News Releases

The Endless Death of Perpetual War

MATTHEW HOH, mphoh at
Hoh recently wrote the piece “The Beheadings Are Bait.” He also wrote “BDA, Genocide and Oil in Iraq,” which notes that examining the battle damage assessment shows that “most of what the U.S. has bombed in Iraq has not been heavily armored equipment or advanced weaponry, but rather a limited number of makeshift vehicles and roadside barricades.” He also recently wrote “Iraq War Veterans Should Know Better.”

He said today: “The President’s citing of the success of American military policy in Somalia and Yemen show how intellectually and morally dishonest this administration, like the previous administration, is. Both nations are chaotic and violent and American military action, particularly drone strikes that often kill innocents have not diminished al Shabaab in Somalia or al-Qaeda in Yemen, rather those groups continue to operate and enjoy the recruitment benefits of American airstrikes against Somalia and Yemeni civilians, as well as how American actions play into their propaganda narratives and raison d’être.

“A more apt comparison would have been Afghanistan, where a continued U.S. military policy of picking sides in a foreign civil war has seen American troops beginning their 13th year in combat in Afghanistan, violence against civilians at its highest level, the Taliban stronger and more confident than they have ever been, and Afghanistan’s government in Kabul in its most severe political crisis since 2001.

“What President Obama stated last night, which if put into policy will in effect be a re-invasion of Sunni lands by Shia and Kurdish forces backed by American firepower, will greatly exacerbate the Iraqi Civil War and will revert Iraq to the bloody days of 2006.”

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.

RAED JARRAR, rjarrar at
Policy impact coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee, Jarrar said today: “President Obama’s four-pronged strategy, announced in a brief speech last night, is still based on the myth that extremism can be defeated by military force. The plan includes using direct U.S. airstrikes, arming local ‘partners’ (i.e. proxy groups) for ground combat operations, preventing attacks against the U.S., and continuing humanitarian aid. The word ‘political’ was not mentioned a single time while discussing the situation in Iraq.

“Bombing Iraq and Syria into moderation and stability is one of the main underlying assumptions of the President’s strategy. While I wish there was a way to get rid of extremism this easily, this is why the President’s plan will not work:

- The U.S. tried this before, and failed. Actually, the U.S. tried to destroy ISIS while we had a full-on military occupation of the country with over 100,000 boots on the ground. The group, dubbed as ISI [Islamic State of Iraq] at the time, was weakened but — as we can all see now — was never defeated.

- Our Iraqi ‘partners’ are not that different from ISIS. They’re brutal, corrupt, sectarian and dysfunctional. Although the White House makes it seem like we’re stepping in to support our good friends to get rid of the one bad guy, facts in Iraq suggest that there is no legitimate Iraqi force that the U.S. can support. As Reuters reported earlier this week, in a piece entitled ‘Iraq’s Shi’ite militia, Kurds use U.S. air strikes to further own agendas,’ ‘Shi’ite militia and Kurdish forces fought under their own banners and the least visible flag was that of Iraq.’ A Kurdish commander quoted in the piece described the Shi’ite militia he’s coordinating with as the ‘Shi’ite ISIS.’ Human Rights Watch and other international organizations have documented numerous war crimes and gross human rights violations committed by Iraqi factions supported directly and indirectly by the U.S.

- Like in Syria, where the White Houses refuses to lump all armed opposition factions into one umbrella, Iraq has other armed opposition groups behind the uprising. These groups include remnants of the old regime and army, tribal militias, and other local groups. None of these agree with the ideology of ISIS, but they tolerate or coordinate with it hoping to get some leverage in addressing their legitimate grievances. Rather than attempting to draw a wedge between them and ISIS, the President’s plan will end up uniting them.

“There are very thoughtful and long term plans that can eliminate extremism in Iraq and Syria, but the U.S. military intervention, and continuing to support some Iraqi factions against others, will only delay real solutions.”

13 Years After 9/11: Has ISIS Been “A Saudi Project”?

At 9:00 ET this evening, President Obama is scheduled to address the nation on ISIS and waging war in Iraq and Syria.

