JUDGE LETS CHARGES AGAINST ARMY OFFICER STAND
By Bob Egelko
** Trial to proceed on refusal to deploy, criticism of Bush **
San Francisco Chronicle
January 18, 2007
An Army officer who refused to go to Iraq can be prosecuted not only for missing a troop movement but also for conduct unbecoming an officer because he publicly criticized President Bush and questioned the war's legality, a military judge has ruled.
Such a challenge to the war could "prevent the orderly accomplishment of the mission or present a clear danger to loyalty, discipline, mission, or morale of the troops,'' Army Lt. Col. John Head said Tuesday in refusing to dismiss charges against 1st Lt. Ehren Watada.
Head noted that "contemptuous speech by an officer directed at the president'' is grounds for prosecution under military law. He said it would be up to the jury at Watada's court-martial to decide whether his statements fell into those categories.
Head also said Watada was not entitled to a hearing on the legality of the Iraq war and had no right to defend his actions by arguing that they were motivated by his opposition to an illegal war. Those are political questions that a military court has no authority to consider, he said.
"What he's saying is that people in the military are not allowed to criticize their leaders, not allowed to criticize policy,'' Watada's lawyer, Eric Seitz, said Wednesday. He said the ruling was much more restrictive than past military court decisions on troops' right to voice dissent during wartime.
Watada's court-martial, with Head presiding, is scheduled to start Feb. 5 at Fort Lewis, Wash., where Watada is based. Seitz said the ruling guaranteed a conviction on the charge of missing a troop movement and would make it hard to defend Watada against four charges of conduct unbecoming an officer, based on the officer's public statements. Watada faces up to six years in prison if convicted of all charges.
"I don't want my client sitting in jail while we litigate in civilian courts, all the way up to the Supreme Court, but that may be what we have to do,'' Seitz said.
In a statement released Wednesday by organizers of a "citizens' tribunal'' on the legality of the war, scheduled for this weekend in Tacoma, Wash., Watada said he stood by his belief that "this war is illegal and immoral. Everything I've done since I announced publicly why I'm refusing to go to this war is an attempt to appeal to the American people to fulfill their civic obligations.''
The Army did not comment on the ruling, issuing only a general statement that the military justice system "affords soldiers extensive rights to ensure fair and impartial investigations and trials, just as in the civil system.''
Watada, 28, a Hawaiian who enlisted in the Army in 2003, refused to accompany his armored infantry unit to Iraq in June. He was the first commissioned U.S. officer to take such a stance.
The Army rejected his offers to fight in Afghanistan instead or resign his commission, and has also turned down an offer of a six-month sentence and a dishonorable discharge for missing a troop movement, Seitz said.
The charges of conduct unbecoming an officer are based on Watada's public statements and press interviews.
In an interview with Oakland reporter Sarah Olson, published by the Web site www.truthout.org in June, Watada spoke of the "deception the Bush administration used to initiate and process this war,'' which he said made him "ashamed of wearing the uniform."
The Army has subpoenaed Olson and another reporter, Gregg Kakesako of the *Honolulu Star-Bulletin*, to testify at the court-martial that they had quoted Watada accurately. Olson has said she is reluctant to testify against someone she interviewed, particularly in a case involving freedom of speech.
But Head's refusal to dismiss the speech-related charges means the reporters may have to decide whether to comply with the subpoenas or face imprisonment.
MASSIVE ANTI-WAR MARCH PLANNED FOR JAN. 27 IN D.C.
By Pat Elder of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ)
** Peace March Expected to be Among Largest Since War Began — MoveOn.org, National Organization for Women, Labor Unions Mobilize Members; Buses and vans coming from 30 states and 111 Cities **
January 17, 2007
NEW YORK -- Americans angered by Bush's plans to escalate the Iraq war will flood the streets of Washington on Saturday, January 27, in a massive national peace march organized by United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ). Marchers will call on Congress to listen to the voters, not Bush, by using its power to end Bush's war and bring the troops home. The last three national marches organized by UFPJ each attracted between 300,000 and 500,000 people.
MoveOn.org has called upon its 3.2 million members to join UFPJ, describing the march as potentially a "turning point for the war" comparable to how "Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington in 1963 was a turning point in the fight for equality and civil rights." The National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) is mobilizing its chapters to participate. Local antiwar groups in cities and towns across the nation are mobilizing.
