Saturday, December 05, 2009



Lynne Stewart Update and Letter from Lynne from behind bars

On Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 a status conference was held before Judge Koeltl to discuss the procedures concerning Lynne's re-sentencing.

The conference was held in a larger courtroom to accommodate all the people who came to support Lynne. Lynne was represented by Elizabeth Fink, Joshua Dratel and Jill Shellow. Although the "Mandate" (formal Order) hasn't issued yet from the 2nd Circuit, the question raised by the Judge was whether the resentencing should be de novo (which means that the Judge would throw out all the reasoning that went in to his previous sentence and start from scratch) or simply a clarification and update of the sentencing he already gave Lynne of 28 months.

The Judge outlined a schedule; the update of the Presentence Report by the U.S. Probation Dept. is due on February 5, 2010, any objections to that report are to be submitted by February 19, 2009 and the defense and government submission addressing the resentencing of Lynne by March 12th. Replies by March 29th. The formal sentencing is now set for April 22 at 4:30 p.m.

This is a time for the Lynne Stewart Defense committee to be alarmed and very concerned for Lynne. Lynne is a 70 year old woman and any additional significant time could mean that she could die in prison. No harm was caused to anyone by her actions. Lynne's life work as cited by the Judge in his previous sentencing stand as a testimony to her good intentions. Notwithstanding the verdict, Lynne Stewart had absolutely no terroristic intentions or political harmony with her client Sheik Rahman.

The judge said that if there are any letters regarding this new sentencing they will only be considered if they submitted by counsel. We know that people are anxious to do something for Lynne and this is one thing you can do and you have the time to write a thoughtful letter that we believe the Judge will read and take into consideration. For now you can send your letters to the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee, 350 Broadway, Suite 700, New York, NY 10013. Address the letter to: Honorable John G. Koeltl, United States District Judge, Southern District of New York, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007 - BUT MAIL TO LSDC not directly to the Judge. We will accumulate the letters for the attorneys who will then submit them to the Judge.

The issue of Lynne's health has been on all our minds. This is the situation to date: She has been receiving her medication. Her blood pressure has been extremely high. Initially the medical department of MCC/NY had suggested cutting Lynne's prescription for high blood pressure medicine in half but since Lynne's blood pressures was so high it is being monitored very closely. The main issue for Lynne right now is that surgery for a bladder problem had already scheduled before the 2nd Circuit decision and her consequent incarceration. Now it appears that she will undergo surgery for this condition which is not life threatening but increasingly uncomfortable for Lynne in the near future at a metropolitan New York hospital.

In the near future we will be working with others to plan a public event, and working in cooperation with others to fight for Lynne Stewart's sentence to remain 28 months. I will be sending out further notices of events and updates on Lynne's situation as news becomes available. Meanwhile you can write to Lynne Stewart, Reg. # 53504-054, MCC/NY, 150 Park Row, New York, NY 10007. Do not send stamps, this mail will be treated as contraband and discarded by the prison. Do not send anything that needs to be signed for. Lynne has been given a subscription to the New York Times and the New Yorker. If you would like to subscribe Lynne to a publication please drop us a line first (email ) just to make sure that you are not duplicating someone else's contribution.

Photos are okay, cards postcards and letters. All mail is opened and read. Commissary can be sent to Lynne via Western Union using the registration number and address either via the internet or at a Western Union location. Thank you for your support for Lynne it means the world to her.

Pat Levasseur, Lynne Stewart Defense Committee


Letter from Lynne Stewart

Dear Sisters and Brothers, Friends and Supporters:

Well the moment we all hoped would never come is upon us. Good bye to a good cup of coffee in the morning, a soft chair, the hugs of grandchildren and the smaller pleasures in life. I must say I am being treated well and that is due to my lawyer team and your overwhelming support.

While I have received "celebrity" treatment here in MCC - high visibility - conditions for the other women are deplorable. Medical care, food, education, recreation are all at minimal levels. If it weren't for the unqualified bonds of sisterhood and the commissary it would be even more dismal.

My fellow prisoners have supplied me with books and crosswords, a warm (it is cold in here most of the time) sweat shirt and pants, treats from the commissary, and of course, jailhouse humor. Most important many of them know of my work and have a deep reservoir of can I say it? Respect.

I continue to both answer the questions put to me by them, I also can't resist commenting on the T.V. news or what is happening on the floor - a little LS politics always! (Smile) to open hearts and minds!

Liz Fink, my lawyer leader, believes I will be here at MCC-NY for a while - perhaps a year before being moved to prison. Being is jail is like suddenly inhabiting a parallel universe but at least I have the luxury of time to read! Tomorrow I will get my commissary order which may include an AM/FM Radio and be restored to WBAI and music (classical and jazz).

We are campaigning to get the bladder operation (scheduled before I came in to MCC) to happen here in New York City. Please be alert to the website I case I need some outside support.

I want to say that the show of support outside the Courthouse on Thursday as I was "transported" is so cherished by me. The broad organizational representation was breathtaking and the love and politics expressed (the anger too) will keep me nourished through this.

Organize - Agitate, Agitate, Agitate! And write to me and others locked down by the Evil Empire.

Love Struggle, Lynne Stewart


Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




FTA [F**k The Army] Trailer

Jon Stewart: Obama Is Channeling Bush (VIDEO)

US anti-war activists protest

Buffy Sainte Marie - No No Keshagesh
[Keshagesh is the Cree word to describe a greedy puppy that wants to keep eating everything, a metaphor for corporate greed]
Buffy Sainte-Marie - No No Keshagesh lyrics:


"The End of Poverty?"
Democracy Now Interview with Filmmaker Philippe Diaz

The film opens in San Francisco on December 4 at the 4-Star Theatre on Clement Street.

Watch the Trailer:

One Week run starts in San Francisco December 4th

4-Star Theatre

2200 Clement Street

San Francisco, CA 94121

(415) 666-3488

Showtimes: 12:25 2:25 4:25 6:25 8:25

The End of Poverty?
A Movie Review By Bonnie Weinstein
The End of Poverty?
Written and Directed By Philippe Diaz; Produced By Beth Portello; Narrated by Martin Sheen.
A Cinema Libre Studio Production.

I urge you to see this movie and bring friends. Even though it claims not to be pro-socialist, it is a real condemnation of capitalism. While the overall message is that, through theft, oppression, war, pillaging, assassination, and massive "privatization" and selling off of all natural resources including air and water, in the countries in the southern hemisphere going back to 1492, the west is too materialistic and individuals must begin "de-growth," i.e., all of us in the wealthiest northern hemisphere must make a personal commitment to drastically scale back on our consumption in order to share the wealth with the rest of the world-the overwhelming majority of whom live in poverty.

Of course, this is exactly what capitalism is doing to working people in the northern hemisphere right now. For working people this is not a matter of moral choice. Our wealth is being extracted, not to share it with the impoverished masses, but to fill the coffers and line the pockets of the wealthy, corporate elite. That's what the current economic crisis and the wars are about-to extract wealth from the only place left to extract it from-the western hemisphere's relatively wealthy working class.

The film contrasts the incredible depths of poverty endured by the peoples of the southern hemisphere as a result of the selling off of water rights, land-even air rights, and, most importantly, labor rights-from the masses of starving workers, peasants and farmers, as they become at worst, pests to be exterminated and, at best, slave labor for the U.S. dominated corporate world.

The film welcomes us into the homes of people with no access to water or even sanitation. We hear their descriptions of their lives. We see their starving children rummaging the dumps for a drop of something to drink from the bottom of an old bottle.

There are no interviews with UN leaders or other so-called "world advocates" for the poor. Instead the documentary takes us to the Congo, to Brazil to the most poverty-stricken places in the world-and into the lives of the people themselves. How they scavenge the dumps on the outskirts of big cities or try to harvest the crops that have been polluted by the industrial waste from the theft of natural resources by private capital. These are the voices we hear in this film.

These scenes of poverty contrasted to the raw humanity of the impoverished themselves-the majority of the film-is punctuated with interviews with historians and scholars who have documented many instances of the theft of land and resources by Western corporations over the centuries but mostly of more current examples.

There are interviews with, in particular, John Perkins, author of the book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, who gives testimony from his own personal experience as to how the land-grab deals were made by corporate "economic hit-men" (such as himself) that would spare no measures to attain the goals of the corporations they represented-including recommending assassination and war when necessary to accomplish their plunder and rape of the land and resources, with no regard to the humanity they destroy in the wake.

Capitalism has no choice but to turn on it's own labor force to feed upon-to use humans up and spit them out when they are done. As the film aptly points out, it has already ravaged and impoverished the entire southern hemisphere. There's hardly anything else to steal there.

But capitalism can't control capitalism any more than the banks and corporate CEOs can control their own overtly greedy behavior because the profit motive has a mind of its own and will stop at nothing to increase their profits. And nothing less than a massive, unified, world, working-class-based, socialist revolution will be able to stop the world's biggest monster, capitalism, from devouring it entirely.
I urge you to see and publicize this very important film.


Also in coming to theatres in Los Angeles , Irvine , Seattle , Portland , Austin and Atlanta with more cities to follow - for details, visit

Read reviews:

Louis Proyect's:

Andrew Schenker @ Village Voice:

Andrew O' Hehir@

Find us on:

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Join our mailing list: http:/Re/

Please help us spread the word about this important and powerful film. We are a small, independent distribution company dedicated to social issue films.

