Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Veteran's Response to the National Security Agency

Here is my citizen's disclaimer to the NSA 1 and which I will be attaching to everything I write from now on!

My personal statement to the first sychophant (and hangers-on [aka police / military person{s} 2 who might arrest me]) of the 0.1% is as follows:

“It is not an honorable action to torture those who are testifying for their Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of assembly and speech. 3  Those taking such shameful actions can only be seen as enforcers - terrorsymps - for the terroristic 0.1%.  And as a Vietnam veteran, and then a person testifying for (the meaning of protest, after all) alternatives to the Vietnam (and succeeding Imperialistic) War(s), and now a supporter of Veterans for Peace, and a Third Order Lutheran Franciscan Associate, I take the suggestion of Stéphane Hessel - to return to the values of the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (values for which so many veterans fought during WW II) as the foundation from which to become outraged as the financial war being waged by the terrorist 0.1% against the activist 99.9% continues to take its toll.  To proclaim again that:
  1. ‘disregard and contempt for human rights [by the terrorist 0.1%] have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind’ and
  2. the highest aspiration of the common people - the activist 99.9% - is ‘the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want’”!
I still see the best overall review of the situation we face as being expressed in this 22+ minute video:  “Let Your Life Be a Friction to Stop the Machine!!  4

1 Also known as Ministerium fur Staatssicherheit (MfS) oder Staatssicherheitdeinst (SSD) fur seine Strumabteilung (SA), Schutzstaffel (SS), Sicherheitzpolizei (SiPo [Gestapo und Kriminalpolizei {Kripo}]), und Ordnungspolizei (Orpo) Untergebenen - eine Art Nachkriegs ODESSACf. the covert counterintelligence branch of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) located in South America during World War II - the SIS - (Special Intelligence Service), and the documents from the Internet Archive.

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2 As David Graeber reminds us *, “Police represent the state; the state has a monopoly of the legitimate use of violence within its borders; therefore, within that territory, police are by definition incommensurable with anyone else.  This is essential to understanding what police actually are.  Many sociological studies have pointed out that maybe 6% of the average police officer’s time is spent on anything that can even remotely be considered ‘fighting crime’.  Police are a group of armed, lower-echelon government administrators, trained in the scientific application of physical force to aid in the resolution of administrative problems.  They are bureaucrats with guns, and whether they are guarding lost children, talking rowdy drunks out of bars, or supervising free concerts in the park, the one common feature of the kind of situation to which they’re assigned is the possibility of having to impose ‘non-negotiated solutions backed up by the potential use of force’. ** The key term here I think, is ‘non-negotiable’.  Police do not negotiate ‐ at least when it comes to anything important ‐ because that would imply equivalency.  When they are forced to negotiate, they pretty much invariably break their word.” ***

* David Graeber, ON THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF GIANT PUPPETS:  broken windows, imaginary jars of urine, and the cosmological role of the police in American culture, p.28.

** Egon Bittner's phrase from Aspects of Police Work.  See also Mark Neocleus, The Fabrication of Social Order:  A Critical Theory of Police Power.

*** Consider here the fact that “police negotiators” are generally employed in hostage situations; in other words, in order to actually get the police to negotiate, one has to literally be holding a gun to someone’s head.  And in such situations police can hardly be expected to honor their promises; in fact, they could well argue they are morally obliged not to.

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3 In spite of former President George W. Bush's statement that the Constitution is “just a God-dammed piece of paper.”

After his 8:30 PM (EDT) address to the nation from the Oval Office on September 11, 2001, President G. W. Bush, went immediately to the Emergency Operations Center (his first visit there), where he centered the discussion on the new war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Late in the discussion, Secretary of War, Donald Rumsfeld, noted that international law allowed use of force only to prevent future attacks and not for retribution.

The President nearly bit his head off, yelling in the conference room, "No . . . I don't care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass." (Richard Allen Clarke, Against All Enemies:  Inside America's War On Terror. [New York: Free Press, 2004], p.24).

Cf. the transcript of Leslie Stahl's (CBS News 60 Minutes) interview with Paul O'Neill (former Treasury Secretary under President George Bush) as the source for Ron Suskind's The Price of Loyalty:  George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill which demonstrates (based on 19,000 internal documents) the impact of the PNAC "praetorian guard" on the "new American century."  That is to say, that plans were put in place, at least eight months before 9/11, for the invasion of Iraq.  Here's a YouTube link to the interview in case you're not a subscriber to 60 Minutes.

