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, December 17, 2011

FREE BRADLEY MANNING



Almost Gone (The Ballad Of Bradley Manning )

Written by Graham Nash and James Raymond

Locked up in a white room, underneath a glaring light
Every 5 minutes, they’re asking me if I’m alright
Locked up in a white room naked as the day I was born
24 bright light, 24 all alone

What I did was show some truth to the working man
What I did was blow the whistle and the games began

Tell the truth and it will set you free
That’s what they taught me as a child
But I can’t be silent after all I’ve seen and done
24 bright light I’m almost gone, almost gone

Locked up in a white room, dying to communicate
Trying to hang in there underneath a crushing wait
Locked up in a white room I’m always facing time
24 bright light, 24 down the line

What I did was show some truth to the working man
What I did was blow the whistle and the games began

But I did my duty to my country first
That’s what they taught me as a man
But I can’t be silent after all I’ve seen and done
24 bright light I’m almost gone, almost gone
(Treat me like a human, Treat me like a man )

The song release is timed to Manning's first judicial hearing scheduled for December 16th, following more than 17-months in custody, including a year in solitary confinement that Amnesty International has characterized as "harsh and punitive."

"WAR IS OVER" - MORE TRUTH EMERGES ABOUT IRAQ


December 18, 2007

To: Mr. Randy Waddle, Assistant Inspector General, Ft Carson, Colorado

CC: LTC John Shawkins, Inspector General, Ft Carson, Colorado
Major General Mark Graham, Commanding Officer, Ft Carson, Colorado
Major Haytham Faraj, USMC, Camp Pendleton, California
Lt General Stanley Greene, US Army Inspector General
Subject: Formal Notification of War Atrocities and Crimes Committed by Personnel, B Company, 2-12, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division in Iraq

Dear Mr. Waddle,

My name is John Needham. I am a member of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, (BCo,2-12INF,2BCT,2ID . I deployed with my unit to Iraq from October 2006 until October 2007 when I was medically evacuated for physical and mental injuries that I suffered during my deployment. The purpose of my letter is to report what I believe to be war crimes and violation of the laws of armed conflict that I personally witnesses while deployed in Iraq.

Upon arriving in Iraq in October of 2006 my unit was assigned to the ¼ Cavalry unit at Camp Prosperity. In March of 2007 I was sent back to my unit, B Company 2-12 at Camp Falcon. It was at Camp Falcon that I observed and was forced to participate in ugly and inhumane acts against the Iraqi citizens in our area of responsibilities. Below I list some of the incidents that took place.

In March of 2007, I witnessed SSG Platt shoot and wound an Iraqi national without cause of provocation. The Staff Sergeant said that he suspected the Iraqi be a “trigger” man. We had not been attacked and we found no evidence on the man to support the suspicion. As the Iraqi lay bleeding on the ground, PVT Smith requested to administer first aid to the Iraqi. SSgt Platt said no and “let him bleed out.” When SSG Platt walked away, Pvt Smith and PVT Mullins went to the Iraqi, dragged him to an alley, and applied first aid. They then drove him to the cache for further treatment.

In June of 2007 1SG Spry caused an Iraqi male to be stopped, questioned, detained, and killed. We had no evidence that the Iraqi was an insurgent or terrorist. In any event when we stopped he did not pose a threat. Although I did not personally witness the killing, I did observe 1sg Spry dismembering the body and parading of it while it was tied to the hood of a Humvee around the Muhalla neighborhood while the interpreter blared out warnings in Arabic over the loud speaker. I have a photo that shows 1SG Spry removing the victim’s brains.

On another occasion an Iraqi male was stopped by a team led by Sgt Rogers as he walked down an alleyway. The Iraqi was detained and questioned then with his hands tied behind his back, SGT Rogers skinned his face.

1ST Spry shot a young Iraqi teenager who was about 16 years old. The shooting was unprovoked and the Iraqi posed no threat to the unit. He was merely riding his bicycle past an ambush site. When I arrived on the scene I observed 1SGT Spry along with SSG Platt dismember the boy’s body.

