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News Conference: Edward Snowden’s Passport, Political Asylum and Related Issues

March 25, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Ray McGovern, Coleen Rowley and Norman Solomon spoke at this news conference, sponsored by RootsAction.org and hosted by the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst whose responsibilities included preparing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates, is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. McGovern was one of four American whistleblowers, including Coleen Rowley, who met with Snowden in Russia on October 9 to present him with an award for integrity in intelligence.

Coleen Rowley — a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures — was named one of Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. Rowley wrote to the FBI Director again in February 2003 with some hard questions about the reliability of the evidence being adduced to “justify” the impending invasion of Iraq.

Norman Solomon is founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org, a U.S. organization sponsoring a pair of petitions about Snowden. The petitions, with a combined total of 100,000 signers, were scheduled for presentation at the State Department and the Justice Department the morning after the news conference.

The petitions in support of Edward Snowden can be signed at RootsAction.org.

See: “Snowden Speaks on Obama Reforms As Supporters Call for End of His Persecution

What We Should be Talking About: Romney’s Foreign Policy Advisers

John Kennedy used to say, “Domestic policy can hurt us; foreign policy can kill us.”

But despite the fact that lives (American, allied, and civilian) continue to be lost in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Israel is blustering about attacking Iran before the US election (in order to drag in a reluctant Obama administration), much more time will be given to domestic policy rantings then foreign policy. In the 2000 election, there was very little debate about foreign policy, though anyone who looked closely might have guessed that Bush’s foreign policy advisors (who called themselves “the vulcans,” and had complex and long-standing links to groups and think tanks pressing for war on Iraq, would undertake that project at the slightest provocation.

This year, with less excuse (given the large deficit and two ongoing military operations), we have had very little discussion in the media about Romney’s foreign policy advisors. Yet, they are a far more coherent group of militarists than the Bush team.

[Read more...]

Dying to Live in Mexico

Cuernavaca, Mexico — In 2011, some 12,000 people were murdered in situations presumably related to the drug trafficking industry in Mexico. In 2010, the number was more than 15,000 killed. Between December 2006, when Felipe Calderón of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) took office and declared a “war on drug traffickers” and January 2012, depending on the source, some 47,000 to 60,000 people have been slain, and some 5,000 disappeared. This grim fact has become the centerpiece of Mexican politics and an inescapable force in daily life throughout much of the country.

But neither the number of people killed nor the cruelty of the killings can be understood without simultaneously taking account of another pair of figures. First, Calderón has repeatedly said that more than 90 percent of those killed were involved in “the struggle of some cartels against others.” Calderón does not cite a source for this estimate. The underlying logic, however, is clear: if you’re dead, you’re guilty. The perennial official refrain is “en algo andaba,” or, they were up to something; they were in the game. [Read more...]

Uprisings: Online Resouces

With protests continuing, here is a partial list of online resources:

For Libya: #Feb17; CNN’s Ben Wedeman; @EnoughGaddafi; For Bahrain: #Feb14, @OnlineBahrain; For Yemen: #Feb3; @JNovak_Yemen; Palestinian: #Mar15

Gulf: @dr_davidson, @tobycraigjones

For Saudi Arabia: on Twitter: #Mar11; Webpages and blogs: rasid.com, ysoof.com/blog/?p=242, saudiwoman.wordpress.com, alasmari.wordpress.com, saudijeans.org

To translate: translate.google.com

Based in the U.S., but with extensive contacts in the Mideast: angryarab.blogspot.com; the new journal jadaliyya.commerip.org; juancole.com

For Tunisia and generally: #Sidibouzid (refers to the town of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who on December 17 was the first of several in the region to immolate himself in protest.)

Egypt: #Jan25 (all dates referring to date protests began in each country); [Read more...]

Challenges for Change in Algeria

Tunisia and Egypt are relatively centralized states, Algeria not so, neither politically, nor culturally, nor geographically. Historically, the interior has been difficult to control, and there is no guarantee that the rest of the country would rally to the protests taking place in the capital as in the case of Egypt.

The Algerian regime is wealthy and can buy off large segments of the population. It can rule more autonomously than Ben Ali or Mubarak because it is less dependent on foreign aid. It can endure a political crisis far longer. The regime has also been weathered by a far more severe political crisis in its recent history, and survived relatively unscathed a grueling civil war of more than 10 years (1992-2003).

The memory of this conflict may be a factor. As analysts have noted, the memory may act as a brake on popular political action, but by the same token, is the regime willing to contemplate political degradation that may lead to renewed conflict? [Read more...]

Online Resources on Egypt and Beyond

With protests against the Egyptian regime continuing, here is a partial list of resources:

A critical Facebook page is “We are all Khaled Said” — also see the associated webpage elshaheeed.co.uk. (For background on Khaled Said, see IPA news release.) See: egyprotest-defense.blogspot.com; live updates at guardian.co.uk; Al-Jazeera English live blog and video, or via YouTube: Arabic and English.

See some Twitter feeds: #Jan25 (referring to the Egyptian protests which began January 25); tweetchat.com/room/jan25; feed from Cairo; @avinunu (who is in Amman) set up a Reporters in Egypt list. Philip Rizk @tabulagaza; blogger arabawy.org at @3arabawy; blogger arabist.net at @arabist; Al Jazeera English corespondent @AymanM; Democracy Now‘s @sharifkouddous; CNN’s Ben Wedeman. Voice to Tweet from Egypt: egypt.alive.in

Also: #Sidibouzid (refers to the town of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who on December 17 was the first of several in the region to immolate himself in protest.)

Based in the U.S., but with extensive contacts in the Mideast: angryarab.blogspot.com; the new journal jadaliyya.com; juancole.com; IPA communications director Sam Husseini’s personal feed @samhusseini

For translating from Arabic and French websites and Twitter feeds, translate.google.com can be helpful

(Photo by Nasser Gamil Nasser, who was assaulted by police.)

An Open Letter to President Barack Obama

—————————————————————————————————————————

[To sign; for recent news releases on Egypt from the Institute for Public Accuracy]

Dear President Obama:

As political scientists, historians, and researchers in related fields who have studied the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy, we the undersigned believe you have a chance to move beyond rhetoric to support the democratic movement sweeping over Egypt. As citizens, we expect our president to uphold those values.

For thirty years, our government has spent billions of dollars to help build and sustain the system the Egyptian people are now trying to dismantle. [Read more...]

Report from Cairo

From Alex Ortiz in Cairo: “The army is beginning to come into Cairo … tens of thousands converged in midan al-gala’ coming from three different protest marches. Total communication blackout. Reports of senior police officers ordering their men to stand down and not beat or fire tear gas at protesters in Midan al-gala an hour ago.”