News Releases

Assessing Karzai’s Charge of U.S. Backing ISIS in Afghanistan

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In a recent interview, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai stated that there’s more extremism now in that country than when the U.S. came into Afghanistan over 16 years ago. He cited U.S. bombings and other “violations of sovereignty” as fueling extremism. He also charged that he had “more than suspicions” when asked if the U.S. was helping  ISIS. He said that on a regular basis, he is getting reports of ISIS getting supplies by “non-military color” helicopters from U.S. bases. Karzai also charged that the U.S. government attempted to manipulate Afghanistan elections. See video clip and full interview on RT. Also see from April from the Voice of America: “Former Afghan President Karzai Calls Islamic State ‘Tool’ of U.S.

JUNAID AHMAD, junaidsahmad at gmail.com
Ahmad is assistant professor at the University of Lahore in Pakistan, and Secretary-General of the International Movement for a Just World. Ahmed states that he has seen similar reports in Pakistan charging some U.S. backing of ISIS in Afghanistan. See Ahmed’s recent interview on The Real News.

MATTHEW HOH, matthew_hoh@ at riseup.net
In 2009, Hoh resigned his position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the escalation of the war there by the Obama administration. See 2009 Washington Post piece about Hoh: “U.S. official resigns over Afghan war.” He previously had been in Iraq with a State Department team and with the U.S. Marines. He is now a senior fellow with the Center for International Policy.

He said today: “There was some serious reporting last year about the ISIS in Afghanistan group being former Pakistani Taliban, with the suggestion that some of this group was funded and utilized by the Afghan government, and by extension the United States and CIA in an attempt to sow division within both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban organizations; the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban being two organizations with separate memberships and objectives, who do overlap and intermingle at times, as they have a common enemy in the United States. The ISIS in Afghanistan group are for the most part Pashtuns from Pakistan and Afghanistan, and are not foreign fighters from other nations; American troops, along with other NATO forces tend to be the only foreign fighters in Afghanistan. Rather ISIS members in Afghanistan are of an organization that has been in existence, but rebranded a few years ago for reasons of marketing, propaganda and funding, as we often see these groups do.”

As noted in leaked American intelligence documents and through the reporting of many and varied journalists over the last six plus years, the United States funded, supplied, armed and assisted, directly and indirectly, many jihadist groups, including ISIS in the early years of the Syrian civil war. American allies, including Israel, still support these jihadist groups directly in Syria, as well as Yemen. It would be naive, based upon decades of American covert actions and wars, to imagine the U.S. is not involved and complicit at some level with that support in these multiple countries, even if it is just approval from senior officials in Washington, DC.

“So the idea that somehow American forces or intelligence services in Afghanistan are somehow mixed up with the Islamic State is not beyond the realm of possibility, although the idea of American helicopters ferrying ISIS fighters does seem too much. I’ve been involved in these wars nearly from the start, and nothing at this point is too far of an absurdity or an outrage to consider in these unending immoral, destructive and mad wars.”

Background: From The American Conservative: “How America Armed Terrorists in Syria

From Salon: “Leaked Hillary Clinton emails show U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar supported ISIS

From Newsweek: “ISIS Fighters Regret Attacking Israel And Have ‘Apologized’, Former Defense Minister Says

From the Afghanistan Analysts Network: “The Islamic State in ‘Khorasan’: How it began and where it stands now in Nangarhar

Jailing a Grandma for Allegedly Protesting Drone Killings

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Last month, the New York Times reported: “Trump Poised to Drop Some Limits on Drone Strikes and Commando Raids.”

MARY ANNE GRADY FLORES, gradyflores08 at gmail.com
ED KINANE, edkinane340 at gmail.com
Mary Anne Grady Flores is a grandmother who is part of the Ithaca Catholic Worker community. She has worked with UpstateDroneAction.org, which has organized civil resistance outside Hancock Air Force Base in upstate New York to protest the use of killer drones.

The group states that her appeals case will be heard Wednesday. Depending on the verdict, Grady Flores, who has already served 56 days, may be forced to complete another 65 days.

