Friday, September 7, 2007

Hillary: Another Bad Moon Rising

September 6, 2007

Hillary: A Clear and Present Danger

By Stephen Pizzo

Way the hell back in 1992 I wrote a long magazine piece detailing George W. Bush's alleged business successes. (See here) The bottom line of the piece was that George was a made man – made rich through a series of incestuous deals arranged by his daddy's friends.

That article told voters and the media everything they needed to know about George W. Bush – everything they needed to know the kind of President he would be if elected.

Voters elected him anyway (well, appointed once and elected once to be precise) and the rest is history. It will take decades for the GOP to repair the damage this one man had done to their party, and the rest of us decades more to repair the damage he has done to America and and the world.

But I am not here today to beat that horse again. Instead I am hoping that the voters – this time Democratic voters – learned something about weighing a candidate's character before they vote for him – or her.

The "her," in this case, meaning Hillary Clinton. Like George W. Bush there's plenty of data out there for those paying attention, and much of it more than hints at the kind of President Hillary would be should they be foolish enough to elect her to that post.

In many ways – too many ways – Hillary is – (physiology aside) – George W. Bush.

Today I offer two pieces of evidence to support that startling claim. First this, which landed in my email box yesterday:

My encounter with Hillary's people.

I'd just like to relate a recent incident that speaks to the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and those who support and advocate for her. At the Rally in Portsmouth, NH on Labor Day Weekend, Clinton Campaign workers, with the help of local police, prohibited me from entering the Rally area because I carried an anti-war sign.

On Sunday, September 2nd, the day of the Clinton Rally in Portsmouth, I went downtown with a sign that read "No first strike on Iran" and on the other side "Stop the Killing." The Clinton Campaign had taken over a large area of Pleasant Street from State Street to Market Square and claimed large areas of the public sidewalks as well. I stood in the Square for over an hour as people assembled for the Rally.

When people were permitted to enter the rally areas, I started to walk in with them. I was stopped by Clinton Campaign workers who told me that no signs were permitted. I'd have to leave my sign outside the rally area.

I am a thirty-year resident of Portsmouth, a member of the anti-war movement, and NH Coordinator for Codepink: Women for Peace. Whether you agree with my politics or not, this is still supposed to be a democracy--or more accurately a Republic with democratic ideals. I know that this is not what the Constitution says about my rights of free speech. I challenged them. I was certain that there would be
pro-Hillary signs permitted in the rally zone.

They would not permit me to go forward. I asked them to send a policeman over for me to talk to and (a detective) showed up and informed me, I have since found out erroneously, that the Clinton campaign had a permit for a "no-sign zone" and that I would have to leave. Not wanting to be arrested, I said that I would comply with his request but that I needed to assert my Constitutional Right of Free Speech. I was required to leave under threat of arrest. I did so.

Now if any of you have seen photos of this event, you will clearly understand my chagrin when you see the Pro-Hillary signs all over the Rally's designated "NO SIGNS" area.

Tuesday morning, I called City Hall and inquired as to the specifications of the Rally permit. Portsmouth City Manager John Bohenko said that there was no such restriction in the permit that was issued to the Clinton Campaign, that they were required to permit entry to anyone who wanted to come in and he and City Attorney Robert Sullivan both said that I had every right to have been on public property with my sign.

I listened from outside the barricades and heard Hillary Clinton speak, more than once, to restoring the Constitution, and later, to not making anyone invisible. She spoke to the private-club, ownership society of the Bush Administration. I think, from her campaign's actions, that she might belong to the same club.

So what does this say to you about the Hillary Clinton campaign and those who support and advocate for her candidacy?

Sadly, I know what it says to me.

Barbara H.

Okay, what's that say about Hillary? If you are intellectually honest you will have to conclude that it says the same thing about her, and the people she has chosen to surround her, as what this says about George W. Bush and the people around him.

White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters

August 22, 2007:
Not that they're worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn't want any. A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of "deterring potential protestors" from President Bush's public appearances around the country.

Those entering must be screened in case they are hiding secret signs. Any anti-Bush demonstrators who manage to get in anyway should be shouted down by "rally squads" stationed in strategic locations. And if that does not work, they should be thrown out. (Full)

Democracy – the real kind as opposed to the purely rhetorical – is rambunctious. It must be. Public officials and candidates who fear unscripted, non-choreographed public events are not democrats (small “d.”) They cannot possible lead people, half or more of whom, they fear.

I've said it before and I'll say it again – Hillary Clinton will do to the Democratic Party what George W. Bush has done to the GOP. Also I suspect-- strongly -- that a Hillary Clinton presidency would set back women in high office in ways hard to predict, yet entirely predictable.

I promised two things. Here's the other.

Hillary's Prayer: Hillary Clinton's Religion and Politics
September/October 2007
MotherJones Magazine

It was an elegant example of the Clinton style, a rhetorical maneuver subtle, bold, and banal all at once. During a Democratic candidate forum in June, hosted by the liberal evangelical group Sojourners, Hillary Clinton fielded a softball query about Bill's infidelity: How had her faith gotten her through the Lewinsky scandal?

Clinton's prayer group was part of the Fellowship (or "the Family"), a network of sex-segregated cells of political, business, and military leaders dedicated to "spiritual war" on behalf of Christ, many of them recruited at the Fellowship's only public event, the annual National Prayer Breakfast. (Aside from the breakfast, the group has "made a fetish of being invisible," former Republican Senator William Armstrong has said.) The Fellowship believes that the elite win power by the will of God, who uses them for his purposes. Its mission is to help the powerful understand their role in God's plan.

Yep. That's right... and I mean “right” in both real and political ways. You have to read the entire 4-page article to get the full effect, so when you're done with me, pop over and read the Mojo piece. Because, just like the piece I wrote way back in 1992 about George W. Bush in the same venue, it's a warning, clear, present and looming.

Here's my take on the Hillary/God stuff. There are only two possible explanations for Hillary's prayer group – and choice of prayer groupies – and neither explanation is reassuring.

1) It's just another Hillary political calculation formed with fellow conservative-leaning Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) members who have been preaching the need for Dems to “get closer to people of faith,” in order to lure evangelicals into the Democratic camp.


2) Hillary Clinton actually believes all that evangelical nonsense, meaning she'd be another president who believes she was chosen by heavenly spirits.

If voters insist on voting for Hillary Clinton they may well deserve what they get. The trouble is the rest of us don't deserve that, just as we didn't deserve what the entirely predictable George W. Bush has burdened us, and the world, with.

You are being warned, not by me, but by readily available information. Ignore it at your own risk. Just don't drag the rest of us along, again.

Authors Website:

Authors Bio: Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

A Pox On Both Their Houses

Our Politics are and will remain one huge lie until there is a multi-party system which better describes what politicians stand for.

Democratic House Officials Recruited Wealthy Conservatives
By Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Report

Thursday 06 September 2007

This letter sent from then DCCC Head Rahm Emanuel to Democratic House hopeful Jan Schneider underscores a DCCC policy of remaining "neutral" in primary races. Schneider soon came to doubt the letter's sincerity.

It was the day after Christmas 2005 and Christine Cegelis sat alone at her dining room table, trying to figure out how to tell her campaign volunteers that she was going to drop out of the 2006 Democratic primary.

The next evening she was to meet with friends and colleagues who had organized around her candidacy for the House of Representatives in the 6th District of Illinois. Her volunteers had walked block after block of the suburban district and spent hours making phone calls to solicit donations and promote the campaign. Many of these people had been at Cegelis's side during her 2004 campaign and witnessed the fruits of their labor when long-time Republican Representative Henry Hyde decided to retire instead of facing Cegelis again in 2006. This was their shot to have a national impact.

