News Releases

Testimony from Fort Hood

Multi-lane drive-through pharmacy on Ft Hood. Photo credit: Civilian-Soldier Alliance.

NBC is reporting: “The gunman in the Fort Hood shooting was an active-duty enlisted soldier who served four months in Iraq and was being evaluated for PTSD, military officials said Wednesday night.”

MATT HOWARD, mattwhoward at ivaw.org, @ivaw
Howard is communications director for Iraq Veterans Against the War, which recently organized the People’s Hearing on the Lasting Impact of the Iraq War, see righttoheal.org. The group will be releasing a report centered around Fort Hood on Memorial Day (May 26) tentatively titled “Operation Recovery: Testimony from Fort Hood.”

Howard spent three months at Fort Hood in 2012. He said today: “During our time organizing at Fort Hood we discovered they had a base policy that mandated against commanders overriding doctors orders to deploy troops with PTSD, TBI [traumatic brain injury], etc. but that commanders were in fact doing so regularly.

“Some of the issues our report highlights include the legacy of multiple deployments where troops are deploying and medicated (sometimes with psychotropic drugs). In Fort Hood, they have a drive-through pharmacy that has five or six lanes with the bank teller suction machines. Long story short there is a lot of need for mental health support and not enough help.”

DRAKE LOGAN, drakepurple at gmail.com
Logan is with the Civilian-Soldier Alliance, which “works with veterans and active-duty service-members to build a GI resistance movement towards a just foreign policy.” She is an author of the forthcoming report and has spent several months in Fort Hood the last two years.

She said today: “This story is obviously heartbreaking, and enraging given all we know about how mental health issues — and physical health issues — are actively ignored, neglected, stigmatized, and punished.

“While the major news agencies initially reported the shooting as an issue of ‘base security’ and ‘gun control,’ those of us who have been paying attention to the effects of multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the military’s long legacy of overriding soldier’s medical and mental health needs, know that the issue is much deeper.

“Through our testimony collection at Fort Hood and accompanying original research we have documentation of the system of abuse and neglect of health care needs at that base, with much evidence that the situation elsewhere on other U.S. posts are similar. The situation at Fort Hood (and nationally) is upheld by a system of policies which allow for commander discretion over medical and mental health needs; informally allow doctors to prescribe ‘band-aid’ prescriptions instead of providing real treatment; and ignore the need to enforce their own policies against stigmatizing health care needs. That system of policies includes base/command policies, Department of Army policies, and Department of Defense policies.

“Notably, Fort Hood has had a command policy in place for at least three years now which orders commanders to obey doctor’s orders as to soldier’s work restrictions (including whether or not they should deploy) instead of taking these as ‘recommendations.’ With no enforcement or accountability measures in place, this policy is violated rampantly.”

The forthcoming report was done in conjunction with Under the Hood Cafe & Outreach Center which is a community space for soldiers and veterans.

Note: Producers may wish to use George Carlin video on Shell Shock and PTSD

Supreme Court Establishing “Plutocrat Rights”

USA Today reports: “The Supreme Court took another step Wednesday toward giving wealthy donors more freedom to influence federal elections. The justices ruled 5-4, in a decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, that limits on the total amount of money donors can give to all candidates, committees and political parties are unconstitutional. The decision leaves in place the base limits on what can be given to each individual campaign.”

JOHN BONIFAZ, jbonifaz at freespeechforpeople.org, @FSFP
Bonifaz is president of Free Speech For People, a group that has sought to overturn the Citizens United decision.

JEFF MILCHEN, jeff.milchen at gmail.com, @JMilchen
Milchen is co-founder of the Montana-based American Independent Business Alliance, which was party to briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. He said today: “This decision, expanding the Supreme Court’s ‘money equals free speech’ doctrine has made the democratic republic, promised to us by our Constitution, impossible. Citizens’ votes are stripped of power when the wealthiest few have pre-determined which candidates and parties are acceptable for the rest of us to choose among.

