Friday, December 31, 2010

David Swanson, War Is A Lie

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War Is A Lie By dswanson - Posted on 31 October 2010

Some fans of "War Is A Lie" have created a youth study group and are sharing what they're doing on FaceBook.

You can help supply peace groups and elected officials with copies of this book here.
[From Dick: How do you transfer active links to blogs?]
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Book Tour Dates Here.

WAR IS A LIE is a thorough refutation of every major argument used to justify wars, drawing on evidence from numerous past wars, with a focus on those wars that have been most widely defended as just and good. This is a handbook of sorts, a manual to be used in debunking future lies before future wars have a chance to begin. [Dick on Swanson's scholarship: Much more substantiation is readily available. For example, he does not cite William Blum's 2 books, Killing Hope and Rogue State, which discuss the over 40 illegal US interventions and invasions. Another: He does not cite Ronald Worth Jr.'s No Choice But War , the definitive account of the origins of WWII in the Pacific, a war of mutual culpability.]

"David Swanson’s War Is A Lie (Charlottesville, VA, 2010) may be the most comprehensive antiwar statement available in the English language." — Kevin Young, ZNet

“David Swanson despises war and lying, and unmasks them both with rare intelligence. I learn something new on every page.” — Jeff Cohen, founder of FAIR and author of Cable News Confidential.

Table of Contents
Introduction 7
1. Wars Are Not Fought Against Evil 15
2. Wars Are Not Launched in Defense 47
3. Wars Are Not Waged Out of Generosity 86
4. Wars Are Not Unavoidable 106
5. Warriors Are Not Heroes 131
6. War Makers Do Not Have Noble Motives 168
7. Wars Are Not Prolonged for the Good of Soldiers 196
8. Wars Are Not Fought on Battlefields 212
9. Wars Are Not Won, and Are Not Ended By Enlarging Them 235
10. War News Does Not Come From Disinterested Observers 250
11. War Does Not Bring Security and Is Not Sustainable 267
12. Wars Are Not Legal 291
13. Wars Cannot Be Both Planned and Avoided 312
14. War Is Over If You Want It 323
Notes 337
Index 352
Acknowledgments 369
About the Author 371

Advance Praise:

"If decisions to go to war were really made on the basis of reason and facts, rather than greed and power, David Swanson's brilliant new book would put a stop to them. Those of us who know David understand that he writes quickly and eloquently, speaks honestly and powerfully, and follows a logical point all the way to its conclusion. He has a philosopher's mind with a computer's precision. And he always maintains a justifiable moral outrage at the lies of the war criminals -- calling out their crimes, detailing their carnage, poking holes in their excuses. Reading 'War Is a Lie' is like reading Mark Twain's 'War Prayer,' only in book form." — Steve Cobble, IPS Associate Fellow, PDA co-founder, co-founder, Jackson & Kucinich campaign advisor.

“While Americans elect leaders whom they trust are honest, truthful and really care about the kids they send to kill for our country, War Is A Lie reveals decade after decade the sordid side of our history — that our elected officials lie us into war with stunning and embarrassing regularity and are little concerned about the harm to innocent civilians, much less to members of our own military.” — Colonel (retired) Ann Wright, author of Dissent: Voices of Conscience.

“This book is every American’s best defense against the greatest danger we face as human beings: the threat of war. Swanson reveals how American leaders (from both major political parties) have confused the public to create the illusion of consent for endless destruction and slaughter. Behind the fear-mongering, flag-waving and lies of George W. Bush and the blandishments of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama lies the ugly reality that our leaders have been seduced by political ambition, delusions of military superiority, and the promise of secrecy and impunity to commit otherwise unthinkable crimes.” — Nicolas J. S. Davies, Author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

“David Swanson is an antidote to the toxins of complacency and evasion. He insists on rousing the sleepwalkers, confronting the deadly prevaricators and shining a bright light on possibilities for a truly better world.” — Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

"This book is revolutionary, and certainly truth-telling in a remarkable and brave way. The writing is so clear and easy-to-read, too. A pleasure to read, except that the content is so devastating, because it all means that not only are we utterly deceived but our entire reality is based on that deception. Swanson has gotten to the core of something. The only thing is I'm not sure he realizes how hopeless it is to expect a change -- and yet that is part of the appeal of his writing: his hopefulness in the face of lies and repression and denial." — Jennifer Van Bergen, author of The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America.

“War Is A Lie is an important and compelling book that arrives at a time when America is engaged in its longest running war to date. Swanson offers an incisive examination of the rationalizations, justifications, and outright lies that have led the United States, and other nations, into battle. And he shows the personal cost to the current generation of combatants returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” — Cynthia Wachtell, author of War No More: The Antiwar Impulse in American Literature 1861-1914.

“David Swanson has taken the mantle of AJ Muste, who had the guts and the audacity to declare World War II to have been unnecessary and wrong. Swanson takes Muste’s argument further to make the audacious claim that all wars are not just unnecessary, but a crime. He is correct, of course. Just as no good outcome (whether the ouster of a tyrant or the freeing of captive nations) can compensate for the death of millions of innocents, which of course is the argument made in defense of calling World War II a ‘good’ war, no good (whether the ousting of a tyrant or the claimed improvement in the rights of oppressed women) can compensate for the death of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq or of tens of thousands of innocents in Afghanistan. This is a book that every American should read, especially those who think the United States is the good guy.” — Dave Lindorff , journalist, author of The Case for Impeachment, and founder of the online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening!


About the Publication and Sale:

I'm making the book available at little more than cost (including shipping cost), so that peace and justice groups can buy it in bulk and sell it for their own profit or distribute it at events or outside recruiting stations. If you buy 10 or more through this website, the price is only $10 each (which covers shipping too), half the list price.

You can also keep one and give nine great holiday gifts to friends and elected representatives.

I've turned down three major publishers who wanted to publish this book in 2011 or 2012 in order to publish it myself in 2010. Self-publishing avoids huge delays and allows more of the profit to go to the author. Purchasing this book supports my work, not a corporation.



I discuss the new book in this radio interview with Coy Barefoot: Listen here.

And this additional one with Coy Barefoot: Listen here.

Also this one with Bob Connors and Don Thompson: Listen here.

Another from OpEdNews: Listen here.

Here's one from Listen here.

And the FireDogLake Book Salon is archived here.

Here's audio from KPFK's World Focus: Listen here.

Here's an interview on KOPN: Listen here.

Here's a lengthy interview on Radio Active Lunch: Listen here.

Here's an hour with Christianne Brown: Listen here.

Deanna Spingola was an informed host with good calls from listeners. This audio is choppy for first 30 seconds or so, just speed past that: mp3.


Click for very large PDF of front cover:

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Get Involved: WAR IS OVER (if we want it)

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More reviews:

"War is a Lie is a must read for anyone who wants to break the centuries-long cycle of a perennially war-waging United States. In this carefully researched book, Mr. Swanson exposes the falsehoods that a willing government sells to a gullible public to gain support for one unnecessary war after another. The profit motives, power plays and perennial chest-thumping, that have all been given more importance than human lives, are exposed in all their ugliness.

"The lie of a Department of ‘Defense’ is laid bare; there has been little, if any, defensive maneuvering by the U.S. military since its own violent birth. The empire-building that the U.S. criticizes in the name of citizen democracy is exposed as a main motivation for the U.S.’s many wars.

"With facts, figures and a clear and engaging writing style, Mr. Swanson cuts through the fog of government rhetoric to expose the reality of why the U.S. is constantly at war. War is a Lie will enable peace activists to ask questions of the U.S.’s so-called representatives that they will simply be unable to answer. Additionally, this book should be required reading in every high school history class in the country." — Robert Fantina, author: "Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776 – 2006."

"David Swanson is a fearless and tireless advocate of peace and works ceaselessly to unmask the mechanisms that keep us perennially at war." — Russ Baker, author of "Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America's Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years."

"Activist David Swanson is well respected in the anti-war community as a man who walks his talk in a bold, committed, solid way, that he is a principled leader. Now we must add to that list of credentials authorship of an important, destined to be classic book. 'War Is A Lie' addresses the web of lies, the taboo subjects, the false claims, the mythic messages that are hollow and empty and it lays waste to them. Swanson's book is a (I've never used the term to describe a book before) Tour de Force, an intellectual accomplishment that lays out the truths about war and the lies that support in a way that every peace activist, every anti-war organization and group must digest and frankly, use as the tools to take the arguments against war to a new more effective level. If there are awards for brilliant books that explode new ways to oppose the evils of this world, then David should sweep the field this year. One more thing. It is an exceptional accomplishment to present a book with such important ideas. It is another thing to write extraordinarily well, so, on page after page, the words are quotable, rising off the page with vivacity." — Rob Kall, creator of

"You don't believe in war, but can you articulate your reasons? What if someone challenges your position? Can you defend it? Suppose someone told you that spending for the military is good for the economy? What if they agreed that war is generally bad – but there are exceptions, such as the 'good war' against Hitler and Japan, or even the 'war on terror'? How about the notion that war makes us more secure? David Swanson's new book, War Is A Lie, provides answers to these questions and more. In 336 pages, he debunks every argument you've heard used to justify, glorify, instigate, promote, prolong, and expand war." — Kim Carlyle, War Crimes Times.

"Keep it simple stupid or KISS has been shouted at nearly every Private in every army for decades, hell even maybe centuries and with War is a Lie David Swanson KISSes near perfection. Not since General Smedley Butler's War is a Racket has a simpler, more brilliant, or truer book been published. The simple truth is that war is a lie! From the lies that are told to get countries into war, to the lies told to young men (traditionally though this is changing) to fight them, to the lies we are told about how wars are fought, to the lies we are told as they end so that another generation can have it's war in a few short years. Swanson captures these lies brilliantly from start to finish in his newest book." — Geoffrey Millard, Iraq Veterans Against the War.

"It was a Republican U.S. senator, Hiram Johnson of California, who is credited with coining the phrase: 'The first casualty when war comes is truth.' ... Were he serving in the Senate now, Hiram Johnson would go to the floor of the Senate, hold up a copy of David Swanson’s essential new book and demand that the chamber and the whole of the American people recognize the reality of its title: War Is a Lie." — John Nichols, The Nation.

"In War Is a Lie, David Swanson underscores a vital point that has been ignored by far too many people who hoped President Obama and the Democrats would bring about a break from the disastrous policies of the Bush years: 'we can't sit in elected officials' offices demanding peace while promising to vote for them, no matter what they do - not if we expect to be heard.' He shows how Democrats historically -- and President Obama today -- are part of the toxic bipartisan consensus that sustains repeated military intervention, at enormous and mounting cost to the world. And he importantly reminds us that it will take mobilize, active, engaged popular movements to change a status quo that will lead to only more wars." — Anthony Arnove, author, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal.

"In 'War is a Lie' David Swanson carves himself a monumental task: to prove the truth of this in every historical instance for which background is available. He accomplishes his task, with a weight of evidence which can only be described as devastating. Swanson sets forth a deceptively simple yet provocative thesis: War is never the only choice, and always the worst one." — Ralph Lopez.

"David Swanson writes in the tradition of Howard Zinn. He always goes for clarity, both in his relentless orchestration of the facts and his ethical vision. War Is A LIe is as clear as the title. Wars are all based on lies, could not be fought without lies, and would not be fought at all if people held their governments to any reasonable standard of honesty. The book is easy to understand, easy to read, if you have the will to face a vast array of facts that hold the United States government to a reasonable standard of honesty." — Charles M. Young.

"War Is A Lie is a book that belongs on the bookshelf or the bedside-table of every American, with pages dog-eared for future reference, and choice passages marked or highlighted. You can reach for it as a shield against lies and hypocrisy during Presidential speeches or as you watch Congressional committee hearings on C-SPAN, or wherever mythological versions of history are trotted out to justify policies or actions that threaten human life. If enough Americans read this book, it will give us the collective power to stand up to our warmongering leaders by disarming the most powerful and destructive of all their weapons: their lies." — Nicolas Davies.

"Swanson's penetrating analysis of the lies behind wars, backed by his extensive historical knowledge, shine a light not only on the destructive wars but on the irrational, delusional thinking and propaganda that starts and prolongs them and leads to so much death, destruction, and suffering. In the last chapter he also gives peace activists hope and some practical means to overcome the Scourge of War and build a more peaceful world for the children. Let's hope this book gets wide circulation. Swanson is an inspiration to all of us with his tireless energy in educating and motivating people that a better world of peace and justice is possible. If we work together we can make it happen." — Jay Kvale, member of the Minnesota Peace Project.

