News Releases

How Israel Backed Hamas

ROBERT DREYFUSS, rcd48 at cox.net
Available for a very limited number of interviews, Dreyfuss is author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. His recent pieces at The Nation include “Iran-Saudi Deal Is Crucial to Resolve Iraq-Syria Civil War,” “Obama Fiddles While Gaza Burns” and “US Should Back Syria’s Assad Against ISIS.”

He said today: “In Gaza, between 1967 and 1987, when Hamas was founded, the number of mosques tripled in Gaza from 200 to 600. And a lot of that came with money flowing from outside Gaza, from wealthy conservative Islamists in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. But, of course, none of this could have happened without the Israelis casting an approving eye upon it.

“And during these years, during that 20-year span, the Hamas organization was a bitter opponent of Palestinian nationalism, clashed repeatedly with the P.L.O. and with Fatah, of course, refused to participate in the P.L.O. umbrella. And just as during the ’50s and ’60s, the Muslim Brotherhood fought against the Nasserists, the Baath Party, the communists and the rest of the Arab left, in the 1970s and ’80s, the Muslim Brotherhood fought against the Palestinian national movement.

“There’s plenty of evidence that the Israeli intelligence services, especially Shin Bet and the military occupation authorities, encouraged the growth of the Muslim Brotherhood and the founding of Hamas. There are many examples and incidents of that. But there were armed clashes, of course, on Palestinian university campuses in the ’70s and ’80s, where Hamas would attack PLO, PFLP, PDFLP and other groups, with clubs and chains. This was before guns became prominent in the Occupied Territories.

“Diplomats and intelligence people who I interviewed say that there was plenty of reason to think that the Israelis were fostering the growth of Hamas. And, of course, Yasser Arafat himself, in a quote to a newspaper reporter a number of years ago, explicitly described Hamas as, quote, ‘a creature of Israel.’ And he said that he discussed this with Yitzhak Rabin during their Oslo process. And Rabin told Arafat that it was ‘a fatal error’ for the Israelis to have encouraged the growth of Hamas. The theory of it, of course, was that Hamas would be a force against Palestinian nationalism.”

See: “Analysis: Hamas history tied to Israel” by Richard Sale, June 18, 2002, UPI; “An Alternative to the P.L.O. — Fundamentalists” by Israeli historian Clinton Bailey, Sept. 9, 1989, New York Times.

500 Palestinians Dead: Veterans Call for End to Violence

BBC reports: “Gaza has suffered the highest death toll since Israel’s offensive began, with at least 87 people reported killed on Sunday — 67 of them in one area.

ANN WRIGHT, microann at yahoo.com
TARAK KAUFF, takauff at gmail.com
Wright is a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, a 29-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserves, and a former State Department official. In 2003, she resigned from her position as a U.S. diplomat in opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq. Kauff, a 71-year-old veteran of the Army’s 111th Airborne and former professional boxer, leads the Veterans For Peace direct action program.

The National Board of Directors of Veterans for Peace will deliver a letter to Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer this afternoon. The letter states, “As veterans who have witnessed the horror of war, we are deeply outraged by the state of Israel’s slaughter of many innocent civilians in Gaza. The military assault against children, women and men, by air, by sea and now by land, is a clear violation of international laws of war and of human rights. More than 300 Palestinians have been murdered, almost all of them civilians, nearly a quarter of them children. Thousands are wounded, including nearly 1,000 children.

“Veterans For Peace joins millions of people all around the globe who are shocked by this vicious, one-sided slaughter. We understand the huge injustice of the Israeli occupation. Palestinians have been ethnically cleansed from their homes and forced to live in the Occupied West Bank, or in the open-air prison that is Gaza. …

“Mr. Ambassador, please remind the government of Israel of the billions of dollars in aid that is provided to Israel by the United States. Veterans For Peace will push for an end to all military aid to Israel until such time as the Israeli occupation gives way to real peace negotiations based on the human rights of all the people concerned.”