Thank you,

The Cinema Libre Studio team







Supported by: St. Peter's Housing Committee; Housing Rights Committee; Chinatown CDC and San Francisco Tenants' Union; Senior Action Network; Coalition on Homelessness.

For more information:

Supervisor Avalos has proposed legislation that would extend "just cause" eviction protections to rentals built after 1979.

Without this protection, 16,000-23,000 renters can be arbitrarily evicted, suddenly and for no reason at all.

The Land Use Committee will be voting on Monday.

JOIN US IF YOU CAN! Please call or email the following board members and the Mayor to urge them to support the "Avalos Just Cause Bill". A Sample email is below.

Mayor Gavin Newsom
Telephone: (415) 554-6141
Fax: (415) 554-6160

Sup. Sophie Maxwell
(415) 554-7670 - voice
(415) 554-7674 - fax

Sup. Bevan Dufty
(415) 554-6968- voice
(415) 554-6909 - fax

Sample Letter/ Email

Dear Supervisor,

I am a renter in San Francisco and I am very concerned to learn that many renters here are not protected from evictions because their home was build after 1979.

There is no reason why a random group of renters could suddenly lose their housing at the drop of a hat.

Rents are still so high in this city. Getting evicted means quickly finding housing that you can afford, which is nearly impossible in this market.

Please support Supervisor Avalos's "Just Cause" ordinance. It is only fair.




Drop all Charges Against the Activists in the Protests of the Police Murder of Oscar Grant!

Rally at JRs Next Court Hearing
Monday, December 7, 2009, 8:00 A.M.
Alameda County Courthouse
1225 Fallon Street
Oakland, CA

Journalist JR Valrey was arrested by Oakland Police on the night of January 7, 2009, for covering the street uprising following the police murder of Oscar Grant. JR has consistently covered police brutality and terrorism. The bogus charge he faces: felony arson!

JR Varley is a POCC (People of Color Conference) Minister of Information, host of Block Report Radio, a producer at KPFA and associate editor of the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper.


The BART cop who put a bullet in the back of the young Oscar Grant while Grant was lying face-down on a BART platform is Johannes Mehserle. With 45 police killings in Oakland in the past five years, Mehserle is the only cop to be charged with murder while on duty. But the cops are pulling out all the stops to avoid a conviction. With a starkly racist argument, Mesherle's lawyer has succeeded in getting hte trial moved out of Oakland--to Los Angeles.

Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 16222
Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 763-2347


Initial March 20 Coalition meeting
Wed., Dec. 9, 7 p
From: Richard Becker []


President Obama's Dec. 1 announcement of another major escalation of the war in Afghanistan -- this time dressed up with rhetoric about it being a plan to "end the war" -- has given added urgency to strengthening and mobilizing the anti-war movement. At the end of Pres. Obama's first year, there will be more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan than on the day he took office.

Today, there will be demonstrations in many cities opposing the escalation and demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO troops and mercenaries/contractors from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Saturday, March 20, 2010 will mark the exact 7th anniversary of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. March 20 will be a national and international day of protest. Major demonstrations are expected in many cities around the world, including Washington DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

There will be initial organizing meeting for the March 20, 2010 march and rally on Wednesday, December 9, 7 p.m., at Centro del Pueblo, 474 Valencia St., San Francisco (near the corner of 16th St.)

The main demands of the March 20 protests include: End the wars and occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Everywhere; Fund People's Needs, Not War; and U.S. Hands Off Latin America.

We hope to see you there.

Richard Becker
ANSWER Coalition

Cristina Gutierrez
Companeros del Barrio

To see the ANSWER statement on Obama's speech, "Rhetoric and Reality: Masking War Escalation Masked as a Withdrawal Plan," click on:


Four years ago activists around the world were mobilizing and organizing against the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams. We need to continue that fight today.

Fourth Annual Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Summit

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13TH, 3:00-6:00 P.M.
Huey P. Newton/Bobby Seale Student Lounge
12500 Campus Drive, Oakland
For directions go to
For more information: 510-235-9780



Angela Davis, author and activist.
Barbara Becnel, co-author and friend of Stanley Tookie Williams
Martina Correia, sister of Troy Davis
Release of report, "What's Really Happening on California's Death Row?"
Messages from "The Three Innocent Men"
Sneak Preview, "The Justice Chronicles," dramatic presentation of prison writings
Memorial Movie, for Oscar Grant III

Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network; Campaign to End the Death Penalty; Kevin Cooper Defense Committee, African American Studies Department, Merritt College


Dear supporters,

The news just broke that the U.S. Supreme Court denied Kevin Cooper's appeal. Below is an LA Times story.

This is very bad news. But it is important that we do not give up hope - we need to continue the fight! California won't be able to set an execution date at the present time because of the ongoing lethal injection legal challenges in the state. This means we need to use this window to educate people about Kevin's case, expose the racism and
injustice, and grow our movement for real justice for Kevin Cooper - to free Kevin Cooper.

We will be sending out more updates and stories soon, and plans for how you can help. In the meantime, feel free to call or e-mail with any questions or ideas.

Crystal Bybee
Campaign to End the Death Penalty
Kevin Cooper Defense Committee

Supreme Court rejects appeal from California death row inmate convicted of killing 4
By Associated Press
November 30, 2009,0,6189324.story

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a California death row inmate who was convicted in the gruesome murders of four people in 1983.

The justices said Monday they would not review an appeals court ruling that upheld the murder conviction and death sentence of Kevin Cooper.

Cooper came within a few hours of execution in 2004 before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stepped in to order genetic testing on a hair and a bloody shirt found at the murder scene that Cooper said would prove he was not the killer.

The San Francisco-based appeals court later backed a district judge's ruling that the test results did not show Cooper's innocence.

Cooper, who has long maintained his innocence, had escaped from a California state prison. He was convicted of the murders of Douglas and Peggy Ryen, both 41, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and Christopher Hughes, her friend. They were stabbed and hacked repeatedly with a hatchet and buck knife. Joshua Ryen, then 8, survived a slit throat.

Cooper claimed a trio of murderers committed the attacks and said the DNA tests would exonerate him.

Prosecutors persuaded a jury of Cooper's guilt, but the investigation was plagued with problems.

Judge M. Margaret McKeown agreed with the outcome in the 9th Circuit, but noted that important evidence in Cooper's case was "lost, destroyed or left unpursued." That included blood-covered overalls that a detective threw away and a missing bloody T-shirt.

"The forensic evidence in this case is critical and yet was compromised," she wrote. "These facts are all the more troubling because Cooper's life is at stake."

McKeown also said the criminologist in charge of the evidence turned out to be a heroin addict who was later fired for stealing drugs seized by the police.

"The result is wholly discomforting," she wrote. "But one that the law demands."

The case is Cooper v. Wong, 09-363.


Kevin Cooper's Attorneys Will Continue Fight To Stop Execution Of Innocent Man
Contacts: Norman Hile (916) 329-7900
John Pitts 202-339-8605
Contacts: Norman Hile (916) 329-7900
John Pitts 202-339-8605

To learn more about Kevin Cooper's case, including the unprecedented 103-page dissent
by five federal judges, go to:

After U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Consider Appeal, Additional Witnesses With
Information To Save Cooper's Life Should Come Forward

Attorneys Urge U.S. Attorney General Holder To Investigate Civil Rights Violations
Washington, D.C. -- Kevin Cooper's attorneys said today they would continue to
fight to prevent his execution, notwithstanding the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to
consider Cooper's appeal.

"Evidence that we discovered after trial shows that Kevin is innocent of the crime
for which he is now sentenced to die. We urge any and all witnesses with information
about Kevin's case to come forward," said Norman Hile, Cooper's lead attorney and a
partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. "Time is running out. Many witnesses
have come forward with helpful evidence, but we now need more. Anyone with
information about this case should examine their conscience and ask whether they are
willing to let their silence contribute to the execution of a man for crimes he did not

Cooper's case was on appeal from a U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals threejudge
panel decision denying his habeas corpus petition. At least eleven judges on the
Ninth Circuit voted in favor of giving Mr. Cooper a further hearing on his claims of
innocence and evidence-tampering, noting that "a full and fair evidentiary hearing
would have given us confidence that Cooper received his due opportunity to prove the
innocence he has insisted upon since his arrest." An unprecedented 103-page dissent
signed by five of those judges warned that "the State of California may be about to
execute an innocent man."

Cooper's habeas petition was based on new evidence that his attorneys and
investigators discovered while working at the Northern California Innocence Project's
request. In the 103-page dissent pleading for a fair hearing for Mr. Cooper, the appellate judges identified multiple instances of police and prosecutorial misconduct, including:

--False testimony- Josh Ryen, the only eyewitness to the murders and the
victims' 8-year old son, initially told the police that three white men killed
his family. According to the dissent, after the police arrested Cooper, who
is black, "[d]eputies misrepresented [Josh's] recollections and gradually
shaped his testimony so that it was consistent with the prosecution's
theory that there was only one killer."