But pressure coming from the national Democratic Party was too great. The Democrats had found a challenger for Cegelis, an Iraq veteran named Tammy Duckworth. Contributions were pouring into the opposing campaign and Duckworth was shuttled into the national media spotlight. Cegelis began receiving calls from Democratic members of Congress informing her that they were planning to support Duckworth.

Some of Cegelis's own paid campaign staff implored her to drop out; and she had every reason to listen. She had only $40,000 in the bank, her campaign manager had given up on the campaign and given her office staff two weeks' paid vacation without Cegelis' permission, and her media coordinator had recently quit. Rumor had it that Illinois Senator Barack Obama was going to star in television commercials for Duckworth - star power the Cegelis campaign could never match.

The next day when she sat down in her campaign office with her twelve closest volunteers, Cegelis prepared herself to admit defeat. She laid out the worst-case scenario: The Democratic Party was willing to spend millions of dollars to defeat her in the primary. If she did manage to beat Duckworth, the party would not help her in the general election, leaving the campaign on its own to face a Republican candidate who was hand picked by the national Republican Party.

Instead of agreeing to quit, every one of her volunteers looked her in the eye and said, "We are here to fight."

In May 2004, a former candidate for the New York State Legislature named Cynthia Pooler founded November Victories and Democrat Unity, online forums for new candidates who were running for Congress as Democrats.

"Before you knew it, candidates started talking about the difficulties they were having with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic leadership," Pooler said.

According to Democratic candidates who ran for House of Representative seats in 2006, Rahm Emanuel, then head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, took sides during the Democratic primary elections, favoring conservative candidates, including former Republicans, and sidelining candidates who were running in favor of withdrawal from Iraq.

Appointed as head of the DCCC by then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Emanuel spearheaded the Democratic Party effort to regain control of the House of Representatives during the 2006 election cycle. Emanuel claimed credit for the Democratic takeover and was promoted to chairman of the Democratic Caucus, the fourth-highest ranking position in the House. But his election tactics have been criticized by progressive activists and former Congressional candidates.

According to his critics, Emanuel played kingmaker by financially supporting his favored candidates during primary contests with other Democrats. His critics say that this interference was in direct contradiction of a DCCC policy to "remain neutral" in party primaries.

According to Doug Thornell, spokesperson for the DCCC, "The policy of the DCCC is not to get involved in primaries, unless there is an unusual circumstance that demands it. I cannot speculate on what those circumstances might be. The majority of these cases [2008 primaries] will be left up to the voters on the ground. Meddling hasn't taken place this cycle, and for the most part last cycle. That isn't an accurate way to describe what happened. We are cognizant of having local support for our candidates."

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, would not comment on the DCCC's alleged interference.

However, a source close to the DNC indicated that there was disagreement between Dean and Emanuel over election tactics. In his recent book, "The Thumpin'," Naftali Bendavid, a journalist who spent months inside the DCCC operation and at Emanuel's side, reported a heated conversation between Dean, Emanuel and Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) regarding election strategies of the DCCC and the DNC. At the time, Dean was focusing on helping local organizations across the country to mobilize their communities to support Democrats. Emanuel wanted to focus the resources of the national party on specific races that were the most likely to be competitive for Democrats. According to Bendavid, Emanuel said to Dean, "You're nowhere, Howard. Your field plan is not a field plan. That's fucking bullshit ... I know your field plan - it doesn't exist. I've gone around the country with these races. I've seen your people. There is no plan, Howard."

How Emanuel came to his decisions about which candidates to support against Democratic opponents is known only to Emanuel and his staff. Emanuel declined direct comment on this story. But an examination of individual races reveals a pattern of financial and political support for wealthy conservative candidates and an assault on their grassroots-supported opponents who were running on platforms that included a full withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.

Illinois's 6th District: Christine Cegelis vs. Tammy Duckworth

A well-documented instance of interference by the DCCC during a Democratic primary occurred during the contest between Christine Cegelis and Tammy Duckworth. Cegelis, a strong proponent of withdrawal from Iraq, encountered unexpected and effective opposition from the DCCC.

Cegelis challenged former 16-term Republican Congressman Henry Hyde in 2004. An information technology specialist, Cegelis had no previous experience in politics, but decided to face off against an entrenched incumbent Republican. Her 2004 campaign, run on a meager budget with mostly volunteer staff, was able to create a tightly knit grassroots infrastructure in the Illinois 6th Congressional District. In 2004, Cegelis received just over 44 percent of the vote. The 82- year-old Hyde decided to retire rather than face another reelection campaign in 2006. This seat became a top target for the Democratic leaders and a microcosm of a much larger battle for the future of the Democratic Party.

Emanuel, himself a congressman from the neighboring 5th District of Illinois, apparently tried to recruit six different candidates to run against Cegelis. According to Kevin Spidel, campaign manager for the Cegelis campaign, all of Emanuel's attempts failed because the potential candidates "all said 'hell no!' They knew the resentment they would face. If you were in the district, you knew how much Cegelis was loved. She built her own machine."

Eventually, Emanuel found a candidate who lived just outside the district, Tammy Duckworth. Duckworth, a helicopter pilot who was severely injured in combat in Iraq, was convinced to run against Cegelis by Emanuel and two Democratic heavyweights, Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama.

Duckworth was not a proponent of a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq. The Los Angeles Times, quoting Duckworth, reported that she believed the military should not "'simply pull up stakes' in Iraq because it would 'create a security vacuum' and 'risk allowing [Iraq] ... to become a base for terrorists.'" According to the same article, Duckworth supported "a pullout of US forces on a schedule based on the training of Iraq's armed forces."

Expedited withdrawal from Iraq was a main plank of the Cegelis campaign platform.

According to Bendavid's book, "Duckworth quickly became the center of a nasty fight over Emanuel's tactics." According to Bendavid, "Emanuel, Durbin, and other Democratic leaders did not believe Cegelis was working hard enough or raising sufficient money ... [Emanuel, Durbin, and other Democratic leaders] used their clout to persuade Duckworth to run and to direct money, attention, and endorsements her way."

Tim Bagwell, a grassroots activist and Cegelis campaigner, said that Duckworth was "hot-wired" into the national media and fund-raising circuit by the DCCC. George Stephanopoulos, who served in the Clinton administration with Emanuel, interviewed Duckworth on his Sunday morning ABC News program, elevating her to national prominence.

According to Spidel, the Cegelis campaign was prevented from accessing Democratic fund-raising and Political Action Committee lists held by the DCCC. Cegelis said that many of the potential donors she contacted had been instructed by the DCCC not to give her campaign money. She felt that she was locked out.

"To tell you I didn't take it personally is wrong," Cegelis said, adding, "this was the wrong way to choose a representative. It is wrong of parties to exclude people from the primary elections. The primary is the time for the people to choose who is on the ballot; those decisions should not be made in back rooms."

Bendavid goes on to quote Emanuel saying of Cegelis, "If she would only work as hard as she would goddamn whine.... She's the only one who says, 'What can you do for me?" adding, "[Cegelis] could absolutely win. She's just not doing it."

Emanuel's assertion about Cegelis's work ethic was hotly contested by members of her campaign.

Cegelis said that she woke up at 4 a.m. every day to go to train stations in the district to shake hands with commuters during the morning rush hour. Then around 9 a.m. she would get on the phone in her campaign headquarters to try and bring in contributions. She would walk to a volunteer's house near her headquarters, where she would nap on the couch from 4:30-6 p.m. After dinner she would get into her car and drive to different neighborhoods for "Coffee with Christine," small gatherings in the homes of constituents of the 6th District where neighbors would gather to share their ideas with Cegelis.

According to Spidel, Emanuel worked against Cegelis because of her support for withdrawal from Iraq and her outspoken opposition to "free trade" legislation like the Central American Free Trade Agreement. "In 2006 the DCCC was Emanuel's personal weapon. He executed based on his needs. He needed votes on 'free trade' legislation that he supports, and he knew that [Cegelis] was one of the Democrats who would vote her own way," Spidel said.