"I've been reading a bit of this book every night since I got it. The effect it's having on me is hard to explain. Like I've been born into a cult whether or not I want it, but now the lies are being washed away by the rain. Bringing down the rain of truth, that's something. Trapped people, taken hostage, facing death, if they want to live, they start to agree with their captors, their oppressors - they start playing their game, thinking what they're told to think, seeing what they're told to see. The Stockholm Syndrome, that's something. The grieving mother takes home the folded flag. You think she'd take a match and watch it burn. But she sets it in a place of honor in a plastic bag. Don't even approach her about it, she'll never learn. Honoring the thing that kills you, that's something." — John Bostrom

"When you signed my copy at the Charlottesville, VA reading/signing you asked me to let you know what I thought of War is a Lie. I just finished reading it. Excellent, comprehensive and well written. Great manual for spotting the lies and countering arguments for war. Just what I needed after a discouraging campaign season to get me charged up and back in the peacemaking game. Thanks for broadening our knowledge and telling what needed to be told." — Harry Davis

"Well, here we are in the 21st century of the Common Era, and given the violent history of the past decade, evidently the arguments about the disutility of warfare still need to be made, again and again and again... Depressing, really. But thank goodness David Swanson has taken up the effort. Buy the book!" — Helena Cobban

From Nicole Sandler

Podcast: Play in new window

Glen Ford, Dean Baker, and David Swanson on this audio clip:

Black Agenda Radio - 12/06/10
December 6, 2010

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Here's a good radio show with host Mark Thompson: mp3.

Four Audio Clips:
1. Obama
2. 9-11
3. War Lies
4. Wars vs. Crimes

News and Politics from the Left Coast

by Peter B. Collins on December 10, 2010

PBC podcast 200 [1:25:44m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

AUDIO: David Swanson and Lila Garrett on "War Is A Lie."

AUDIO: KBOO interview.

Videos from Book Tour:

San Jose
Los Angeles with Lila Garrett, Brad Freidman, Jason Leopold, Mimi Kennedy

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Myths About Aghanistan; US No. 1 in Killing Civilians

From: [] On Behalf Of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks
Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 11:07 PM
Subject: [MPC] Something to Share w/Folks Who "Don't Know Much About the War." + Excerpt of Allan Nairn Interview

Hello friends,

OK, so some of us eat, breathe and live politics. We catch the news daily, at least, and seek out alternative sources, not just network news or NPR.

We're against this crazy Afghanistan War and we know just why.

Many others don't like the war, and, depending on how the poll question is asked, may be counted as an anti-war respondent, but are generally clueless about the details.

Folks in the latter group are more numerous and much more easily swayed by pro-war propaganda.

Here's a post you might want to share with these friends from historian Prof. Juan Cole of the University of Michigan that addresses some of the common myths regarding the Afghan situation. Note that it has lots of embedded hyperlinks, so if you get your e-mail plain text, you might want to access the original at:

I am also pasting in a significant length excerpt of an interview Amy Goodman did today with investigative reporter Allan Nairn on Democracy Now! It's excellent stuff [on US No. 1 in Killing]. Visit to read, listen to or watch the whole thing.

As always, if you find this info useful, please pass it on.

All the best for a more peaceful, just and sustainable 2011,
Mark Haim


Top Ten Myths about Afghanistan, 2010 by Juan Cole Posted on 12/27/2010 by Juan
10. “There has been significant progress in tamping down the insurgency in Afghanistan.”
Fact: A recent National Intelligence Estimate by 16 intelligence agencies found no progress. It warned that large swathes of the country were at risk of falling to the Taliban and that they still had safe havens in Pakistan, with the Pakistani government complicit. The UN says there were over 6000 civilian casualties of war in Afghanistan in the first 10 months of 2010, a 20% increase over the same period in 2009. Also, 701 US and NATO troops have been killed this year, compared to 521 last year, a 25% increase. There were typically over 1000 insurgent attacks per month in Afghanistan this year, often twice as many per month as in 2009, recalling the guerrilla war in Iraq in 2005.
9. Afghans want the US and NATO troops to stay in their country because they feel protected by them.
Fact: In a recent [pdf] poll, only 36% of Afghans said they were confident that US troops could provide security. Only 32% of Afghans now have a favorable view of the United States’ aid efforts in their country over all.
8. The “surge” and precision air strikes are forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table.
Fact: The only truly high-ranking Taliban leader thought to have engaged in parleys with the US, Mulla Omar’s number 2, turns out to have been a fraud and a con man.
7. The US presence in Afghanistan is justified by the September 11 attacks.
Fact: In Helmand and Qandahar Provinces, a poll found that 92% of male residents had never heard of 9/11.
6. Afghans still want US troops in their country, despite their discontents.
Fact: one poll found that 55% of Afghans want the US out of their country. And, the percentage of Afghans who support Taliban attacks on NATO has grown from 9% in 2009 to 27% this year!
5. The presidential elections of 2009 and the recent parliamentary elections were credible and added to the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s government.
Fact: Karzai stole his presidential election and the parliamentary elections were riddled with fraud. One fourth of the votes for parliament this fall had to be thrown out because of suspected ballot fraud, and 10 percent of victors were unseated for serious irregularities.
4. President Hamid Karzai is “a key ally” of the United States.
Fact: Karzai has repeatedly threatened to join the Taliban. He has also admitted to being on a $2 million a year retainer from Iran. All he has to do is cozy up to North Korea for a trifecta!
3. Shiite Iran is arming the hyper-Sunni, Shiite-hating Taliban in Afghanistan.
Fact: Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates told Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini last February “that intelligence indicated there was little lethal material crossing the Afghanistan-Iran border.” This according to a wikileaks cable.
2. Foreigners are responsible for much of Afghanistan’s fabled corruption.
The trail of big corruption usually leads back to people around President Karzai. Karzai insiders bankrupted a major Kabul bank with their shenanigans, forcing the government to bail it out. A significant portion of the $42 million in medicine given by the US for Afghan soldiers this year has disappeared and the Karzai-appointed official concerned has just been fired. US officials have alleged that Karzai’s brother in Qandahar has run interference for illegal businesses and the drug trade.
1. The US is in Afghanistan to fight al-Qaeda.
Fact: CIA director Leon Panetta admitted that there are only 50-100 al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan! The US is mainly fighting two former allies among the Mujahidin whom Ronald Reagan dubbed “freedom fighters” and the “equivalent of America’s founding fathers:” Gulbaddin Hikmatyar and his Hizb-i Islami, and Jalaluddin Haqqani and his Haqqani Network. These two organizations, which received billions from the US congress to fight the Soviets in the 1980s, are more deadly and important now than the ‘Old Taliban’ of Mulla Omar. The point is that they are just manifestations of Pashtun Muslim nationalism, and not eternal enemies of the United States (being former allies and clients and all). Hikmatyar has roundly denounced al-Qaeda.

Four articles in The Nation (Jan. 3, 2011): The Editors, “Military Madness”’; Anatol Lieven, “How the Afghan Counterinsurgency Threatens Pakistan” (“Our war has turned many Pakistanis against the West and their own government.”); Barbara Koeppel interview of Matthew Hoh, “Matthew Hoh’s Afghanistan: An Insider Talks”; Michael Cohen, “Tossing the Afghan COIN” (“The US military’s new counterinsurgency turns out to be the same old brutal game.”)



Allan Nairn: As U.S. Loses Its Global Economic Edge, Its "One Clear Comparative Advantage is in Killing, and It’s Using It"
AMY GOODMAN: Well, it is a tall order to talk about the role of the United States in the world today, but why don’t we start right there?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, now, as the U.S. is losing its edge economically, it has one clear comparative advantage. And that’s in killing. And it’s using it. Obama has increased the attacks on Afghanistan, Pakistan. Brookings Institution last year estimated that for every one militant, as they put it, killed in Pakistan, the U.S. drones kill 10 civilians. And they said that was OK; they defended the U.S. policy. General Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA, also the National Security Agency, also former director of National Intelligence, said that our default position is to kill our adversaries, referring to the use of the drones. Harold Koh, who’s the legal adviser for the Justice Department, earlier this year at a State Department briefing on the results of the review conference on the International Criminal Court, described the international legal environment that the U.S. had helped shape. And he said this: "No U.S. national can be prosecuted for aggression. We ensure total protection to our American forces and other nationals going forward." So, in that situation, the U.S. defines who the adversaries are. The default U.S. position is to kill the adversary. When you kill the adversary, you kill 10 civilians. What are the survivors, the loved ones of those civilians, supposed to do, when the international legal system is rigged so that there is no peaceful redress, so they have no place to go? It’s unjustified. It’s terrorism by the U.S. law’s own definition.
But it’s also ominous for Americans, especially ominous in a historical moment where the U.S. is losing its edge. Right now it still has the massive military advantage, but how long is that going to last? Other countries have more people to field as troops. Other countries can manufacture weapons more cheaply. The U.S. still has the edge in military technology, but in today’s information age, that can’t last very long. So, if the appeal to decency can’t wake up Americans and make them say stop, maybe the appeal to self-interest and fear can do it.
Imagine a moment not too far in the future—some of the technical magazines just started writing about this—where foreign countries would have the capacity to put drones in the skies over New York, over San Diego, over Alabama, over Chicago. How would Americans feel about that, when the discretion on whether to push the button on the missile and launch it at anyone—at anyone in the U.S.—a member of Congress, a member of the President’s staff, a GI, someone walking down the street—when that discretion lies with someone in some foreign capital, some commander? And imagine how Americans would feel if those overseas controllers of the drones flying in the skies over the U.S. decided to apply American standards; if they decided to apply the Brookings standard that says, OK, if we target one American military planner and we kill 10 civilians, that’s OK; if they decide to apply General Hayden’s standard that, well, it’s our default position to kill these adversaries; and if they decide to apply the U.S. State Department standard, which says no matter what we do, we can’t be prosecuted. That’s the situation that the U.S. is setting up. And it’s going to be increasingly dangerous for Americans as time goes by.
AMY GOODMAN: The international soldier death toll in Afghanistan is, well, I think, as of this broadcast, around 709. Almost 500 of those are U.S. soldiers. It’s the deadliest year in what? We’re coming—we’re in the 10th year, the longest war the U.S. has been involved in, ongoing work, in the history of this country. What about Afghanistan, what you feel needs to be done?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, it’s interesting that you mention the killings of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. To me, one of the most interesting points that’s made in the documents released by WikiLeaks came out in some of the earlier releases, particularly the Iraq war logs. If you read those, you see that when the U.S. military is reporting on U.S. killings of civilians in Iraq or in Afghanistan, they almost always say, "Well, we did it to protect our forces. Some of our soldiers came under fire. We responded. And we wiped out the house." In some cases, they end up wiping out the whole village compound. "And that’s why those civilians were killed." Or, "There was fire from the ground. Our men were in the air in a helicopter. We returned fire. It turned out that it was a wedding party on the ground, and they were shooting their guns in celebration. But we did it with the intent of protecting our forces."
And there’s a certain logic to that. If you’re a soldier and you’re in combat, naturally you want to protect yourself and protect your friends, and you will do everything possible to do that, including killing someone who you think, who you speculate, might be firing at you or might potentially fire at you. So that inevitably sets up a situation where when you send troops into a country in a hostile situation, when you invade a country, that means—really it means, in a practical sense—that in order to protect your troops, you have to kill civilians, you have to kill them in large numbers. And that’s what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan. That’s what it did in Iraq. And that’s what it’s setting up to do in a series of other places. It’s an inevitable result of the initial act, of the initial act of invasion, and, in legal terms, what is often the initial act of aggression.
AMY GOODMAN: In Pakistan, you were talking about the drones, and we just read this headline about U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan killing at least 33 people over the last two days. On Tuesday, drones struck a pair of sites in North Waziristan, killing 15 people. Separate attack Monday, 18. U.S. has carried out more than 116 drone attacks this year, more than double the amount from last year. I think the figure of some poll taken in Pakistan, about 59 percent of the people of Pakistan feel the United States is the enemy, yet the United States is pouring billions of dollars to shore up the government of Pakistan.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah. That poll would actually suggest that maybe the U.S. image is improving a little, because there have been some other polls where it’s like 70 and 80 percent of Pakistanis saw the U.S. as the main enemy.
What the U.S. is doing with the Pakistan military is remarkable, especially when you compare it with the Iran nuclear situation. The U.S. is saying that, well, maybe we’ll have to invade Iran, or maybe we’ll have to let Israel invade Iran, because Iran is developing nuclear weapons and Iran is a hostile Islamist regime. Well, the U.S. also says, as documented further in the WikiLeaks releases, but it’s said this publicly, that the Taliban in Afghanistan and also the—what are called the Taliban and their allies of Pakistan are backed by the Pakistani military, are backed by the ISI, the Inter Services Intelligence. That is the same Pakistani military that controls the nuclear weapons that Pakistan already has. That is the same Pakistani military that is receiving billions upon billions of dollars in U.S. aid. Yet the U.S. is not saying, "Oh, we have to cut off that Pakistani military. We have to invade Pakistan, because they’re backing the Taliban."
So, the solution for Iran possibly getting a nuclear weapon is to invade Iran. The solution for Pakistan actually having a nuclear weapon and actually backing the Taliban is to give more money to Pakistan. There’s no underlying logic to it, except the logic of sustaining war, of sustaining conflict, of sustaining tension, of having an ongoing drama that provides the top politicians, like Obama, like Bush before him, a chance to prove their toughness, a chance to boost their popularity, and which sustains the vast military complex that chews up so much of the U.S. economy. Once you get beyond that, you can’t come up with a coherent explanation as to why the U.S. should be doing that.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think the U.S. should do right now with Afghanistan?
ALLAN NAIRN: Pull the troops out. The only legitimate role would be if you could find a way—and it’s not easy now in a state, in a place that is so devastated and corrupted—if you could find a way to pump in money that would serve as a kind of reparation for the damage that the U.S. has done to Afghanistan and maybe have that money go to rebuild houses and feed hungry people. That would be a justified U.S. role. But the military, the intelligence people, just get them out. They are only making matters worse. They are only making matters worse for the civilian population of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and they’re also only making matters worse for Americans, who worry about being bombed when they’re on an airplane, who worry about car bombs in Times Square. Anyone who seriously looks at this sees, and often says and often writes, that this creates more animosity, more people who want to attack the U.S. So get out, and you save more lives on the ground there, and you also diminish the danger to Americans.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to award-winning investigative journalist and activist Allan Nairn. His articles appear online at