“The Court majority also does immense harm to America’s independent businesses. Their ruling allows corporate executives and lobbyists to easily convert their economic power into countless political favors. These favors consistently harm our small business constituents by extracting subsidies for the largest corporations, stifling enforcement of anti-trust laws, and systematically giving anti-competitive advantages to the largest donors.”

RAHNA EPTING, via Adam Smith asmith at Publicampaign.org, @publicampaign
Deputy executive director at Public Campaign Action Fund, Epting said today: “The Supreme Court once again sided with the wealthiest among us at the expense of ordinary Americans. … This makes it more important than ever that Congress moves forward on legislation like the Government By the People Act to ensure people unable to write big checks have a voice in the political process.”

ROBERT WEISSMAN, via Angela Bradbery, abradbery at citizen.org, @Public_Citizen
Weissman is president of Public Citizen, which notes in a statement: “Today, in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down limits on the aggregate amounts people can donate to candidates, political parties and political committees. Demonstrations that Public Citizen helped organize are scheduled to take place throughout the country in response.” For more information, visit: citizen.org/mccutcheon and moneyout-votersin.org.

Weissman said today: “Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission strikes a devastating blow at the very foundation of our democracy.

“This is truly a decision establishing plutocrat rights. The Supreme Court today holds that the purported right of a few hundred superrich individuals to spend outrageously large sums on campaign contributions outweighs the national interest in political equality and a government free of corruption.

“In practical terms, the decision means that one individual can write a single check for $5.9 million to be spent by candidates, political parties and political committees.

“Even after Citizens United, this case is absolutely stunning. It is sure to go down as one of the worst decisions in the history of American jurisprudence.

“Until today, nobody could contribute more than $123,000 total in each two-year election cycle to political candidates and parties.

“Citizens United allowed Big Business to spend literally as much as it wants – predominantly in undisclosed contributions filtered through the likes of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – distorting our elections. But Citizens United money can go only to outside groups.

“Now McCutcheon removes meaningful limits on the total amount an individual can directly contribute to candidates, political parties and political committees. …

“There are literally only a few hundred people who can and will take advantage of this horrendous ruling. But those are exactly the people our elected officials will now be answering to.

“That is not democracy.

“It is plutocracy.

“Today’s reckless Supreme Court ruling threatens so many of the things we love about our country.

“No matter what five Supreme Court justices say, the First Amendment was never intended to provide a giant megaphone for the wealthiest to use to shout down the rest of us.

“Our only hope of overturning this McCutcheon travesty — along with Citizens United — is if millions of Americans band together in saying ‘Enough!’ to plutocracy.

“We couldn’t face a starker choice: Accept rule by the few, based on wealth. Or join together to protect and reclaim our democracy – the notion that We, the People decide.

“Today, people across the nation will be responding with protests to this outrageous decision. We, the People insist that our government and our country remain of, by and for the people – all the people, not just those few who have amassed billions in wealth.

“A vibrant movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and reclaim our democracy has emerged since the 2010 issuance of that fateful decision. The demonstrations today – unprecedented as a same-day response to a Supreme Court decision – are just the latest manifestation of how that movement is now exploding across the country.

“We refuse to cede control of our country and our government to amoral multinationals and morally comprised plutocrats

Is NSA “Reform” a “Trojan Horse”?

The Guardian reports: “NSA Performed Warrantless Searches on Americans’ Calls and Emails — Clapper“. Glenn Greenwald recently wrote: “NSA Blows Its Own Top Secret Program in Order to Propagandize“.

TREVOR TIMM, trevor at pressfreedomfoundation.org, @trevortimm
Timm is executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and recently wrote “Beware the Surveillance Reform Trojan Horse: What’s Not in the New NSA Laws?” in the Guardian, which states: “Stopping the government from holding onto of all Americans’ phone metadata would undoubtedly be a good thing for American privacy, but if you read between the legislative lines, the government might not be curtailing mass surveillance so much as permanently entrenching it in American law.