On Monday, United for Peace and Justice's website received more than 700,000 hits. District Council 37 in NYC, A.F.S.C.M.E.'s largest district council, and New York's United Federation of Teachers, the largest teachers union local in the country, are sending busloads of their members to Washington. Car caravans and peace trains are heading to Washington, DC, from all over the East Coast, Midwest and Southeast. Buses and vans are coming from more than 30 states and 111 cities, including from as far away as Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Judith LeBlanc, UFPJ Co-Chairperson, said, "Bush's announcement of plans to escalate the war has backfired. Every day people call or send email to say they will be marching in Washington with United for Peace and Justice on January 27th to call for an end to this war. They are demanding that Congress stand up to Bush. There is no doubt: This is the right action at the right time."
Among those slated to speak at the pre-march rally are Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who last year led an antiwar march of thousands, the largest protest in Salt Lake City history; Reverend Jesse Jackson, Jr.; Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH); Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA); Bob Watada, father of Lt. Watada, the first military officer to refuse deployment to Iraq and currently facing court-martial; and active-duty service people.
On Monday, January 29th, UFPJ is sponsoring a Grassroots Lobby Day, in which hundreds will press the case for withdrawal from Iraq directly with their Congressional Representatives and Senators. The weekend's activities will include a Saturday morning interfaith peace service and organizing workshops on Sunday.
On Thursday, January 11, United for Peace and Justice member groups and allies staged more than 1,000 local protests of Bush's escalation of the Iraq war. UFPJ's March on Washington is the next step in the antiwar movement's national surge of opposition to Bush's escalation of the war.
WHAT: Massive peace march in Washington, D.C.
WHEN: Saturday, January 27, 2007. Rally begins at 11:00 am. March to kick off 1:00 pm.
WHERE: Rally on National Mall at 3rd Street. UFPJ has applied for a permit for a march route that goes east on Constitution, south on 1st, west on Independence and returning to the Mall to end.
Media professionals planning to cover the march should register for press credentials at www.unitedforpeace.org.
With more than 1,400 member groups under its umbrella, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) is the nation's largest grassroots peace and justice coalition. Since its founding in October 2002, UFPJ has spurred hundreds of protests and rallies around the country, including the two largest marches against the Iraq war. http://www.unitedforpeace.org
SEATTLE RALLY CELEBRATES REAL LEGACY OF MLK
By Kaz Suzat
** Highlights struggle against war and racism **
Party for Socialism and Liberation
January 18, 2007
Over 5,000 people participated in the 24th annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration march and rally in Seattle on Jan. 15.
Seattle has one of the largest community-based MLK observations in the country. The MLK Celebration Committee, which organized the event, is composed of many community groups, progressive organizations, and churches. The ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) has participated significantly in the last few years.
The MLK committee strives to keep Dr. King’s message relevant to current struggles. This year’s theme was “Solidarity for peace, human rights and economic justice.”
The highlight of the rally before the march in the packed gym at Franklin High School was the introduction of war resister Lt. Ehren Watada. A tremendous standing ovation greeted Watada and concluded his remarks. The crowd demonstrated its solidarity and support for his refusal to deploy to Iraq and be part of the imperialist occupation.
After the rally, the march went up Rainier Ave. -- a major Seattle artery -- through the historically African American community.
The anti-war sentiment was very evident, with many signs and placards supporting Lt. Watada and other war resisters. Lively contingents from ANSWER, Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and other anti-war groups drew numerous participants.
The closing rally was chaired by ANSWER organizer Jane Cutter. Many community speakers discussed the need to struggle against the war and racism while pushing for economic justice.
JOURNALIST ON HOT SEAT IN COURT-MARTIAL CASE
By Matthew Rothschild
January 17, 2007
Sarah Olson was on a big story, and now she has become a part of it.
The freelance journalist was one of the first reporters to cover the story of Lt. Ehren Watada, who is facing a court-martial for publicly refusing to deploy to Iraq. Watada has denounced the war as “illegal and unjust.”
Now the army has subpoenaed Olson and another reporter to testify at Watada’s trial.
Olson finds herself in a bind.
“Being forced to choose between my personal liberty and my integrity is not a choice I should be forced to make,” she says. “If I don’t cooperate, I will be facing a felony contempt of court charge with a penalty of up to six months in prison and/or up to a fine of $500.”