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" Afghanistan, we see civilian casualties continue to be going up. And we’re fighting a local movement. We’re fighting the Taliban. Al-Qaeda is not in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda is in Pakistan. It’s in Yemen. It’s in internet cafes, in slums around the world. So it makes no sense that we have this massive military footprint in Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda isn’t, as opposed to Pakistan or Yemen or elsewhere, where they are. Not that we should invade Pakistan or Yemen, obviously. But even by our own military logic, what the hell are we doing in Afghanistan...." Nir Rosen, interview on Democracy Now! 11/10/10
Reply Forward

Warrior Control ofl Information for Wars

Posted by: "radtimes" radman94606
Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:03 am (PST)

"Why Are Wars Not Being Reported Honestly?"

Tuesday 14 December 2010
by: John Pilger

In the US Army manual on counterinsurgency, the American commander
Gen. David Petraeus describes Afghanistan as a "war of perception …
conducted continuously using the news media." What really matters is
not so much the day-to-day battles against the Taliban as the way the
adventure is sold in America, where "the media directly influence the
attitude of key audiences." Reading this, I was reminded of the
Venezuelan general who led a coup against the democratic government
in 2002. "We had a secret weapon," he boasted. "We had the media,
especially TV. You got to have the media."

Never has so much official energy been expended in ensuring
journalists collude with the makers of rapacious wars which, say the
media-friendly generals, are now "perpetual." In echoing the west's
more verbose warlords, such as the waterboarding former US
vice-president Dick Cheney, who predicated "50 years of war," they
plan a state of permanent conflict wholly dependent on keeping at bay
an enemy whose name they dare not speak: the public.

At Chicksands in Bedfordshire, the Ministry of Defence's
psychological warfare (Psyops) establishment, media trainers devote
themselves to the task, immersed in a jargon world of "information
dominance," "asymmetric threats" and "cyberthreats." They share
premises with those who teach the interrogation methods that have led
to a public inquiry into British military torture in Iraq.
Disinformation and the barbarity of colonial war have much in common.

Of course, only the jargon is new. In the opening sequence of my
film, The War You Don't See, there is reference to a pre-WikiLeaks
private conversation in December 1917 between David Lloyd George,
Britain's prime minister during much of the first world war, and CP
Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian. "If people really knew the
truth," the prime minister said, "the war would be stopped tomorrow.
But of course they don't know, and can't know."

In the wake of this "war to end all wars", Edward Bernays, a
confidante of President Woodrow Wilson, coined the term "public
relations" as a euphemism for propaganda, "which was given a bad name
in the war." In his book, Propaganda (1928), Bernays described PR as
"an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our
country" thanks to "the intelligent manipulation of the masses." This
was achieved by "false realities" and their adoption by the media.
(One of Bernays's early successes was persuading women to smoke in
public. By associating smoking with women's liberation, he achieved
headlines that lauded cigarettes as "torches of freedom.")

I began to understand this as a young reporter during the American
war in Vietnam. During my first assignment, I saw the results of the
bombing of two villages and the use of Napalm B, which continues to
burn beneat Message clipped] View entire message

Control of Infomation in the United States (1987) and Control of the Media in the United States (1992)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Letter to City Council Members about the Wars


On February 15, 2003, occurred the largest global protest against war the world has ever seen. Over 12 million people came out in the streets in over 60 countries and on five continents. So impressive was this outpouring of anti-war feeling that the New York Times claimed there were now two superpowers: the US National Security State and global public opinion. But that day of worldwide action did not stop Bush and Cheney from illegally attacking Iraq, did not stop them from replacing diplomacy with aggressive war. And now we see the consequences, and the importance for all people and especially people in official positions of influence to choose publicly not to be complicit in silence but to speak up with the truth.

Consider the financial consequences alone. In 2008, the military spent $976, 121,986,000; that’s $1.9 million spent every single minute for wars falsely labeled “defense.” In July 2009 the $636 billion Pentagon spending bill passed 400-30. But that didn’t include money for the Afghan and Iraq wars, or in the Energy Dept. for nuclear weapons, or for “Homeland Security.” A special aspect of the appropriation is the unneeded pork money—for a new presidential helicopter fleet, new cargo jets, an alternative engine for the next-generation F-35 Fighter, and more. But this is peanuts compared to the $128 billion for the Iraq and Afghan wars, which brings the total appropriated by Congress just for these wars to above $1 trillion. (As stated in ADG 7-31-09, but Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes in The Three Trillion Dollas War estimated $3 to 5 trillion, and recently Stiglitz raised the estimate to $4 to 6 trillion because of the unexpectedly large number of wounded vets.)

These costs play out in our individual taxes. Andrew Bacevitch ( “Unequal Sacrifice,” The Nation, 9-20-10, in a review of Kriner and Shen, The Casualty Gap), writes: “Since 9-11, the Pentagon budget has more than doubled to approximately $700 billion per year,” and “current war costs [are] $400 billion annually.” Thus “the per capita cost of ongoing US wars comes to more than $3,300 per annum. Add that as a surcharge to every American’s tax bill (or subtract that amount from the annual payout to Social Security recipients).” This taxation for wars will not change in the foreseeable future, argue Kriner and Shen, because officials of the US Security State will continue to successfully cover up US soldier casualties and the fact that the majority of them are poor.

And now, by extending the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, shrinking the estate tax, and freezing discretionary spending on everything except war, Pres. Obama is leaving less for education and infrastructure.

Yet these wars, these sacrifices, have not shielded the US, nor defended liberty. We hear from all who choose armed-force over negotiation and diplomacy that once in a war we must “support the troops” for their sacrifice in our defense. But name one US war after WWII in Europe that comes close to being a war of defense. What does it tell us that the VA provides health care for more than 23 million US veterans; as many as a quarter of the nation’s population qualifies for VA coverage; and federal cemeteries are running out of space? Have that many citizens defended the country from attack? Name the wars caused by another country attacking the US.

So let us remember Martin Luther King, Jr.’s great sermon, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” (April 4, 1967): “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” Silence about the wars–US permanent war-- must end. The myth of US defensive wars is not sacrosanct; casualty facts must no longer be kept secret; the enormous financial and human costs, the true costs of US wars, must be disclosed. We must “break the silence of the night” of these wars, just as King urged light for the Vietnam War.

Drone Warfare

Report of Deadly Drone Attack on Civilians in Pakistan
Drones and Attack Helicopters in Pakistan, War Escalation
Obama’s Drones Inspire Terrorism
Protesters of Obama’s Drones Arrested in Nevada, Drones on Trial
Dangers of Robot Wars

“The Dead were Completely Unrecognisable”
Interview With Family Devastated by US Drone Attack By Asim Qureshi
September 24, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- EXCLUSIVE - Cageprisoners interview with Haider whose brother-in-law Mohammed Asghar and his friends became the victims of an unlawful US drone attack.
CP: Could you please introduce yourself?
Bismillahir rahmaanir raheem
Haider: My name is Haider. My brother-in-law, Mohammed Asghar, lived in Peshawar and worked as a money exchanger in the markets there.
CP: Where did the drone attack take place?
H: The attacks took place in North Waziristan, Miranshah in District Ahmadkheel. My brother-in-law had friends he was visiting in Waziristan. As he was a guest there - and as is the custom of the people - many of the locals gathered to welcome him into the area. He sat with a group of these people from the community when everybody gathered to pray the evening prayer (‘Isha) together. The drone attack happened in the middle of the prayers and the entire congregation was martyred.
CP: Were there any Taliban or Al Qaeda in the gathering or were they all civilians?
H: All the people gathered were locals from the community who had come to welcome the new guest to the area. The people are renowned for their hospitality and it is unthinkable for them that somebody would come to visit and they would not have a gathering to welcome them. In total, 31 people were killed. Drone attacks are so powerful nobody can escape them merely injured.
CP: How did you find out this happened?
H: Between our area and Waziristan is an 8 hour journey. The drone attack happened at night time and we all knew about it by the following morning. People who had witnessed the attack had come to tell us and described what they saw of the remnants and damage in the aftermath. They said the attack was so severe that they could not even distinguish the bodies from one another- even the bones of the people were completely blown apart. The dead were completely unrecognisable. My brother in law’s coffin was tightly sealed and we were not allowed to open it to view anything. We had the coffin with us for 30 minutes before it was taken away for burial.
CP: Why do you think the US/Pakistan government do this and what do you think they hope to gain?
H: We just don’t know. We don’t know how much authority Pakistan has given the US to attack our areas and we don’t know until when the US are given free license by the Pakistani government to carry out these drone attacks. So far between 1400-1600 people have died as a result of these attacks. Nobody takes responsibility for these civilian deaths. Ask the journalists or officials for the true statistics, we know that it is 1400-1600 civilians, women and children killed. In this, they would have been lucky to even have 11 or 12 ‘militants’ amongst them. These attacks are so widespread that even my brother in law who lives in Peshawar was made a victim of it. Who do I appeal to? Where can I go? I don’t even know who to hold responsible for his death and how I do it.
I am shocked that the US can come to attack Pakistan in this way and Pakistan does not even have the authority to question them on the deaths they are causing. The civilians in all these regions are extremely frightened and fearful. They can’t work in the day, nor can they sleep during the night. As soon as they hear the slightest sound of an aeroplane, they flee in panic from their homes and buildings trying to find a place for security. The whole community is in a state of fear and I just cannot explain to you how unbearable these calamities are for the people. Every household has at least half of its people martyred (i.e.: killed) as a result of these attacks. I simply do not understand what the understanding between Pakistan the US is on this matter.
CP: Haider, thank you for taking the time to speak with us and we are sorry for your loss. This item was first posted at

Pakistani Opposition Politician Imran Khan on US Drone Attacks, the "Massive Human Catastrophe" in the Swat Valley and the Escalation of War in Afghanistan June 24, 2009
At least sixty people have reportedly died in the South Waziristan region of western Pakistan after a US drone attack Tuesday. The attack came as the Pakistani army and air force expanded their military operations from Swat into South Waziristan. We speak with Pakistani opposition figure and cricketing legend Imran Khan, the leader of the political party known as the Movement for Justice. Khan has been an outspoken critic of both US drone attacks as well as the Pakistani military’s offensive against the Taliban. [includes Democracy Now 9-24-10
CIA Drastically Increases Drone Campaign in Pakistan
The CIA has drastically increased its bombing campaign in the mountains of Pakistan in recent weeks. According to the New York Times, the CIA has launched at least twenty attacks with armed drone aircraft so far in September, the most ever during a single month. According to one Pakistani intelligence official, the recent drone attacks have not killed any senior Taliban or al-Qaeda leaders. Many senior operatives have already fled the region to escape the CIA drone campaign. Democracy Now (9-28-10)
US Attack Helicopters Strike Inside Pakistan
US Apache attack helicopters have carried out at least three air strikes inside Pakistan in recent days, killing more than seventy alleged militants. Pakistan criticized the NATO operation, saying the attack helicopters illegally entered Pakistani air space, but Pentagon officials said the strikes were done in self-defense. While the US regularly uses pilotless drone aircraft for missile strikes in Pakistan, manned military flights across the border have been rare up until now. Democracy Now (9-28-10) [Self-defense? A blatant example of US double-standards based upon the US myth of exceptionalism. D]

US Drone Attacks Are No Laughing Matter, Mr. Obama
Mehdi Hasan, Guardian UK
Intro: "The president's backing of indiscriminate slaughter in Pakistan can only encourage new waves of militancy."