“Rep. Justin Amash, one of the NSA’s leading critics in the House, said of the Intelligence Committee bill: ‘It doesn’t end bulk collection but actually puts more Americans in danger of having their constitutionally protected rights violated.’ While the Obama plan is undoubtedly more promising, with court requests and much more, Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union has several important questions about the proposal that need to be answered before anyone will really be able to judge. And the Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez detailed why neither of these proposals are as good as the USA Freedom Act, which may now be getting boxed out.

“To be sure, neither of the two new proposals would actually ‘end mass surveillance’, as this National Journal headline proclaimed, or even ‘end bulk collection’ entirely, as most of the other reports suggest. Even the authors know it: the title of the House Intelligence bill was the ‘End Bulk Collection Act’ for just one day before it was changed, perhaps because, as Techdirt’s Mike Masnick wrote, ‘[Rep. Mike] Rogers and his staff realized that … was so bogus that they couldn’t go forward.’

“Curiously, a large majority of the House bill focuses on new ways for the government to collect data from ‘electronic communications service providers’ — also known as the internet companies. Why is a bill that’s supposedly about ending bulk collection of phone-call data focused on more collection of data from internet companies? And then there’s this clause, pointed out by the eagle-eyed Marcy Wheeler, which seems to try to head off court challenges to the bill once it’s passed into law.”

ACA “Conscientious Objector”

CBS News reports: “March 31 has finally arrived, and with it comes the last official day for people to sign up for health insurance on the federal exchange websites.”

MARGARET FLOWERS, M.D., mdpnhp at gmail.com, @MFlowers8
Flowers is a pediatrician in Baltimore and co-director of PopularResistance.org. She just wrote the piece “Why I Am A Conscientious Objector To The ACA,” which states: “I have been an outspoken advocate for a Medicare for all health system. During the health reform process, I did all that I could to push for single payer, including being arrested three times for civil disobedience. I was one of fifty doctors who filed a brief in the Supreme Court which expressed opposition to forcing people to buy private health insurance, a defective product. It pains me to see that the Affordable Care Act siphons billions of public dollars to create more bureaucracy and transfers hundreds of billions of public dollars directly to the private insurance industry when I know that those dollars should be paying for the health care that so many in our country desperately need.

“I am currently uninsured, so I have to make a choice. I don’t qualify for Medicaid and I’m too young for Medicare. By law, I am required to buy private insurance or pay a penalty. But I find myself in the position of not being able to do either. I can’t in good conscience give money to the health insurance industry that I am fighting to eliminate. And I can’t in good conscience pay a tax penalty that will be given to that industry. So, I am going to be a Conscientious Objector to the ACA. …

“Focusing solely on the number of people who are insured is what the private health insurance industry wants the public to believe is most important. The industry spent tremendous amounts of money and time to get a law that would force people to buy insurance in order to protect and enhance their assets. They want everyone to buy their products and to make people feel reckless or irresponsible if they don’t. This is a massive campaign to distract people from asking the questions that really matter, such as whether people with insurance will be able to afford health care, whether bankruptcies from medical debt will continue and whether overall health outcomes will improve.

“In the United States, having health insurance does not guarantee access to necessary health care. In fact, rather than creating health security, the ACA is degrading health care coverage in the U.S. It is also creating the largest transfer of public dollars to a private industry ever, as UNITE HERE reports, ‘most of the ACA’s $965 billion in subsidies will go directly to commercial insurance companies.’”

Flowers recently debated Dean Baker on the ACA on The Real News.

Leaked YouTube Tape: Turkey Plotting Pretext for War With Syria?

While there was extensive media coverage of the Turkish government cutting off YouTube late last week, just prior to that, there was a posting on YouTube of an apparently leaked tape of Turkish government officials plotting a pretext for war with Syria that has received relatively little attention.

Some exceptions include: Reuters “Turkey Calls Syria Security Leak ‘Villainous,’ Blocks YouTube” and USA Today: “Turkey Blocks YouTube After Audio Recording Leaked,” which reported: “An audio recording leaked on YouTube appears to reveal that top Turkey officials were plotting to fake an attack against their own country as an excuse to wage war on [Syria].

“Turkey on Thursday blocked access to YouTube in the same week it banned Twitter after someone posted the audio recording.

“The audio claims to be a recording of Turkey’s foreign minister, its intelligence chief and an undersecretary of foreign affairs discussing plans to stage attacks on Turkey from Syrian soil to justify waging a counterattack on Syria, says Ilhan Tanir of the Turkish daily Vatanin Istanbul.

“The Turkish foreign ministry said the recording had been manipulated. At a rally in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir on Thursday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to confirm the leak was genuine, according to the BBC.”

ALI ORNEK, ornekali at gmail.com, @ornekali
Örnek is a journalist with the daily newspaper Sol in Turkey. He wrote “What You Have Missed if You Read Syria Leaks from Mainstream Media.”

MUSA AL-GHARBI, musaalgharbi at gmail.com, @Musa_alGharbi
Gharbi is a research fellow with the Southwest Initiative for the Study of Middle East Conflicts based at the University of Arizona. He recently wrote the piece “Red Hands Waving False Flags,” which notes that last week “an 8-minute video began circulating on YouTube wherein senior Turkish defense officials, including Defense Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan, discuss at length their intentions to have extremist groups in Syria carry out an attack on the Tomb of Suleiman Shah, the grandfather of the Ottoman Empire’s founder. This attack would then serve as a pretext for a land invasion into Syria. Just days prior to the leak, the Turkish government declared a violation of this site as a ‘red line’ which could prompt such an intervention.

“ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] was to be implicated in the attack, and the Erdogan administration was going to attempt to tie ISIS to the al-Asad regime, claiming the Syrian government was funding these jihadists in order to undermine the rebellion. And so, the response from Turkey would be to assist the ‘good rebels,’ thereby striking a simultaneous blow to ISIS and their ‘patron’ …

“The irony here is that it is the Turkish government which has long supported extremist groups in Syria, especially in the border region. While they have recently scaled back this support under international pressure, the administration clearly maintains links to some of these groups, which they planned to utilize in orchestrating the attack.

“This is perhaps the most shocking aspect of the video: it seems to be authentic.

“Shortly after it began to go viral, the Turkish government shut down access to YouTube in order to minimize circulation. PM Erdogan condemned the leakers as enemies of Turkey, and launched an espionage inquiry to find out who released the tape — verifying explicitly and implicitly that the contents of the video are accurate: the Erdogan administration has been caught red-handed in planning a false-flag attack to justify war with Syria.”

See: “Turkey YouTube Ban: Full Transcript of Leaked Syria ‘War’ Conversation Between Erdogan Officials.” DailyKos highlighted a second part of the allegedly leaked tape: “John Kerry Encouraged Turkish Invasion of Syria.”

While there is periodic speculation about false-flag operations, there are documented instances of such plots. For example, see this 2013 piece in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: “The Lavon Affair: How a False-Flag Operation Led to War and the Israeli Bomb” about an operation in 1954 by elements of the Israeli government to strike Western targets in Egypt to undermine relations between Egypt and the West.

Is Obama Falsifying Legacy and Legality of Iraq War — and Crimea?

Activists and legal experts are criticizing President Obama’s remarks in Brussels on Wednesday on war and international law. Among other things, Obama claimed: “But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.”

MATT HOWARD, mattwhoward at ivaw.org
Howard is communications director for Iraq Veterans Against the War, which just helped organize the People’s Hearing on the Lasting Impact of the Iraq War on Wednesday night in Washington D.C., moderated by Phil Donahue. See righttoheal.org for video of the event and other materials. Howard can also connect media to other participants in the event.

See from Commondreams.org: “Anger, Disbelief as Obama Defends U.S. Invasion of Iraq” and “#RightToHeal: 11 Years On, Bearing Witness to Iraq War’s Lasting Harm,” which quotes several participants in Wednesday’s event, including Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist (see New York Times story: “Environmental Poisoning’ of Iraq Is Claimed“), Kristi Casteel, mother of IVAW member Joshua Casteel, Rebekah Lampman, IVAW member who spoke about sexual assault and Yanar Mohammed, president and co-founder of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, who addressed how the U.S. invasion fostered sectarian war and other issues. Mohammed recently appeared on the program “Democracy Now!

JOHN QUIGLEY, Quigley.2 at osu.edu
Professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley dealt with conflicts between Ukraine and Russia arising from the breakup of the USSR on behalf of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He recently wrote the piece “Finding a Way Forward for Crimea,” for the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law.

He said today: “Mr. Obama is failing to focus on what is appropriate as a status for Crimea, which is the center of the present conflict. He is not giving weight to the fact that the population of Crimea considers Crimea to be part of Russia historically, and that it saw no reason why Crimea should be part of Ukraine once the USSR broke up. He challenges Mr. Putin’s point that the population of Crimea was under threat. Whether that is so or not, one still has to consider the right of self-determination of the people of Crimea.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999). He said today: “In March 2003 the United States launched an illegal and criminal war of aggression against Iraq based on false pretexts, a Nuremberg Crime against Peace. The United States destroyed Iraq as a functioning state and effectively carved-up Iraq de facto into three mini-statelets that are at war with each other today, killing an estimated 1.4 million Iraqis in the process. Suicide bombings in Iraq continue to be a fact of everyday life. By comparison, the Russian annexation of Crimea was almost bloodless.”

Obama, Saudi Arabia and “Reactionary Violence”

President Obama begins his visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday.

TOBY C. JONES, tobycjones at yahoo.com, @tobycraigjones
Jones is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University and author of the book Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia. He said today: “The U.S. must rethink its relationship with Saudi Arabia. While many in Washington believe that our long-standing partners in Riyadh are the least worst option in the Middle East, the reality is that the kingdom is a dangerous and destabilizing actor. Saudi Arabia is a violent place, with an oppressive regime, that has doggedly pursued the path of counter-revolution since 2011. It seeks not stability nor security for residents across the Middle East. Rather, Saudi leaders seek domination and are supporting reactionary violence in places like Egypt, Bahrain and Syria to help them achieve it.”

ALI AL-AHMED, via Chidinma Zik-Ikeorha, externalaffairs at gulfinstitute.org, @AliAlAhmed_en
Director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, al-Ahmed said today: “Obama should end the current U.S. policy of ignoring the rights and aspirations of the Arab people in the Arabian Peninsula. The U.S. has no credibility on human rights without publicly confronting the Saudi monarchy on its dire human rights record and its destruction of the Arab people’s desire for freedom and progress.”

VIJAY PRASHAD, Vijay.Prashad at trincoll.edu, @vijayprashad
Edward Said chair at American University in Beirut, Prashad is co-editor of Dispatches from the Arab Spring. He said today: “Obama is going to Saudi Arabia because the Sultans of Arabia have gone at each other’s throats. The Qatar-KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] feud has damaged the fragile unity built up since 1979 with the creation of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and the coordination of their policy over the past three decades. Qatari gas gives the little emirate independence, which allowed it to become the patron of the Muslim Brotherhood — a group that the KSA does not support. Disputes between these countries predates the war in Syria and the Arab Spring. Some of it has to do with KSA’s very strong position against Iran which is not shared on the peninsula. Will the U.S. be able to patch things up? Unlikely. The transition in Qatar did not solve the KSA’s grouse, and nor will Obama’s visit.”

Petitions for Snowden Encounter Officialdom in Washington

  • Former NSA Director Hayden Responds to News Conference
  • State Department Rebuffs Effort to Deliver Petition
  • Justice Department Accepts Documents With 100,000 Signers

The Department of Justice accepted a pair of petitions with more than 100,000 signers on Wednesday ­­– several thousand pages urging restoration of Edward Snowden’s passport and an ironclad U.S. government commitment not to interfere with political asylum for the National Security Agency whistleblower.

Acceptance of the petitions by the Justice Department at its Washington headquarters followed an attempt earlier in the day to deliver the passport-­related petition to the State Department, which declined to accept that 2,670-page petition.

Both petitions, sponsored by the activist organization RootsAction.org and posted online, include thousands of individual comments. (Petition regarding Snowden’s passport, addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry. “Hands Off Snowden” petition addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama)

Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA as well as of the Central Intelligence Agency, responded to criticism voiced at a Tuesday news conference by former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, whose responsibilities for the agency included preparing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates. McGovern blasted Hayden’s portrayal of the Fourth Amendment and said that “NSA” seems to stand for “No Such Amendment.” (McGovern’s comments and Hayden’s response in the Government Executive article “Should Edward Snowden Get His Passport Back?”)

Another speaker at the news conference was former whistleblower Coleen Rowley, a former FBI special agent and division counsel who was named one of Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. On Wednesday, she responded to Hayden’s comment with this statement: “Hayden’s partial response seems to be an attempt to obfuscate the fact that even the lower relevancy standard ingrained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 and also in Section 215 of the ‘Patriot Act’ was explicitly written to apply for use only in particular investigations of targeted suspects.”

Rowley added: “This is why the authors of the ‘Patriot Act,’ such as Congressman James Sensenbrenner, were themselves surprised and angered to discover that officials had secretly reinterpreted key terms of Section 215 to do away with all of the legal and pragmatic limitations that had previously existed to open the doors to their new post-9/11 policy of ‘collect it all.’ The ‘collect it all’ policy unfortunately includes all information about American citizens and other innocent people held by telecommunication companies, internet providers and other third-party data collection entities. This ‘nearly Orwellian’ massive vacuuming up of non­relevant information and metadata has already been determined as ‘unreasonable’ and therefore unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment by at least one federal district judge as well as by President Obama’s own constitutional and privacy law review panels.”

Video of the Tuesday news conference

Justice Department public affairs official Peter Carr accepted the boxes of petitions on the front steps of the Justice Department on Wednesday after the presenters ­­ McGovern, Rowley and RootsAction.org co-­founder Norman Solomon ­­ were told to leave the building. (photo)

Rowley said today: “It wasn’t easy to deliver the 105,000 petition signatures relating to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. So we were relieved this morning when the Department of Justice finally sent out an official to receive our boxes of documents. We can now hope that Eric Holder, John Kerry and other officials will read the thousands of comments from people who realize that post-­9/11 secret surveillance and ‘collect it all’ policies on American citizens and innocent people throughout the world need to be curtailed in order to preserve the American form of constitutional democracy.”

“President Obama seems yesterday to have finally committed himself to beginning some reform, but Congress should now realize that it too needs to regain effective oversight over a system that is viewed by nearly everyone as being out of control,” Rowley added. “Just as the number­-three FBI official at the time, William Sullivan, became the star witness to the Senate Intelligence Committee, disclosing the truth about J. Edgar Hoover’s illegal COINTELPRO operation in the latter years of the Vietnam War, so should Edward Snowden and other intelligence community whistleblowers be invited to testify. As Sullivan testified in 1975, U.S. officials engaged in secret surveillance and disruption activities never asked themselves whether their activities were ethical or legal.”

McGovern, Rowley and Solomon are available for a limited number of interviews.

Obama at Nuclear Summit: A Call to Respect NPT, Not Pursue New Cold War

[The New York Times is now reporting in "Obama to Call for End to N.S.A.’s Bulk Data Collection" that "the bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies..." However, the Institute for Public Accuracy is hosting a news conference at 1 p.m. at the National Press Club today addressing the ways in which the administration is continuing to pursue Edward Snowden, whose leaks pushed for reform efforts.]

ALICE SLATER, aslater at rcn.com
Slater is with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Abolition 2000 coordinating committee. She just wrote the piece “Time for a 21st Century U.S. Foreign Policy,” which states: “With 16,000 of the world’s 17,000 nuclear bombs in the U.S. and Russia, the U.S. should certainly not be fanning the fires for a new Cold War after the distressing events in Crimea and the Ukraine.

“Rather, we should acknowledge our broken promise to Gorbachev that we wouldn’t expand NATO if Russia didn’t object to a reunified Germany’s entry into NATO when the Berlin Wall came down, and promise not to invite the Ukraine or Georgia to become members of our old Cold War military alliance.

“We should be disbanding NATO and working for reform of the UN system so that it can fulfill its peacekeeping mission without archaic reliance on competitive regional military alliances. Further, we should remove our missiles from Poland, Romania and Turkey and negotiate the space weapons ban which China and Russia repeatedly proposed, and which only the U.S. blocked for several years in the UN’s Committee on Disarmament in Geneva which requires consensus.

“We should also reinstate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which Bush walked out of in 2001 and take up Russia’s offer to negotiate a treaty to ban cyberwarfare, which it proposed after the U.S. boasted about its virus attack on Iran’s enrichment facilities and which the U.S. rejected out of hand. …

“It’s ironic that Obama is now in the Hague at his third ‘Nuclear Security Summit’ to talk about locking down and securing loose bomb-making materials, without any discussion about how to honor our Non-Proliferation Treaty promise to eliminate our massive nuclear arsenal, for which we are planning to spend $640 billion over the next ten years for two new bomb factories, and new lethal delivery systems — missiles, planes, submarines.”

Snowden’s Passport, Asylum and Surveillance: News Conference

Nine months after revocation of his passport by the Obama administration, a news conference in Washington will call for a change in the U.S. government stance toward NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Participants — who will be available for a limited number of one-on-one interviews as well — include:

RAY McGOVERN, rrmcgovern at gmail.com
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.

“The past nine months of heavy labor, on the part of Snowden and the journalists in whom he put his trust, have birthed an easily recognizable image of Snowden as a patriot,” McGovern says. “Secretary of State John Kerry ought to be man enough to recognize that he made a big mistake in pulling the passport of an American patriot and making him stateless. The shocking truths revealed over the past nine months about government abuse amply show that Edward Snowden should get his passport back.”

COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan at earthlink.net
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. She just wrote the piece “NSA: No Problemo…Until” about lawmakers like Sen. Dianne Feinstein backing government surveillance — until they are a target.

Rowley warns: “The out-of-control ‘security state’ now threatens the balance of power set up under the Constitution — as well as the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. The President needs to fulfill his promises to change the rotten system that has resulted from years of deceitful ‘war on terror.’ A good first step would be to listen to Edward Snowden and other government whistleblowers instead of threatening them with prison terms equating them with being spies. Instead of magnifying the vilification of Edward Snowden — who happens, for better or worse, to have no option but to remain in a country of asylum — Obama ought to recognize that Snowden and earlier NSA whistleblowers are the ones who possess the insights to help him climb out of this rabbit hole, fix the constitutional mess and restore the rule of law.”

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com
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, will be presented at the Justice Department and the State Department the morning after the news conference.

The news conference will take place at:

When: Tuesday, March 25 at 1 p.m.
Where: National Press Club (Zenger Room)

Video of the news conference should be available a few hours after its completion at the accuracy.org and RootsAction.org websites.

Although Attorney General Eric Holder may consider the statement in his letter of July 23 to the Russian Justice Minister that “Mr. Snowden will not be tortured” a magnanimous pledge, some critics say it speaks volumes — as does Holder’s promise not to have Snowden executed. In a March 14 letter requesting a meeting with Attorney General Holder to present one of the petitions, McGovern, Rowley and Solomon wrote that “the human right of political asylum is well-established.”

The RootsAction.org petition to Holder, also addressed to President Obama, urges them “in the strongest terms to make an unequivocal public commitment not to interfere with the travels or political asylum process of Edward Snowden.”

The petition addressed to Secretary of State Kerry says: “I urge you to immediately reinstate the passport of Edward Snowden, a U.S. whistleblower who has educated the public about threats to our privacy and precious constitutional rights.”

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