The other reporter is Gregg Kakesako of the *Honolulu Star-Bulletin*. When I called him to discuss the case, he said, “I don’t have any comment.”
Groups that protect journalists and writers have expressed their dismay at the Pentagon’s tactic.
“If Olson and Kakesako respond to these subpoenas by testifying, they will essentially be participating in the prosecution of their source,” wrote Hannah Pakula and Larry Siems of the PEN American Center in a January 5 letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “Such a role compromises their objectivity and can have chilling effects on the press.”
Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, agrees.
“It’s particularly frustrating and infuriating that they’re putting journalists in this situation when it’s clearly unnecessary,” Dalglish says, noting that Watada has not denied making the statements that Olson and Kakesako reported.
Olson even broadcast a radio interview with Watada, which is still available on the Internet, she adds, so the military prosecutors “can go to the National Radio Project’s website and verify his words themselves.”
On January 8, the Los Angeles Times denounced the military for going after Olson.
“No prosecutor should be able to conscript any reporter into being a deputy by compelling testimony made by a source -- or go fishing for information beyond what a reporter presents in a story -- unless it’s absolutely vital to protect U.S. citizens from crime or attack.” Such is not the case here, it argued.
Olson says she is not in a position to discuss what she is ultimately going to do or “what kind of legal strategy I will employ,” she says. But she appears to give a hint when she adds: “My duty as a journalist is to the public and to their right to know, and not to the government.”
She believes this case could set an awful precedent.
“It has the potential to be devastating to the independence of the press and to the press’s ability to report on dissenting voices particularly,” she says. “When individual reporters know they’ll be hauled in front of a military court and have their credibility eviscerated, they’re going to be far less likely to go to the trouble of reporting on subjects that are unpopular with the current Administration or in other ways controversial.”
The Army defends the subpoenas.
“The army’s request of the reporters is simply to verify or authenticate their stories, and to say their stories are an accurate representation of what Lt. Watada said either during an interview or during a public appearance,” says Joe Piek, spokesman for Fort Lewis, Washington, where Watada will be court-martialed. “The Army is not asking for reporters’ notes or tapes or confidential sources or anything like that.” The subpoenas are “in the interest of assuring that Lt. Watada’s court martial is fair, and impartial, and all the evidence is available.”
Watada’s court martial is scheduled for February 5-9.
Olson says she is holding up OK under the pressure.
“I’m doing just fine,” she says. “I’m actually very encouraged by the level of support that I’ve received.”
--Matthew Rothschild has been with the Progressive since 1983. He keeps a running tally of civil liberties infringements in his "McCarthyism Watch."
Letter to the editor
WAR AND TAXES
By Jane Beard
January 17, 2007
Lynda Meyers wrote in her Jan. 10 letter that Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada should be forced to deploy to Iraq or serve prison time because, "As a taxpayer, I don't want to pay for the training, equipment, salaries, and benefits of no-shows."
Well, as a taxpayer, I don't want to pay for salaries and benefits (and, one might argue, on-the-job training) for an administration that lied about the situation in Iraq to start a war.
I don't want to pay for the rehabilitation of the thousands of soldiers who will be wounded because of an insane "surge" policy that is counter to the best military advice out there. And that's on top of all the other examples of what this war is costing taxpayers.
WHY OPPOSING THE 'BUSH DOCTRINE' IS A GOOD THING
By Abdullahi Bego
Daily Trust (Abuja, Nigeria)
January 17, 2007
As part of the growing disconnect between the American military and its commander-in-chief, a letter signed by over a thousand active servicemen is due to be submitted to the United States Congress tomorrow in which the soldiers would express an open opposition to President Bush's misadventures in Iraq.
They would argue that the war in Iraq was needless; that it has caused over three thousand American deaths (and still counting) and the death of nearly a million Iraqis; that its casus belli, if there was one in the first place, had expired; and that U.S involvement in the country, which has caused so much pain and loss not just in Iraq but in other parts of the Middle East, does not really serve the interest of the American people.
One of those soldiers, First Lt. Ehren Watada, who would face a court marshal in less than three weeks from now for refusing a deployment to Iraq, had described President Bush's invasion of the country as "criminal," as "something that should not have been started in the first place and something that is making America less safe."