ALI AL-AHMED, alialahmedx at, @AliAlAhmed_en
Director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, al-Ahmed said today: “We need political solutions rather than military solutions. U.S. allies have basically been the ones feeding violent groups like ISIS: Saudi Arabian, Qatari and Jordanian regimes. None of them have been held accountable for that. Quite the contrary, sometimes it seems to have been done with the approval of at least some U.S. officials.

“As Steve Clemons recently wrote: ‘Qatar’s military and economic largesse has made its way to Jabhat al-Nusra, to the point that a senior Qatari official told me he can identify al-Nusra commanders by the blocks they control in various Syrian cities. But ISIS is another matter. As one senior Qatari official stated, “ISIS has been a Saudi project.”‘

“Saudi officials like Bandar [bin Sultan] and Turki [bin Faisal al-Saud] come before U.S. audiences as enlightened individuals representing a ‘moderate’ government when their role in the region is anything but that. In fact, the ideology of the Saudi regime is remarkably similar to that of ISIS. You can see that in their statements and text books. The Saudi regime poses now as being critical of ISIS, but it’s great at speaking in different voices.

“The reality is that many of the suicide bombers in Iraq have been Saudis — and of course most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi.

“More generally, the Saudi regime has been a regressive influence through much of the region. It backed the coup in Egypt against the elected government there, helped crush the popular uprising in Bahrain and took in the dictators from Tunisia and Yemen. And of course, it oppresses its own people, including being the kingdom of women’s oppression — no other government has this notion of women being the property of their male guardians. It’s not that the culture is backward, it’s the government. The monarch has even kept several of his own daughters under house arrest, one of whom recently called for an uprising against the regime.

“Obama has been part of a long line of U.S. presidents who have backed the Saudi regime as it has oppressed the people of 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. The Saudi regime is not the solution as it’s often portrayed — it’s a huge part of the problem.”

Background: Steve Clemons, Washington editor at large for The Atlantic and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation recently wrote: “‘Thank God for the Saudis’: ISIS, Iraq, and the Lessons of Blowback,” which notes: “U.S lawmakers encouraged officials in Riyadh to arm Syrian rebels. Now that strategy may have created a monster in the Middle East.”

Yet, Chuck Todd in his interview with President Obama on the “Meet the Press” broadcast on Sunday portrayed more Saudi involvement as a solution: “I got a somewhat snarky email from a — from a casual viewer who said, ‘The United States gives a lotta military aid to Saudi Arabia. It’s about time they use it.’ What do you say to that?” Obama responded: “It is absolutely true that we’re going to need Sunni states to step up — not just Saudi Arabia — our partners like Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Turkey. They need to be involved.” Obama then referred to the “moderate Sunni states.”

Also, note: In fact, Saudi Arabia does not get “a lotta military aid” — but rather buys a lot of U.S. weapons, thus funding U.S. military corporations. See: “U.S. announces $60 billion arms sale for Saudi Arabia.”

Key Author of War Powers: Obama Needs Authority to Bomb Syria — Or Iraq

USA Today reports: “President Obama spends Tuesday soliciting congressional support for expanded military action against the insurgent group known as the Islamic State.”

The Jacksonville Journal-Courier in Illinois reports today: “President Barack Obama’s plans to expand the U.S. military role against Islamic extremist groups could overstep his authority, according to a longtime Jacksonville congressman who helped write the law that keeps the president’s power in check.

“Obama is expected to announce plans this week to expand the military campaign against the Islamic State. According to the Wall Street Journal, that could include intensifying air attacks to target militant strongholds.

“Paul Findley of Jacksonville, who served in Congress from 1961 to 1983 and was a principal author of the War Powers Resolution of 1973, says the president could be usurping authority specifically given to Congress.

“‘President Obama stated on network television … that he ‘may’ have authority to order airstrikes in Syria. He does not. Moreover, bombing he ordered in recent days in Iraq by U.S. aircraft violated the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973,’ Findley said.”

PAUL FINDLEY, findley1 at
Available for a limited number of interviews, Findley was a member of Congress from Illinois for 22 years. He is the author of six books including the bestseller They Dare to Speak Out. He resides in Jacksonville, Ill. The federal building in Springfield, Ill. is named for him.