In August of 2007, I responded to radio call from SGT Rogers reporting that he had just shot an Iraqi who was trying to enter through a hole that the platoon had blown in a wall to allow them observation of the area during a security patrol. When I arrived, I saw a one armed man who was still alive lying on a barricade. The man was about 30 years old. He had an old Ruger pistol hanging from his thumb. It was obvious to me that the pistol was placed there because of the way it hung from his thumb. The Iraqi was still alive when I arrived. I saw SGT Rogers shoot him twice in the back with hollow point bullets. The Iraqi was still moving. I was asking why they shot him again when I heard Sgt Hoskins say “he’s moving, he’s still alive.” SPEC Hoskins then moved to the Iraqi and shot him in the back of the head. SSG Platt and SGT Rogers were visibly excited about the kill. I saw them pull the Iraqi’s brains out as they placed him in the body bag. CPT Kirsey must have learned something about this incident because he was very upset and admonished the NCOs involved.

I have seen and heard 1SGT Spry brag about killing dogs. He kept a running count. At last count I remember he was boasting of having killed 80 dogs.

On many occasions I observed SGT Temples, SSG Platt and SGT Rogers beat and abuse Iraqi teenagers, some as young as 14, without cause. They would walk into a house near areas where they suspected we had received sniper fire, then detain and beat the kids.

I have photos that support my allegations. I also have numerous other photos on a laptop PC that the unit illegally seized from me. I have requested its return but they have refused.

My experiences have taken a terrible toll on me. I suffer from PTSD and depression. I had no way to stop the ugly actions of my unit. When I refused to participate they began to abuse and harass me. I am still in treatment at the Balboa Naval hospital. I respectfully request that you investigate these matters, that you protect my safety by reassigning me to a different unit that is not located at Fort Carson, that you return my PC or, at least, seize it to protect the evidence on it, and that you issue a military protective order to prohibit the offending members of my unit from harassing, retaliating, or contacting me.

I have some photographs and some supporting documentation to these allegations.

Respectfully,
PFC John Needham
US Army


See the amazingly unbelievable video about John Needham's story here

Friday, December 16, 2011

TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT IRAQ

Thursday, December 15, 2011

GETTING READY TO TAKE OUT SYRIA



There have been reports of hundreds of American and NATO troops training militants on the Syrian border to overthrow Al-assad's regime. According to a former FBI official this has been going on since May 2011.

Why are we not hearing about this on American mainstream media? Sibel Edmonds, president of the National Security Whistle blowers Coalition, exposes what is going on around Syria.

GEN. JONES DEFENDS MILITARY EMPIRE

Several days ago I listened quite attentively to a recorded speech on our statewide public radio by Gen. James Jones. Gen. Jones served as Commander, United States European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe as well as Obama's first National Security Adviser. He was invited to the University of Maine-Orono by former U.S. Sen. William Cohen (R-ME). Cohen served as Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton.

The board of directors of General Dynamics (which builds Navy Aegis destroyers here in Bath) has elected James L. Jones to be a director of the corporation, effective August 3, 2011.

Jones was instrumental in promoting the development of the new military command - Africa Command (AfriCom). The mission of AfriCom is to establish U.S. interventionary (lily pad) bases throughout the continent as the Pentagon moves to take control of the massive resource base of Africa.

Here are a few highlights from the speech by Gen. Jones:

  • We need a new paradigm of engagement.
  • NATO is in the middle of a strategic transformation. Can't afford to be passive and reactive. Demands proactive engagement. Will include coalition approach.
  • Syria represents a real opportunity. We should be working very hard to have national and international responses to ensure Syria has what the people want - economic opportunity [read corporate control of the government and economy].
  • Any Syria intervention could not be unilateral - would have to be generated through NATO. Unilateralism is not the best way to go.
  • NATO could have a major role to play in any settlement between Israel and Palestine.
  • The world does not want to see a dominant China and a lesser dominant U.S.
  • The value of forward military presence - if you lose it you never get it back. We have a phenomenal advantage being forward deployed.
  • AfriCom - don't call it a combatant command, call it something else.
You can listen to his entire speech here

Other related things of interest about Africa policy include:

  • European and U.S.-based hedge funds are buying up African lands in the name of "securing Africa's food supply".
  • U.S. AID (Agency for Int'l Development) which has long been linked to the CIA has a program to introduce corporations from India into Africa in order to play India off against China on the continent

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

OBAMA WANTED MORE POWER



Once more the magician says one thing and does another.....does things George W. Bush could never have gotten away with.

I swear the oligarchy loves Obama.