It is gratifying that U.S. soldiers, who are increasingly put at risk by a warmonger president, are openly joining the rest of the American people in giving currency and legitimacy to the determination of the current American Congress to oppose the Iraq war and inject some civility in President Bush's hawkish foreign policy, especially in the Middle East.
It appears, however, that President Bush is unlikely to bother about the surfeit of American and international concerns on Iraq, as he defiantly pushes ahead with his so-called 'New Strategy,' which further exposes the American military to danger and potentially escalates the situation in Iraq by ordering a troop surge.
In his speech last Wednesday, President Bush had justified deploying 21, 000 more U.S soldiers to Iraq by arguing that a military solution is the best way to quelling the growing violence there.
"In earlier operations," he said, "Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents, but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned."
"This time," the U.S. president added with unmistakable self-righteousness, "we'll have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared."
Although Bush went to great lengths to convince the growing ranks of American skeptics that 'failure' in Iraq would create an atmosphere that leverages 'radical Islamic extremists to grow in strength and gain new recruits,' he again failed to acknowledge that failure had indeed been the American lot in Iraq:
In three years, and with over three hundred billion dollars in American tax payers' money, the president and his team of trigger-happy neo-cons were unable to find the weapons of mass destruction, which was the very reason the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was staged in the first place; they were unable to control the growing 'insurgent' violence although they have the military power to do so because violence, if the truth be told, is what President Bush needs to continue to pursue his wider objective of creating a so-called 'new Middle East.'
His reference to the attacks on the Golden Mosque of Samarra was significant in explaining the 'institutionalization' of sectarian violence in Iraq.
But to date, we never really know whether 'al-Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents' actually carried out that heinous act or some 'others' who wanted to benefit (or are already benefiting) from an Iraq bloodily sundered across sectarian lines.
Violence and incitement and the growing tit-for-tat sectarian exchanges between the Sunnis and Shiah in Iraq have therefore become, for President Bush, the carte blanche to actualize the dream of a 'New World Order' started in 1991 by Bush Snr immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which must decisively carry on the 'torch' of American 'freedom and liberty' from the Middle East to the rest of the Muslim World.
"The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict", Bush had said. "It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation (Bush and his neo-con allies). On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life.
"In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy, by advancing liberty across a troubled region".
Unfortunately, Mr. Bush has offered no concrete alternative as yet, except that of further complicating the situation in Iraq and attempting to bully its neighbors to submission.
Describing Iran and Syria, two of Iraq's neighbours, as posing 'extremist challenges' to the U.S.'s presence in the region, for instance, President Bush had insinuated that Tehran and Damascus were fuelling the insurgency, which now tears Iraq apart and continues to threaten its corporate existence.
DON'T SUPPORT OUR TROOPS
By Joe Mowrey
January 17, 2007
The slogan "Support Our Troops" has come to symbolize gas-guzzling SUV's with magnetic yellow ribbons on the back and American flag decals in the window. In an effort to guard themselves against accusations they are unpatriotic, Progressives have co-opted that phrase and added the words "Bring Them Home Now." The intention of this new slogan is to claim the troops as our own, not just pawns of the right wing. We support them by wanting to end the war and bring them home. Implicit in this support is the notion that they deserve our unflagging gratitude and enthusiasm because they are not responsible for their situation. They are only following orders. It is up to us to see to it that they are extricated from the desperate circumstances our politicians have created for them. Both uses of this sound bite ignore the despotic nature of the military-industrial complex in this country. Both are wrong.
I manage the data base and produce the graphics for the Iraq/Afghanistan Memorial Installation, a 450-foot-long (and growing) series of 3-by-6 foot vinyl banners displaying the names, pictures, and obituaries of the U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Installation is a project of the Santa Fe Chapter of Veterans for Peace. I have spent hundreds of hours staring at the faces and reading biographies of the nearly 3400 (as of the writing of this article) young men and women who have been killed in these two wars of aggression. Though I am not a veteran and have not lost a loved one to war, I carry a deep sense of the tragedy these lost lives represent. But I do not "Support Our Troops."