Her hearing is scheduled — see New York State Court of Appeals live stream. At 3:15 a press conference with Mary Anne’s attorney Lance Salisbury, Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Ed Kinane, and others will be held in the park across from the court, posted live on Grady Flores’ Facebook page. See pieces on Truthout by Kinane, including “Weaponized Drones And The Phony ‘War On Terror.'”  Upstate Drone Action states: “On Feb. 13th, 2013, Ash Wednesday, Ithaca Catholic Worker Grady Flores took pictures of Catholic protesters from the road, unknowingly crossing what Hancock claims to be its boundary, ‘the double yellow line in the middle of the road.’ Where she stood in the road violated her ‘order of protection’ (OOP) which was given to protesters by a local DeWitt Court judge on behalf of Colonel Earl Evans to keep protesters away from the base. In an appeal, the OOP of another drone protester had been ruled invalid by Onondaga County Judge Brunetti because the OOP didn’t delineate how close or far people had to be from the base. Judge David S. Gideon sentenced Grady Flores to a year in jail to stop others protesters. However, many returned, despite having an OOP.

“Grady Flores’ appeal contends that an order of protection cannot be used on behalf of property. Normally OOPs are given on behalf of a victim or a witness. The use of a form of protective order developed to address domestic violence to deter protesters and chill speech raises important First Amendment issues, in which the N.Y. Civil Liberties Union has taken an interest, filing a friend of the court brief by NYC attorney Jonathan Wallace.

“In Grady Flores’ 2014 sentencing she said, ‘Who is the real victim here? The commander of a military base whose drones kill innocent people halfway around the world, or those innocent people who are the real ones in need of protection from the terror of U.S. drone attacks?’ According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, approximately 10,000 people have been killed by drones since 2001. Oct. 6 and 7 were the 16th anniversary of both the beginning of the Afghan war and the first U.S. drone strike, with drone attacks worsening during the Trump administration. More U.S. bombs and missiles were dropped on Afghanistan in September than in any other month for nearly seven years, higher than any month since November 2010.

“Drone warfare is a profitable enterprise for numerous military contractors, making fortunes off of the murder of defenseless people around the world. Hancock is the largest training and maintenance center for the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone program. Extra judicial killings are executed by Air Force crews sitting in front of computer screens in the Syracuse base, killing civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a five-month period in 2015, up to 90 percent of drone assassination victims were civilians. The base shares facilities with civilian Syracuse International Airport. Hancock Air National Guard Base has been the site of protests of the U.S. killer drone program since 2010, resulting in over 200 arrests and numerous trials, appeals and incarcerations — some ending in acquittal.

“Russiagate Is More Fiction Than Fact”

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AARON MATÉ, aaronmate at gmail.com, @aaronjmate
Maté is a host/producer for The Real News. He just wrote the piece “Russiagate Is More Fiction Than Fact” for The Nation, which states: “Since Election Day, the controversy over alleged Russian meddling and Trump campaign collusion has consumed Washington and the national media. Yet nearly one year later there is still no concrete evidence of its central allegations. …

“In Russiagate, unverified claims are reported with little to no skepticism. Comporting developments are cherry-picked and overhyped, while countervailing ones are minimized or ignored. Front-page headlines advertise explosive and incriminating developments, only to often be undermined by the article’s content, or retracted entirely. Qualified language — likely, suspected, apparent — appears next to ‘Russians’ to account for the absence of concrete links. As a result, Russiagate has enlarged into a storm of innuendo that engulfs issues far beyond its original scope. …

“Then there is Facebook’s disclosure that fake accounts ‘likely operated out of Russia’ paid $100,000 for 3,000 ads starting in June 2015. The New York Times editorial board described it as ‘further evidence of what amounted to unprecedented foreign invasion of American democracy.’ A $100,000 Facebook ad buy seems unlikely to have had much impact in a $6.8 billion election. According to Facebook, ‘the vast majority of ads…didn’t specifically reference the U.S. presidential election, voting or a particular candidate’ but rather focused ‘on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.’ Facebook also says the majority of ads, 56 percent, were seen ‘after the election.’ The ads have not been released publicly. But by all indications, if they were used to try to elect Trump, their sponsors took a very curious route. …

“For privileged Americans to challenge Trump mainly over Russia is to do so in a way that avoids confronting their own relationship to the economic and political system that many of his voters rebelled against. ‘If the presidency is effectively a Russian op, if the American presidency right now is the product of collusion between the Russian intelligence services and an American campaign,’ to borrow a scenario posed by Rachel Maddow, then there is nothing else to confront. …

“Amid widespread talk of Putin pulling the strings, Trump has quietly appointed anti-Russia hawks to key posts and admitted a new NATO member over Russian objections. Trump’s top military commander, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is backing an effort by the Pentagon and Congress to arm Ukraine with new weapons. President Obama had rejected a similar proposal out of fear it would inflame the country’s deadly conflict. Just before Russia’s recent war games with allied Belarus, the United States and NATO allies carried out their ‘biggest military exercise in eastern Europe since the Cold War’ right next door.”

