Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, November 07, 2009

PORTLAND RALLY



My talk last night during the very cold but excellent anti-war rally in Portland.

Heading north with MB today to visit Baxter State Park before winter sets in. Should be nice weather for hiking.





Lisa Savage from Maine CodePink had an excellent speech at the rally.

Friday, November 06, 2009

THE ASSAULT ON GLENN BECK

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Jon Stewart comes to the defense of conservative Fox News host Glenn Beck

Former UK ambassador: CIA sent people to be ‘raped with broken bottles’



By Daniel Tencer

The CIA relied on intelligence based on torture in prisons in Uzbekistan, a place where widespread torture practices include raping suspects with broken bottles and boiling them alive, says a former British ambassador to the central Asian country.

Craig Murray, the rector of the University of Dundee in Scotland and until 2004 the UK's ambassador to Uzbekistan, said the CIA not only relied on confessions gleaned through extreme torture, it sent terror war suspects to Uzbekistan as part of its extraordinary rendition program.

"I'm talking of people being raped with broken bottles," he said at a lecture late last month that was re-broadcast by the Real News Network. "I'm talking of people having their children tortured in front of them until they sign a confession. I'm talking of people being boiled alive. And the intelligence from these torture sessions was being received by the CIA, and was being passed on."

Human rights groups have long been raising the alarm about the legal system in Uzbekistan. In 2007, Human Rights Watch declared that torture is "endemic" to the country's justice system.

Murray said he only realized after his stint as ambassador that the CIA was sending people to be tortured in Uzbekistan, country he describes as a "totalitarian" state that has never moved on from its communist era, when it was a part of the Soviet Union.

Suspects in Uzbekistan's gulags "were being told to confess to membership in Al Qaeda. They were told to confess they'd been in training camps in Afghanistan. They were told to confess they had met Osama bin Laden in person. And the CIA intelligence constantly echoed these themes."

"I was absolutely stunned -- it changed my whole world view in an instant -- to be told that London knew [the intelligence] coming from torture, that it was not illegal because our legal advisers had decided that under the United Nations convention against torture, it is not illegal to obtain or use intelligence gained from torture as long as we didn't do the torture ourselves," Murray said.

IT'S THE PIPELINE, STUPID

Murray asserts that the primary motivation for US and British military involvement in central Asia has to do with large natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As evidence, he points to the plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan that would allow Western oil companies to avoid Russia and Iran when transporting natural gas out of the region.

Murray alleged that in the late 1990s the Uzbek ambassador to the US met with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss a pipeline for the region, and out of that meeting came agreements that would see Texas-based Enron gain the rights to Uzbekistan's natural gas deposits, while oil company Unocal worked on developing the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.

"The consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan," Murray noted.

Murray said part of the motive in hyping up the threat of Islamic terrorism in Uzbekistan through forced confessions was to ensure the country remained on-side in the war on terror, so that the pipeline could be built.

"There are designs of this pipeline, and if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you'll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It's what it's about. It's about money, it's about oil, it's not about democracy."

The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline is slated to be completed in 2014, with $7.6 billion in funding from the Asian Development Bank.

Murray was dismissed from his position as ambassador in 2004, following his first public allegations that the British government relied on torture in Uzbekistan for intelligence.

THE WARS BRING INSANITY

Army Major Malik Nadal Hasan went on a rampage yesterday at Fort Hood in Texas. The insanity of the US wars in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan has begun to creep back home in the form of soldier suicides, wife killings, alcoholism, drug addiction, and now this latest tragedy. There will be more such events.

How can you send soldiers to war over and over again and not expect them to snap like a dry twig on a windy day?

I was reading an article yesterday about US Army soldiers now in South Korea who are being told they will soon be moved back to the war front. They are livid. They said they volunteered for Korea in order to have a break. Their families had joined them and now they will be sent back to Iraq or Afghanistan for the second or third or fourth or fifth time. They are physically and mentally worn out.

A revolt is happening in the military these days. They are begging for relief and getting none. The American people, who love to clamor that they support the troops, should bring the poor guys home now....finally.