EMAD MEKAY, emad_mekay at yahoo.com, @MekayEmad
Mekay is a California-based reporter specializing in the Middle East and has reported extensively from Egypt. He worked for the New York Times and Bloomberg News. He is a former John S. Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University and a former investigative reporting fellow at U.C. Berkeley. Reuters is reporting that John Kerry is travelling to Cairo to meet with Egyptian officials regarding a Gaza ceasefire. United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power tweeted, “Just got out of UNSC session on Gaza. To end the violence we need a ceasefire w/o preconditions. Urge countries to support Egypt’s proposal.”. In response, early this morning Mekay tweeted, “UN wants Gaza to sign on [Sisi] proposal. No Q[uestion]s asked. Hamas wants access to the sea, don’t trust [Sisi] regime which helped Israeli blockade.” See: “Israeli ‘Ceasefire’ ‘PR Exercise’ as Bombing Continues.”

JOE CATRON, [in Gaza] joecatron at gmail.com, @jncatron
Catron was recently profiled in “Inside a Gaza Hospital Under Israeli Rocket Fire.” He was at the El-Wafa geriatric Hospital in Gaza City when it was bombed by the Israeli military. He is a freelance writer, English teacher and activist living in Gaza. Catron and others in Gaza — including human rights workers, teachers, doctors and bloggers can be reached via GazaDigital at gmail.com. See also: voicesofgaza.com He just tweeted, “There’s too much shelling in #Gaza’s Shujaya for Civil Defense crews to reach any area that needs to be reached. #GazaUnderAttack”

LAILA EL-HADDAD, laila.elhaddad at gmail.com
El-Haddad is author of the book Gaza Mom. She was profiled last year in Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” program.

MAX BLUMENTHAL, [in DC], maxjblumenthal at gmail.com, @MaxBlumenthal
Available for a limited number of interviews, Blumenthal is author of the book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. He was interviewed by Democracy Now! this morning. He just tweeted, “Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled the state does not have to provide bomb shelters for Bedouin citizens http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/07/20/233867/israels-bedouin-defenseless-against.html?sp=/99/117/ … #apartheid”

YOUSEF AL-HELOU, al-helou.y at hotmail.com, @YousefAlhelou
Yousef Al-Helou is the Gaza-based correspondent for The Real News and a freelance reporter. He just completed his masters in journalism at Oxford University. He just tweeted, “‪#‎GenocideInGaza‬ ‪#‎Gaza‬ ‪#‎GazaUnderAttack‬ ‪#‎Gazamassacre‬ At least 4 people including a patient killed and over 70 injured when Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital in Dair Al-Balah targeted by deliberate heavy Israeli tank shelling… a state of panic prevails inside the hospital, patients are evacuated.”

ELIZABETH MURRAY, emurray404 at aol.com, @elizabethmurra
Murray is available for a limited number of interviews. She served as deputy national intelligence officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

LIA TARACHANSKY, [in Israel] lia at therealnews.com, @liatarachansky
Tarachansky is a Jaffa-based filmmaker and the Israel-Palestine correspondent for The Real News. Her films include “On the Side of the Road” about the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 1948. On Saturday she tweeted, “Again 1000 anti war protesters faced violent neofascists in T[el]-Aviv & Haifa, where some were beaten badly.”

EHAB LOTAYEF, [in Montreal] lotayef at gmail.com, @lotayef58
MAHFOUZ KABARITI, [in Gaza] kabariti80 at hotmail.com
ROBERT NAIMAN, naiman at justforeignpolicy.org, @naiman
Lotayef and Naiman are spokespersons for Gaza Ark, whose ship was attacked on July 11th. Gaza Ark is “part of the ongoing international Freedom Flotilla Coalition challenging the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza” imposed by Israel. Naiman is also policy director of Just Foreign Policy. Lotayef tweeted yesterday, “#GazaUnderAttack Who’s the terrorist? Hamas kills 13 Israeli soldiers. Israel responds killing 60 civilians in Shujaiah.”

See @accuracy Israel-Palestine Resource List

Roots of Ukraine Instability

USA Today reports: “Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine agreed Friday to allow investigators access to the scattered crash site of a Malaysian airliner that was shot down, killing all 298 aboard. …

“Separatists and Ukraine’s government have both denied involvement.”