--Destruction of evidence and lying at trial- A witness told the police that
her boyfriend, a white supremacist gang member and convicted murderer,
came to her house covered in blood on the night of the murders. She
turned a pair of his blood-spattered coveralls over to the sheriff as
evidence. The sheriff discarded the coveralls without testing the blood
stains and did not tell Cooper's defense lawyer about this evidence until
the middle of his preliminary hearing. This witness is now dead and
unable to testify to Cooper's innocence. At trial, the sheriff's deputy who
discarded the coveralls testified he did so without sheriff-department
approval, testimony that has recently been shown to be a lie. As the five
federal judges wrote, "a responsible officer . . . deliberately destroyed
material evidence that should have been provided to Cooper."

--Undisclosed exculpatory evidence: The prosecution retrieved a blue
shirt with blood on it near the crime scene a few days after the crimes but
never disclosed this to Cooper's defense. "The prosecution committed a .
. . violation by not making the blue shirt available to Cooper's attorneys."
What's worse, "the prosecution committed a . . . violation in not turning
over a copy of the [sheriff's] daily logs that recorded the discovery of the
blue shirt."

--Planting false evidence- Prosecution lab tests of a second bloody shirt
showed "an extremely high level of EDTA in the sample that was
supposed to contain Cooper's blood." According to five federal judges,
"[i]f that test result was valid, it showed that Cooper's blood had been
planted on the t-shirt, just as Cooper maintained."

--Falsified lab reports- A drop of blood was taken from the crime scene,
labeled "A-41," and tested by police criminologist Daniel Gregonis.
According to five federal judges, "[w]hen the results of Gregonis's tests
on A-41 were initially inconsistent with . . . a known sample of Cooper's
blood, Gregonis altered his lab notes and claimed that he had
misrepresented his results."

--Presenting false evidence- Trying to tie Cooper to the crime scene,
prosecutors presented evidence that has now been shown to be false: that
only prison-issue shoes could have made footprints at the crime scene. As
five federal judges found, these shoes "were, contrary to testimony at trial,
available (though not in large quantities) at retail stores in the United

Despite these constitutional violations which have prevented Cooper from ever
receiving a fair hearing, Cooper now faces execution. Hile called on U.S. Attorney
General Eric Holder to investigate Cooper's case and the local prosecutorial and police
misconduct. "Multiple witnesses have provided testimony suggesting that the police
planted evidence against Kevin Cooper and destroyed evidence that demonstrated his
innocence, and that local prosecutors violated Kevin Cooper's Constitutional rights," Mr. Hile said. "We need a federal investigation to get to the bottom of this and stop the killing of an innocent man."



San Francisco March and Rally
on Saturday, March 20, 2010
11am, Civic Center Plaza

National March on Washington
on Saturday, March 20, 2010
Fri., March 19 Day of Action & Outreach in D.C.

People from all over the country are organizing to converge on Washington, D.C., to demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Iraq.

On Saturday, March 20, 2010, there will be a massive National March & Rally in D.C. A day of action and outreach in Washington, D.C., will take place on Friday, March 19, preceding the Saturday march.

There will be coinciding mass marches on March 20 in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The national actions are initiated by a large number of organizations and prominent individuals. (see below)

Click here to become an endorser:

Click here to make a donation:

We will march together to say "No Colonial-type Wars and Occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine!" We will march together to say "No War Against Iran!" We will march together to say "No War for Empire Anywhere!"

Instead of war, we will demand funds so that every person can have a job, free and universal health care, decent schools, and affordable housing.

March 20 is the seventh anniversary of the criminal war of aggression launched by Bush and Cheney against Iraq. One million or more Iraqis have died. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops have lost their lives or been maimed, and continue to suffer a whole host of enduring problems from this terrible war.

This is the time for united action. The slogans on banners may differ, but all those who carry them should be marching shoulder to shoulder.

Killing and dying to avoid the perception of defeat

Bush is gone, but the war and occupation in Iraq still go on. The Pentagon is demanding a widening of the war in Afghanistan. They project an endless war with shifting battlefields. And a "single-payer" war budget that only grows larger and larger each year. We must act.

Both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were predicated on the imperial fantasy that the U.S. could create stable, proxy colonial-type governments in both countries. They were to serve as an extension of "American" power in these strategic and resource-rich regions.

That fantasy has been destroyed. Now U.S. troops are being sent to kill or be killed so that the politicians in uniform ("the generals and admirals") and those in three-piece suits ("our elected officials") can avoid taking responsibility for a military setback in wars that should have never been started. Their military ambitions are now reduced to avoiding the appearance of defeat.

That is exactly what happened in Vietnam! Avoiding defeat, or the perception of defeat, was the goal Nixon and Kissinger set for themselves when they took office in 1969. For this noble cause, another 30,000 young GIs perished before the inevitable troop pullout from Vietnam in 1973. The number of Vietnamese killed between 1969 and 1973 was greater by many hundreds of thousands.

All of us can make the difference - progress and change comes from the streets and from the grassroots.

The people went to the polls in 2008, and the enthusiasm and desire for change after eight years of the Bush regime was the dominant cause that led to election of a big Democratic Party majority in both Houses of Congress and the election of Barack Obama to the White House.

But it should now be obvious to all that waiting for politicians to bring real change - on any front - is simply a prescription for passivity by progressives and an invitation to the array of corporate interests from military contractors to the banks, to big oil, to the health insurance giants that dominate the political life of the country. These corporate interests work around the clock to frustrate efforts for real change, and they are the guiding hand behind the recent street mobilizations of the ultra-right.

It is up to us to act. If people had waited for politicians to do the right thing, there would have never been a Civil Rights Act, or unions, women's rights, an end to the Vietnam war or any of the profound social achievements and basic rights that people cherish.

It is time to be back in the streets. Organizing centers are being set up in cities and towns throughout the country.

We must raise $50,000 immediately just to get started. Please make your contribution today. We need to reserve buses, which are expensive ($1,800 from NYC, $5,000 from Chicago, etc.). We have to print 100,000 leaflets, posters and stickers. There will be other substantial expenses as March 20 draws closer.

Please become an endorser and active supporter of the March 20 National March on Washington.

Please make an urgently needed tax-deductible donation today. We can't do this without your active support.

The initiators of the March 20 National March on Washington (preceded by the March 19 Day of Action and Outreach in D.C.) include: the ANSWER Coalition; Muslim American Society Freedom; National Council of Arab Americans; Cynthia McKinney; Malik Rahim, co-founder of Common Ground Collective; Ramsey Clark; Cindy Sheehan; Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK; Deborah Sweet, Director, World Can't Wait; Mike Ferner, President, Veterans for Peace; Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition; Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild; Ron Kovic, author of "Born on the 4th of July"; Juan Jose Gutierrez, Director, Latino Movement USA; Col. Ann Wright (ret.); March Forward!; Partnership for Civil Justice; Palestinian American Women Association; Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines; Alliance for Global Justice; Claudia de la Cruz, Pastor, Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas-UCC; Phil Portluck, Social Justice Ministry, Covenant Baptist Church, D.C.; Blase & Theresa Bonpane, Office of the Americas; Coalition for Peace and Democracy in Honduras; Comite Pro-Democracia en Mexico; Frente Unido de los Pueblos Americanos; Comites de Base FMLN, Los Angeles; Free Palestine Alliance; GABRIELA Network; Justice for Filipino American Veterans; KmB Pro-People Youth; Students Fight Back; Jim Lafferty, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild - LA Chapter; LEF Foundation; National Coalition to Free the Angola 3; Community Futures Collective; Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival; Companeros del Barrio; Barrio Unido for Full and Unconditional Amnesty, Bay Area United Against War.

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-265-1948
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311


The US Social Forum II
• June 22-26, 2010 •
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Another World Is Possible! Another US is Necessary!





Lynne Stewart in Jail!

For further information contact: Jeff Mackler, Coordinator, West Coast Lynne Stewart Defense Committee 510-268-9429
Mail tax free contributions payable to National Lawyers Guild Foundation. Write in memo box: "Lynne Stewart Defense." Mail to: Lynne Stewart Defense, P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610.



U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Department of Justice Main Switchboard - 202-514-2000
Office of the Attorney General Public Comment Line - 202-353-1555

To send Lynne a letter, write:
Lynne Stewart
150 Park Row
New York, NY NY 10007

Lynne Stewart speaks in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal


The trial of Johannes Mehserle, killer of unarmed Oscar Grant, has been moved to Los Angeles.

In the case of an innocent verdict, folks are encouraged to head to Oakland City Hall ASAP to express our outrage in a massive and peaceful way! Our power is in our numbers! Oscar Grant's family and friends need our support!

For more information:
Contact BAMN at 510-502-9072


URGENT! Dhoruba Bin Wahad and Naji Mujahid detained at Israeli checkpoint newsitems/2009/11/25/18630531. php

Please help us spread the word. Dhoruba bin-Wahad (a former Black Panther political prisoner) and Naji Fenwick have been prevented from entering Palestine (11-23-09). They were going to attend a political Prisoner conference. They are asking for our support by contacting the US Embassy and anyone else we can think of that can help. Below is a sample letter for sending an email to the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan



What obviously began as racial profiling, ended up as an Israeli
attempt to conceal their treatment of Palestinian Detainees from the
African-American community. As a former political prisoner, and
international activist concerned with human rights and civil
liberties, I along with Naji Mujahid, a DC based college student and
videographer, were invited to an international conference on Political
Detainees in the occupied Territories sponsored by the Palestinian
Authority. Unlike most international representatives attending the
conference, who were white and could therefore avoid pre-emptive
scrutiny for entering the occupied territory, I could not (and would
not) enter a country on disingenuous grounds. It is one thing to be
cooperative with officials while traveling, quite another to be
detained and interrogated like a common criminal about your religious
beliefs, personal associations, and family relations with no apparent
objective other than to find some excuse to ban you from entry into a
country that is under international censure for its treatment of an
entire people, the Palestinians.