When did the truth become an unspeakably radical position? At a time when what we need most is frank and honest discussion about the imperialist role the United States plays in the nightmare of global violence and militarization, what we see instead is an effort on the part of the antiwar movement to play politics with language. Rather than having the courage to reject platitudes, we attempt to stake out some imagined middle ground of justice and the rule of law. We pretend to ignore inconvenient facts for fear we might be labeled anti-American. We frame the truth in a way that may serve our ends even though the means is not as noble as we might hope. Expediency supplants integrity.
What if the principal and many of the teachers at your local high school claim a neighboring school is hiding a cache of weapons? The school administrators can't produce any evidence this is true. But just in case, the students are being armed and trained and will be sent to attack the other school, burn it to the ground, and kill many of the families in the surrounding neighborhood. Would you give those kids a pat on the back, a tearful hug, and send them off to commit this mayhem? Or would you encourage them to question the school administrators, demand proof of their claims, call in police and other legal authorities to investigate the alleged threat represented by the other school?
If in the end you were unable to convince the students they were being lied to, that there was no real danger, would you go ahead and "support the troops" just because you felt the need to demonstrate your loyalty to their school and neighborhood? Would you send them cookies at the holidays, warm socks, perhaps a video game or two they could use to distract themselves during their off hours? Would you laud them as heroes on their return home? It's not really their fault, after all. They've been lied to. The fact that they are killing and maiming innocent people is a secondary consideration. First, we need to assure them we support them in this terrible time.
These are difficult and complex moral considerations. When does support become facilitation? When does care and concern lend itself to the commission of crimes against the populations of other countries? When does loyalty supplant responsibility? Though I have my own answers to these questions, I can't answer for others. But I do believe they are questions that need to be asked.
The Bush administration made outlandish claims about Iraq and the imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein. They insisted that the government of Afghanistan was harboring those responsible for the attacks of 9/11. Incredibly, in the next breath, they convinced many people that Iraq was responsible for those same attacks. All this was done without presenting even the slightest legitimate evidence for these claims. Being the good patriotic citizens that many of us are, we willingly sent our children off to kill and be killed, to murder thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq for no other reason than that a handful of politicians and media pundits told us to do so. And all the while we continue to chant the myopic slogan, "Support Our Troops."
Following the horrific devastation that resulted from World War II, the collective nations of the world adopted the Nuremberg Principles and the Geneva Conventions. As absurd as the notion may be that we can establish "rules" for war, none the less, we as a global community determined standards for military engagement between nations. Since that time, the United States has continually violated these standards. We have openly attacked and secretly undermined sovereign governments in our efforts to achieve global hegemony. We have installed and maintained brutal dictatorships whenever and wherever it served our purposes. We have used our military to conduct state-sponsored terrorism in order to change political landscapes to advance our imperialist agenda.
Our military is engaged in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace in both Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the more than 100 other countries where we maintain a military presence. We instigated wars of aggression against two nations whose governments did not attack us, nor did they pose any threat to us. Our forces have destroyed untold billions of dollars worth of civilian infrastructure and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. As American citizens our jingoistic support of the military in such endeavors has enabled this abusive behavior.
Nuremberg Principle IV states: "The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him." The politicians and corporate moguls who orchestrate the United States' imperialist ventures bear the bulk of responsibility for the crimes being committed. But soldiers who engage in the implementation of these policies are also culpable, from the most senior officers to the lowest ranking enlisted personnel. As a result of a political system that is controlled by corporate interests we no longer can rely on our elected officials to abide by the rule of law. The burden then must fall to members of our military establishment to disobey illegal and immoral orders.
The invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are wars of aggression that violate the law and defy common sense. We have turned our children into war criminals. We ourselves, as American citizens, are accessories before and after the fact. A moral choice is available, to us and to members of our military. Ehren Watada is only one example of many soldiers who are making such choices. He is the highest ranking officer yet to refuse service in Iraq, rightfully claiming the war and the occupation violate the Constitution, international law, and Army regulations. He and others like him are the ones who truly deserve our support. They are the real heroes of our misbegotten wars.
It does not matter what lies were told to take us into these wars. We are the aggressors. We are the rogue nation. When politicians and pundits on the left and the right claim they were deceived by George Bush or Colin Powell or some other neoconservative ideologue, we should respond with the obvious facts. Hundreds of thousands, indeed millions of people in this country and around the world were not fooled by these lies. None of us who opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan believed that either of these countries posed a threat to the United States. None of us believed there was any justification for dropping bombs on innocent civilians. None of us condoned these illegal and immoral actions.