“Activists Go on Trial in Nevada for Protesting Obama Admin Drone Program” Democracy Now 9-13-10

This week marks the beginning of a trial for fourteen antiwar (the “Creech 14”)activists who held a ten-day vigil outside the Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada last year. The base is one of several homes of the American military’s aerial drone program in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The activists were charged with criminal trespassing for entering the base with a letter describing their opposition to the drone program. Speaking out against US military drones
John Dear, SJ – “On the Road to Peace” National Catholic Reporter September 28, 2010
On Sept. 14, thirteen others and I -- known together as the "Creech 14" -- went on trial in Las Vegas, Nev., for an action we committed in April 2009 at Creech Air Force Base to protest the U.S. military's use of unmanned drones in combat abroad.
paste this link into your browser
From Desert Voices: The Newsletter of the Nevada Desert Experience (Nov./Dec. 2010): Generally in such trials judges allow no to little defense testimony regarding motives, ethics, or international law, but this was an exception, putting drones themselves on trial under international laws. The judge allowed defendants to call three expert witnesses—former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, ret. Col. Ann Wright, and Bill Quigley of the Center for Constitutional Rights. They asserted:
Intentional killings—assassinations--is a war crime, as embodied in U.S. constitutional law.
Drone strikes kill a disproportionate number of civilians.
People have the right and duty to stop war crimes.
According to Nuremberg principles, individuals are required to disobey domestic orders that cause crimes against humanity.
Defendant Renee Espeland said: “I am bound by the law of our land that makes it my duty to stop the killing of civilians and to protect U.S. soldiers being ordered to perform illegal acts.”
WHY IS THERE GENERAL SILENCE? Contact OMNI to raise your voice.

Smarter Than You Think. War Machines: Recruiting Robots for Combat”
FORT BENNING, Ga. — War would be a lot safer, the Army says, if only more of it were fought by robots.
Yet the idea that robots on wheels or legs, with sensors and guns, might someday replace or supplement human soldiers is still a source of extreme controversy. Because robots can stage attacks with little immediate risk to the people who operate them, opponents say that robot warriors lower the barriers to warfare, potentially making nations more trigger-happy and leading to a new technological arms race.
“Wars will be started very easily and with minimal costs” as automation increases, predicted Wendell Wallach, a scholar at the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics and chairman of its technology and ethics study group.
Civilians will be at greater risk, people in Mr. Wallach’s camp argue, because of the challenges in distinguishing between fighters and innocent bystanders. That job is maddeningly difficult for human beings on the ground. It only becomes more difficult when a device is remotely operated.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mercenaries and Human Rights

Beyond WikiLeaks The Privatization of War
(from Nathela Crooks 12-28-10)

"Beyond WikiLeaks: The Privatization of War"
Sunday 26 December 2010
by: Jose L. Gomez del Prado, UN Working Group on Mercenaries, t r u t h o u t | Report

The United Nation Human Rights Council, under the Universal Periodic Review, started in Geneva on November 5, 2010 to review the human rights record of the United States. The following is an edited version of the presentation given by Jose L. Gomez del Prado in Geneva on November 3, 2010 at a parallel meeting at the UN Palais des Nations on that occasion.
Private military and security companies (PMSC) are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers of physical force: corsairs, privateers and mercenaries. Mercenaries, which had practically disappeared during the 19th and 20th centuries, reappeared in the 1960s during the decolonization period, operating mainly in Africa and Asia. Under the United Nations, a convention was adopted which outlaws and criminalizes their activities. Additionally, Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions also contains a definition of mercenary.
These non-state entities of the 21st century operate in extremely blurred situations, where the frontiers are difficult to separate. The new security industry of private companies moves large quantities of weapons and military equipment. It provides services for military operations, recruiting former military as civilians to carry out passive or defensive security.
However, these individuals cannot be considered civilians, given that they often carry and use weapons, interrogate prisoners, load bombs, drive military trucks and fulfill other essential military functions. Those who are armed can easily switch from a passive-defensive to an active-offensive role and can commit human rights violations and even destabilize governments. They cannot be considered soldiers or supporting militias under international humanitarian law, either, since they are not part of the army or in the armed forces chain of command, and often belong to a large number of different nationalities.
PMSC personnel cannot usually be considered to be mercenaries, for the definition of mercenaries as stipulated in the international conventions dealing with this issue does not generally apply to the personnel of PMSCs, which are legally operating in foreign countries under contracts of legally registered companies.
Private military and security companies operate in a legal vacuum: they pose a threat to civilians and to international human rights law. The UN Human Rights Council has entrusted the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, principally via the following mandate:
To monitor and study the effects of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market on the enjoyment of human Rights … and to prepare draft international basic principles that encourage respect for human rights on the part of those companies in their activities.
During the past five years, the Working Group has been studying emerging issues, manifestations and trends regarding private military and security companies. In our reports, we have informed the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly about these issues. Of particular importance are the reports of the Working Group to the last session of the Human Rights Council, held in September 2010, on the Mission to the United States of America, on the Mission to Afghanistan and the general report of the Working Group containing the draft of a possible Convention on Private Military and Security Companies for consideration and action by the Human Rights Council.
In the course of our research, since 2006, we have collected ample information which indicates the negative impact of the activities of "private contractors," "private soldiers" or "guns for hire," whatever denomination we may choose to name the individuals who are employed by private military and security companies as civilians but are also generally heavily armed. In the cluster of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by employees of the companies the Working Group has examined, one can find: summary executions, acts of torture, cases of arbitrary detention, trafficking of persons and serious health damages caused by PMSC employee activities, as well as attempts against the right of self-determination. It also appears that PMSCs, in their search for profit, neglect security and do not provide their employees with their own basic rights and often put their staff in situations of danger and vulnerability.
Summary executionsOn September 16, 2007 in Baghdad, employees of the US-based firm Blackwater [1] were involved in a shooting incident in Nisoor Square in which 17 civilians were killed and more than 20 other persons were wounded, including women and children. Local eyewitness accounts substantiate that the attack included the use of firearms from vehicles and rocket fire from a helicopter belonging to Blackwater.
There are also concerns about the activities and approach of PMSC personnel, their convoys of armored vehicles and their conduct in traffic - in particular, their use of lethal force. The Nisoor Square incident was neither the first of its kind, nor the first involving Blackwater.
According to a Congressional report on the behavior of Xe/Blackwater in Iraq, Xe/Blackwater guards were found to have been involved in nearly 200 escalation-of-force incidents that involved the firing of shots since 2005. Despite the terms of the contracts, which provided that the company could engage in defensive use of force only, the company reported that in over 80 percent of the shooting incidents, its forces fired the first shots.
In Najaf in April 2004 and on several other occasions, employees of this company took part in direct hostilities. In May 2007, another incident reportedly occurred in which guards belonging to the company and forces belonging to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior allegedly exchanged gunfire in a sector of Baghdad.
On October 9, 2007 in central Baghdad, the shooting of employees of the PMSC Unity Resources Group (URG)[2], who were protecting a convoy, killed two Armenian women, Genevia Antranick and Mary Awanis, when their car came too close to a protected convoy. Antranick's family was offered no compensation and has begun court proceedings against URG in the United States.
URG was also involved in the shooting of 72-year-old Australian Kays Juma. Professor Juma was shot in March 2006 as he approached an intersection that was being blockaded for a convoy URG was protecting. Juma, a 25-year resident of Baghdad who drove through the city every day, allegedly sped up his vehicle as he approached the guards and did not heed warnings to stop, including hand signals, flares, warning shots into the body of his car and floodlights. The incident occurred at 10 AM.[3]
TortureTwo US-based corporations, CACI and L-3 Services (formerly Titan Corporation), were involved in the torture of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib. CACI and L-3 Services were contracted by the US government and were responsible for interrogation and translation services, respectively, at Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities in Iraq.
Seventy-two Iraqi citizens who were formerly detained at military prisons in Iraq have sued L-3 and Adel Nakhla, a former L-3 employee who served as one of its translators there under the Alien Tort Statute. The plaintiffs allege having been tortured and physically and mentally abused during their detention and maintain that the defendants should be held liable in damages for their actions. They assert 20 causes of action, including: torture; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; assault and battery; and intentional infliction of emotional distress.[4]
Arbitrary detentionA number of reports indicate that private security guards have played central roles in some of the most sensitive activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), such as the arbitrary detention of and clandestine raids against alleged insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan [5], CIA rendition flights [6], and joint covert operations.[7] Employees of PMSCs would have been involved in transporting detainees in rendition flights from "pick-up points" (such as Tuzla, Islamabad or Skopje) to drop-off points (such as Cairo, Rabat, Bucharest, Amman or Guantanamo) as well as in the construction, equipping and staffing of CIA "black sites."
Within this context, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit in May 2007 against Jeppesen DataPlan Inc., a subsidiary company of Boeing, on behalf of five persons who were kidnapped by the CIA and disappeared into US secret services prisons overseas. Jeppesen would have participated in the rendition by providing flight planning and logistical support. The five persons were tortured during their arbitrary detention.[8]
HealthDynCorp International's 2009 annual report refers to four lawsuits on behalf of three Ecuadorian provinces and 3,266 plaintiffs concerning the spraying of narcotic plant crops along the Colombian border adjacent to Ecuador.[9]
From 1991, the US Department of State contracted DynCorp to supply services for this air-spraying program against narcotics in the Andean region. In accordance with the subscribed contract of January 30, 1998, DynCorp provides the essential logistics to the anti-drug Office of Activities of Colombia in conformity with three main objectives: eradication of cultivations of illicit drugs, training of the army and of personnel of the country and dismantling of illicit drug laboratories and illicit drug-trafficking networks.
A nongovernmental organization (NGO) report documented the consequences the spraying, which was carried out within the Plan Colombia framework, had on persons living in the frontier region.[10] One-third of the 47 women in the study exposed to the spraying showed cells with some genetic damage. The study established the relationship between Plan Colombia air fumigations and damage to genetic material. The study demonstrates that when the population is subjected to fumigations, "the risk of cellular damage can increase and that, once permanent, the cases of cancerous mutations and important embryonic alterations are increased, that prompt among other possibilities the rise in abortions in the area."
This example is particularly important given that Plan Colombia has served as the model for the arrangements that the US would apply later to Iraq and Afghanistan. Plan Colombia provides immunity to the employees of the contracted PMSC (DynCorp), just as Order 14 of the Coalition Provisional Authority did in Iraq.
Self-determinationThe 2004 attempted coup d'etat perpetrated in Equatorial Guinea is a clear example of the link between the phenomenon of mercenaries and PMSCs as a means of violating the sovereignty of states. In this case, the mercenaries involved were mostly former directors and personnel of Executive Outcomes, a PMSC that became famous for its operations in Angola and Sierra Leone. The team of mercenaries also included security guards who were still employed by PMSCs, as was the case with two employees of the company Meteoric Tactical Systems - which provided security to diplomats of western embassies in Baghdad, including the ambassador of Switzerland - and a security guard who had previously worked for the PMSC Steele Foundation and had given protection to Haiti's President Aristide and escorted him to the plane that took him to exile.[11]
Trafficking in personsIn 2005, 105 Chileans were providing or undergoing military training in the former army base of Lepaterique in Honduras, where they were instructed in anti-guerrilla tactics, such as anticipating possible ambushes and deactivation and avoidance of explosives and mortars. The Chileans had entered Honduras as tourists and their presence in the country was illegal. They used high-caliber weapons, such as M-16 rifles and light machine guns. They had been contracted by a subsidiary of a company called Triple Canopy.
The Chileans were part of a group that also included 189 Hondurans recruited and trained in Honduras. Triple Canopy had been awarded a contract by the US Department of State. The contingent left the country by air from San Pedro Sula, Honduras in several groups, stopping over in Iceland and, upon reaching the Middle East, were smuggled into Iraq.[12]
The majority of the Chileans and Hondurans were engaged as security guards at fixed facilities in Iraq. They had been contracted by Your Solutions Honduras SRL, a local agent of Your Solutions Incorporated, registered in the US state of Illinois. Your Solutions had in turn been subcontracted by the Chicago-based Triple Canopy. Some of the Chileans are presently working in Baghdad, providing security to the Embassy of Australia under a contract with Unity Resources Group (URG).
Human rights violations committed by PMSCs against their employeesPMSCs often put their contracted private guards in vulnerable and dangerous situations, such as the one faced by the Blackwater "private contractors" killed in Fallujah in 2004. Their fate was allegedly due to the lack of the necessary safety means - which Blackwater was supposed to provide - in order to carry out their mission.
It should not be forgotten that this incident dramatically changed the course of the war and of the United States' occupation in Iraq. In fact, it may be considered the turning point in the occupation of Iraq. The incident led to an abortive US operation to recapture control of the city and the successful November 2004 recapture operation, known as Operation Phantom Fury, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,350 insurgent fighters. Approximately 95 American troops were killed and another 560 were wounded.
The US military first denied that it had used white phosphorus as an anti-personnel weapon in Fallujah, but later retracted that denial and admitted to using the incendiary in the city as an offensive weapon. Reports following the events of November 2004 have alleged war crimes and a massacre by US personnel, including indiscriminate violence against civilians and children. This point of view is presented in the 2005 documentary film, "Fallujah, the Hidden Massacre." In 2010, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a leading medical journal, published a study that shows that the rates of cancer, infant mortality and leukemia in Fallujah exceed those reported in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[13]
The over 300,000 classified military documents made public by Wikileak's show that the "Use of Contractors Added to War's Chaos in Iraq," as has been widely reported by the international media recently.The United States continues to rely heavily on private military and security contractors in conducting its military operations. The US used private security contractors to conduct narcotics intervention operations in Colombia in the 1990s and recently signed a supplemental agreement that authorizes it to deploy troops and contractors in seven Colombian military bases. During the conflict in the Balkans, the US used a private security contractor to train Croat troops to conduct operations against Serbian troops. Currently, most of the US's massive contracting of security functions to private firms takes place in the context of its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2009, the Department of Defense employed 218,000 private contractor personnel, while there were 195,000 uniformed personnel. According to the figures, about 8 percent of these contractors are armed security contractors, or about 20,000 armed guards. If one includes other theatres of operations, the figure rises to 242,657, a figure comprised of 54,387 United States citizens, 94,260 third-country nationals and 94,010 host-country nationals.
The State Department relies on about 2,000 private security contractors to provide US personnel and facilities with personal protection and guard services in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Pakistan, and to provide aviation services in Iraq. The contracts for protective services were awarded in 2005 to three PMSCs: Triple Canopy, DynCorp International and the US Training Center, part of the Xe (then-Blackwater) group of companies. These three companies still hold the State Department protective services contracts today.
Lack of transparencyThe information accessible to the public on the scope and type of US-PMSC contracts is scarce and opaque. The lack of transparency is particularly significant when contracting companies subcontract to others. Often, despite the US's extensive freedom of information rules, the contracts with PMSCs are not disclosed to the public, either because they contain confidential commercial information or based on the argument that non-disclosure is in the interest of national defense or foreign policy. The situation is particularly opaque when United States intelligence agencies contract PMSCs.
Lack of accountabilityDespite their involvement in grave human rights violations, not a single PMSC or PMSC employee has been sanctioned.
In the course of litigation, several recurring legal arguments have been used in the defense of PMSCs and their personnel, including the government contractor defense, the political question doctrine and derivative immunity arguments. PMSCs are using the government contractor defense to argue that they were operating under the exclusive control of the government of the United States when the alleged acts were committed and therefore cannot be held liable for their actions.
It looks as though when acts questionable under international law are committed by agents of the government, they are considered human rights violations, but when these same acts are perpetrated by PMSCs, it is "business as usual."
Human rights violations perpetrated by private military and security companies are indications of the threat posed to the foundations of democracy when inherently public functions - such as the monopoly on the legitimate use of force – become privatized. In this connection, I cannot help but to refer to the final speech of former US president Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In 1961, Eisenhower warned the American public against the growing danger of a military-industrial complex:
[W]e must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Fifty years later on September 8, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld, in his speech to the Department of Defense, warned the Pentagon military against:
an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America. … Let's make no mistake: The modernization of the Department of Defense is … a matter of life and death, ultimately, every American's. … The adversary [is] the Pentagon bureaucracy. … That's why we're here today challenging us all to wage an all-out campaign to shift the Pentagon's resources from bureaucracy to the battlefield, from tail to the tooth. We know the adversary. We know the threat. And with the same firmness of purpose that any effort against a determined adversary demands, we must get at it and stay at it. Some might ask, how in the world could the Secretary of Defense attack the Pentagon in front of its people? To them I reply, I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself.
Rumsfeld should have been more specific and cited the shift of the Pentagon's resources from bureaucracy to the private sector. Indeed, that shift had been accelerated by the Bush administration: the number of persons employed by contracts that the Pentagon had outsourced was already four times more than at the Department of Defense.
It is not a military-industrial complex anymore, but, as Noam Chomsky has said, "just the industrial system operating under one or another pretext." Dana Priest and William M. Arkin's July 2010 article in the Washington Post, "Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control," shows the extent that "the top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive, that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work."
The investigation's findings include that some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States, and that an estimated 854,000 people - nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C. - hold top-secret security clearances. A number of private military and security companies are among the security and intelligence agencies mentioned in the Post's report.
The Working Group received information from several sources that up to 70 percent of the US intelligence budget is spent on contractors. These contracts are classified, and very little information is available to the public on the nature of the activities contractors carry out.
The privatization of war has created a structural dynamic that responds to the commercial logic of the industry.
A short look at the careers of the current managers of BAE Systems, as well as at their address books, confirms that we are no longer dealing with a normal corporation, but with a cartel that unites high-tech weaponry (BAE Systems, United Defense Industries, Lockheed Martin), speculative financiers (Lazard Freres, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank) and raw material cartels (British Petroleum, Shell Oil) with on-the-ground, private military and security companies.[14]
The majority of private military and security companies have been created, or are managed by, former military members or ex-police-officers, for whom PMSCs are big business. Just to give an example, Military Professional Resources Incorporation (MPRI) was created by four former United States Army generals when they were due for retirement.[15] The same is true for Blackwater and its affiliate companies or subsidiaries, which employ former directors of the CIA.[16] Social scientists refer to this phenomenon as the revolving door syndrome.
The use of security contractors is expected to grow as American forces shrink. A July report by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, a panel established by Congress, estimated that the State Department alone would need more than double the number of contractors it had protecting the American Embassy and consulates in Iraq.
Without contractors: (1) the military engagement would have had to be smaller - a strategically problematic alternative; (2) the United States would have had to deploy its finite number of active personnel for even longer tours of duty - a politically dicey and short-sighted option; (3) the United States would have had to consider a civilian draft or boost retention and recruitment by raising military pay significantly - two politically untenable options; or (4) the need for greater commitments from other nations would have arisen and with it, the United States would have had to make more concessions to build and sustain a truly multinational effort. Thus, the tangible differences in the type of war waged, the effect on military personnel, and the need for coalition partners are greatly magnified when the government has the option to supplement its troops with contractors.[17]
The military cannot do without them. There are more contractors overall than actual members of the military serving in the worsening war in Afghanistan.
Conclusions of the Senate Armed Services Committee concerning the impact of private security contracting on US goals in Afghanistan[18]
<strong>Conclusion 1: The proliferation of private security personnel in Afghanistan is inconsistent with the counterinsurgency strategy. In May 2010, the U.S. Central Command's Armed Contractor Oversight Directorate reported that there were more than 26,000 private security contractor personnel operating in Afghanistan. Many of those private security personnel are associated with armed groups that operate outside government control.
Conclusion 2: Afghan warlords and strongmen operating as force providers to private security contractors have acted against U.S. and Afghan government interests. Warlords and strongmen associated with U.S.-funded security contractors have been linked to anti-Coalition activities, murder, bribery, and kidnapping. The Committee's examination of the U.S.-funded security contract with ArmorGroup at Shindand Airbase in Afghanistan revealed that ArmorGroup relied on a series of warlords to provide armed men to act as security guards at the Airbase.
Open-ended intergovernmental working group established by the HR Council
Because of their impact in the enjoyment of human rights, the Working Group on Mercenaries, in its 2010 reports to the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly, has recommended a legally binding instrument to regulate and monitor PMSC's activities at the national and international level.
The motion to create an open-ended intergovernmental working group has been the object of lengthy negotiations in the Human Rights Council, led by South Africa, in order to accommodate the concerns of the Western Group, but primarily those of the United States and the United Kingdom; considerable pressure was also exerted in the capitals of African countries supporting the draft resolution. The text of the resolution was weakened in order to pass it by consensus, but, even so, the position of the Western States has been a "fin de non recevoir" – a complete demurral.
The resolution was adopted by a majority of 32 in favor, 12 against and 3 abstentions. Among the supporters of this initiative are four out of the five members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) in addition to the African Group, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Group.
The adoption of this resolution opens an interesting process in the UN Human Rights Council in which civil society can participate in the elaboration of an international framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies. The new open-ended intergovernmental working group will be the forum for all stakeholders to receive inputs - not only the draft text of a possible convention and the elements elaborated by the UN Working Group on mercenaries, but also other initiatives, such as the proposal submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Montreux Document and the international code of conduct being elaborated under the Swiss Initiative.
However, the negative vote of the delegations of the Western Group indicates that the interests of the new staggering security industry – its annual market revenue is estimated to be over USD one hundred billion – have been quite well-defended, as was the case on a number of other occasions. It also shows that Western governments will be absent from the start in a full, in-depth discussion of the issues raised by the activities of PMSCs.
We urge all states to support the process initiated by the Council by designating their representatives to the new open-ended intergovernmental working group, which will hold its first session in 2011, and to continue a process of discussions regarding a legally binding instrument.
The participation of the UK and the US, the main exporters of these activities (it is estimated that these two countries' firms control 70 percent of the security industry), as well as other Western countries where the new industry is expanding is of particular importance.
The Working Group also urges the United States Government to implement the recommendations we made, in particular, to:
· Support the US Congress's Stop Outsourcing Security (SOS) Act, which clearly defines the functions that are inherently governmental and that cannot be outsourced to the private sector.
· Rescind immunity to contractors carrying out activities in other countries under bilateral agreements.
· Carry out prompt and effective investigations of human rights violations committed by PMSCs and prosecute alleged perpetrators.
· Ensure that the oversight of private military and security contractors is not outsourced to PMSCs.