When I was asked by the Political Prisoner support group Jericho to
answer the Palestinian invitation to the Conference On the Palestinian
Political Detainees in Israeli jails, I accepted. I also was asked by
"Still Here Harlem Productions" to cover the conference because the
African-American community know very little about the middle east.
This lack of knowledge is not coincidental. Many Black elected
officials in America have succumbed to the influence and financial
subsidies of the Israeli lobby, and are fearful for their political
careers should they oppose the racist practices of the Israeli
government toward peoples of color in general and the Palestinian
people in particular. African-Americans have no advocates on capital
hill who will demand their fair treatment while traveling abroad,
except where the governments in question are critical of U.S. foreign
policies. For these reason I undertook the task of reporting the
Conference on Palestinian Detainees.



To Ambassador Robert Beecroft, et al.:

Yesterday, 11-23-09, two American citizens, Dhoruba Bin Wahad and William Fenwick were denied entry into Israel at the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge. After being singled out of a crowd of people that arrived via bus to cross the border, they were kept there for approximately 11hrs (most of those hours they were held incommunicado) and subjected to several searches of their persons and luggage (including strip searches) and questioned extensively; many of the questions were completely irrelevant to legitimate security concerns. Finally, they were told they were being refused entry for "security reasons". Before leaving, they were photographed and fingerprinted and their passports were stamped three times (once stamp that oddly granted them access and two stamps that denied access).

The nature of their business in Jericho, was upon invitation by the Palestinian Authority to attend/participate/document a conference on Palestinian Political Prisoners and Detainees in Israel. The official title of the conference is "The International Conference on Prisoners and Detainees in Israeli Prisons" and it features a keynote address by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. It should be noted that EVERY conference attendee that arrived for the conference through Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv were allowed access into the Territory. This is a blatant disregard for the right of tax-paying American citizens to travel (ironically, millions of those tax dollars go to subsidize the Israeli security apparatus) and International Law that supports freedom of movement and travel. Moreover, it is and a denial of their 1st Amendment rights; Israel is supposed to be a US ally.

Finally, considering the nature of how this encounter between Fenwick and Bin Wahad and the Israeli security began, it looks strikingly familiar to what the United States would consider to be racial profiling. The US consulate has a duty to secure for its citizens the same rights guaranteed at home while abroad and to protect them from arbitrary harassment and discrimination from foreign governments. Therefore, we urge you to express emphatic dismay and disappointment that the only, purportedly, "democratic nation" in the Middle East curtails the free flow of information and ideas, particularly regarding the treatment of the Palestinian people.

Respectfully yours,

John Q. Citizen


The Tar Sands Blow
Hi -
I just signed the Tar Sands Blow petition -- and I hope you'll do the same.
The Canadian tar sands produce the dirtiest oil on earth -- including five times the greenhouse gases of conventional oil. World leaders meet next month in Copenhagen to deal with climate change. Sign the petition -- so that we all don't get a raw deal.

The Story of Mouseland: As told by Tommy Douglas in 1944

The Communist Manifesto illustrated by Cartoons


Holiday gifts from Courage to Resist

Free and fast 2-3 day priority shipping!*
Please place your order this week to ensure holiday delivery.

Support mom still facing Afghanistan deployment, court martial

By Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist. November 16, 2009

"I currently don't have a family care plan, but they told me they did not
care and for me to get ready to go to Afghanistan," explained Oakland,
California native Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, a 21-year-old soldier based at
Hunter Army Airfield outside of Savannah, Georgia.

As I spoke to Alexis on the phone, I believed if I found her a civilian
lawyer to work with the military, a reasonable resolution would be quickly
found. Unlike most service members Courage to Resist assists, Alexis was not
refusing to deploy. She was not looking to speak out against war. She was
simply asking for more time to find someone to care for her 11-month old son
Kamani. Within a few days, however, the Army had tossed Alexis in the
stockade and turned Kamani over to the Chatham County (Georgia) foster care


Please make a tax-deductible donation to Alexis' legal and family support


Courage to Resist Urgent Action Alert

Army sends infant to protective services, mom to Afghanistan this weekend

Army has mom, Alexis Hutchinson, arrested and 11-month old son put into county foster care system. Alexis has now been ordered to deploy to Afghanistan on Sunday, November 15, where she will be court martialed.

Action Alert: Contact Congresswoman Barbara Lee to urge her to "Request that the Army not deploy Alexis Hutchinson to Afghanistan so that she can care for her son." From the 9th District (Oakland-Berkeley, CA) phone: 510-763-0370 (fax: 510-763-6538). Nationwide: 202- 225-2661 (fax: 202-225-9817).

Donate to Alexis' legal and family support fund (

Alexis' attorney now available for media interviews.
By friends of Alexis and Courage to Resist. November 12, 2009

Also in the news:
Army Sends Infant to Protective Services, Mom to Afghanistan
by Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service. November 13, 2009
Online version with possible updates


Statement from the NY October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality

Soon after 6:00am on October 27th, five cops raided the house of Juanita Young, the mother of Malcolm Ferguson who was gunned down by a plainclothes cop in 2000. They threatened to break down her door, tried to climb in through her bathroom window, put a gun in Juanita's face and took away her son, Buddy. The cops justified their outrageous and illegal behavior by citing a warrant, refusing to identify who or what the warrant was for. Later it was claimed that the warrant was for Buddy failing to appear in court for a Desk Appearance Ticket on October 13th, just two weeks earlier. This made it clear that it was both an unusually quick response and out of the ordinary violence for this offense.

This is not the first time cops have run roughshod over the rights of Juanita and her family. Juanita Young has been an outspoken opponent of police brutality, fighting for justice not only for her son Malcolm, but for all victims of police brutality. This has made her a target of persistent persecution by the police:

--June 2003: During an illegal eviction carried out by the NYPD, Juanita was arrested for trespassing in her own home. She was handcuffed and aggressively pushed out of her apartment and building, falling twice and injuring her arm. In October 2007, a Bronx civil jury determined that the arresting officer used excessive force in her arrest.

--November 2005: After voicing her disapproval of a brutal arrest at a demonstration, Juanita was arrested after a commanding officer said, "Get her, too." She was refused medical attention that she needed due to an asthma attack. Young was hospitalized for three days and faced criminal charges, but before the date of her arraignment, she received notice in the mail that the charges were dropped.

--November 2006: Juanita was arrested after more than 8 cops entered her apartment during an ambulance call for her daughter. The cops jumped her, punched and kicked her. She was taken to the hospital, where she was handcuffed to the bed and tortured by police for four days, only to be handed a ticket on the last day an hour after a press conference about her attack took place. In October 2008, a Bronx jury acquitted Young of all charges.

--August 2009: During a cookout in front of Juanita's building, over a dozen cops broke down the front door, slammed her oldest son up behind the door, and beat him on the head. The cops also arrested her daughters. This was another attempt to intimidate Juanita Young - through striking out at her loved ones - in hopes of silencing this powerful voice against police brutality.

All these attacks are outrageous, illegitimate and illegal. We say: HANDS OFF JUANITA YOUNG! The NYPD must stop this intimidation and harassment of Juanita and her family. Speaking out against police brutality is no crime. But targeting someone in retaliation for speaking out is illegal.

From Juanita Young's statement to supporters:

"Not only have my rights been violated in the most blatant ways, but I feel physically and psychologically terrorized. I fear for my safety, my very life, and the lives of my children and grandchildren." (October 29, 2009)

We refuse to allow Juanita Young, this fighter against police brutality and injustice, to stand alone against this onslaught.

We demand:

1: The NYPD stop its persecution of Juanita Young!

2: Bronx DA Robert Johnson investigate the role of the 43rd Precinct in this persecution.

3: An investigation of the Warrant Squad and how they were charged, and how they went about, in serving the warrant at Juanita Young's house on October 27th.

Sign Petition Here:


VIDEO INTERVIEW: Dan Berger on Political Prisoners in the United States
By Angola 3 News
Angola 3 News
37 years ago in Louisiana, 3 young black men were silenced for trying to expose continued segregation, systematic corruption, and horrific abuse in the biggest prison in the US, an 18,000-acre former slave plantation called Angola. In 1972 and 1973 prison officials charged Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox, and Robert King with murders they did not commit and threw them into 6x9 ft. cells in solitary confinement, for over 36 years. Robert was freed in 2001, but Herman and Albert remain behind bars.

Taking Aim Radio Program with
Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone
The Chimera of Capitalist Recovery, Parts 1 and 2



The San Francisco Board of Education has re-installed the Junior Reserve Officer's Training Corps in San Francisco schools -- including allowing it to count for Physical Education credits.

This is a complete reversal of the 2006 decision to end JROTC altogether in San Francisco public schools. Our children need a good physical education program, not a death education program!

With the economy in crisis; jobs and higher education for youth more unattainable; the lure, lies and false promises of military recruiters is driving more and more of our children into the military trap.