Nuclear Ban Treaty Group Gets Nobel

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The Norwegian Nobel Committee “has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The organization is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons. … Five of the states that currently have nuclear weapons – the USA, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China — have already committed to this objective through their accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1970.” See text and video. Also see IPA news release from last month: “More Than 40 Nations Sign Nuclear Ban Treaty in First Hour.

While many are already depicting this move as an anti-Trump pronouncement, the Obama administration was similarly opposed to the nuclear ban treaty. See 2013 IPA news release: “Obama’s Nuclear ‘Smoke and Mirrors,’” — also, “Obama at Nuclear Summit: A Call to Respect NPT, Not Pursue New Cold War,” and “Will Obama Renounce His $1 Trillion Nuclear Buildup?

ALICE SLATER, alicejslater at gmail.com, @aliceslater
Slater is the New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War. In July, she wrote the piece “Democracy Breaks Out at the UN as 122 Nations Vote to Ban the Bomb” for The Nation, which states: “Upon the adoption of the ban treaty, the United States, United Kingdom and France issued a statement that ‘We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it’ as it ‘does not address the security concerns that continue to make nuclear deterrence necessary’ and will create ‘even more divisions at a time … of growing threats, including those from the DPRK’s ongoing proliferation efforts.’ Ironically, North Korea was the only nuclear power to vote for the ban treaty, last October, when the UN’s First Committee for Disarmament forwarded a resolution for ban-treaty negotiations to the General Assembly.”

FREDRIK HEFFERMEHL, [in Norway] fredpax at online.no
Heffermehl is with Nobel Peace Prize Watch and wrote the book The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted. He has frequently criticized the selection of Nobel Peace Prize winners who did not actually fit the criteria laid out by Alfred Nobel. This year however, before the award, the group stated: “ICAN will be a worthy laureate in keeping with Alfred Nobel´s testament.”

IRA HELFAND, MD, ihelfand at igc.org
Helfand is past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and is currently co-president of that group’s global federation, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. He was featured on an IPA news release in July: “122 Nations Vote to Outlaw Nuclear Weapons, U.S., Russia Collude Against Effort.”

Additional background: Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara told IPA in 2005: “The NPT was signed by a president. It was submitted to the Senate; it was ratified by the Senate. It is today the law of the land. The U.S. government is not adhering to Article VI of the NPT and we show no signs of planning to adhere to its requirements to move forward with the elimination — not reduction, but elimination — of nuclear weapons. That was the agreement, these other countries would not develop nuclear weapons and the nuclear powers would move to elimination. We are violating that.”

Puerto Rico: * Debt Burden * Medicaid Crisis

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On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump told Fox News that Puerto Rico owes “a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out. You’re going to say goodbye to that, I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs, but whoever it is you can wave goodbye to that.”

On Wednesday, The Hill reported: “Mulvaney walks back Trump’s comments on wiping out Puerto Rico debt.

MARK WEISBROT, via Dan Beeton,  beeton at cepr.net
Weisbrot is Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He wrote for BuzzFeed News on Saturday: “…if Puerto Rico is to have a future, it will need a whole new economic plan that allows it to recover. This would include, at a minimum, the cancellation of most of its debt, which is not going to be paid in any case. The austerity that has been imposed as a response to this debt burden needs to be replaced by a fiscal stimulus program, much of which could go toward reconstruction. …

“The hurricanes have hit at a time when Puerto Rico is facing an unprecedented economic crisis, having already suffered a lost decade without economic growth. Unemployment is at 11.7 percent, more than two-and-a-half times the level of the United States. The poverty rate is at 46 percent, and 58 percent for children — nearly three times the U.S. rate. In the past decade, about 10 percent of the population has left the island, and the pace of out-migration has doubled in recent years.

