue Front’s calling for boycotting the upcoming Iraqi elections comes after Dr. Saleh Al-Mutlaq and others in the bloc were banned by a governmental commission linked to Ahmad Al-Chalabi.

“The ban has also triggered a war of words between the U.S. and Chalabi when senior Pentagon officials accused him of being an Iranian agent. Many Iraqis believe the current political and security unrest is linked to the ongoing U.S.-Iranian confrontation regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

“The next few months will witness the first real test to the Obama administration’s withdrawal plan from Iraq. If the U.S. fails to implement the agreed upon time-based withdrawal, that will take the U.S.-Iraqi relationship back to square one and lead to even more violence and deterioration.”

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

White Tilt: Jobs and Stimulus Bills

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CHARLES HALLMAN
Hallman is a staff reporter with the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. The pieces he has written recently include “Minnesota Stimulus Dollars Bypass Black Businesses: Transportation millions flow to the white ‘status quo.'”

EVA SANCHIS
Metro editor for El Diario/La Prensa, Sanchis’ articles include “Bushwick Is Dying: The mortgage crisis is eating away the wealth of several generations of Hispanics.”

AARON GLANTZ
Glantz just wrote the piece “A New Jobs Bill Is Needed,” which states: “With almost 15 million Americans unemployed, Congress has a moral obligation to pass another jobs bill. But it also has a moral obligation to ensure that those who need the jobs the most are not left out in the cold. …

“A series of investigations coordinated by New America Media, where I work, shows that over the last year those dollars have systematically bypassed communities of color. In the last year, 98 percent of stimulus contracts from the U.S. Department of Transportation have gone to white-owned firms.”

Glantz is an editor at New America Media and author of the book The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle Against America’s Veterans.

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

Single-Payer Advocates, Excluded from Summit, Take to Sidewalk

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STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER, M.D., M.P.H.
MARGARET FLOWERS, M.D.
QUENTIN YOUNG, M.D.
MARK ALMBERG
Young, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of 17,000 doctors who support a single-payer, Medicare-for-All approach to reform, said today: “Regrettably, the president’s proposal is built on some of the worst aspects of the Senate bill. For example, the president’s proposal would ship hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to the private health insurance industry in the form of subsidies. And to help finance this, it would impose a new tax on health benefits of workers, especially those in high-cost states.

“Its individual mandate would force millions of middle-income uninsured Americans to buy insurers’ skimpy products — insurance policies full of gaps like ever-rising co-pays, deductibles and premiums. Such policies already leave middle-class American families vulnerable to economic hardship and medical bankruptcy in the event of a serious illness like cancer.

“Even so, at least 23 million people would remain uninsured. We know that being uninsured raises your chance of dying by about 40 percent. That translates into about 23,000 unnecessary deaths each year. As physicians, we find this completely unacceptable.

“In short, this proposal is an insurance company bonanza — not good, evidence-based health reform. The president would do better by abandoning the insurance and drug companies and instead taking up the single-payer approach. By building on and improving the already popular Medicare program, we could put our patients’ interests first. Were President Obama to do so, he would meet with strong public support, including from the medical community.”

Although the physicians’ group requested an invitation to Thursday’s summit at Blair House, no reply from the White House has been forthcoming, Young said. The group also noted: “Similarly, requests from Reps. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, Anthony Weiner of New York and Peter Welch of Vermont that single-payer advocates be included in the meeting have apparently gone unanswered.”

Young knew Obama while he was in Chicago. His partner, Dr. David Scheiner, also a PNHP member, was Obama’s personal physician.

Outside the Blair House on Thursday, a grassroots “Sidewalk Summit for Medicare for All” organized by PNHP and other groups will begin at 9 a.m.

Woolhandler is co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Flowers is a pediatrician who leads PNHP’s Maryland chapter, and Almberg is the group’s communications director.

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

Why is Haiti So Poor?

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KIM IVES
Ives, a journalist with Haiti Liberte newspaper, just returned from Haiti on Thursday. He reports that with the rainy season coming, tens of thousands of Haitians remain homeless, living in giant camps of sheets, tarps and tents. Many complain that they still do not receive food aid, charging that the coupon system devised by some NGOs is plagued by favoritism and corruption.

Ives said today: “‘I have no tent, no tarpaulin, no food, no water, no coupons, no aid period,’ complained Lamercie Lounes, 28, echoing the words of many others I interviewed. ‘The guys who get the food coupons give them to their friends, or to women who sleep with them, or they sell them. It is corrupt. You have to know someone to get aid. It is a business.’

“Many have noted the lower death toll in Chile, which is still in the hundreds while Haiti’s is in the hundreds of thousands. Analysts have noted that Chile enforced strict building codes while Haiti had few codes and they were unenforced. However, the death toll disparity has more to do with the differing political economies of the two countries.

“Haiti’s agricultural society has been largely destroyed over the past three decades by economic policies devised and promoted by Washington. By eradicating Haiti’s creole pigs, dumping cheap rice, lowering tariff barriers, and privatizing state industries, neoliberal reform champions in the Haitian government, pushed by the World Bank, IMF and USAID, have forced tens of thousands of small farmers off the land and into the capital where they build flimsy houses vulnerable to natural disasters.”

Ives was recently interviewed, while in Haiti, by Democracy Now for a segment titled “How Western Domination Has Undermined Haiti’s Ability to Recover from Natural Devastation.”

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

Having Consumer Protection Under Treasury “A Sick Joke”

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MarketWatch reports today: “Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., has dropped plans for a separate, stand-alone agency to protect consumers against credit-card and mortgage fraud in a bid to restart stalled financial reform legislation.”

WILLIAM K. BLACK
Black is associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He was a senior regulator during the savings and loan scandal and blew the whistle on prominent politicians, including House Speaker Wright and the five U.S. senators who became famous as the “Keating Five.” He was the lead staffer on the successful reregulation of the S&L industry and directed the investigations that led to convictions in many of the worst S&L frauds.

He said today: “The single most positive element of the Senate reform legislation was the creation of an independent regulatory agency dedicated to consumer protection against financial abuses. The scope of those financial abuses is staggering. What the FBI rightly warned about in September 2004: an ‘epidemic’ of mortgage fraud that they predicted would cause a financial ‘crisis’ caused the housing bubble to hyper-inflate and caused the greatest loss of working class wealth in our history. The crisis also shows that protecting consumers simultaneously protects honest lenders. A ‘Gresham’s dynamic’ caused this crisis — lenders that engaged in accounting ‘control fraud’ gained an advantage over honest lenders because accounting fraud is a ‘sure thing’ that produces record (fictional) profits that maximize executive bonuses. George Akerlof and Paul Romer captured this dynamic in the title of their 1993 article: ‘Looting: Bankruptcy for Profit.’ Lenders optimize accounting fraud by lending to the least financially sophisticated borrowers on predatory terms. Despite FBI warnings and ample warnings to the Federal Reserve in hearings (mandated by Congress — the Fed would not have even held the hearings absent that compulsion) about endemic lender fraud and predation, the Fed refused to use its authority under HOEPA to prevent the accounting fraud and predation. Worse, Treasury and the Fed have overwhelmingly perverse institutional incentives to represent the interest of the worst financial executives — the looters — against the interests of borrowers.

“The proposal to amend the Senate bill to place consumer protection in Treasury, rather than an independent regulatory agency with institutional incentives to protect borrowers, is a sick joke. This is not even a case of putting a fox in charge of the proverbial chicken coop — the foxes have already slaughtered the chickens. The only reason we were successful in reregulating the S&L industry during the Reagan administration was because the Federal Home Loan Bank Board was an independent regulatory agency. The administration hated our successful reregulation, which kept the debacle from developing into a Great Recession, and would have blocked it had we not been an independent regulatory agency. Its successor administration’s, the first President Bush’s, first significant legislative response to the S&L debacle (the 1989 FIRREA legislation) ended the Bank Board’s independent regulatory status and made its successor (OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]) a bureau within Treasury. OTS, of course, under the second President Bush’s appointees, joined its sister bureau (OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency]) in becoming an anti-regulatory disgrace. The OTS went so far as to encourage a failed S&L to file false financial statements to disguise its failure. OCC spent all of its energies successfully preempting efforts by state attorneys general to protect borrowers from predatory lenders. We are now supposed to believe that the answer to the crisis is to create another Treasury bureau? To be successful, that bureau’s function would have to be negating every policy of the OCC and the OTS. That, obviously, is not going to happen. Treasury will continue to represent the financial industry at the direct expense of our nation. [James] Galbraith (‘The Predator State’) and [Thomas] Frank (‘The Wrecking Crew’) explain how and why this happens.

“Independence does not guarantee effective regulation (witness the Fed and the SEC), but it is a sine qua non for effective regulation. Four things make for effective regulation — and independence increases the chances of each element occurring. The first is leadership. This is where even independent agencies are deeply vulnerable because the president appoints their leaders. Bush, for example, appointed Harvey Pitt, the most notorious anti-regulator, as Chairman of the SEC. However, leaders can change. Bank Board Chairman Gray is an example of this process. He was a patron of deregulation but saw that it was optimizing the S&L environment for accounting fraud.

“The second requisite is power. The agency needs effective regulatory, examination, data, and enforcement authority. An independent agency is less subject to OMB’s and OPM’s anti-regulatory efforts that focus on these elements.

“The third necessity is to create institutional incentives that increase the odds that the agency will seek to fulfill its regulatory mission rather than being ‘captured’ by the industry it is supposed to regulate. The Fed, of course, is set up in exactly the wrong manner due to the regional banks. The banks dominate the organization that is supposed to regulate them. Take a look at the ‘public interest’ directors of the regional Fed banks if you want to have a sad laugh.

“The fourth requirement is to develop a professional regulatory culture. This takes time, and it can be lost. The examiners and supervisors need to value expertise and be dedicated to their statutory mission. They should have no interest in party. (To this day, I do not know the political affiliations of my three regulatory colleagues that I joined in meeting with the ‘Keating Five.’) They must believe that (some) regulation can succeed or they will be defeated from the beginning. They must limit their use of power and avoid conflicts of interest. Good regulators do not have enemies lists even when their opponents do have such lists. Michael Patriarca (the top S&L regulator in the West) exemplified this element. His order to us with regard to Charles Keating’s Lincoln Savings (the most infamous ‘control fraud’ of the S&L debacle) was that we would always walk ‘square corners’ in our regulation of that S&L and every other S&L. Self-restraint is essential, but so are two related cultural elements — integrity and courage. Chairman Gray knew that reregulating the industry would destroy his career. Michael Patriarca persisted in recommending that Lincoln Savings be taken over even when Chairman Gray’s successor (Danny Wall) made clear that he was enraged by that recommendation and even though Wall’s chief of staff warned Patriarca that Keating was so powerful and vicious that ‘they can get you in ways you’ll never know you’ve been gotten.’ (Note that despite a track record of unmatched regulatory success and integrity neither the Bush nor the Obama administration has appointed Patriarca as a regulatory leader or even sought his advice.)”

Black is also a white-collar criminologist. His research focuses on elite frauds (“control frauds”) that control seemingly legitimate organizations and use them as “weapons” of fraud — and the financial crises such frauds produce.

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

Analysts: Another Financial Crisis on Way; Strong Regulation Needed

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ROBERT WEISSMAN, via Dorry Samuels
Weissman is president of Public Citizen, which just released a statement: “Americans Need an Independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

ROB JOHNSON
ABC News reports today: “Even as many Americans still struggle to recover from the country’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, another crisis — one that will be even worse than the current one — is looming, according to a new report from a group of leading economists, financiers, and former federal regulators.

“In the report, the panel, that includes Rob Johnson of the United Nations Commission of Experts on Finance and bailout watchdog Elizabeth Warren, warns that financial regulatory reform measures proposed by the Obama administration and Congress must be beefed up to prevent banks from continuing to engage in high risk investing that precipitated the near collapse of the U.S. economy in 2008.”

Without more stringent reforms, “another crisis — a bigger crisis that weakens both our financial sector and our larger economy — is more than predictable, it is inevitable,” Johnson says in the report, commissioned by the nonpartisan Roosevelt Institute.

Added Johnson: “Our government leaders have shown little capacity to fix the flaws in our market system.” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner “oversaw policy as the bubble was inflating” and “these same men are now designing our ‘rescue.’

“Sen. Dick Durbin once said the banks ‘owned’ the Senate. The next few weeks will determine whether or not that statement is true.”

The new report, “Make Markets be Markets,” is online.

ROBERT AUERBACH
Professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, Auerbach is author of Deception and Abuse at the Fed: Henry B. Gonzalez Battles Alan Greenspan’s Bank.

Auerbach said today: “House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank announced Wednesday: ‘I do not support housing the Consumer Financial Protection Agency in the Federal Reserve. … My main objection to housing this critical function in the Federal Reserve has been the central bank’s historical failure to implement consumer protection as a central part of its mission and role.’ Chairman Frank is correct and should be supported. The next important step in preventing another financial meltdown is to take banking regulation away from the Federal Reserve and place it in an independent agency that is not controlled by the bankers it regulates. Two-thirds of the members of the 12 boards of directors at the 12 Fed district banks are elected by the bankers they will help to regulate. The boards elect the 12 presidents of the Fed banks who vote on the money supply. This is an immense conflict of interest that explains in large part why the Fed was unable to effectively examine the banks as they became overloaded with toxic assets. As I document in my book, the examination of large banks in New York City by the New York Federal Reserve was corrupted while regulated bankers sat on its board of directors.”

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

Clarity on Poverty Measure

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DIANA M. PEARCE
Pearce is the director of the Center for Women’s Welfare and is currently on the faculty of the School of Social Work at the University of Washington.

She said today regarding reports of changes in how poverty is measured: “While change in the outdated federal poverty measure is long overdue, caution is in order regarding the Department of Commerce’s announcement of the new Supplemental Poverty Measure. What it WILL do is tie the poverty measure to American living standards, so over time it will rise as they do, and not fall behind as is the case with the current measure. But it won’t raise thresholds very much, and may even lower them in less expensive areas such as rural counties or the South. And it won’t raise the poverty count very much, because it will take account of benefits, like EITC [Earned Income Tax Credit] and food stamps, that we don’t count right now. And it only takes account of what people actually spend for health care and child care, not what they need to have to secure adequate health care and child care. It is a step, but only a step, and still leaves a need for a measure that takes into account all the needs of a family, including not only food and housing but also health care, child care, taxes and tax credits. That would require a measure like the Self-Sufficiency Standard.”

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

* Elections in Iraq * Clinton in Honduras

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RAED JARRAR
Jarrar is an Iraqi-born political analyst who just came back from a visit to Iraq. A senior fellow with Peace Action, Jarrar has written several articles since his return to the U.S.: “The Iraq Withdrawal: Obama vs. the Pentagon,” “Sliding Backwards on Iraq?” and “A Military Coup in Iraq?” available at his web page.

DANA FRANK
Just back from Honduras, Frank is professor of history at the University of California at Santa Cruz specializing in Honduran social movements and political history.

She said today: “In restoring aid to Honduras and recognizing the fraudulent government of Porfirio ‘Pepe’ Lobo Sosa, the United States is continuing to shore up the coup regime that has violently taken over Honduras since June 28, and which continues to repress the nonviolent Resistance with over 250 violations of human rights since Lobo’s inaugural, including three assassinations of Resistance members.”

Frank met with 25 members of the Resistance while in Honduras. Her books include Bananera: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America.
More Information

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

The Fed, Watergate and Arming Saddam Hussein

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ROBERT AUERBACH
Professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, Auerbach is author of the book “Deception and Abuse at the Fed.”

His book was the basis of Rep. Ron Paul’s recent questioning of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Paul, who introduced the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, which has passed the House with over 300 co-sponsors, noted allegations that the Fed was involved with covering up some of the funding of the Watergate burglars as well as failing to effectively examine a small Italian bank through which the U.S. government sent Saddam Hussein funds in the 1980s. Paul also raised questions about the Fed’s disclosure policy. The Fed chairman immediately dismissed the allegations: “These specific allegations you’ve made I think are absolutely bizarre and I have absolutely no knowledge of anything remotely like what you just described. As far as the ten years [disclosure issue]: after five years, we produce transcript of every word said at the FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] meetings.” See video.

Auerbach said today: “The head of the Federal Reserve bureaucracy should become familiar with its dismal practices.

“First, consider the Fed’s cover-up of the source of the $6,300 in $100 bills found on the Watergate burglars when they were arrested at approximately 2:30 a.m. on June 17, 1972 after they had broken into the Watergate offices of the Democratic Party. Five days after the break-in, on June 22, 1972, at a board of directors’ meeting of officials at the Philadelphia Fed Bank, it was recorded in the minutes (shown on page 23 of my book) that false or misleading information had been provided to a reporter from the Washington Post about the $6,300. …

“The second subject brought up by Congressman Ron Paul is the exposure of faulty examinations by the Federal Reserve of a foreign bank in Atlanta, Georgia through which $5.5 billion was sent to Saddam Hussein that U.S. District Judge Ernest Tidwell found to have ‘clearly facilitated criminal conduct.'” Auerbach details allegations by Christopher Drogoul, a prosecuted official at the Italian bank in question, regarding the Fed’s flawed examination of his bank.

In terms of making information public, Auerbach notes: “The Fed voted in 1995 to destroy the source transcripts of its policy making committee that had been sent to National Archives and Records Administration.” Auerbach’s recent articles on the Fed include “Stop the Federal Reserve From Shredding Its Records.”

Auerbach said today: “The bottom line is that the Fed is a very secretive organization that is largely run by the big banks it is supposed to be regulating. It should be opened up, not given more powers such as the new consumer protection agency.”

Background is available in a recent letter from Auerbach to Rep. Paul.

Excerpts from Auerbach’s book, which features a section on Watergate, including letters from the late Sen. William Proxmire and others attempting get the Fed to cooperate with determining the funding of the Watergate burglary.

Auerbach notes in his introduction that Milton Friedman, who had been his academic adviser, had told Auerbach that he had been approached by an individual trying to get him to stop Auerbach from investigating the Fed when Auerbach worked in Congress. (Auerbach recounts that “Milton Friedman wanted me to know that he strongly objected to this call and I should continue my efforts.”)

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

Afghanistan Withdrawal Debate in Congress

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The Washington Post reports today: “House leaders will allow three hours of formal debate, probably Wednesday, on an antiwar resolution written by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), one of the leading antiwar voices in Congress. The resolution, which has 16 co-sponsors, calls for the United States to remove all of its troops from Afghanistan in 30 days — or by the end of the year, if it is determined that trying to do so in a month would be too dangerous.”

BRUCE FEIN
Author of the book Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, Fein was a Justice Department attorney in the Nixon administration. He said today: “Congress has been continually deferring to the president on war. That stands the Constitution on its head. Congress needs to decide about war.”

ROBERT NAIMAN
Naiman is policy director of Just Foreign Policy. He just wrote the piece “Kucinich Forces Congress to Debate Afghanistan,” which states: “The Pentagon doesn’t want Congress to debate Afghanistan. The Pentagon wants Congress to fork over $33 billion more to pay for the current military escalation, no questions asked, no restrictions imposed for a withdrawal timetable or an exit strategy.

“Ideally, from the point of view of the Pentagon, Congress would fork over that money right away, before the coming Kandahar offensive that the $33 billion is supposed to pay for, because you can expect a lot of bad news out of Afghanistan in the form of deaths of American soldiers and Afghan civilians once the Kandahar offensive starts, and it would sure be awkward if all that bad news reached Washington while the $33 billion was hanging fire.”

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

Now: Congress Debating Afghanistan War

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The House is now debating a War Powers Resolution to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan; see live video.

GARETH PORTER
Porter recently wrote the piece “Fiction of Marja as City Was U.S. Information War.”

He is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy. His latest book is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam.

Also see an interview with Porter, “Offensive in Marja directed at U.S. public opinion.”

PAUL KAWIKA MARTIN
Political director of Peace Action, Martin said today: “A true debate in the House on Afghanistan is long overdue. Today’s vote about removing troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year shows grave concerns about President Obama’s military strategy in Afghanistan. Many more members of Congress than vote today to remove troops within nine months voice publicly and privately their concerns about the extreme costs and efficacy of U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan. As the president and many of his advisers have mentioned, there’s no military solution in Afghanistan. It’s time to transition from more military spending to investing in diplomacy, development and economic stimulus that creates long-term stability in the region.”

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

U.S. Billions to Israel

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Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden said: “I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem.” He also stated that the U.S. will hold Israel “accountable for any statements or actions that inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of talks.”

JOSH RUEBNER
National advocacy director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Ruebner said today: “Official written U.S. policy, which is based on the Fourth Geneva Convention, deems Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land as ‘inconsistent with international law.’ The Obama administration should translate its promise into action to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing violations of international law and its defiance of repeated U.S. calls to freeze all colonization of Palestinian land. The most effective way to do so would be to end U.S. military aid to Israel, amounting to $3 billion this year alone; [that would be] a real step towards a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

The U.S. Campaign recently launched a new website — AidToIsrael.org — that documents “how U.S. military aid to Israel is being misused to injure and kill Palestinian civilians and to commit human rights abuses and violations of international law through Israel’s illegal 42-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.” The website also documents “the budgetary trade-offs in terms of affordable housing, green jobs training, early reading education programs, and primary health care that could have been funded with this money instead.”

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

Will Women and Girls Be Jailed for Miscarriages?

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ROSE AGUILAR
Aguilar recently wrote the piece “Utah Governor Signs Controversial Law Charging Women and Girls With Murder for Miscarriages,” which states: “On Monday afternoon, a controversial Utah bill that charges pregnant women and girls with murder for having miscarriages caused by ‘intentional or knowing’ acts, was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert.

“Contrary to media reports last week, the ‘Criminal Homicide and Abortion Amendments’ or HB12, which previously also applied to miscarriages caused by ‘reckless’ acts, was never ‘withdrawn’ by its sponsor, Republican Representative Carl Wimmer (who is crafting similar ‘model legislation’ for other states). After the governor expressed concern over ‘possible unintended consequences’ of the legislation as written, Rep. Wimmer swiftly introduced a new version, titled ‘Criminal Homicide and Abortion Revisions’ (HB462), which omitted the word ‘reckless.’ Gov. Herbert signed the new bill and vetoed the old one.”

Aguilar just published a Q&A with Wimmer, who introduced the bill. Here are excerpts:

Rose Aguilar: Why did you remove the word “reckless” from the bill?

Rep. Carl Wimmer: Clearly the rumors and what I believe are false statements had spread so far and wide. In fact, I was just on a radio show in Ohio; we’re all over the country with this thing. I’m a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and it was my intention to take this bill and present it there as a piece of model legislation that other states can adopt. …

RA: What about a woman who falls down the stairs? What about a woman whose abusive partner hits her? What about a drug addict?

CW: I don’t think they would have been covered in the original bill. It was a fear tactic spread by those who opposed the bill no matter what. …

RA: So if your law had been on the books last year and the 17-year-old girl’s fetus had died, she would have been charged under the new law? [This is referencing the case of a 17-year-old girl who paid a man $150 to beat her up after her boyfriend threatened to leave her if she didn’t terminate the pregnancy.]

CW: Yes.

RA: Under your bill, she would go to jail for 15 years to life?

CW: If the baby died, she would.

RA: And you’re OK with that? You’re OK with sending a 17-year-old girl to jail? Why not focus on why this happened in the first place? Why not focus on helping the girl?

CW: I don’t think the two issues are mutually exclusive, protecting the life of the unborn and finding out why this happened. …

See the full Q&A.

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

Corporation Running for Congress Following Supreme Court Ruling

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On Saturday, the Washington Post published a front-page story about the corporation Murray Hill running for Congress: “After the Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to funding political campaigns, the self-described progressive firm took what it considers the next logical step: declaring for office.

“‘Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence-peddling to achieve their goals in Washington,’ the candidate, who was unavailable for an interview, said in a statement. ‘But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.’

“William Klein, a ‘hired gun’ who has been enlisted as Murray Hill’s campaign manager, said the firm appears to be the first ‘corporate person’ to run for office and is promising a spirited campaign that ‘puts people second, or even third.'”

WILLIAM KLEIN
ERIC HENSAL
Klein is Murray Hill‘s campaign manager; Hensal is its “designated human” representative.

See the video ad.

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

Israeli Attacks on Human Rights Activists

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CINDY CORRIE, via Libby Lenkinski
Exactly seven years ago (March 16, 2003), Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old American, was killed by an Israeli military Caterpillar bulldozer while attempting to protect a Palestinian home in Gaza from demolition. Her mother Cindy and other family members are now in Israel, where they have filed a civil suit charging the Israeli government with unlawfully killing her.

The webpage RachelCorrieFoundation.org features updates on the trial, which began last week, background on Rachel and information about vigils around the U.S. today.

For more background, see interviews on Democracy Now, CNN International and an interview with Rachel two days before she was killed.

JAMAL JUMA’
Coordinator of the Stop the Wall campaign, Juma’ was recently held without charge at an Israeli interrogation facility for 27 days; Amnesty International released a statement welcoming his release.

While many have focused on Israel’s announcement of more settlement building on occupied Palestinian land during Vice President Joe Biden’s recent trip, Juma’ points to an escalation of Israeli repression of nonviolent activists.

He recently wrote in the Christian Science Monitor: “Israel has taken this opportunity to crack down on Palestinians who advocate nonviolent protests against the Israeli West Bank segregation barrier and charged them based on questionable or false evidence.

“I know: I was arrested for talking too much. All we Palestinians want is a life free from racial discrimination.

“During 2009, 89 peaceful apartheid wall protesters were arrested; since January, more than 40 have been arrested.”

On Tuesday, Amira Hass reported in Haaretz: “The Israel Defense Forces yesterday designated Bil’in and Na’alin as closed military areas every Friday until mid-August, in a bid to halt the weekly demonstrations against the separation fence in those West Bank villages.”

See an interview with Juma’ by The Real News at: “Israeli repression wave targets activists.”

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

After Seven Years: Iraq War “Forgotten”

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DAHLIA WASFI
Born in New York to an American Jewish mother (daughter of Holocaust survivors) and an Iraqi Muslim father, Wasfi has a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She spent three months in Iraq with her family in 2006. She has been speaking against the occupation since 2004. She is currently working on a book on her experiences. Webpage: LiberateThis.com

DAHR JAMAIL
Jamail’s most recent piece is “The New ‘Forgotten’ War,” which states: “While U.S. forces have begun to slowly pull back in Iraq, approximately 96,000 American troops and 114,000 private contractors still remain in the country — along with an embassy the size of Vatican City. Upwards of 400 Iraqi civilians still die in a typical month (Iraq Body Count, 12/31/09), and fallout from the occupation that is now responsible, by some estimates, for 1 million Iraqi deaths (Extra!, 1/2/08) continues to severely impact Iraqis in ways that go uncovered by the U.S. press. …

“Corporate media coverage of the ongoing Iraqi refugee crisis — the U.N. estimates that more than 4.5 million Iraqis in all have been displaced from their homes (UNHCR.org, 1/09) — continues to be scant. The stories that do appear tend to be local stories about Iraqi refugees in the newspaper’s home city (e.g., Chicago Tribune, 10/25/09). …

Jamail is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq and The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. He recently wrote the pieces “U.S. Using Iraqi Political Discord to Justify Continuance of Occupation” and “Women Miss Saddam.”

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

Healthcare Reform or Insurance Giveaway?

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JANE HAMSHER
Hamsher, founder of the blog FireDogLake, writes that the current healthcare bill “is a dangerous and unprecedented step on the road to domination of government by private corporate players.”

A longtime advocate for a public option, she comments: “President Obama disingenuously confirmed his support for the public option in his September address to a joint session of Congress, but, behind the scenes, he was actively working to kill it. Obama wanted [Sen.] Harry Reid to be responsible for taking it out of the final health care bill so he, the president, could remain popular, according to Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo.

“But Reid is facing a tough challenge of his own and didn’t want the honors, so — as predicted — [Sen.] Joe Lieberman was called upon to do the dirty work. Far from opposing the president, Lieberman was doing exactly what Obama wanted him to do so that the deal with the hospitals to kill the public option would be honored.”

For new background, see: “NY Times Reporter Confirms Obama Made Deal to Kill Public Option

NORMAN SOLOMON
In a piece published today, Solomon comments: “On a political level, the [individual] mandate provision is a massive gift to the Republican Party, all set to keep on giving to the right wing for many years. With a highly intrusive requirement that personal funds and government subsidies be paid to private corporations, the law would further empower right-wing populists who want to pose as foes of government ‘elites’ bent on enriching Wall Street.”

Currently in D.C. and available for a limited number of interviews, Solomon added: “With this turn of the ‘healthcare reform’ screw, the Democratic Party will be cast — with strong evidence — as a powerful tool of corporate America. But the Democrats on Capitol Hill and the organizations eagerly whipping for passage are determined to celebrate the enactment of something called ‘healthcare reform.’ …

“Many well-informed and insightful people are now hoping that the current healthcare bill will become law and then lead to something better. But few backers want to dwell on its requirement that everyone get health coverage from the private insurance industry — a stunning, deeply structural transfer of humongous power and wealth that would greatly boost the leverage of an already autocratic corporate state.”

Solomon is director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

See Solomon’s new article “Zero Public Option + One Mandate = Disaster

Background:

On Capitol Hill yesterday, single-payer advocates directly confronted former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean and Rep. John Conyers, who are both now supporting the healthcare bill. Dean wrote in December that the Senate bill would do “more harm than good.”

In July, dozens of House Democrats, including John Conyers, signed a letter stating: “Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates — not negotiated rates — is unacceptable.”

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

Healthcare: Repeating Massachusetts’ Mistakes?

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TRUDY LIEBERMAN
Lieberman is a contributing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, where she regularly writes for its Campaign Desk on healthcare.

She has written a series of ten articles on the Massachusetts plan, which was signed into law by then-Governor Mitt Romney in 2006. Her articles document the similarity of the current proposal in Congress with the Massachusetts plan as well as that plan’s record of failure in providing what was promised in terms of cost savings and adequate medical coverage.

Lieberman has also begun a series titled “Regulating Healthcare.” The first piece was titled “Insurers and hospitals in Massachusetts snub the regulators.”

Her latest piece is “Parsing the AP’s Health Care Primer: Its attempt at informing falls short.” A complete archive of Lieberman’s Campaign Desk articles is at CJR.org.

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

Health Bill “Like Aspirin for Cancer”

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STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER
DAVID HIMMELSTEIN
OLIVER FEIN, M.D.
MARGARET FLOWERS
MARK ALMBERG
Woolhandler and Himmelstein are professors of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program. Fein is president of the group, Flowers is president of the Maryland chapter and Almberg is communications director.

The group just released a statement: “Health Bill Leaves 23 Million Uninsured: A False Promise of Reform,” which states: “As much as we would like to join the celebration of the House’s passage of the health bill last night, in good conscience we cannot. We take no comfort in seeing aspirin dispensed for the treatment of cancer.