RAY MCGOVERN, rrmcgovern at gmail.com
McGovern is a former CIA analyst whose responsibilities included chairing National Intelligence Estimates. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He regularly writes for Consortium News and just wrote the piece “When the US Welched on Its NATO Promise” which states, “The Ukraine crisis owes its roots to a deal America made and broke with the recently deceased Soviet foreign minister.” Today he said, “Lack of clarity as to who fired the missile is likely to persist for weeks, at least. Meanwhile, the shootdown provides raw meat for those who will use it to blacken Russia, just as the downing of KAL007 in 1983 allowed the Reagan administration to hype charges that the Soviet Union ‘deliberately’ downed a passenger aircraft. The evidence indicated that the Soviets thought they were downing an American spy plane, but U.S. propaganda, including the altering of electronic evidence, left no room for a ‘mistaken identity’ explanation.

“More generally, Russian President Vladimir Putin is probably correct in saying the tragedy would not have happened if Ukrainian President Poroshenko had agreed to prolong the fragile cease-fire, as the leaders of Germany, France, and Russia pleaded with him to do during a two-hour conference call on June 30th.”

Israel Begins Ground Invasion

Reuters reports: “Israel stepped up its land offensive in Gaza with artillery, tanks and gunboats on Friday and declared it could ‘significantly widen’ an operation Palestinian officials said was killing ever greater numbers of civilians.”

JOE CATRON, [in Gaza], joecatron at gmail.com, @jncatron
Catron was recently profiled in “Inside a Gaza Hospital Under Israeli Rocket Fire.” He was at the El-Wafa geriatric Hospital in Gaza City when it was bombed by the Israeli military. He is a freelance writer, English teacher and activist living in Gaza. Catron and others in Gaza — including human rights workers, teachers, doctors and bloggers can be reached via GazaDigital at gmail.com. See also: voicesofgaza.com

LAILA EL-HADDAD, laila.elhaddad at gmail.com
El-Haddad is author of the book Gaza Mom. She was profiled last year in Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” program.

MAX BLUMENTHAL, [in NYC], maxjblumenthal at gmail.com, @MaxBlumenthal
Available for a limited number of interviews, Blumenthal is author of the book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. His recent pieces include “Netanyahu government knew teens were dead as it whipped up racist frenzy.”

YOUSEF AL-HELOU, al-helou.y at hotmail.com, @YousefAlhelou
Yousef Al-Helou is the Gaza-based correspondent for The Real News and a freelance reporter. He reported last week: “Israeli Press Continues to Coordinate with Military.” He just completed his masters in journalism at Oxford University.

ELIZABETH MURRAY, emurray404 at aol.com, @elizabethmurra
Murray is available for a limited number of interviews. She served as deputy national intelligence officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

LIA TARACHANSKY, [in Israel] lia at therealnews.com, @liatarachansky
Tarachansky is a Jaffa-based filmmaker and the Israel-Palestine correspondent for The Real News. Her films include “On the Side of the Road” about the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 1948. Her most recent reports include “Report from Israel’s Border with Gaza.”

EHAB LOTAYEF, [in Montreal] lotayef at gmail.com, @lotayef58
MAHFOUZ KABARITI, [in Gaza] kabariti80 at hotmail.com
ROBERT NAIMAN, naiman at justforeignpolicy.org, @naiman
Lotayef and Naiman are spokespersons for Gaza Ark, whose ship was attacked very early Friday morning. Gaza Ark is “part of the ongoing international Freedom Flotilla Coalition challenging the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza” imposed by Israel. Naiman is also policy director of Just Foreign Policy.

BRICS Development Bank: Alternative to “Washington Consensus”

AP reports: “The leaders of five emerging market powers said at a summit Tuesday that they gave final agreement to creating their own development bank worth $100 billion that will have its headquarters in China.

“The first president of the New Development Bank will be from India and the position will rotate every five years among Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — the so-called BRICS nations, a joint statement from the leaders said.”

SAMEER DOSSANI, [in Brazil], sameer.dossani at gmail.com, @sameerdossani
Dossani is with ActionAid International, an international federation of more than 45 countries working to end global poverty. He recently contributed the piece “BRICS Bank: New Bottle, How’s the Wine?” to the BRICS Summit Reader published by the Heinrich Boell Foundation [PDF]. He writes, “The World Bank and its sister institution the International Monetary Fund, established 70 years ago, have lent billions to developing countries. Yet in their heyday — in the 1980s and 1990s — these institutions did not produce results in terms of poverty reduction or even in terms of increasing economic growth. In almost all regions, inequality skyrocketed during this period. Even now, with the exception of Latin America, the gap between rich and poor continues to grow.