The House of Representatives voted 283-136 in favor of this bill today. 93 Democrats supported it.

A friend of mine wrote to Obama asking him to veto this terrible bill. This is what she got in response from the magician (basically a rework of the Bush line):

My Administration is working every day to defeat al-Qa'ida and its extremist affiliates in Afghanistan and beyond. Shortly after taking office, I directed the Central Intelligence Agency to make the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden, al-Qa'ida's leader, a top priority. On May 1, 2011, we achieved this mission, bringing to justice a terrorist responsible for the murder of thousands of men, women, and children in the United States and around the world. Bin Laden's death does not mark the end of our efforts against al-Qa'ida, and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad as we continue working to disrupt and dismantle this terrorist network.

See how your House member voted here

WHY WERE WE THERE?

Frank Donnelly with Vets for Peace sign

Click to enlarge and see my sign

Bring Our War $$ Home banner at the top
Maine artist Natasha Mayers drew lots of media attention...she is a leader in the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home and one of the few who had a sign that mentioned tax cuts at the rally

A car load of us from the Bath area went to the state capital in Augusta today for a rally opposing more cutbacks in health care for the elderly, poor, and nearly poor. Our Tea-bag governor is proposing to cut $220 million from Medicaid which will impact 65,000 people across Maine (state population is about 1.4 million). The rally drew a couple hundred folks from many constituencies that will be hit by the cuts.

There were about a dozen of us sprinkled throughout the crowd with signs making the deadly connections between tax policy, war spending and the war on social progress. My sign read: End the Wars, Tax the Rich, Fund Human Needs.

(Thanks to Mark Roman from the Bring Our War $$ Home Campaign our banner got hung at the top of the stairs behind the speakers podium at the rally.)

The speakers all made nice speeches - don't cut health care, budgets are moral documents - but none of them gave a hint of a suggestion as to what could be done otherwise to fund these important programs. Last year the Maine State Legislature passed tax cuts for the rich and some Democrats, including my own State Senator Seth Goodall (a Democrat) voted along with the Republicans for these shameful tax cuts. Now guess what? Our fiscal crisis is even worse so more social spending cuts are needed we are being told.

The rally today was organized by the group called Maine Can Do Better and that is their basic message - Maine can do better than make cuts against the poor. This organization is a loose network of social service providers, churches, unions - the basic Democratic Party constituency. The lead group is Engage Maine which is coordinated by Ben Dudley who was a state representative from Portland and served as Chairman and CEO of the Maine Democratic Party a few years back.

It is my opinion that the Democrats in Maine are timid around the operative question of "revenues" to pay for these social programs that are being slashed. Some of their own members in the legislature have voted to cut taxes on the rich so at the rally those words were never heard. These same Democrats also don't want to go near the war spending issue either so there was no way those words would ever be muttered at such a rally.

In fact we've tried to engage with Engage Maine on the war spending issue. A couple of years ago Michael Brennan (one of the few Democrats who gets it and just elected Mayor of Portland) set up a meeting for Karen Wainberg, Mary Beth Sullivan and me with Ben Dudley to discuss working together on the war spending issue. Engage Maine rejected the idea.

So one is left to wonder - what do the Democrats propose? They say these Medicaid cuts are wrong but they, and the organizations they essentially control across the state, don't offer a funding solution.

You'd think that if they had a plan they'd have utilized this golden opportunity today when a couple hundred people gathered inside the capital Hall of Flags to brief them on their plan and send them home to build support for it. But nothing like that was done.

It feels to me like this was a rally to let off steam and to paint the Republicans, who now control the state, as the bad guys. The unspoken message is clear - next election put the Democrats back in charge and they will fix things. But the truth is that these cuts in social programs began in earnest during the past Democrat Gov. Baldacci administration who had a Democrat controlled state legislature.

It appears these well meaning people who showed up in Augusta today are being used by the Democrats. They are bridled and led around like a show horse but are never turned loose to run free and wild. To do so would mean that these restive folks might just turn on both parties and make these "radical" demands - tax the rich and end these wars.

The telling moments were at the beginning and end of the rally. The moderator's first words were "Today we are here not for a political agenda." That became obvious enough.

Her parting words were to thank the crowd for being the politest rally she had ever seen. No shouting, no chanting, no impatience, no real political demands....good boys and girls. Just the way both parties like it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

MEXICAN DRUG WAR - HELP!