The comments of the person, Jon Gold, posting the above video are also quite instructive:  “What qualifies as suspicious behavior?  Bush telling his principals 10 days after his inauguration to "go find me a way" to go into Iraq?  Cheney meeting with nearly every oil executive in existence and discussing Iraq's oil fields months before 9/11, even though those executives denied meeting with him before Congress?  People in the Bush Administration discussing creating a "cassus belli" for war with Iraq prior to 9/11?  FBI Superiors blocking subordinates from doing their jobs?  The CIA seemingly protecting at least 2 of the hijackers?  The NSA lying about not knowing the location of two of the hijackers in San Diego?  NORAD lying about their air response that morning?  Multiple people in the Bush Administration denying that there were any warnings even though at least 14 countries warned us, and even though Bush received the August 6th, PDB [Presidential Daily Brief] and a multitude of PDBs that are supposedly worse than that one that we're not even allowed to see?  Cheney having a "back channel" to the different intelligence agencies prior to 9/11?  Bush fighting against having an investigation?  Bush refusing to cooperate fully with investigations?  A Bush lackey being put in charge of the so called "Independent" 9/11 Commission?  Money connected to 2 of the hijackers supposedly (and most likely) coming from a friend of the Bush family?  People like Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice planning for war with Iraq within hours of the attacks?  Bush using 9/11 to go to war with Iraq?  Nobody being held accountable, and instead people that didn't deserve it being rewarded and promoted?  Does any of it?” Now, compare the 2017 film "War Machine"!

And, the rest, as they say, is ongoing history!

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4 Other references of interest:
  • "Could this be part of the problem?"
  • In a TEDx talk, Lawrence Lessig fleshes out the Anonymous Banker's presentation with his own fix - "Our democracy no longer represents the people . . . ."
  • While, Noam Chomsky, puts much more of the big picture in context with his presentation - "Requiem for the American Dream"
  • And recently, the Honorable Paul Craig Roberts (economist, and former United States Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration [and noted as a co-founder of Reagonomics] and editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and the Scripps Howard News Service) was invited to address an important conference of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in Moscow, in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Yalta Conference.  Dr. Roberts gave a two part address on “The Threat Posed to International Relations By The Neoconservative Ideology of American Hegemony” both of which are available for perusal on his Institute for Political Economy WWW site.
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Three Strikes and You're Out

THREE STRIKES AND YOU'RE OUT:  Toward a Legal Philosophy and Spiritual Approach for the Pro-life (i.e., anti-nuclear war) Movement

(Homily prepared to kick off the establishment of the Burlington Northern Project and delivered at the Burlington Northern Railroad Company's corporate headquarters [which used to be in downtown Saint Paul, MN] on Sunday afternoon, August 5, 1984 with the title “CONNECTIONS:  Past, Present, and Future”.  In memory of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings of World War II, we stayed up all night, taking turns reading through John Hersey's Hiroshima and folding hundreds of origami cranes (see the story of Sadako Sasaki) before passing them out to Burlington Northern employees as they entered the building for work on Monday morning.)

It was a little over a year ago that the seed for the Burlington Northern Project was planted by my reading an article on the “white death train” and seeing the picture of the big green Burlington Northern locomotive pulling it in the Fellowship of Reconciliation magazine.  But the events leading up to the formation of the Burlington Northern Project really began with our government's use of nuclear weapons beginning on August 6, 1945.  President Truman justified the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the claim that by forcing the Japanese to surrender without having to invade the home islands, he saved the lives of a million GIs (an invasion was planned for Nov. 1, 1945).

However, Japan had sued for peace fully six weeks before the dropping of the atomic bomb.  In mid-June they requested not only the USSR, but also Switzerland and Sweden to open negotiations for surrender.  U. S. officials, including the President, were well aware that Japan's surrender was at most a matter of months away, regardless of any invasion.  Yet the United States acted as if nothing was happening, and issued an ultimatum along with China and Britain to the Japanese on July 26, 1945.  The ultimatum was issued during the Potsdam conference and called upon the Japanese to surrender unconditionally or face “prompt and utter destruction”.