“Part of the failure can be attributed to the triumph of ideology over evidence. ‘Washington consensus’ policies — fiscal and trade liberalisation, privatisation and budget austerity — were required of every developing country that sought international assistance. The results have not been pretty. As has been extensively documented, the period from 1980-2010 was in part defined by extremely slow growth globally. Where growth did occur in the North, it often turned out to be the result of speculative bubbles. In the South, the only countries to grow were those that ignored Washington consensus policies – China, Malaysia, Singapore and a few others — and used state-backed borrowing and investment to drive an industrial policy. …

“In addition to a more democratic governance structure — we are hearing rumours that each of the BRICS countries will contribute an equal share of money to the New Development Bank pot, meaning that they would all have the same number of votes on its board — the NDB should ensure that representatives from recipient countries are also part of the process. … If the NDB can establish governance structures more equitable, more transparent, and more tilted towards ensuring that the needs of poor countries are at the fore, it may add to the already building pressure for meaningful reform of the Bretton Woods institutions.

PEPE ESCOBAR, [in Brazil], pepeusa at mac.com
Escobar’s books include Obama Does Globalistan. His piece, “BRICS Against Washington Consensus,” was printed yesterday in Asia Times. He writes, “The BRICS Development Bank — with an initial US$50 billion in capital — will be not only BRICS-oriented, but invest in infrastructure projects and sustainable development on a global scale. The model is the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), which supports Brazilian companies investing across Latin America. In a few years, it will reach a financing capacity of up to $350 billion. With extra funding especially from Beijing and Moscow, the new institution could leave the World Bank in the dust. Compare access to real capital savings to U.S. government’s printed green paper with no collateral.

“And then there’s the agreement establishing a $100 billion pool of reserve currencies — the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), described by Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov as ‘a kind of mini-IMF.’ That’s a non-Washington consensus mechanism to counterpunch capital flight. …

“It’s always instructive to come back to Argentina. Argentina is imprisoned by a chronic foreign debt crisis essentially unleashed by the IMF over 40 years ago — and now perpetuated by vulture funds. The BRICS bank and the reserve pool as an alternative to the IMF and World Bank offer the possibility for dozens of other nations to escape the Argentine plight. Not to mention the possibility that other emerging nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran and Turkey may soon contribute to both institutions.”

Israeli “Ceasefire” “PR Exercise” as Bombing Continues

The Jerusalem Post reports: “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Hamas for powering through a ceasefire with Israel, brokered by the Egyptian government and accepted by Israel’s cabinet Tuesday morning.”

Amira Hass, a noted Israeli journalist, said this morning on “Democracy Now!” that: “Hamas feels it was a proposal brought up with Israel, without consultation with Hamas and brought up through the media and not brought up through negotiations with them. Everyone knows the leadership of Egypt right now is an enemy of Hamas. … They feel it is not meant to bring progress and change to the people in Gaza, but to marginalize them [Hamas] as a political movement.” (shortly after 15:00 mark)

Yair Rosenberg of the Israeli Archives tweeted Monday: “As written, ceasefire proposal is huge win for Netanyahu & Sisi: Hamas doesn’t get prisoners released or any changes to border arrangements.”

ELIZABETH MURRAY, emurray404 at aol.com
Available for a limited number of interviews, Murray served as deputy national intelligence officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. Her writing appears at Consortium News.

Murray wrote the piece “Killing People as ‘Mowing the Lawn’: How Israeli Hardliners and Official Washington Dehumanize the People of Palestine” in 2012, during another major Israeli bombing of Gaza.

RANIA KHALEK, [in D.C. area] raniakhalek at gmail.com, @RaniaKhalek
Last week Khalek’s piece “ABC News tells viewers that scenes of destruction in Gaza are in Israel” helped compel ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer to issue a rare on-air apology. Calling it a “sham ceasefire,” Khalek tweeted this morning: “To media outlets reporting that Hamas rejected a ceasefire it was never consulted on, you’re complicit in a set-up.” Khalek’s recently wrote the piece “Israel Firing Experimental Weapons at Gaza’s Civilians, Say Doctors.”