And one more thing....when US troops snap in the war zone and unleash a torrent of fire onto innocent civilians, who crys for their lost lives? Who ever remembers that they had died needlessly in these insane US wars?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

SPACE SYMPOSIUM DIE-IN IN OMAHA



The occasion of my visit was the Strategic Space Symposium in downtown Omaha, which brings out military contractors to talk about planetary dominance through orbital space. Nebraskans for Peace wanted to have speakers at the local colleges to challenge that concept, and a direct-action group, Midwest Catholic Workers, had the die-in shown above. Among those arrested were 92-year-old Peg Gallagher, and Catholic activists Louis Vitale, Frank Cordaro, and Jack MacCaslin.

Words and video by Loring Wirbel (Global Network board member from Colorado Springs)

DRONES 'R' US



By Global Network and WILPF member MacGregor Eddy from Salinas, California

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

BUSY COUPLE OF DAYS IN MAINE

Early on Thursday morning I will drive south to Portland to pick up David Swanson at the airport and then head back north to get him to the University of Maine-Orono for a 12:30 speaking event. David will speak three times in all on Thursday before we make it back here to our house for the night.

On Friday I will interview David on my cable TV show before we go back down to Portland for a 5:00 pm anti-war rally at Monument Square where we are both scheduled to speak. Also scheduled to talk at the demonstration will be Dud Hendrick (Maine Veterans for Peace) and Lisa Savage (CodePink Maine). Herb Hoffman from Ogunquit, Maine has worked hard on this important demonstration. (At our recent Maine Veterans for Peace meeting Herb was elected Vice-President for the next year.)

We've got to crank up the street heat as Obama is now "puzzling" over what he will do in Afghanistan.....we know what he is going to do and it will be to expand the war. But we must now be raising the pressure on Congress to get them to pull the funding for these multiple wars.

David Swanson is co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org and is a leader of Progressive Democrats for America. He served as press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign and has been a leading voice for the prosecution of Bush and Cheney for war crimes. I check his web site several times a day as it is a good resource to find out what kinds of grassroots activity is happening around the country on a regular basis. It will be good to spend time with him.

Hope to see many of you in Portland on Friday at 5:00 pm.

The US is indeed like an alcoholic at the bar, always needing another war. We are addicted to killing and war.

GOLDSTONE REPORT ON GAZA



The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict was created by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) during the Gaza War to investigate possible Israeli violations of international law against the Palestinian people. Its mandate was later changed to include all violations committed in the context of military operations, whether before, during, or after the war in Gaza.

The mission was established on April 3, 2009, by the President of the UNHRC. Judge Richard Goldstone of South Africa was appointed to head the mission. The other members of the mission were Christine Chinkin of the United Kingdom, Hina Jilani of Pakistan and Desmond Travers of Ireland.

This clip has a short interview with Judge Goldstone by Bill Moyers.

The US House of Representatives rejected the report calling it "irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” See the House vote list here

The Obama administration is being increasingly criticized for continuing the Bush policy of looking the other way as Israel continues to expand its settlements in the Palestinian territories.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

SCREAMING EAGLES COMING HOME TO ROOST

While I was recently in South Korea I had the sad opportunity to have several of these F-15 "Eagles" screaming over my head when I was touring the end of the runway at the US Air Force Base at Kunsan with local activists. I reported in my blog at the time that in addition to the ear shattering noise, I felt my entire insides reverberate and I know that constant exposure to those sounds cannot be healthy for humans or any other living creature.

The South Koreans, and the Japanese in Okinawa who are now suing to close a similar US base there, have to live with this every single day of their lives. Same goes for the people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places around the world where the US empire is operating.

Now they want to fly these damn things here in Maine at 500 feet.

The Massachusetts Air National Guard is now proposing to fly these F-15's at 500 mph over 2.5 million acres in Western Maine in a proposal called the Condor Military Operations Area. They say it is just woods out there but 80,000 people live in that part of Maine and they, along with the abundant animal life in that part of the state, would be heavily impacted.

A group called Western Maine Matters was formed to fight this proposal and they have a petition on-line and are urging people to sign it. You can find it here

To me this is a perfect illustration of the steady militarism that is taking over our nation. As our government moves away from real job creation, and into security export as our primary role under corporate globalization, the Pentagon will need more and more lands across the US to test their high-tech weapons systems. As people around the world attempt to throw the US military out of their country, and they damn well should, these weapons systems will have to be tested back here at home.

As a now famous preacher (and former friend of a certain president) once said, "The chickens are coming home to roost." Now we are going to clearly see what the rest of the world has been living with since the end of WW II - the reality of the US military empire!

We must fight against these weapons systems being tested in our communities, whether they are drones or F-15's or anything else, but we should also be equally as concerned about the people who daily suffer from these same weapons systems in South Korea, Japan, or Afghanistan.

We can't just push them out of our community and then forget about them when they go someplace else out of ear-shot.

We have to become people who demand the ugly manifestations of US militarism be shut down everywhere.

10-4, over and out!

JUST IN: The noise is so bad at Kunsan AFB in South Korea that local rabbits have a sterility rate of 35%. See more here

THIS IS WHAT WE DO



A heart breaking series of testimonies by former Guantanamo prisoners who were never charged with any crime.

They represent what America has become....their story is the story of the soul of America.

Today Guantanamo is still open, the prisoners are still tortured there. Other similar prisons are still operating in Afghanistan and countless other places....and no one in the US government has been held responsible for these clear violations of human rights and constitutional law.

And in spite of all the available evidence the Congress and the president allow this all to continue - it is a corruption of spirit.

Monday, November 02, 2009

RAY DAVIES AT ROCK & ROLL 25TH CONCERT



The recent Rock & Roll 25th Anniversary Concert featured some of the best in rock history. I was pleased to see my favorite Ray Davies (The Kinks) honored by having him sing two of his first hits along with Metallica who backed him up.

A REAL WAR RESISTER



Death rather than nation building - that's what the U.S. army brought to Iraq and is bringing to Afghanistan according to former army sergeant and anti-war activist Matthis Chiroux.

I am really impressed with this guy......you will be as well.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

MOYERS ON AFGHANISTAN



Bill Moyers is one of the great journalists and moral voices in America.

He calls for the "governing class" to either end the war or bring back the draft so that it is not just the kids of the poor and working class that get killed. Sadly the oligarchy that rules America will do neither. With a collapsing economy they have all the recruits they need as the economic draft is working quite well for them.

The only thing that will end the wars in Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan is a rebellion of the poor and the declining middle class. Only when they get tired of carrying the heavy burdens of war and seeing their lives crumble at home will things begin to change.

Sadly though the American people have been indoctrinated in the ethic of "every man for himself" which runs counter to the idea of cooperation and collective struggle. The oligarchy has driven a stake through the conscience of the public. For there to be successful change we must first see a recommitment to the ideals of a more perfect union. The idea of the common good must find its way back into the hearts of the colonized American people.

THE CANDY GRAB BAG

* OK, so I am a day late with this photo.....a belated happy Halloween to all of you. We had more trick or treaters at our house last night than in years past. Must be the economic downtown, folks going door to door looking for eats.

* Watched an interesting film last night called "Resolved" about the high school debate world. Really quite wonderful and the bonus was that my son Julian's face appeared several times in it as one of the debaters he coached while in Texas was featured in the movie. Has a nice revolutionary ending too.

* Friend Peter Woodruff is sick this morning, I think he was kissing pigs again, so I will be doing the weekly Truth Radio Underground Experience (TRUE) show at Bowdoin College's WBOR this morning from 10:30-12:00 EST.

* On Thursday this week I pick David Swanson, from AfterDowningStreet.org, up at the Portland airport and take him to UMO and Bangor where he will speak a couple times. Then on Friday morning we will tape an edition of my cable TV show. Also on Friday (Nov 6) at 5pm there will be an anti-war rally at Monument Square in Portland. Following the rally David will do a book signing at a local bookstore. Rally speakers on Friday will also include Dud Hendrick (Maine Veterans for Peace), Lisa Savage (CodePink Maine) and myself. Hana Maris and Joan Fox will sing.