“Instead of eliminating the root of the problem — the profit-driven, private health insurance industry — this costly new legislation will enrich and further entrench these firms. The bill would require millions of Americans to buy private insurers’ defective products, and turn over to them vast amounts of public money.”

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

Pressure on Israel?

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Tonight, President Obama is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Netanyahu were among the speakers at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

ANDREW BACEVICH
Professor of history and international relations at Boston University, Bacevich is an author whose latest book is The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.

He recently wrote the piece “How Petraeus could swing thinking on Israel: His belated recognition that U.S. and Israeli interests aren’t always intertwined has particular impact,” which states: “How long the United States can tolerate the denial of Palestinian self-determination is one question demanding urgent attention. Yet behind that question there lurks an even larger one: Is the progressive militarization of U.S. policy in the Greater Middle East — entrusting ever more authority to proconsuls like Gen. Petraeus and flooding the region with American troops — contributing to peace and stability? Or is it producing precisely the opposite result?”

RAE ABILEAH
Abileah is a national organizer with CODEPINK and a Jewish-American of Israeli descent who interrupted Netanyahu’s remarks Monday night. See: “CODEPINK Protests Netanyahu inside AIPAC Gala: Activists call for end to siege on Gaza and illegal settlements.”

Earlier Monday, a spoof news release distributed by CODEPINK, saying that AIPAC had called for an Israeli settlement freeze, was reported as fact by NPR and other major media.

PHYLLIS BENNIS
Bennis is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Her books include Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer. Bennis said today: “Despite a campaign commitment to making a two-state solution real, which would require real pressure to make Israel comply with international law, the Obama administration’s policy towards settlements has largely been limited to a series of polite requests of Israel. Request: ‘Please freeze settlements.’ Answer: ‘No.’ ‘Please freeze settlements.’ Answer: ‘No.’ ‘Please freeze just a few settlements.’ Answer: ‘No.’ ‘Please freeze just a few settlements, just for a little while.’ Answer: ‘Maybe … well … no.’ Then they stopped asking.

“Someone seems to have told the Obama administration that a series of polite requests equals pressure. It doesn’t. Real pressure looks like this: ‘Please stop settlements.’ Answer: ‘No.’ ‘Then, you know that $30 billion that Bush arranged for you from U.S. tax money, and we agreed to pay — you can kiss that goodbye.’ That’s what pressure looks like.”

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

Exposing U.S.-backed Indonesian Military Assassinations Leads to Arrest Threats and Censorship for Journalist

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Investigative reporter Allan Nairn recently broke a story of assassinations by the Indonesian military: “According to senior Indonesian officials and police and details from government files, the U.S.-backed Indonesian armed forces (TNI), now due for fresh American aid, assassinated a series of civilian activists during 2009. The killings were part of a secret government program, authorized from Jakarta, and were coordinated in part by an active-duty, U.S.-trained general in the special forces unit called Kopassus who has just acknowledged on the record that his TNI men had a role in the killings.

“The news comes as President Barack Obama is reportedly due to announce that he is reversing longstanding U.S. policy — imposed by Congress in response to grassroots pressure — of restricting categories of U.S. assistance to TNI, a force that, during its years of U.S. training, has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.” See in The Nation magazine: “Washington’s Indonesian Bully Boys“.

Following these revelations, the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday reported that the Indonesian military is considering legal action against Nairn. On Wednesday, Nairn reports he was on METRO TV, an Indonesian news channel, and was censored a few minutes after the interview began.

Obama was scheduled to be in Indonesia this week, but delayed his trip. In a recent interview with RCTI, an Indonesian TV network, Obama remarked that there were human rights abuses “in the past” but that with the “advent of democracy,” the Indonesian military has been “focusing on external security issues.”

Nairn responded this morning: “These assassinations that I’m just reporting happened while Obama was president. While he was presiding over the training of, according to the Indonesian defense ministry, thousands of Indonesian military people. While he was shipping weapons and equipment to the Indonesian military. …

“Secondly, when he refers to external security issues that the Indonesian armed forces are focusing on, I would challenge the president to name one. There is absolutely no external security threat to Indonesia. Singapore is not about to invade. Australia is not about to invade. What the Indonesian armed forces are focusing on is what they’ve always focused on: the internal repression of the population. And now it’s most intensive in the eastern part of the country, in Papua, which is under de facto occupation. But also, they were doing these — they’ve been doing these political assassinations in Aceh. So what Obama says is just false.” See: Democracy Now interview.

Nairn has also questioned the authenticity of Indonesian democracy under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a U.S. military-trained former general. Said Nairn: “The army vetted all the candidates, as did the oligarchs.” See interview.

ALLAN NAIRN
Currently in Indonesia, Nairn is available for a limited number of interviews with major media outlets. A noted independent journalist, he runs the weblog “News and Comment“.

JOHN M. MILLER
National coordinator for the East Timor & Indonesia Action Network, Miller is closely following the situation and is available for interviews.

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

START Agreement

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Amb. ROBERT GREY, via Kevin Davis
Available for a limited number of interviews, Grey is former U.S. Representative to the Conference on Disarmament. He is now director of the Bipartisan Security Group, a project of the Global Security Institute.

ALICE SLATER
Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Slater recently wrote the piece “NATO Goes Anti-Nuclear?

She said today: “It’s wonderful that they finally reached this agreement to cut their nuclear arsenals, which had turned into a real cliffhanger as to whether the deal would get done. What has been holding things up is that Russia feels very threatened by U.S. plans to ring central Europe with missile defenses. Bush walked out on the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty — Clinton had started to violate it when he broke ground for missile defenses in Alaska. Russia had wanted to cut the nuclear bomb arsenals further under Putin which would have enabled us to call all the parties to the table to negotiate for their abolition, but no agreement was reached — with the U.S. insisting on having its so-called missile defense systems and plans to dominate space. The U.S. and Russia have about 23,000 nuclear weapons. All the other countries combined have about 1,000. We’re not going to make progress unless the U.S. and Russia make more substantial cuts.”

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

Student Loan vs. Healthcare Policies

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SHELDON H. LASKIN
Adjunct professor of law in the University of Baltimore’s Graduate Tax Program, where he teaches state and local tax, Laskin said today: “One of the ironies of the health insurance reform bill is the two dramatically different positions the administration and Congress took on single-payer health insurance as contrasted with single-payer student loans, which were married together in the reconciliation process. Where the student loan program was concerned, Congress correctly abolished any role for the private sector in direct lending to students. In other words, Congress adopted single-payer student loans. But for healthcare, Congress retained for-profit insurance companies as the middleman in healthcare.”

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

Obama and Afghanistan

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MATTEO DELL’AIRA, via Simonetta Gola
Matteo dell’Aira is medical coordinator of the NGO Emergency’s hospital in Lashkar Gah and has worked in Afghanistan for the past ten years.

NORMAN SOLOMON
Solomon just wrote the piece “A Bomber Jacket Doesn’t Cover the Blood” about Obama’s visit to Afghanistan.

He is author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

KAREN J. GREENBERG
Obama spoke to U.S. troops on Sunday at Bagram Air Base, which has a detention facility. Greenberg wrote the piece “Obama’s Guantanamo? Bush’s Living Legacy at Bagram Prison.”

Greenberg is the executive director of the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law. Her latest book is The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days.

See: “ACLU Demands Disclosure of Basic Facts About Bagram Detainees: Government Continues to Suppress Key Information About Hundreds Detained at Secretive Prison.”

Bishop THOMAS GUMBLETON
Gumbleton is a Catholic Bishop from Detroit. He said Thursday: “Waging war and killing in Afghanistan will never bring peace to Afghanistan. … I don’t trust the motivations of our establishment. They talk of benevolence, but they seem to have designs over what they regard as ‘our resources.'”

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

How to Assess Right-Wing Christian Militia

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FREDERICK CLARKSON
Author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, Clarkson is editor of the book Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America. He is founder of the interactive blog “Talk to Action” about the religious right.

Clarkson said today: “As we approach the April 19 anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, it is worth recalling that the date has deep significance for a variety of revolutionary-minded elements of the far right.

“Prosecutors say that the Hutaree militia hoped to spark an uprising sometime in April. April 19 is the anniversary of the federal government’s assault on the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Texas. It is also the anniversary of the battle of Lexington and Concord and the shot heard round the world, the beginning of the American Revolution. …

“The Hutaree are being identified in the media as an explicitly ‘Christian militia’ — this is significant in part because many militia groups and members have been similarly religiously motivated. They see themselves not merely as engaged in an insurrection against the government, but in a religious war.”

CHIP BERLET
Berlet is senior analyst at Political Research Associates and co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. He said today: “Since the early 1990s a sector of the political right in the United States has embraced a set of conspiracy theories about supposed government plans to impose tyranny. … Now with the Democratic administration of Barack Obama these baseless conspiracy theories have led to aggression and violence and an alleged domestic terrorist plot. Why is anyone surprised?

“The widespread public dualist demonization of scapegoated targets has a sordid and violent history. It HAS happened here. Some fundamentalist Christians portray the government as in league with the Satanic Antichrist in the prophetic End Times. The government has a legitimate law enforcement role in stopping domestic terrorism. But most dissidents on the political right and left are breaking no laws.

“The right-wing populist movement spans from reform-oriented conservative black Republicans to recruiters for insurgent white supremacist groups. The Tea Party activists and members of citizen militias are somewhere between these two ideological and methodological poles. It is wrong to lump all of these folks into one undifferentiated mass of potential terrorists.

“The dynamic of demonization and scapegoating is toxic to democracy, and is not a problem for the police to solve. Religious, political, business, and labor leaders have to find a backbone and demand an end to the demonization of political opponents as traitors out to destroy America. Republicans need to distance themselves from conspiracist demagoguery and accept some moral responsibility for the nasty polarization in our society. Democrats need to stop dismissing the angry right-wing populists in the Tea Party movement as ignorant and crazy. All of us need to stand up and call for a vigorous, thoughtful and even raucous national debate over public policies; yet we must also oppose all forms of demonization and scapegoating.”

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

Obama vs. Martin Luther King?

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Tonight, “Tavis Smiley Reports” on PBS airs “MLK: A Call to Conscience.” See video and background.

In a recent interview, Smiley stated about King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech: “If you replace the words ‘Iraq’ for ‘Vietnam,’ ‘Afghanistan’ for ‘Vietnam,’ ‘Pakistan’ for ‘Vietnam,’ this speech is so relevant today. …

“One of the pieces that comes out in this special on Wednesday night that … I think will shock most Americans is that even though King had almost three-quarters … of the American people turned against him, 55 percent of his own people [African Americans] turned against him, one of the last calls — we lay this out in the special Wednesday night — one of the last calls … he made from Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, where he was staying, as we know, in Memphis … was back to his church in Atlanta, Ebenezer, which he co-pastored, as you know, with his father, Daddy King, and King told his father that when he got home Sunday from Memphis, so they could type it in the Sunday morning church bulletin, King told his father that his sermon topic was going to be, had he lived, ‘Why America May Go to Hell.'”

Martin Luther King Jr. from his “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence” address, delivered at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, a year to the day before his assassination — full audio and text:

“A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. …

“A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. …

“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores … A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind.”

GLEN FORD
Executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com, Ford regularly produces audio commentaries and articles. His latest piece is “MLK’s Televised Challenge to Obama,” which states: “Since the onset of the Obama phenomenon, Dr. Martin Luther King’s birth and death days have been ‘polluted’ by false and ahistorical comparisons between Obama and MLK. The two men represent opposite political poles: one, a radical opponent of imperial war and concentrated economic power, the other, an ally of Wall Street and commander-in-chief of ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.’ In focusing on King, the man of peace, Tavis Smiley’s PBS special corrects a history that has been distorted, sometimes beyond recognition.”

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

Myths of Energy Independence

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STEVE CLEMONS
Clemons directs the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation and is the publisher of the political blog The Washington Note.

ROBERT BRYCE
Bryce‘s latest book is Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence.” He is the managing editor of Energy Tribune and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He said today: “Today, during his speech announcing the decision to allow increased offshore drilling, President Obama used the most hackneyed phrase in modern American politics: he said the move was needed to assure ‘energy independence.’ The idea that the U.S., the world’s biggest producer, and biggest consumer of energy, should be independent of the world’s single biggest industry, the $5 trillion-per-year global energy sector, is ludicrous on its face. The fact that Obama used the phrase provides yet another indicator of the intellectual poverty of our energy debate.”

Background: While many politicians and pundits talk of a “dependence on Mideast oil” (for example, Rep. Henry Waxman: “We’re so dependent on importing oil from the Middle East”), in fact, the countries the U.S. gets the most oil from are Canada, Mexico and Nigeria. See U.S. Energy Information Administration’s web page.

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

Toxic Sludge Stance by Alice Waters Sparks Protests

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RONNIE CUMMINGS
JOHN STAUBER
Cummings is director of the Organic Consumers Association; Stauber is an advisory board member of the group and co-author of the book Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!

OCA said in a statement: “Thursday, April 1 is the 30th birthday of the famous Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkeley, California, owned by iconic chef and safe food advocate Alice Waters. At noon it will be picketed by the Organic Consumers Association in a protest against the dumping of toxic sewage sludge on gardens in the Bay Area.”

Cummings said today: “On behalf of our hundreds of thousands of members we are protesting the failure of Alice Waters to oppose growing food on toxic sewage sludge, often deceptively labeled as ‘organic compost.'” See news release.

HUGH KAUFMAN
A noted expert at the Environmental Protection Agency, Kaufman said today: “It’s very disappointing that Alice Waters — unlike other prominent individuals in the organic movement — does not oppose growing food on toxic sludge. I hope she’ll reconsider. … Only 1 percent of the hazardous and toxic materials in sewage sludge is regulated.”

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

Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?

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JO COMERFORD
Comerford is executive director of the National Priorities Project, which analyzes budget choices. She said today: “In 2009, health received 20.1 cents of every tax dollar and interest payments on the national debt claimed an additional 13.6 cents, of which 5.4 cents was directed to interest on military-related debt. When 5.4 cents of military-related interest is added to the 26.5 cents dedicated to paying for core military-related spending, the total military allocation is 31.9 cents of each 2009 federal income tax dollar. Education received 2 cents; the combined category of environment, energy and science got 2.5 cents; and transportation and international affairs took 1.3 cents apiece.”

For an interactive chart and further background, see: nationalpriorities.org

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

Leaked Video Shows Civilians Killed in Iraq

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Today Wikileaks “has released a classified U.S. military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-sight, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.” For video and further background, see: collateralmurder.com.

BEAU GROSSCUP
Grosscup is author of the book Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment. He is professor of international relations at California State University in Chico.

He said today: “The video demonstrates that, with helicopter gunships flying overhead, the people below (allegedly armed fighters) show no fear nor any attempt to run or hide. This should be strong evidence that they were engaged in normal peaceful activities yet the gunners choose to assume otherwise. If the rules of engagement allow the shooting of wounded recovery efforts as clearly demonstrated here, then those rules need changing. There was a clear intent to attack — ‘engage’ — the recovery vehicle and personnel. The chatter of U.S. military demonstrates … excessive attitude of lethal intent; anxiousness to shoot while being under no threat whatsoever; blaming Iraqis for wounded children…”

JOSIAH WHITE
White said today: “I served one tour in Iraq in the first battalion seventh Marine regiment from March 2006 to July 18, 2006. I was severely wounded by a suicide bomber, medevaced back to the U.S. and spent two years recovering. My main injuries are total hearing loss in right ear, shrapnel wounds in both legs and left arm, diminished use of left leg, among others. When I was hit and people around me were dying, you could see and hear and smell what was really happening. In this video, these soldiers are totally detached, just looking at a small thing on a video screen — they are heard hoping that an injured Iraqi grabs a gun so they can finish him off. Then they shoot up the van, which ends up having kids in it, trying to save him — it’s totally illegal.” White is now a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

See in The Guardian, “Wikileaks in the Crosshairs: Wikileaks has provided all manner of scoops in its short life – but why would the U.S. government spend tax dollars spying on it?

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

“What Killed the Miners? Profits Over Safety?”

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MARK BRENNER
Director of Labor Notes, Brenner said today: “The tragic deaths of at least 25 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine isn’t really an ‘accident.’ Workplace fatalities are rarely accidents. They often occur in places where inspection and enforcement of health and safety hazards in the workplace have been eroded over a long period. The mine’s owner, Massey, has a long record of safety violations, including 57 discovered just last month. Corporate restructuring and the destruction of unions in the mines have deprived workers of their advocate and watchdog in the workplace. Coupled with the erosion of federal workplace hazard oversight and enforcement under the Bush administration — which virtually gutted the Mine Safety and Health Administration — it’s led to a volatile situation in the industry.”

JEFF BIGGERS
Biggers just wrote the piece “What Killed the Miners? Profits Over Safety?” The piece states: “All coal mining safety laws have been written in miners’ blood. My grandfather, who barely survived an explosion in a coal mine in southern Illinois, taught me this phrase.

“Massey, of course, has become infamous for its devastating mountaintop removal operations. … But the company also pleaded guilty to criminal violations for a January, 2006 fire at the Aracoma mine in Logan County, W.Va., which took the lives of two miners.”

Biggers is the author of Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland and The United States of Appalachia.

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

Obama Nuclear Stance “Hawk Dressed in Dove’s Feathers”

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Stephen Rademaker, assistant secretary of state for arms control in the George W. Bush administration, stated on the PBS NewsHour on Tuesday night: “There’s a lot less change in this report [the Nuclear Posture Review] than meets the eye. I think, in a lot of ways, it was drafted to suggest greater change than is really there, when one parses the exceptions, and the exceptions to the exceptions…”

GREG MELLO
Mello is executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, which just released the assessment “No significant change seen in Obama nuclear posture.”

Mello said today: “This posture review attempts to reconcile liberal ideals with the hawkish realities of current U.S. nuclear policy. Those policies are to continue almost unchanged.

“In fact, an assurance given by Presidents Carter and Clinton — that nuclear weapons would not be used against NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] signatory states without nuclear weapons unless allied in aggression with a nuclear state — is to be significantly weakened. Obama has added an important caveat, namely that this promised self-restraint does not apply to states the U.S. deems ‘not in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations,’ a category which the NPR [Nuclear Posture Review] and President Obama himself say includes Iran and North Korea, specifically. (North Korea renounced its status as a party to the NPT and does not fall under this assurance in any case.) The category of countries we deem ‘not in compliance with … non-proliferation obligations’ could easily include other countries in the future — perhaps many others.

“It is, in other words, a very hawkish nuclear posture — a hawk dressed in dove’s feathers.

“Unless these realities are changed, it is possible and even likely that in the long run Obama will be seen as largely consolidating, ratifying and extending George W. Bush’s nuclear policies.

“Obama may build the hugely-expensive new factories Bush could not build over congressional opposition. Obama may finally set in motion the warhead modernization programs that eluded Bush. This NPR advocates warhead modernization by all three possible means (refurbishment, component re-use and replacement altogether). On a numerical and a percentage basis, Obama’s stockpile cuts will be surpassed by George W. Bush’s.

“This posture review aims for nuclear stability worldwide as a background for the continued application of U.S. ‘hard power.’ There is no vector of change in it, except for a dramatic new program of nuclear weapons investment.

“Obama’s arms control legacy is shaping up to be relatively trivial. We shall be very lucky if it is not negative overall, once the vaulting rhetoric is silent.”

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

Air Power: “Deadly Inaccurate”

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Independent journalists David Enders and Rick Rowley interviewed Iraqi witnesses the day after the July 2007 attack shown in military video released this week by Wikileaks. The leaked video shows Iraqis, including people working for Reuters, attacked — and then shows people in a van attempting to rescue the wounded being fired upon.

Rear Admiral Hal Pittman, director of communications at Central Command, said in a statement to Reuters on Thursday: “Central Command has no current plans to reinvestigate or review this combat action.”

CENTCOM this week made public a redacted series of records on the case; according to the First Air Cavalry Brigade, the military concluded shortly after the attack that the aircrew “accurately assessed that the criteria to find and terminate the threat to friendly forces were met in accordance with the law of armed conflict and rules of engagement.”

DAVID ENDERS
RICK ROWLEY
Enders, who spent over 18 months covering the war in Iraq, is author of the book Baghdad Bulletin. Rowley, who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for Big Noise Films, was interviewed Thursday on “Democracy Now.” The segment features video of him and Enders interviewing civilians the day after the attack.

Enders said today: “The [leaked] video clearly supports Iraqi eyewitness accounts of what happened and contradicts the military account. This is common — the military press releases and statements rarely gel with Iraqi eyewitness accounts. In the case of any helicopter strike, footage exists, and the military could resolve disputes by simply releasing it. Instead, the military relies on ‘investigations’ that rarely, if ever, go beyond asking questions of the unit involved. Iraqis are never independently interviewed.”

Rowley said today: “Essentially the U.S. military tried to blame the reporters for causing this. There is no reason to conclude that any of the people in that picture are insurgents. You can see two men with weapons, but this is 2007 in Baghdad. This is the height of the civil war, when dozens of bodies a day were being picked up from the street. Every neighborhood in Baghdad organized its own protection force.”

Rowley has also reported from Afghanistan. He added: “Everyone in the U.S. military — from General McChrystal on down — publicly recognizes the problem of civilian casualties from air strikes. But fundamentally, you need air power — either planes or helicopters or drones run out of Nevada — to control a country of many millions when you only have one or two hundred thousand troops. And the nature of air power is that it’s deadly inaccurate.'”

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

Israel’s Nukes

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A nuclear conference of over 40 countries begins today in Washington, D.C. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to attend, but canceled on Friday.

JOHN STEINBACH
Steinbach wrote the paper “Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal: Implications for the Middle East and the World.”

He said today: “It’s unfortunate that the administration has not invited Iran, North Korea and Syria to this conference, since it’s largely supposed to be about preventing groups from getting nuclear material and the U.S. government has accused each of those countries in one way or another of at least being lax on the subject.

“We’ll likely never know the real reason for Netanyahu not coming to the conference, but one reason might be that the U.S. is saying it wants a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty and Israel is on record as being against such a treaty. Israel has the most opaque nuclear weapons program — estimates range from 80 to 500 nuclear weapons. Regardless of the size of its nuclear arsenal, Israel has enough sophisticated nuclear weapons and the delivery system to destroy every country in the Mideast and southwest Asia.

“Contrary to what many are claiming, both Egypt and Turkey have stated that they had no plans to raise the subject of Israel’s nuclear weapons at this conference in Washington, though many nations are sure to raise the subject at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] review conference in New York beginning May 1. It’s clearly Obama’s goal to come out of that conference focusing on Iran. The last NPT review conference ended in chaos when participating nations couldn’t even agree on an agenda.

“Israel and the U.S. have had this so-called ‘nuclear ambiguity’ agreement since Nixon and [Israeli Prime Minister Golda] Meir, which continues to this day — Obama was asked about Israel’s nuclear weapons by Helen Thomas and he refused to answer.”

Background: See the following recent interview with Helen Thomas, which includes video of her asking Obama about Mideast nuclear weapons at his first presidential news conference. Obama states he does not want to “speculate” if any nation in the Mideast has nuclear weapons. Thomas has not been called on by Obama since then. She states in this interview that if she is called on “I want to ask him if he ever found out whether anyone in the Middle East has nuclear weapons” but that she “doubts” she will be called upon again.

Steinbach will present his paper “Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal: Implications for the Middle East and the Worldon Wednesday at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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

Supreme Court Pick: Kagan “Loves” the Federalist Society

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Solicitor General Elena Kagan is widely reported to be a leading contender for the Supreme Court position being vacated by John Paul Stevens.

FRANCIS BOYLE
Professor of law at the University of Illinois, Boyle is author of “Tackling America’s Toughest Questions.” He said today: “As dean of the Harvard Law School, Kagan hired Bush’s outgoing director of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, as a law professor. Goldsmith is regarded by myself and many others in the field as a war criminal. He wrote some of the memos that attempted to make violations of the Geneva Conventions appear legal. Kagan actually bragged about ‘how proud’ she was to have hired Goldsmith after one of his criminal Department of Justice memoranda was written up in the Washington Post.

“During the course of her Senate confirmation hearings as Solicitor General, Kagan explicitly endorsed the Bush administration’s bogus category of ‘enemy combatant,’ whose implementation has been a war crime in its own right. Now in her current job as U.S. Solicitor General, Kagan is quarterbacking the continuation of the Bush administration’s illegal and unconstitutional positions in U.S. federal court litigation around the country, including in the U.S. Supreme Court. For example, early this month, the Obama administration lost an illegal wiretapping case. One of the lawyers in the case who won, Jon Eisenberg, said the Obama administration is as bad or worse than the Bush administration when it comes to issues like state secrets and wiretapping.

“Kagan is apparently being backed by several people who are indebted to her from her time at Harvard. [Professors Laurence] Tribe, [Charles] Ogletree and [Alan] Dershowitz all had plagiarism scandals while Kagan headed up the law school — and she in effect bailed them all out. Tribe and Ogletree were teachers/mentors to Obama and still advise him today, Tribe recently taking a job in the Department of Justice along with Kagan. She was named dean at Harvard by Larry Summers, who helped deregulate much of Wall Street in the Clinton administration and organize much of its bailout under Obama.

“Kagan has said ‘I love the Federalist Society.’ This is a right-wing group; almost all of the Bush administration lawyers responsible for its war and torture memos are members of the Federalist Society. Many members of the Federalist Society say that Brown v. Board of Education [which struck down ‘separate but equal’] was decided wrongly.

“Five currently on the U.S. Supreme Court were or are members of the Federalist Society: Harvard Law graduate Roberts; Harvard Law graduate Scalia; Harvard Law graduate Kennedy; Yale Law graduate Thomas; and Yale Law graduate Alito. A narrow elite is imposing itself through the legal system, and ordinary Americans need to start asserting themselves.”

Boyle is a former chair of the Harvard Law School Fund Campaign for Greater Illinois and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School.

Background:

Glenn Greenwald on Tuesday wrote in “The Case Against Elena Kagan“: “The prospect that Stevens will be replaced by Elena Kagan has led to the growing perception that Barack Obama will actually take a Supreme Court dominated by Justices Scalia (Reagan), Thomas (Bush 41), Roberts (Bush 43), Alito (Bush 43) and Kennedy (Reagan) and move it further to the Right. Joe Lieberman went on Fox News this weekend to celebrate the prospect that ‘President Obama may nominate someone in fact who makes the Court slightly less liberal.'”

The New York Times reported on Friday: “In an interview last week, [Stevens] said that every one of the dozen justices appointed to the court since 1971, including himself, was more conservative than his or her predecessor. ‘We’ll wait and see to see if the most recent change fits that,’ he said of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who joined the court last year. ‘But prior to Sonia’s joining the court that was true with the possible exception of Ruth Ginsburg.'”

The Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal reported Monday: “As dean of Harvard, Ms. Kagan cultivated good relations with conservatives, hiring several professors with right-leaning views and reaching out to the Federalist Society, a training ground for lawyers who often go on to populate Republican administrations.”

Jeff Cohen wrote last year: “Will Obama Move Supreme Court Rightward?

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

Veteran of Wikileaks Video Company

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JOSH STIEBER
Stieber is a former soldier of the company shown in the video recently released by Wikileaks (Bravo Company 2-16), which showed U.S. soldiers killing civilians including a Reuters photographer and someone attempting to rescue the wounded.

He said today: “A lot of my friends are in that video. Nine times out of ten, that’s the way things ended up. Killing was following military protocol. It was going along with the rules as they are.

“If these videos shock and revolt you, it’s because they show the reality of what war is like. If you don’t like what you see in them, it means we should be working harder towards alternatives to war.

“Secretary Gates [this Sunday on ABC’s ‘This Week’] put his seal of approval on the attack. We’re funding the war with our tax dollars. We have to decide if this really represents us as a country, is this what we really value?”

Stieber lives in Washington, D.C. and writes a blog: contagiousloveexperiment.wordpress.com.

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

Tax Day: Binghamton Installs Cost of War Counter at City Hall

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The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote Tuesday: “A group called the National Priorities Project has a popular web site that keeps a running tally of the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It even breaks down the cost per city and suggests what could have been purchased in a year with that tax money. …

“Matt Ryan, the mayor of Binghamton, N.Y., population 47,000, was so impressed with the numbers for his town that he plans to attach a digital cost-of-war counter to the facade of City Hall. By September, Binghamton taxpayers will have contributed $138 million to fund the wars.”

SUE McANANAMA
A member of the Broome County Cost of War Project, McAnanama is speaking at a news conference Wednesday with Mayor Ryan.

McAnanama said today: “People need to be aware of the simple facts about where our money is going. This year our Pentagon budget is $700 billion while our community and so many others around the nation are facing cutbacks and crises. …

“Binghamton taxpayers have spent $140 million for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since 2001, which is more than enough to cover ALL local property tax bills for the next FOUR years. … New York taxpayers have already spent $67 billion for the seven years of war in Iraq. Compare that to New York State’s 2009 High Speed Rail Plan, announced in March of 2009, which aims to spend $10.7 billion to ‘transform’ and upgrade our transportation systems — over the next 20 years. … Private sources paid for the sign and even the electricity for it; no taxpayer funds were used for this project.” For further information, see the Binghamton Bridge web site.

JO COMERFORD
CHRIS HELLMAN
Comerford is executive director and Hellman is communications liaison for the National Priorities Project. This year their web site has a tax calculator where taxpayers can put in the amount of federal taxes they paid in 2009 (or 2008) and take stock of how the federal government spent each of their income tax dollars. It also provides localized information that community groups are using to create flyers that some are passing out in front of post offices as many people mail their tax forms tomorrow.

Comerford wrote the piece “Tax Day and America’s Wars: What the Mayor of One Community Hard Hit by War Spending Is Doing,” which states: “A construction crew will soon arrive to install Binghamton’s ‘cost of war’ counter which will overlook the city’s busiest intersection and spur conversation around tax day. During the three minutes local motorists wait at the nearby traffic light, they can join Mayor Ryan in waving good-bye to $100. And Binghamton as a whole can grapple with spending $49,650 in war costs every day of 2010.”

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

Veterans from Wikileaks Unit Apologize to Iraqis, Question U.S. Leadership

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ETHAN McCORD, [in Kansas], JOSH STIEBER, [in D.C] via Laura Taylor
Stieber and McCord are former soldiers of the company documented in the video recently released by Wikileaks (Bravo Company 2-16), which shows U.S. soldiers killing civilians including a Reuters photographer and then shooting at people in a van attempting to rescue the wounded.

They have co-written “An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People,” which states: “We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions.

“There is no bringing back all that was lost. What we seek is to learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to tell others of our experiences and how the people of the United States need to realize we have done and are doing to you and the people of your country. We humbly ask you what we can do to begin to repair the damage we caused.” See the full letter: LetterToIraq.com

McCord, who sustained injuries in Iraq, said today: “Some may think it’s all trigger-happy rednecks, or that it’s an ‘army of one’ but the military is made up of a lot of different people. Some love the life, others like me thought we were in it for a greater cause — and we were wrong. We realized that our job often was to out-terrorize the terrorists. But you shouldn’t really blame the soldiers, look to how soldiers are used and trained. Our chants during basic training include things like ‘I went to the playground where the children play, pulled out my machine gun and I began to spray — HA shoot!, shoot!, shoot!, shoot to kill!!'”