VIJAY PRASHAD, Vijay.Prashad at trincoll.edu, @vijayprashad
Prashad is chair of South Asian history and professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford. He is also a columnist for Frontline (Chennai, India) and co-editor of Dispatches from the Arab Spring. He said today: “The ‘ceasefire’ offered by Egypt came through in a most idiosyncratic fashion. It was announced to the media, which is where Hamas leadership said that they saw it. Egypt had not conducted the kind of back channel negotiations with Israel and the Palestinian factions to ensure a ceasefire. In other words, this was not a ceasefire — it was an Egyptian offer.

“Israel said it would honor the ‘truce’ — largely as a PR exercise. Within hours it began its barrage on Gaza. A genuine ceasefire would have created a mechanism to contain violence and to investigate evidence of attacks (in other words, what if Hamas had accepted a ceasefire, but a rogue group fired a rocket — would that be a violation? There would have to be mechanism to ascertain if the ceasefire had been broken). A real ceasefire is necessary.”

Note: The Israeli government late last week dismissed a Hamas offer of a ceasefire. See Times of Israel: ‘Hamas official: Prisoners in exchange for ceasefire‘ and Ma’an news agency: ‘Hamas demands release of re-arrested prisoners before ceasefire.’ This was about Israel re-arresting Hamas members after they were released as part of the exchange for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The response by Netanyahu: “Israel presses Gaza assault as Hamas rockets fly; Netanyahu rules out cease-fire” (Washington Post, July 10) and “Gaza ceasefire not on agenda: Netanyahu” (Press TV, July 14).

As’ad AbuKhalil on his blog has repeatedly noted that the New York Times on July 9 offered a truncated report: “In a televised speech from Qatar, the Hamas political chief, Khaled Meshal, blamed Israel for the conflict and rejected mediation efforts. ‘We receive calls from mediators from Arab and Western sides to broker a cease-fire,’ he said. ‘We say to those who ask us for a lull: Go back!’” But AbuKhalil writes that the “original rest of the sentence is: ‘go back to the root-cause and pressure Netanyahu.’”

See @accuracy list of resources on Israel/Palestine:
https://twitter.com/accuracy/lists/israel-palestine

Anti-Drone Grandmother Sentenced to One Year

ABC News is reporting today: “Israel Says It Downed Drone as Gaza Death Toll Climbs.” There was no confirmation as to whether the drone was armed. The Washington Post reported last week: “Israeli F-16 fighter jets, Apache attack helicopters and armed drones have hit more than 500 targets in the Gaza Strip over the past two days.” The Guardian reported late last month: “The U.S. has confirmed it is flying armed drones over Baghdad…”

“Democracy Now!” reports: “In New York, a peace activist and grandmother has been sentenced to a year in prison for her role in peaceful protests at a base where U.S. drones are piloted remotely. Mary Anne Grady Flores had been issued an order of protection aimed at keeping her away from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base after she participated in an act of civil disobedience there in 2012.

“Last year, Grady Flores says she attended another peace action, but did not participate, instead photographing it from the roadway, beyond what she believed was the base’s boundary. She was later told the base’s property extended into the road. On Thursday, Judge David Gideon of the DeWitt Town Court sentenced her to the maximum sentence of a year in prison for violating the protection order and fined her $1,000. In a courtroom packed with about 150 supporters, Grady Flores spoke about what she called the four perversions of justice in her case:

“Mary Anne Grady Flores: ‘The fourth perversion is the reversal of who is the real victim here: the commander of a military base involved in killing innocent people halfway around the world or those innocent people themselves, who are the real ones in need of orders of protection? So I, as a nonviolent grandmother and a caregiver to my own mother, as I prepare for jail, itself a perversion, I stand before you remorseful. I’m remorseful about my own country and its continued perpetuating of violence and injustice.’”

ELLEN GRADY, demottgrady6 at gmail.com
JUDITH BELLO, jb.papillonweb at gmail.com
Ellen Grady is with the Ithaca Catholic Worker and is the sister of Mary Anne Grady Flores. See “Hancock Air Base drone protester sentenced to 1 year in jail” in the Syracuse Post-Standard. See also the opinion piece “Stiff sentence for Hancock drone protester does not fit the crime” by Patrick O’Neill of the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker House in Garner, N.C. in the paper today.