The truth is painful, and stating it is far from politically correct. We as a nation have allowed our military to become a criminal element that is rampaging around the globe inflicting death and destruction on innocent populations. If we claim to be a civilized society, we must practice the same behavior we purport to expect of others. There is no rational argument in favor of wars of aggression, collective punishment, torture, and abuse of human rights. Those paradigms are ineffective, morally indefensible, and should be rejected by us unconditionally.
The facts themselves are clear. The needed response is also clear and indisputable. "Bring Them Home Now." That slogan should stand alone as the mantra for the antiwar movement. We must demand the immediate withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan and Iraq as well as anywhere else they are functioning in an imperial capacity or in violation of accepted standards of morality. Our government must end financial and military support for any and all countries that do not abide by the Nuremberg Principles and the Geneva Conventions.
When our military is no longer committing war crimes, when we are in compliance with basic standards of human rights and social justice, then we can break out the bumper stickers and ribbons that say "Support Our Troops." We can support their physical and emotional rehabilitation. We can support their return to their families and reintegration into their communities. We can properly fund veterans benefits and educational and employment opportunities for veterans. We can become a model of egalitarian compassion in the world instead of a bloodthirsty juggernaut spewing death and destruction in the wake of its imperialist ambitions. Until then, every American, as well as our military, are guilty of crimes against peace.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: "BUSH IS DANGEROUS. HE HAS TO GO!"
By William Hughes
January 10, 2007
—“Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.” —Eugene V. Debs
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On Jan. 4, 2007, at the National Press Club, the World Can’t Wait organization put on a first-rate program entitled “Voices for Impeachment.”(1) It featured speakers like “Peace Mom” Cindy Sheehan, pundit John Nichols of the Nation, activist Sunsara Taylor from World Can’t Wait, Michael Ratner, Esq., of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the man who released the “Pentagon Papers” -- Daniel Ellsberg.(2) Author Gore Vidal made an appearance, too, via a video hookup. Journalist David Swanson of Afterdowningstreet.org served as the moderator for the lively affair.(3) It was held before a capacity audience. In fact, another room had to be opened up to handle the overflow crowd.
Ellsberg said: “I think [President George W.] Bush and [V.P. Dick Cheney] Cheney have to go for a number of reasons. One of them is that, frankly, if there is . . . another 9/11, while they are in power, then I think you will not distinguish this country very much from the police state in Germany in the summer of 1933 . . . We have to get them out. If we don’t try to impeach them, then we accept the legitimacy of the criminal moves that they have already made . . . Cheney is Bush’s insurance, just as [Spiro T.] Agnew was [President Richard M.] Nixon’s [during Watergate, in 1973].(4)
“While I was worried that after the next 9/11, that they would turn the National Security Agency (NSA) on us, it turns out they did that on September 12th, back in 2001. They have been doing it for five years, now! These other things -- the torture is clearly illegal . . . it’s clearly criminal to be doing this . . . NSA wiretaps are already illegal . . . They did this totally against the law . . . You are accepting a man who thinks of himself right now as a dictator. If we don't tell him otherwise, through the Congress, and through the public in general, he is. And future presidents will be the same. We have to do whatever we can. We have to challenge [him] to get back some degree of a rule of law and of the Constitution.”(5)
When Swanson introduced Ellsberg, he said this of the celebrated anti-Vietnam War gadfly: “Much has been written and at least one movie has been made about his life. He has been with us opposing the current war. He has been arrested in Crawford, Texas, of all places. Ellsberg is the author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. And, he has been calling on members of the Bush administration to do what he did and that is to release evidence.”(6)
With respect to anyone in the present federal government leaking information, Ellsberg shared this thought: “Don’t wait till the bombs are falling . . . Don’t wait till the war has started. Don’t wait until more thousands of people have died . . . go to Congress, go to the press, go to the public with the information that might avert that war and save countless lives.” Ellsberg praised Katherine Gun of the U.K. She “immediately” leaked information regarding the Iraqi warmongering scheme of Tony Blair’s regime.(7) Blair is know as “Bush’s poodle” by many Brits. I won’t say what MP George Galloway, that splendid Celt, thinks of Blair, since this piece will end up on a number of family-oriented web sites.(8) Ellsberg also lauded Lt. Ehren Watada for his principled stand against the Iraqi War. (9)
Ellsberg continued: “We need right now to avoid an attack on Iran and the use of nuclear weapons against Iran. It must be said that congressmen are not to be faced with a ‘fait accompli’ with the rest of us on the day after. They have to be saying right now, ‘no!’ There should be hearings on it. But also, no funding for an attack on Iran . . . There were 150 votes on such a bill last year, more than I would have guessed. That has to be renewed.