Spidel said that Emanuel worked to defeat Cegelis because she represented a threat to the established Illinois Democrats and because she did not seek their approval before running. "Chicago politics is a family. If you didn't go into the city and kiss certain rings, you were not given certain resources like Political Action Committee lists and donor lists. Cegelis' success hurt some egos and the party didn't like their lack of control," Spidel said.

While Cegelis maintained strong volunteer support, the DCCC-backed Duckworth campaign spent close to $1 million in the primary. The race was extremely close, with Duckworth receiving 44 percent to Cegelis's 40 percent.

"Cegelis was the reason the district was in play in the first place," Spidel said. "If a candidate was able to grow a serious grassroots campaign, especially in a district that historically favored Republicans, it seems illogical to try and challenge it from outside the district. If a Congressional district was completely off the radar before 2004 and the only reason the DCCC was looking at it as a pickup opportunity in 2006 was because of the work a grassroots candidate did, to have come in and discredited the grassroots candidate undermined the entire effort. The DCCC just threw their money away."

Duckworth was beaten in the general election by a right-wing Republican, former State Senator Peter Roskam. One of Roskam's main criticisms of Duckworth was the fact that her home was not located in the district. Roskam won with 51 percent of the vote to Duckworth's 49 percent.

Florida's 13th District: Jan Schneider vs. Christine Jennings

Dr. Jan Schneider, a graduate of Yale Law School and a Ph.D in political science, ran as the Democratic challenger in Florida's 13th Congressional District against Republican Katherine Harris in 2004. In 2004, Schneider was the most competitive Democratic challenger in Florida, garnering 45 percent of the vote against Harris, but Harris won.

Harris vacated the seat in 2006 in order to run for the Senate. Harris' departure was an opportunity for Schneider and her locally mobilized campaign to win a seat for the Democratic Party.

Schneider was an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq and made the war a central issue in her campaigns. Schneider said recently that she "supports the withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq to begin within the next 120 days," a plan approved by the United States House of Representatives in July of this year.

Schneider faced a primary challenge in 2006 from Christine Jennings, a former Republican banker and businesswoman. According to a candidate information page hosted by The Sarasota Herald Tribune, "Jennings doesn't have a specific direction for conducting the war and says she needs more information." Regarding the withdrawal legislation passed by the House in July 2007, Jennings said that she was "not sure whether she would have voted for it." According to Congressional Quarterly, "many Democratic officials thought Jennings's business background would make her a more viable general election contender."

Schneider defeated Jennings by nine percentage points in the 2004 primary.

Schneider became concerned about possible interference from the DCCC during the 2006 primary because, according to Schneider, Jennings had a very wealthy Democratic contributor on her side. Frank Brunckhorst III, a well-known donor to both the Democratic Party and to powerful Democratic members of Congress from Florida, accompanied Jennings to the Democratic National Convention in 2004.

Schneider sat down with Emanuel in 2005 to address her concern that Jennings might get preferential treatment from the DCCC during the primary. According to Schneider, Emanuel told her that the DCCC's policy was not to choose sides during primaries. On May 26, 2005, Emanuel wrote a letter to Schneider reiterating the policy of the DCCC: "You expressed concerns about the DCCC getting involved in party primaries. While our preference is to avoid having them, our policy is to remain neutral," stated the letter, signed by Emanuel.

Schneider claims that Emanuel broke this policy during the 2006 primary race. "Emanuel caused the Schneider campaign to be removed from the DCCC website and circulated solicitations for contributions to Democratic candidates indicating that there was no [Democratic] primary in the Florida 13th," according to a memorandum Schneider prepared.

Schneider blames the DCCC for misleading Senator John Kerry (D- Massachusetts) into thinking that Jennings was running in the primary without any competition from within the party. Kerry gave a $1,000 donation to the Jennings campaign, which was publicized by Jennings as an endorsement. When Schneider confronted Kerry about this donation, Kerry apologized and said that he donated based on assertions by Emanuel that the race was "a targeted race with no primary," and that he never meant to interfere with an intra-party contest, according to Schneider. Congresswoman Shelly Berkley (D- Nevada) says that the DCCC sent her a letter asking her to contribute to races where there was no primary. The letter listed the Florida 13th as a race with only one Democrat pursuing the party's nomination.

Appearing on the satirical comedy central program, "The Colbert Report," in May 2006, Schneider expressed her frustration with the Democratic Party. "I'm pretty disgusted with both parties these days - the Republicans for what they stand for and the Democrats for what they don't."

In 2006, Jennings received 62 percent of the primary vote and defeated Schneider. Jennings went on to lose to Republican Vern Buchanan by 373 votes in a district with electronic voting machines that did not produce a verifiable paper record. More than 18,000 ballots recorded no votes for either Buchanan or Jennings. An election challenge filed by Jennings is making its way through the House Administration Committee.

Cegelis and Schneider, outspoken anti-war candidates who ran competitive campaigns in 2004 against incumbent Republicans, were challenged and defeated from within their own party in 2006. Both races ultimately ended in extremely close losses for the Democratic Party.

California's 11th District: Jerry McNerney vs. Steve Filson

One grassroots campaign that made withdrawal from Iraq a central issue was able to defeat a DCCC-backed candidate despite direct interference during the intra-party primary.

Democrat Jerry McNerney, an engineer and wind energy expert, had previously challenged incumbent Republican Richard Pombo in 2004. With a late start and little organization, McNerney's 2004 campaign only received 39 percent of the vote in a district that voted 45 percent for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. McNerney's effort put the 11th District back into play, and his campaign was revamped in order to mount a serious challenge to Pombo in 2006.

McNerney was a strong critic of the occupation of Iraq and publicly supported Congressman John Murtha's "redeployment" plan for US combat troops serving in Iraq. According to A. J. Carrillo, campaign manager for McNerney, this position on the war made McNerney seem like a fringe candidate to Democratic leaders in Washington. "In the fall of 2005, candidates who were in favor of enforcing a timetable for withdrawal were considered 'liberals' who couldn't win in districts that trended Republican," Carrillo said.

In a move that seems to run contrary to Emanuel's stated policy that the DCCC was to "remain neutral" in primary contests, McNerney's primary opponent, Navy veteran and former Republican Steve Filson was, according to Carrillo, endorsed in the primary by the DCCC. In contrast to McNerney, Filson did not campaign in support of a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

According to Carrillo, Filson was on Emanuel's short list of top-tier candidates, a designation that helped steer early campaign donations to the Filson campaign. "Party insiders were calling and asking that McNerney drop out and let Filson take on Pombo," Carrillo said. According to Carrillo, when McNerney refused to step aside, the DCCC went to work on behalf of his primary opponent.

Carrillo saw DCCC press secretary Sarah Feinberg assisting the Filson campaign at a debate between the two candidates during the primary. Carrillo claims that he received word from a Congressional source that the DCCC was advising Filson's campaign on messaging and strategy. Carrillo's source leaked the information from the DCCC to the McNerney campaign.

Apparently the DCCC ordered a company that prints and distributes campaign mailings to targeted voters not to work with the McNerney campaign. According to Carrillo, he had spoken to the company and faxed them a contract, when a representative from the company called him and said that there was "a minor issue with the DCCC but it shouldn't be a problem." The next morning a company representative called back and said the company could not do business with the McNerney campaign. "The company said that they got an ultimatum from the DCCC. They did a lot of business with the DCCC, so it wasn't worth risking it all just for our campaign. We had to scramble to find another company," Carrillo said.

Despite the primary interference, McNerney did not get discouraged. "Jerry was not bitter or angry about the experience," Carrillo said, adding, "he just went out and decided to prove them all wrong. He really is Mr. Smith goes to Washington."