War Crimes Accountability, War Crimes Times

Our mission:
The War Crimes Times provides information on war crimes, war criminals, and on the necessity and means to prosecute war criminals to the general public, to law-makers, and to our justice-seeking allies. When national leaders initiate hostilities they create the conditions—the extreme use of force coupled with limited accountability—for the war crimes which invariably follow. War crimes are therefore an inherent part of war. The suffering caused and the enmity aroused by war crimes must be regarded as costs of war. Since these and other costs far exceed any benefits of war, we seek to end war as a tool of international policy. Towards this goal, we believe that holding war criminals accountable will send a strong message to those currently in power to very carefully weigh all the consequences of the decision to go to war. While we recognize that United States has long relied on military force to further its foreign policy goals, we feel that the Bush Administration’s blatant and egregious violations of international law demand special attention. The WCT has resolved to see that Bush, Cheney, & Co. are prosecuted for war crimes no matter how long it takes. There is no statute of limitations on war crimes.

Guidelines for submissions to WCT
The ideal article for the quarterly print version of The War Crimes Times is 600-800 words in length, crisply written, and of course relevant to our mission.
We also welcome photos, cartoons, poetry, and letters to the editor.
While original work is preferred, we'll accept the work of others with their permission.
Submissions are due on the 10th of the month that the paper is printed: March, June, September, and December.
Send to (Note: due to size constraints, all submissions may not be used in the print edition, but all will be considered for posting on this blog.)

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Please also see:
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War Criminals Watch
Cheney Watch
Stop War UK
Greenville (SC) Antiwar Society

Support the Troops?

The subject of this blog is US militarism, imperialism, the US National Security State (US NSS). The Pentagon's budget for 2011 is nearly $700 billion, the largest part of the government, which does not include the special appropriations for the wars, or for nuclear weapons (in the Dept. of Energy), or for the VA (the wounded soldiers constituting much of the $4 to $6 billion cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars alone). Despite this expense and this power, only a few minuscule organizations are devoted to examining them. The War Resisters League has an energetic but small headquarters in NYC. The old SANE/Freeze, now Peace Action, Veterans for Peace, and other groups resist Pentagon domination (see my PEACE MOVEMENT DIRECTORY). But no organization concentrates on the Pentagon and its imperial power. So this blog adds its voice of opposition to the Department of War (its proper name).

Warriors Are Not Heroes

Warren Stephens, owner of NW Arkansas newspapers and prominent warmonger, in 2009initiated a series of some 70 profiles, "Saluting American Valor: Selfless Courage at the Moment of Truth," telling stories "of men and women in uniform who were recognized for combat heroism during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan" ( See my critique: “We Are Winning: Two Wars, Two Colonels, and a General,” Fayetteville Free Weekly (January 28, 2010). The final installment of the series appeared in December 2010.

Because "supporting the troops" once a war has begun is one of the chief causes of a war's continuation (Afghan War now ten years of waste and slaughter, Iraq War now seven), this blog will give it attention. In opposition, this blog will support those who oppose the illegal and unjust interventions and invasions, not those who sustain them. (See my "Veteran's Day Newsletter 2009.") These are the true patriots, as this book affirms: Woehrle, Lynne, et al. Contesting Patriotism: Culture, Power, and Strategy in the Peace Movement. Roman & Littlefield, 2009. Rev. Fellowship (Spring 2010). A deep grounding of the peace movement is its effort to reclaim the attribution of “patriotic” for criticism of the nation-state when it wages war. The book traces the many ways “in which major groups in the peace movement have advanced this cause in their publications over the past 20 years.”