“This 30,000 to 40,000 [troop surge in Iraq] thing . . . We should be saying right now, ‘absolutely not.’ Whatever we think should be done in Iraq, this [troop surge] is the wrong direction. This president after this election, [Nov. 7, 2006], in view also of the polls, in view of an non-delusional recognition of reality, the direction he is about to take is the wrong direction. And the only way to stop that and I think the public absolutely doesn’t want that . . . the only way to stop that . . . is to get him out of there. There must not be an expansion of this war of the kind that he is about to make . . . And we have to roll back the assault on our Constitution. Bush has to go, not because he is stupid. I don’t even know whether he is or not, but because ‘he is dangerous.’ And he has to be gotten out of there . . . The Iraqi War is unconstitutional and illegal . . . It’s a crime against the peace.” (10)
Ellsberg said: “It is too late to avert the Iraqi War, but not too late to avert the next war . . . in Iran. That could be a matter of days, weeks, months.” He suspects that the “troop surge” ploy could be used to contain the insurgency in Iraq, while “Bush bombs Iran.” He praised Cindy Sheehan, and other activists, for protesting last year at the White House, with a specific issue of “Don’t Attack Iran.”(11) He called that a “well focused” demonstration and added that we need “more of that” kind of activism. He said that sending more troops now to Iraq and extending the service time of military members in that theater of war is something that the public might get excited enough about to openly oppose. Ellsberg also sees evidence of a “crack in morale” in the U.S. military and “resistance over there” on the ground with the troops in Iraq to the insane Bush-Cheney policies. Like his hero, the unrepentant champion of Labor, the great Eugene V. Debs, who opposed WWI on legal and moral grounds, he added that he “would certainly sympathize and support any such move.” (12)
There is public speculation that Bush’s “troop surge” plan could mean that the Pentagon would have to repeal its present policy and send Army National Guard and reserve units on lengthy second tours. Julian E. Barnes of the *L.A. Times*, 01/09/07, wrote that under present policies a tour was “limited to 24 months of mobilization for the Iraq War . . . Such an order [a new policy] would be controversial with governors, who share authority over the Guard, and could heighten concern in Congress over the war and Bush’s plans for a troop increase.”
Ellsberg, drawing on the striking parallels between the Watergate/Nixon Impeachment crisis and today’s corrupt Bush-Cheney Gang, said that the way to get to impeachment is to put pressure on the Congress to simultaneously cut off the funds for the Iraqi War and to investigate the “criminality and recklessness of the White House . . . You get the investigations. The White House stonewalls . . . As in 1973, the President’s own party, the Republicans, can get their backs up . . . They [the Congress] press further and then they begin to talk impeachment for the first time, since the President is obstructing justice and obstructing their role. Meanwhile, you pick up votes for the cut off of funds.” (13)
Finally, Ellsberg charged: “Bush is saying, ‘I am above the law.’ He is claiming monarchical powers. That doesn’t mean it goes back to [King] George III. Rescinding habeas corpus goes back to John I -- that 700 years earlier! That is really rolling back civil liberties and democracy.” Ellsberg predicted that if the dynamic for change within the U.S. Congress, and also with the public, towards revealing and punishing the criminal antics of the Bush-Cheney Gang, takes place, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), will soon end up being for “impeachment, too.” (14)
--William Hughes is a Baltimore author, attorney, educator, and professional actor. He has been writing political commentaries for over 40 years. His latest book, Saying 'No' to the War Party, is a collection of his essays and photographs that targeted the "Special Interests," like the Neocons, Big Oil and the Military-Industrial Complex, which dragged the U.S. into the Iraqi war. The book was the author's way of challenging the outrageous conduct of the Bush-Cheney Gang, while making current history come alive.