Bello is with Upstate Drone Action. Video of the sentencing and other resources are available on their blog.

Grady and Bello note that other protesters will be tried for alleged violations. Jack Gilroy will be tried this week for alleged obstruction of governmental administration and Russel Brown later this month.

For further background, also see the Syracuse Peace Council website: peacecouncil.net.

Palestinian Fatalities Hit 100; Gaza Ark Ship Among Civilian Targets Hit

The Guardian reports: “Palestinian officials say 100 killed so far in conflict.” The Los Angeles Times reports that “the death toll topped 100 people.” There are no reports of Israeli fatalities.

EHAB LOTAYEF, [in Montreal] lotayef at gmail.com, @lotayef58
ROBERT NAIMAN, [in D.C.] naiman at justforeignpolicy.org, @naiman
MAHFOUZ KABARITI, [in Gaza] kabariti80 at hotmail.com, @GazaArk
Lotayef, Naiman and Kabariti are spokespersons for Gaza Ark, whose ship was attacked very early Friday morning. Gaza Ark is “part of the ongoing international Freedom Flotilla Coalition challenging the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza” imposed by Israel.

The group released a statement: “During an attack on the port of Gaza, the area came under fire from the Israeli Occupation forces. At about 2:00 a.m. local time Gaza Ark caught fire. The sustained Israeli assault prevented the civil defense fire brigade from extinguishing the blaze until approximately 3:30 a.m. … In the context of so many innocent civilian Palestinian deaths, the destruction of homes, hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure, the material damage to our project pales to insignificance. We are all thankful there was no loss of life in this particular attack, and we mourn with you all the senseless destruction and killings of Palestinians by the ongoing Israeli attacks.”

Lotayef said today: “The Israeli government’s rhetoric is that they are bombing to ensure security. But they are striking targets that obviously have nothing to do with security, like civilian homes, like infrastructure, like the port, like our ship. Israel has been targeting peaceful actions like Gaza Ark — we were attacked on the 29th of April as well — because Israel wants to suffocate Gaza, force people to leave. Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza to reduce the cost of occupation, not to end the occupation. Our project is focused on trying to get goods out of Gaza so the Palestinians there have a chance at interacting with the outside world. We try to export things like preserved food and Palestinian embroidery. But Israel doesn’t allow a port and is suffocating even fishing boats.”

Naiman — who is also policy director of Just Foreign Policy — recently wrote the article “Netanyahu’s War: What Is It Good For?” which states: “The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a new war on Palestinians in Gaza, a war whose purported justifications make George W. Bush’s excuses for his illegal invasion of Iraq smell nice by comparison. So far, the United States, Netanyahu’s chief enabler, has been unwilling to stop the carnage, as it could easily do, because Washington hasn’t yet heard enough complaint from Americans not to use their tax dollars to kill children in Gaza.”

Pushback Against Obama War on Whistleblowers

The New York Times reports that federal employees “commuting to work in the nation’s capital are finding fresh food for thought as they wait for the bus — glossy six-foot posters with an open invitation to blow the whistle on bad stuff happening at the office.”

The Times notes that 13 of the billboards “have been posted along public thoroughfares amid Washington’s workspace warrens, where thousands of employees and contractors toil, many in secrecy.”

The six-foot billboards feature a message from Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg: “Don’t do what I did. Don’t wait until a new war has started, don’t wait until thousands more have died, before you tell the truth with documents that reveal lies or crimes or internal projections of costs and dangers. You might save a war’s worth of lives.”

Ellsberg has joined with NSA, State Department, EPA and Justice Department whistleblowers to help launch ExposeFacts, which is sponsoring the billboards. The new organization is part of the nonprofit Institute for Public Accuracy.

The money for the billboards was provided by small donations from more than 600 individuals who responded to an appeal from the online activism group RootsAction.org.

For information on the ExposeFacts mission “for whistleblowing, journalism and democracy,” go to ExposeFacts.org. To see the Ellsberg billboard, click here. For exact billboard locations, click here.

The following members of the ExposeFacts advisory and editorial boards are available for interviews:

ANN WRIGHT, microann at yahoo.com
Wright is a retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, a 29-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserves, and a former State Department official. She helped re-open the U.S. embassy in Kabul in 2001. In 2003, she resigned in opposition to the then-impending invasion of Iraq. She has since co-authored the book Dissent: Voices of Conscience about whistleblowers.