Another recent book has directly confronted the catastrophe of "support the troops" automatism: David Swanson, WAR IS A LIE (2010,, a handbook for opposition to US wars. Its fourteen chapers question fourteen major myths used by our leaders and the public at large to justify the wars (chap. 1, [US] "Wars Are Not Fought Against Evil," 2. [US] "Wars Are Not Launched in Defense.") I strongly urge you to read this book. I will be quoting from it frequently.

Here is a passage from Chap. 5, [US] "Warriors Are Not Heroes," p. 133. "Soldiers are praised to the skies....Generals are so effusively praised that it's not uncommon for them to get the impression they run the government. Presidents much prefer being Commander in Chief to being chief executive....But the prestige of the generals and the presidents comes from their closeness to the unknown yet glorious troops. When the bigwigs don't want their policies questioned, they need merely suggest that such questioning constitutes criticism of the troops....As long as the greatest honor one can aspire to is to be shipped off and killed in somebody's war, there will be wars. President John F. Kennedy wrote in a letter to a friend something he would never have put in a speech: 'War will exist until the distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today.' I would tweak that statement a little. It whould include those refusing to participate in a war whether or not they are granted the status of 'conscientious objector.'"
Let our banner read:

Monday, December 27, 2010

Consequences of US Security State Militarism

December 27, 2010, Building a Culture of Peace, Compiled by Dick Bennett
See other newsletters on US Imperialism in OMNI web site.



While the average living standard in the US has long been declining and unemployment has steadily been on the rise, the PENTAGON continues to spend billions of our tax dollars into a killing, waste, and polluting machine. WAR AND WARMING: Wars not only destroy lives and waste resources, but they push the planet closer to ecological destruction by producing a massive amount of CO2, destroying critical ecosystems, and creating resource scarcity. SECURITY is not unilateral but collective, for our futures are intertwined with the futures of people everywhere, and we must practice mutual respect and sharing. We demand a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and the conversion of the billions of dollars now wasted on war-making to meeting urgent civilian needs, including funding of jobs, housing, health care, education, clean energy, and infrastructure repairs. Let us hold our leaders accountable for the ruin of their wars and especially for their war crimes.

WILLIAM BLUM: Here is a sample of Blum’s monthly e-newsletter.

Anti-Empire Report, September 1, 2010

Blum authored Killing Hope and Rogue State that chronicle illegal US aggressions.

James R. Bennett, Control of Information in the United States (1987) and Control of the Media in the United States (1993).


















(see below)

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.
-- Aung San Suu Kyi

Undoing the Bush/Cheney [and now Obama] Legacy: A Tool Kit for Congress by Ann Fagan Ginger.


The new Congress has the power -- and the duty -- to repeal or amend all

"laws" put into effect in the Bush Administration that ignore basic U.S. law.

These "laws" run from A to W -- from Agriculture/land/crops to Water

Rights and Welfare Rights. There are so many of these "laws" that each one must be

described briefly in order to make this booklet handy to use -- in making presentations to Congress, to the public, and to the media.

Many of these "laws" are statutes proposed by Bush/Cheney, passed by the

House and Senate, signed by Bush, then funded in the next Bush budget passed by


The basic law ignored in Bush "laws" is found in the U.S. Constitution, particularly

the "promote the general welfare" clause, the Ninth Amendment “protection

of other [...] rights retained by the people,” and in the Bill of Rights. "Bush laws" also

contradict the United Nations Charter articles for promoting human rights and

against war. And they do not enforce the three treaties ratified by the U.S. in 1992 and 1994: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT); the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Under the Constitution, Article IV, clause 2, all of these treaties are "the supreme law

of the land."

Some of Bush "laws" are Executive Orders or Signing Statements by the President

that the new President can immediately strike. To start enforcing the law again,

not "the law" stated by Bush/Cheney, the House and Senate can immediately cut

funding for certain department and commission actions initiated under Bush/Cheney that ignore the law, such as mercenary military forces. This includes projects of NAFTA and NATO based on initernational agreements, not treaties, signed by the President but never ratified by the Senate. The House and Senate can also issue Rules of Construction for the Federal Courts stating that these Executive Orders and Signing Statements shall be construed as the House and Senate now set forth.

The House and Senate can pass resolutions stating that the Constitution established

a three-branch government, not a unitary Presidency, and that Executive

privilege has limits, so the Signing Statements by Pres. Bush are not relevant after January 20, 2009.

This 100-page booklet seeks to describe every statute, agreement, and department

or commission regulation that ignores basic U.S. law and should be immediately

repealed, amended, unfunded, stricken from the books.

Each page describes one such "law" and gives:

_ Name of Bush/Cheney "law."

_ One example of how this "law" has been used to deny or ignore the rights of people

under the jurisdiction of the U.S. in the 50 states, in U.S. territories or anywhere

in the world.

_ Brief description of "law."

_ Citation to the “law.”

_ List of provisions of the U.S. Constitution, and ratified treaties that this Bush/

Cheney "law" ignores.

_ Citations to any bill proposed in the House or Senate to amend or repeal this "law"

prior to November, 2008.

_ Citation to any "law" upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court that can now be repealed

or amended by the new House and Senate.

_ Sources for each report and relevant websites. Many were found in the 3 charges

in Congress member Dennis Kucinich’s impeachment charges against Vice President

Dick Cheney and his 35 impeachment charges against President George

Bush, and in the voting records of the Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive

Caucus Barbara Lee (D-Cal) and the Chair of he Senate Judiciary Committee Ted

Kennedy (D-Mass).

Rule by fear or rule by law?

Lewis Seiler,Dan Hamburg, Monday, February 4, 2008, SFGate.coi.

"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."

- Winston Churchill, Nov. 21, 1943

Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without legal or constitutional recourse in the event of "an emergency influx of immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."

Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.

According to diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part of a Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of "all removable aliens" and "potential terrorists."

Fraud-busters such as Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, have complained about these contracts, saying that more taxpayer dollars should not go to taxpayer-gouging Halliburton. But the real question is: What kind of "new programs" require the construction and refurbishment of detention facilities in nearly every state of the union with the capacity to house perhaps millions of people?

Sect. 1042 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," gives the executive the power to invoke martial law. For the first time in more than a century, the president is now authorized to use the military in response to "a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, a terrorist attack or any other condition in which the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to the extent that state officials cannot maintain public order."

The Military Commissions Act of 2006, rammed through Congress just before the 2006 midterm elections, allows for the indefinite imprisonment of anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on a list of "terrorist" organizations, or who speaks out against the government's policies. The law calls for secret trials for citizens and noncitizens alike.

Also in 2007, the White House quietly issued National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51), to ensure "continuity of government" in the event of what the document vaguely calls a "catastrophic emergency." Should the president determine that such an emergency has occurred, he and he alone is empowered to do whatever he deems necessary to ensure "continuity of government." This could include everything from canceling elections to suspending the Constitution to launching a nuclear attack. Congress has yet to hold a single hearing on NSPD-51.

U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Venice (Los Angeles County) has come up with a new way to expand the domestic "war on terror." Her Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (HR1955), which passed the House by the lopsided vote of 404-6, would set up a commission to "examine and report upon the facts and causes" of so-called violent radicalism and extremist ideology, then make legislative recommendations on combatting it.

According to commentary in the Baltimore Sun, Rep. Harman and her colleagues from both sides of the aisle believe the country faces a native brand of terrorism, and needs a commission with sweeping investigative power to combat it.

A clue as to where Harman's commission might be aiming is the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a law that labels those who "engage in sit-ins, civil disobedience, trespass, or any other crime in the name of animal rights" as terrorists. Other groups in the crosshairs could be anti-abortion protesters, anti-tax agitators, immigration activists, environmentalists, peace demonstrators, Second Amendment rights supporters ... the list goes on and on. According to author Naomi Wolf, the National Counterterrorism Center holds the names of roughly 775,000 "terror suspects" with the number increasing by 20,000 per month.

What could the government be contemplating that leads it to make contingency plans to detain without recourse millions of its own citizens?

The Constitution does not allow the executive to have unchecked power under any circumstances. The people must not allow the president to use the war on terrorism to rule by fear instead of by law.

Lewis Seiler is the president of Voice of the Environment, Inc. Dan Hamburg, a former congressman from Mendocino County, is executive director.

This article appeared on page B - 7 of the San?Francisco?Chronicle


Sent: Monday, May 21,

Subject: USA: We're # 1!

We're # 1!
A Nation of Firsts Arms the World
By Frida Berrigan

They don't call us the sole superpower for nothing. Paul Wolfowitz might be looking for a new job right now, but the term he used to describe the pervasiveness of U.S. might back when he was a mere deputy secretary of defense -- hyperpower -- still fits the bill.

Face it, the United States is a proud nation of firsts. Among them:

First in Oil Consumption:

The United States burns up 20.7 million barrels per day, the equivalent of the oil consumption of China, Japan, Germany, Russia, and India combined.

First in Carbon Dioxide Emissions:

Each year, world polluters pump 24,126,416,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the environment. The United States and its territories are responsible for 5.8 billion metric tons of this, more than China (3.3 billion), Russia (1.4 billion) and India (1.2 billion) combined.

First in External Debt:

The United States owes $10.040 trillion, nearly a quarter of the global debt total of $44 trillion.

First in Military Expenditures:

The White House has requested $481 billion for the Department of Defense for 2008, but this huge figure does not come close to representing total U.S. military expenditures projected for the coming year. To get a sense of the resources allocated to the military, the costs of the global war on terrorism, of the building, refurbishing, or maintaining of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and other expenses also need to be factored in. Military analyst Winslow Wheeler did the math recently: "Add $142 billion to cover the anticipated costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; add $17 billion requested for nuclear weapons costs in the Department of Energy; add another $5 billion for miscellaneous defense costs in other agencies…. and you get a grand total of $647 billion for 2008."

Taking another approach to the use of U.S. resources, Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard Business School lecturer Linda Bilmes added to known costs of the war in Iraq invisible costs like its impact on global oil prices as well as the long-term cost of health care for wounded veterans and came up with a price tag of between 1 trillion and $2.2 trillion.

If we turned what the United States will spend on the military in 2008 into small bills, we could give each one of the world's more than 1 billion teenagers and young adults an Xbox 360 with wireless controller (power supply in remote rural areas not included) and two video games to play: maybe Gears of War and Command and Conquer would be appropriate. But if we're committed to fighting obesity, maybe Dance Dance Revolution would be a better bet. The United States alone spends what the rest of the world combined devotes to military expenditures.

First in Weapons Sales:

Since 2001, U.S. global military sales have normally totaled between $10 and $13 billion. That's a lot of weapons, but in fiscal year 2006, the Pentagon broke its own recent record, inking arms sales agreements worth $21 billion. It almost goes without saying that this is significantly more than any other nation in the world.

In this gold-medal tally of firsts, there can be no question that things that go bang in the night are our proudest products. No one makes more of them or sells them more effectively than we do. When it comes to the sorts of firsts that once went with a classic civilian manufacturing base, however, gold medals are in short supply. To take an example:

Not First in Automobiles:

Once, Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford ruled the domestic and global roost, setting the standard for the automotive industry. Not any more. In 2006, the U.S. imported almost $150 billion more in vehicles and auto parts than it sent abroad. Automotive analyst Joe Barker told the Boston Globe, "it's a very tough environment" for the so-called Detroit Three. "In times of softening demand, consumers typically will look to brands that they trust and rely on. Consumers trust and rely on Japanese brands."

Not Even First in Bulk Goods:

The Department of Commerce recently announced total March exports of $126.2 billion and total imports of $190.1 billion, resulting in a goods and services deficit of $63.9 billion. This is a $6 billion increase over February.

But why be gloomy? Stick with arms sales and it's dawn in America every day of the year. Sometimes, the weapons industry pretends that it's like any other trade -- especially when it's pushing our congressional representatives (as it always does) for fewer restrictions and regulations. But don't be fooled. Arms aren't automobiles or refrigerators. They're sui generis; they are the way the USA can always be number one -- and everyone wants them. The odds that, in your lifetime, there will ever be a $128 billion trade deficit in weapons are essentially nil.

Arms are our real gold-medal event.

First in Sales of Surface-to-Air Missiles:

Between 2001 and 2005, the United States delivered 2,099 surface-to-air missiles to nations in the developing world, 20% more than Russia, the next largest supplier.

First in Sales of Military Ships:

During that same period, the U.S. sent 10 "major surface combatants" like aircraft carriers and destroyers to developing nations. Collectively, the four major European weapons producers shipped thirteen. (And we were first in the anti-ship missiles that go along with such ships, with nearly double (338) the exports of the next largest supplier Russia (180).

First in Military Training:

A thoughtful empire knows that it is not enough to send weapons; you have to teach people how to use them. The Pentagon plans on training the militaries of 138 nations in 2008 at a cost of nearly $90 million. No other nation comes close.

First in Private Military Personnel:

According to bestselling author Jeremy Scahill, there are at least 126,000 private military personnel deployed alongside uniformed military personnel in Iraq alone. Of the more than sixty major companies that supply such personnel worldwide, more than 40 are U.S. based.

Rest assured, governments around the world, often at each others' throats, will want U.S. weapons long after their people have turned up their noses at a range of once dominant American consumer goods.

Just a few days ago, for instance, the "trade" publication Defense News reported that Turkey and the United States signed a $1.78 billion deal for Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighter planes. As it happens, these planes are already ubiquitous -- Israel flies them, so does the United Arab Emirates, Poland, South Korea, Venezuela, Oman and Portugal, not to speak of most other modern air forces. In many ways, F-16 is not just a high-tech fighter jet, it's also a symbol of U.S. backing and friendship. Buying our weaponry is one of the few ways you can actually join the American imperial project!

In order to remain number one in the competitive jet field, Lockheed Martin, for example, does far more than just sell airplanes. TAI -- Turkey's aerospace corporation -- will receive a boost with this sale, because Lockheed Martin is handing over responsibility for parts of production, assembly, and testing to Turkish workers. The Turkish Air Force already has 215 F-16 fighter planes and plans to buy 100 of Lockheed Martin's new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as well, in a deal estimated at $10.7 billion over the next 15 years.

$10.7 billion on fighter planes for a country that ranks 94th on the United Nations' Human Development Index, below Lebanon, Colombia, and Grenada, and far below all the European nations that Ankara is courting as it seeks to join the European Union -- now that's a real American sales job for you!

Here's the strange thing, though: This genuine, gold-medal manufacturing-and-sales job on weapons simply never gets the attention it deserves. As a result, most Americans have no idea how proud they should be of our weapons manufacturers and the Pentagon -- essentially our global sales force -- that makes sure our weapons travel the planet and regularly demonstrates their value in small wars from Latin America to Central Asia.

Of course, there's tons of data on the weapons trade, but who knows about any of it? I'm typical here. I help produce one of a dozen or so sober annual (or semi-annual) reports quantifying the business of war-making. In my case: the Arms Trade Resource Center report, U.S. Weapons at War: Fueling Conflict or Promoting Freedom? These reports get desultory, obligatory press attention -- but only once in a blue moon do they get the sort of full-court-press treatment that befits our number one product line.

Dense collections of facts, percentages, and comparisons don't seem to fit particularly well into the usual patchwork of front-page stories. And yet the mainstream press is a glory ride, compared to the TV News, which hardly acknowledges most of the time that the weapons business even exists.

In any case, that inside-the-fold, fact-heavy, wonky news story on the arms trade, however useful, can't possibly convey the gold-medal feel of a business that has always preferred the shadows to the sun. No reader checking out such a piece is going to feel much -- except maybe overwhelmed by facts. The connection between the factory that makes a weapons system and the community where that weapon "does its duty" is invariably missing-in-action, as are the relationships among the companies making the weapons and the generals (on-duty and retired) and politicians making the deals, or raking in their own cut of the profits for themselves and/or their constituencies. In other words, our most successful (and most deadly) export remains our most invisible one.

Maybe the only way to break through this paralysis of analysis would be to stop talking about weapons exports as a trade at all. Maybe we shouldn't be using economic language to describe it. Yes, the weapons industry has associations, lobby groups, and trade shows. They have the same tri-fold exhibits, scale models, and picked-over buffets as any other industry; still, maybe we have to stop thinking about the export of fighter planes and precision-guided missiles as if they were so many widgets and start thinking about them in another language entirely -- the language of drugs.

After all, what does a drug dealer do? He creates a need and then fills it. He encourages an appetite or (even more lucratively) an addiction and then feeds it.

Arms dealers do the same thing. They suggest to foreign officials that their military just might need a slight upgrade. After all, they'll point out, haven't you noticed that your neighbor just upgraded in jets, submarines, and tanks? And didn't you guys fight a war a few years back? Doesn't that make you feel insecure? And why feel insecure for another moment when, for just a few billion bucks, we'll get you suited up with the latest model military… even better than what we sold them -- or you the last time around.

Why does Turkey, which already has 215 fighter planes, need 100 extras in an even higher-tech version? It doesn't… but Lockheed Martin, working the Pentagon, made them think they did.

We don't need stronger arms control laws, we need a global sobriety coach -- and some kind of 12-step program for the dealer-nation as well.

Frida Berrigan is a Senior Research Associate at the World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center. Copyright 2007 Frida Berrigan


Original Content at


August 6, 2008

The prophetic challenge: "Few are guilty, but all are responsible"

By Robert Jensen

One of the common refrains I heard from progressive people in Pakistan and India during my month there this summer was, “We love the American people -- it’s the policies of your government we don’t like.”

That sentiment is not unusual in the developing world, and such statements can reduce the tension with some Americans when people criticize U.S. policy, which is more common than ever after the illegal invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

I used to smile and nod when I heard it, but this summer I stopped agreeing.

“You shouldn’t love the American people,” I started saying. “You should hate us -- we’re the enemy.”

By that I don’t mean that most Americans are trying to come up with new ways to attack people in the Global South. Instead, I want to challenge the notion that in a relatively open society such as the United States -- where most people can claim extensive guarantees of freedom of expression and political association -- that the problem is leaders and not ordinary citizens. Whatever the reason people in other countries repeat this statement, the stakes today are too high for those of us in the United States to accept these kinds of reassuring platitudes about hating-the-policy but loving-the-people of an imperial state. It is long past time that we the people of the United States started holding ourselves responsible for the crimes our government perpetrates around the world.

This is our prophetic challenge, in the tradition of the best of the prophets of the past, who had the courage to name the injustice in a society and demand a reckoning.

In the Christian and Jewish traditions, the Old Testament offers us many models -- Amos and Hosea, Jeremiah and Isaiah. The prophets condemned corrupt leaders but also called out all those privileged people in society who had turned from the demands of justice that the faith makes central to human life. In his study of The Prophets, the scholar and activist Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel concluded:

Above all, the prophets remind us of the moral state of a people: Few are guilty, but all are responsible. If we admit that the individual is in some measure conditioned or affected by the spirit of society, an individual’s crime discloses society’s corruption. In a community not indifferent to suffering, uncompromisingly impatient with cruelty and falsehood, continually concerned for God and every man, crime would be infrequent rather than common.[1]

In our society, crimes by leaders are far too common. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, as individuals, are guilty of their crime against peace and war crimes in Iraq that have resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands, just as Bill Clinton and Al Gore before them are guilty of the crime against humanity perpetrated through an economic embargo on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of innocents as well. These men are guilty, beyond any doubt, and they should be held accountable. But would those kinds of crimes be as frequent if the spirit of society were different? For that, we all are responsible.

In assessing that responsibility, we have to be careful about simplistic judgments, for the degree of responsibility depends on privilege and power. In my case, I’m white and male, educated, with easy access to information, working in a professional job with a comfortable income and considerable freedom. People such as me, with the greatest privilege, bear greatest responsibility. But no one escapes responsibility living in an imperial state with the barbaric record of the United States (in my lifetime, we could start with the list of unjust U.S. wars, direct and through proxies, against the people of Latin America, southern Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, resulting in millions of victims). Bush and Clinton couldn’t carry out their crimes in this relatively open and democratic society if we did not allow it.

To increase the chance that we can stop those crimes, we also have to be precise about the roadblocks that keep people from acting responsibly: A nominally democratic political system dominated by elites who serve primarily the wealthy in a predatory corporate capitalist system; which utilizes sophisticated propaganda techniques that have been effective in undermining real democracy; aided by mass-media industries dedicated to selling diversions to consumers more than to helping inform citizens in ways that encourage meaningful political action.

We must hold ourselves and each other accountable, with a realistic analysis not only of how we have ended up in this dire situation but also a reasonable assessment of how different people react to the spirit of our society.

Some in the United States celebrate this unjust system and seek to enrich themselves in it; they deserve the harshest critique and condemnation. Many others simply move with the prevailing winds, taking their place in the hierarchy without much thought and little challenge; they should be challenged to rise above their willed ignorance and passivity. Some others resist, through political organizing or in quieter ways; they should be commended, with the recognition that whatever they have done it hasn’t been enough to end the nation’s imperial crimes. And we must remember that there are people in the United States suffering under such oppressive conditions that they constitute a kind of internal Third World, targeted as much as the most vulnerable people abroad.

Of course those are crudely drawn categories that don’t capture the complexity of our lives. But we should draw them to remind ourselves: Those of us with privilege are responsible in some way. If we want to speak in a prophetic voice, as I believe we all can and should, we must start with an honest assessment of ourselves and those closest to us. For example, I consider myself part of the anti-empire/anti-war movement, and for the past decade I have spent considerable energy on those efforts. But I can see many ways in which I could have done more, and could do more today, in more effective fashion. We need not have delusions of grandeur about what we can accomplish, but we do need to avoid a self-satisfied complacency.

kind of complacency is far too easy for those of us living in the most affluent nation in the history of the world. For those of us with privilege, political activism typically comes with very few costs. We work, and often work hard, for justice but when the day is done many of us come home to basic comforts that most people in the world can only dream of. Those comforts are made possible by the very empire we are committed to ending.

Does this seem hard to face? Does it spark a twinge of guilt in you? I hope that it does. Here we can distinguish the guilt of those committing the crimes -- the formal kind of guilt of folks such as Bush and Clinton -- from the way in which a vaguer sense of guilt reminds us that we may not be living up to our own principles. That kind of guilty feeling is not a bad thing, if we have not done things that are morally required. If there is a gap between our stated values and our actions -- as there almost surely is for all of us, in varying ways to varying degrees -- then such a feeling of guilt is an appropriate moral reaction. Guilt of that kind is healthy if we face it honestly and use it to strengthen our commitment to justice.

This is our fate living in the empire. We must hold ourselves and each other accountable, while knowing that the powerful systems in place are not going to change overnight simply because we have good arguments and are well-intentioned. We must ask ourselves why we don’t do more, while recognizing that none of us can ever do enough. We must be harsh on ourselves and each other, while retaining a loving connection to self and others, for without that love there is no hope.

People often say this kind of individual and collective self-assessment is too hard, too depressing. Perhaps, but it is the path we must walk if we wish to hold onto our humanity. As Heschel put it, “the prophets endure and can only be ignored at the risk of our own despair.”[2] To contemplate these harsh realities is not to give in to despair, but to make it possible to resist.

If we wish to find our prophetic voice, we must have the courage to speak about the crimes of our leaders and also look at ourselves honestly in the mirror. That requires not just courage but humility. It is in that balance of a righteous anger and rigorous self-reflection that we find not just the strength to go on fighting but also the reason to go on living.


[1] Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), p. 16.

[2] Ibid., p. xiii.

Authors Website:

Authors Bio: Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center His latest book is Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007). Jensen is also the author of The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege and Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (both from City Lights Books); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang). He can be reached at

CONTROL OF LANGUAGE, EXAMPLE: Omission/suppression of Agency and Euphemism

The New York Times (2-25-07) offered a front page picture story of two wounded veterans of the Iraq war, both shot through the head by a sniper, returned home one to a wife and the other to a mother. It’s an affecting story. But the headline is troubling. “Lives Touched by War.” No, it should be: “Lives Severely Damages by the illegal U.S. Invasion and Occupation of Iraq.” This headline is deceptive in at least two ways. It suppresses the agency of this war. It wasn’t just any war, but an illegal war by the soldiers’ own nation that sent them into danger. And it employs a euphemism for severe wounds; they were certainly more than “touched,” but horribly and permanently damaged.

Cindy Sheehan | “Don't Go, Don't Kill!”

Cindy Sheehan, Open Mike Blog

Cindy Sheehan: "I want to bang my head against a wall when another young gay person commits suicide as a result of despicable bullying, yet people within the same community have fought hard for the right to openly join the biggest bully ever! Don't go, don't kill!"







CORPORATE Greenwashing, scamming












· Bryan Farrell

The Green Zone: a book review and author interview
Saturday, June 20, 2009

Published by The Indypendent

As we have become more aware of our effect on the planet and its climate, many average Americans have taken steps toward a greener lifestyle. The Nature Conservancy conducted a poll a few months ago that found 53 percent of those surveyed engage in small actions like recycling, using green household products, and bringing reusable bags to stores. Perhaps, however, what is more revealing is the poll also found that nearly three quarters of respondents believe their personal actions are significant to the health of the environment.

Enter the buzzkill that is Barry Sanders’ new book, The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, in which he delivers a wake-up call to the green movement. Simply put, the solution is not in the hands of the people — at least not their literal pair of hands. But it is also not, as most of us might believe it to be, in the hands of the largest corporations. Sanders’ book brings into the environmental discussion a “new” player. One that its environmental influence has yet to be seriously examined: the U.S. military. As the book presents it: “… ironically, that greatest single assault on the environment, on all of us around the globe, comes from one agency, that one agency in business to protect us from our enemies, the Armed Forces of the United States.”