This is an economic draft and the San Francisco Board of Education is helping to snare our children to provide cannon fodder for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and for over 700 U.S. military bases around the world!

We can't depend upon "friendly politicians" who, while they are campaigning for office claim they are against the wars but when they get elected vote in favor of military recruitment--the economic draft--in our schools. We can't depend upon them. That has been proven beyond doubt!

It is up to all of us to come together to stop this NOW!


Write, call, pester and ORGANIZE against the re-institution of JROTC in our San Francisco public schools NOW!

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein
Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

San Francisco Board of Education
555 Franklin Street, 1st Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
415/241-6427, (415) 241-6493



For a donation of only $18.95, we can put a copy of the book "10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military" into a public or high school library of your choice. [Reason number 1: You may be killed]

A letter and bookplate will let readers know that your donation helped make this possible.

Putting a book in either a public or school library ensures that students, parents, and members of the community will have this valuable information when they need it.

Don't have a library you would like us to put it in? We'll find one for you!


This is a must-see video about the life of Oscar Grant, a young man who loved his family and was loved by his family. It's important to watch to understand the tremendous loss felt by his whole family as a result of his cold-blooded murder by BART police officers--Johannes Mehserle being the shooter while the others held Oscar down and handcuffed him to aid Mehserle in the murder of Oscar Grant January 1, 2009.

The family wants to share this video here with you who support justice for Oscar Grant.



Urgent: Ahmad Sa'adat transferred to isolation in Ramon prison!

Imprisoned Palestinian national leader Ahmad Sa'adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was transferred on August 11, 2009 to Ramon prison in the Naqab desert from Asqelan prison, where he had been held for a number of months. He remains in isolation; prior to his transfer from Asqelan, he had been held since August 1 in a tiny isolation cell of 140 cm x 240 cm after being penalized for communicating with another prisoner in the isolation unit.

Attorney Buthaina Duqmaq, president of the Mandela Association for prisoners' and detainees' rights, reported that this transfer is yet another continuation of the policy of repression and isolation directed at Sa'adat by the Israeli prison administration, aimed at undermining his steadfastness and weakening his health and his leadership in the prisoners' movement. Sa'adat has been moved repeatedly from prison to prison and subject to fines, harsh conditions, isolation and solitary confinement, and medical neglect. Further reports have indicated that he is being denied attorney visits upon his transfer to Ramon.

Ahmad Sa'adat undertook a nine-day hunger strike in June in order to protest the increasing use of isolation against Palestinian prisoners and the denial of prisoners' rights, won through long and hard struggle. The isolation unit at Ramon prison is reported to be one of the worst isolation units in terms of conditions and repeated violations of prisoners' rights in the Israeli prison system.

Sa'adat is serving a 30 year sentence in Israeli military prisons. He was sentenced on December 25, 2008 after a long and illegitimate military trial on political charges, which he boycotted. He was kidnapped by force in a military siege on the Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho, where he had been held since 2002 under U.S., British and PA guard.

Sa'adat is suffering from back injuries that require medical assistance and treatment. Instead of receiving the medical care he needs, the Israeli prison officials are refusing him access to specialists and engaging in medical neglect and maltreatment.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat demands an end to this isolation and calls upon all to protest at local Israeli embassies and consulates (the list is available at: About+the+Ministry/Diplomatic+mission/Web+Sites+of+Israeli+ Missions+Abroad.htm) and to write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations to exercise their responsibilities and act swiftly to demand that the Israelis ensure that Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners receive needed medical care and that this punitive isolation be ended. Email the ICRC, whose humanitarian mission includes monitoring the conditions of prisoners, at, and inform them about the urgent situation of Ahmad Sa'adat!

Ahmad Sa'adat has been repeatedly moved in an attempt to punish him for his steadfastness and leadership and to undermine his leadership in the prisoners' movement. Of course, these tactics have done nothing of the sort. The Palestinian prisoners are daily on the front lines, confronting Israeli oppression and crimes. Today, it is urgent that we stand with Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners against these abuses, and for freedom for all Palestinian prisoners and for all of Palestine!

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat


Troy Anthony Davis is an African American man who has spent the last 18 years on death row for a murder he did not commit. There is no physical evidence tying him to the crime and seven out of nine witnesses have recanted. New evidence and new testimony have been presented to the Georgia courts, but the justice system refuses to consider this evidence, which would prove Troy Davis' innocence once and for all.

Sign the petition and join the NAACP, Amnesty International USA, and other partners in demanding justice for Troy Davis!

For Now, High Court Punts on Troy Davis, on Death Row for 18 Years
By Ashby Jones
Wall Street Journal Law Blog
June 30, 2009

Take action now:


Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 2012
New York, NY 10159-2012

New videos from April 24 Oakland Mumia event

Donations for Mumia's Legal Defense in the U.S. Our legal effort is the front line of the battle for Mumia's freedom and life. His legal defense needs help. The costs are substantial for our litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court and at the state level. To help, please make your checks payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation (indicate "Mumia" on the bottom left). All donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Code, section 501(c)(3), and should be mailed to:

It is outrageous and a violation of human rights that Mumia remains in prison and on death row. His life hangs in the balance. My career has been marked by successfully representing people facing death in murder cases. I will not rest until we win Mumia's case. Justice requires no less.

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


Short Video About Al-Awda's Work
The following link is to a short video which provides an overview of Al-Awda's work since the founding of our organization in 2000. This video was first shown on Saturday May 23, 2009 at the fundraising banquet of the 7th Annual Int'l Al-Awda Convention in Anaheim California. It was produced from footage collected over the past nine years.
Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, depends on your financial support to carry out its work.

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!


FLASHPOINTS Interview with Innocent San Quentin Death Row Inmate
Kevin Cooper -- Aired Monday, May 18,2009
To learn more about Kevin Cooper go to:
San Francisco Chronicle article on the recent ruling:
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and dissent:


Support the troops who refuse to fight!




1) Obama's Address on the War in Afghanistan -- Text
December 2, 2009

2) Between the Lines, an Expansion in Pakistan
December 2, 2009

3) Message to Obama: You Can't Have Muhammad Ali
By Dave Zirin
December 3, 2009

4) Rhetoric and Reality:
Masking War Escalation as a Withdrawal Plan
The anti-war movement responds
to President Obama's speech
Statement from the ANSWER Coalition

5) Immigration Detention System Lapses Detailed
December 3, 2009

6) We May Be Born With an Urge to Help
December 1, 2009

7) Last conspiracy charge in the SF 8 case dropped - Dec 3 court report
Date: 12/3/2009 12:12:38 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: cdhrsupport@ freedomarchives. org

8) Reform or Else
Op-Ed Columnist
December 4, 2009

9) C.I.A. to Expand Use of Drones in Pakistan
December 4, 2009

10) Gates Says Afghan Drawdown Timing Is Flexible
"...the pace of the withdrawal would be determined by 'conditions on the ground.'"
December 4, 2009

11) Abortion Battle Shifts to Clinic in Nebraska
December 4, 2009

12) Panel Criticizes Military's Use of Embedded Anthropologists
December 4, 2009

13) No Testimony From Judges in Prosecution of Radio Host
"Mr. Turner's lawyers have said he was protected by the First Amendment as an Internet broadcaster and blogger. They have also argued that because Mr. Turner was once an F.B.I. informer, he should be shielded from prosecution. They argued that the agents had told Mr. Turner what he could say on the Internet without violating the law."
December 4, 2009

14) An Underemployed Victim of the Recession, Now Ill and Facing Eviction
The Neediest Cases
December 4, 2009


1) Obama's Address on the War in Afghanistan -- Text
December 2, 2009

Following is the text of President Obama's address on a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, as released by the White House on Tuesday:

Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets, to the men and women of our Armed Services, and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan -- the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion. It's an extraordinary honor for me to do so here at West Point -- where so many men and women have prepared to stand up for our security, and to represent what is finest about our country.

To address these important issues, it's important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions of passengers onboard one of those flights, they could have also struck at one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killed many more.

As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda -- a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world's great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents. Al Qaeda's base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban -- a ruthless, repressive and radical movement that seized control of that country after it was ravaged by years of Soviet occupation and civil war, and after the attention of America and our friends had turned elsewhere.

Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them -- an authorization that continues to this day. The vote in the Senate was 98 to nothing. The vote in the House was 420 to 1. For the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization invoked Article 5 -- the commitment that says an attack on one member nation is an attack on all. And the United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks. America, our allies and the world were acting as one to destroy al Qaeda's terrorist network and to protect our common security.

Under the banner of this domestic unity and international legitimacy -- and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden -- we sent our troops into Afghanistan. Within a matter of months, al Qaeda was scattered and many of its operatives were killed. The Taliban was driven from power and pushed back on its heels. A place that had known decades of fear now had reason to hope. At a conference convened by the U.N., a provisional government was established under President Hamid Karzai. And an International Security Assistance Force was established to help bring a lasting peace to a war-torn country.

Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war, in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq war is well-known and need not be repeated here. It's enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq war drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention -- and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world.

Today, after extraordinary costs, we are bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end. We will remove our combat brigades from Iraq by the end of next summer, and all of our troops by the end of 2011. That we are doing so is a testament to the character of the men and women in uniform. (Applause.) Thanks to their courage, grit and perseverance, we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people.