The campaign received a boost from an old-school Republican, former Congressman and veteran Pete McCloskey, who came out of retirement to challenge incumbent Congressman Pombo in the Republican primary. Pombo beat McCloskey, but the fight left Pombo damaged. McCloskey, one of the authors of the Endangered Species Act, attacked Pombo for his assault on environmental protection regulations and his association with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. After losing the primary, McCloskey supported the McNerney campaign. McNerney ended up winning the seat with slightly more than 53 percent of the vote.

Florida's 16th District: David Lutrin vs. Tim Mahoney

Wealthy businessman Tim Mahoney, a self-described "fundamental Christian," was recruited by the DCCC to run against then-Congressman Mark Foley in Florida's 16th District. According to The Palm Beach Post, Mahoney switched his registration from Republican to Democrat in July of 2005. Mahoney did not support a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

David Lutrin, a school teacher, union activist and staunch supporter of immediate withdrawal from Iraq, decided to run against Foley before Mahoney entered the race. After Mahoney declared his candidacy, Lutrin was contacted by field organizers for the DCCC who asked him to drop out and let Mahoney run unopposed.

Lutrin said that he also met personally with Mahoney. During a three- hour breakfast meeting, Mahoney offered Lutrin a higher-paying job if he agreed to drop out of the primary. "Mahoney tried to get me to run in a different district. He offered me a job at one of his non-profit organizations where he said that I would make more than I was making as a teacher. He said I could campaign full time while working at his non-profit as long as I agreed to drop out of the race," Lutrin said. Lutrin declined the job offer.

According to Lutrin, when he refused to step aside, the DCCC shored up local political support for Mahoney. The local AFL-CIO chapter, of which Lutrin was a member, came out with an early endorsement of Mahoney's campaign. According to Lutrin, the union told him that "they would like to back a fellow union brother, but Mahoney has more money and more political support from the party." Lutrin eventually dropped out of the race when the local teachers' union decided to support Mahoney.

Before it was revealed that then-incumbent Mark Foley had engaged in sexually explicit conversations with a teenage Congressional page, Florida's 16th district had been considered a safe seat for Republicans.

It has been reported that the DCCC knew that Foley was engaging in inappropriate communications with Congressional pages before the story made headlines. According to CNN, a Democratic House staff member sent copies of suggestive email correspondence between Foley and an teenage Congressional page to the DCCC communication director, Bill Burton, in the fall of 2005. Burton later said that he had informed Emanuel of the emails when he received them.

On October 8, 2006, Emanuel joined Republican Congressman Adam Putnam (R-Florida) on ABC's "This Week," hosted by George Stephanopoulos to discuss Foley's conduct. Emanuel dodged multiple questions about when he became aware of the misconduct by Foley. Democrats were decrying the lack of action taken by then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert on the issue.

The exact date that the DCCC became aware of the Foley emails that resulted in his losing the election and the exact date that the DCCC's recruitment of Tim Mahoney to switch parties and run as a Democrat against Foley are not yet known at the time of this writing.

Mahoney won the seat in 2006 and joined The Blue Dog Coalition.

The New Democratic Majority

While Emanuel is given credit for turning power over to the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives, the majority is fractured.

Many of the candidates that Emanuel helped elect have joined with a group of self-styled conservative Blue Dog Democrats and have cast key votes with Republicans and stymied Democratic efforts to end the occupation of Iraq and the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

Thirteen of the Democratic members of the House elected in 2006 joined The Blue Dog Coalition; a group that, according to its spokesperson, has no official stance on withdrawal from Iraq or the president's warrantless wiretapping program. However, 30 out of 47 of the Blue Dog members broke with the majority of Democrats and cast votes in favor of the recent Protect America Act, a bill that greatly expanded the power of the executive branch to spy on Americans. The caucus also broke with the majority of Democrats when 40 of the Blue Dog members voted to continue funding the occupation of Iraq without a timetable for withdrawal.

In an interview shortly after his election, freshman Blue Dog member Tim Mahoney told the Charlotte Sun, a local paper from his district, that he attended a meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and told her "The president should be free to maintain troops in Iraq, if the purpose is to thwart terrorism."


This story is based on a month-long investigation by Truthout into the practices of the DCCC and scores of interviews with Congressional spokespeople, political activists and former candidates for office.

Matt Renner is an assistant editor and Washington reporter for Truthout.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Hedge Fund Manager Found Dead

So, is life getting rough for the economic elite hedge-funders or did this guy really die of a heart attack? Why is the autopsy taking so long when they know he has a family history of heart disease?

Seth Tobias, Hedge-Fund Boss and TV Commentator, Dies (Update3)

By Demian McLean and Katherine Burton

Sept. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Seth Tobias, the managing member of hedge-fund firm Circle T Partners LP and a financial-news commentator, was found dead yesterday in the pool of his Florida mansion, police said. He was 44.

Tobias was discovered by his wife, Filomena, who called police to their home near Palm Beach, Florida, just before 1 a.m., said Jupiter police Sergeant Scott Pascarella.

The death hasn't been classified as suspicious, Pascarella said. Results of the autopsy, which was conducted yesterday, won't be available for four to eight weeks, he said.

Tobias's family has a history of coronary disease, said Spence Tobias, Seth's brother and a money manager at Circle T.

``It was apparently a heart attack,'' he said by telephone from New York. Another brother, Sam, also works at the firm.

Seth Tobias appeared frequently on television channels including Bloomberg and CNBC to comment on the stock markets and other issues.

Circle T, which invests in stocks and manages $200 million, Spence Tobias said. The fund owned 9.4 percent of QSGI Inc., a computer-services company based in Hightstown, New Jersey, and in June, Tobias wrote a letter to the company saying he was interested in obtaining two board seats. QSGI shares fell 12 cents, or 18 percent, to 55 cents yesterday in U.S. over-the- counter trading. They climbed to 69 cents today.

`Tremendous Insight'

``As one of our largest shareholders, he brought tremendous insight and was a major asset to the company,'' Marc Sherman, QSGI chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. ``We would like to wish our condolences to his family and colleagues.''

Earlier this year, Tobias won an NASD arbitration case against Bank of America Corp., which paid Circle T $850,000. Tobias claimed that the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank, which served as the hedge fund's prime broker, had ignored signs that a trader at Circle T had made unauthorized trades. Circle T executives discovered the trades in June 2005, and Tobias personally reimbursed investors for the losses.

Seth Tobias was born in Philadelphia on April 8, 1963. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in finance from Boston University.

His first job on Wall Street, in 1987, was as a futures trader at Moseley Securities. He briefly worked with hedge-fund manager Jim Cramer and was an assistant trader at New York & Foreign Securities before joining JRO Associates, where he spent five years as a portfolio manager and equity trader.

He founded Circle T in 1996 with $4 million.

Tobias is survived by his wife; stepsons Jacob and Roger; brothers Sam, Spence, Scot and Josh; his mother, Elaine; his father, Sidney; and two step-parents, Mary Ann and Joel.

To contact the reporters on this story: Demian McLean in Washington at ; Katherine Burton in New York at

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

War Refugees Flee Samarra, Iraqi Resistance Grows

Iraq: Samarra Under US Attack

Residents are fleeing Samarra city in the face of fierce fighting between U.S. forces and resistance groups.

by Ali al-Fadhily

New defiance is rising against U.S. forces following military “crimes”, fleeing residents say.

“On Sunday the 26th of August, there was fierce fighting between armed men and American forces in the Armooshiya district, and I saw Americans evacuate many of their soldiers by stretchers,” a man who fled Samarra for Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. “As usual, Americans took revenge by bombing the district.”

A woman who also fled Samarra for the capital in recent days, who gave her name as Iman, told IPS that the U.S. military had “committed another crime in the medicine factory residence area” when “they bombed a house there and killed a woman with her seven children.”