“Unfortunately, over the last year or so, the U.S. federal government has made this economic crisis much worse. The Obama administration — with input from Republican congressional leaders — appointed a fiscal oversight board that imposed a draconian austerity plan on Puerto Rico in response to the island’s default on its $74 billion dollar debt. The plan [PDF] proposed by this board was rejected by creditors who — amazingly — wanted to squeeze even more out of Puerto Rico. But regardless, the austerity condemns the island to a second lost decade and more.

“The coming decade will be shaped by cuts to health care and pensions, as well as the kind of deficient infrastructure spending that left Puerto Rico extraordinarily vulnerable to this hurricane. And all of this punishment — even if it ‘worked’ as planned — would only win creditors about $7.9 billion of the $74 billion they are owed. Hence the island’s government is now in court [PDF] with the creditors.”

LARA MERLING, also via Dan Beeton, beeton at cepr.net
Merling is a research assistant at CEPR and co-author of the new report, “More Trouble Ahead: Puerto Rico’s Impending Medicaid Crisis,” and the recent report, “Life After Debt in Puerto Rico: How Many More Lost Decades?” She said: “It’s essential to include full funding for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program in any emergency aid supplemental for Puerto Rico. As the White House pushes for aid funding from Congress for Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, it will be important to make sure that Medicaid funding is included.”

Left-Right Alliance Against U.S.-Saudi War on Yemen

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Katrina vanden Heuvel just wrote the piece “Congress’s War Powers Must Be Made a Reality” in the Washington Post. She writes: “What does it take to get Congress to act on vital questions of war and peace? The catastrophe in Yemen may test whether Congress is finally prepared to exercise its constitutional responsibility. Four legislators — two House Democrats and two Republicans — have introduced a resolution under the War Powers Act demanding a vote in 15 days to end U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia’s devastation of Yemen.

“The resolution, co-sponsored by Democrats Ro Khanna and Mark Pocan (the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus) and by Republicans Thomas Massie and Walter Jones, requires the ‘removal’ of U.S. forces from the war in Yemen unless Congress votes to authorize American involvement. Beginning under President Barack Obama, the U.S. military has assisted the Saudi campaign in Yemen. …

“As lead co-sponsor Khanna (D-Calif.) argues, the war powers resolution is long overdue: ‘Congress and the American people know too little about the role we are playing in a war that is causing suffering for millions of people and is a genuine threat to our national security.’

“The resolution will force Congress to debate this truly deplorable policy that has implicated the United States in Saudi war crimes while fueling the spread of terrorism.”

NORM SINGLETON norm.singleton at campaignforliberty.com
Singleton is president of the Campaign for Liberty, founded by Ron Paul. Singleton said today: “Congress has a constitutional duty to debate and vote on U.S. military involvement in Yemen and a moral duty to end these types of reckless military interventions.” See from Ron Paul: “Who Is Starving Yemen’s Children?

SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI, sha980 at mail.harvard.edu, @shireen818
Al-Adeimi is a doctoral candidate and instructor at Harvard University. She just wrote the piece “Only Americans Can Stop America’s War on Yemen,” which states: “Yemen continues to suffer in silence as the world turns away from its ongoing misery. Despite two and a half years of brutal war, the average American remains oblivious to the inconvenient truth that the United States has been helping Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates destroy a sovereign country that posed a threat to no one. While rich Arab states bombard the Middle East’s poorest country, creating the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and an unprecedented cholera outbreak, our government (starting with the Obama administration and continuing with Trump’s) has continued to support them not only through the sale of weapons, but also through mid-air refueling, targeting intelligence, and other logistical support.

“The international community has betrayed Yemenis over and over again — examples include the United Nation’s capitulation to Saudi pressure by removing it from the list of child killers and allowing the Saudi-led Coalition to investigate (and clear) itself from any wrongdoing. Even as an inquiry into Yemen war crimes was finally agreed upon this week, the word ‘investigation’ was dropped, and it remains to be seen which ‘regional experts’ will comprise the committee. …

“If we don’t act now, we may find ourselves looking back and wondering what could have been done to save millions of people from certain death. We have an opportunity to end this destructive war by urging our political leaders to stop supporting the Saudi-led Coalition.”