Stieber added today: “This is what war looks like; [the conduct on] this video has been given the stamp of approval from [Secretary] Gates. On a moral level, I even tried writing to leaders of the church I went to when I was troubled by things in basic training, and they told me to be patient and have faith. So when our institutions that claim to be for morality are facilitating this behavior, we’re in a dark place.”

Stieber and McCord were interviewed on the the Marc Steiner Show recently.

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

D.C. Voting Rights

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The Washington Post reports today: “House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said a D.C. voting rights bill will not come up this session, in part because of opposition to an amendment that would have eliminated most of the District’s gun-control laws.”

ANISE JENKINS
MALCOLM WISEMAN
Jenkins and Wiseman are with the Stand Up! for Democracy in D.C. Coalition (Free D.C.). Jenkins said today that the bill that Hoyer had planned on introducing “does not do enough to correct the lack of basic democratic rights in the nation’s capital.”

Stand Up! favors statehood for D.C., which the group says would be much sounder constitutionally. The group also states that the proposed imposition of gun laws by Congress is endemic to the undemocratic manner that the people of D.C. are treated.

Wiseman said today: “This bill only addresses voting rights — actually voting right, since it’s just one vote we’d be getting. But voting is just the tip of the iceberg for democratic rights; we need self-determination, we need statehood. We pay federal taxes and die in wars, but we in D.C. cannot determine our own budget — Congress does. We don’t have a district attorney. We don’t vote for anybody who prosecutes cases for us, or against us. When people from D.C. are sentenced to jail, they typically serve their time in California or North Carolina, further damaging families. However, I suspect that D.C. will get statehood some day — once it has been sufficiently gentrified.”

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

Tax the Casino

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The following analysts — from various perspectives — advocate a financial speculation tax.

SARAH ANDERSON
Global economy project director at the Institute for Policy Studies, Anderson said today: “On Friday, G-20 finance ministers will discuss the IMF’s proposals for taxing banks to ensure that the financial sector pays a fair share of the costs of the global crisis. A public forum on Thursday will include diverse speakers who have been advocating for financial speculation taxes, very small levies on transactions of stock, derivatives, currency, and other financial instruments that could curb excessive speculation and generate billions for creating jobs, providing global development aid, and addressing climate change worldwide. Several of the experts involved in this event are available for comment on the IMF financial sector taxation report, which was leaked to the media yesterday. While the IMF came out in favor of other types of taxes, it did not challenge whether financial speculation taxes are implementable.” See PDF of the leaked IMF report.

Anderson helped coordinate international civil society consultations with the IMF on this issue. For more information on the Thursday panel titled “How the Financial Sector Can Pay for the Crisis,” which Anderson will moderate, see IPS.

ALAN CHARNEY
Charney is with Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of more than 200 labor and consumer groups. He said today: “We’ve had this incredible expansion of the financial sector. It’s not being adequately taxed and as a result we have a deficit of revenue.”

BHUMIKA MUCHHALA
Muchhala is policy analyst for the development and finance program of the Third World Network. She said today: “It seems what is proposed by the IMF is a one-time, backward-looking slap on the wrist. A financial speculation tax by contrast would provide progressive revenue into the future.”

For background, see “Responses to Criticisms of Taxes on Financial Speculation” by Dean Baker.

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

Supreme Court: Kagan Accused of Plagiarism Scandal Whitewash

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Solicitor General Elena Kagan is widely reported to be the leading contender for the Supreme Court position being vacated by John Paul Stevens.

While Kagan was dean of Harvard Law School, several law faculty plagiarism scandals surfaced. Lawrence R. Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, wrote about much of this and called for Kagan’s departure at the time.

Velvel accused Kagan and Lawrence Summers (who as president of Harvard appointed Kagan) of a “whitewash that avoids punishing a celebrity star professor” for their handling of the revelations that a book by University Professor Laurence Tribe had passages identical to those in a book by University of Virginia Professor Henry J. Abraham.

Wrote Velvel: “Harvard University is now probably the only school in the country with a University Professor who is an admitted plagiarist.” This followed a similar scandal involving Professor Charles Ogletree; Velvel noted at the time: “Ogletree admitted that in a recent book he plagiarized over 800 words from another book.”

Both Tribe and Ogletree taught Obama at Harvard; Tribe is now senior counselor for access to justice at the Department of Justice. Summers — who is now director of the National Economic Council — resigned as president of Harvard University in early 2006 following a no-confidence vote by Harvard faculty.

See Velvel’s piece from 2005: “Re: Larry Tribe, Larry Summers and Elena Kagan: Because of the Larry Tribe Affair, It Is Time for Larry Summers to Go.”

Velvel is reachable at velvel [at] mslaw.edu.

Also see “Prof Admits to Misusing Source: Tribe’s apology marks third instance of HLS citation woes in past year” in the Harvard Crimson.

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

Arizona “Apartheid”

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ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ
Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, just wrote the piece “Arizona: This Is What Apartheid Looks Like,” which states: “Those who think that there’s an immigration crisis in Arizona are correct, however, this is but part of the story. The truth is, a civilizational clash is being played out in the same state in which the state legislature questions the birthplace and legitimacy of President Barack Obama and where Sen. John McCain competes with Senate hopeful, J.D. Hayworth, to see who is the most anti-immigrant.

“It is also the same state that several years ago denied a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. and that today permits virtually anyone — on the basis of trumped-up fear — to carry concealed weapons anywhere.”

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

Immigration: Corporate Trade Deals Root of Problem

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JOHN GIBLER
Author of the book Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt, Gibler said today: “In current parlance, the ‘federal failure,’ or one of the many, has been to design trade policies that create unemployment and poverty in Mexico and across Latin America while subsidizing industrial agriculture and ignoring the speculative boom of the housing and construction industries. …

“Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, not only ignores the economic and political roots of mass labor migration, but harkens back to the racist laws of the late 19th and early 20th centuries like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the California Alien Land Law of 1920 and the Immigration Act of 1924. The Arizona law borders on being the legislative equivalent of hate speech: fomenting racial profiling and criminalizing migrant workers.”

DAVID BACON
Author of the book Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants, Bacon recently wrote the piece “Better Options Needed on Immigration Reform,” which states: “What’s wrong with the Schumer-Graham proposal? It ignores trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA, which produce profits for U.S. corporations, but increase poverty in Mexico and Central America. Since NAFTA went into effect, income in Mexico dropped, while millions of workers lost [their] jobs and farmers their land. If we do not change U.S. trade policy, millions of displaced people will continue to come, no matter how many walls we build.

“People working without papers will be fired and even imprisoned under their proposal, and raids will increase. Vulnerability makes it harder for people to defend their rights, organize unions and raise wages. That keeps the price of immigrant labor low. Every worker will have to show a national ID card (an idea too extreme even for the Bush administration). This will not stop people from coming to the United States, but it will produce more immigration raids, firings and a much larger detention system.”

Said Bacon: “Grassroots immigrant rights groups want an alternative immigration bill that would end trade-related displacement. The proposals made in D.C. do nothing about the root causes of forced migration while criminalizing migrants. We need a human rights policy that ends corporate displacement while protecting the rights of migrants.”

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

Former Senator: “Let the Republicans Filibuster Finance Reform”

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MIKE GRAVEL
Gravel is a former two-term senator from Alaska; his books include A Political Odyssey: The Rise of American Militarism and One Man’s Fight to Stop It.

He said today: “Whenever something comes up that [Senate minority leader] Mitch McConnell is opposed to, like finance reform now, he just threatens a filibuster. Then [Senate majority leader] Harry Reid backs down and pundit after pundit says you need 60 votes to pass it. Baloney. You need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, but a filibuster is a really costly thing to do.

“I used the filibuster for five months to end the draft in 1971. I succeeded. I’m proud of what I did. I helped end the war in Vietnam. But I paid a price politically and among my colleagues for using the filibuster.

“The filibuster is a tool you can use, for good or for ill. The Dixiecrats used it for bad reasons — to delay civil rights legislation. I used it for good — to end the Vietnam War.

“Right now, the vast majority of Americans want strong finance reform legislation. So let the Republicans filibuster and bring the cots out and make the Senate be in session 24 hours a day. The public will rightly view them as regressive and obstructionist.”

Gravel has proposed a National Initiative for Democracy, a method of direct democracy, “so that people can directly overrule the government.”

Also see the IPA news release “GOP ‘Filibuster Hypocrisy’.”

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

On Deficit: Social Security “Not the Trouble, It’s the Target”

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BARBARA KENNELLY, PAMELA TAINTER CAUSEY
Kennelly is president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security; Causey is communications director for the group. Kennelly said today: “Social Security has not contributed one thin dime to the current deficit. It should not be used as a ‘piggy bank’ to pay our way out of the fiscal hole we find ourselves in. Social Security has its own dedicated source of revenue and it is fully financed for decades to come. In fact, Social Security is the only major government program that has been running sustained surpluses over the years, and this has helped mask the true size of the real deficit.”

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security recently released a document titled “The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform: ‘Social Security is Not the Trouble; It’s Just the Target.’

See their blog at EntitledToKnow.org

A video public service announcement is here.

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

Wall Street: * Analysis * Protests

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ROBERT KUTTNER
Co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect magazine, Kuttner is the author of the recent book A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama’s Promise, Wall Street’s Power, and the Struggle to Control Our Economic Future.

He said today: “It’s crucial that we now get a strong financial reform bill. This includes real reform on derivatives, so that banks aren’t making deals on their own accounts and not betting against their clients. Wall Street must be brought down to size so that it serves the real economy.”

DOUG HENWOOD
Editor of Left Business Observer, Henwood is the author of books including Wall Street. He said today: “It’s nice to see Wall Street getting some seriously bad press — and nice to see the Dems acquire a little class warrior fervor. And it was delightful to see all those Goldman Sachs guys get roasted before the Senate the other day. But I doubt much will come of all this. I fear that any legislation that passes will be so diluted and loophole-ridden that Wall Street can carry on with little impediment. And the Goldman hearing looks like a ritual sacrifice designed to appease an angry electorate, but with no lasting effect. I hope I’m wrong, but the thrust of policy over the last couple of years, under both Bush and Obama, has been to restore the status quo.” Henwood writes regularly at doughenwood.wordpress.com

KRISTI BARNES
Communications director for New York Jobs with Justice, Barnes will be participating in a rally and march on Wall Street today (Thursday) at 4 p.m. Organizers are estimating that over 10,000 people will be marching. She said today: “We need to rein in Wall Street speculators in order to rebuild a sustainable economy that delivers good jobs for all. To prevent another economic crisis, we need serious financial reform that includes breaking up ‘too big to fail’ banks and creating a strong and an independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency.” Barnes will be at the protest and will be Twittering live: twitter.com/nyjwj

PAM POWELL
Powell is currently on a bus with fellow United Auto Worker activists and workers traveling from Detroit to New York City. They will be protesting on Wall Street from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. She said today: “Our form of capitalism is so far out of balance that these bankers could just take our money and get bailed out with no strings — and we’re only now trying to really regulate them. I’m not sure how effective this [protest] will be, they’re doing what they did before we bailed them out and they’ll probably keep doing that after we’ve protested, but we’re doing what we can as a group.”

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

* Oil Spill * Nuclear Weapons Conference and Protests

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TYSON SLOCUM
Slocum is director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. He recently wrote the piece “The Oil Spill … BP’s $485 Million in Fines.” He also wrote the piece “Obama’s Drill To Nowhere.”

JOSEPH GERSON
Gerson is speaking this weekend at a conference on abolishing nuclear weapons at the Riverside Church in New York City. Other speakers include UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba. This conference comes on the eve of the review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the United Nations, which takes place every five years and begins on Monday. For more information, see: reachingcriticalwill.org.

On Sunday, organizers, which include the group Peace Action, expect over 10,000 people from around the world to participate in an “interfaith convocation, rally, march and peace festival at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza demanding a world free of nuclear weapons.” See: peaceandjusticenow.org

Gerson is director of programs for the American Friends Service Committee in New England and author of Empire and the Bomb: How the U.S. Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World. He recently wrote the piece “Obama’s Diplomatic Nuclear Offensive.”

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

Beyond BP: Lessons from Valdez and Bhopal

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LUCI BEACH
Beach is executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee in Alaska. She said this afternoon: “Today I’m in Gulfport, Mississippi, one of the areas that’s going to be impacted. These people have no idea what they’re in for. People buy the oil companies’ propaganda and allow them to do what they want without a plan or real safeguards.

“Many are claiming that BP will cover the costs, but people in Alaska waited for 20 years to be compensated by Exxon for the Valdez spill and even then only got a pittance of what they were due, if they were still alive.”

DIANE WILSON
A Texas fisherwoman and environmental campaigner, Wilson is author of the book An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas.

She said today: “Corporations, whether it’s BP in the Gulf or Dow Chemical / Union Carbide in Bhopal, India, don’t follow the precautionary principle. They say that their worst-case scenarios won’t ever happen and so we shouldn’t dare threaten their profits with extra safety costs. Thanks in part to the deregulation from Dick Cheney’s energy task force during the Bush administration, the U.S. doesn’t require an emergency ‘acoustic’ shut-off valve that costs $500,000 and could have prevented BP’s disaster. … Yet most of the other oil-producing nations require the ‘acoustic switch’ and it has been used in Norway since 1993. These corporations don’t want to spend a tiny portion of their billions of dollars on something that can prevent a disaster. They get the legal rights of being people and yet take actions that destroy the lives of real people.

“What BP has done is just a giant example of what happens constantly with the chemical and oil companies in the Gulf. They pollute, then they say it didn’t get into the water, then they say, well, it was only 20 gallons, then they say it was 200 gallons. Then it’s too much to clean up. One big problem is that so much is dependent on industry’s self-reporting. You can’t get decent information from companies. I find out a great deal because I work with an injured workers group.”

Background: On April 2, President Obama stated: “It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced.”

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

Does U.S. Policy Help Breed Terror?

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SHAHID MAHMOOD
Mahmood was an editorial cartoonist for Dawn, a national newspaper in Pakistan. He is now internationally syndicated with the New York Times Syndicate. He said today: “People become radicalized through the corruptions of an Islamist agenda, the excesses of capitalism and a heavy-handed U.S. foreign policy.”

ALI ABUNIMAH
Abunimah is co-founder of the Electronic Intifada website. In response to an alleged plot aimed at Times Square, he said today: “Given how many people have been killed in U.S. wars and occupations it’s surprising how few such attempts there are on U.S. soil. Thank goodness.” Abunimah is author of the book One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

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

Problems with Surveillance and Profiling

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MAUREEN WEBB
Author of the book Illusions of Security: Global surveillance and democracy in the post-9/11 world, Webb said today: “The pervasive surveillance systems that have been implemented since 9/11 have pernicious effects on the democratic freedoms of ordinary people and, as this [Times Square] case underlines, only limited utility in fighting real terrorists. Tragedy in Times Square was averted not by the 82 cameras monitoring the streets in the area, but by an alert citizen who called the police and got the bomb squad there. The break in the case came, not from some futuristic data mining program, but through old-fashioned police work. Had an old-fashioned all-points alert been relied on to close the borders to the suspect, it might have worked better than the no-fly system with its swollen list, said to contain at various times between 44,000 and 1,000,000 names. Before 9/11, the FBI’s ‘no transport’ list was limited to persons who ‘presented a specific known or suspected threat to aviation.’ It was much shorter and, no doubt, easier to administer in an urgent situation.”

SHAHID BUTTAR
Executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Buttar calls profiling “ineffective” and “counterproductive.” He said today: “As demonstrated by the December underwear bomber [Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab], profiling inevitably overlooks potential threats. … Moreover, profiling alienates communities within the U.S. from which officials fear radicalization. …. Finally, our Constitution permits scrutiny only when based on individualized suspicion, which profiling undermines by criminalizing constitutionally-protected rights of association and religious practice.

“Like profiling, surveillance is demonstrably ineffective and even counterproductive, as well as constitutionally offensive. First, surveillance doesn’t work. Numerous CCTV [closed-circuit television] cameras captured the image of the alleged Times Square bomber [Faisal Shahzad], yet none yielded his identity. Similarly, a mountain of false leads generated by electronic surveillance have distracted analysts: the reason the underwear bomber slipped into the country, despite warnings by his own family, was that reports of his threat potential were lost amidst other (less credible) leads.

“Traditional policing based on human intelligence — information supplied by communities that trust authorities — remain the best elements of a national security strategy. In contrast, looking for a needle grows only harder when hay is indiscriminately added to the stack.

“While surveillance is in some ways the antithesis of profiling (surveillance is broad and limitless, whereas profiling seems focused and targeted), both government practices offend the same constitutional principle of individualized suspicion inherent in the First and Fourth Amendments.”

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

Greek Crisis — Another Bank Bailout?

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COSTAS PANAYOTAKIS
Panayotakis is associate professor of sociology at the New York City College of Technology at CUNY. He said today: “Basically, you have a new government imposing the austerity policies that it ran against, attempting to solve the crisis on the backs of ordinary Greeks. And, as is usually the case with the International Monetary Fund, it’s also an attempt to indirectly bail out the German banks, French banks and [other] European banks that hold most of the Greek debt.” See interview on Democracy Now.

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

* BP and D.C. * “Worst Industrial Disaster”

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ANTONIA JUHASZ
Juhasz recently wrote a piece for the UK Guardian titled “BP spends millions lobbying as it drills ever deeper and the environment pays.”

Director of the Chevron program at Global Exchange, Juhasz is author of The Tyranny of Oil: The World’s Most Powerful Industry — and What We Must Do to Stop It.

SHANA BLUSTEIN ORTMAN
Ortman is U.S. coordinator of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. She said today: “The Bhopal gas disaster was the worst industrial disaster in history, as far as human impact is concerned. The most important and unfortunate lesson we must remember in the face of the recent BP leak is that these disasters don’t go away after a few weeks or months, when the media starts focusing on something else. It lasts for years — for generations.

“Union Carbide and its owner Dow abandoned the mess they made in Bhopal, and BP will certainly do the same if they are given the opportunity. Second and third generations of Bhopalis are still suffering unnecessarily from ongoing contamination and the corporations’ lack of accountability. …

“Bhopal survivors have been in Delhi for the past three weeks. and will return again for an indefinite sit-in over the summer. They are asking the government to set up an empowered commission to deal with the clean-up still needed and the social, medical and economic problems that still plague them.”

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

Lieberman’s Citizen-Stripping Bill “Unconstitutional”

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SHANE KADIDAL
Kadidal is senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. He just wrote the piece “Senator Lieberman’s Latest Constitutional Buffoonery,” which states: “Senator Lieberman [Thursday] proposed a bill that would strip American citizenship from anyone who has ‘provid[ed] material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization’ or ‘engaged in, or purposefully and materially support[ed], hostilities against the United States’ or any of its allies.

“Unfortunately for Senator Joe, the Supreme Court has made it crystal clear over the last four decades that the federal government simply has no power to take away U.S. citizenship. In Afroyim v. Rusk (1967), the State Department tried to strip citizenship from an American who’d voted in an Israeli election. The Court held that in the wake of the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress lacks ‘any general power, express or implied, to take away an American citizen’s citizenship without his assent.’ Because the people are sovereign under our constitution, that document ‘defin[es] a citizenship which a citizen keeps unless he voluntarily relinquishes it.'”

Kadidal said today: “We have a case in the Supreme Court in which the government is maintaining that anyone who writes an oped supporting Hamas [which won the most recent Palestinian election] is engaging in material support for terrorism, so [by this logic] that could strip you of your citizenship.”

Background: The AP reports that “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the proposal ‘sounds like a good idea’ … ‘I like the spirit of it,’ Pelosi told reporters.” AP continues: “‘I understand the desire behind the recommendations,’ [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton said. She noted that naturalized citizens swear an oath to uphold the Constitution and that ‘people who are serving foreign powers and, in this case, foreign terrorists, are clearly in violation, in my personal opinion, of that oath which they swore when they became citizens.'”

Huffington Post reports: “Asked about the controversial idea during Thursday’s briefing, [White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs] didn’t get too far in the weeds, save to say: ‘I have not heard anybody inside the administration who is supportive of that.'”

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

Kagan: * Goldman Sachs * Shifting Court to Right?

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FRANCIS BOYLE
The Wall Street Journal reports: “The White House said Friday that Elena Kagan’s membership on an advisory panel for the securities firm Goldman Sachs Group Inc. wouldn’t disqualify her for a position on the Supreme Court. … From 2005 to 2008, Ms. Kagan was a paid member of the Research Advisory Council of Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute, according to financial-disclosure reports she filed after being appointed to her current job. The form shows she was paid $10,000 in 2008, when she was dean of Harvard Law School.”

On April 9, Obama said he would nominate “someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.”

Professor of law at the University of Illinois, Boyle is author of “Tackling America’s Toughest Questions.” He was recently quoted on an Institute for Public Accuracy news release titled “Supreme Court Pick: Kagan ‘Loves’ the Federalist Society,” in which Boyle stated: “Five currently on the U.S. Supreme Court were or are members of the Federalist Society: Harvard Law graduate Roberts; Harvard Law graduate Scalia; Harvard Law graduate Kennedy; Yale Law graduate Thomas; and Yale Law graduate Alito. A narrow elite is imposing itself through the legal system, and ordinary Americans need to start asserting themselves.”

MARJORIE COHN
Cohn is immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She just wrote the piece “Kagan Will Move Supreme Court to the Right,” which states: “Unfortunately, President Barack Obama has continued to assert many of Bush’s executive policies in his ‘war on terror.’ … During her confirmation hearing for solicitor general, Kagan agreed with Senator Lindsey Graham that the president can hold suspected terrorists indefinitely during wartime, and the entire world is a battlefield. While Bush was shredding the Constitution with his unprecedented assertions of executive power, law professors throughout the country voiced strong objections. Kagan remained silent.”

Cohn’s books include Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and the forthcoming The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse. She is featured in a new documentary film called “Tortured Law.” Cohn’s writing and an excerpt from the documentary are at: MarjorieCohn.com.

Background: “The Latest on Elena Kagan” by Glenn Greenwald covers several issues and links to various pieces. He writes: “University of Colorado Law Professor Paul Campos, who previously expressed shock at the paucity of Kagan’s record and compared her to Harriet Miers, has a new piece in The New Republic entitled (appropriately): ‘Blank Slate.’…

“Following up on the article published [Friday] in Salon by four minority law professors — which condemned Kagan’s record on diversity issues as ‘shocking’ and ‘indefensible for the 21st Century’ — Law Professor Darren Hutchinson of American University School of Law today writes that Kagan’s record is ‘abysmal.'”

See also the recent piece in the New York Times by Charlie Savage: “New Justice to Confront Evolution in Powers,” which states: “After Mr. Obama selected [Kagan] to be his solicitor general, she publicly embraced an expansive interpretation of the Congressional authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda. Ms. Kagan also took a leading role on a legal team that has sought to suppress lawsuits using the state secrets privilege and fought a ruling granting habeas corpus rights to some detainees in Afghanistan.

“All those cases could reach the Supreme Court. But it is not clear that appointing Ms. Kagan would give Mr. Obama an extra vote in the White House’s favor, as she might feel pressure to recuse herself from participating.”

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

Kagan’s “Shocking” Record on Diversity

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ANUPAM CHANDER
LUIS FUENTES-ROHWER
ANGELA ONWUACHI-WILLIG
All three are professors of law: Anupam Chander is at the University of California-Davis School of Law; Luis Fuentes-Rohwer is at Indiana University’s School of Law; and Angela Onwuachi-Willig is at the University of Iowa College of Law.

They are among the writers of “The White House’s Kagan talking points are wrong: We questioned Harvard Law’s diversity record under Elena Kagan. The White House pushed back. But they got it wrong,” which states: “The first woman Dean of Harvard Law School had presided over an unprecedented expansion of the faculty — growing it by almost a half. She had hired 32 tenured and tenure-track academic faculty members (non-clinical, non-practice). But when we sat down to review the actual record, we were frankly shocked. Not only were there shockingly few people of color, there were very few women. Where were the people of color? Where were the women? Of these 32 tenured and tenure-track academic hires, only one was a minority. Of these 32, only seven were women. All this in the 21st Century.”

Background: A fourth signer of the above piece, Guy-Uriel Charles, law professor at Duke University, wrote the piece “Some Questions About Elena Kagan,” which states: “When George W. Bush nominated Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court he was forced to withdraw the nomination because of opposition from his right flank. Conservatives would not be mollified notwithstanding the winks and nods from the White House that Miers would be a reliable conservative vote on the Court. To their credit, conservatives would not be satisfied with Miers even if she would represent their views on the Court. Nor were they pacified by the president’s aversion to having a political fight. In fact, a fight is precisely what they wanted. What they wanted was someone who could articulate and defend persuasively a conservative vision of constitutional law and the role of the judge. They were playing a long-term game and would not accept a short-term gain that would sacrifice the long-term objective. Bush withdrew Miers and substituted Samuel Alito.”

Also see Institute for Public Accuracy news release: “Solicitor General Nominee Hired Torture Memo Writer.”

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

Groups to Obama: Let Karzai Hold Peace Talks

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PAUL KAWIKA MARTIN
Martin is political director of Peace Action, one of several groups urging President Obama — who is meeting Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai today in Washington — to say “yes to President Karzai’s request for the U.S. to support peace talks now to end the war.”

ROBERT NAIMAN
Naiman is policy director of Just Foreign Policy, another of the groups involved in the effort. He said today: “President Obama should heed the demand of the government and the people of Afghanistan for real peace talks now. Every Western press [polling] report says the overwhelming consensus of public opinion in Afghanistan supports peace talks to end the war. U.S. officials say we have to ‘bloody’ the Taliban first, but no one has explained how the deal we get after 18 more months of war differs from the deal we get if we talk now.”

The groups sent a letter to Obama and took out an ad in Wednesday’s Politico, which “uses the ‘Sesame Street game’ to show how the U.S. is increasingly isolated in its opposition to peace talks now. ‘Who’s not ready to talk to the Afghan Taliban?’ the ad asks. Not President Karzai nor Afghan parliamentarian Shukria Barakzai; not British Foreign Secretary David Miliband nor UN Afghanistan chief Staffan de Mistura. Only President Obama still opposes talks with the Afghan Taliban now.” See here for more information.

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

On Climate: Kerry-Lieberman a “Bonanza of Corporate Giveaways”

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PETER BARNES
Co-author of Climate Solutions: A Citizen’s Guide, Barnes said today: “For months essential climate legislation has been delayed while Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) cut deals with lobbyists. Now the results are out: a mind-boggling bonanza of giveaways for corporate polluters and every energy industry except renewables.

“Fortunately, there is an alternative: the bi-partisan CLEAR Act co-sponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). This simple 39-page bill would set a declining economy-wide cap on carbon suppliers, auction 100 percent of permits, and return 75 percent of the revenue to the American people to offset higher energy prices. Polluters would get no giveaways, clean energy investment would be spurred, and a majority of American families — those who burn the least fossil fuels — would come out financially ahead.

“Senators should now compare these two approaches and choose the best. And President Obama should do the same. Indeed, Obama should do more than that: he should make passage of climate legislation similar to the CLEAR Act a top priority for his administration — just as he promised to do in his campaign.”

TYSON SLOCUM
Director of Public Citizen‘s Energy Program, Slocum said today: “It’s not accurate to call this a climate bill. This is nuclear energy-promoting, oil drilling-championing, coal mining-boosting legislation with a weak carbon-pricing mechanism thrown in. What’s worse, it guts the Environmental Protection Agency’s current authority to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.” See full statement, which includes a breakdown of corporate subsidies.

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

Maryland First to Bar Schools Releasing Tests to Military

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AP is reporting: “A first-of-its-kind law bars public high schools in Maryland from automatically sending student scores on a widely used military aptitude test to recruiters, a practice that critics say was giving the armed forces backdoor access to young people without their parents’ consent. School districts around the country have the choice of whether to administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam, and ones that offer it typically pass the scores and students’ contact information directly to the military.”

PAT ELDER
Elder is a member of the Maryland Coalition to Protect Student Privacy in Bethesda, Maryland. He led the drive to prohibit the use of the ASVAB test for recruiting purposes in Maryland.

RICK JAHNKOW
Jahnkow works with the Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities in San Diego. He spearheaded the effort to prohibit military testing for recruitment purposes in California. The campaign resulted in both houses of the California legislature passing a measure that was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

ARLENE INOUYE
Founder and coordinator of the Coalition for Alternatives to Militarism in Our Schools in Los Angeles, Inouye led the effort to ban ASVAB testing for recruitment purposes in L.A.’s schools.

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

Alaskans in the Gulf: Lessons from Exxon Valdez

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RIKI OTT, via Lisa Marie Jacobs
Martin is political director of , one of several groups urging President Obama — who is meeting Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai today in Washington — to say “yes to President Karzai’s request for the U.S. to support peace talks now to end the war.”

Currently on the Gulf coast, Ott is author of Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Spill, a marine toxicologist and former commercial salmon fisher in Alaska. She questions the ongoing use of dispersants by BP. Ott said today: “The industry needs dispersants because they need to show some way of spill response. … By getting the EPA to list dispersants [as permissible] — even if the products are toxic to the environment, the industry has a green light to operate.” Since the industry plans are “rubber-stamped [by the EPA], there is no incentive to develop products that actually work to contain and clean up oil rather than disperse it into the ocean — out of sight, out of mind. … BP is saying that the chemicals are less harmful to the environment than the oil. That is a false or at best very misleading statement. The EPA only requires standard 48-hour or 96-hour bioassays. … These bioassays are extremely dated (40 years or so).”

RICHARD STEINER
A marine biologist and former University of Alaska fisheries extension agent, Steiner just returned to Alaska from working at the site of the BP oil spill and on the Louisiana coast. He said today: “BP has committed several very serious environmental crimes over the last 10 to 20 years, a couple of them right here in Alaska that led to major oil spills on the North Slope, the nation’s largest oil field. … Every time there’s a breakdown, BP promises that they will change their corporate culture and manage risks better and make a major restructuring within the company so that these things don’t happen, and yet they continue to happen. …

“We still have some amounts of Exxon Valdez oil in the beaches here [in Alaska], 20,000 or 30,000 gallons down deep in the beaches, which is still relatively toxic. The injured ecosystem is far from recovered.” See interview.

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

* Delaying Withdrawal in Iraq? * Extending Repression in Egypt

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RAED JARRAR
Jarrar is the Iraq consultant for the American Friends Service Committee and a senior fellow with Peace Action. He is recently back from a visit to Iraq. Jarrar said today: “According to President Obama’s withdrawal plan, all combat forces must leave Iraq by the end of August. But this deadline is being challenged by the spike of violence in Iraq and by a drumbeat in Washington using that violence to justify prolonging the occupation.