The Sunni and anti-occupation Muslim Scholars Association issued a statement confirming these two assaults, and condemning the “ugly crimes” of occupation forces in Samarra. The Association accused the U.S. military of attempting to break the spirit of Iraqis who reject the U.S. occupation.

“They think their crimes would stop Iraqis from demanding their rights for liberty and prosperity, but the results are always different from what the American leaders hope,” Sheikh Taha from the Muslim Scholars’ Association told IPS in Baghdad.

“They are only pushing more Iraqis to be armed against them, and you can see that the facts on the ground are the opposite of what they tell their people. Their soldiers are getting killed every day and they (U.S. military) are losing in Iraq.”

A young man spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity outside a Sunni mosque in Baghdad where refugees from Samarra were arriving.

“We will be the thorn that makes Bush’s life more difficult,” he told IPS. “I am only here to ensure the safety of my family, then I will go back to my city to defend it against all strangers.”

Located 125 km north of Baghdad, Samarra has seen fierce fighting between the Iraqi resistance and U.S. military units since the beginning of the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2003.

The Sunni dominated city of 200,000 has suffered continuing raids by U.S. and Iraqi forces that have hit civilian life hard.

The resistance seems to have grown as the attacks have continued.

“Four years of occupation have caused this city a great deal of damage,” Thul-Faqar Ali, a lawyer and human rights activist who fled Samarra to Baghdad told IPS. “It is true that there was strong resistance to the occupation, but most of those who got killed, injured or detained were innocent civilians. The U.S. occupation forces in Samarra were so brutal that they conducted many executions on site.”

One of the first instances of brutal U.S. military execution of Iraqis in Samarra came in 2004 when eyewitnesses told the press that U.S. soldiers threw two young men into the Tigris River and watched one of them drown.

Marwan Hassoun, the surviving Iraqi, later testified in a U.S. military court that he and his cousin were stopped on their return to Samarra and forced at gunpoint into the Tigris River as U.S. soldiers laughed. The cousin who died was named as 19-year-old Zaidoun Fadel Hassoun.

“I could hear them laughing,” Marwan told a reporter of the Jan. 3, 2004 incident, recalling how U.S. soldiers pushed him and his cousin into the river. “They were behaving like they were watching a comedy on stage.”

A U.S. Army sergeant involved in the incident, Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Perkins, 33, was later acquitted of involuntary manslaughter but convicted of assault. Many other such instances have been reported since.

(*Ali, an IPS correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, a U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region)

© 2007 Inter Press Service

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Comedy Troupe In Sydney Breaches Bush Security

Can't help but laugh.

White House mum on comedy group’s security breach
September 06, 2007

The White House was not amused Thursday by the antics of an Australian comedy group that breached President Bush’s security in Sydney.

Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino had few details on the incident, but Australian press reported that 11 members of the troupe “The Chaser’s War on Everything” had been charged with entering a restricted area.

Australia is hosting a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which Bush and other regional leaders are attending.

The group staged a faux motorcade, pretending to be the delegation of Canada with one of the comedians dressed as Osama bin Laden, and made it past two police checkpoints before being stopped.

When asked about the event, Perino referred reporters to the Secret Service.

Bush had expressed regret that security measures taken to protect the conference had burdened Australians.

“It’s unfortunate that security climates were as such, but, as soon as we get out of town, then Sydney will return to normal, hopefully,” Perino said.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Anyone feel safer now?

Lieberman says DHS needs more money. Seems to me that would just mean more money for Bush cronies, since DHS was never wanted by the Bush Team and has since become a dumping ground for Bush cronies who are not qualified to be dog catcher, let alone for the jobs they are given.

Helluva job, Bushie

GAO Criticizes Homeland Security's Efforts to Fulfill Its Mission
By Spencer S. Hsu
The Washington Post

Thursday 06 September 2007

Hobbled by inadequate funding, unclear priorities, continuing reorganizations and the absence of an overarching strategy, the Department of Homeland Security is failing to achieve its mission of preventing and responding to terrorist attacks or natural disasters, according to a comprehensive report by the Government Accountability Office.

The highly critical report disputes recent upbeat assessments by the Bush administration by concluding that the DHS has failed to make even moderate progress toward eight of 14 internal government benchmarks more than four years after its creation.

The report is to be released to lawmakers today, as the Democratic Congress, Republican White House and presidential candidates from both parties are beginning to debate the administration's record of accomplishments since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, whose sixth anniversary will be on Tuesday.

It echoes a sober report card issued by the former Sept. 11 commission in December 2005, which awarded mostly failing and mediocre grades to the administration's efforts to prevent another terrorist attack.

The GAO states that after the largest government merger in more than half a century, the DHS met fewer than half of its performance objectives, or 78 of 171 directives identified by President Bush, Congress and the department's own strategic plans. The department strongly disputed the report.

In one of its harshest conclusions, the 320-page document states that the DHS has made the least progress toward some of the fundamental goals identified after the 2001 attacks and again after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005: improving emergency preparedness; capitalizing on the nation's wealth and scientific prowess through "Manhattan project"-style research initiatives; and eliminating bureaucratic and technical barriers to information-sharing.

Yesterday, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) said that although the DHS "has made important progress," it requires more focused attention and money. "Clearly, we have a long way to go before the department achieves the goals we set out for it four and a half years ago," said Lieberman, who will chair a hearing on the matter this afternoon.

The panel's ranking Republican, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), who faces a reelection race next year, also called on the DHS to "pick up the pace. . . . With so much at stake and so many areas where progress is still required, America cannot settle for a mixed report card."

At a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee yesterday, Secretary Michael Chertoff sought to preempt the GAO's findings, saying the Bush administration has "unequivocally" made the nation safer since 2001 and deserves credit for the absence of another strike on U.S. soil.

At the time, "no one would have been bold enough to predict that six years would pass without a further successful attack on the homeland," Chertoff said. He also complained that Congress itself has failed to streamline its oversight of the DHS.

Analysts from across the political spectrum have complained that the DHS has spent $241 billion over four years without performing a disciplined analysis of threats and implications.

The GAO report is the most exhaustive and independent look at the department since its creation, drawing on more than 400 earlier reviews and 700 recommendations by congressional investigators and the department's inspector general, as well as the goals set by the Sept.11 commission, the Century Foundation, congressional legislation and spending bills, and the administration's own plans and internal strategic documents, such as the White House's National Strategy for Homeland Security from July 2002.

GAO analysts acknowledged that DHS's enormous size and complexity - spanning 220,000 employees and 22 component agencies - make the challenge "especially daunting and important." They also said they do not intend to suggest that the DHS should have already met all expectations. "Successful transformations of large organizations, even those faced with less strenuous reorganizations than DHS, can take at least 5 to 7 years to achieve," the GAO stated.

Still, although prior studies focused on the DHS's many organizational problems - leading Chertoff to direct the department to sharpen its focus after he took office in February 2005 - the report indicates that it still has difficulty carrying out policy decisions and setting priorities.

The DHS met only five of 24 criteria for emergency preparedness, failing to implement a national response plan or develop a program to improve emergency radio communications. The department met just one of six science and technology goals, such as developing research and development plans and assessing emerging threats; and two of 15 computer integration targets, the report says.

Moderate progress, which the GAO defined as taking action on more than half of identified goals, was made in only five of 14 areas - immigration enforcement; aviation, land and transportation security; securing critical facilities such as bridges, power plants and computer networks; and property management - and substantial progress in just one, maritime and port security.

DHS Undersecretary for Management Paul A. Schneider said that the GAO should have graded the department higher on 42 of 171 directives. The GAO relied on a flawed methodology that "fails to accurately reflect the Department's progress in many specific program areas," he said in a formal 42-page response.