But while we've achieved hard-earned milestones in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. After escaping across the border into Pakistan in 2001 and 2002, al Qaeda's leadership established a safe haven there. Although a legitimate government was elected by the Afghan people, it's been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, an under-developed economy, and insufficient security forces.

Over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with al Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government. Gradually, the Taliban has begun to control additional swaths of territory in Afghanistan, while engaging in increasingly brazen and devastating attacks of terrorism against the Pakistani people.

Now, throughout this period, our troop levels in Afghanistan remained a fraction of what they were in Iraq. When I took office, we had just over 32,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan, compared to 160,000 in Iraq at the peak of the war. Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive. And that's why, shortly after taking office, I approved a longstanding request for more troops. After consultations with our allies, I then announced a strategy recognizing the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan and the extremist safe havens in Pakistan. I set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and pledged to better coordinate our military and civilian efforts.

Since then, we've made progress on some important objectives. High-ranking al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed, and we've stepped up the pressure on al Qaeda worldwide. In Pakistan, that nation's army has gone on its largest offensive in years. In Afghanistan, we and our allies prevented the Taliban from stopping a presidential election, and -- although it was marred by fraud -- that election produced a government that is consistent with Afghanistan's laws and constitution.

Yet huge challenges remain. Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backwards. There's no imminent threat of the government being overthrown, but the Taliban has gained momentum. Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border. And our forces lack the full support they need to effectively train and partner with Afghan security forces and better secure the population. Our new commander in Afghanistan -- General McChrystal -- has reported that the security situation is more serious than he anticipated. In short: The status quo is not sustainable.

As cadets, you volunteered for service during this time of danger. Some of you fought in Afghanistan. Some of you will deploy there. As your Commander-in-Chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined, and worthy of your service. And that's why, after the Afghan voting was completed, I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy. Now, let me be clear: There has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war during this review period. Instead, the review has allowed me to ask the hard questions, and to explore all the different options, along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and our key partners. And given the stakes involved, I owed the American people -- and our troops -- no less.

This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.

I do not make this decision lightly. I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force, and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions. We have been at war now for eight years, at enormous cost in lives and resources. Years of debate over Iraq and terrorism have left our unity on national security issues in tatters, and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort. And having just experienced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American people are understandably focused on rebuilding our economy and putting people to work here at home.

Most of all, I know that this decision asks even more of you -- a military that, along with your families, has already borne the heaviest of all burdens. As President, I have signed a letter of condolence to the family of each American who gives their life in these wars. I have read the letters from the parents and spouses of those who deployed. I visited our courageous wounded warriors at Walter Reed. I've traveled to Dover to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans returning home to their final resting place. I see firsthand the terrible wages of war. If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow.

So, no, I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. And this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.

Of course, this burden is not ours alone to bear. This is not just America's war. Since 9/11, al Qaeda's safe havens have been the source of attacks against London and Amman and Bali. The people and governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan are endangered. And the stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them.

These facts compel us to act along with our friends and allies. Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.

To meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan. We must deny al Qaeda a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan's future.

We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban's momentum and increase Afghanistan's capacity over the next 18 months.

The 30,000 additional troops that I'm announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 -- the fastest possible pace -- so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They'll increase our ability to train competent Afghan security forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.

Because this is an international effort, I've asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we're confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. And now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what's at stake is not simply a test of NATO's credibility -- what's at stake is the security of our allies, and the common security of the world.

But taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We'll continue to advise and assist Afghanistan's security forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government -- and, more importantly, to the Afghan people -- that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.

Second, we will work with our partners, the United Nations, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy, so that the government can take advantage of improved security.

This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over. President Karzai's inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction. And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance. We'll support Afghan ministries, governors, and local leaders that combat corruption and deliver for the people. We expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable. And we will also focus our assistance in areas -- such as agriculture -- that can make an immediate impact in the lives of the Afghan people.

The people of Afghanistan have endured violence for decades. They've been confronted with occupation -- by the Soviet Union, and then by foreign al Qaeda fighters who used Afghan land for their own purposes. So tonight, I want the Afghan people to understand -- America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country. We will support efforts by the Afghan government to open the door to those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens. And we will seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect -- to isolate those who destroy; to strengthen those who build; to hasten the day when our troops will leave; and to forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron.

Third, we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan.

We're in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That's why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border.

In the past, there have been those in Pakistan who've argued that the struggle against extremism is not their fight, and that Pakistan is better off doing little or seeking accommodation with those who use violence. But in recent years, as innocents have been killed from Karachi to Islamabad, it has become clear that it is the Pakistani people who are the most endangered by extremism. Public opinion has turned. The Pakistani army has waged an offensive in Swat and South Waziristan. And there is no doubt that the United States and Pakistan share a common enemy.

In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interest, mutual respect, and mutual trust. We will strengthen Pakistan's capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear. America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan's democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistan people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan's security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.

These are the three core elements of our strategy: a military effort to create the conditions for a transition; a civilian surge that reinforces positive action; and an effective partnership with Pakistan.

I recognize there are a range of concerns about our approach. So let me briefly address a few of the more prominent arguments that I've heard, and which I take very seriously.

First, there are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. They argue that it cannot be stabilized, and we're better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. I believe this argument depends on a false reading of history. Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action. Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now -- and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance -- would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.

Second, there are those who acknowledge that we can't leave Afghanistan in its current state, but suggest that we go forward with the troops that we already have. But this would simply maintain a status quo in which we muddle through, and permit a slow deterioration of conditions there. It would ultimately prove more costly and prolong our stay in Afghanistan, because we would never be able to generate the conditions needed to train Afghan security forces and give them the space to take over.

Finally, there are those who oppose identifying a time frame for our transition to Afghan responsibility. Indeed, some call for a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort -- one that would commit us to a nation-building project of up to a decade. I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what can be achieved at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests. Furthermore, the absence of a time frame for transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government. It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.

As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests. And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces. I don't have the luxury of committing to just one. Indeed, I'm mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who -- in discussing our national security -- said, "Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs."

Over the past several years, we have lost that balance. We've failed to appreciate the connection between our national security and our economy. In the wake of an economic crisis, too many of our neighbors and friends are out of work and struggle to pay the bills. Too many Americans are worried about the future facing our children. Meanwhile, competition within the global economy has grown more fierce. So we can't simply afford to ignore the price of these wars.

All told, by the time I took office the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached a trillion dollars. Going forward, I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly $30 billion for the military this year, and I'll work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.

But as we end the war in Iraq and transition to Afghan responsibility, we must rebuild our strength here at home. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people, and allows investment in new industry. And it will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last. That's why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended -- because the nation that I'm most interested in building is our own.

Now, let me be clear: None of this will be easy. The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will be an enduring test of our free society, and our leadership in the world. And unlike the great power conflicts and clear lines of division that defined the 20th century, our effort will involve disorderly regions, failed states, diffuse enemies.

So as a result, America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict -- not just how we wage wars. We'll have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power. Where al Qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold -- whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere -- they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.

And we can't count on military might alone. We have to invest in our homeland security, because we can't capture or kill every violent extremist abroad. We have to improve and better coordinate our intelligence, so that we stay one step ahead of shadowy networks.

We will have to take away the tools of mass destruction. And that's why I've made it a central pillar of my foreign policy to secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and to pursue the goal of a world without them -- because every nation must understand that true security will never come from an endless race for ever more destructive weapons; true security will come for those who reject them.

We'll have to use diplomacy, because no one nation can meet the challenges of an interconnected world acting alone. I've spent this year renewing our alliances and forging new partnerships. And we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim world -- one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict, and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.

And finally, we must draw on the strength of our values -- for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not. That's why we must promote our values by living them at home -- which is why I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom and justice and opportunity and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are. That is the source, the moral source, of America's authority.

Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, and the service and sacrifice of our grandparents and great-grandparents, our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. We have spilled American blood in many countries on multiple continents. We have spent our revenue to help others rebuild from rubble and develop their own economies. We have joined with others to develop an architecture of institutions -- from the United Nations to NATO to the World Bank -- that provide for the common security and prosperity of human beings.

We have not always been thanked for these efforts, and we have at times made mistakes. But more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades -- a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, and markets open, and billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress and advancing frontiers of human liberty.

For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation's resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for -- what we continue to fight for -- is a better future for our children and grandchildren. And we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity. (Applause.)

As a country, we're not as young -- and perhaps not as innocent -- as we were when Roosevelt was President. Yet we are still heirs to a noble struggle for freedom. And now we must summon all of our might and moral suasion to meet the challenges of a new age.

In the end, our security and leadership does not come solely from the strength of our arms. It derives from our people -- from the workers and businesses who will rebuild our economy; from the entrepreneurs and researchers who will pioneer new industries; from the teachers that will educate our children, and the service of those who work in our communities at home; from the diplomats and Peace Corps volunteers who spread hope abroad; and from the men and women in uniform who are part of an unbroken line of sacrifice that has made government of the people, by the people, and for the people a reality on this Earth. (Applause.)

This vast and diverse citizenry will not always agree on every issue -- nor should we. But I also know that we, as a country, cannot sustain our leadership, nor navigate the momentous challenges of our time, if we allow ourselves to be split asunder by the same rancor and cynicism and partisanship that has in recent times poisoned our national discourse.