“Iraq is broken, but the U.S. military occupation is not a part of the solution. The vast majority of Iraqis don’t think we can fix what the military occupation has damaged through prolonging it. If President Obama were to break his promises and delay the withdrawal, that will add another layer of complications to Iraq, and will harm his image and credibility in the U.S., Iraq, and the rest of the world.”

AIDA SEIFALDAWLA
Seifaldawla is program director of the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, which just released a statement with 12 other major Egyptian organizations: “The Egyptian government is often forced to recognize past abuses in the course of putting a pretty face on future ones, as aptly illustrated by a presidential decree issued on May 11 that extended the State of Emergency for another two years. This time, the prime minister and parliamentarians with the ruling party swore that the Emergency Law would only be applied in terrorism and drug cases, implicitly admitting that it has been applied much more broadly over the last 29 years, despite repeated denials by the government.” See the full statement: “Twenty-Nine Years of Lies … And Now Two More Years.”

GOUDA ABDEL KHALEK, via Mokhtar Kamel
Khalek is a professor at Cairo University. He is among the speakers at a symposium titled “The Future of Egypt as a Constitutional Democracy” taking place at the City University of New York on Saturday and co-organized by the Alliance of Egyptian Americans. Kamel is a member of the group and can arrange interviews with various speakers.

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

Brazil and Turkey: Iran Agrees on Nuclear Program; “Can Obama Administration Take ‘Yes’ for an Answer?”

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AP is reporting that “Iran agreed Monday to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal that could ease the international standoff over the country’s disputed nuclear program and deflate a U.S.-led push for tougher sanctions.

“The deal was reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey, elevating a new group of mediators for the first time in the dispute over Iran’s nuclear activities. The agreement was nearly identical to a U.N.-drafted plan that Washington and its allies have been pressing Tehran for the past six months to accept in order to deprive Iran — at least temporarily — of enough stocks of enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon.”

ROBERT NAIMAN
Naiman is policy director of Just Foreign Policy . Monday he wrote the piece: “It’s ‘Goooaaalll!’ for Lula Against Western Push for Iran Sanctions,” which states: “‘There is no ground left for more sanctions or pressure,’ Turkey’s foreign minister said. That should be true on the merits, but it’s a safe bet that the ‘anti-peace, pro-Israel’ lobby in Washington isn’t going to see it that way.

“How will the Obama administration see it? On Friday, Secretary of State Clinton predicted that [Brazilian President] Lula’s mediation effort would fail.

“Now the Obama administration has to choose. Does it really want a deal? Can it take ‘yes’ for an answer?”

GARETH PORTER
Porter is a journalist specializing in U.S. foreign policy who has written extensively about Iran’s nuclear weapons program for Inter Press Service and other outlets. His latest book is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam.

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

Can a Bad Economy Finally Discipline the Pentagon?

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CHRIS HELLMAN
Hellman is communications liaison at the National Priorities Project and recently wrote the piece “Putting the Pentagon on a Diet.” He said today: “With the current economic situation bringing suffering, foreclosure and unemployment to millions, and concerns about spiraling deficits as well as a staggering national debt, the first faint signs of a possible mood change in Washington on the issue of the Pentagon budget are appearing.

“If you need a signal that something is changing, then check out the Pentagon itself. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates clearly sees the handwriting on the wall. In a series of early-May speeches during what Washington analysts dubbed ‘Austerity Week,’ he and other Pentagon officials began warning the military that the military’s carefree spending days were over. …

“According to the latest figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States accounts for 42 percent of total global military spending, more than exceeding the combined spending of the next 15 most powerful countries. [But] make no mistake, Gates has no intention of contributing Pentagon dollars to reducing the debt. His efforts are merely an acknowledgment of our nation’s weak economy, and the fact that fewer dollars will be available for any government program, even favored military ones.

“The mere fact that even Defense Department officials are beginning to discuss fewer dollars for the Pentagon, however, offers an opportunity for Americans intent on reining in rampant military spending. It is a chance that has been a long time coming, is finally on the national agenda, and, if missed, might be an even longer time in coming again.”

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

General Petraeus’ Secret Ops

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On Monday, the New York Times published a news report titled “U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast.”

ROBERT DREYFUSS
Available for a limited number of interviews, Dreyfuss is editor of The Dreyfuss Report and author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. He just wrote the piece “General Petraeus’ Secret Ops,” which states: “A secret military directive signed last September 30 by General David Petraeus, the Centcom commander, authorizes a vast expansion of secret U.S. military special ops from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East to Central Asia and ‘appears to authorize specific operations in Iran,’ according to the New York Times.

“If President Obama knew about this, authorized it, and still supports it, then Obama has crossed a red line, and the president will stand revealed as an aggressive, militaristic liberal interventionist who bears a closer resemblance to the president he succeeded than to the ephemeral reformer that he pretended to be in 2008, when he ran for office. If he didn’t know, if he didn’t understand the order, and if he’s unwilling to cancel it now that it’s been publicized, then Obama is a feckless incompetent. Take your pick.

“If Congress has any guts at all, it will convene immediate investigative hearings into a power grab by Petraeus, a politically ambitious general, and the Pentagon’s arrogant Special Operations team, led by Admiral Eric T. Olson, who collaborated with Petraeus. And Congress needs to ask the White House: what did you know, and when did you know it?”

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

A Drilling Moratorium That Isn’t

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DANIEL J. ROHLF
Rohlf, a law professor at Lewis & Clark Law School specializing in environmental issues, states that despite the announcement of a moratorium on offshore oil drilling, the federal regulators are still granting such permits. He said today: “The stated moratorium does not even cover all of the dangerous drilling that caused the problem in the first place. The Minerals Management Service has issued at least 17 permits for new drilling since the BP disaster began. At least four of those are for wells in water over 9,000 feet deep — nearly twice as deep as the Deepwater Horizon well that is still spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

“The Minerals Management Service doesn’t even do a required environmental impact assessment before allowing deep sea drilling. Instead, the agency issues a ‘categorical exclusion’ from legal requirements because industry and the agency claim the chance for environmental damage is so remote that it’s not worth considering. The Minerals Management Service is arguably violating a host of environmental laws. The MMS was embroiled in a scandal two years ago involving sex and taking drugs with oil industry people, and it appears that attempts at reforming the agency into one that complies with the law did not succeed.”

Background: See “Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead

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

BP Disaster: Assessing Ken Salazar

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CORRECTION: In the news release sent out this morning titled “A Drilling Moratorium That Isn’t,” the phrase “as deep at” should have been “as deep as.” The full correct sentence is: “At least four of those are for wells in water over 9,000 feet deep — nearly twice as deep as the Deepwater Horizon well that is still spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.”

BRENDAN CUMMINGS
SARAH BERGMAN
Cummings is senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity; Bergman is assistant executive director for the group, which is regularly updating the Gulf disaster section of its webpage.

In response to President Obama’s press conference on actions he will take in response to the Gulf oil disaster, Cummings said: “While the decision to suspend Shell’s planned drilling this summer in the Arctic is an important first step, what we really need is revocation of the improperly issued leases and permanent protection of the Arctic. The fact that no technology exists to effectively clean up an oil spill in Arctic waters will not be changed in a year’s time.

“As the president recognized today and the Gulf disaster has tragically demonstrated, even in areas with existing infrastructure and significant spill response assets, containment and response capability to a large oil spill is wholly inadequate. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Obama administration should not pretend that a six-month review of drilling procedures will change anything. Expanding offshore drilling to new areas needs to be permanently taken off the table.

“President Obama’s speech follows a month of half-steps and broken promises by the Interior Department since the Deepwater Horizon explosion in which a pledged ‘moratorium’ on oil drilling turned out to be largely a fiction, with multiple drilling plans approved after no environmental review, and drilling permits similar to those given to BP continuing to be issued.

“President Obama has promised reforms relating to offshore drilling while Secretary Salazar has stated that ‘those responsible will be held accountable.’ Secretary Salazar’s search for accountability should start by looking in the mirror. President Obama’s most important reform should be to install an Interior secretary with the capability and political will to effectively rein in the oil industry.”

See: “Interior Department Exempted BP Drilling From Environmental Review: In Rush to Expand Offshore Oil Drilling, Interior Secretary Salazar Abandoned Pledge to Reform Industry-Dominated Minerals Management Service

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

Israel Threatening to Stop “Freedom Flotilla” to Gaza

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The British Guardian reports: “A flotilla of eight boats carrying thousands of tons of construction materials, medical equipment and other aid is [sailing to] Gaza … setting the scene for a confrontation with Israel which has vowed to prevent the ships [from] breaking the blockade on the Palestinian territory.” See “Gaza aid flotilla to set sail for confrontation with Israel: Israelis promise to stop eight ships carrying 10,000 tons of aid, 800 activists and politicians from more than 40 countries.”

The ships from different locations are meeting in international waters in the Mediterranean and heading toward Gaza this weekend.

Those aboard the ships reportedly include over 30 parliamentarians from various countries and other notables. Among the Americans on board:

Amb. EDWARD L. PECK, JOE MEADORS, HEDY EPSTEIN, ANN WRIGHT
Ambassador Peck was chief of mission in Iraq and Mauritania and deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan administration. Meadors is a survivor of the 1967 attack by Israel on the U.S. military ship the USS Liberty in which 34 Americans were killed. Epstein is a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust and author of Remembering Is Not Enough. Wright is a 29-year U.S. Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a Colonel and a former U.S. diplomat who resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the invasion of Iraq. She just wrote the piece “The Audacity of the Free Gaza Flotilla: Breaking the Israeli Siege of Gaza May Lead to an Attack at Sea, Detention Camps and Deportation.”

The above and others aboard the ships are available for a limited number of interviews via:

GRETA BERLIN
Israeli spokesperson Yigal Palmor claimed the flotilla “is against international law.” Berlin, who is with the Free Gaza Movement, is quoted in the Guardian article: “Berlin accused Israel of ‘sabre-rattling’ in the hope that the flotilla plan will be abandoned. ‘They have no right to control Gaza waters unless they want to admit they are occupying Gaza,’ she said. ‘They are the illegal entity, not us.'” Pictures of the boats are avaialble at “Flickr.

RAMZI KYSIA
An organizer with the Free Gaza Movement, Kysia is in the Washington, D.C. area.

AMJAD SHAWA, [in Gaza]
Shawa is Coordinator of PNGO, the Palestinian NGO Network. He said today: “People in Gaza are anticipating the arrival of the flotilla. We’re calling on civil society around the world to help protect it in case the Israelis interfere or attack it as they have in the past, especially since the Israelis have set up detention facilities. … The siege has been devastating to the people in Gaza for over three years, and especially since the Israeli ‘Cast Lead’ bombing campaign. The Israelis have not allowed the sea port to function for decades and severely limit and constantly harass the Palestinian fishermen.”

Video from the boats is available at WitnessGaza.com — which also released the document “Israel’s Disinformation Campaign Against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” which states: “For over four years, Israel has subjected the civilian population of Gaza to an increasingly severe blockade, resulting in a man-made humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions. Earlier this month, John Ging, the Director of Operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in Gaza, called upon the international community to break the siege on the Gaza Strip by sending ships loaded with humanitarian aid. …

“Israel claims that there is no ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Every international aid organization working in Gaza has documented this crisis in stark detail. Just released earlier this week, Amnesty International’s Annual Human Rights Report stated that Israel’s siege on Gaza has ‘deepened the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four out of five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law.'”

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

Israel Attacks on Aid Ships Called Aggression

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RICHARD FALK
Falk is professor of international law emeritus, Princeton University and Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territories for the United Nations Human Rights Council. He said today: “The Israeli naval and helicopter lethal attack on the Freedom Flotilla bringing needed humanitarian relief to the civilian population of Gaza is a shocking crime against humanity. Some of the facts are contested, but an Israeli military attack on the high seas is an act of aggression, and those on board the ships had a legal right to act in self-defense.

“In any event, Israel’s use of force was grossly disproportionate and excessive given the circumstances, and should be investigated and those responsible held criminally accountable. This incident should serve as a wake-up call for a complicit international community. There are three political imperatives that need to emerge with a sense of urgency: condemnation of the Israeli attack and an accompanying demand for the immediate end of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, appropriately by a decision in the UN Security Council; an authoritative launching of an investigation of war crimes allegations against Israel by the International Criminal Court; the widest possible endorsement and strengthening of the already growing worldwide boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign directed at Israel’s occupation policies in Palestinian Territories.”

ADAM SHAPIRO
Shapiro is on the board of the Free Gaza Movement. He said today: “CNN is looping footage of mayhem on one of the ships, but is not giving the context that the Israelis had killed someone already at that point. The ship was in international waters, there was no plausible rationale to take it over by the Israelis. The ships were not going to Israel, they were going to Gaza, they had no plans to enter Israeli waters. All this could have been avoided if Israel had let the ships deliver their aid to Gaza.”

GRETA BERLIN
RAMZI KYSIA
Berlin and Kysia are organizers with the Free Gaza Movement.
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AMJAD SHAWA, [in Gaza]
Shawa is Coordinator of PNGO, the Palestinian NGO Network.

For video from various outlets:
http://www.therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=74&jumival=563

Live coverage on Al Jazeera English: http://www.livestation.com/channels/3-al_jazeera_english

Background: Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said today that it was an “armada of hate and violence” that was engaging in “outrageous provocation” and the “organizers are well known for their ties to global terror,” adding that “Israel did everything to avoid this outcome.”

Those aboard the ships include parliamentarians from various countries and Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, Nazi Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, former U.S. diplomats Amb. Edward Peck and Colonel Ann Wright and USS Liberty veteran and survivor Joe Meadors.

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

Iraq and Afghanistan: Crossing the $1 Trillion Mark

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JO COMERFORD
Comerford is executive director of the National Priorities Project, which analyzes budget choices. She said today: “Over the weekend, the National Priorities Project Cost of War counter — designed to count the total money appropriated for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — passed the $1 trillion mark.

“Taxpayers in Natick, Massachusetts have paid $206.9 million for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. For that amount, instead of implementing a proposed 4 percent cut for Natick’s libraries in 2011, the town could double its total current library budget, and pay for it for 56 years.

“To date $747.3 billion has been appropriated for the U.S. war in Iraq and $299 billion for the war in Afghanistan. The pending supplemental making its way through Congress will add an estimated $37 billion to the current $136.8 billion total spending for the current fiscal year, ending September 30.”

See NPP’s Cost of War counters.

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

Israel and Free Gaza Flotilla

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CINDY and CRAIG CORRIE
Cindy and Craig Corrie are the parents of Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip on March 16, 2003, while trying to prevent the demolition of the home of a Palestinian pharmacist, his wife and three young children.

A Free Gaza boat that is being readied to sail to Gaza is named for her. Among those on board are Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire and former UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, who is also Irish.

The Corries, who have themselves been to Gaza twice and recently to Israel for a trial related to their daughter’s killing, said today in a statement: “We call on the U.S. government and governments of the world to act now. First, the well-being of all the flotilla passengers still in Israel must be secured, and the identities of those killed and injured must be released immediately. Second, governments around the world must demand an independent investigation into the attack upon the flotilla and the killings that occurred. An Israeli-led investigation into an international incident of this magnitude is unacceptable. Our family’s own experience has made it all too painfully clear that the Israeli military is unable or unwilling to adequately investigate itself. Third, the U.S. and other governments can and must insist that other boats from the flotilla, including the MV Rachel Corrie, named for our daughter, be permitted to sail through international waters to Gaza unobstructed. Finally, we demand that the governments of the world act as courageously as did the activists on the Free Gaza flotilla and, themselves, break the illegal and immoral siege of Gaza.”

FRANCIS BOYLE
Professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, Boyle said today: “The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla violated the SUA Convention [Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation], to which Israel, Turkey, Ireland and the USA are all parties. This convention was pushed by the USA in reaction to the Achille Lauro hijacking and the murder of Leon Klinghoffer.” See: “Is the Israeli Blockade of Gaza Against the Law?

Boyle’s books include Palestine, Palestinians and International Law and most recently Tackling America’s Toughest Questions.

Amb. EDWARD L. PECK
Available for a limited number of interviews, Peck was aboard one of the Free Gaza boats trying to go to Gaza that Israel seized. He returned to the U.S. yesterday. He said today: “What the Israelis are claiming is laughable. The passengers were defending the ships, the Israelis were attacking them — not the other way around. The Israeli spokespeople keep referring to their soldiers having paint guns — as if they didn’t pose a real threat — but they also had automatic weapons and stun grenades and pepper spray and tasers.” Peck was chief of mission in Iraq and Mauritania and deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan administration.

JOE MEADORS
Meadors was on the same Free Gaza boat as Peck that Israel seized. He is also a survivor of the 1967 attack by Israel on the U.S. military ship the USS Liberty. He said today: “All of our cameras and digital media devices were confiscated, the Israelis are controlling the images that people are seeing on TV. Many people seem unaware that one of the ships, the Challenger I, is a U.S.-flagged vessel. … Talk about an investigation of this brings home to me that the U.S. government still has not conducted an investigation of the USS Liberty attack by Israel which killed 34 Americans in 1967.”

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

“Can Israel Be Trusted with Nuclear Weapons?”

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NORMAN FINKELSTEIN
Author of “This Time We Went Too Far”: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion, Finkelstein said today: “It’s important to understand that the Israeli cabinet deliberated before deciding on a nighttime commando raid [against the Free Gaza ships]. This wasn’t a rash decision by low-level people. Last week, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation conference at the United Nations decided to focus on making the Mideast a nuclear-weapons-free zone. Israel immediately attacked this. Israel is constantly threatening Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. It continues to lay siege to Gaza — an Israeli official stated that Gaza needed to be put on a ‘diet.’ It launched massive attacks against Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008 to 2009 with its ‘Cast Lead’ operation, killing over 1,300 people.

“With its actions this week, we have to ask ourselves a crucial question: Can a state like Israel be trusted with 200 to 300 nuclear weapons?” See Finkelstein’s recent interview with Grit TV (also interviewed is Huwaida Arraf of the Free Gaza Movement):

JOHN STEINBACH
Steinbach wrote the paper “Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal: Implications for the Middle East and the World.” He said today: “Israel is acting in an aggressive, even insane manner and cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons. The U.S. has acted in similar ways. For example, Nixon during the Vietnam War would deliberately appear mad to intimidate others. He’d talk to [Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger about using nuclear weapons and blowing up dams, killing millions to intimidate the Vietnamese. …

“The recently completed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference at the UN was noteworthy because the U.S. allowed the conference to not only call for a nuclear-free Middle East, but specifically to name Israel. Israel wasn’t able to block this wording because it’s not a signatory to the NPT. [Iran and all Arab countries are signatories. See: http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/npt/text/npt3.htm ]

“Also, last week, news came out about Israel, in 1975, offering to sell highly advanced nuclear weapons with ballistic missiles to the outlaw apartheid regime in South African.” See: http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/25/israel

See Steinbach’s paper the paper “Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal: implications for the Middle East and the World.”
http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/issues/policy/israeli-nuclear-policy/index.htm

Background: Obama was asked by Helen Thomas at his first news conference if he knew of any country in the Mideast that has nuclear weapons. Obama replied that he did not want to “speculate.” Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVGWdLsAoBA

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

Actually, the Ship Was Not Turkish-Flagged

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JOHN QUIGLEY
Professor of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley said today: “Contrary to what many are claiming, including the New York Times in a front-page article on the Gaza flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, the vessel on which deaths occurred, is not Turkish-flagged. Although formerly Turkish-flagged, the Mavi Marmara was Comoros-flagged by the time of last week’s incident. The point may be of some significance, because Comoros, unlike Turkey, is a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Court has jurisdiction over war crimes committed on vessels registered in a state that is party to the Rome Statute.”

FRANCIS BOYLE
Professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, Boyle said today: “The highest level officials of the Israeli government who ordered the attack upon the Mavi Marmara can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court: Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, Foreign Minister Lieberman, General Ashkenazi and the rest of the Israeli council of seven ministers who ordered this criminal attack. Furthermore, under the ICC’s Rome Statute any state party has the power to demand that these Israeli governmental officials be prosecuted.”
Boyle’s books include “Tackling America’s Toughest Questions.” See: “Is the Israeli Blockade of Gaza Against the Law?

Background:
The Independent (UK): “The Hijacking of the Truth: Film Evidence ‘Destroyed’: Protesters say Israel had an assassination list. Israel says soldiers fired only in self-defence. So what really happened on 31 May?”

The Guardian (UK): “Gaza Flotilla Activists Were Shot in Head at Close Range: Nine Turkish men on board Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times, autopsy results reveal”

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

National Intelligence Director Nominee

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Over the weekend, President Obama nominated James Clapper to replace Dennis C. Blair as U.S. Director of National Intelligence.

MELVIN A. GOODMAN
Goodman just wrote the piece “Pentagon Tightens Grip on the Obama Administration and the Intelligence Community.”
Now a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, Goodman was with the CIA for 41 years, serving as a senior analyst and a division chief. He is author of Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA.

RAY McGOVERN
Obama stated on Saturday when announcing the nomination of Clapper: “He possesses a quality that I value in all my advisers: a willingness to tell leaders what we need to know even if it’s not what we want to hear.”

McGovern wrote a few weeks ago: “According to press reports, the leading candidate to succeed Dennis Blair is retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, whose record does not inspire confidence. Clapper has a well-deserved reputation for giving consumers of intelligence what they want to hear.”

McGovern said today: “He [Clapper] now serves as undersecretary of intelligence at the Defense Department, working for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who holds a ‘PhD’ from Georgetown in Politicization of Intelligence under his mentor, ‘Professor’ William J. Casey [CIA director from 1981 to 1987].

“Casey was convinced that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union would never relinquish power; so Gates pedaled that line and missed the big one. The quickest way to politicize intelligence is to put fellow sycophants and careerists in management positions, which Gates was a master at doing.

“The direct result is that when Cheney and Bush told the CIA to come [up] with the intelligence necessary to ‘justify’ attacking Iraq, two decades-worth of malleable managers were on hand to do Bush’s bidding. James Clapper, head of imagery analysis from 2001 to 2006, played by the same script. Clapper made sure that no one found out that imagery intelligence on WMD was actually ‘non-existent’ — a term used by Sen. Jay Rockefeller after an exhaustive study by the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990, serving under seven presidents and nine CIA directors. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Background: “The director of a top American spy agency said Tuesday that he believed that material from Iraq’s illicit weapons program had been transported into Syria … ‘unquestionably … I think people below the Saddam Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse,’ General Clapper [then head of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency] said …” — New York Times, October 29, 2003

“Another possibility is that some weapons may have been dispersed to other countries, such as Syria, before the war. That was the assessment of General James R. Clapper, Jr. …” — Karl Rove, “Courage and Consequences,” p. 339

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

Israeli Critic “Witch Hunt”

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HANEEN ZOABI, via Shada Zoabi
A member of the Israeli Knesset, Zoabi, who was born in Nazareth, is a board member and co-founder of the I’lam Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel. She was aboard the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in the Gaza flotilla where nine activists were killed, and she witnessed some of them bleed to death. When she returned to Israel to speak in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), she was verbally assaulted by other parliament members. A Facebook group calling for her death has reportedly attracted hundreds of members. See interview and footage of Zoabi in the Knesset.

Also see: “Knesset panel recommends revoking Arab MK’s privileges: Decision to strip Balad MK Haneen Zoabi of privileges over Gaza flotilla participation passed by a majority of seven to one; Zoabi to Haaretz: We are victims of a witch hunt.”

PAUL JAY
Jay is CEO and senior editor of The Real News Network. He recently wrote the piece “In Defense of Helen Thomas: On Apologizing to Apologists” in which her refers to a “McCarthyite witch hunt atmosphere.”

Jay did a series of interviews with Thomas in April.

He was also recently in the Mideast, interviewing key people in the region including a Hamas official.

ANN WRIGHT, RAMZI KYSIA
LobeLog.org reports: “On a press call hosted by a pro-Israel organization, Rep. Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, told reporters that he intends to seek the prosecution of any U.S. citizens who were aboard or involved with the Freedom Flotilla.”

The Free Gaza Movement and other peace groups have released a statement that they will “be voluntarily making themselves available for arrest in Rep. Brad Sherman’s Capitol Hill offices on Thursday, June 10 at 2 p.m. In the event they are not arrested, they will be holding a memorial service for those killed aboard the Mavi Marmara in Rep. Sherman’s Rayburn HOB office.”

Col. Ann Wright (ret.), a former U.S. diplomat, Gaza Freedom March organizer, and a passenger aboard the recent Freedom Flotilla, said today: “Nine aid workers were murdered by Israeli commandos, and more than 50 were wounded. I want to look Brad Sherman in the eye and see if he has any sense for the gravity of this situation. If Sherman wants to have us arrested — we’ll be there.”

Kysia, an organizer with the Free Gaza Movement, said today: “Rep. Sherman is welcome to arrest me and try to make his case to a jury of my peers. Delivering humanitarian aid to people in need is not ‘terrorism.’ Brad Sherman is a prime example of just how degenerate our political discourse has become on Capitol Hill.”

Correction: In a news release distributed Tuesday, IPA wrote that Melvin Goodman, who was featured on the release, was “with the CIA for 41 years.” While he held various government positions for that long, he was with the CIA for 24 years.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-00208; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Just Back From Afghanistan and Pakistan

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KATHY KELLY
JOSHUA BROLLIER
Kelly and Brollier are with the group Voices for Creative Nonviolence. They are just back from over a month in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Several articles they have written are on the group’s web page.

Kelly said today: “As violence escalates and the war prolongs, the question isn’t what does the U.S. want. It’s what do people in Afghanistan want. There’s real fear of the Taliban, but people ask why the U.S. invaders and their warlord clients should run the country. There are an estimated 850 children dying every day (see Save the Children). Meanwhile, we’re spending $1 million per year just to deploy one soldier.”

Brollier said today: “There are serious consequences of these military operations which the U.S. urges Pakistan to undertake. Last year, in the Swat Valley, 2 million people were made refugees in ten days. There are still people living in refugee camps who are now destitute. The Pakistani military continues to occupy homes in areas where people were forced to abandon their villages. Most people we talked to were upset with the U.S. Many feel Pakistan is being pushed into destructive blunders by the U.S. — they face the retaliatory backlash from the military offensives that the U.S. insists Pakistan must wage, ostensibly to dislodge Taliban groups.”

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

“What’s Wrong With This Picture?”: Prosecuting Torture Protesters — Not Perpetrators

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The group Witness Against Torture states that beginning Monday, 27 individuals “will face trial stemming from arrests at the U.S. Capitol on January 21, 2010 — the date by which President Obama had promised the closure of the Guantanamo detention camp.”

BILL QUIGLEY
Available for a limited number of interviews, Quigley is legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights; he will be attending the trial. He said today: “The architects of the torture policy — the Bush Cheney Yoo team — are not held accountable for their crimes. But people who peacefully and prayerfully protest these international human rights crimes are prosecuted. What is wrong with this picture?”

JEREMY VARON
HELEN SCHIETINGER
Varon is with Witness Against Torture. Matthew W. Daloisio, also with the group, said today: “The continued operation of the prison camp at Guantanamo is unacceptable. If Guantanamo was a foreign policy liability and stain on the rule of law on day one of the Obama presidency, it surely is 17 months later.”

“The deaths at Guantanamo show how barbaric U.S. policies have been,” says Helen Schietinger, a defendant in the trial. “We are still waiting for accountability for those who designed and carried out torture policies under President Bush. Obama can’t restore the rule of law if he doesn’t enforce the law.”

The human rights activists plan to mount a “necessity defense” before Judge Russell Canan. “We will be arguing that we broke the law only after exhausting all legal means of opposing a much larger crime — the indefinite detention, mistreatment, and torture of men at Guantanamo and other U.S. prisons,” says Jerica Arents of Chicago, Illinois, another the defendants.

Background: The Center for Constitutional Rights resource, “Investigate the Entire Torture Team

Also: “Groups File Federal Complaint Against CIA Based on New Evidence Indicating Human Experimentation on Men in Detention

Witness Against Torture formed in December 2005 when 25 activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies.

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

Egyptian Crackdown on Protests Following Activist’s Beating Death

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Pro-democracy protesters in Egypt were beaten at a protest Sunday following the death last week of Khaled Said. Family, supporters, witnesses and rights groups say that Said was killed by Egyptian government forces last week outside an internet cafe.

AP is reporting in a piece titled “Egyptians beaten while protesting police brutality” that “the Egyptian government claims [Khaled Said] choked to death on a joint as police were trying to arrest him.”

“Amnesty International and other rights groups on Friday demanded an independent investigation.

“The ‘shocking pictures … are a rare, firsthand glimpse of the routine use of brutal force by the Egyptian security forces, who expect to operate in a climate of impunity, with no questions asked,’ Amnesty said in a statement.

“The victim’s brother, Ahmed Said, maintained that the beating was revenge for his possession of a video showing the policemen dividing the spoils of a drug bust among themselves and so they confronted him at the cafe. He said he saw his brother’s body a day after his death. His jaw was twisted, his rib cage mangled and his skull cracked, he said. Similar images were posted on bloggers’ websites and he confirmed their authenticity.”

To see how Egyptian government forces contain, intimidate and hide protests from view of other Egyptians click here.

MOSTAFA HUSSEIN
Hussein is a doctor at Nadeem Center for Victims of Torture.

PHILIP RIZK
An independent blogger and filmmaker based in Cairo, Rizk is posting video of the protests and other critical information. See: “Violent Crackdown at Ministry of Interior Protest.”

Background: see AP piece “Egypt cafe owner describes police beating death

See #khaledSaid on Twitter

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

Afghanistan’s $1 Trillion “Resource Curse”

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MICHAEL KLARE
Klare is author of Resource Wars and Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet. In response to recent reports of $1 trillion in mineral resources found in Afghanistan, he said today: “The discovery and development of these mineral reserves in Afghanistan — described as a potential boon to that country by General [David] Petraeus — would be an unmitigated disaster under existing conditions. Because Afghanistan lacks a functioning democracy and an indigenous mining capacity, it would be reliant on foreign firms for technical services, which in turn would be beholden to local officials — read warlords — for the necessary authorizations and protection. The result would be a classic case of the ‘resource curse’ — the development of resources not for the good of the masses but for privileged elites, leading to ingrained corruption, authoritarianism, and violence.”

Klare is Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass.

See: “The Resource Curse: Why Lithium May Spell Misery for Afghanistan

Klare also recently wrote the piece “The Relentless Pursuit of Extreme Energy: A New Oil Rush Endangers the Gulf of Mexico and the Planet.”

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

BP: * “Corporate Criminal” * Beneath the Surface

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RUSSELL MOKHIBER
President Obama is scheduled to meet with the chair of BP on Wednesday. Mokhiber is editor of Corporate Crime Reporter. He said today: “BP is a recidivist corporate criminal. BP has three convictions and one deferred prosecution agreement in the last ten years. In his speech [Tuesday night] Obama did not once mention the words ‘crime,’ ‘criminal’ or ‘justice.’ Why not? Because Obama is not serious about corporate crime. If he were, he would bring the full law enforcement force of his administration down on BP and the responsible executives. BP would be debarred from all government contracts — including contracts supplying the U.S. military in Iraq with a majority of its fuel needs. Time for a change.”