Japan was beaten and suing for peace.  No invasion of the Japanese home islands was scheduled until November.  Why, then, did the United States choose to obliterate the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

The answer is given in the diary of Admiral James Forrestal, who recorded a conversation with Secretary of State James Byrnes on July 28, two days after the ultimatum to Japan.  “Byrnes said that he was most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians get in . . . . Once in there, he felt it would not be easy to get them out . . . .”  The U. S. was determined to force the surrender at once - without any prolonged negotiations.  This was to ensure that the Soviet Union would not be involved in the negotiations and would have no role in Japan following the war.  The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki represented the opening salvo of the cold war - an example of the fate that awaited any people or power that dared stand in the way of American domination of Asia.

As we continue our journey on the way of peace, we place ourselves in a position of psychological disadvantage by referring to “first strike” capabilities.  While this terminology may be useful in describing countries which have not yet gone insane and actually used these weapons, as we have seen, our government continues in its insane hope that their “third strike” will bring peace to the world.  No matter how you visualize it, more and more of the world's population is coming to see that that “third strike” means we are all out.

In fact, this is the same conclusion reached by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal after World War II and reiterated in the whole series of treaties and conventions on the rules of war since that time - most notably the Geneva Protocols concluded in 1977.

In essence, planning, preparing, and initiating war is a crime against humanity and anyone who is aware that crimes of state are being committed has an obligation to take what action they can to prevent those crimes from occurring.

In response to the excesses of the Nazi regime, to the fact that the death trains went by - nobody looked, nobody saw - that there was a tremendous silence, and that the assembly line of death, destruction, and dehumanization in Nazi Germany was furthered by many and protested by few, the Nuremberg Tribunal placed responsibility upon individuals to refrain from committing an act which violated the principles of international law, even though commanded by their country to do it.  So, we have a principle adopted which says that you have to interpose your estimate of the conduct, and not simply obey.

Our constitution says that international law is the supreme law of the land.  This has been affirmed by the Supreme Court with regard not only to treaties, but also to so-called customary international law which includes the law of war.  If you take the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and match them up against the prohibitions for their use, you will find that nuclear weapons are outlawed for a variety of reasons.

When it comes to its nuclear strategy, “third strike” weapons, and the war plans that have recently been published, it is a reasonable thing for reasonable people to believe that our government is in violation of international law in a Nuremberg sense.  In other words, that it is planning in some way to wage aggressive war.  If that is the case, then individuals who are aware of this situation, if anything, are not doing enough, given the gravity of the evil that is involved and the danger, and given the understanding at Nuremberg that everyone has a responsibility to the enforcement of international law.

In this situation, the churches and synagogues, because they are the repositories of long term values, have a particularly important role.  Unfortunately, that role for the most part has been abdicated.  As Americans with various religious tradition or belief systems, we find that we are part of a people who have been seduced into idolatry.  Our idol is a rebellious system, a legitimate governmental service to its citizens which has gathered its own momentum, gone out of control, and now demands sacrificial obedience and promises security and benevolence.  We are part of a nation that has come to worship power, especially as that power is manifested in nuclear weapons.

How can we give up our reliance on militarism? We first have to realize that if we give up our reliance upon militarism and begin instead to resist it, we will not only lose its protection, but will eventually become its victims - not in the relatively short and voluntary periods allowed by our current non-violent direct actions, but in more serious ways, ways which we will no longer control. 

In preparation for that time - a time of loving acceptance of the violence that will be necessary to bring about this fundamental change - we will need to look to our belief systems and develop out of them a disciplined non-violence rooted in that power of love that wells up from our hearts.  Only then will we be able to go beyond our own needs for security and our own fears and allow the power of love to work through us.

Beyond examining our lives for continuing reliance on the fruits of militarism, and taking as many steps as possible to reduce our complicity, Shelley Douglass from Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action suggests a modification of the Buddhist Karuna meditation to help us reach our goal:

We might sit in stillness and visualize the person whom we most love
in the world.  We surround that person with our love and care, praying
for them or holding them in our hearts.  Then we invite into that
caring the people next closest to us and surround them with the same
love and care.  We move out with our invitations, out to an ever-
widening circle of people, inviting them all into the same warmth
of love that enveloped the most beloved.  At the end of our medi-
tation we invite into our love the people from whom we feel most
estranged, those whom we dislike, fear, or hate.  We invite them
into our love and keep them there in prayer ....  [s]uch constant
practice in love can help us to become more deeply loving people.