Schneider also said investigators relied on outdated reports, applied vague, shifting and inconsistent grading standards, and set up an unfair, "pass-fail" approach to assessing a spectrum of progress that should be expected to take many years.

"The GAO Report treats all of the performance expectations as if they were of equal significance," Schneider said. "In contrast, the Department uses a risk-based approach to consider its overall priorities," adding that the DHS has met 37 of 50 objectives in securing transportation modes, which were targeted in the 2001 attacks.

"It's a very damning report," said Michael Greenberger, director of the University of Maryland's Center for Health and Homeland Security and a Justice Department official in the Clinton administration. "If you look at these grades, nearly one-third fall into the lowest category, and among those third are critically important, almost foundational tasks upon which the others rest."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Krugman: Time To Take A Stand

I'd say, way past time to take a stand.

How can the people expect the Democrats to stand up to the real dangers in the world if they can't stand up to the very dangerous George W. Bush and Richard B Cheney here at home.

What the hell is going on? Is there something Congress knows that we don't? Are they being blackmailed or are they simply complicit in BushCo's crimes?

Here’s what will definitely happen when Gen. David Petraeus testifies before Congress next week: he’ll assert that the surge has reduced violence in Iraq — as long as you don’t count Sunnis killed by Sunnis, Shiites killed by Shiites, Iraqis killed by car bombs and people shot in the front of the head.

Here’s what I’m afraid will happen: Democrats will look at Gen. Petraeus’s uniform and medals and fall into their usual cringe. They won’t ask hard questions out of fear that someone might accuse them of attacking the military. After the testimony, they’ll desperately try to get Republicans to agree to a resolution that politely asks President Bush to maybe, possibly, withdraw some troops, if he feels like it.

There are five things I hope Democrats in Congress will remember.

First, no independent assessment has concluded that violence in Iraq is down. On the contrary, estimates based on morgue, hospital and police records suggest that the daily number of civilian deaths is almost twice its average pace from last year. And a recent assessment by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found no decline in the average number of daily attacks.

So how can the military be claiming otherwise? Apparently, the Pentagon has a double super secret formula that it uses to distinguish sectarian killings (bad) from other deaths (not important); according to press reports, all deaths from car bombs are excluded, and one intelligence analyst told The Washington Post that “if a bullet went through the back of the head, it’s sectarian. If it went through the front, it’s criminal.” So the number of dead is down, as long as you only count certain kinds of dead people.

Oh, and by the way: Baghdad is undergoing ethnic cleansing, with Shiite militias driving Sunnis out of much of the city. And guess what? When a Sunni enclave is eliminated and the death toll in that district falls because there’s nobody left to kill, that counts as progress by the Pentagon’s metric.

Second, Gen. Petraeus has a history of making wildly overoptimistic assessments of progress in Iraq that happen to be convenient for his political masters.

I’ve written before about the op-ed article Gen. Petraeus published six weeks before the 2004 election, claiming “tangible progress” in Iraq. Specifically, he declared that “Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt,” that “Iraqi leaders are stepping forward” and that “there has been progress in the effort to enable Iraqis to shoulder more of the load for their own security.” A year later, he declared that “there has been enormous progress with the Iraqi security forces.”

But now two more years have passed, and the independent commission of retired military officers appointed by Congress to assess Iraqi security forces has recommended that the national police force, which is riddled with corruption and sectarian influence, be disbanded, while Iraqi military forces “will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently over the next 12-18 months.”

Third, any plan that depends on the White House recognizing reality is an idle fantasy. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, on Tuesday Mr. Bush told Australia’s deputy prime minister that “we’re kicking ass” in Iraq. Enough said.

Fourth, the lesson of the past six years is that Republicans will accuse Democrats of being unpatriotic no matter what the Democrats do. Democrats gave Mr. Bush everything he wanted in 2002; their reward was an ad attacking Max Cleland, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, that featured images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Finally, the public hates this war and wants to see it ended. Voters are exasperated with the Democrats, not because they think Congressional leaders are too liberal, but because they don’t see Congress doing anything to stop the war.

In light of all this, you have to wonder what Democrats, who according to The New York Times are considering a compromise that sets a “goal” for withdrawal rather than a timetable, are thinking. All such a compromise would accomplish would be to give Republicans who like to sound moderate — but who always vote with the Bush administration when it matters — political cover.

And six or seven months from now it will be the same thing all over again. Mr. Bush will stage another photo op at Camp Cupcake, the Marine nickname for the giant air base he never left on his recent visit to Iraq. The administration will move the goal posts again, and the military will come up with new ways to cook the books and claim success.

One thing is for sure: like 2004, 2008 will be a “khaki election” in which Republicans insist that a vote for the Democrats is a vote against the troops. The only question is whether they can also, once again, claim that the Democrats are flip-floppers who can’t make up their minds.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

Reagan Revolutionaries Appalled By Bush

Reaganites Reconsider

Charlie Savage

History is littered with onetime revolutionaries who grew disillusioned as they watched events snowball into something they'd never intended. In the 1980s the Reagan Revolution brought a new generation of Republican legal activists to Washington determined to help the President reshape the nation in his conservative vision and to overcome the main obstacle to his agenda: Democrats in Congress. Many of these ideologically committed lawyers found jobs in the Justice Department, which--especially after 1985, when Edwin Meese took over as Attorney General--actively sought innovative legal theories and tactics to help Reagan achieve his policy ends unilaterally. The tools for expanding presidential power they developed two decades ago were taken up by the George W. Bush Administration, which has wielded them in far more aggressive ways than their inventors imagined. Now several of the most important veterans of the Reagan Revolution say the Bush team has gone too far.

One novel strategy pushed by the Reagan legal team was frequently issuing signing statements--official documents from the President laying out his interpretation of new laws. During Reagan's second term, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel proposed making this previously rare device into a routine tool in order to increase the President's power over the law. The office was then headed by Douglas Kmiec, now a law professor at Pepperdine University. Years later, the use of signing statements would take a second exponential leap. Bush has used the device to challenge the constitutionality of more new laws than all previous Presidents combined--most of them checks on his own power--while going nearly six years before vetoing a bill. Surveying this development, Kmiec last year joined a chorus of critics who said the Administration's legal team was misusing signing statements. Kmiec acknowledged the Reagan team's role in inflating the mechanism, but he insisted that they had used signing statements only for a much more modest purpose: to leave a record of the President's understanding of ambiguous laws for judges to consult during any future litigation. Kmiec rejected Bush's practice of using signing statements to instruct the executive branch to contradict the clearly expressed will of Congress, saying that a President instead ought to veto laws he dislikes. "Following a model of restraint, [the Reagan-era Office of Legal Counsel] took it seriously that we were to construe statutes to avoid constitutional problems, not to invent them," Kmiec told me. He added, "The President is not well served by the lawyers who have been advising him."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)
The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

An Open Letter To America

An Open Letter to America: All Power to the People

by Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr.

On July 1, 2007 I sought the support of regular Americans after receiving notification from the U.S. Air Force Reserve that they were threatening to discharge me on the basis of behavior that, in their words, is “clearly inconsistent with the interest of national security.” The behavior in question is my outspoken opposition to the occupation of Iraq and the inadequate and inhuman response to the tragedy of Katrina.

As a result of the outpouring of support I received from all over the United States and from around the world, the Air Force backed down. Thanks to my brothers and sisters in the movement, I will end my service with the honorable discharge that I earned. I am eternally grateful, and evermore committed to taking on the powers that be for the powers that ought to be.

At first, when I informed the Air Force that I would fight their harassment, they threatened me with deployment to Iraq, or even prison time. Then with the tremendous circulation and widespread publishing of my first Open Letter, the Air Force realized if they were going to challenge me, they would have to challenge thousands of Americans from across the nation outside of Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia, on my hearing date.