It's easy to forget that when this war began, we were united -- bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. (Applause.) I believe with every fiber of my being that we -- as Americans -- can still come together behind a common purpose. For our values are not simply words written into parchment -- they are a creed that calls us together, and that has carried us through the darkest of storms as one nation, as one people.

America -- we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes. (Applause.)

Thank you. God bless you. May God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)


2) Between the Lines, an Expansion in Pakistan
December 2, 2009

WASHINGTON - President Obama focused his speech on Afghanistan. He left much unsaid about Pakistan, where the main terrorists he is targeting are located, but where he can send no troops.

Mr. Obama could not be very specific about his Pakistan strategy, his advisers conceded on Monday evening. American operations there are classified, most run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Any overt American presence would only fuel anti-Americanism in a country that reacts sharply to every missile strike against extremists that kills civilians as well, and that fears the United States is plotting to run its government and seize its nuclear weapons.

Yet quietly, Mr. Obama has authorized an expansion of the war in Pakistan as well - if only he can get a weak, divided, suspicious Pakistani government to agree to the terms.

In recent months, in addition to providing White House officials with classified assessments about Afghanistan, the C.I.A. delivered a plan for widening the campaign of strikes against militants by drone aircraft in Pakistan, sending additional spies there and securing a White House commitment to bulk up the C.I.A.'s budget for operations inside the country.

The expanded operations could include drone strikes in the southern province of Baluchistan, where senior Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding, officials said. It is from there that they direct many of the attacks on American troops, attacks that are likely to increase as more Americans pour into Afghanistan.

"The president endorsed an intensification of the campaign against Al Qaeda and its violent allies, including even more operations targeting terrorism safe havens," said one American official. "More people, more places, more operations."

That was the message delivered in recent weeks to Pakistani officials by Gen. James L. Jones, the national security adviser. But the Pakistanis, suspicious of Mr. Obama's intentions and his staying power, have not yet agreed.

General Jones was one of a series of American officials who arrived in Pakistan in recent weeks with the same message: no matter how many troops the president commits to Afghanistan, the strategy will founder unless the safe haven inside Pakistan is dealt with.

However, the United States does not have much leverage and is counting on a new attitude and a huge acceleration of efforts from a weak government. Making matters worse, the president, Asif Ali Zardari, is often at odds with the nation's powerful military and intelligence establishment.

The question about Mr. Obama's Pakistan strategy is whether the new commitment of troops and resources can ultimately make America safer at a time of an evolving terrorist threat. Mr. Obama insisted that was his central focus.

"This is the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by Al Qaeda," he said to the cadets at West Point, speaking of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the murky border area between the two that offers refuge to extremists of many stripes. The region was the birthplace of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he said, and "it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak." Many times in the speech he returned to that threat, saying it was what made this war different from Vietnam.

And he referenced another threat, one that focuses the attention of Mr. Obama's national security team daily, but which it speaks about rarely.

"The stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that Al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them," he said.

Mr. Obama's decision to raise the nuclear specter was notable because a succession of American officials have publicly stated recently that the Pakistani arsenal is secure. In private, however, they have commissioned new intelligence studies on how vulnerable Pakistani warheads and laboratories would be if insurgents made greater inroads, with one official saying recently, "It is the scenario we spend the most time thinking about."

Even if Mr. Obama is successful in lessening the terrorist threat in the region, many analysts say that Al Qaeda has changed into a transnational movement beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"There is no direct impact on stopping terrorists around the world because we are or are not in Afghanistan," said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, the former C.I.A. officer who was sent into Pakistan after 9/11 to determine if Osama bin Laden had access to the country's nuclear technology. The nature of modern terrorism, Mr. Mowatt-Larssen, now at Harvard, argued, is that a safe haven can be moved to many different states, and the bigger threat exists in cells, including in Europe and the United States.

Even Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, acknowledged in an interview this evening that the steps announced by the president would not address Al Qaeda cells in Africa or the Middle East, or even homegrown extremists. But she argued that he had to begin somewhere.

"Can you totally eliminate the threat from Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda types in Yemen or Somalia? No," she said. "But what you have done is taken a major action to limit their ability out of this major theater, from which their leaders and major actions emanate."

Making the Pakistan plan even more complex was Mr. Obama's effort to reconcile two seemingly contradictory messages on Tuesday evening. He had to convince the Pakistanis that he was not planning to leave the region - as the United States did 20 years ago, after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan - while reassuring American citizens that after an 18-month buildup, he would begin to head for the exits.

The United States, he said, simply could not afford an open-ended war. Unlike President Bush, he suggested, he would not set "goals that are beyond what we can achieve at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests."

Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting.


3) Message to Obama: You Can't Have Muhammad Ali
By Dave Zirin
December 3, 2009

On November 19th, President Barack Obama wrote a stirring tribute in USA Today to the most famous draft resister in US history, Muhammad Ali. On Tuesday, Obama spoke at West Point, calling for an increase of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan, with a speech that recalled the worst shadings of George W. Bush's "war on terror."

On November 19th, Obama wrote about why Ali's photo hangs over his desk, praising "The Greatest" for "his unique ability to summon extraordinary strength and courage in the face of adversity, to navigate the storm and never lose his way." On Tuesday, Obama showed neither courage nor strength but the worst kind of imperial arrogance. He asserted America's right to go into a deeply impoverished country that - from Alexander the Great to the USSR to today - has made clear to the world's empires that it wants to be left the hell alone.

On Tuesday, Obama summoned the spectre of 9/11 and said, "It is easy to forget that when this war began, we were united--bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear." He didn't mention how many innocent Afghans had already died in eight years of "horrific attacks" on their homeland or how many would die in the months ahead, defending their own homeland.

On November 19th, Obama praised Ali as "a force for reconciliation and peace around the world." On Tuesday the Nobel Peace Prize winner, reconciled himself with war.

Would that Muhammad Ali still had his voice. Would that Parkinson's disease and dementia had not robbed us of his razor-sharp tongue.

Today, Ali has been described as "America's only living saint." But like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, both postage stamps before people, Ali has had his political teeth extracted.

But in a time when billions go to war and prisons while 50% of children will be on food stamps for the coming year, we can't afford Ali, the harmless icon. Maybe Muhammad Ali has been robbed of speech, but I think we can safely guess what the Champ would say in the face of Obama's war. We can safely guess, because he said it perfectly four decades ago:

"Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No, I'm not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here..... If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people, they wouldn't have to draft me, I'd join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I'll go to jail, so what? We've been in jail for 400 years."

Replace Vietnam with Afghanistan and it's a message Barack Obama and our troops need to hear. But we shouldn't wait for some celebrity or athlete to make that statement for us. Muhammad Ali may have helped shape the 1960s, but those years of resistance also shaped him. We need to rebuild the movement against war. We need to revive the real Muhammad Ali to inspire draft resistors of the future. We need to reclaim Ali from warmongers who would use his image to sell a war that will create more orphans than peace. This is the struggle of our lives and we have the Nobel-minted President of the United States on the other side of the barricades. Barack Obama can have the fawning media, the oadring generals, the RNC, and the liberal apologists on his side. But he can't have the Champ. Remove that poster from your wall Mr. President. Your Ali privileges have been revoked.

[Dave Zirin is the author of "A People's History of Sports in the United States" (The New Press) Receive his column every week by emailing . Contact him at .]


4) Rhetoric and Reality:
Masking War Escalation as a Withdrawal Plan
The anti-war movement responds
to President Obama's speech
Statement from the ANSWER Coalition

Rhetoric and Reality:
Masking War Escalation as a Withdrawal Plan

The U.S. cannot "win" the war in Afghanistan. It was losing the war when Barack Obama took office. In March 2009, President Obama ordered another 30,000 troops. Rather than reverse the outcome, the U.S. and NATO effort lost even more ground. Now President Obama has ordered another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Attempting to deflect growing opposition to the announcement of his dramatic escalation of the war in Afghanistan, President Obama is simultaneously claiming that U.S. troops will start to be withdrawn in July 2011.

The Generals and Admirals, and now the White House, are unwilling to accept responsibility for a military setback. The President knows they cannot win and yet is unwilling to leave. Since no leader is willing to take responsibility, they are instead sending thousands more to their deaths.

Bush and Cheney ordered the invasion thinking it would be easy going. They thought Iraq would be easy, too. They were going to wipe out the governments in Iran, Syria and North Korea. This colonial-type fantasy, nourished by "great nation" arrogance and the acquiescence of a caste of corrupt politicians in Congress, set the stage for the current catastrophe of a war without end.

After eight years of war, more than 140 armed insurgent groups of Afghans now exist as a response to the invasion and they control large parts of the country. The people in Afghanistan perceive the occupation as a colonial-type takeover of their country. September 11 was a pretext, but there were no Afghans or Iraqis who hijacked the planes. The people of Afghanistan, like the people in Vietnam, will never accept foreign military occupation in their country.

In the 1968 election Nixon ran on a platform of a "secret peace plan" for Vietnam. In reality, Nixon's "peace plan" meant more bombing of Vietnam, expansion of the war into Cambodia, and "Vietnamization" - the building up of the South Vietnamese puppet army under the direction of U.S. "advisors." The puppet army was supposed to do the fighting and dying in the place of U.S. troops in an increasingly unpopular war.