He said today: “Our elected leaders are acting like jelly fish. Members of Congress must decide whether to bomb Iraq or Syria, or both. The president has no authority to bomb either country. He violates the Constitution with every bomb he sends to Iraq. Ordering acts of war is too serious a decision to leave to one man. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

“We just marked the 50th Anniversary of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which I voted for and which President Johnson used to dramatically escalate the Vietnam War. I never intended that Resolution to be a blank check for war against Vietnam. Yet that is exactly what Johnson used it for.

“As a consequence, in 1973, I helped draft the The War Powers Resolution and my vote helped override President Nixon’s veto.

“Enforcement of limits on presidential employment of war powers deserves the vigilance of each member of Congress. Each member should consider enforcement a grave personal responsibility. War measures that today seem inconsequential can lead to larger involvements tomorrow. Their ultimate size and duration are unpredictable, as we found in our costly war experiences in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Just recently, Congress stood by as the President ordered bombings in Iraq. Then two U.S. citizens were killed. Rather than using their deaths as a rallying cry for more war, they should be a warning of the negative consequences of war. It’s no accident that the framers deemed the decision of war-making too important to be made by one person.

“If the president orders acts of war in the absence of congressional approval, he risks impeachment by the House of Representatives for usurping a power the Constitution reserves exclusively to the Congress. If Obama wishes lawfully to order airstrikes in the territory of Iraq or Syria, he must first secure a resolution of approval from Congress.”

Behind Immigration Policy

MAEGAN ORTIZ, mala at, @mamitamala
Los Angeles-based independent journalist and organizer, Ortiz contributes to a number of media outlets and publishes VivirLatino, where she recently posted the piece “Why $3.7 Billion is Not Humanitarianism for Unaccompanied Minors at the Border.” Earlier this year, she wrote “Your 8 Biggest Questions About Immigration Reform, Answered” for Cosmopolitan.

DAVID BACON, dbacon at, @photos4justice
Bacon is author of The Right to Stay Home and three other books on immigration. He is a labor and immigrant rights activist, and part of the Dignity Campaign.

He said today: “President Obama’s decision to delay lifting the threat of deportation from many people is a retreat that will result in more deportations, detentions and firings of people who need equality, legal status and human rights. In the name of protecting Democrats in the midterm election, his decision will instead hurt those families who have been some of his greatest supporters. It does nothing to move forward to solve the problems of migration. More people will come to the U.S. tomorrow, driven by poverty and repression, made worse by our pro-corporate trade agreements and foreign intervention. Beefing up enforcement simply criminalizes them, while the continuation of pro-business guest worker programs provides a blatant subsidy for corporations who want to keep wages down and unions weak. We need pro-immigrant and pro-worker immigration reform, not more delays, draconian enforcement and corporate labor schemes.”

“Profit-Driven” BP’s “Willful Misconduct”

AP is reporting: “BP bears the majority of responsibility among the companies involved in the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, a federal judge ruled Thursday, citing the energy giant’s reckless conduct in a ruling that exposes the company to billions of dollars in penalties.” See story and PDF of decision.

HUGH KAUFMAN, hughbkaufman at
A noted expert and whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency, Kaufman said today: “Judge Carl Barbier has made a fair and reasoned decision, based on the facts. This means BP would have to pay a Clean Water Act penalty of over $4,000 per barrel of oil spilled instead of $1,000 per barrel or over $12 billion more in penalties. The next phase of the trial is also extremely important. Judge Barbier will determine how many millions of barrels of oil BP actually released in the spill. The government says BP spilled well over 4 million barrels, BP says just over 2 million barrels. Billions of dollars are also in play on that upcoming decision.” Kaufman is featured in the documentary “The Big Fix.” See excerpt on Vimeo.

ANTONIA JUHASZ, antoniajuhasz at, @antoniajuhasz
Author of Black Tide: the Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill, Juhasz is currently writing a feature article for Harper’s Magazine on the impacts of the disaster on the deep ocean following her participation in a submarine dive to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico at the site of the spill, which she discussed in a blog for Harper’s in April.

She said today: “Judge Barbier’s decision was both profound and significant. It demonstrates the lack of safety of all existing offshore oil operations and severely challenges the notion that those activities should be allowed to expand to areas such as the Atlantic coast and in more of the Arctic. The judge found that BP routinely put profit over prudence, people, safety, and the environment and the result was and remains catastrophic. Significantly, the judge found all three companies — BP, Halliburton, and Transocean — three of the largest offshore oil companies in the world — ALL guilty of causing this disaster and acting with negligence ultimately leading to the largest offshore oil spill in history and the deaths of eleven men.

“The fact that all of these companies were to blame means this is more than the problem of just one ‘bad apple.’ Tragically, yesterday, as this judgement was being handed down, a worker on a BP oil rig in the North Sea died during routine maintenance activities, highlighting anew the ongoing risks to these operations.

“The judge ruled that as leasee and operator, BP is ultimately responsible for the Gulf oil disaster and that it acted with ‘gross negligence’ and ‘willful misconduct.’ Over and over again the judge ruled that BP made decisions that were ‘profit-driven’ and an ‘extreme deviation from the standard of care and a conscious disregard for known risks.’

“By finding BP guilty of gross negligence, as the judge enters the third and final stage of the civil trial in January, BP can now be held liable for the highest possible fee under the Clean Water Act, as high as $4,300 per barrel of oil spilled, versus just $1,100 if it had only been found guilty of ‘negligence.’ BP could (and should) therefore face a fine of almost $18 billion for the 4.2 million barrels of oil released into the Gulf (5 million barrels of oil spilled from the Macondo well, but a tiny portion was recovered before entering the water). This does not include the additional fines BP will face once the Natural Resource Damage Assessment is concluded for the total environmental harm caused, which should total many more billions of dollars. The judge also left open the possibility that BP could face punitive damages in the future.” Juhasz appeared on “Democracy Now!” this morning.

“Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault”

JOHN J. MEARSHEIMER, j-mearsheimer at
Available for a limited number of interviews, Mearsheimer’s books include Why Leaders Lie: The Truth about Lying in International Politics and The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. He is distinguished professor of political science and co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago. He just wrote “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault: The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin” for Foreign Affairs.

JAN OBERG, oberg at, @TFFworldaffairs
Co-founder of the Swedish-based Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, Oberg recently wrote the piece “Ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine: Now withdrawal by Russia, the UN in and NATO out.”

NICOLAI PETRO, nnpetro at
Available for interviews until Friday, and then after Wednesday (he is going to a conference in Moscow), Petro is professor of politics at the University of Rhode Island and has recently returned from a year-long Fulbright research scholarship in Ukraine. He just wrote the piece “Eastern Ukraine: The Neverending Crisis” for the National Interest, which states: “Russia has responded to popular aspirations in eastern Ukraine very differently from the way it responded in Crimea. These differences, however, have been ignored by most Western observers, who base their analysis on three assumptions. First, that despite his disavowals, Putin is in fact actively supporting the rebels with weapons and finances. Second, that without this support, the rebellion would collapse for lack of popular support. And finally, that once the rebellion is suppressed, Ukraine will embark on economic and political reforms that will stabilize the country. Because each of these assumptions is quite far from the mark, not surprisingly, so is Western policy toward both Ukraine and Russia.”

Also, see his recent interview “Who gets to define what it means to be Ukrainian?” in Russia Direct.

NATO: Part of Solution — Or Problem

DAVID N. GIBBS, dgibbs at
Author of First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, Gibbs is a professor of history and government at the University of Arizona. He has written extensively on NATO.

He said today: “Foreign policy specialists have rightly condemned Russian intervention in the Ukraine, which has aggravated political divisions in that country. At the same time, we should recognize that the United States and NATO have also contributed to the destabilization. Russia’s actions are at least partly a response to policies adopted by the U.S. and NATO immediately following the Cold War.

“People often forget that post-Soviet Russia was at first highly cooperative with U.S. and Western policy, and they disbanded the Cold War era Warsaw Pact alliance. Russians assumed that in response the U.S. would gradually disband NATO, as a symmetrical action, or at the very least the U.S. would not expand NATO. Instead, the U.S. orchestrated NATO’s expansion, beginning in the late 1990s, incorporating several post-Soviet states. More recently, there has been open discussion of further expanding NATO, with possible membership for the Ukraine and Georgia. Russia views its interventions in the Ukraine as defensive actions, against NATO threats to its border security. NATO expansion must be viewed as a short-sighted action, one that was bound to provoke the Russians, and it laid the groundwork for the Ukraine’s civil war.”