RICHARD STEINER
A retired professor at the University of Alaska, Steiner was deeply involved in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He just returned to Alaska from working at the site of BP’s Deepwater Horizon gusher and on the Gulf Coast. He said today: “I am continually troubled by the reference to shores and coasts, while ignoring the offshore pelagic ecosystem. This is where most of the damage has occurred, and will continue to occur. But the continual reference only to the beaches and shorelines is, it seems, a strategy designed to distract public attention away from the enormous offshore damage, in the water column, and the fact that NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] fumbled the scientific response to understand the offshore damages (in particular the subsurface plumes, etc.).

“I was stunned that the president discussed only generally clean, sustainable energy, but without any action item whatsoever. We need to hear exactly what he will propose to move us to the transition quicker, not just the same old nice, yet general, feel-good statements. At very least, he needs to propose a doubling-down of everything he has done to date on this front, to show this is more than hollow rhetoric.

“As well, the Commission, with its political appointments, seems to be headed to become the ‘let’s get the administration’s offshore drilling plan back on track’ commission. ….

“It is beyond me why the Secretary of the Navy is in charge of developing the Gulf Coast Restoration Plan — it legally should be the NRDA [Natural Resource Damage Assessment] Trustee agencies, including NOAA and DOI [Department of Interior].”

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

Rowley, McGovern and Ellsberg — Statement on Wikileaks

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The British Guardian reports: “The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks says it plans to release a secret military video of one of the deadliest U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan in which scores of children are believed to have been killed.”

In April, Wikileaks released the “Collateral Murder” video showing U.S. soldiers in Iraq killing civilians including a Reuters photographer and then shooting at people, including children, in a van attempting to rescue the wounded.

The following statement was released today by Coleen Rowley, an FBI whistleblower who was one of Time Magazine’s people of the year in 2002; Ray McGovern, CIA analyst for 27 years; and Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers (top-secret government documents that showed a pattern of governmental deceit about the Vietnam War):

“Today, Washington is trying to shut down what it clearly regards as the most effective and dangerous purveyor of embarrassing information — Wikileaks, a self-styled global resource for whistleblowers. It is a safe bet that NSA, CIA, FBI and other agencies have been instructed to do all possible to make an example of Wikileaks leader, Australian-born Julian Assange, and his colleagues. Much is at stake — for both Pentagon and freedom of the press.

“Those who own and operate the corporate media face a distasteful dilemma, both in terms of business decision and of conscience. They must choose between the easier but soulless task of transcribing government press releases, on the one hand; or, on the other, following Wikileaks into the 21st century by adapting high-tech methods to protect sources while acquiring authentic stories unadulterated by government pressure, real or perceived.

“Deference to the government seems largely responsible for the failure to explore the implications of particularly riveting reportage that gets millions of hits on the Web but has been, up to now, largely ignored by mainstream media. The best recent example of this is the gun-barrel video showing a merciless turkey-shoot of Baghdad civilians by helicopter gunship-borne U.S. soldiers on July 12, 2007. Like the humiliating and graphic but actual photos of Abu Ghraib, the publication of which Pullitzer-prize winning Seymour Hersh repeatedly defended as necessary to the story of Iraqi prisoner abuse, such raw footage is essential to people’s understanding of what is happening. Like Daniel Ellsberg’s copying of 7,000 pages of the ‘Pentagon Papers,’ such whistleblowers are a great means of exposing the lies upon which the current wars are based.

“Assange went public this week with an email announcement that Wikileaks is preparing to release a classified Pentagon video of a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in May 2009, which left as many as 140 civilians dead — most of them children and teenagers. He added that Wikileaks has ‘a lot of other material that exposes human rights abuses by the United States government.’

“Wikileaks has also published a secret U.S. Army report of March 2008 evaluating the threat from Wikileaks itself and possible U.S. countermeasures against it. This will undoubtedly prompt American officials to redouble efforts to find Assange and to prevent Wikileaks from posting additional information they have classified to avoid embarrassment.

“Americans have a right to know what is being done in our name, and how important it is to protect members of the now-fledgling Fifth Estate so that it can continue to provide information shunned or distorted.

“Assange ended his email with an unabashed appeal for donations for his website. ‘Please donate … and encourage all your friends to follow the example you set; after all, courage is contagious.’ His words sounded a bit like those of Edmund Burke: ‘When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.’

“For the good to associate effectively, they need to know what is going on. It’s our hope the old Fourth Estate press will recall the good and high-calling that Burke, Jefferson and other leaders of democracy have extolled through the centuries and catch some of that ‘contagious courage’.”

See on Ellsberg.net: “Daniel Ellsberg Fears WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange’s Life In Danger“; (on MSNBC) and today on Democracy Now.

Available for interviews:

RAY McGOVERN
McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years.

COLEEN ROWLEY
Rowley, an FBI whistleblower, was named one of Time Magazine’s people of the year in 2002. She recently co-wrote the piece “Wikileak Case Echoes Pentagon Papers.”

Wired reports: “An Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking classified information to Wikileaks has still not been charged with any crime, three weeks after being arrested and put in pre-trial confinement.

“PFC Bradley Manning, 22, is being held at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait and has been assigned a military defense attorney while the Army and State Department investigate claims Manning made to an ex-hacker in online chats that he disclosed classified information.”

The New York Times reports today: “Iceland’s Parliament, the Althing, voted unanimously in favor of a package of legislation aimed at making the country a haven for freedom of expression by offering legal protection to whistle-blower Web sites like WikiLeaks, which helped to craft the proposal.”

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

UN Group: Israel Should Fully Lift Gaza Blockade

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Reuters is reporting: “Nothing short of the full lifting of Israel’s blockade on Gaza would allow the territory to be rebuilt, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees said on Monday, a day after Israel said it would ease its siege. …

“‘We need to have the blockade fully lifted,’ said spokesman Christopher Gunness of UNRWA, the United Nations relief agency that looks after Palestinian refugees. He spoke to Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Cairo.

“‘The Israeli strategy is to make the international community talk about a bag of cement here, a project there. We need full unfettered access through all the crossings.'”

AMJAD SHAWA
Shawa is coordinator of PNGO, the Palestinian NGO Network in Gaza. He said today: “This step of easing the siege doesn’t fulfill our basic rights of free access for individuals and goods — it will not solve the basic humanitarian conditions. For example, in the industrial sector — we had 4,000 factories in Gaza — things have come to a halt because of the siege. This doesn’t change that. This easing of the siege will not help the 3,500 fishermen to fish. Israel allows only three miles for fishing, a violation of the Oslo agreement, which gave 20 miles. Farmers are not allowed to export their products — not even to the West Bank. They used to export their strawberries and carnations to Europe.

“This easing of the siege is an attempt at legitimizing the siege. Israel is trying to put in a ‘smart siege’ that will go on and on. But having free access is not a gift from Israel — it’s a basic human right. Israel is making a show for the international community, but it should actually lift the siege.

“Further, it’s not clear what Israel is proposing with this ‘easing’ in terms of health infrastructure, water infrastructure and destroyed houses.”

DEBORAH AGRE
The Oakland Tribune is reporting: “Hundreds of peace activists prevented the unloading of an Israeli ship at the Port of Oakland Sunday by forming a picket line. Organizers said their goal was to delay the ship’s unloading for 24 hours in protest of the Israeli military’s May 31 open-seas raid on a humanitarian aid flotilla that had been bringing goods to Gaza. … The longshoremen’s union largely cooperated with the picket line. No workers tried to cross it.” http://www.labournet.net/world/1006/oakland6.html

Agre is with the Middle East Children’s Alliance, was at the protest on Sunday and is in regular contact with people in Gaza.

Background: While backers of Israel’s Gaza policy frequently claim security for Israel as the reason for the siege of Gaza, Sen. Charles Schumer stated recently that the real reason is a political goal. For text and video, see: “Schumer Says It ‘Makes Sense’ To ‘Strangle [Gaza] Economically’ Until It Votes The Way Israel Wants

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

Peterson’s “Rigged” Drive to Cut Social Security

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BARBARA KENNELLY, PAMELA TAINTER CAUSEY
Kennelly is president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security; Causey is communications director for the group, which has written several pieces that critique the Peterson Foundation including “Ahhh … the Good Old Days … Debtor’s Prisons and No Entitlements” and “The Campaign Against Social Security.” See: http://www.ncpssm.org/entitledtoknow/?tag=pete-peterson

DEAN BAKER
Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Baker is author of the new book “Taking Economics Seriously.” He just wrote the piece “America Speaks Back: Derailing the Drive to Cut Social Security and Medicare,” which states: “Next weekend will feature another milestone in the drive to cut Social Security and Medicare. The organization America Speaks will be hosting a series of 20 meetings in cities across the country. They will ask the people at these meetings, a cross section of the nation, to come up with proposals for dealing with the country’s projected long-term budget deficit.

“The way the problem is outlined for these meetings virtually guarantees that most of the participants will opt for big cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The results of this song-and-dance exercise will then be presented to President Obama’s fiscal responsibility commission on June 30, which will use it as further ammunition for plans by its co-chairs to gut these programs.

“The rigged deck approach should come as no surprise. America Speaks is largely funded by Peter G. Peterson, the investment banker billionaire who has been on a decades-long crusade to gut these programs. In recent years, Peterson has redoubled his efforts, committing more than a billion dollars to a wide variety of groups in addition to America Speaks. To advance his agenda Peterson has even set up a fake news service, the Fiscal Times. To fill the staff, Peterson’s son hired a number of reputable reporters who were displaced by the collapse of the newspaper industry.”

Baker will be at Politics and Prose on Wednesday evening in Washington, D.C. to discuss his latest book “Taking Economics Seriously” in which he argues that the free market is a myth, given corporate interests in government interventions. He is also author of “False Profits: Recovering from the Bubble Economy” and “The Conservative Nanny State.” Baker writes a blog on economic reporting, Beat the Press.

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

McChrystal

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NORMAN SOLOMON
Solomon today wrote the piece “From Great Man to Great Screwup: Behind the McChrystal Uproar,” which states: “But the most profound aspects of Rolling Stone’s article ‘The Runaway General’ have little to do with the general. The takeaway is — or should be — that the U.S. war in Afghanistan is an insoluble disaster, while the military rationales that propel it are insatiable. ‘Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further,’ the article points out. And ‘counterinsurgency has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war.'”

Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, visited Kabul last year. He is available for a limited number of interviews.

RAY McGOVERN
McGovern just wrote the piece “Obama’s Truman-MacArthur Moment,” which states: “The Rolling Stone article is also strike two for McChrystal’s insubordination. His first strike came last fall when his recommendation for 40,000 additional troops was leaked to the press. He also publicly dismissed a more targeted approach toward attacking al-Qaeda terrorists reportedly advocated by Vice President Joe Biden.

“The leak of McChrystal’s recommendation came well before Obama had decided on a course of action, but the timely disclosure cornered the President, who didn’t dare push back against his generals and remind them about the U.S. principle of civilian control of the military.”

McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served as an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the early Sixties and then as a CIA analyst for the next 27 years. He is now a member of the Standing Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

KATHY KELLY
Recently back from over a month in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Kelly said today: “Sec. Gates replaced Gen. McKiernan with Gen. McChrystal because he and others in the Obama administration wanted to employ McChrystal’s experience in organizing special operations. In Iraq, that experience involved developing death squads, planning night raids and coordinating undercover assassinations. McChrystal has threatened U.S. national security by fostering, in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, conditions that build intense rage toward the United States. Again and again, in the past year, he has given a wink and a nod to U.S. special operations atrocities and then stood before cameras and microphones to say, ‘We’re sorry.’ …

“Sec. Gates, Gen. Petraeus — as well as President Obama — are just as culpable as Gen. McChrystal for the killing, destruction and criminality that goes on, every day, in Afghanistan. We shouldn’t be lulled into thinking that the most serious offense committed involves a general and his aides making sniggering and critical remarks about U.S. officials. The real crimes committed involve killing innocent people, including children, and prolonging the agony of a war of choice waged by war profiteers.” Kelly is with Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858

G20 Gets a “D”

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Leaders of the G8/G20, including President Obama, are meeting in Toronto beginning Friday.

CLAYTON THOMAS-MULLER
DALLAS GOLDTOOTH
Currently in Toronto, Thomas-Muller is Tar Sands Campaigner for the Indigenous Environmental Network. He said today: “The G20 is continuing down a road of business as usual for big oil. The Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada is an enormous project with a devastating impact on indigenous people, other rural people and virtually all life in the area. It’s like a massive slow-motion oil spill.” Photos of the Alberta Tar Sands are available here.

Goldtooth is at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, a gathering of activists; he is media coordinator for the Network and is able to connect media to other indigenous activists, including from the Gulf affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.

MELINDA ST. LOUIS
LIDY NACPIL, via Hayley Hathaway
The Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of 75 religious denominations and faith communities, labor, environmental, and human rights groups and development agencies, just issued a progress report titled “Making the Grade? The G20’s Commitment to the World’s Poorest.” The report finds that G20 leaders “have made shockingly little progress since their last summit on development commitments and calls on leaders to take bold action to support the world’s poorest at a gathering of world leaders this week.”

According to the group: “The scorecard evaluates the G20’s progress toward key commitments made at the conclusion of its first summit on the global economic crisis in April 2009. New analysis shows that, in the past nine months since the G20’s September summit in Pittsburgh, only $1.2 billion in additional money has been clearly accounted for and delivered to low-income countries — an amount equivalent to money spent by the Canadian government for the upcoming three-day G8/G20 summits.”

St. Louis is deputy director of the Jubilee USA Network. For the full report and a news release from the group, “G20 Gets ‘D’ Grade for Breaking Commitments to the World’s Poorest,” see the group’s web page: jubileeusa.org.

Nacpil, who is based in the Philippines, is with the affiliated Jubilee South Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development. She said today: “We believe that any process to address the global economic and financial crisis should include the voices of all affected peoples and nations. The G20 is not that process. However, as long as the biggest economies of the world are meeting, they should use their time to address the flaws of the global economic and financial system and take bold steps to transform the system.” Nacpil is currently in Detroit at the U.S. Social Forum.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858

Kagan “Similar to Bush on Executive Power”

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FRANCIS BOYLE
Professor of law at the University of Illinois, Boyle is author of Tackling America’s Toughest Questions. The Los Angles Times on Sunday wrote that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s “most audacious move [while Dean at Harvard Law School] was to recruit Jack Goldsmith, a lawyer who had served in the George W. Bush Justice Department and helped craft anti-terrorism policy.

“Kagan backed the hire against criticism from some liberal faculty and alumni. ‘I think it was a disgrace,’ said Francis Boyle, a Harvard Law graduate and a professor at the University of Illinois.”

Goldsmith is on the witness list in favor of Kagan. Boyle said today: “Goldsmith is regarded by myself and many others in the field as a war criminal. He wrote some of the memos that attempted to make violations of the Geneva Conventions appear legal. Kagan actually bragged about ‘how proud’ she was to have hired Goldsmith after one of his criminal Department of Justice memoranda was written up in the Washington Post.” See Washington Post: “Memo Lets CIA Take Detainees Out of Iraq: Practice Is Called Serious Breach of Geneva Conventions.”

Also see IPA news release with Boyle: “Supreme Court Pick: Kagan ‘Loves’ the Federalist Society.”

BRUCE FEIN
Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under President Reagan and is author of the forthcoming book, American Empire: Before the Fall. He recently wrote about Kagan: “She has voiced no disagreement with ‘presidential power’ to prohibit current or former White House officials from even appearing before Congress in response to a congressional subpoena; or, to prevent non-dangerous detainees held illegally for years at Guantanamo Bay from entry into the United States.

“Most alarming, Kagan has voiced no qualms against President Obama’s claim of unilateral authority to kill American citizens abroad if he believes they pose an imminent danger to the national security of the United States anywhere on the planet. Currently targeted for death is Anwar al-Awlaki.”

MARJORIE COHN
Cohn wrote the piece “Kagan Will Move Supreme Court to the Right.” She said today: “Kagan’s views on executive power appear similar to those of the Bush administration. She agreed with Sen. Lindsey Graham that we are involved in a war without end in which the whole world is a battlefield, and that justifies holding people indefinitely. But ‘war on terror’ is a misnomer because terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy. As President Obama’s solicitor general, Kagan used Bush’s state secrets privilege to keep torture victims out of court and prevent legal challenges to Bush’s secret spying program. Instead of uncritically defending Obama’s nominee, Democratic senators should probe Kagan’s opinions that may threaten checks and balances and the separation of powers in the Constitution.”

Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild, is deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. She is author of the forthcoming “The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse” and wrote the recent piece “Kagan’s Troubling Record.”

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

Repression Increasing One Year After Honduras Coup

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One year ago today, Manuel Zelaya was overthrown as president of Honduras. A general strike and other activities are expected today.

ADRIENNE PINE
Assistant professor of anthropology at American University and author of Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras, Pine has been in Honduras for the last month. She just wrote the piece “Honduras celebrates tense anniversary of unresolved military coup,” which states: “Much is at stake on this Monday’s first anniversary of the coup — or, as it is also called within the broad-based resistance movement, ‘the awakening of the people and the death of the two-party system.’ Ongoing efforts — led by Hillary Clinton — to secure Honduras’s reentry to the Organization of American States and other regional bodies like the Central American Integration System, depend on a narrative of stability and reconciliation. … But opposing narratives come from all sides, and carry the weight of the bloody evidence accumulated in the months since the inauguration of president Pepe Lobo. …

“Since January, nine journalists, most of them critical of the coup and its beneficiaries, have been killed in targeted assassinations. Death squads have disappeared, tortured and killed dozens of resistance leaders and their family members. Photographic evidence of this circulates among the population, provoking widespread fear and fury — pictures of the mutilated body of Oscar Geovanny Ramirez, an unarmed 16-year-old land worker killed a week ago in an ongoing land dispute between indigent members of several land cooperatives and multi-millionaire coup financier and large landowner Miguel Facussé, by police and military working on behalf of Facussé, are among those recently making the rounds.” See photos.

SUYAPA G. PORTILLO VILLEDA
Suyapa G. Portillo Villeda is at the Central American Studies Program at California State University, Northridge and is originally from Honduras. She said today: “One year after the coup d’état, Hondurans are living in a threatening environment where human rights violations have doubled; we are talking about persecution, selective kidnappings, torture and assassinations circa the 1980s. The cases are not investigated nor pursued and there is no justice for victims of the heinous attacks against their constitutional civil guarantees. Campesino leaders, teachers, labor union members, Garifuna communities, LGBT communities and women are the most vulnerable sectors, many of them receiving threatening phone calls, death threats via phone text; many have had to flee their homes when military police dressed as civilians hunt them down and interrogate their neighbors. The Honduran people know this is not democracy nor reconciliation government; anyone perceived to be a sympathizer of the resistance to the coup has been fired from their post, exiled or persecuted.

“What we are seeing that is positive is the organizations of popular groups, the consolidation of transnational networks and peaceful responses to a threatening environment; the biggest challenge now is to continue to organize towards a National Constitutional Assembly.”

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

“Why Petraeus Won’t Salvage This War”

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Confirmation hearings for Gen. David Petraeus as top military commander in Afghanistan are being held today.

GARETH PORTER
Porter just wrote “Why Petraeus Won’t Salvage This War” for Foreign Policy.

The piece states: “As Gen. David Petraeus prepares for his next command, his supporters are hoping he can rescue a failing war for the second time in just a few years. But both the dire state of the war effort in Afghanistan and his approach to taking command in Iraq in early 2007 suggest that Petraeus will not try to replicate an apparent — and temporary — success that he knows was at least in part the result of fortuitous circumstances in Iraq. Instead he will maneuver to avoid having to go down with what increasingly appears to be a failed counterinsurgency war.

“Petraeus must be acutely aware that the war plan which he approved in 2009 has not worked. Early this month, he received Stanley A. McChrystal’s last classified assessment of the war, reported in detail in The Independent Sunday. That assessment showed that no clear progress had been made since the U.S. offensive began in February and none was expected for the next six months.

“Petraeus is not going to pledge in his confirmation hearings to achieve in 18 months what McChrystal has said cannot be achieved in the next six months. Pro-war Republicans, led by John McCain, are hoping that Petraeus will now insist that the July 2011 time frame be eliminated, creating an open-ended commitment to a high and perhaps even rising level of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.”

Porter is an investigative journalist and historian specializing in U.S. national security policy. His most recent book is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858

Did Kagan Cover for Dershowitz’s Plagiarism?

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While Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has been extensively questioned in her hearings about her tenure as dean of Harvard Law School regarding military recruiters on campus, her role in a controversy involving charges of plagiarism against Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz (as well as other plagiarism scandals which erupted while she was head of HLS) has been virtually ignored.

On Tuesday, when Sen. Jon Kyl asked about her basic approach to judging, Kagan said: “My deanship was a good example … the kind of consideration that I’ve given to different arguments, the kind of fairness that I’ve shown in making decisions.” At 15:20 on YouTube video.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said of Kagan that there is “no reason to question her integrity.” But some analysts question whether Kagan showed the capacity to rule fairly, which is required of a good judge, in the Dershowitz plagiarism case.

HILTON OBENZINGER
Obenzinger teaches American literature and writing at Stanford University. His books include American Palestine: Melville, Twain and the Holy Land Mania. He said today: “Norman Finkelstein, then at DePaul University, accused Dershowitz in 2003 of plagiarizing from Joan Peters’ 1984 book ‘From Time Immemorial,’ which was recognized as a work of propaganda by many in Israel, but was praised by many backers of Israeli politics in the United States. Finkelstein years ago helped show that Peters’ book was scholarly worthless. Peters’ argument is that most of today’s Palestinians did not live there. This is a similar argument as other colonizers, such as the British in North America. As Anthony Lewis titled his New York Times column at the time that dismissed Peters’ argument: ‘There Were No Indians.’

“Peters employs Twain (as does Dershowitz) because he is the quintessential American writer, and so his witness, so to speak, is authoritative. While Twain is a great truth teller, he can also be the biggest liar. His words should never be used to justify colonial expropriation — which is what Peters (and by extension Dershowitz) do — and in other writing Twain was a sharp critic of colonialism. Dershowitz’s vicious attacks on Finkelstein, and his crude intervention in Finkelstein’s tenure case, and the fact that DePaul and Harvard allowed it to happen, is really what’s at issue. And underlying all of Dershowitz’s attacks is his ferocious rejection of any serious criticisms of Israel’s policies. As for the connection with Kagan (and Harvard’s then-President Larry Summers), they probably share Dershowitz’s viewpoint. Unfortunately in academia, it’s a matter of Dershowitz being more powerful and being politically aligned with powerful people, not Finkelstein being right.” Obenzinger’s other books include Running Through Fire: How I Survived the Holocaust by Zosia Goldberg as told to Hilton Obenzinger.

FRANK MENETREZ
Menetrez just wrote the piece “Elena Kagan’s Harvard: Golden Age or Reign of Error?” The piece states: “When Elena Kagan was dean of Harvard Law School, her mishandling of a plagiarism case cost an innocent person his job while allowing the plagiarist, Professor Alan Dershowitz, to escape punishment. …

“In 2003, an untenured professor at DePaul University named Norman Finkelstein accused Dershowitz of plagiarism. Dean Kagan ordered an investigation the following year. The investigation completely cleared Dershowitz, concluding that no plagiarism had occurred.

“Harvard is the nation’s most prestigious institution of higher learning, so its vindication of Dershowitz was widely perceived as definitive. Armed with that vindication, Dershowitz relentlessly attacked Finkelstein in letters to DePaul faculty and every available media outlet. Those attacks would likely have been dismissed as sour grapes if the Kagan-ordered investigation had come out the other way.

“My independent research later revealed, however, that Dershowitz did in fact commit plagiarism and that no honest and competent investigation could have missed it. … The case against Dershowitz seemed to be supported by powerful evidence. Finkelstein argued that Dershowitz’s book ‘The Case for Israel’ contained obvious errors that were identical to errors in an earlier book by a different author, so Dershowitz must have just copied that author’s work, errors and all. Finkelstein explained the point in detail in an exchange with Dershowitz that was published in The Harvard Crimson in October 2003.

“The identical errors issue was consequently well known and central to the plagiarism dispute when Kagan ordered an investigation in 2004. But the Kagan-commissioned investigation still concluded that no plagiarism had occurred. What happened? Were there really no identical errors after all?

“I decided to check for myself, and I quickly discovered enough identical errors to prove the plagiarism charge against Dershowitz beyond any reasonable doubt. I looked at one of the passages identified by Finkelstein, a long quotation from Mark Twain, and found that Dershowitz’s version of the quotation and the version in the book Dershowitz was accused of plagiarizing contained 20 identical errors in a mere 21 lines of text. Some of the errors were large (such as the omission of 87 pages of text without an ellipsis) and some were small (such as altered or missing words or punctuation), but the cumulative weight of the evidence was overwhelming. There was no way Dershowitz could have independently generated exactly those 20 errors — he must have copied them. It was an open-and-shut case.

“So what exactly did the Kagan-commissioned investigation look at? Did it address the identical errors issue? (I put that question to the Harvard Law School administration myself when Kagan was still dean, but they refused to answer.) …

“Granted, these questions might seem of limited significance for Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination. The answers will not tell us what she thinks about originalism or abortion or the scope of federal executive power. But they are still relevant, because they will shed light on something equally important. In the end, all of us will be forced to assess Kagan on the basis of what we make of her character, because the written record of her judicial philosophy is so sparse.”

Background: Menetrez also wrote the piece “Dershowitz v. Finkelstein: Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong?” — an updated and expanded version of that piece was published as an epilogue to the paperback version of Norman Finkelstein’s book Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. The book was published by the University of California Press; while the first edition was being edited, Dershowitz wrote to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about the publication of the book urging him to “prevent this impending tragedy.”

See PDFs of relevant text from Dershowitz, Peters and Twain to verify that Dershowitz copied Peters’ errors.

See letter in The Harvard Crimson “Finkelstein Proclaims ‘The Glove Does Fit‘” from 2003.

At one point in the controversy, Dershowitz claimed that Finkelstein thought his own mother was a Nazi collaborator. Dershowitz posted this to his Harvard web page. Finkelstein objected to this to Kagan to no avail.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Byrd, Kagan Hearings and the Constitution

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CBS News reports: “The Senate Judiciary Committee will suspend Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday while the late-Sen. Robert Byrd lies in state at the Capitol.”

Byrd famously made a habit of carrying a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his shirt pocket. In 2004, he succeeded in passing legislation that deemed September 17 “Constitution Day.”

Byrd is prominently featured in the 2007 film “Body of War” by Phil Donahue.

During the Kagan hearings, several Republicans urged Kagan to be a “strict constructionist” (Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.). Meanwhile, many Democrats argued she would “uphold the Constitution” (Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.). Several legal analysts however warn that both Democratic and Republican administrations have been violating basic Constitutional rights.

Available for interviews:

SHAHID BUTTAR
Buttar is executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, which recently wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

FRANCIS BOYLE
Professor of law at the University of Illinois, Boyle is author of Tackling America’s Toughest Questions. He said today: “After 9/11 Sen. Byrd made repeated appearances in the Senate condemning violations of the Constitution, the war against Iraq and the Bush police state tactics. During the same period, Kagan was remarkably silent and has supported most of those Bush policies in her capacity as U.S. Solicitor General. As Dean of Harvard Law, she hired Jack Goldsmith who wrote torture memos for Bush and is testifying on Kagan’s behalf.”

BRUCE FEIN
Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under President Reagan and is author of the forthcoming book, American Empire: Before the Fall. He raises four major ways that the Constitution and Bill of Rights are being violated:

“1. Violations of due process: Detentions of enemy combatants indefinitely without accusation or trial; military commissions that combine judge, jury, and prosecutor in a single branch; detentions at Bagram prison with no right to habeas corpus; listing of organizations and individuals as global terrorists based on secret evidence; targeting American citizens abroad for assassination based on the President’s say-so alone.

“2. Fourth Amendment violations: Interceptions of U.S. email and phone communications without individual warrants under new FISA amendments; Patriot Act acquisition of business records without probable cause.

“3. Secrecy: Executive branch refusals to respond to congressional subpoenas or claims of executive privilege to conceal from Congress such practices as waterboarding or enhanced interrogations techniques or targeting methodology for predator drones that indiscriminately kill militants and innocents alike.

“4. War powers: Congress’ delegating to the President or acquiescing in the President’s decision to initiate war in Iraq, Pakistan, etc. The Founding Fathers unanimously agreed that only Congress had the power to authorize the initiation of war because the President would inflate danger to commence war to capture more power and leave a mark on history.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Another $33 Billion for War in Afghanistan Today?

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REBECCA GRIFFIN
Political director of Peace Action West, Griffin said today: “It’s happening now. After weeks of stalling and amidst growing dissent from the public and Congress, the House will vote on $33 billion for escalating the war in Afghanistan.

“The McChrystal debacle has fueled a larger debate about the failing counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. Thirty members of Congress wrote to Nancy Pelosi asking to delay a vote and raising concerns about the possibility that the military could ask for even more troops. Another group wrote to Obama calling for an end date for the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Rep. John Conyers has started a new Out of Afghanistan Caucus in Congress to keep the momentum going.”

Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, Rep. Michael Honda, Rep. John Conyers and Rep. Alan Grayson just released a statement: “Progressives Issue Challenge to Conservatives on War Spending: If You’re Serious About Fiscal Responsibility, Oppose Afghan Funds,” which states: “Our challenge: if you oppose deficit spending, debt dependency on China, cuts to Social Security, and are concerned about a debt-threat to our national security, then oppose this supplemental war funding request.”

Also see: “McGovern, Obey Lead House Showdown on Afghanistan War.”

Background: Obama had stated there would be no more supplementals. He wrote in April 2009: “This is the last planned war supplemental. Since September 2001, the Congress has passed 17 separate emergency funding bills totaling $822.1 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After 7 years of war, the American people deserve an honest accounting of the cost of our involvement in our ongoing military operations.

“We must break that recent tradition and include future military costs in the regular budget so that we have an honest, more accurate, and fiscally responsible estimate of Federal spending.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Netanyahu in the U.S.

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RICHARD FALK
Falk is professor of international law emeritus at Princeton University and Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territories for the United Nations Human Rights Council. He said today: “If the American president believed that the rule of law applied to Israel he would certainly favor the establishment of an international inquiry, under UN auspices, to the flotilla incident of May 31, call for a total freeze on settlement construction and remind Israel that its settlement wall was declared illegal in 2005 by a 14-1 majority of the World Court, which also decreed that the wall should be dismantled and Palestinians compensated for all harm endured.”
The New York Times on Monday published a piece titled “Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank.”