The new plan for Afghanistan calls for more bombing and drone attacks, and "Afghanization" - the building up of a puppet Afghan army trained and led by U.S. commanders. This follows President Obama's escalation of massive bombing of the people of Pakistan.

Bush Policy - Obama Policy

On Jan. 20, the day that Barack Obama took the oath of office, a government helicopter carrying George W. Bush lifted off and made the ceremonial flight away from the nation's capital, signaling the end of one era and the start of a new administration.

It was a remarkable event to witness. As the Bush helicopter passed over the inaugural throng, millions of people on the ground started cheering spontaneously. The official pomp of the transfer of power was overwhelmed by the euphoria of those who hated Bush and his policies.

But was there a transfer of power? The personalities change, but the institutions of militarism, war and empire remain intact.

Since Obama took over as president, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan has nearly doubled, and that's before the new deployment of 30,000 more soldiers.

Today, less than a year since Bush departed, there are actually more combined U.S. military forces occupying Iraq and Afghanistan than at any time during Bush's tenure. Between official military forces, private mercenaries and other contractors, by the middle of 2010 there will be nearly a half-million U.S. personnel in the two countries.

At a time of deep economic crisis, with tens of millions out of work and losing their homes, the cost of the wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq is already running at over $225 billion per year or $1.2 billion every two days. Escalating the war will escalate that cost.

The war is not about "the security of the people of the United States being at stake." If it was, there could be no talk about exit strategies and announced plans for withdrawal.

Starting today, there will be a growing escalation of anti-war protests in the United States. Tonight and tomorrow there are demonstrations across the country.

On Saturday, March 20, 2010, tens of thousands will march in Washington, D.C., with coinciding mass actions in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Real change comes from below. It comes from the millions who are suffering from unemployment, foreclosure, evictions and poverty. It comes from the young people who are being driven from college because of soaring tuition. The children of working-class families are the ones who do the bleeding and the killing, and they are told they do it for "national security."

This is not our war. This is a war for empire, one that has gone very badly for the occupying force. How many more will die for the U.S. to avoid the appearance of defeat?

The ANSWER Coalition, in partnership with scores of organizations and echoing the sentiment of millions of people who want the wars to end, will be in the streets today, tomorrow and in the months to come. That is now clearly the only prescription to end the violence and occupation of the American Empire.


5) Immigration Detention System Lapses Detailed
December 3, 2009

Growing numbers of noncitizens, including legal immigrants, are held unnecessarily and transferred heedlessly in an expensive immigration detention system that denies many of them basic fairness, a bipartisan study group and a human rights organization concluded in reports released jointly on Wednesday.

Confirmation of some of their critical conclusions came separately from the Homeland Security Department's inspector general, in an investigation that found detainee transfers by Immigration and Customs Enforcement were so haphazard that some detainees arrived at a new detention center without having been served a notice of why they were being held, or despite a high probability of being granted bond, or with pending criminal prosecutions or arrest warrants in the previous jurisdiction.

The bipartisan group, the Constitution Project, whose members include Asa Hutchinson, a former under secretary of homeland security, called for sweeping changes in agency policies and amendments to immigration law, including new access to government-appointed counsel for many of those facing deportation.

In its report, the human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, revealed government data showing 1.4 million detainee transfers from 1999 to 2008, most of them since 2006. The transfers are accelerating, the report found, with tens of thousands of longtime residents of cities like Philadelphia and Los Angeles being sent to remote immigration jails in Texas and Louisiana, far from legal counsel and the evidence that might help them win release.

"ICE is increasingly subjecting detainees to a chaotic game of musical chairs, and it's a game with dire consequences," said Alison Parker, deputy director in the United States for the human rights group, and author of its report. The data underlying the report was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of Syracuse University, which issued its own report.

The inspector general's investigation found that the consequences of haphazard transfers include a loss of access to legal counsel and relevant evidence; additional time in detention; and "errors, delays and confusion for detainees, their families, legal representatives" and the immigration courts.

Some detainees were transferred with files lacking a photo and a security classification, field inspectors found in work conducted from October 2008 to February.

Officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is part of Homeland Security, said the agency would issue advisories reminding field offices of 10-year-old national detention standards that require a review of a detainee's "alien file" before any transfer, and reinforcing the need to coordinate with immigration courts.

In August, the Obama administration announced ambitious plans to overhaul immigration detention, a disjointed network that relies heavily on private prisons and county jails. But taken together, the three reports underscore the gap between the plans and the problems on the ground in a system that, according to the inspector general, is estimated to be detaining more than 442,000 people a year - more than double the number in 2003, ICE's first year of operation.

John T. Morton, director of the immigration agency, envisions a "truly civil detention system" shaped by more centralized agency control. In contrast, the Constitution Project recommends shrinking the use of detention, in part by adding more constitutional safeguards required in the criminal justice system.

"None of the recommendations being made should in any way compromise national security," Mr. Hutchinson said Wednesday in an interview before he presented the report at the National Press Club in Washington. "It simply allows for a more humane and more efficient system."

Immigration law is complex, and the deprivation of liberty is quite similar to the situation in other settings that require court-appointed counsel for the indigent. But 60 percent of noncitizens face deportation without a lawyer, and transfers compound the problem, the reports said.

The immigration agency has said it uses transfers to deal with an imbalance in the number of detention beds at various locations. But the TRAC analysis shows that the number of transfers has grown much more rapidly than the detention population. It found that in the first six months of the 2008 fiscal year, 53 percent of detainees were transferred at least once, and that one in four were transferred multiple times, a fivefold increase since 1999.

Though transfers occur in almost every state, the data show that the jurisdiction receiving the most transferred detainees is the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, covering Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas - which is widely known for decisions hostile to the rights of noncitizens and has the worst ratio of immigration lawyers to detainees, the human rights report said.

A strong case against deportation sometimes simply evaporates in such a transfer, the report said. It cited a Jamaican New Yorker transferred to Texas after three months in detention in New York and New Jersey.

Immigration authorities contended that he should be deported based on two prior convictions for drug possession.

In New York, his drug misdemeanors were not considered an "aggravated felony," and based on the man's 22 years of legal residency and strong family relationships in the United States, he would have been eligible for "cancellation of removal," a form of relief from deportation. In Texas, he was barred from relief based on Fifth Circuit rulings, and deported.

The bipartisan group said the agency makes it too hard for people to avoid detention while challenging deportation. It recommended a significant easing in the burden of proof, and a hardship waiver from mandatory detention for lawful permanent residents.

In what it called "an aspirational goal," it recommended that where free counsel is not available, all indigent noncitizens in standard deportation proceedings have access to a government-paid lawyer. It also urged Congress to give immigration judges discretion to appoint counsel, and to require a lawyer in certain cases, including those involving unaccompanied children and the mentally ill.

Mr. Hutchinson said that the immigration agency could make many other changes immediately, including some that would "correct some potential unfairness in the system" unintentionally left by his own efforts when he was in office.

According to the Human Rights Watch report, a memorandum Mr. Hutchinson issued in 2004 is now used as a loophole to hold detainees for weeks without giving them notice of why the government is seeking to deport them. "This can certainly be tightened up and narrowed," Mr. Hutchinson said.


6) We May Be Born With an Urge to Help
December 1, 2009

What is the essence of human nature? Flawed, say many theologians. Vicious and addicted to warfare, wrote Hobbes. Selfish and in need of considerable improvement, think many parents.

But biologists are beginning to form a generally sunnier view of humankind. Their conclusions are derived in part from testing very young children, and partly from comparing human children with those of chimpanzees, hoping that the differences will point to what is distinctively human.

The somewhat surprising answer at which some biologists have arrived is that babies are innately sociable and helpful to others. Of course every animal must to some extent be selfish to survive. But the biologists also see in humans a natural willingness to help.

When infants 18 months old see an unrelated adult whose hands are full and who needs assistance opening a door or picking up a dropped clothespin, they will immediately help, Michael Tomasello writes in "Why We Cooperate," a book published in October. Dr. Tomasello, a developmental psychologist, is co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

The helping behavior seems to be innate because it appears so early and before many parents start teaching children the rules of polite behavior.

"It's probably safe to assume that they haven't been explicitly and directly taught to do this," said Elizabeth Spelke, a developmental psychologist at Harvard. "On the other hand, they've had lots of opportunities to experience acts of helping by others. I think the jury is out on the innateness question."

But Dr. Tomasello finds the helping is not enhanced by rewards, suggesting that it is not influenced by training. It seems to occur across cultures that have different timetables for teaching social rules. And helping behavior can even be seen in infant chimpanzees under the right experimental conditions. For all these reasons, Dr. Tomasello concludes that helping is a natural inclination, not something imposed by parents or culture.

Infants will help with information, as well as in practical ways. From the age of 12 months they will point at objects that an adult pretends to have lost. Chimpanzees, by contrast, never point at things for each other, and when they point for people, it seems to be as a command to go fetch something rather than to share information.

For parents who may think their children somehow skipped the cooperative phase, Dr. Tomasello offers the reassuring advice that children are often more cooperative outside the home, which is why parents may be surprised to hear from a teacher or coach how nice their child is. "In families, the competitive element is in ascendancy," he said.

As children grow older, they become more selective in their helpfulness. Starting around age 3, they will share more generously with a child who was previously nice to them. Another behavior that emerges at the same age is a sense of social norms. "Most social norms are about being nice to other people," Dr. