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: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Monday, February 26, 2007


The U.S. now has more firepower stationed in the Persian Gulf than at any time since the beginning of the Iraq war.

The photo above is the crew of the USS Eisenhower which is today on alert in the Arabian Sea.

Last night before going to bed I read the latest article by Seymour Hersch at the New Yorker magazine on U.S. plans for Iran. I now have absolutely no doubt that Busy-Cheney will attack Iran along with Israel.

But even more so the article clearly spells out the larger plans to widen the war in the region by funding Sunni terrorist groups in Lebanon, Syria and Iran to create more turmoil in those Shiite dominated nations. The plan is to create an Iraq-style civil war between Sunni and Shiite throughout the Middle East in hopes the U.S. can then divide and conquer the entire region.

Just like the crew member in the photo above, with the very sick death mask on his face, the U.S. is now without a doubt the leading death agent on the planet. Our foreign policy is war and death. And the fact that the weapons corporations can make a substantial profit at it - all the better they say.

This is worse than Hitler. This is the most horrendous display of evil that one can imagine.

According to Hersch, the Bush-Cheney cabal have asked Saudia Arabia to fund Sunni terrorist groups to go into these Shiite countries and create civil war. These are the same Sunni groups that are killing American GI's right now in Iraq. Do you see the insanity here?

You must do something immediately. You have to get people to read and publicly discuss this article by Seymour Hersch linked above. People must come to grips immediately with the pure evil of current U.S. plans for endless war in the Middle East.

We are in big trouble at this moment.

Get busy.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


This picture above was taken after the four of us on the left had just been released from jail. They are from the left Carolyn Coe, Mary Beth Sullivan, Mary Donnelly, me, and then our good friend Richard Rhames who was the first person to meet us as we left the jail. Richard is a vegetable farmer and Maine's top public access TV activist who films most progressive events and then puts them on his TV show in Biddeford. He has a wonderful dry Maine sense of humor and is one of my favorite people in the state.

(Click on the link in the headline above for a TV news clip of the arrest.)

Last night was the annual Peace Action Maine supper which about 300 attended. I was given their annual Peace Maker Award (the individual award) and Maine Veterans for Peace was given the group award. After receiving the award I got up and led the group in singing a song I had adapted for the occupation of Tom Allen's office. I took an old labor union song, "Which side are you on?" and changed some of the words and it went "Which side are you on, Tom?" We sung it in Allen's office and in the paddy wagon after getting arrested. As the police took us from Allen's third-floor office in downtown Portland about 9:00 pm on Wednesday, a group of about 30 supporters had assembled and people entering the nearby coffee shop also stopped to watch the show. Our supporters sang the song too as we were loaded into the paddy wagon.

Several folks told me the song has gotten inside their heads and they have been singing it to themselves a lot these last few days. Glad to hear that.

We just took the morning off and went to the beach for a walk with some friends. Nice sunny day though the wind kicked up by the ocean. Our dogs loved it. The entire parking lot at the state park was a sheet of ice like an ice rink. Very fun to slide along as the dogs pulled us toward the sandy beach.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Mary Beth and I just got home after spending two nights in the Cumberland County jail for our part in a very successful office occupation of our congressman Tom Allen.

On Wednesday 52 of us met in downtown Portland and spread out to many different street corners for an hour and passed out over 1,000 leaflets telling our reasons for occupying Tom Allen's office. Just after 1:00 pm we gathered for a small rally and then lined up in single file and made a funeral procession march through the streets. We eventually made our way to Rep. Allen's office (the picture above is as we gathered just outside his office) and we went in together.

His staff was quite surprised as about 45 from our group, all dressed in black, kept filing into his tiny office. We spread throughout the office and once jam packed inside, Dexter Kamilewicz whose son was in Iraq and who ran against Tom Allen in the last election cycle, read a prepared statement on our behalf saying that we had come to demand that Allen vote no for any more Iraq occupation funding. Others then also made statements and we sat down on the floor and soon began reading names of those killed in Iraq. Every once in awhile we'd stop reading the names and have people read other messages that they had brought with them. At one point one of our folks read the entire text from Martin Luther King's famous letter from the Birmingham jail.

At 5:30 pm, closing time, Allen's staff told us we had to leave or be arrested. We told him we'd be happy to leave as soon as we heard from the congressman that he'd vote against any more money for Iraq. At 8:30 the city police arrived and arrested the 13 of us that remained in the office. We were then taken to the county jail where nine of our folks paid a $40 bail. MB, me and two others decided to stay in jail by refusing to pay the bail. After being moved from one holding tank to another, I got to my final jail cell at about 3:30 am and the three women got to their final cell an hour or so later. So not much sleep that night.