IARA LEE
FATIMA MOHAMMADI
Currently in Turkey, Lee is director of Cultures of Resistance and an independent filmmaker who was on the Mavi Marmara when Israeli forces boarded it in international waters and killed nine activists. While Israeli forces confiscated most video from people on the ship, Lee’s crew smuggled out one hour of Israeli raid footage. She wrote the piece “The Video Israel Doesn’t Want You to See: Smuggled Footage From the Flotilla Attack.”
Mohammadi, like Lee, was on the Mavi Marmara. In this video, she states that Israeli forces used lethal force prior to boarding the ship.
Mohammadi said today: “Israel is allowing a bit more aid into Gaza through Rafah as a public relations move. This allows it to continue to justify to the world the overall siege of Gaza. Israel prohibits exports out of Gaza. What security rationale is there for that? Such restriction shows that the Israeli government is aiming to cripple the economy of Gaza as part of its collective punishment against the people of Gaza.”

NASEER ARURI
Aruri is chancellor professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and author of the book Dishonest Broker: The U.S. Role in Israel and Palestine. He said today: “Ultimately at stake is whether a substantive change in U.S. policy will emerge, particularly given Obama’s endorsement of [Gen. David] Petreaus’ claim that a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is a vital national security interest of the United States. Should Obama continue to uphold this thesis, positive change may be in the offing, otherwise; it will likely mean that Obama has caved to the traditional domestic political forces.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858

Immigration Debate “Ignores Causes”

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MANUEL PEREZ-ROCHA
Associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Perez-Rocha has been critical of trade deals like NAFTA. He said today: “It is worrying that discussions about immigration in the U.S. tend to ignore its causes. Most people do not migrate to this country because they want to live their ‘American dream’ as it is sometimes supposed, but because their livelihoods are destroyed by economic policies that benefit only the elites in their home countries.

“These policies — known as the ‘Washington consensus’ — include the elimination of support mechanisms to local producers while allowing transnational companies to import cheaper products into their countries through ‘free trade’ agreements, as well as the elimination of millions of jobs in the public sector. Often these are applied by force, like in Honduras, where a departure from the Washington consensus and the adoption of more popular policies led to a coup d’etat in 2009 that replaced a democratically elected government with one that represents business interests better.”

DAVID BACON
Author of the book Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants, Bacon recently wrote the piece “Another Immigration Policy Is Possible.” In it, he criticizes the proposals made by Representative Luis Gutierrez and Senator Charles Schumer, and the support for them by President Obama in his recent speech on immigration reform. Bacon’s article states: “Grassroots groups don’t like the proposals for new guest worker programs. They have been fighting raids, firings and increased immigration enforcement for years, and are angry that the Washington proposals all make enforcement heavier. They want the border demilitarized. And they believe any rational immigration reform must change U.S. trade policies that displace people in other countries.”

Bacon added today: “People working without papers will be fired and even imprisoned under their proposals and raids will increase. Vulnerability makes it harder for people to defend their rights, organize unions and raise wages. That keeps the price of immigrant labor low. This will not stop people from coming to the United States, but it will produce more immigration raids, firings and a much larger detention system.

“Grassroots immigrant rights groups want an alternative immigration bill that would end trade-related displacement. The proposals made in D.C. do nothing about the root causes of forced migration while criminalizing migrants. We need a human rights policy that ends corporate displacement while protecting the rights of migrants.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Haiti Six Months After the Earthquake

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BRIAN CONCANNON
Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Concannon lived in Haiti for eight years. He said today: “The international community promised to change the trade, aid and governance policies that helped make Haiti so poor and extremely vulnerable to earthquakes and other natural disasters. But six months after the earthquake, too many of those harmful policies survive. Aid is overly centralized and bureaucratized and distributed with inadequate input from or accountability to the poor Haitians it is supposed to help. Multinational corporations and foreign consultants are reaping huge windfalls from aid generously donated to help poor Haitians. The international community is preparing to stand behind another flawed election designed to exclude the majority Lavalas party.”

BILL FLETCHER
Fletcher is editorial board member of The Black Commentator and former president of TransAfrica Forum. He said today: “Haiti remains largely abandoned by the international community and semi-colonized by the USA. Both France and the USA should be footing the bill for the reconstruction of Haiti. These two countries have, more than any other foreign power, restrained Haiti from its right to free and sovereign development. None of that will change until and unless movements in France and the USA compel their respective governments to repair the damage done over the course of hundreds of years.”

AMY WILENTZ
Professor at the University of California at Irvine, Wilentz is author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier. She said today: “Stall is the word I think of when I look at the attempts to move Haiti into a new phase in coping with the destruction wrought by the earthquake, six months after it happened. It’s time not just for the Haitian government to go into emergency and efficiency mode, but also for the donor nations who pledged billions to start making good on their promises. As hurricane season begins, Haitian families living under tarps held up by sticks don’t have the leisure to wait for people in Brussels and New York and Paris and Montreal to get serious. Thousands of decent and sturdy shelters must go up now, new and good seed for next year’s crop must be provided, along with fertilizer, and a concerted effort must be made to remove dangerous rubble from Port-au-Prince and the other stricken cities. At a minimum, this is what’s needed.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Why Are We in Afghanistan?

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TOM ENGELHARDT
Engelhardt is founder of TomDispatch.com; his book The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s was just released. Engelhardt’s latest piece is “Why Are We in Afghanistan? As Petraeus Takes Over, Could Success Be Worse Than Failure?” which states: “It’s now past time to ask that question, even as the Obama administration repeats the al-Qaeda mantra of the Bush years almost word for word and lets any explanation go at that. Why are we in Afghanistan? Why is our treasure being wasted there when it’s needed here?

“It’s clear enough that a failed counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan will be an unaffordably expensive catastrophe. Let’s not wait a year to discover that there’s an even worse fate ahead, a ‘success’ that leaves us mired there for years to come as our troubles at home only grow. With everything else Americans have to deal with, who needs a future Petraeus Syndrome?”

You can also listen to an audio interview with Engelhardt here.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Austerity: Why and for Whom?

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RICHARD WOLFF
Recently back from Europe, Wolff is author of the book Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It. He recently wrote the piece “Austerity: Why and for Whom?” which states: “Nearly all current political leaders of major capitalist countries responded positively to the banks’ demand for austerity (as in Canada’s recent G-20 meeting). … An Athens trucker says, ‘Public employees here don’t work hard enough, so it is reasonable to cut their pay.’ A Parisian clerk thinks it ‘reasonable to postpone the official retirement age a few years; we all live longer now.’ A Minneapolis office worker agrees that it is ‘reasonable, in crisis times, to get by with fewer public services.’ A New York laboratory technician supports a new tax on cell-phones as ‘probably reasonable; after all, people overuse them.’

“Remarkably, such notions of ‘reasonable’ are silent about other possible and, to say the least, more ‘reasonable’ forms of austerity. Let’s consider some alternative ‘reasonable’ kinds of austerity (i.e., austerity for others) and then question austerity itself. Serious efforts to collect income taxes from U.S.-based multinational corporations, especially those who use internal pricing mechanisms to escape U.S. taxation, would generate vast new federal revenues. The same applies to wealthy individuals. The U.S. has no federal property tax on holdings of stocks, bonds, and cash accounts (states and localities levy no such property taxes either). If the federal government levied a 1 percent tax on assets between $100,000 to $499,000, and 1.5 percent [tax] on assets above $500,000, that would raise much new federal revenue (everyone’s first $100,000 could be exempted just as the existing U.S. income tax exempts the first few thousands of dollars of individual incomes). Exiting the Iraq and Afghanistan disasters would do likewise.”

Wolff is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Program for International Affairs at the New School University in New York City. Video of his talk “Capitalism Hits the Fan” is available here.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Finance Reform: What the Bill Doesn’t Do

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THOMAS FERGUSON
Ferguson is professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and a senior fellow of the Roosevelt Institute. He said today: “This whole business reminds me of the old Bob Hope line: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time and all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time — and that’s why we have a two-party system.’ The Republicans opposed this bill almost completely. The Democrats brought in a bill that was critical of some Wall Street practices, and are hyping it now as a legislative milestone of almost Rooseveltian dimensions — the president actually compared it to the Glass-Steagall Act (which separated commercial and investment backing back in 1933), which is ridiculous.

“The bill makes some marginal changes, but it does not attack the fundamental problems that got us into the disaster of 2008. It just ducks the too-big-to-fail problem. The large banks will continue to dominate the derivatives business, as only portions of that move to clearinghouses or exchanges. In fact, the legislation is going to lock in the positions of the largest banks. At the start of the crisis, the four largest had about 40 percent of all deposits; now they hold something like 56 percent. That will probably only increase, with all that implies for consumer choice. The legislation creates a new council of the regulators, who are precisely the people who failed in the years before 2008. There is a consumer product safety agency that’s to be established, but it’s in the Federal Reserve, which simply hates consumer product safety. And the auto dealers got exempted from regulation.

“It’s easy to understand why Sen. Russ Feingold said he just could not vote for this bill — but you may get a worse bill under another Congress. The very same Congress that’s pushed this bill through at a snail’s pace also created the Angelides Commission, which is supposed to inquire into what happened and why. This, of course, is not going to report until after the November elections. And so right from the beginning you knew the folks who were pushing this bill were not serious. I mean, that is to say, if they learned anything from the Commission, they weren’t planning to use it in the bill. But they were planning to take in record amounts of campaign contributions and allow lobbyists to go wild offering them the sun, the moon, and the stars.”

Ferguson’s books include Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems. See interviews with him on The Real News including one from this week.

DANNY SCHECHTER
Schechter is editor of the MediaChannel.org. His latest book is “Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity and the Subprime Scandal.” He just wrote the piece “The Senate Votes on Financial Reform Thursday: What the Bill Doesn’t Do,” for his “News Dissector” blog.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

BP and Dispersants: The “Regulated” Regulating the “Regulators”?

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WALA-TV in Mobile, Alabama is reporting: “At one point during Thursday’s hearings into the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, the dispersants that are being used in the Gulf were referred to as the potential ‘Agent Orange of the Gulf.’

“BP has used millions of gallons of the chemical Corexit to break down the oil. The Environmental Protection Agency approved the chemical, but put limits on how much could be used. That’s because the [agency] believes it does pose some risk.”

HUGH KAUFMAN
A noted expert at the Environmental Protection Agency, Kaufman said today: “Thursday’s Senate testimony of EPA and NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] [officials] provides further confirmation that they are ‘sock puppets’ for BP and contributing to the poisoning of the Gulf. EPA green-lighted the massive use of toxic dispersants because BP wants to cover up the amount of oil contamination, not to protect the public health and environment.”

Background: Kaufman “led the investigation for the EPA’s Ombudsman that uncovered Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration cover-up[s] of the environmental effects of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack at the behest of the Bush White House.”

Kaufman is extensively cited in “Scientists: Obama not doing enough + VIDEO: Shrimpers exposed to Corexit ‘bleeding from the rectum.'”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Sanctions: Lesson from Iraq for Iran and Gaza

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JOY GORDON
Gordon is author of the new book Invisible War: The U.S. and Iraq Sanctions (Harvard University Press) and just wrote the piece “Lessons we should have learned from the Iraqi sanctions” for Foreign Policy.

She said today: “If we are to understand the kind of damage that can be done by economic sanctions, we should know about the sanctions that were imposed by the UN Security Council, which in combination with the 1991 bombing strikes reduced Iraq from a modern, sophisticated country, to a pre-industrial country. Within the Security Council, the U.S. exerted enormous pressure to ensure that the sanctions would prevent Iraq from rebuilding and restoring the conditions necessary to sustain human life.

“Meeting behind closed doors, the 661 Committee of the UN Security Council managed the Iraq sanctions regime. And within that committee, the U.S. wielded extraordinary power, determining the crucial policies that would affect the entire population of Iraq. For example, Iraq was prohibited from importing ‘dual use’ goods, that had both military and civilian uses. However, the U.S. — and no one else — then defined ‘dual use’ in a very extreme way: everything that is used by civilians, that could possibly have any use by the military. At various points the U.S. blocked Iraq from importing plywood, glue, salt, and shoe leather on the grounds that they contributed to Iraqi industry. Equipment to make yogurt and cheese was blocked by the U.S. on the grounds that it could be used to produce biological weapons, and child vaccines were blocked on the same grounds. Water tankers were blocked by the U.S. on the grounds that they could be used for chemical weapons, even though this was disputed by the UN weapons inspectors. Antibiotics were blocked on the grounds that they might be used as antidotes to anthrax.

“The history of the Iraq sanctions has a lot to tell us, as we look at increasingly stringent sanctions on Iran, and as we see the impact of Israel’s embargo on Gaza. The U.S. sanctions on Iran target the nation’s oil and gas industries, which make up over a quarter of Iran’s economy, while the UN sanctions affect Iran’s shipping lines, and its banking system. For all of these, the damage will be broad and indiscriminate, inevitably impacting Iran’s entire civilian population. In the case of Gaza, the massive Israeli bombing of infrastructure has been accompanied by draconian restrictions on imports of everything from potato chips to cement, all in the name of security concerns. It is not surprising that the human damage is enormous, and constitutes serious ongoing violations of basic human rights.”

Gordon is professor in the philosophy department at Fairfield University in Connecticut and is currently a senior fellow in the Global Justice Program at the MacMillan Center, Yale University.

See the just-published review of Gordon’s new book by Andrew Cockburn in the London Review of Books, “Worth It.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

“Top Secret America” — Further Corrupting Intelligence?

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Today, the Washington Post began publishing an in-depth series by Dana Priest and William Arkin titled “Top Secret America,” which begins: “The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it’s fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping its citizens safe.”

RAY McGOVERN
McGovern was an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the early Sixties and then a CIA analyst for the next 27 years. He is a co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, works with Tell the Word (the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington) and regularly writes for Consortium News.

TIM SHORROCK
Available for a limited number of interviews, Shorrock is author of the book Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing.

This morning, following Arkin on the program “Democracy Now,” Shorrock said: “With all due respect to the Washington Post, Dana Priest and Bill Arkin are very good reporters, we have to ask, why did it take them seven years to do this story? … Anyone who’s been covering intelligence or national security in Washington knows that intelligence has been privatized to an incredible extent.”

Shorrock’s webpage features a new photo essay that shows the buildings of the contractors around Washington, D.C. and links to his past work over the last several years on this issue.

He added this afternoon: “We have a merger of corporations with national security. This is antithetical to democracy and constitutional government. Seventy percent of the national security apparatus goes to private contractors. It’s more dangerous than in the past, when it was just for technical issues, now it can cover analysis. And the profit motive can further corrupt intelligence as contractors want to have their contracts continued.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

“Amiri Told CIA Iran Has No Nuclear Bomb Program”

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GARETH PORTER
Porter just wrote “Amiri Told CIA Iran Has No Nuclear Bomb Program” for Inter Press Service. The piece states: “Contrary to a news media narrative that Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri has provided intelligence on covert Iranian nuclear weapons work, CIA sources familiar with the Amiri case say he told his CIA handlers that there is no such Iranian nuclear weapons program, according to a former CIA officer.

“Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counterterrorism official, told IPS that his sources are CIA officials with direct knowledge of the entire Amiri operation.”

Porter notes that in June the Washington Post ran a “story quoting David Albright, director of the Institute for Science and International Security, as saying that the intelligence briefings for Security Council members had included ‘information about nuclear weaponization’ obtained from Amiri. Albright said he had been briefed on the intelligence earlier that week, and the Post reported a ‘U.S. official’ had confirmed Albright’s account.”

Porter is an investigative journalist and historian specializing in U.S. national security policy. His most recent book is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

“BP’s Scheme To Swindle The ‘Small People'”

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DAHR JAMAIL
Currently in Tampa, Florida, independent journalist Jamail has been in the Gulf region for three weeks. His recent pieces include “BP’s Scheme To Swindle The ‘Small People'” and “BP Oil Poisons the Gulf of Mexico’s Food Chain.”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

87 Senators vs. the Facts on Turkish Group IHH?

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IARA LEE
Available for a limited number of interviews, Lee is recently back from Turkey. She wrote the piece (and produced accompanying video) “Slandering the Good Guys: Some Basic Facts About IHH,” which states: “In the immediate aftermath of the massacre aboard the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010, while journalists and activists were detained and isolated from the world, the Israeli government was quick to unleash their own version of events. Like the physical assault on the boat, the Israeli media assault was also reckless, clumsy, malicious, and dangerous. They were cynical enough to understand that first impressions in the mainstream American media are what count, and with this in mind they began to frantically hurl the word ‘terrorist’ in reference to both the victims of their attack, as well as one of the main organizers of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the Turkish NGO IHH. It is a curious thing that few people asked the Israeli government why they would release ‘terrorists’ that they had in their custody, and even fewer asked for (or received) solid evidence to support this claim. Despite the fact that several courageous journalists both in the U.S. and abroad thoroughly debunked the Israeli account of what happened (this includes deliberately doctored footage along with the libelous accusations of links to terrorism), the damage was done.”

Lee added: “87 U.S. senators have urged President Obama to launch an investigation of whether or not IHH should be added to the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. … The vice president of IHH, Huseyin Oruc … was not interested in dignifying such claims, he was very emphatic about the transparency of IHH’s work over the years, and hoped people would look at their large-scale sanitation and medical missions around the African continent — including 40,000 cataract surgeries in Sudan alone, clean water projects in Ethiopia — and IHH’s extensive work dealing with orphans in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Gaza.”

Lee is director of Cultures of Resistance and an independent filmmaker who was on the Mavi Marmara when Israeli forces boarded it in international waters.

Background: “Bipartisan Group Of 87 Senators, Led by Reid And McConnell, Send Letter To President Obama In Support Of Israel’s Right To Self-Defense.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

NAACP and Tea Party

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KEVIN GRAY
Gray is author of the books The Decline of Black Politics: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama and Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics. He argues that the real needs of African Americans, including dealing with unemployment, inadequate housing and wars, are being unmet.

BRUCE DIXON
Dixon is managing editor of Black Agenda Report. He just wrote the piece “Tea Partyers, Fox News, ‘Negativity’ Against the President? Are These Really Black America’s Most Pressing Problems?

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

“Breaking the Gordian Knot on Climate Legislation”

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday effectively killed the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill for this legislative session, saying: “We know we don’t have the votes.”

PETER BARNES
Co-author of “Climate Solutions: A Citizen’s Guide,” Barnes said today: “Now that the ‘pragmatic’ approach of buying off special interests hasn’t worked, it’s time to try the alternative — protecting families not corporations.”

He recently wrote the piece “Breaking the Gordian Knot on Climate Legislation,” which states: “The Senate is tied in knots on climate. In President Obama’s view, putting an economy-wide price on carbon is the most effective way to stimulate clean energy investment and jobs. Most Democrats — though not enough — agree. Roughly half a dozen Republicans, given some political cover, might go along, but the party’s leadership opposes a ‘national energy tax.’ Sixty filibuster-proof votes are therefore not in sight. And after November, when Democrats are expected to lose seats, the prospects look even grimmer. What is to be done?

“The conventional wisdom is to court Senatorial votes by giving handouts and exemptions to polluting industries. This has been the strategy pursued by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), and ‘pragmatic’ greens until now. It hasn’t worked and isn’t likely to. The complexities are too great, and throwing people’s money at giant energy companies isn’t a popular idea these days.

“There is, however, another way forward. It starts with the cap-and-cash-back approach, a.k.a. cap-and-dividend, embodied in the bipartisan CLEAR Act co-sponsored by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). Their 39-page bill caps and prices all carbon emissions, but instead of rewarding polluters — most of whom will pass their cost of polluting to their customers — it protects the people who will ultimately pay the bills — namely, us.

“The CLEAR Act requires all first sellers of carbon — fuel companies like Exxon-Mobil and Peabody Coal — to buy per­mits from the federal government. These permits are auc­tion­ed, not given away free (after all, polluters should pay), and three-quarters of the proceeds are returned as equal payments to all legal U.S. residents. This is accomplished electronic­ally every month, like Social Security. U.S. manufacturers and workers are protect­ed by carbon fees at the border.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Wikileaks and Realities of Afghanistan War

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Wikileaks (if overloaded, http://wardiary.wikileaks.org) on Sunday released more than 90,000 internal records of U.S. military actions in Afghanistan from over the past six years. The group’s founder Julian Assange spoke earlier today at the Frontline Club in London; video is available.

Information based on portions of the Wikileaks data was published simultaneously by The New York Times; the British Guardian; and Der Spiegel.

Reuters reports today: “At least 45 civilians, many women and children, were killed in a rocket attack by the NATO-led foreign force in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province last week, a spokesman for the Afghan government said on Monday.”

RICK ROWLEY
Rowley, independent journalist with Big Noise Films, just returned from a six-week trip to Afghanistan where he was embedded with a U.S. Marine division in Marjah. He was on Democracy Now this morning, which reports: “The [leaked] documents provide a devastating portrait of the war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, how a secret black ops special forces unit hunts down targets for assassination or detention without trial, how Taliban attacks have soared and how Pakistan is fueling the insurgency.” Also on the program was Daniel Ellsberg, who compared Wikileaks favorably to his leaking the Pentagon Papers, secret documents that showed a pattern of lying by the government about the Vietnam War. See video and transcript.

ANAND GOPAL
Gopal has reported from Afghanistan for the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal. His dispatches can be read at AnandGopal.com. He is currently working on a book about the Afghan war. In January, he wrote a detailed article on night raids and secret detention centers in Afghanistan.

RAY McGOVERN
McGovern was an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the early Sixties and then a CIA analyst for the next 27 years. He said today: “Congress is reportedly slated to vote for an additional $33.5 billion for war in Afghanistan this week. For Congress to proceed and vote for that money without digesting the information just released by Wikileaks would be ostrich-like. The documentation that the Pakistani intelligence service is working in cross-purposes with the U.S. offensive against the Taliban virtually assures defeat.” McGovern is a co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, works with Tell the Word (the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington) and regularly writes for Consortium News, where he has an article today, “Afghan War Leaks Expose Costly Folly.”

JOSH STIEBER, [in D.C]
Stieber is a former soldier in the Bravo Company documented in the video “Collateral Murder” released earlier this year by Wikileaks. The video shows U.S. soldiers killing civilians including a Reuters photographer and then shooting at people in a van attempting to rescue the wounded. Stieber co-wrote “An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

After the Big Leak: More Escalation?

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NORMAN SOLOMON
Solomon today wrote the piece “State of Denial: After the Big Leak, Spinning for War,” which states: “Washington’s spin machine is in overdrive to counter the massive leak of documents on Afghanistan. Much of the counterattack revolves around the theme that the documents aren’t particularly relevant to this year’s new-and-improved war effort. …

“What has been most significant about ‘the president’s new policy’ is the steady step-up of bombing in Afghanistan and the raising of U.S. troop levels in that country to a total of 100,000. None of what was basically wrong with the war last year has been solved by the ‘new policy.’ On the contrary.”

Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death and president of the Institute for Public Accuracy, visited Kabul last year. He is available for a limited number of interviews.

JOSH STIEBER
Stieber is a former soldier in the Bravo Company documented in the video “Collateral Murder,” released earlier this year by WikiLeaks. The video shows, through a helicopter gun-sight, soldiers killing civilians including a Reuters photographer in Iraq and then shooting at people in a van attempting to rescue the wounded. After the release of the video, Stieber co-wrote “An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People” with Ethan McCord, another member of the unit.

McCord, who was in the first team of dismounted soldiers to arrive on the scene, spoke at the National Peace Conference in Albany, N.Y. this weekend.

Video of his graphic description of the “Collateral Murder” incident and the reactions of him and his commanders is available on YouTube: “Innocence Lost: Ethan McCord recounts aftermath of Iraqi civilian massacre.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Obama Going After Whistleblowers

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COLEEN ROWLEY
Rowley, whose May 2002 memo described some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of Time Magazine’s people of the year in 2002 along with Enron and WorldCom whistleblowers Sherron Watkins and Cynthia Cooper.

Rowley said today: “The Obama administration is detaining Bradley Manning in Kuwait. It is prosecuting Thomas Drake [formerly of the National Security Agency] for blowing the whistle on aspects of the illegal spying program Bush started. It is threatening Thomas Tamm (a former lawyer in the Department of Justice) with the same, as well as New York Times reporter James Risen. Even the Bush administration was careful not to go this far to repress truthful disclosures involving government/corporate fraud, waste, abuse, illegality and/or risks to public safety. Now, Obama — who promised transparency and more whistleblower protection — is.”

She co-wrote “Un-gagging the Whistleblowers” and “Wikileak Case Echoes Pentagon Papers.”

MARSHA COLEMAN-ADEBAYO
also via Kevin Berends
Coleman-Adebayo has been described by Time Magazine as “a former EPA employee whose complaints of a ‘racially toxic’ environment there led to the signing of the Notification and Federal Employee Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2001.”

She just wrote the piece “Shirley Sherrod’s Bizarre Week in the Sacrifice Zone,” which draws parallels between Sherrod and whistleblowers: “There are inside the federal bureaucracy tens of thousands of discrimination complaints filed annually against discriminating managers by countless whistleblowers — decent people just like Shirley Sherrod — who are discriminated against and suffer retaliation in absolute anonymity.”

Background: See Jesselyn Radack’s Los Angeles Times piece “Obama’s Record-Setting Leak Prosecutions

From the Washingtonian: “Plugging the Leaks: Barack Obama hates leaks, and thanks to a tenacious prosecutor, the Justice Department is on its way to setting a record for leak prosecutions”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

WikiLeaks: A Soldier and a Veteran Comment

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BROCK McINTOSH
An Army specialist who did a recent 10-month tour in Afghanistan, McIntosh said today: “It is a surreal experience looking at the WikiLeaks reports. I searched on date and region and then our unit, Dragon Hammer, unit 333. You can follow our steps as we sent out SITREPs [situation reports] as a situation developed and we radioed out what was happening. And MEDEVAC [medical evacuation] when they had to helicopter out American and ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] soldiers. It can be an amazing bridge for people who were not there to get a taste of what this war is about. There are gaps, I think some records are missing, events that don’t seem to be here — the Army loses records. Some reports were filed inaccurately for protection, such as documenting that escalation of force was used when it wasn’t. And these reports were conducted on the ground on the day of the incident and can therefore under-report battle damage.” McIntosh just posted links to his unit’s reports to his Facebook page

SETH MANZEL
Manzel is a former board member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and is executive director of GI Voice, which operates Coffee Strong near Fort Lewis in Washington State. He deployed to northern Iraq from 2004 to 2005 where he worked as a driver, machine gunner and vehicle commander. He was in the Army infantry from 2002 to 2006.

He said today: “I’m not surprised from the material I’ve seen via WikiLeaks, but that’s because I lived through a similar situation in Iraq. I think it’s important for people to be looking at this. Bear in mind that field reports are great, but they are not holy script. There’s a lot of covering up of civilian deaths. I saw weapons planted on bodies and saw what those reports looked like. I was also pressured to inflate and invent reasons for why we were holding prisoners. It is just important to be realistic.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Time Magazine, U.S. Government Using Afghan Women to Sell War?

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The new Time magazine cover featuring a young Afghan woman with her nose missing and the headline “What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan?” has been challenged by many critics, including:

* FAIR — “Time Magazine: We Cannot Leave Afghanistan

* Greg Mitchell — “What ALSO Happens If We Leave Afghanistan

* Feminist Peace Network — “Time Magazine Once Again Trots Out the Tired and Inexcusable ‘We’re in Afghanistan (and Have to Stay) to Protect Women’ Mantra

The following, who have focused on Afghan women, are available for interviews:

NAHID AZIZ [currently in France]
Available for a limited number of interviews, Aziz is an Afghan woman who is a professor of clinical psychology at Argosy University in Washington, D.C. She is also vice president of the group Afghan Education for a Better Tomorrow.

She has written several pieces on Afghan women for Psychologists for Social Responsibility.

SONALI KOLHATKAR
Kolhatkar is co-author of the book Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence. She is also co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, a U.S.-based nonprofit that supports women’s rights activists in Afghanistan.

She said today: “This is the same type of justification that the Soviets used (among others) to explain why they should remain in Afghanistan: to save Afghan women from the ‘backward’ fundamentalists. Foreign armies have always sought to protect Afghan women from violence by fomenting violence themselves. But in the end, just like the Soviets did backroom deals with radical misogynist groups, the U.S. has been empowering non-Taliban misogynist fundamentalists since the start of this war. There are incidents happening every day in Afghanistan of women and girls being harassed, raped, flogged and killed by pro-U.S. warlords and local commanders that are not working with the Taliban — these incidents are rarely covered by the Western media. In many ways the U.S. occupation has actually made things worse for Afghan women. Afghan women activists I work with prefer to resist two threats to their security (the Taliban and the U.S.-backed central government) instead of three (the third being the U.S./NATO occupation) and have long called for U.S. forces to leave. Time magazine is playing to age-old racist stereotypes: that brown women need a foreign white army to save them from their men.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Education: “Chicago Model a Disaster”

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PAULINE LIPMAN
Lipman is professor of policy studies at the College of Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Her books include High Stakes Education: Inequality, Globalization, and Urban School Reform.

She said today: “President Obama’s speech Thursday, in which he touted the performance of ‘Race to the Top,’ is now the prime example of equating ‘change’ — and we do need change — with privatizing public education.

“Chicago is important to look at because it’s the model [Education Secretary Arne] Duncan [who headed up the Chicago system] is using. In Chicago we’ve seen what this plan means, beginning in 2004, and it has been a disaster for students, teachers, and low-income communities of color. Some 70 schools have been closed creating massive dislocation in African American and Latino communities. These schools simply didn’t get the support they needed, they were basically set up to fail. We now have 100 new schools, two-thirds of them charter, thousands of teachers laid off, over 2,000 African American teachers and administrators. Research by the Consortium on Chicago School Research found that school closings did not improve student education. Most displaced students were transferred to another low-performing school.

“Several studies, most recently one from Stanford University [“National Charter School Study“] have shown that in the aggregate, students in charter schools are not doing as well as their counterparts in public schools. In Chicago, charter high schools have less qualified, less experienced teachers and a lower percentage of special education and English language learning students. These experiments are not being run on the affluent students.

“Privatizing schools and imposing teacher merit pay pits teachers against each other, undermining essential teacher collaboration. It’s a move to weaken teacher unions.

“What’s needed is improvement in public education based on what we know works: decrease class size, high-quality public pre-K education, rich, engaging and relevant curriculum for all students — including arts and athletics, professional working conditions and high quality relevant professional development for teachers.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Obama Speech and Iraq Realities

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Today, Obama made remarks about Iraq to a veterans group convention in Georgia. The New York Times today published a piece titled “A Benchmark of Progress, Electrical Grid Fails Iraqis.”

Obama made no mention of it, but today is the 20th anniversary of Iraq invading Kuwait and the beginning of the buildup to the early 1991 Gulf War.

DENIS HALLIDAY
Available for a limited number of interviews, Halliday is a former assistant secretary general of the United Nations and headed the humanitarian effort in Iraq during the 1990s until resigning in protest over the economic sanctions on Iraq.

JOY GORDON
Gordon is author of the new book Invisible War: The U.S. and Iraq Sanctions. She said today: “Twenty years ago Iraq was subjected to the most severe economic sanctions in the history of global governance, followed by a war in which the U.S. and its allies systematically destroyed all of Iraq’s infrastructure — electrical generators, water treatment plants, roads, bridges. When the occupation began in 2003, also led by the U.S., there was massive corruption on the part of U.S. agencies, and virtually nothing was done to rebuild and to restore critical public services. For the last 20 years, the U.S. has continuously imposed destruction and hardship on Iraq. We must really consider that the U.S. presence is one of the significant sources of violence in Iraq, not a force for peace or stability.”