Guns, Terrorism and a “Culture of Killing”

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REBECCA PETERS, rebecca.peters101 at gmail.com, Skype: rebecapeters
Currently in Guatemala, Peters is with the International Action Network on Small Arms. She helped lead the campaign to reform Australia’s gun laws. Her pieces include “When will the U.S. learn from Australia? Stricter gun control laws save lives.”

The group just released a statement: “At church, at school, in shopping centres, at movie theatres, clubs and cultural events — once again we see the mass murder of civilians in the USA, because weapons designed for killing large numbers on the battlefield are so easily available. Almost every other industrialized country has implemented basic firearm regulation and the results are starkly evident in the data. The whole world is grieving with the USA, and anxious for this country to do something about easy access to lethal weapons.”

BEAU GROSSCUP, bgrosscup at csuchico.edu
Grosscup is author of several books including The Newest Explosions of Terrorism and, most recently, Strategic Terror: The Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment. He can talk about the selective use of the term “terrorism” and other aspects of policy and violence.

LAURIE CALHOUN, laurielcalhoun at gmail.com, @laurielcalhoun, Skype: laurie.calhoun
Currently in Australia, Calhoun is author of the books We Kill Because We Can: From Soldiering to Assassination in the Drone Age and War and Delusion: A Critical Examination.

She tweeted Monday: “#UnitedStates is a #cultureofkilling, from top to bottom. Citizens are taught by #USgov that #masshomicide = #war is how to resolve conflict.”

In her piece “The Drone Assassination Assault on Democracy,” Calhoun wrote: “Given that a primary means to conflict resolution deployed by powerful governments with every tool of diplomacy at their disposal has become homicide, perhaps it should be unsurprising that factions and individuals with no institutional power should take up arms as well.”

Trump and Republicans Propose Abolishing the Estate Tax

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JOSH HOXIE, josh at ips-dc.org@JoshHoxie

Co-editor of Inequality.org, Hoxie said today: “Part of the Trump tax proposal is abolishing the estate tax, only paid by households with wealth over $11 million and individuals over $5.5 million. Trump claims that estate tax repeal will help farmers and small businesses. Estate tax repeal will worsen inequality and cost over $260 billion over the next decade.”

Hoxie just wrote the piece “Trump Tax Plan Would Widen Racial Wealth Divide,” in the Las Vegas Sun, which states: “Perhaps more insidious is Trump’s plan to eliminate the federal estate tax, also known as the inheritance tax. This levy applies exclusively to the wealthiest 0.2 percent of households and is intended to curtail the growing concentration of wealth in families like, say, the Trumps.”

CHE-CHING HUANG, huang at cbpp.org@dashching

Huang is with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and co-wrote “Ten Facts You Should Know About the Estate Tax,” which states: “It is appropriate that people who have prospered the most in this society help to preserve it for future generations through tax revenues that derive from their estates.”
chuck at ips-dc.org, @Chuck99to1
Collins is co-author with Bill Gates Sr. of Wealth and Our Commonwealth: The Case for Defending the Estate Tax. He’s a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a co-editor of Inequality.org.

He recently wrote “Limos, Not Tractors: Republicans are Using Farmers To Justify Estate Tax Repeal” in U.S. News & World Report, which states: “Republicans have offered a strange populist fig leaf to justify repealing the estate tax: images of America’s farmers and ranchers.”

Collins also recently wrote “Indiana Farmer Complaining about Estate Taxes with Trump Cashed $3.3 Million in Farmer Subsidy Checks.”

Behind Spanish Gov’t Attempts to Halt Catalonia’s Independence Vote

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SEBASTIAAN FABER, [in D.C. Fri.] Sebastiaan.Faber at oberlin.edu, @sebasfaber
BÉCQUER SEGUÍN, becquer at jhu.edu, @bcqer
Faber is a professor of Hispanic Studies at Oberlin College and author of the forthcoming Memory Battles and the Spanish Civil War. Seguín is an assistant professor of Iberian studies at Johns Hopkins University. They just wrote the piece for The Nation: “Have Spain and Catalonia Reached a Point of No Return?” which states: “While the repressive measures taken so far have certainly made a region-wide vote more difficult, the Catalans refuse to give up. In a nationally televised interview aired on Sept. 24, Catalan President Puigdemont vowed to go ahead with the referendum [this Sunday]. Meanwhile, the arrests of Sept. 20 have prompted massive, ongoing demonstrations in Barcelona and elsewhere.”

SIMONA LEVI, [in Barcelona] simona at xnet-x.net, @x_net_
Levi is a theater director, activist and co-founder of the Spanish digital democracy group Xnet and of 15MpaRato, a citizens’ device to bring to court those responsible for the economic crisis in Spain.

She recently wrote the piece “We just want to stop pleading,” which states: “It’s truly unsustainable that there’s no way of having a referendum in Spain. I’m not just referring to this one. I mean any referendum. The law decrees that it’s the government that decides whether there can be a referendum or not. And, naturally, the government of Spain always says no. If this isn’t so, go and tell the PAH (Platform for People Affected by Mortgages), which collected one and a half million signatures in a popular legislative initiative (ILP) to change Spain’s foreclosure law and, though an ILP only needs 500,000 signatures in order to be put before parliament, the government refused to discuss the issue. …

“So what Catalonia is asking for is not just for Catalonia. It’s because the centralism of the powers-that-be in Madrid, and of all the parties that egg them on with the chumminess of parliamentary rituals, ignores the peoples of Spain, using them merely as raw material to extract what they can, regarding them as colonies and even, as we have seen lately with certain questions of security, as cannon fodder (note: the government excluded the Catalan police from Europol and the Catalan police are not receiving all the information about jihadi terrorists in Catalonian territory). Once more all this is about covering up their own privileges, abuse, and corruption, or simply protecting the patronage networks of each and every party.”

THOMAS HARRINGTON, [going to Spain Thurs.] thomas.harrington at trincoll.edu
Harrington is professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. and author of Public Intellectuals and Nation Building in the Iberian Peninsula, 1900–1925: The Alchemy of Identity.

In a recent piece, he writes: “That people in Scotland addressed the matter of their possible independence this way with the full acceptance of the UK government in 2014 does not move [Spanish Prime Minister Mariano] Rajoy …

“For most of the years since the ratification of the Spanish post-Franco Constitution in 1978, the matter of independence was a non-starter for a broad swath of the Catalan political establishment.

“What changed things?

“What changed things was the election of José María Aznar, the son of an important propagandist for the Francoist regime, as prime minister in 1996 with a clear — albeit at first skillfully camouflaged — program to roll back the regime of timid decentralization that grew out of the aforementioned post-Franco Constitution.”

“Theocrat” Roy Moore May Be the Next U.S. Senator from Alabama

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FREDERICK CLARKSON, frederick.clarkson at gmail.com, @FredClarkson
Clarkson is senior fellow at Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank in Somerville, Massachusetts.
He said today: “Roy Moore is the most openly theocratic politician in national life — and he has a good chance of being the next U.S. Senator from Alabama.

“The special election to fill the remainder of the term of Jeff Sessions, who was appointed as U.S. Attorney General by president Trump, will be held on Dec. 12. Moore is heavily favored to prevail over Democrat and former federal prosecutor Doug Jones.

“Moore favors criminalizing abortion and homosexuality. He does not respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution, and the federal courts to enforce civil rights laws. His views hark back to the time of massive resistance to civil rights for African Americans, when opponents invoked the notions of nullification and interposition — which basically meant that states could ignore federal actions; including court orders they believed were inconsistent with the Constitution.

“Like the nullificationists of the last century, Moore does not view the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal courts as binding on the states. Particularly if they conflict with his idiosyncratic view of what God requires.

“Roy Moore epitomizes the contemporary politics of theocratic Christian dominionism in his attacks on separation of church and state and religious freedom.

“Moore was twice elected on a statewide ballot as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He has also been removed from office each time because he violated orders from a federal judge. The first time, he had installed a two-and-a-half-ton monument to the Ten Commandments in the foyer of the state courthouse. A federal judge ruled that this was an unambiguous violation of separation of church and state and ordered it removed. Moore refused. The second time, he sought to undermine a federal court order to state officials to honor the Supreme Court’s 2015 stand for marriage equality in the case of Obergefell v Hodges. Moore sought to direct state probate judges not to issue same sex marriage licenses, claiming that existing state bans on same sex marriage were still in force.”

Clarkson is author of the 2016 report “When Exemption is the Rule: The Religious Freedom Strategy of the Christian Right.” He also wrote the book Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy.

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