We were to be arraigned today in the local court but just before that was to happen the four of us learned that the charges against us had been dropped. It might have been because we had been covered in the Portland newspaper two days in a row (click on the link in the headline above for today's story) and were interviewed by a local TV station while in jail. The statewide NPR radio news station also covered our action. We were told that a large crowd had come to support us inside the court for the arraignment. They were told to leave, when we did not arrive, because they became too loud while they waited for us.

The pressure on our congressman will continue as long as he decides to remain an enabler of Bush's illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq. It was a wonderful experience to be arrested with the other 12 folks - some of them had never been arrested before.

The peace community must step outside our normal boxes and each of us must find ways to do more to help end the madness that our government has created in Iraq.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


The U.S. has spent more than a quarter of a trillion dollars in Iraq since the shock and awe invasion of 2003. More than $50 billion of it has gone to private contractors hired to guard bases, drive trucks, feed and shelter the troops and rebuild the country.

The U.S. flew $12 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into Iraq, then distributed the cash with no proper control over who was getting it and how it was spent. (The photo above is of an armed guard standing by pallets of $100 bills flown into Baghdad.) This was the biggest transfer of cash in the history of the Federal Reserve.

Using C-130 planes, the cash deliveries took place once or twice a month with the biggest of $2.4 billion in June of 2004.

Auditors found that $774,300 in cash had been stolen from one military division's safe. One official was given $6.75 million and told to spend it in one week before the interim Iraqi government took control. You can imagine that a few of the $100 bills got stuffed into some U.S. military officers pockets. When they got home they probably purchased that big SUV and fancy home with jacuzzi they had been dreaming of.

Is that what they mean when they say we should support the troops?

Now on top of all this criminal waste, fraud, and abuse the Bush administration wants to send another $100 billion to Iraq. Congress will be voting on this request in the next few weeks. You, the taxpayer, are being asked to fork the money over. Support the troops!

Sadly the Democrats, now in control of Congress, are going to give Bush the next big fat check. Who will profit from this new round of $100 billion? Will the troops get the body armor they need? Will the Veterans Administration get more funds to help returning GI's who have been seriously wounded in Iraq or now suffer from severe PTSD?

No, No, and more No.

The money will go to make the rich and corrupt even richer. It will go to the weapons corporations as fat contracts. It will go to the private contractors who have already shown their complete disregard for honesty and integrity. It will be stolen by dishonest military brass who are feathering their own nest while working class GI's take the brunt of the punishment. The Iraqi people will continue to suffer without adequate water systems, sewer systems, electricity and the like.

The Democrats and the Republican politicians supporting this new $100 billion expenditure will get their kick-backs in the form of campaign donations from the high and mighty.

Any politician that says they are against the occupation of Iraq and then votes for another $100 billion is telling a lie. Plain and simple.

What is the public going to do about it? What are you going to do?

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Reports of a possible U.S. air assault against Iranian nuclear facilities have been circulating in the media for more than a year and a half now. Former CIA agent Philip Giraldi (The American Conservative, 8/1/05), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh (New Yorker Magazine, 4/17/06) and most recently, investigative reporter Craig Unger in the March 2007 Vanity Fair, have all warned of the White House’s plans for an air- and sea-based strike against Iran.

But such an assault has been in the planning since before November 2003, when U.S. Strategic Command near Omaha, Nebraska completed its preparations for waging offensive and preemptive strikes against Iran and North Korea (William Arkin, Washington Post, 5/15/05). Under “CONPLAN 8022” (Contingency Plan 8022), the Omaha-based command center is now commissioned to strike anywhere in the world within minutes of detecting a target deemed a threat to the United States’ national security. And the projected attack against Iran—which could well include nuclear as well as conventional weapons—will be planned, launched and coordinated by StratCom.

For over half a century, the seemingly remote Omaha Air Force Base in the American heartland served exclusively as the command center for the U.S.’s nuclear deterrent. After 9/11, however, StratCom underwent a significant transformation of its role and mission, becoming in effect the ‘war room’ for waging the White House’s “War on Terror.” StratCom retained its historic responsibility for overseeing the largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world. But it acquired the additional charges of “full-spectrum global strike” (staging offensive, preemptive attacks); combating weapons of mass destruction; space and computer warfare; ballistic missile defense; and surveillance and reconnaissance (the “warrantless wiretaps” conducted by the National Security Agency, for instance, were a StratCom project).