MATTHEW HOH, mphoh at ciponline.org
Hoh, now a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq and on U.S. Embassy teams in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He was subsequently appointed Senior Civilian Representative of the U.S. government for Zabul Province in Afghanistan. Five months into his year-long contract in 2009, Hoh resigned and became the highest-ranking U.S. official to publicly renounce U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Hoh was awarded The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling in 2010.

He said: “It took years of involvement with a mendacious war policy, evidence of which was apparent to me as early as 2003, before I found the courage to follow my conscience. … It is not an easy or light decision for anyone to make, but we need members of our military, development, diplomatic and intelligence community to speak out if we are ever to have a just and sound foreign policy. … I trust ExposeFacts and its efforts will encourage others to follow their conscience and do what is right.”

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com
Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He said today: “These billboards are urging people who work in Washington to consider the consequences of silence, conformity and fear — which the Bush and Obama administrations have tried so hard to inculcate and enforce. The words from Daniel Ellsberg are powerful because they connect a lack of truth with horrific consequences of wars waged and lives lost.”

Solomon added: “The consent of the governed is real only if it’s the informed consent of the governed. That’s what genuine democracy requires. That’s what the Ellsberg billboard is saying. … The billboard is just the beginning of major outreach for whistleblowing in the nation’s capital and around the country. Propelled by the knowledge, wisdom and courage of several dozen whistleblowers and independent journalists on the ExposeFacts advisory board, we’re moving ahead to challenge government policies that are antithetical to the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

“Overall, we desperately need to nurture and propagate a steadfast culture of forthright whistleblowing. Whether the dire problems involve perpetual war, corporate malfeasance, climate change, institutionalized racism, patterns of sexual assault, toxic pollution or countless other ills, none can be alleviated without bringing grim realities into the light.”

Solomon is the author of a dozen books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

Mayors Call for Postal Banking; Big Bankers Hit Back

On July 7, U.S. News & World Report hosted a debate on postal banking. In “The Big Benefits of Postal Service Banking.” Senator Elizabeth Warren writes: “The Postal Service already has a presence in low-income and rural communities, and it could leverage that infrastructure to provide access to lower-cost basic banking services. This idea is a win-win: The Postal Service could offer affordable financial services for underserved families and, at the same time, shore up its own financial footing. The inspector general estimates the USPS can generate billions of dollars in new revenues by offering these services for modest fees.” In response, Richard Hunt, president and CEO of the Consumer Bankers Association cites the USPS’s losses of $46.2 billion dollars over the last eight years to conclude: “The Postal Service is more likely to burden our already strained federal budget than increase access for consumers.”

PostalReporter.com reported on July 3: “U.S. Conference of Mayors Endorse Postal Banking.”

At its June 20-23 annual meeting, the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed two resolutions in favor of United States Post Office-run banking services. One resolution calls for post office-based financial services as alternatives to predatory payday lending. The other resolution calls for a USPS-run infrastructure bank funded by private bank accounts like those held by millions of Americans until the 1960s.

MAYOR VIRG BERNARO, via Nicholas Soucy, nicholas.soucy at lansingmi.gov
Available for a limited number of interviews, Lansing Mayor Bernaro was primary sponsor of two postal banking resolutions passed at the 2014 United States Conference of Mayors annual meeting. The payday lending resolution reads, in part, “Approximately 12 million people turn to small-dollar, short-term ‘payday loans’ to make ends meet or cover emergency expenses … payday borrowers typically have no cash cushion, no savings, poor or no credit, and nowhere else to turn but payday lenders and other such financial predators … these predators charge exorbitant fees and usurious interest that result in effective annual percentage rates (APRs) averaging nearly 400 percent.”

MARC ARMSTRONG, marc at bankact.org,
Armstrong is co-founder of BankACT and the Public Banking Institute. He has said: “By offering inexpensive financial services, the USPS can help drive out financial predators, restoring billions of dollars to low-income neighborhoods at no cost to taxpayers … BankACT invites all mayors and other elected officials to take a stand with us on this trillion-dollar issue.”

See also: “Postal Service Crisis Brought on by Bizarre Law.”

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