Nader on Pushing Minimum Wage; Left-Right Alliance

Available for a limited number of interviews, Nader recently wrote the piece “Democrats Are Doomed (Unless They Make the Minimum Wage the #1 November Election Issue).”

Nader notes that a rise in the minimum wage is backed by “Republicans like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and Bill O’Reilly” and polls between 70 and 80 percent. See from Gallup: “In U.S., 71 Percent Back Raising Minimum Wage.”

He said, “No more lip service or half measures! As corporate profits and CEO pay soar ever higher, 30 million hardworking Americans — two-thirds women and two-thirds employed by large corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s — are making less today, adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1968!”

Though the Republican House leadership has prevented a vote on the minimum wage bills, Nader writes: “Earlier this year, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) filed a discharge petition to force an up or down vote on H.R. 1010. To date, 195 House members have signed the petition. Only 23 more member signatures are needed to bring H.R. 1010 to a vote.” A discharge petition is a procedure to force a vote on an issue even if the House leadership is opposed.

Writes Nader: “The Time for a Raise campaign just released a study identifying 55 Members of Congress who have yet to sign H.R. 1010′s discharge petition to bring a federal minimum wage raise to a vote, but who could be susceptible to pressure on the issue. Visit to see the report.” The report notes the vulnerability of “26 other House Republicans who voted for a minimum wage increase in 2007.” Similarly, Nader derides Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for caving when faced with the Senate Republican leadership’s “emailed intention to filibuster.”

Nader will be speaking at the National Press Club on Thursday with Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, on issues “where the left and right can come together” — especially issues like government transparency, civil liberties, military spending, trade deals, corporate crime and corporate welfare.

Nader’s latest book is Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. Earlier this year, Nader’s office hosted a conference on left-right alliance, which included remarks from Norquist. Video of the conference is here.

Davis is a campaign activist for Time for a Raise campaign, a project of Nader’s Center for the Study of Responsive Law. He said today: “I see us in the third round of the minimum wage raise fight: the first was getting the issue on the table in 2012; the second was getting it to the top of Democratic agenda in 2013; and now, the third is getting to a vote in the House. The discharge petition is 23 signatures away from forcing a vote and yet there has been insufficient effort to bring the petition to the finish line. This report aims to catalyze an effort to secure these 23 signatures by focusing in on the 55 Members who have not yet signed the petition, but should given their past votes, past statements and past district voting patterns.”

See Washington Post on discharge petition: “Democrats plan rare legislative maneuver to force vote on minimum wage. Will it work?

Burger King Deal a Tax Dodge for Brazilian Billionaire, Hurts both U.S. and Canada

CBS News reports: “As Burger King eyes moving its headquarters to Canada to lower its tax bill, a Democratic senator is recommending a boycott of the burger joint.”

JAMES S. HENRY, jamesshelburnehenry at
Available for a limited number of interviews, Henry is former chief economist at the international consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. He is now senior fellow at the Columbia University Center for Sustainable International Investment and senior adviser with the Tax Justice Network, which earlier this year in their report “The Price of Offshore Revisited” estimated that total wealth in tax havens was between $21 trillion and 32 trillion dollars.

Henry is featured in the film “We’re Not Broke,” which tells the story of U.S. corporations dodging billions of dollars in income tax and is available on Netflix.

He said today: “You now have 100 major U.S. companies looking at ‘inversions’ like what Burger King is doing. This deal is a tax dodge by a Brazilian billionaire and other investors, it will hurt the U.S., Canada and such deals hurt virtually everyone else. These deals exposes domestic companies to competitors that are not paying substantial taxes.

“Contrary to some analysts, the Miami-based Burger King’ deal for Canada’s Hortons WOULD shift BK to Canada for tax purposes. BK is saying that that the deal would not ‘materially effect’ its effective U.S. tax rate of 27 percent, given that Canada’s ‘corp tax rate’ is ’26.5 percent.’

“But given Canada’s effectively territorial corp income tax, plus its generous tax treaties with havens like Barbados, there’s a strong possibility that this deal could ultimately lead to a U.S. tax rate on Burger King’s entire U.S. income that is closer to zero than to 27 percent.

“Since Canada has a territorial corporate income tax it also does not benefit from this deal: the U.S. IRS will lose, but Canada is already not collecting any taxes on BK’s non-Canadian income. And it does lose yet another outstanding domestic company to rapacious global vultures.” See: “Tim’s + BK = $ for Canada right? …. Wrong! (in one table).”

Forbes writes: “The Burger King inversion deal is being driven by Jorge Paulo Lemann, Brazil’s richest man and co-founder of 3G Capital, the private equity firm that holds a majority stake in Burger King.”

Says Henry: “I’ve met Lemann and he made his fortune in the Brazil privatization wave of the 1990s — it was like Russia’s disastrous privatizations, riddled with corruption. Brazil sold assets for $98 billion and gave $99 billion in tax benefits — they actually lost money on selling off assets. Now, Lemann goes around like some business genius, but he’s just a scam artist. It’s not business, it’s tax dodging. Brazil’s tax system, inspite of recent presumably progressive administrations, has a very regressive tax system — the top 10 percent of Brazilians pay lower share than the bottom 50 percent. Lemann probably doesn’t pay any taxes in Brazil.

“It’s been tech companies and pharmaceutical companies that have lead the charge on these schemes. Apple last year off shore revenue paid 1 percent in taxes — they funnel their profits through their Irish subsidiary and then through the Bahamas. GE’s effective tax was zero. Now it’s getting into retail.

“So these companies do business in the U.S., they benefit from the airports, hospitals, police, fire, education. The rest of us pay for the military. Some of them are even federal contractors — they don’t pay taxes but they make money directly from our national coffers.

“Some are even using this to push for a tax repatriation holiday or a gutting of the corporate income tax. Both of these would be a disaster. When there was a repatriation holiday in 2004, 90 percent of the benefit went to Pfizer and they then laid off workers.

“And gutting the corporate tax rate would not only be horrible for us in the U.S., it would be a disaster for poor countries. It’s a race to the bottom. In Africa, you have countries that have effective negative tax rates. Instead of collaborating on tax collection across countries — they’re competing to go lower and lower.

“And all this is being driven by the fact that the corporate lobby doesn’t discriminate. Both establishment parties have been on the take and that’s why you have so little leadership on this issue.”

Militarization of Police

MARSHA COLEMAN-ADEBAYO, nofearcoalition at
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo recently co-wrote “No Rights that a White Man is Bound to Respect” for Black Agenda Report. She will be speaking at a rally outside the Justice Department Wednesday afternoon “to call on the Attorney General to help secure justice for Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, Missouri, as well as an overhaul of U.S. law enforcement tactics in order to stop police brutality and the militarization of our police forces.” For more information on the rally, see here or contact: Alli McCracken, CODEPINK national coordinator, alli at

Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of No FEAR: A Whistleblower’s Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. Her successful lawsuit lead to the passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act).

MICHAEL SHANK, michael at, @Michael_Shank
Shank just co-wrote “Stop Treating America Like a War Zone” with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who The Hill reports is “drafting legislation to limit a Pentagon program that provides surplus military equipment to local law enforcement.”

They write: “America is finally waking up to the militarization of its police forces. This is a good thing and heralds a tipping point in the changing face of policing in the United States. America must realize that what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri — with the overwhelming militarized response of local police forces to the protests over the shooting of an unarmed black teenager — is also bound to happen in other American cities. With outrage mounting over the crackdown in Ferguson, now is the time to act.

“Ferguson is not alone in having a militarized police force. There are countless stories of police departments getting (and later selling) assault weapons, drones and other military-grade equipment that is absolutely ill-suited for America’s main streets. The Columbia Police Department in South Carolina, for example, received a free Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle, known as an MRAP, from the Pentagon, which otherwise would have cost Columbia nearly $700,000 (though the city is responsible for all repairs and upkeep going forward). Columbia’s interim police chief, Ruben Santiago, justified the acquisition by saying that the vehicle “will be a barrier between the public and a hostile person or situation such as a barricaded suspect with weapons who may be threatening someone’s life.”

Michael Shank is associate director for legislative affairs at the Friends Committee on National Legislation and adjunct faculty at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

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