All They Are Saying Is Give War a Chance: "Narco-Mania!" Premiers in Mexico.

PTSD IN PAKISTAN



Armed US drones have been blamed for more than 300 missile attacks in seven years in Pakistan's tribal areas.

The US government says that they target only armed groups, and that civilian casualties are minimal.

Independent investigations, however, show that between 391 and 780 civilians have been killed in drone strikes since 2004.

Residents of Pakistan's tribal areas say that they feel terrorised by the strikes, and doctors say that those who survive them often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder met with the survivors of one such strike at a hospital in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

IGNORANCE ABOUNDS IN AMERICA



This is exactly the kind of thing we need to be doing all over America. Stop with the toxic fertilizing of front yards and gas-guzzling mowers. Plant veggies and save money. Get ready for the coming economic collapse.

Entire neighborhoods should be planting fruit trees, berry bushes and vegetable gardens in their front yards. Let the grass grow and bring in goats to eat it....and add some chickens. Get off the corporate agri-business addiction.

Monday, December 12, 2011

SYRIA NEXT, THEN IRAN?



Western diplomacy regards the Syrian president as a lost cause, so since he has close ties with Iran, toppling Assad would be a major blow to Tehran, argues UK journalist and author Jonathan Steele.

NATO keeps rolling the dice, no one stops them from toppling governments, so they will keep playing roulette.

REMEMBERING HIS-STORY - IRAN ATTACK?



  • This map tells the whole story. Each star represents a U.S. military base. In the middle, in blue, is Iran. Iran has no military bases outside its borders. Just north of Iran is Georgia that has essentially become a U.S./NATO base. Turkey belongs to NATO. Iran has been checkmated. North of Georgia is Russia. Can there be any wonder why Russia is so alarmed about an attack on Iran?

  • Imagine if we saw a map of the U.S. with Russian or Chinese military bases throughout Canada and Mexico along with their warships just off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The American people would be going ballistic. But when we do it to others, no one even blinks an eye.

  • Following the recent spy drone fiasco over Iran the U.S. has been working hard to justify these flights. In an Associated Press story yesterday it was reported that the covert operations in play are "much bigger than people appreciate," said Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser under George W. Bush. "But the U.S. needs to be using everything it can." Hadley said that if Iran continues to defy U.N. resolutions and doesn't curb its nuclear ambitions, the quiet conflict "will only get nastier."

  • Hadley's statement "But the U.S. needs to be using everything it can" has the sound of immanent danger, of desperation. But after looking at this map where does the danger really lie? Iran is actually no danger to anyone. The real danger is that the U.S./NATO/Israel have their itchy fingers on the war trigger and could attack at any time.

  • One last thing is Mr. Hadley himself. Unknown to the public at large, Stephen Hadley carried on a quiet career in the shadow of Brent Scowcroft and Condoleeza Rice. A business lawyer convicted of fraud, he became the counselor for the largest arms manufacturer in the world, Lockheed Martin. He advised the candidate George W. Bush, helped write the U.S.'s new aggressive nuclear doctrine, helped create the Department of Homeland Security, supervised new entries into NATO, and helped sell the invasion of Iraq. Ever faithful, he protected Bush the father from the Irangate scandal and Bush the son from the lies of the Iraq war. He found himself rewarded by becoming George W. Bush's National Security Advisor.

  • At the beginning of the 1980s, Mr. Steven Hadley ran an insurance fraud of close to $1.1 million. He was discovered, found guilty by a court in Iowa, and forced to reimburse the money. To erase any trace to his crime, he changed his name to Stephen John Hadley.

  • When Ronald Reagan took the White House, Mr. Hadley stayed in the private sector. However, in 1986, the Irangate scandal broke. President Reagan appointed a commission of three wise men to "investigate". It was composed of the Texan Senator John Tower, Edmund Muskie, and Brent Scowcroft who called Stephen J. Hadley to his side. In spite of the evidence, the commission concluded that President Reagan and Vice-President Bush were innocent. They found that the financing of the Contras in Nicaragua through the trafficking of drugs and illegal weapons sales to Iran was a secret initiative of over-zealous members of the National Security Council, put into place without the knowledge of their superiors. No big heads rolled.