Sanders, a retired English and History of Ideas professor at Pitzer College in California, isn’t out to condemn the efforts of ordinary people. Most of his published works — including eleven other books on subjects as seemingly disparate as racism, laughter, and literacy — defend the average person from the degrading control of hierarchical systems. The way Sanders views the current state of the environment is no different. To him, “Citizens look like patron saints of the environment compared with the rampant destruction that the military causes.”

In order to make his case, Sanders presents an overwhelmingly fact-driven argument, listing various types of military equipment, their fuel source, and how much gets used. At first, it’s hard to see many of these details being of interest to anyone other than military buffs. But when Sanders manages to provide recognizable points of comparison, the numbers become quite damning.

For instance, even though we Americans consume on average 1.3 gallons of oil a day, deployed soldiers in 2007 burned about twelve times that amount, at approximately 15 gallons a day. It’s through this relation that we can begin to understand how the military is the world’s greatest consumer of not just petroleum, but energy, in general.

As bad as it is, however, the Pentagon’s figures don’t even come close to telling the whole story. As Sanders explains, “The DoD provides no official accounting for the amount of oil the military consumes in garrisons and bases abroad.” We don’t even know the exact number of bases — although some experts place the figure at slightly more than 800. Even so, there’s no doubting, at least according to what little information the Pentagon does supply, that it is the world’s largest landlord.

Furthermore, the Pentagon doesn’t count fuel that the military obtains for free — such as the likely great amount it receives from Kuwait — or the fuel consumed by the thousands of independent contractors, who lease, make or do things for the military. You can also forget about knowing how much energy it takes to rebuild countries like Iraq. The amount of unknown information and points of energy consumption go on and on.

Sanders puts it bluntly when he says, “As taxpayers we own stock in a nefarious corporation that cooks its books until they are well done.” Yet even he laments the fact that the military isn’t a corporation. If it were, then perhaps such behavior would be grounds for legal action, government intervention or consumer boycott. But none of the regular rules apply here.

Again, it would seem there’s little place for the average person to make a difference. But that’s where Sanders attempts to bring it back around. He suggests a number of well-meaning ideas for those of us who want to see restrictions placed on the military. Some — such as tax resistance — are radical, but wholly pragmatic steps that cut right to the heart of the issue: an increasing Pentagon budget. While others, such as the establishment of an education program that teaches about military pollution, are more long-term oriented. Sadly, neither seem like steps that the mass American public — too busy with the fad that is the green revolution — would find inviting.

If The Green Zone is short on viable solutions, Sanders needn’t be blamed. This is, after all, the first book to examine the relationship between militarism and ecological destruction — something not even Nobel Prize Laureate Al Gore has been willing to address. Sanders has commendably begun a much needed dialogue.

Let’s just hope that those Americans who believe their personal actions are significant are willing to be put to the test.


The Indypendent’s Bryan Farrell asks his questions about The Green Zone and what should be done directly to the author, Barry Sanders.

Bryan Farrell: Right off the bat, in the introduction to your book, you say the largest source of pollution in the world is the military, particularly the military at war. What do you say to young people, many of whom are not as strongly opposing the wars as they are global warming and other environmental crisis?

Barry Sanders: I want them to see that they’re the same issue. It’s not going to make much difference what kind of soap you’re using or if your hand towel is recycled. If the military is laying out acres and acres of depleted uranium half way across the world, it’s going to find its way back here. Every time I talk that way, it comes as a surprise to students. We’re taught that every little bit helps. You give some money to a charity and it helps. But every little bit is not going to help when there’s a monster out there. I want to bust these categories and say, “No, it’s not about the military. It’s not about the environment. It’s about everything.”

BF: What about the military’s efforts to become more sustainable? For instance, Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada houses the world’s largest solar photovoltaic system and the Navy runs the largest wind/diesel hybrid plant in the world located in Guantánamo Bay.

BS: There is a line in the book about how that basically means killing people with more efficiency. That doesn’t seem to me like something to rejoice about. When I was a kid I loved magic. Once you’re a fan of magic you learn that if the magician is showing you his right hand you ought to keep your eyes on the left hand. So I know that if the military is telling me to look at how clean this hand is, I need to look at the other hand. And that other hand is bound to be filthy with oil and blood. So I don’t want to look the other way. I want to look dead on at the military itself and what it’s doing. Not at the small little hybrid recommendations.

BF: There’s also the nihilist argument that even if the United States scales back it’s military, there are still other countries like China with large military divisions. Would it really make a difference?

BS: Those other countries would not be using their military [if the United States scaled back]. Korea would not have a missile system. Neither would India or Pakistan, if we didn’t show the way. We have a military budget that’s larger than every other military combined in the world. What would the world be like if we took a risk. What would the world be like if we scaled down and said to people that we’re the military everyone’s been afraid of. We’ve been the policemen of the world for so long. My own personal notion is that war is obsolete and that Earth has made it obsolete. There is a price to pay if you want to continue the way that we’re continuing and that is the price of the earth.

BF: People in so-called “developing countries” will clearly be paying the price first, while instability in those countries is likely to increase. Is there a possibility, therefore, that the military actually stands to benefit from global warming, perhaps by serving as protectors against food riots and climate refugees?

BS: I won’t go as far as to say that the military rejoices in its participation in global warming. But I will say that I do think the real war is yet to come and it’s going to be over resources. When millions of Africans moving north are looking for water and looking for food we’re going to protect our own interests. We’re going to become much more singular than how we need to be in the world, which is communitarian. I know the military is aware of this because they’re meeting about it and they’re talking about it. I think they will welcome such a war because it will have full support from this country. I don’t think that it is far fetched. They’re planning for it now.

BF: In the book you discuss tax resistance as a way individuals can take action. Why do you think tax resistance can be an effective method of protest? What else can be done?

BS: Johnson levied a telephone tax of 10 percent on people’s phone bills to support the war in Vietnam and lots of people protested and refused to pay it. That sort of thing may be necessary now. My lessons are mostly from the ’60s with organizations like SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] and I think there’s a great deal of organizing that has to go on before there will be any kind of change. There will have to be a march on Washington that’s 15 times as big as the march against the war in Vietnam in 1965 where 250,000 people showed up or the march on Washington in 1963 for civil rights where 200,000 showed up. The antiwar movement also has to change to the no war movement. It’s not enough to be opposed to just this war.

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See: Climate Change Refugees

--The Long Thaw, David Archer. How Humans are Changing the next 100,000 years of Earth's Climmate. Read the Complete Story

--Dauvergne, Peter. The Shadows of Consumption: Consequences for the Global Environment. MIT P, 2009. The shadows of consumption that modern life casts, from the consumption of beef to the use of cars and fridges.

--Dyer, Gwynne. Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats. Interv. Democracy Now ( ? ). Basic fact: planet warming. A 1 percent rise in temp will produce 10 percent reduction in food. Without drastic reduction in C02 the planet will heat 4 degrees by 2060. So Dyer recommends geoengineering (SRM: Solar Radiation Management) to give us time.. In contrast, Vandana Shiva (Soil Not Oil) urges drastic changes in economic system esp.from corporate to small agriculture. She urges agreement to Universal Declaration on the Rights of the Earth. Pentagon already has plans for warming wars over food and water. For example, because Turkey is controlling the Tigris and Euphrates at their sources, Iraq would be at war with Turkey were not Iraq so dysfunctional. The US Quadrennial Defense Review 2010 is the first QDR to evaluate warming’s threat to US security. That is, the Bush admin. denied climate change while militarily preparing for it. See OMNI ecology refugees: Mexican and Central American refugees to increase, so the likelihood of a Soviet Berlin Wall across the US/Mex border is increasing

--Hester, Randolph. Design for Ecological Democracy. MIT P, 2009. Success stories for all who would build more beautiful, sustainable, and just communities.

--Knechtel, John, ed. Air. MIT P, 2010. Writers, artists, and scholars consider the fragility of air, the ultimate commons.

--Mastrandrea, Michael and Stephen Schneider. Preparing for Climate Change. MIT P, 2010. We should prepare now by actions in vulnerable regions.

--McMinn, Lisa G and Megan Anna Neff. Walking Gently on the Earth. IVP Books, 2010. Rev. YES! Winter 2011. “a ‘primer’ for Christians on environmental issues”: in addition to global warming: agri practices, food and consumer choices, energy consumption, family planning, US food subsidies, etc.

--Chris Mooney. The Republican War on Science. Basic Books, 2006. Charges Pres. Bush, conservative Christians (stem cells, evolution, abortion), advocates of free enterprise, some corporations (opponents of environ. regulations that reduce profits), and others of the denial and abuse of science.

--Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway. How a handful of Scientists obscured the truth on issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Another of the many books affirming the science of climate change. They demonstrate that the “debate” over the climate crisis and many other environmental issues was manufactured by the same people who brought you “safe” cigarettes. A well-documented account of how political and profit motives can hijack the scientific process by which scientific information is disseminated to the public. Read the Complete Story

-- Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse. 2009., David Orr. An eloquent assessment of climate destabilization and an urgent call to action. Read the Complete Story

--Romm, Joe. Straight Up. 2010. A good summary of recent major scientific papers on climate change by Joe Romm:

--Morrison, David. “The Storms over Climate Change.” Rev. of 3 books: Hansen’s Storm of My Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrope….; Schneider’s Science as a Contact Sport; and Oreskes and Conway’s Merchants of Doubt, in Skeptical Inquirer (Nov.-Dec. 2010).

--Moore, Kathleen and Michael Nelson, eds. Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril. Trinity UP, 2010. Over 80 visionaries discuss our moral obligation to defend against climate change, species endangerment, and environmental degradation.

--Orr, David. Down to the Wire:

--The Climate War, Eric Pooley. "A riveting tale, the very first account of the epic American Campaign to get serious about global warming." Pres. Bill Clinton

Read the Complete Story

--Volk, Tyler. CO2 Rising: The World’s Greatest Environmental Challenge. MIT P, 2009.

--Ward, Peter. The Flooded Earth; Our Future in a World without Ice Caps. 2010.

More books (some repetition, Dick)

--Berry, Thomas. The Christian Future and the Fate of the Earth. Orbis, 2009. Brief Rev. Fellowship (Fall 2009). Also author of The Sacred Universe.

--Dyer, Gwynne. Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats. Inter. Democracy Now (7-8=10).

--Goodell, Jeff. How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate.

--Mark Hertsgaard’s book about climate change adaptation, Houghton Mifflin, 2010, Generation Hot: Living Through the Storm of Climate Change.

--Klare, Michael. Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy. See below for reviews.

--Lappe, Anna. Diet for a Hot Planet.

--McKibben, Bill. Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet. Times Books, 2010. Profligate human behavior over the past 200 years has changed the planet from Earth to Eaarth, a drastically altered environment.

--Oreskes, Naomi and Erik Conway. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Bloomsbury, 2010.

--: Science as a Contact Sport-Inside the Battle to Save the Earth’s Climate by Stephen Schneider . In the 1970’s he became editor of the new Journal Climate Change

--Shiva, Vandana. Soil Not Oil. Interv. Democracy Now (7-8-10).

--Wapner, Paul. Living Through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism. MIT P, 2010. What nature means and other themes bearing on the choices ahead of us.

--Ward, Peter. The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps Also, he has written: Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future.

--Wilson, E. O. Anthill, a Novel. Norton, 2010. Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer weaves together the viewpoints of ants, developers, and environmentalists through the story of young boy from Alabama who tries to save his beloved forest.

----Collectif Argos. Climate Refugees. MIT P, 2010. Orig. ed. In French , Refugies climatiques, 2007, and most of the data comes from the 4th IPCC Report of 2007 . Stories and pictures document the phenomenon of populations displaced by climate change—homes, neighborhoods, livelihoods, and cultures lost. The Inupiaq of Shishmaref on the northwest coast of Alaska must move, as “Alaska is getting warmer at an ever-quickening rate, with one of the fastest rising temperatures in the world.” The inhabitants of flat southwest Bangladesh face increasing floods from glacial melt, heavier monsoon rains, and the rising Bay of Bengal, which acts as a brake on river flows and increases the salinity of the soil. .Lake Chad has shrunk from 25,000 square kilometers to just 2,500, and now touches only two of its original four countries. Other areas threatened by warming discussed in the book: Maldives in Indian Ocean; northeast Germany along the North Sea; desertification in China west of Beijing; Polynesian Tuvalu; Nepal. An important issue mentioned several times is the need to broaden the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) restrictive definition of refugees to include persons displaced by global warming. “The time has come for political leaders and economic players worldwide to follow the lead of IPCC scientists and organize an international effort, one not limited to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions but one that immediately begins planning for the mass migrations of climate refugees that will mark the 21st century.” (p. 16).


Dick Bennett
STOP Wars and Warming:
My blog:
(479) 442-4600
2582 Jimmie Ave.
Fayetteville, AR 72703

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)