HADANI DITMARS
Ditmars, author of Dancing in the No Fly Zone, has been reporting on Iraq since 1997 when she wrote a feature for the New York Times. As a co-editor at New Internationalist, she recently traveled to Iraq during the March elections to write and photograph the May issue, “Iraq, 7 Years Later, the Legacy of Invasion.”

According to Ditmars, “Almost a fifth of Iraq’s population are refugees or internally displaced, and almost half live in abject poverty — despite $53 billion in ‘aid’ spent since the 2003 invasion (funds that lined the pockets of foreign military contractors and corrupt officials but left 70 percent of Iraqis without potable water or predictable electricity).”

BBC News recently reported: “A U.S. federal watchdog has criticized the U.S. military for failing to account properly for billions of dollars it received to help rebuild Iraq. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says the U.S. Department of Defense is unable to account properly for 96 percent of the money. Billions have gone to rebuild Iraq but much of the money is impossible to trace, says a U.S. audit. Out of just over $9 billion, $8.7 billion is unaccounted for, the inspector says.”

PHYLLIS BENNIS
Bennis is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies; her books include the 2009 Ending the Iraq War: A Primer. She said today: “No question Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was a violation of international law — but it was hardly the first country in the region to invade and occupy a neighbor. Bush Senior’s decision to use that violation as justification for a unilateral war, however masked in forced UN endorsements, was not about Iraqi human rights violations — which the U.S. had long accepted and even helped by providing arms to use against Iran, money, and seed stock for biological weapons. Certainly it was about control of oil and preventing either of the two potential regional powers (Iraq and Iran) from challenging U.S. domination in the region. But the most important reason Amb. April Glaspie gave Saddam Hussein at least a ‘yellow light’ anticipating his invasion of Kuwait was to maintain Washington’s position as a global super-power when its super-power rival, the Soviet Union, was collapsing.

“There is no question that the aftermath of that war, including the devastation caused by years of U.S.-driven sanctions and the invasion and occupation that began in 2003, was one of the major causes of violence against Americans in the Middle East and beyond.”

For transcript of April Glaspie’s meeting with Saddam Hussein on July 25, 1990, see Information Clearinghouse.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Veterans and Military Families: Pentagon Statements on WikiLeaks Cloud Real Issues

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Three organizations representing veterans and military families have released a joint statement on the Pentagon’s response to the Afghanistan WikiLeaks documents. They said today: “Obama administration officials are trying to spin events in their favor. On the one hand, in an effort to downplay the significance of the release, we are told the documents contain no new information. On the other hand, some high-ranking members of the U.S. military are trying to: 1) intimidate anyone else from doing the same thing, and 2) turn public opinion against whoever leaked the current documents. A more damning statement could hardly be imagined than this one from Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ‘The truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family.’

“As veterans and families with members in the military, we consider statements like Admiral Mullen’s to be nothing more than calculated attempts to turn public attention away from the real problem — the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan that has already caused the deaths and injuries of many thousands of innocent people … while millions of Americans are jobless and face foreclosure or eviction.

“This suffering in Afghanistan and this bleeding at home will continue as long as our troops remain in that country. Congress must stop funding this war. We must bring our troops home now, take care of them properly when they return and pay to rebuild the damage we have caused to Afghanistan.”

Interviews are available with representatives of the groups that issued the statement:

MIKE FERNER
President of Veterans for Peace.

DEBORAH FORTER
National Director of Military Families Speak Out.

JOSE VASQUEZ
Executive Director of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Questions to EPA on Gulf and Dispersants, from Expert at EPA

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HUGH KAUFMAN
A noted expert at the Environmental Protection Agency, Kaufman today produced a list of questions for EPA Assistant Administrator for Research and Development Paul Anastas, whose testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee is currently on C-SPAN:

1) Do you believe EPA had enough technical and scientific information, in April, to make a correct decision as to whether or not to use dispersants in this situation?

2) Did EPA authorize the use of dispersants by BP when the oil spill began in April of this year? If EPA did not, who did? Please give the name of the person who authorized this action. If you don’t know who did, who does know?

3) In your press conference on Monday, you said that EPA has not found dispersants in the water except at the well head where the oil was escaping. NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] has documented plumes of dispersed oil throughout thousands of square miles of the Gulf of Mexico. Has EPA — or anybody — tested these plumes of dispersed oil for the ingredients in the dispersants? If so, who and what are the results?

4) At your press conference Monday, you said NOAA and FDA [Food and Drug Administration] found that the food chain in the Gulf was not affected by the oil and/or the dispersants. Have NOAA and the FDA done testing of food chain marine life for the presence of the ingredients of dispersants?

5) Has the air been tested for dispersant ingredients in the areas where workers, including personnel from the Coast Guard, are conducting cleanup of the oil and dispersant mixture on the surface of the water? If so, who tested it, what instruments were used? What were the results?

6) At your press conference Monday, you stated that the temperatures of the water used in doing your toxicity tests on living shrimp were not the same temperatures as those to which the oil/dispersant mixtures are being exposed in the Gulf. Why did you not do this testing at the actual temperatures that the oil/dispersant mixture is in, in the Gulf of Mexico?

7) Congressman Edward Markey provided documentation over the weekend that two to three times the amount of the dispersant Corexit was spread over the floating oil than was reported to have been spread by EPA and the Government. Do you agree or disagree with Congressman Markey’s documented allegation? If you agree, what actions will you take to correct the record?

8 ) At your press conference Monday, you stated that biodegradation of the oil spilled in the Gulf was 50 percent faster when dispersants were used. This assertion is in direct conflict with evidence of a report describing the Amoco Cadiz oil spill in France in 1978, in which dispersed oil is still not biodegraded. What scientific basis do you have for your conflicting assertion?

9) Did EPA do any ambient air pollution testing for the ingredients of the dispersant Corexit in the communities adjacent to the Gulf? If the answer is yes, which ingredients were tested for and what were the results?

10) Did EPA use wet chemistry in analyzing the ambient air pollution in the communities adjacent to the Gulf?

11) Did EPA use gas chromatographs and mass spectrometers in analyzing the ambient air pollution in the communities adjacent to the Gulf?

12) Does anyone at EPA, to your knowledge, disagree with the use of dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster? Who? Do you know why?

Background: Kaufman “led the investigation for the EPA’s Ombudsman that uncovered Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration cover-up[s] of the environmental effects of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack at the behest of the Bush White House.” http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Hugh_Kaufman

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Hiroshima After 65 Years: Disarmament or Nuclear Buildup?

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MARYLIA KELLEY
Kelley is executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) located in Livermore, California. She said today: “This August 6, at 8 a.m., I will join hundreds of people of peace who will gather at the Livermore nuclear weapons Lab in California in solemn remembrance of the 65th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Livermore Lab is one of two locations in the United States that have designed every nuclear weapon in the U.S. stockpile. …

“The budget for new and modified nuclear weapons is increasing on President Obama’s watch. We will call on the government to stop funding the continued development of nuclear bombs and to, instead, use the monies to meet human needs, including the irreversible dismantlement of U.S. nuclear warheads and immediate cleanup of the radioactive and toxic wastes at Livermore Lab and other locations contaminated by nuclear weapons. …

“We will demand that the United States live up to its disarmament obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). We will forcefully point out that the present scheme to spend $180 billion to build new bomb plants and new nuclear bombs under the rubric of ‘modernization’ is not only out of compliance with the NPT, but is also morally and fiscally bankrupt.”

JOHN STEINBACH
A longtime activist on nuclear weapons issues, Steinbach is with the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National Capital Area. He said today: “As the world observes the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombings, the Obama administration is planning to spend $180 billion over the next ten years on nuclear weapons and strategic delivery systems, equaling or exceeding Cold War spending levels. When President Obama called for a world without nuclear weapons in Prague last year, the world cheered and he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Which will it be, President Obama, nuclear disarmament or nuclear buildup? You can’t have it both ways.”

The Committee is organizing a Hiroshima commemoration candle lantern float on Thursday, Aug. 5 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. A Nagasaki candlelight vigil is on Sunday, Aug. 8 at 9:45 p.m. on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

Peace Action has a searchable site for events around the country commemorating the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

Note to producers: You may want to use the song “Enola Gay” by OMD as a musical lead-in; this version includes audio of President Harry Truman claiming that Hiroshima was “a military base”: on YouTube.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Social Security and CBO’s Odd Numbers

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The 2010 Social Security and Medicare Trustees’ Report is scheduled to be released on Thursday. The 75th anniversary of Social Security is on Aug. 14.

DOUG HENWOOD
Henwood is editor of Left Business Observer. He writes regularly at http://doughenwood.wordpress.com. His books include Wall Street.

He said today: “Though what little economic recovery we saw earlier this year has been petering out, the austerity party is sharpening its knives, ready for war. Among their choice targets: Social Security and Medicare. And what do they use for evidence? At the top of their list are some apparently alarming projections for deficits and debts from the Congressional Budget Office. What almost no one notices, much less questions, is that the CBO is forecasting near-depression levels of economic growth not just for the next few years, but for the next seven decades. (This is familiar territory for those of us who’ve been following the projections of Social Security’s imminent bankruptcy, which are based on preposterously bearish assumptions.) When you’re forecasting something so at odds with history, you owe the public an explanation, which the CBO and the deficit hawks don’t provide. If there’s any truth to the forecasts, then we should be discussing what amounts to a state of permanent economic crisis, not the need to hack away at enormously popular and successful social programs.”

See by Henwood: “The CBO’s Deep, Unappreciated Gloom

Also, “Jonesing for a Slump

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Pakistan: “Zardari’s Katrina”

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FATIMA BHUTTO
Bhutto just wrote the piece “Zardari’s Katrina: Why is Pakistan’s president junketing while his people drown?” — which states: “This week, Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, boarded a private Gulfstream jet along with his family and his hundreds-large entourage to visit the European countries included on the president’s grand tour. Yesterday, Zardari — who was married to my aunt, the late Benazir Bhutto, before her 2007 murder — landed in London. As soon as the plane touched down, the president and his Very Important coterie were chauffeured in a dozen luxury vehicles to a five-star hotel where the president will be staying in a �7,000 ($11,160) per night Royal Suite.

“His welcome, however, was less than royal. On the drive to the hotel, protesters held placards reading ‘Zardari King of Thieves,’ ‘Zardari 100% Pure Corruption,’ and ‘GO Zardari GO.’ While Zardari was schmoozing with his cronies in luxe London hotels, Pakistan was reeling from the deadliest floods to hit the country in 80 years. In short, it looks like Zardari’s Katrina.”

Bhutto writes for the New Statesman and the Daily Beast. Her book Songs of Blood and Sword will be published by Nation Books in September. She is a niece of Benazir Bhutto, who was married to Asif Ali Zardari.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Would Google-Verizon Deal Hurt Innovation and Independent Voices?

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SUSAN CRAWFORD
Available for a limited number of interviews, Crawford is former special assistant to the president for science, technology, and innovation policy (2009). She now teaches at the Cardozo Law School and is a visiting researcher at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy. She is quoted in Time Magazine: “It’s the next Google in a garage in Palo Alto that will be hurt by this [the planned Google-Verizon deal]. … This allows for the cable-ization of an Internet access provider.”
More Information

LAURA FLANDERS
Flanders is founder and host of GRITtv, a independent daily program distributed via the internet and on Free Speech TV (Dish Network and DirecTV.) She said today: “We learned years ago that separate’s not equal. While Google/Verizon present their deal as a re-commitment to equal treatment, in fact, the purported equality would exist only in a fast expiring hard-wired universe. An enormous opt-out would permit money to control traffic in the wireless Internet world. It’s tantamount to telling independent producers we are free to communicate and do business — but only by tin-can on a mobile planet.”
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JACK WALSH
Walsh is co-director of the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture. He said today: “The most crucial thing is that the Internet remain free and open. The FCC should see broadband as part of telecommunications policy; there needs to be a regulatory body to ensure that certain places on the Internet do not get preferential treatment so many voices can be heard. In NAMAC’s recently completed national poll, over 400 public media organizations told us that the web is now their number one way of reaching the public.”
More Information

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

BP Oil: “Out of Sight, Out of Mind (Even When It’s Not Out of Sight)”

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DAHR JAMAIL
Currently in Florida, independent journalist Jamail is on his way to New Orleans. He has written a string of investigative pieces on the effects of the oil leak in the Gulf.

He recently co-wrote “Out of Sight, Out of Mind (Even When It’s Not Out of Sight).

He also just wrote: “Gulf Coast Fishermen Challenge U.S. Government over Dispersants.

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

Iraq to Iran: Propaganda for War

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RAY McGOVERN
McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years and is on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He just wrote the piece “A Neocon Preps U.S. for War with Iran,” which states: “I guess I was naïve in thinking that The Atlantic and its American-Israeli writer Jeffrey Goldberg might shy away from arguing for yet another war — this one with Iran — while the cauldrons are still boiling in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“It’s worth remembering how Goldberg helped to make the case for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. For instance, on Oct. 3, 2002, as America’s war fever was building, Goldberg wrote in Slate, the online magazine: ‘The [Bush] administration is planning … to launch what many people would undoubtedly call a short-sighted and inexcusable act of aggression. In five years, however, I believe that the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality.’ …

“Goldberg’s mission this time? Pitching war with Iran. This time, Goldberg and the Israelis want us to buy into a syllogism without a valid major premise. Their argument presupposes that Iran has made the decision to develop nuclear weapons and is hard at work on such a program, which is what they want Americans to believe whether there’s evidence or not. …

“The [most recent, 2007] National Intelligence Estimate’s first sentence conveyed the unanimous conclusion of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies: ‘We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons.'”

JONATHAN SCHWARZ
Schwarz, a contributor to Mother Jones magazine, just wrote the piece “Jeffrey Goldberg Still America’s Preeminent Propagandist,” which quotes Goldberg now claiming that “Israel has twice before successfully attacked and destroyed an enemy’s nuclear program. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting — forever, as it turned out — Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions,” while in 2002 Goldberg was claiming “Saddam Hussein never gave up his hope of turning Iraq into a nuclear power. After the Osirak attack, he rebuilt, redoubled his efforts, and dispersed his facilities.”

Schwarz is co-author of Our Kampf, a book of political humor. He blogs at TinyRevolution.com.

See also Glenn Greenwald’s recent piece, which cites Schwarz: “How propagandists function: Exhibit A

Also, “The Atlantic’s Iran Debate … Or Echo Chamber” and “The Campaign to Turn Iran into an ‘Existential Threat'” at RaceForIran.com

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

Big Polluters Funding Initiative to Gut California Environmental Law

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AP reported earlier this week: “The Texas-based oil companies that are the primary backers of a November ballot effort to suspend California’s global warming law are among the state’s biggest polluters, according to a report issued Tuesday by two groups advocating for inner-city residents.

“Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. have contributed more than $4.5 million to Proposition 23, which seeks to suspend a 2006 law intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Their contributions represent nearly 75 percent of the funding for the initiative.”

IAN KIM, via Abel Habtegeorgis
Kim is green-collar jobs campaign director for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, one of the groups that released the new report, “Toxic Twins.”

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

Petraeus Media Blitz

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NORMAN SOLOMON, http://www.normansolomon.com
Solomon today wrote the piece “Gen. Petraeus Goes to Media War,” which states: “Let’s be clear about what’s happening here. The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, with the evident approval of the White House, has launched a fierce media blitz to cripple the policy option of any significant military withdrawal a year from now. Riding high in what is supposed to be a civilian-run military, Petraeus is engaging in strategic media operations to manipulate what should be a democratic process on matters of war and peace.”

Solomon, author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” and president of the Institute for Public Accuracy, visited Kabul last year. He is available for a limited number of interviews.

LUCINDA MARSHALL
On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Petraeus cited the recent Time cover story featuring a young Afghan woman with her nose cut off. Said Petraeus: “If you lose, it has, I think, some significant repercussions, not just for this country, although they would be enormous, and start with the cover of Time magazine for starters.”

Marshall is director of the Feminist Peace Network, which just posted the piece “Time’s Story About Afghan Women — Questions Raised About Author’s Vested Interests And Accuracy Of The Story.”

See also “Time Magazine Once Again Trots Out the Tired and Inexcusable ‘We’re in Afghanistan (and Have to Stay) to Protect Women’ Mantra

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

Islam — and War

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DONNA MARSH O’CONNOR
TALAT HAMDANI
O’Connor and Hamdani are members of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. O’Connor’s daughter was killed in the 9/11 attacks. Hamdani is a Pakistani-American living in New York. Her son, Salman, was a New York City police cadet who disappeared on 9/11 and was wrongfully accused of participating in the attacks. When his body was identified at the World Trade Center months later, it was believed that he had gone to the scene to provide help.

STEPHEN WALT
Available for a limited number of interviews, Walt wrote the piece “Why they hate us (II): How many Muslims has the U.S. killed in the past 30 years?“.

Author of a number of books, Walt is professor of international relations at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

ABDUL MALIK MUJAHID
Also available for a limited number of interviews, Abdul Malik Mujahid is an Imam in Chicago, president of Sound Vision Foundation and chairman of the Council for a Parliament of World Religions. He said today: “The hidden issue is war. War requires the demonization of people. Hate-mongers are using this environment to target vulnerable minorities, like Muslims, or Latinos, and you have politicians like Sarah Palin who will latch on to that.

“Muslims have done a lot of condemning terrorism as well as outreach in the U.S. in the last decade, but it hasn’t accomplished much. They’ve been too silent on issues of war and peace, and haven’t been as active in civil society as they should be.”

Mujahid’s pieces include: “Why Do Afghans Have a Life Expectancy of Only 44 Years?

He also wrote about the issue of President Obama visiting American churches and synagogues during his election campaign, but not a mosque, in a piece titled “Engaging American Muslims Will Give a Far Better Message to the Muslim World than Speeches.”

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

How Fox Used “Raw Corporate Power” to Crush a Critic

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BARRY NOLAN
The media watch group FAIR reports: “Boston TV newscaster Barry Nolan was outraged to learn back in 2008 that Fox host Bill O’Reilly was getting an award from the local chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. So Nolan made flyers documenting various O’Reilly outrages and distributed them at the local Emmys ceremony — and did not do so in a disruptive manner. He was soon fired by his employer (Comcast), and told his story at Think Progress.”

A new article at the Columbia Journalism Review website “The O’Reilly Factor: How the Fox host used raw corporate power to crush a critic” by Terry Ann Knopf reveals that pressure on Comcast came directly from News Corp/O’Reilly:

“On May 12, 2008 — two days after the Emmys — O’Reilly went on the offensive against what he called Nolan’s ‘outrageous behavior’ with a carefully worded, lawyerly letter to Brian Roberts, the chairman and CEO of Comcast, which distributes Fox News and entertainment programming, to its subscribers. The letter was written on Fox News stationery and was copied to Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.

“Pointedly, O’Reilly began by noting their mutual business interests. ‘We at The O’Reilly Factor have always considered Comcast to be an excellent business partner and I believe the same holds true for the entire Fox News Channel. Therefore, it was puzzling to see a Comcast employee, Barry Nolan, use Comcast corporate assets to attack me and FNC.’ Telling the Comcast CEO that Nolan had attended the Emmy Awards ‘in conjunction with Comcast,’ O’Reilly apologized for bothering him but let him know he considered this ‘a disturbing situation.'”

Knopf also reports that while Comcast has claimed that Nolan wasn’t fired for speaking his mind (“Professional journalists need to have the right to express their opinions without fear of correction or retribution from a corporate parent,” a company executive said), newly-released court documents “reveal that Comcast and Fox were involved in ‘ongoing’ contract talks at the time, with Comcast fearing Nolan’s protest ‘jeopardized and harmed’ its business dealings with Fox. In response to a question posed by Nolan’s attorneys in his lawsuit, Comcast’s written response, dated Aug. 5, 2009, states:

“‘… Mr. Nolan’s protest at the NATAS Award Ceremony and of William O’Reilly as the recipient of the Governor’s Award jeopardized and harmed the business and economic interests of Comcast in connection with its contract with Fox News Channel, and its contract negotiations with Fox News that were ongoing at the time.'”

In addition, the Columbia Journalism Review piece appears to have originally been slated to run in Boston Globe Magazine (owned by the New York Times Company), but was killed. Writes Dan Kennedy in the Boston Phoenix: “Oddly enough, Knopf’s story was originally slated to run in the Boston Globe Magazine. When Knopf interviewed me, she was on assignment for the magazine. In late July, I received a call from a Globe Magazine fact-checker. Both Knopf and Globe Magazine editor Susanne Althoff declined to comment this week when I asked them why the piece was killed.

“The story of Barry Nolan and Bill O’Reilly is the story of what happens when someone goes up against two of the most powerful media corporations on the planet. In the Age of the Internet, the moguls may not be what they used to be. But they’re still moguls. And they’ve still got a lot of power.”

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

Assassination Squad in Afghanistan

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PRATAP CHATTERJEE
Chatterjee just wrote the piece “The Secret Killers: Assassination in Afghanistan and Task Force 373,” which draws on the Afghanistan field reports recently exposed by WikiLeaks and now organized at DiaryDig.org.

The piece states: “Task Force 373 may be a nightmare for Afghans. For the rest of us — now that WikiLeaks has flushed it into the open — it should be seen as a symptom of deeper policy disasters. After all, it raises a basic question: Is this country really going to become known as a global Manhunters Inc.?”

Chatterjee is a regular contributor to TomDispatch.com and a senior editor at CorpWatch. His books include Halliburton’s Army.

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

Egg Recall — “Consolidation Putting Consumers at Risk”

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PATTY LOVERA
Assistant director of Food & Water Watch, Lovera said today: “This egg recall is not a fluke. It’s just the latest example of how the consolidation of food production puts consumers at risk. This particular recall is about two production facilities responsible for over 550 million eggs under 30 different labels, but large egg facilities like this are commonplace. Ninety-five percent of all eggs come from facilities with 75,000 birds or more. Five states produce half of the nation’s eggs — Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and California. If something goes wrong in one of these areas, it has a negative impact on the entire country.

“The fact that this recall takes place one month after long-awaited regulation by the FDA for salmonella prevention in large egg facilities kicked in proves that there’s still a lot of work to be done in protecting citizens from food-borne illnesses. While we need the FDA to provide adequate inspections and enforcement, it’s even more important to recognize that the best way to prevent outbreaks of this magnitude is to encourage smaller and regionally dispersed production. There’s no reason chickens can’t thrive in all 50 states.”

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

Disaster in Pakistan

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SNEHAL SHINGAVI
Shingavi is an assistant professor of South Asian literature at the University of Texas in Austin. He addresses several aspects of the current crisis in his two-part interview with The Real News, “Why isn’t the world rushing to rescue Pakistan?

SHAHID MAHMOOD
Mahmood was an editorial cartoonist for Dawn, a national newspaper in Pakistan. He is now internationally syndicated with the New York Times Syndicate. Mahmood said today: “This is the biggest global disaster right now and the world needs to unequivocally get behind Pakistan. The country needs to feel they are an integral part of civil society and are not being strung-and-sunk by misfit politicians and Islamist groups who are hampering the aid process.”

ERIC LeCOMPTE, MELINDA ST. LOUIS
The Pakistani government is reportedly in talks with the IMF and other international creditors. LeCompte is executive director and St. Louis is deputy director of the Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of more than 75 religious denominations, human rights groups and development agencies.

LeCompte said today: “Pakistan must be able to mobilize all available resources toward recovery. Instead of sending billions in debt service out of the country, Pakistan should be able to invest those resources in relief and recovery for its people. Furthermore, the international community should provide grant support instead of new loans that will push the country further into debt.” See statement: “Jubilee USA Network Calls for Immediate Debt Service Moratorium in Response to Disaster, Assistance in Grant Form.”

Jubilee Debt Campaign (the UK affiliate) reports: “Pakistan’s debt repayments already amount to three times what the government spends on healthcare — in a country where 38 percent of under 5-year-olds are underweight, only 54 percent of people are literate, and 60 percent live below the poverty line. The United Nations says it has only raised 70 percent of the $460 million called for in emergency aid by the institution. But even this amount will be dwarfed by debt repayments unless serious relief is instituted. …

“Pakistan’s debt rose rapidly under the military regime of General Musharraf (2001-8) from $32 [billion] to nearly $50 billion. In fact campaigners point out that the vast majority of Pakistan’s loans were run up under military governments, many offering little benefit to ordinary people. Pakistani groups like CADTM-Pakistan [Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt] have long called for an audit of the debts, saying it is unjust for the poor of Pakistan to repay reckless loans that borrowers should never have lent. The group is currently calling on their government to repudiate its debts on the basis of a ‘state of necessity.'”

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

Katrina Plus Five

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JORDAN FLAHERTY
Author of the just-released book Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six, Flaherty said today: “I’m concerned about those who have been kept out of most discussions of the city’s future. More than 100,000 former New Orleanians remain displaced in 5,500 cities across every U.S. state. A recent survey found that 75 percent of African Americans who were displaced wanted to return but feel they are being kept out — mostly by economic issues. These are the stories that have not been heard.”

TRACIE WASHINGTON
Co-director of the Louisiana Justice Institute, Washington said today: “There are areas of remarkable rebuild that tend to be highlighted; but areas like the Lower Ninth Ward, Gentilly, Pontchartrain Park, New Orleans East and St. Bernard’s Parish have not seen the promised help. We’ve had a red-lined recovery.”

CHRIS KROMM
Kromm is director of the Institute for Southern Studies, which just released a report titled “Learning from Katrina: Lessons from Five Years of Recovery and Renewal in the Gulf Coast.” The report “finds that many of the problems exposed in the botched federal response to the storm — from breakdowns in disaster planning to a misguided and mismanaged recovery — have yet to be addressed in Washington.

“What’s more, these key flaws in federal policy will stall Gulf Coast rebuilding and put lives at risk in future disasters unless the President and Congress take action soon. Among the critical issues addressed in the study:

* “Poor disaster planning and response put thousands of Gulf residents in harm’s way before, during and after Katrina. But after months of delays, FEMA is just now releasing its new disaster framework — and it still omits internationally-recognized standards for protecting storm victims.

* “Waste, fraud and abuse by private contractors hurt Katrina relief and recovery efforts and cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Despite widespread calls for contracting reform, federal officials have yet to beef up contractor investigations and oversight that can prevent future scandals.

* “While most Gulf communities have turned the corner, the recovery remains fragile and uneven. Problems with affordable housing, schools and health care access are still big obstacles, and have been exacerbated by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike and the BP oil disaster.”

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

Distorting Martin Luther King: Critics of Beck and Sharpton

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Saturday, August 28 is the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Rallies are planned by Fox host Glenn Beck and by Al Sharpton.

DEDRICK MUHAMMAD
Muhammad just wrote a piece titled “A Dishonor to the Legacy of Dr. King,” which states: “Does [Glenn] Beck know that A. Philip Randolph, a union organizer and socialist, originated the idea of the March on Washington? Does he know that the March on Washington was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that demanded massive federal investment for a government jobs program?”

Muhammad is author of the forthcoming book Understanding Racial Inequality in the Obama Era. He is the senior organizer and research associate for the Program on Inequality and the Common Good of the Institute for Policy Studies.

KEVIN GRAY
Gray is author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics. He said today: “We ought to be marching against the White House for a jobs program. Sharpton is doing nothing but running interference for the White House, providing a fake leadership. The NAACP is acting like a political tool of the White House. It’s not about Glenn Beck, it’s about our human rights agenda and that so many who presume to speak for King don’t have one.

“To find what King would say today, we shouldn’t look so much to the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in 1963 as to the ‘Beyond Vietnam’ speech in 1967. In that speech, King called the U.S. ‘the greatest purveyor of violence’ — and it still is. He called for ‘a true revolution of values … that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring’ — which is still true. King would be marching, but not against Beck. King called on us to declare ‘eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.'”

For full text and audio, as well as background on the “Beyond Vietnam” speech, see: IPA news release.

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

Was Flooding of New Orleans a “Natural Disaster”?

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IVOR VAN HEERDEN
SANDY ROSENTHAL
Author of The Storm: What Went Wrong and Why During Hurricane Katrina — the Inside Story from One Louisiana Scientist, van Heerden is featured in the new film “The Big Uneasy,” a documentary by Harry Shearer that is playing tonight in theaters across the country.

Van Heerden is an adviser to the group Levees.org on coastal issues; Rosenthal is founder and executive director of the group. See “NOLA residents still skeptical of levees.”

PoliticsDaily.com states: “Dr. Ivor van Heerden, the former deputy director of Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Center, was one of several experts to presciently predict the disastrous consequences — including catastrophic levee failure — if a major hurricane were to hit the New Orleans area. ‘Louisiana is a terminally ill patient requiring major surgery,’ van Heerden told the PBS program ‘Nova’ in 2004.

“In the course of encouraging transformative hurricane preparation, van Heerden additionally called for the restoration of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. Decades of erosion due to oil exploration have eroded the marshes that once functioned as New Orleans’ natural buffer from approaching hurricanes. Such storms feed off of open water, vast expanses of which now lie ever closer to the city. As van Heerden and others foretold, this situation proved disastrous during Katrina.

“After the hurricane, van Heerden chronicled his findings in ‘The Storm: What Went Wrong and Why During Hurricane Katrina — the Inside Story from One Louisiana Scientist’ (Viking Adult, 2006; co-written with Mike Bryan). The book earned wide praise as a telling indictment of the Army Corps of Engineers, which van Heerden castigated for building shoddy levees around New Orleans and for allowing the oil companies to ravage the wetlands by digging intrusive canals. At the same time, it was criticized for perceptions of a self-serving tone and a pedantic writing style. More significantly, van Heerden’s book and his ensuing outspoken statements clearly annoyed his employer, LSU. In April 2009, he was fired.”

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

Obama’s Iraq Speech

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NIR ROSEN
Available for a limited number of interviews, Rosen is author of In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq and a fellow at New York University’s Center on Law and Security.

RAED JARRAR
Jarrar is an Iraqi-born political analyst and Iraq consultant with the American Friends Service Committee. He recently wrote “End of War in Iraq or Rebranding of Occupation? Neither.”

Jarrar said today: “Today’s date is actually quite meaningless and people in Iraq are barely aware of it. The critical date is Dec. 31, 2011 — the bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Iraq signed in 2008 mandates that all U.S. troops and all Pentagon contractors be out by then and that all U.S. bases be closed or turned over. The loopholes in that are that the U.S. Embassy is itself a small city and the U.S. is also building two huge consulates in Basra and Arbil. Also, the U.S. State Department, oil companies and other foreign companies can maintain security contractors in Iraq beyond the Dec. 31, 2011 deadline. For example, the current number of U.S. State Department security contractors in Iraq is around 3,500 but a New York Times piece recently revealed a plan to increase this number to 7,000 by the end of next year.”