According to the Vanity Fair article, StratCom could be ready to launch a “massive” aerial attack against the hundreds of nuclear facilities in Iran as soon as the end of this month (February). The possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons to penetrate the reinforced bunkers protecting the Iranian nuclear research facilities is also apparently real.

Today, U.S. Strategic Command in Bellevue, Nebraska (a suburb of Omaha) is the most dangerous place on the face of the earth. To thwart this wrong-headed and potentially catastrophic assault on Iran by StratCom will require nothing less than a mobilization by the world community. The Bush/Cheney Administration must be publicly challenged in the court of world opinion, and international media coverage of StratCom’s leading role is integral to rallying opposition.

Can you imagine the public reaction—particularly in the Muslim world—if the war plans taking shape at StratCom were common knowledge?

Here we have the command center for the world’s largest nuclear arsenal orchestrating an unprovoked attack (possibly even with nuclear weapons) on a non-nuclear Muslim nation, in order to prevent that country from even developing nuclear power for civilian purposes, for fear it might someday make a bomb.

StratCom’s policy promotes a morally repugnant double standard. And it is begging to be turned into a ‘bully pulpit,’ from which opponents can expose its hypocritical behavior.

Under international law, were the United States again to launch an unprovoked attack against a Muslim nation— as it did with Iraq—it would be acting illegally. But if the U.S. were also to use tactical nuclear weapons on Iran, it would be only the second time in over 61 years that a nuclear weapon has been used militarily. And on each of those occasions, it will have been the United States that used them.

The role and mission of StratCom has changed so dramatically in the past five years that most of the world has little idea of what is currently going on there. At this critical moment in history, the international media could provide no greater service to the world community than to publicize the acts being plotted at StratCom.

We urge you to give this ‘news tip’ your full consideration. We may not have much time before something irrevocable in human affairs occurs.

I would personally be willing to assist you any way I can in getting this story out to an international audience. I can be reached directly at 402-475-7616 and at my personal email address of

Thank you for your prompt attention.

Tim Rinne
State Coordinator, Nebraskans for Peace

Nebraskans for Peace is the oldest statewide Peace & Justice organization in the United States, and has been working for more than 35 years to alert the public about U.S. Strategic Command. Check out our website at:

Thursday, February 15, 2007



CONTACT: Bruce Gagnon 443-9502

On Wednesday, February 21 members of the Bath-Brunswick Occupation Project Affinity Group will organize a funeral procession to the Portland office of Rep. Tom Allen. The procession will gather at Tommy’s Park on Exchange Street at 12:45 pm and then proceed to Allen’s office.

The funeral procession will call on Rep. Allen to vote against George W. Bush’s request for another $100 billion for the occupation of Iraq. The procession will mourn the loss of American, Coalition, and Iraqi lives lost. It will also mourn the loss of social services that occur because our tax dollars are consumed by this war –(health care, child care, education, housing, environmental programs, etc.)

According to affinity group member Bruce Gagnon, “Rep. Tom Allen said he is against the occupation of Iraq. He promised that things would change once Democrats controlled Congress. But Rep. Allen and the majority in Congress plan to continue to appropriate the funds to support the occupation. The best they can do is debate a non-binding resolution opposing Bush’s troop surge. That is not good enough.”

President Bush said he does not intend to bring the troops home, yet polls tell us the majority of the American people are against the occupation. The only recourse for Congress is to cut the funding.

Each month the US occupation of Iraq costs Americans $8.5 billion.

Gagnon continued, “We’ve sent letters and emails to Congress. We’ve held open forums. Some have had private conversations with our representatives; others have brought the issue to campaign debates and public meetings. Rep. Mike Michaud from Maine’s 2nd district has voted to stop funding this occupation. Why can’t Rep. Allen and our Senators do the same?”

The Bath-Brunswick Occupation Project Affinity Group is made up of people who belong to Maine Veterans for Peace, Peace Action Maine, PeaceWorks, and other local groups.

- END -

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


We finally are getting some snow here after the warmest December in Maine's history and then a severe icy cold from January to present. I just came back from a walk in the snow to downtown Bath with our dog Red and our new house mate Levi.

Many of the shops downtown were closed or had signs up saying they were closing at noon. Not many cars on the street although there were the big snowplows on the streets and the pick-up trucks that have smaller plows on them for people's driveways. We've got to find someone to come and plow our driveway because it is a very long and wide one, in fact we have two of them - one on each side of the house. Way too much to shovel.

Looking out our second-floor window Mary Beth(MB) just pointed out the little kids playing on their sleds in the back yards of the houses near us. From upstairs we feel like we are in a tree house looking out onto the snowy world.

Mary Beth and Karen did not have to go to work today because of the snow storm. We all sat in the kitchen and ate scones that MB and Levi made for breakfast. Levi, a native Mainer, walked to the local grocery store early this morning in the snow to get some lemons for the scones.

Years ago while on a speaking trip to Miami I was talking to a guy from Maine who was spending some time in Florida. He told me he noticed that in Florida, because of air conditioning, that people never let up on their hectic pace of life. It was non-stop go-go-go. In Maine he said, when the heavy snows come people slow down. Life slows down. I think he was right.

Karen is taking a nap now. Levi kept walking after I turned back and headed home. MB is sitting in front of the upstairs window with her small white dog, that resembles a bundle of fluff, named Seamus on her lap. She is composing a leaflet.

I am writing this and thinking of laying down for a bit myself. Maybe finishing the book I have been reading. We have no other plans for today. It's the kind of day we rarely have in our busy lives.

Let the snow keep coming down.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Everybody is talking about Hillary and Obama. Which one do you like they ask? As if they were the only two choices we have.

They are, on the Democratic Party side, the only two real options that the power boys are going to give you. They are going to get most of the media, most of the money, and since the Dems now have front-loaded the primaries, they will get most of the votes as the system has been rigged to make it a quick strike and then it's all over. What I mean is that the primaries are now being set up so that you have to have big money to advertise on the TV. They are going to stack primaries together making the old shoe leather process of actually visiting states and talking with the public obsolete. The days of an also ran making a dramatic come from behind victory,after losing early primaries, are over. The power structure can't afford to leave democracy to the public. You are much too dangerous. You might pick the wrong candidate.

My prediction is that it will be a ticket on the Dems side of Clinton-Obama. Hillary has some serious negatives with voters. She does not inspire folks. A "fresh" face like Obama will help give her the momentum to pull it off.

It should be remembered that Hillary told AIPAC in recent days that the U.S. and Israel would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Translate that to mean Hillary would use the nuclear bomb on Iran to stop them from building nukes. "All options are on the table," Hillary said. I've also heard Hillary say that "The American people need to relax. We're going to be in Iraq a long time. We've been in Korea for 50 years."

I watched a Chicago Tribune reporter on CSPAN a couple of weeks ago being interviewed about Obama. "Isn't he too radical?" the reporter was asked. "Actually no he is not. He has a very good relationship with the Chicago banking community," the reporter told the CSPAN host. There you are. Obama passes the test. He will play the game.

Obama announced his candidacy this past weekend saying he wanted to "strategically redeploy" the U.S. troops by March 2008. You've got to listen closely to catch it. Strategic redeployment does not mean bring the troops home. It means move them into Kuwait and then send them back into Iraq on special forces assassination missions and Air Force bombing missions. Obama, and others calling for strategic redeployment, just want to get most of the troops out of the direct line of fire. When asked this weekend in New Hampshire if he'd be willing to vote against further funding for the Iraq occupation - Obama said no. Same position as Clinton and most of the rest of the bunch now running for president - except for Kucinich.

The American voter has to get smart fast. But a lot of voters, including many of those who are against the occupation, don't want to hear the details because they still want to believe that the Dems are going to rescue us from this burning building. Problem is they won't.

This is the big leagues of politics. If you want to play ball then you have to learn to hit the curve. Otherwise you will keep striking out.

The curve can be mastered but you've got to keep your eye on the ball. You've got to watch the face of the politicians so close you can see the twitch in their eye at the same time they are mumbling bullshit from their mouths. Once you get the hang of it it becomes much easier to do. Pretty soon you are hitting each pitch they throw you out of the park. You'll find yourself saying, "Don't throw me that crap no more Jack. I can see it coming."

Once you can do that you become a free human being with a mind that is not shackled to the slavery of contemporary politics. And once you become a free agent you can then begin to make your own way in the world, helping others to find liberation from the oligarchy that rules us today. You can become a real organizer who suffers from no more illusions. The slight-of-hand will no longer fool you.

Until we become free from the rigged game nothing changes. That's a promise you can take to Obama's bank.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


We had 41 people turn up yesterday in Portland for the first of our two non-violence training sessions in preparation for our participation in the occupation project.

So far two affinity groups have been formed and maybe more are yet to be put together.