Even now, after all the pain we have been through as a nation these last years, the reaction of the Air Force shows that when we are organized in the face of a government that does not represent us, we the people have the power.

Mine is the third case in which the military has backed down when the people have challenged their attempts to silence dissent. When former Sgt. Adam Kokesh spoke out after risking his life in Fallujah, Iraq, the U.S. Marines threatened him with a “less than honorable” discharge but backed down after many came out in support of Adam. When Marine Sgt. Liam Madden spoke out about this “war of aggression” in which war crimes were being committed, the Marines threatened him but again backed down when they saw organized opposition. The military now knows they will feel the wrath of the people if they threaten veterans who speak out against the occupation of Iraq.

The anti-war movement truly supported me in my case against the Air Force, which as a young African-American minister was so empowering to me personally that I pledge to increase my opposition to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. I pledge to continue my work in solidarity with the Iraqi people who are resisting U.S. occupation. I will not let the media spin that portrays all Iraqi resistors as insurgents linked to Al Qaeda and other terrorists groups, silence my moral support for the good people in Iraq who are fighting to free their land.

Indeed, I have just returned from a trip to the Middle East where I visited with Iraqi refugees. As a person of color, I have no issue with my brothers and sisters in Iraq. I also have no issue with the U.S. troops who serve with honorable intentions and so often join the military under the poverty draft. My issue is with the Bush Administration and our co-dependent Congress.

These are the six ways I see to oppose the U.S. occupation of Iraq: 1. Speaking out and creating an echo chamber of opposition; 2. Participating in acts of civil disobedience; 3. Joining the economic boycott led by the Iraq Moratorium beginning September 21st; 4. Casting your vote at the polls; 5. Giving direct aid to humanitarian programs for Iraqi refugees and internally displaced; and, 6. Counter-recruiting campaigns.

All these methods become effective when a critical mass of people is mobilized. The anti-war movement in the U.S. has yet to reach that critical mass. The critical mass that is necessary to have a real anti-war movement can be achieved by mobilizing those who are most oppressed by the U.S. government. We must link the struggles of the oppressed in the U.S. and in Iraq.

The displaced Katrina survivors and the displaced Iraqis is a good place to start. But it must go deeper than that. Literally, the money that was supposed to go to levees in New Orleans was diverted to the war in Afghanistan. The money that is being spent to kill Brown people in Baghdad is being diverted from programs that educate Black people in the U.S. For example, for what the State of North Carolina has sacrificed in war spending in Iraq, they could have provided nearly 600,000 students four-year scholarships at public universities.

I pray that our movement finds the strength of character to listen to the very oppressed for whom we claim to speak, and let the voices, ideas and actions of the oppressed drive a movement that can finally grow to that critical mass.

For Future Generations,
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. is the President of the Hip Hop Caucus, The Hip Hop Caucus is a national, nonprofit, non-partisan organization meant to inspire and motivate those of us born after the ’60s civil rights movement. Rev. Yearwood is also a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Rev. Yearwood serves on the board of Voters For Peace, www.VotersForPeace.US.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

The Abyss Looms, Straight Ahead

DER SPIEGEL 36/2007 - September 3, 2007


'We Are Moving Rapidly Towards an Abyss'

United Nations chief weapons inspector Mohamed ElBaradei spoke to SPIEGEL about Iran's last chance to convince the world of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program, his problems with the US government and his fear of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.

SPIEGEL: Mr. ElBaradei, the international community suspects that Iran aims to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this. Have we now reached the decisive phase in which we will finally get an answer to this central question of world politics?

Mohamed ElBaradei: Yes. The next few months will be crucial for the overall situation in the Middle East. Whether we move in the direction of escalation or in the direction of a peaceful solution.

SPIEGEL: You have been given a central role. The new report on Iran by your International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could lead to more severe sanctions against Tehran.

ElBaradei: The international community will have to make that decision. We can only deliver the facts and our assessment of the situation. There are hopeful and positive signs. For the first time, we have agreed, with the Iranians, to a sort of roadmap, a schedule, if you will, for clarifying the outstanding issues. We should know by November, or December at the latest, whether the Iranians will keep their promises. If they don't, Tehran will have missed a great opportunity -- possibly the last one.

SPIEGEL: The US government has described Iran's new willingness to cooperate as a transparent attempt to distract from its true intentions and from its continued development of the capabilities to produce a nuclear weapon. Is the IAEA too gullible?

ElBaradei: I am familiar with these accusations. They are completely untrue. It's not possible to manipulate us. We are not naïve and we do not take sides. Our new Iran report also shows that the Iranian government is not adhering to the requirements set forth by the UN, which demanded an immediate stop to uranium enrichment.

SPIEGEL: It is a proven fact that Tehran has spent years trying to keep the international community in the dark over important aspects of its nuclear program.

ElBaradei: That's right.

SPIEGEL: Your deputy, Olli Heinonen, who negotiated with the Iranians, is now talking about a breakthrough, a "milestone." Given Iran's history, wouldn't a healthy dose of suspicion be appropriate?

ElBaradei: Obviously we are all pushing for the same strategic goal: That Iran should not get nuclear weapons. We consistently searched for evidence that Iran intends to build nuclear weapons. We found suspicious signs, but no smoking gun. We could now make some progress in setting aside these suspicions by thoroughly inspecting the Iranian facilities and learning details about their history.

SPIEGEL: What do you expect from Tehran?

ElBaradei: We expect information about the scope and nature of its uranium enrichment program and its statements about certain suspicious studies we have. The most decisive element in our assessment will be whether Iran cooperates with us completely and actively.

SPIEGEL: It appears that Iran has fewer centrifuges up and running than experts had assumed until recently. Some say there are substantially fewer than 3,000, which is considered the minimum to produce enough material for a bomb within one year. Have the scientists encountered problems with the technology, or is the surprisingly low number a sign of political accommodation?

ElBaradei: Both possibilities are valid. My gut feeling tells me that Iran has responded positively to my repeated demands that it scale back the program.

SPIEGEL: Aren't there other questions where you are still in the dark?

ElBaradei: No. We can check many things precisely. I am not willing to state definitively whether Iran is following up its promises with actions. I just don't want to lose the opportunity to find out for myself. The UN sanctions against Tehran will remain in place in the interim. It's important to exert pressure. But in addition to sanctions we must also have incentives.

SPIEGEL: Now, you believe, the time has come...

ElBaradei: encourage Iran to take a new direction. Yes, that's my opinion. If someone comes to me and says, I want to work with you now, then I have to examine his offer to make sure it has substance. We must see all the documents, be able to talk to anyone and have unfettered access to all facilities. We are talking about two or three months. Then we'll know more.

SPIEGEL: You are essentially asking for a time out. The Bush administration sees the issue quite differently. It wants to turn up the heat on the pressure cooker.

ElBaradei: Careful! If we turn up the heat too high the pot could explode around our ears.

SPIEGEL: Washington wants to place the Revolutionary Guards -- an important and, in the case of nuclear policy, decisive element of the Iranian power structure -- on a list of terrorist organizations. The Bush administration has called on foreign banks to cancel their dealings with Iran. Gregory Schulte, the American envoy to the IAEA, has made it clear that the US government wants to see tougher sanctions. Do you believe that the Russians and the Chinese will vote for more severe sanctions in the UN Security Council once they see the new IAEA report?

ElBaradei: We at the IAEA do not make these political decisions.

SPIEGEL: But you would consider tighter sanctions to be counterproductive?

ElBaradei: I don't make a secret of that. You can only set up so many roadmaps. If there is no basis for trust, all that effort is in vain. Sanctions alone will not produce a lasting solution. What we need in the Middle East is not more weapons, but better educational opportunities and more security for people. We should remind ourselves every day of the terrible situation of Iraq's civilians. An improvement in the catastrophic situation in Baghdad, with its tens of thousands of civilian casualties, can only be achieved through political measures -- through concrete improvement of the population's living conditions and through opportunities for education and jobs. And, most of all, by politically involving the neighboring countries.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The international community suspects Tehran aims to build nuclear weapons.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The international community suspects Tehran aims to build nuclear weapons.