JOSE VASQUEZ
Executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Vasquez said today: “This notion of ‘combat troops’ not in Iraq anymore is incredibly dubious. There are still 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and as many military contractors.”

AARON GLANTZ
Glantz is an editor at New America Media and author of The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle Against America’s Veterans. He said today: “President Obama talks a good game on caring for wounded veterans and their families — and he has spent much more money on the VA [Veterans Administration] than George Bush. But on his watch the number of soldiers and veterans falling through the cracks has only increased. A recent Army report showed last year — the first year of Obama’s presidency — more soldiers died as a result of suicides, drunk driving accidents and other high risk behavior than died in combat. The same report showed spousal abuse is up 177 percent since the start of the Iraq war and the number of soldiers going AWOL, deserting, and ‘missing movement’ — that is failing to deploy when they’re supposed to — has gone up a shocking 234 percent. Our military and veterans are in crisis. They need more than words and a few extra dollars. They need leadership.”

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

Washington’s Mideast Talks

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Amb. EDWARD L. PECK
Available for a limited number of interviews, Peck was chief of mission in Iraq and Mauritania and deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan administration. On May 31, he sailed from Athens aboard the M/S Sfendoni as part of the flotilla taking humanitarian supplies to Gaza; the ship was assaulted in international waters by Israeli forces, which took it and its passengers to Israel under armed guard.

He said today: “Everyone is talking about ‘the peace process’ or ‘ending the conflict’ — but there’s no war going on, it’s an occupation. Everyone is talking about ‘negotiations,’ which implies two sides in relatively equal positions to affect decisions, but Israel is the jailer and the Palestinians are the prisoners.

“It is, unfortunately, unrealistic to expect anything significant to occur. No one in his or her right mind — and we all recognize that not everyone qualifies for inclusion — wants anything bad to happen to a single Israeli, or Palestinian — or American, but the terrible truth is that terrible things have happened, are happening and, I fear, will happen to all three groups because of [what] is and what is not happening in Palestine and Gaza. Please note that I very much do not want to be right.”

ALI ABUNIMAH
Abunimah recently wrote the op-ed “Hamas, the I.R.A. and Us ” published in the New York Times, which states: “The United States insists that Hamas meet strict preconditions before it can take part in negotiations: recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by agreements previously signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, of which Hamas is not a member. These demands are unworkable. Why should Hamas or any Palestinian accept Israel’s political demands, like recognition, when Israel refuses to recognize basic Palestinian demands like the right of return for refugees?

“As for violence, Hamas has inflicted a fraction of the harm on Israeli civilians that Israel inflicts on Palestinian civilians. If violence disqualifies Hamas, surely much greater violence should disqualify the Israelis?”

He also recently wrote a piece for the Los Angeles Times titled “Enthusiasm for Palestinian prime minister isn’t shared by Palestinians: Salam Fayyad’s embrace by the U.S. and Israel doesn’t change the fact that millions of Palestinians languish under occupation and in poverty.”

Abunimah is co-founder of the Electronic Intifada website and author of the book One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

JOSH RUEBNER
KHALILA SABRA
KHALILA SABRA, cell: (919) 345-8105, khalilahsabra@yahoo.com
Ruebner is national advocacy director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. He said today: “Without the United States compelling Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and UN resolutions, it is impossible to envision how these negotiations can lead to a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. By failing to insist on guiding principles and a timeline, the Obama administration sets itself up for another failed round of talks.” He recently wrote a piece titled: “Top Ten Reasons for Skepticism on Israeli-Palestinian Talks” in The Huffington Post.

Sabra serves on the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and directs the Muslim American Society’s Immigrant Justice and Legal Clinic. She recently returned from a trip to the region, which included a peace conference and meetings with an Israeli Knesset member and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. She said today: “Today, Palestinians remain in the position of supplicants to Israel. It’s so similar to what African Americans experienced prior to civil rights.”

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

CEO Pay, Unemployment and Labor

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Monday is Labor Day. Today the unemployment rate rose to 9.6 percent. The U6 rate, which includes those accepting part-time work instead of full-time work and those who have stopped looking for work, rose to 16.7 percent.

SARAH ANDERSON, via Tamar Abrams
Anderson is global economy project director at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-author of the just-released report “Executive Excess 2010: CEO Pay and the Great Recession — The 17th annual executive compensation survey looks at how CEOs laid off thousands while raking in millions.”

MARK BRENNER
Director of Labor Notes, Brenner said today: “Nearly 26 million people are suffering unemployment in one form or another this Labor Day, but in our upside down economy cutting the deficit somehow has become the alpha and the omega of economic policymakers. Why is it that the only folks that seem to count when it comes to charting the nation’s economic future are bankers and insurance industry executives? Working people have been paying the price for our wrong-headed economic priorities for more than a generation. Where are the pitchforks?”

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

Europe Protests

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RICHARD WOLFF
Recently back from Europe, Wolff is author of the book Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It. He said today: “Today’s general strike across France represents a major escalation of mass opposition to governments seeking to make the mass of people pay for the economic crisis and the immense costs of government bailouts of financial corporations. All six French national union federations united to make this statement of no confidence in the Sarkozy government.

“Across Europe, from the UK to Spain to Greece, France, Germany, and beyond, mass mobilizations of workers, students, retirees, and others are marching in the streets against the austerity plans of their governments. General strikes and demonstrations are scheduled in September culminating in the all-European day of action on September 29. They demand an end to firings of public employees, raising the age of retirement, cutting public services, and raising government fees and taxes charged to average people.”

Wolff is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In June and July he gave a series of talks in Europe, including at the University of Athens and University of Paris, meeting with many of the people organizing the protests.

He is currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Program for International Affairs at the New School University in New York City. Video of his talk “Capitalism Hits the Fan” is available at CapitalismHitsTheFan.com.

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

Pakistan: IMF — Savior or Parasite?

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ERIC LeCOMPTE, MELINDA ST. LOUIS
LeCompte is executive director and St. Louis is deputy director of the Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of more than 75 religious denominations, human rights groups and development agencies.

The network just released a statement: “Jubilee USA joins global advocacy groups in an outcry against the new debt that Pakistan has been forced to borrow in light of the worst humanitarian disaster in its history. The $450 million emergency loan announced with much fanfare by the IMF late last week may provide needed cash now, but will be quickly nullified when Pakistan sends this year’s $500 million payment on previous loans back to the IMF.

“The new loan, which will require up to $15 million in interest payments this year, joins $3 billion in loans recently announced by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. This commitment adds to the country’s already crushing $54 billion debt burden.

“While 60 percent of the Pakistani population lives in dire poverty, the country does not fit the World Bank and IMF’s criteria for a ‘low-income country.’ Under the current IMF rules, Pakistan does not qualify for debt relief under the Fund’s new ‘Post Catastrophe Debt Relief Facility’ because of this technicality. Jubilee USA calls on IMF shareholders, such as the U.S. government, to lead in ensuring that Pakistan receives needed debt relief from the IMF and other creditors.”

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

“Great American Stickup” Author: Obama Should Dump Econ Team

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ROBERT SCHEER
Editor of TruthDig.com, Scheer is author of the new book The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.

Scheer recently wrote the piece “They Go or Obama Goes,” which states: “When homes are foreclosed in a neighborhood, the equity of those in the area who have faithfully paid their mortgages is slashed. And when the banks dump those foreclosed properties back on the market, prices drop even lower. Yet the administration has offered the most tepid of responses to stanch the fierce bleeding of home equity worth. A paltry $4.1 billion has been committed to efforts by the states to help the unemployed and other distressed borrowers stay in their homes. Compare that with the trillions spent on making the financial industry super-profitable once again.

“There is no way that Obama can begin to seriously reverse this course without shedding the economic team led by the Clinton-era ‘experts’ like [economic adviser Lawrence] Summers and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who got us into this mess in the first place. They are spooked by one overwhelmingly crippling idea — don’t rattle the financial titans whom we must rely on for investment. But when it comes to keeping people in their homes, it is precisely the big banks that must be rattled into doing the right thing.”

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

Europe Protests a Model?

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Protests in Europe against austerity measures are expected throughout September.

STEVEN HILL
Hill (who travels to Europe on Monday for an extensive speaking tour and research trip) is author of the new book “Europe’s Promise: Why The European Way Is The Best Hope In An Insecure Age” (http://www.EuropesPromise.org). In observing the rash of labor actions in Europe, he said today: “Many have an attitude of ‘Oh, there go those Europeans, on strike again. It must be because the European economy is sinking.’ Both of those are stereotypes that really don’t advance the dialogue in the United States.

“First, the European economy in many ways is doing better than the U.S. economy. Country by country, northern Europe is doing quite a bit better than the U.S., while southern Europe is having a harder time than the north. But overall Europe’s growth rate has been double that of the U.S. (on an annualized basis). And even in southern Europe, i.e. Greece, Spain, etc., everybody there has health care and families and individuals have access to a support system that most Americans don’t have that helps them during these difficult times. So the real question is: why aren’t Americans out in the streets, protesting their declining wages, the theft of national wealth by banks and corporations, their lack of health care, and Social Security being threatened?”

See Channel 4 “Unions in France say more than two million people have joined a series of nationwide protests

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

9/11, Burning Qurans and Burning People

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COLLEEN KELLY
TERRY ROCKEFELLER
Available for a limited number of interviews, Kelly lost her brother, William, and Rockefeller lost her sister, Laura, in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. They are members of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.

On Sept. 11, the group will launch the web page “911 Stories: Our Voices, Our Choices.”

KATHY KELLY
Jim Haber
Kelly is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, which today with other human rights and religious groups begins a series of vigils outside the Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, where members of the U.S. Air Force control drones used to kill people in the escalating “drone war” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kelly just wrote the piece “The Indefensible Drones: A Ground Zero Reflection.”

After a week of demonstrations and vigils in April of 2009, 14 activists entered Creech Air Force Base to highlight the military’s use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A trial is set for next week on trespassing charges. Witnesses include former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, former Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan Colonel Ann Wright and Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights William Quigley. Haber is coordinator for the Nevada Desert Experience and can provide interviews with activists and witnesses. See: “Drones on Trial in Las Vegas, Sept 14th 2010

For more background on drones, see Drone Wars

MATTHEW CAPPIELLO
Cappiello is with Muslims for Peace, Justice, and Progress. He said today: “Gen. Petreaus and President Obama have both said that burning of the Quran could cause resentment and lead to violence against U.S. troops. But doesn’t killing Muslims and occupying Muslim countries do that? We must simultaneously counter mullah-sponsored terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism.”

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

K Street “Almost Giddy” about “Speaker Boehner”

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The New York Times reported Sunday — in “A G.O.P. Leader Tightly Bound to Lobbyists” — about “Mr. Boehner, the House minority leader and would-be speaker if Republicans win the House in November.” Wrote the Times: “He maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R. J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS.

“They have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaigns, provided him with rides on their corporate jets, socialized with him at luxury golf resorts and waterfront bashes and are now leading fund-raising efforts for his Boehner for Speaker campaign, which is soliciting checks of up to $37,800 each, the maximum allowed.”

CRAIG HOLMAN
also, via Barbara Holzer
Holman is government ethics lobbyist for Public Citizen. He said today: “While there is little reason people outside the Beltway would know, the close relationship between Rep. Boehner and K Street is no secret on Capitol Hill. When Boehner and the Republicans were the majority party in the House prior to the 2006 elections, corporate lobbyists enjoyed the inside track in drafting legislation and setting the congressional agenda. The 2006 elections, in which voters sharply rejected the rampant corruption in the halls of Congress, came as a startling set-back for Boehner and his colleagues. But today K Street is almost giddy at the prospects of a new Republican majority and the rise of Speaker Boehner.”

The Public Citizen web page on government reform

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

Tomorrow: Trial on Drone War

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In a piece titled “U.S. drone strike kills ‘six militants’ in Pakistan,” AFP is reporting: “Pakistan has seen a sharp spike in U.S. drone strikes in its rugged northwestern tribal region in recent days, amid a surge in suicide attacks and bombings across the country.

“The Pakistani Taliban said Tuesday they would continue to target Pakistani security forces with suicide attacks in revenge for the U.S. drone strikes.”

Fr. JOHN DEAR, KATHY KELLY, ANN WRIGHT, BILL QUIGLEY
Jim Haber
Fr. Dear is a peace activist and author. Kelly is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Both have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. They are facing trial Tuesday with twelve other activists for trespassing onto Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, one of the centers where members of the U.S. Air Force control drones used to kill people in the escalating “drone war.”

Kelly just wrote the piece “Banning Slaughter,” which states: “General Petraeus may perceive short-term gains, but in the long run it’s likely that the drone attacks, as well as the night raids and death squad tactics, will cause blowback. What’s more, drone proliferation among many countries will lessen security for people in the U.S. and throughout the world.

“With the usage of drones, the U.S. populace can experience even greater distance and less accountability because U.S. armed forces and CIA agents, invisible to the U.S. populace, can assassinate targets without ever leaving a U.S. base. Corporations that manufacture the drones and technicians who design them celebrate cutting-edge technology and rising profits.”

Scheduled witnesses in the trial include former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, former Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan Colonel Ann Wright and Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights William Quigley. Haber is coordinator for the Nevada Desert Experience and can provide interviews with activists and witnesses. See: “Drones on Trial in Las Vegas, Sept. 14th 2010

For more background on drones, see: Drone Wars UK

Also, UPI reported earlier this month: “U.S. Army officials expect increased flights of unmanned aerial vehicles over Iraq despite Washington’s decision to withdraw American combat troops, Defense News reported.”

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

Nobel Laureate on Mideast

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Talks resume today between the U.S., Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai Desert.

Reuters is reporting: “The U.S. envoy to the U.N. atomic watchdog urged Arab states on Monday to withdraw a resolution calling on Israel to sign an anti-nuclear arms treaty, warning it would send a negative signal to Middle East peace talks.”

MAIREAD MAGUIRE
also via Barbara Faibish
Available for a limited number of interviews, Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Maguire is calling for the immediate release of Palestinian human rights activist Abdallah Abu Rahmah. He was convicted of “incitement” and “organizing illegal marches” by an Israeli military court in late August. Another stage of his trial begins Wednesday. See: Free Abdallah

In a statement on the webpage of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, which meets in New York City this week, Maguire called the conviction an “example of the ongoing repression of Palestinian peace activists by Israel. Rahmah is the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee, which organizes weekly, non-violent demonstrations against Israeli settlements and the separation wall.”

Said Maguire: “I know Abdullah Rahmah and many of villagers of Bil’in and Nil’in and have walked in peaceful human rights marches in both villages, all of which have ended up being violently attacked by Israeli soldiers. I am in admiration of Rahmah and the Palestinian villagers commitment to nonviolence and justice as they carried out their rightful resistance to Israeli annexation of their villages’ land, building of this illegal wall, and West Bank settlements.”

Maguire has also called for the release of and an end to the harassment of Mordechai Vanunu, who exposed Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal in 1986; he was imprisoned for 18 years and continues to be periodically arrested by the Israeli government. See: “Israeli Nuclear Whistleblower Vanunu on Mideast Nukes

In 2007, the Israeli military shot Maguire at a protest in the West Bank.

ROBERT NAIMAN
Naiman is policy director of Just Foreign Policy. He recently wrote the piece “‘Palestinian Gandhi’ Convicted for Protesting; U.S. Silent” about Rahmah.

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

Veteran Testifies About His “Torture” by U.S. Military

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CHUCK LUTHER
JOSHUA KORS
Kors wrote the Nation cover story “Disposable Soldiers: How the Pentagon Is Cheating Wounded Vets.”

Kors and Luther testified this morning before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Kors described Luther’s testimony: “Medal-winning sergeant Chuck Luther described for the committee how he was tortured by the U.S. Army. Luther provided graphic details of his month confined to a closet at Camp Taji, Iraq, where he was pressed to sign fraudulent documents saying his mortar fire wounds were caused by a pre-existing ‘personality disorder.'” Attributing injuries to “personality disorders” saves the military money in disability benefits and keeps casualty figures down. Added Kors: “Chairman Bob Filner (D-Calif.) referred to Luther’s treatment as ‘torture.’ The ranking Republican, Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), stormed out of the hearing.”

Kors states that “over 22,000 soldiers have been discharged with ‘personality disorder’ since 2001.”

Listen to Kors and Luther in a recent BBC interview

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

Poverty Jump and “Shredding the Safety Net”

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The New York Times is reporting: “Forty-four million people in the United States, or one in seven residents, lived in poverty in 2009, an increase of 4 million from the year before, the Census Bureau reported on Thursday.”

GWENDOLYN MINK
Mink is co-editor of the two-volume Poverty in the United States: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics and Policy and author of Welfare’s End. She said today: “The rise in poverty in 2009 — the largest number of people in poverty in the 51 years poverty has been measured — should be a wake-up call to politicians in both parties who have spent the past 30 years shredding the safety net. The spread of poverty in the past year is only partially explained by the economic collapse of 2008 and the prolonged, acute problem of unemployment that followed and continues. Since 1980, income supports for low-income people have been withdrawn, eroded, and withheld. Notwithstanding the current recession — deep and intractable as it is — economic support for poor Americans has remained meager, stingy, and inaccessible.

“Between December 2007 and April 2010, TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] caseloads increased only 12 percent — even though a 48 percent rise in Food Stamp caseloads attests to the exponential growth in need during that period. The minimal rise in TANF enrollments is not due to an improvement in the economic circumstances of low-income families, especially single mother families. In fact, single mothers are disproportionately unemployed, disproportionately shunted into part-time employment, and disproportionately paid very low wages. The low comparative rise in TANF enrollments is due to the active discouragement of welfare participation by eligible families, the rigid conditions for welfare participation, and the rise of ineligibility due to draconian time limits under so-called ‘welfare reform.’ The grim new poverty numbers expose a state of economic emergency for low income Americans. It is time to end the 30-year war on the poor and re-dedicate ourselves first to alleviating current misery and then to eliminating poverty.”

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

Afghanistan’s “Phony Elections”

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ANAND GOPAL
Gopal is an independent journalist based in Afghanistan and has reported for the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal. He is one of the few journalists covering the recent Afghan elections from a war zone. See his piece in the Christian Science Monitor, “Ballot Stuffing Witnessed Amidst Troubled Afghan Vote,” which states: “The elections in Wardak were marred by widescale fraud, violence, and an extremely low turnout, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the new class of lawmakers that will represent the province.” Also, see Gopal’s Twitter feed.

REESE ERLICH
Foreign correspondent and book author Erlich said today: “Once again the Afghan elections proved to be characterized by vote buying and ballot box stuffing. Why is it that when pro-U.S. regimes occasionally hold elections, they are called ’emerging democracies.’ Yet when Venezuela holds free and fair elections, has a outspoken opposition media and changes are made through national votes on the constitution, it’s on the verge of being a communist dictatorship? The phony elections in Afghanistan highlight the folly of continued U.S. military occupation of that country.”

Erlich has reported four times from Afghanistan and is author of the new book Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire. He is currently on a national book tour discussing the book.

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

Repression in Honduras? Dinner at the White House

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ADRIENNE PINE
Recently back from Honduras, Pine is assistant professor of anthropology at American University. She said today: “There has been an escalation in government attacks on free speech following the resistance movement’s announcement of the collection of over 1,300,000 signatures demanding a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution. Last week, on Honduran Independence Day, a peaceful concert attended by 40,000 women, men and children was violently broken up by the military and police. Soldiers shot tear gas canisters and water cannons directly at the stage and into the audience, killing at least one person. Over the weekend, nurse union president and resistance movement leader Juana Bustillo was assassinated.” Pine is author of the book Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras and has been writing about recent events and linking to video at Quotha.net.

Also see story of repression in the Honduran press, translated from Spanish into English via Google Translate

DANA FRANK
Frank is a professor of history at the University of California at Santa Cruz specializing in Honduras. She recently wrote for the Nation a piece titled “Crisis of Legitimacy in Honduras?” Her books include Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America.

Frank said today: “De facto President Porfirio Lobo has been gradually escalating repression against peaceful demonstrations by the opposition, with tear gas, beatings with batons, and beatings in detention, as well as violence against opposition radio. Political assassinations of resistance activists continue, opposition journalists are still being killed, and death threats are rampant — with complete impunity, as levels of repression now match the immediate post-coup period under Roberto Micheletti. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Clinton praises Lobo, U.S. military and IMF aid flows freely, and Obama has invited Lobo to dinner on Thursday. The U.S. is overtly supporting a repressive, illegitimate regime.” Lobo will be at an event with Clinton on Wednesday.

CARLOS ROMAN LAINEZ
Roman is a musician with the group Café Guancasco; the group’s web page links to video of repression.

He was attacked by police and military on Honduran Independence Day, Sept. 15.

GERMAN ZEPEDA, [Spanish only]
Zepeda is president of the Coalition of Honduran Banana and Agroindustrial Unions (COSIBAH, Coordinadora de Sindicatos Bananeros y Agroindustriales de Honduras). He lives in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. He was in the demonstration in San Pedro Sula on Sept. 15 that was repressed by the police/military.

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

Koch Brothers Funding Threat to California Environmental Law

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The New York Times writes in an editorial today: “Four years ago, bipartisan majorities in the California Legislature approved a landmark clean energy bill [AB 32] that many hoped would serve as a template [nationally] … Now a well-financed coalition of right-wing ideologues, out-of-state oil and gas companies and climate-change skeptics is seeking to effectively kill that law with an initiative [Proposition 23] on the November state ballot. The money men include Charles and David Koch, the Kansas oil and gas billionaires who have played a prominent role in financing the Tea Party movement.”

MIKE BRUNE, via David Graham-Caso
Executive director of the Sierra Club, Brune said today: “This November, voters will have a chance to decide if we will continue to fight climate change, or if we are going to allow out-of-state oil companies to undermine California law.”

IAN KIM, via Abel Habtegeorgis
Campaign manager at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights , Kim said today: “Proposition 23 will hurt low-income communities and people of color first and worst. This Dirty Energy Proposition will make air pollution worse and jobs more scarce, especially in communities already burdened by too much pollution and poverty.”

See from the New Yorker, Jane Mayer’s recent piece “Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama .”

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

“So Long, Summers”

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ROBERT SCHEER
also via Natasha Hakimi
Editor of TruthDig.com, Scheer is author of The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street, recently released in paperback.

Scheer just wrote the piece “So Long, Summers.”

Also see IPA news release from earlier this month: “‘Great American Stickup’ Author: Obama Should Dump Econ Team.”

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

Obama at the UN

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DIANA BUTTU, [currently in NYC]
A Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and former Palestinian negotiator, Buttu said today: “Obama ‘urges’ an extension on the settlement moratorium rather than ‘demand’ a complete settlement reversal. The message to Israel is clear: continue violating international law. No one will stop you.” Buttu on Twitter

PHYLLIS BENNIS
Bennis is director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She has written extensively on the UN and the Mideast. Bennis said today: “Obama’s UN speech calls on the international community to mobilize behind the U.S.-led ‘peace process,’ calls on the Palestinians to ‘reconcile with a secure Israel,’ calls on the Arab world to implement the Arab Peace Plan’s proposed normalization with Israel without ever mentioning the Plan’s understanding that ending Israel’s 1967 occupation must come first, and calls on Israel to — talk nicely.

“He said that Israel’s settlement moratorium ‘should’ be extended, but specifically went on to say that the talks should ‘press on until completed’ with no linkage between the two points, and no recognition that the current ‘moratorium’ has allowed continued building throughout Arab East Jerusalem, on existing housing construction and huge infrastructure projects throughout the settlements. And while appropriately condemning the ‘slaughter of innocent Israelis’ he said nothing about the U.S.-backed siege of Gaza or last year’s Israeli assault that killed more than 1,400 Gazans, the vast majority of them civilians including over 300 children.

“The speech seems to reflect the view that the endless ‘peace process’ is, for Washington, a reasonable replacement for any real accountability for Israeli violations. It is the exact opposite of U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice’s strong position on Sudan and Darfur — when she insisted that sending Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court was necessary regardless of its consequences on the fragile ceasefire, because accountability must come first, that justice comes before peace.

“It seems that so far, the Obama administration is making its decision that ‘no change’ is the only thing we can believe in when it comes to U.S. policy on Israel-Palestine.”

Regarding the Millennium Development Goals, Bennis said: “Despite some anecdotal improvements in a few countries, the MDGs as a global effort to end extreme poverty by 2015 have failed. That’s not surprising. When you define something as a ‘goal,’ there are no consequences when the goal is not met. Oh sorry, we missed the goal. We’ll try harder. We’ll try again. It’s no one’s fault.

“The MDGs should have been identified from the beginning as ‘MDRs’ — Millennium Development RIGHTS. When rights are violated, someone is held accountable, someone can go to court or demand redress another way. That’s why the U.S. has refused to ratify things like the Universal Covenant on Economic, Social and Political Rights — if it did, things like jobs and health care would be RIGHTS in this country, not just goals and aspirations.”

Background: The Global Policy Forum reports that the U.S. has not signed or ratified a series of international treaties. The U.S. unsigned the International Criminal Court in 2002; it never signed the Land Mine Treaty (even though a U.S. citizen, Jody Williams, won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on it); the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001. The U.S. signed but never ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention on Discrimination against Women and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

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

Mountaintop Removal Protests in D.C.

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JAMES HANSEN, MATTHEW SHERMAN
Sherman is with Appalachia Rising — a group that has been protesting against mountaintop removal and this weekend held educational events in Washington, D.C. The group states it expects thousands to march on the White House today, including climatologist James Hansen, formerly of NASA. Numerous arrests are also expected. See news release

JEFF BIGGERS
Biggers is the author of Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland and The United States of Appalachia.
He recently wrote “Enthusiasm Gap? Coalfields Rising, Baby,” which links to video of the tops of mountains being blown off from a new documentary titled “Deep Down.”

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

* Israel Seizes Jewish Boat to Gaza * UN Finds Israel “Executed” U.S. Citizen

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REUVEN MOSKOVITZ, RAMI ELHANAN, LILIAN ROSENGARTEN, YONATAN SHAPIRA
via Yosh Kosminsky
The group Jewish Boat to Gaza released a statement several hours ago: “The Irene, a boat carrying nine passengers and aid for Gaza’s population, has been taken over by the Israeli navy and denied access to Gaza. The boat is flying a British flag and its passengers include citizens of the U.S., the UK, Germany and Israel. Two journalists are also on board.”

Among the passengers, reportedly now being detained by Israel: Moskovitz, from Israel, is a founding member of the Jewish-Arab village Neve Shalom — Wahat al Salaam (Oasis of Peace) — and a Nazi holocaust survivor; speaks German, Hebrew and English. Elhanan, from Israel, lost his daughter Smadar to a suicide bombing in 1997 and is a founding member of the Bereaved Families Circle of Israelis and Palestinians who lost their loved ones to the conflict; speaks Hebrew and English.

Rosengarten, from the U.S., is a peace activist and psychotherapist. She was a refugee from Nazi Germany; speaks English and German. Shapira, from Israel, is an former Israeli military pilot and now an activist for Combatants for Peace; speaks Hebrew and English.

Also, CNN is reporting: “An Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate was refused entry into Israel on Tuesday because of her participation in an aid flotilla to Gaza in June, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said. Mairead Maguire was detained at Ben Gurion Airport as she arrived with a delegation of other high-level women’s rights activists from around the world.”

GARETH PORTER
Porter just wrote a piece titled “UN Fact-Finding Mission Says Israelis ‘Executed’ U.S. Citizen Furkan Dogan,” which states: “The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.

“The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old U.S. citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground. …

“Although the report’s revelations and conclusions about the killing of Dogan and the five other victims were widely reported in the Turkish media last week, not a single story on the report … appeared in U.S. news media.”

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

Protests Against Austerity in Europe

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AFP reports: “Angry workers mounted mass street protests against spending cuts across Europe Wednesday, bringing cities to a halt, clashing with police and even ramming the gates of Ireland’s parliament.” For more information and pictures, see: “Workers swarm Europe’s streets in anti-cuts protests.”

RICHARD WOLFF
Recently back from Europe, Wolff is author of the book Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It. He said today: “These are historic days and weeks in Europe. Unprecedented trade union unity across industries, unions, and countries — with massive support from students, retirees, churches and public opinion polls — directly confronts governments, demanding an end to making ordinary people pay for a capitalist crisis. The terms of public debate, policy and social change are shifting in directions not seen or believed possible in Europe for decades.”

Wolff is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In June and July he gave a series of talks in Europe, including at the University of Athens and University of Paris, meeting with many of the people organizing the protests.

He is currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Program for International Affairs at the New School University in New York City. Video of his talk “Capitalism Hits the Fan” is available at: CapitalismHitsTheFan.com.

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

Kissinger at State Dept. — U.S. Repeating Vietnam Policy in Afghanistan?

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Henry Kissinger spoke at a conference at the State Department today. See: State.gov

FRED BRANFMAN
Branfman recently wrote the piece “Hillary Clinton and State Dept. to Celebrate War Criminal Henry Kissinger, While the White House Repeats His Deadly Mistakes,” which states: “Nothing more symbolizes how the temptations of power can corrupt youthful values and idealism than Secretary Hillary Clinton’s invitation to Henry Kissinger and Richard Holbrooke to keynote a major State Department conference on the history of the Indochina war. As an idealistic college student, Clinton protested Kissinger’s mass murder of civilians in Indochina. She knows full well that had the international laws protecting civilians in war been applied to Kissinger’s bombing of civilian targets in Indochina he would have been indicted for crimes of war. …

“An attempt is currently being made to build support for today’s war-making in Afghanistan and Pakistan by claiming that the U.S. lost in Indochina because Congress cut aid to [Nguyen Van] Thieu [who won fraudulent South Vietnamese elections]. This view is being articulated not only by Kissinger and other Nixon-era officials but a younger cadre of military officers…”

Branfman uncovered the secret U.S. bombing of Laos while living there from 1967-71. From 1971-5, he co-directed Project Air War and the Indochina Resource Center.

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

Education Policy: What “Superman” Got Wrong

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RICK AYERS
Ayers recently wrote a piece for the Washington Post titled “What ‘Superman’ got wrong, point by point,” which states: “While the education film ‘Waiting For Superman’ has moving profiles of students struggling to succeed under difficult circumstances, it puts forward a sometimes misleading and other times dishonest account of the roots of the problem and possible solutions. … ‘Waiting for Superman’ says that lack of money is not the problem in education. Yet the exclusive charter schools featured in the film receive large private subsidies. … Some fantastic education is happening in charter schools, especially those initiated by communities and led by teachers and community members. But the use of charters as a battering ram for those who would outsource and privatize education in the name of ‘reform’ is sheer political opportunism.” The piece is available, along with other background material, on the new webpage NOTwaitingforsuperman.org.

Ayers is a former high school teacher, founder of Communication Arts and Sciences small school at Berkeley High School and currently adjunct professor in teacher education at the University of San Francisco. He is the co-author, with his brother William Ayers, of the forthcoming Teaching the Taboo.

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

Ecuador: “Obama Should Oppose Any Attempted Coup”