The training went quite well and there were several new folks there with us as we talked about the history of non-violent direct action, outlined the roles and responsibilities of affinity groups, role-played a congressional office occupation, and had a legal briefing from a volunteer lawyer. We do the whole thing again next week for a new group of people.

All the signs are leading to the fact that the public is becoming increasingly frustrated with the politics surrounding the occupation of Iraq and the impending U.S. attack on Iran. People are starting to understand that they are going to have to take active non-violent measures to stop this madness. Leaving it to the politicians just ain't gonna cut it.

The Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal, in 1950, released the following statement to the citizens of the world:

"Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore [individual citizens] have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."

The occupation of Iraq and the continued funding of the occupation by Congress in my mind is a crime against peace and humanity. We must collectively act now as instructed by international and moral law.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


The photo above comes from the office occupation of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that was one of the kick-off actions that took place on Feb 5 as the national Campaign of Sustained Nonviolent Civil Disobedience to End the Iraq War began. (Click on the link in the headline above to see more details about events underway around the country.)

Here in Maine we have undertaken the formation of several affinity groups that are planning the non-violent occupations of our congressional offices during the coming weeks. We are planning non-violence training on Feb 10 and 17 in Portland as we move forward to try to prevent Congressional approval of Bush's request for $100 billion more for the occupation of Iraq.

I hope that readers of this blog will be working in their local communities to be part of this six-week national campaign. We can talk all day long but unless the American people begin to non-violently challenge the Congress, and keep them from forking over more money to Bush, then this war will never end.

Just in the past week we've heard that Bush's budget proposal for the next fiscal year calls for more massive cuts in health care funds for the poor and other social spending cuts. Bush is intentionally creating the massive budget deficit knowing full well that he can then come back to Congress and say, "Hey we've cut to get spending under control."

Any Congressperson that says we can fund the occupation of Iraq and still afford to fund human needs in this country is a liar. Pure and simple.

And if we let them get away with those lies then we are complicit in the whole game. Time has come to fish or cut bait.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


My favorite band is The Kinks from the UK. It was founded by Ray and Dave Davies back in the early sixties. They broke up the band a couple years ago and now Ray and Dave have their own careers. I was checking out their websites the other day and wanted to use this album cover on one of my blogs. I don't have any particular big story to write about today. I'm tired of writing about how lousy the Dems are and how my liberal congressman is a phony. So today I need something different.

We had a party and a meeting at our new house last Saturday. About 90 people came for the surprise birthday party for our 85-year old friend Loukie Lofchie. Then following that 50 stayed for the anti-war meeting. Our new place, built in 1790, held up quite well under the strain. We wondered if the floors would cave in with all the extra weight on them.

My Internet connection has been off and on since we moved in. Not sure exactly what the trouble is/was but I've had three different experts look at it and they each have done different things to get me back on-line. Let's hope now it will stay on. It's sadly amazing how reliant I am on the Internet - I can hardly do any of my work without it these days. I wonder how I ever managed before I got email. And I was a late comer to the Internet.

If you click on the link above you will hear one of my favorite songs (20th Century Man) by The Kinks. Ray Davies performs it during a recent appearance on Austin City Limits.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) visited Maine this past Friday and I was invited to appear with him on a local cable access TV show in Portland that was filmed live, with over 80 people in the studio audience. Kucinich and I were asked primarily to comment on the U.S. occupation of Iraq and we both particularly focused on the important issue of calling on Congress to cut the funding for the war.

Kucinich was quite passionate in saying that any Congressperson who says they are against the war, but continues to vote for the funding, is misleading the public. Kucinich said that you can't oppose the war and keep enabling Bush by giving him hundreds of billions more dollars.

I was also able to talk about Kucinich's past efforts to introduce legislation to ban the U.S. from putting weapons into space. In addition I also talked about the need to convert the military industrial complex - that we'd never end war as long as weapons production was the # 1 industrial export product of the nation as it is today. (Click on the link in the headline above to see a short animated cartoon about what conversion might look like.) After the show Kucinich asked me to send him more of my thoughts on the conversion issue and I was quite happy when he said he'd like to integrate that message into his overall campaign as his presidential effort grows.

Lu Bauer, one of Kucinich's key campaign volunteers here in Maine, later told us that he will be coming to Maine frequently in the coming months as he focuses on Maine and New Hampshire. He did well in the Maine caucus in 2004 and figures that he can build on that for the 2008 campaign.

While I am no longer registered as a Democrat, I do think that Kucinich has been good on most of our issues and deserves support by the peace community. His presence in the race for the Democratic Party nomination does ensure that the anti-war message will get more coverage than it otherwise would.