SPIEGEL: The Iranian leadership insists on its right to enrich uranium, and every country that has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) is entitled to this right, at least formally.

ElBaradei: There are concrete suspicions against Iran. That's why I believe that Iran has temporarily forfeited this right, and that it will have to regain it with the international community through confidence-building measures. On the other hand, those in the West must realize that if all they expect is confrontation, they might as well forget dialogue -- and they should not be surprised if the other side seeks retribution.

SPIEGEL: Some politicians and senior military leaders in Israel, as well as in the United States, are seriously considering an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has also threatened to bomb the facilities. What do you think about the "military option?"

ElBaradei: Nothing at all. Perhaps a large part of the Iranian facilities could in fact be destroyed. But something like that would trigger a terrible conflagration in the region, and it would certainly strengthen the positions of those in Tehran who favor the development of a nuclear bomb. After presumably withdrawing from the NPT, they would then pursue such a program without any monitoring whatsoever. The already deep conflicts between the Islamic world and the West would explode. We need the opposite: an intensive dialogue involving all major players, the Europeans and especially the United States.

SPIEGEL: Iran is your most difficult problem child, but certainly not the only one. North Korea...

ElBaradei: ...was, until recently, seen as equally threatening. I am a long way from declaring all concerns over Pyongyang's nuclear program resolved. But the development there is positive. The Yongbyon reactor, which is the most important one when it comes to bomb production, has been taken offline under IAEA supervision. This is all the result of intensive negotiations conducted with the regime by the major powers and neighboring countries.

SPIEGEL: One could see it that way. But one could also say that dictator Kim Jong Il expelled your inspectors, violated his obligations, tested a bomb and thereby blackmailed the international community.

ElBaradei: I am not defending the regime in North Korea, just as the issue is not a ranking of governments that are more or less acceptable to me. But in Pyongyang the desire to obtain the ultimate weapon also arose from a feeling of insecurity and the idea that outside forces planned to topple the regime, as well as the desire for security guarantees. The outcome of the six-party talks with North Korea was decisive. After five years of talking to each other, it remains indisputable that dialogue brought an easing of tensions and, once its nuclear arsenal has been completely eliminated, will bring Pyongyang back into the fold of the IAEA. This could succeed through political pressure, combined with economic incentives.

SPIEGEL: Isn't this sending the wrong message to the world's despotic rulers -- acquire nuclear weapons or seriously threaten to develop a nuclear weapons program and you'll be taken seriously?

ElBaradei: There is that risk. But, on the other hand, in order to seem credible to the nuclear wannabe states we must demand steps toward nuclear disarmament from those who have nuclear weapons -- an obligation that is stipulated in the nonproliferation treaty but is not complied with. I deplore this two-faced approach. If practically all nuclear powers are modernizing instead of reducing their arsenals, how can we argue with the non-nuclear states?

SPIEGEL: You visited North Korea in March when you believed that things had taken a decisive turn for the better. Do you see yourself -- under similar conditions -- traveling to Tehran toward the end of the year?

ElBaradei: I would have nothing against traveling to Tehran tomorrow. But while the North Koreans have complied with the UN's wishes and are being rewarded for this positive behavior, I currently see the Iranians in a sort of trial period -- with an uncertain outcome.

SPIEGEL: Do you have a good feeling about the fact that the French president is putting a nuclear reactor in the desert for Libya's ruler?

ElBaradei: I am not familiar with the details of the deal, and whether I like or trust Moammar Gadhafi is irrelevant in this context. Libya is a member of the IAEA, and we will be able to monitor the reactor.

SPIEGEL: What apparently cannot be monitored or can only be monitored highly inadequately is the nuclear black market. It was just revealed that China has "lost" eight kilograms of weapons-grade uranium. Enriched uranium also keeps turning up in the states that emerged from the bankrupt Soviet Union.

ElBaradei: Yes, that is unfortunately the case.

SPIEGEL: There is already speculation that al-Qaida is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. Do you think there is a real risk that terrorists will obtain the ultimate weapon?

ElBaradei: That's my greatest concern, a horror scenario. I'm not thinking about a nuclear weapon. No terrorist organization has the necessary know-how or potential to acquire these weapons. But a small, so-called dirty bomb containing radioactive material, detonated somewhere in a major city, could cost human lives and set off massive terror with serious economic consequences. Sometimes I think it's a miracle that it hasn't happened yet. I pray that it remains that way.

SPIEGEL: You are in a conflicting situation. The IAEA's job is not just to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and inspect nuclear facilities, but also to promote the civilian use of nuclear energy. However, nuclear power plants are generally considered dangerous, and there is still no way to permanently store radioactive waste.

Iran's Isfahan nuclear power plant some 300 kilometers from Tehran.

Iran's Isfahan nuclear power plant some 300 kilometers from Tehran.

ElBaradei: Every technology comes with a residual risk. It's very low in modern nuclear power plants. I know that some countries have a psychological problem with nuclear power...

SPIEGEL: ...the Germans, for example, are very skeptical, and the government has plans to begin getting out of nuclear energy. In your opinion, should we continue to rely on nuclear power, especially in light of such incidents as the recent earthquake in Japan that affected the world's largest nuclear power plant?

ElBaradei: We are monitoring the situation there. The Japanese reactor shut itself down automatically, thereby demonstrating its capacity for functioning correctly in an emergency. But I cannot impose rules on any country. You in Germany apparently have the option of structuring your energy mix largely as you please. For other nations, particularly in the Third World, new energy sources are critical to survival. Look at India. The only way the more than 300 million Indians who live on less than $1 a day can significantly improve their standard of living is through the rapid growth in environmentally safe energy.

SPIEGEL: India never joined the NPT, and it tested a nuclear weapon in 1998. The IAEA is not even allowed to inspect India's civilian plants, not to mention its military ones. And yet the United States now wants to supply Delhi with new nuclear technology and fuel. Why didn't you object to this deal?

ElBaradei: I was even in favor of it. I am not a purist or a dreamer. India became a nuclear power, and it was ostracized internationally for a time as a result. This no longer makes any sense. We would consider it progress if we could monitor India's civilian nuclear power plants in the future, and we will likely begin negotiations on this issue with Delhi soon, provided the deal isn't cancelled as a result of domestic political disagreements first.

SPIEGEL: You have headed the IAEA for 10 years now. Has your job become easier or more difficult over the years?

ElBaradei: More difficult. We pay completely inadequate attention to the important threats, the inhuman living conditions of billions of people, climate change and the potential for nuclear holocaust. We stand at a crossroads, and we are moving rapidly toward an abyss. There are currently 27,000 nuclear warheads in the world. If we don't change our way of thinking, John F. Kennedy's prediction that there would be 20 nuclear powers will soon come true. And with each new player and each new weapon, the risk of a planned or accidental nuclear war increases.

SPIEGEL: What would you like to see as your legacy?

ElBaradei: I am in favor of a multinational procedure in matters of uranium enrichment and reprocessing. Ultimately, no single country should be in a position to independently produce nuclear material.

SPIEGEL: Now you must be dreaming.

ElBaradei: We must never forget that the dispute over nuclear weapons is not a game, but deadly serious. It can easily lead to a catastrophe and jeopardize the basis for the existence of all mankind. We need an international system of security guarantees, in which no country depends on nuclear weapons. We cannot wait any longer for this to happen. Not a day longer.

SPIEGEL: Mr. ElBaradei, thank you for this interview.

The interview was conducted by Dieter Bednarz and Erich Follath

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