  • As lawyer for Lockheed Martin, Hadley worked with the directors of the firm, including Lyne Cheney (wife of Dick). He became close with Bruce P. Jackson, the vice-president of the firm in charge of creating new markets. Together they initiated the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO into which they brought Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. The Committee engineered the entry of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland into NATO in 1999. Then that of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latonia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Each time, the leaders of the new member states were solicited to bring their armies up to the scale (interoperability) with NATO, in other words, to purchase new military hardware from Lockheed Martin.

  • Global Network board member Karl Grossman reported 10 years ago that Hadley was also instrumental in helping Donald Rumsfeld write his report calling for U.S. control and domination of space. "Space is going to be important. It has a great future in the military," Hadley told the Air Force Association Convention in a 2001 speech. Introduced as an "adviser to Governor George W. Bush," Hadley said that Bush's "concern has been that the [Clinton] Administration...doesn't reflect a real commitment to missile defense." In 1998 Rumsfeld's commission reversed a 1995 finding by the nation's intelligence agencies that the country was not in imminent danger from ballistic missiles acquired by new powers, declaring that "rogue states" did pose such a threat. The answer? Missile defense.

  • It is obvious that Hadley has been at this game a very long time. His connections to Lockheed Martin, and even the Bush administration, have been long forgotten. So when he is quoted in a current news story few see the irony of him defending CIA spy drone flights over Iran. It is good that we take a moment though and remember the real "his-story" otherwise we are likely to repeat the terror and carnage of past U.S. snake oil invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

SAVE THE DOLPHINS



Yesterday we had the annual holiday party of our local group called PeaceWorks. Alot of folks at the party asked me about the current situation on Jeju Island. It's good to know they are on the case.

I told them the Navy has twice been delayed, for the time being, from blasting the rocks along the coastline. Also the Navy is preparing to begin dredging operations in order to make it possible for the big U.S. warships (Aegis destroyers and aircraft carriers) to be able to enter the proposed port. This will of course kill the soft-coral reefs and also severely impact the many dolphins that thrive in these waters.

Matt Hoey reports this morning on the No Navy Base on Jeju! Facebook page the following:

30 Gangjeong villagers and activists traveled to Hwasoon Harbor, home to the Samsung dredging barges. 12 people entered the water in kayaks to block the barges from leaving the port. Their destination was Gangjeong village - specifically to waters that are spawning grounds for dolphin and home to soft coral beds. Also known as the naval base maritime construction zone. Jeju maritime police asked that the villagers not do this. Violations of the Maritime Transportation Security Act is up to 3,000,000 won ($2,600.00 appx). The Coast Guard reported that the barge did not set sail.

Samsung is the lead contractor on the Navy base construction project so please boycott their electronics products.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

SUNDAY SONG





Two nights ago police raided Occupy Boston and closed down their camp largely due to claims they were killing the grass.....46 were arrested. Last night more than 200 of the Occupy folks gathered on the Boston Common to decide on next steps.

(The Boston Common was used as a camp by the British before the American Revolutionary War, from which they left for the Battle of Lexington and Concord. It was used for public hangings up until 1817, most of which were from a large oak which was replaced with gallows in 1769. In 1660 Mary Dyer was hanged there by the Puritans for preaching Quakerism. On May 19, 1713, two hundred citizens rioted on the Common in reaction to a food shortage in the city. They later attacked the ships and warehouses of wealthy merchant Andrew Belcher, who was exporting grain to the Caribbean for higher profits. The lieutenant governor was shot during the riot. A hundred people gathered on the Common in early 1965 to protest the Vietnam War. A larger protest happened on October 15, 1969, this time with 100,000 people attending.)

While recently in Boston I learned that the popular phrase "Read them the Riot Act" came from that city's rich Revolutionary War history. At the time of British rule in America they in fact had a "Riot Act" that would be read to the "unruly mobs" that were common in Boston. The British would warn the protesting Americans that they had to disperse in one hour's time or they would be shot. The Boston Massacre happened on March 5, 1770, when British soldiers fired into one such "mob" on King Street outside the British custom house, resulting in the deaths of five civilians and dramatically escalating tensions.

It's more than ironic to see things haven't changed much in all these years. The British crown has been replaced by the corporate oligarchy but the Riot Act still essentially remains in place.

There have now been over 5,000 arrests in 82 cities across the country since the Occupy movement began in New York on September 17, 2011.

Long live the mobs.

MILITARIZING LOCAL COPS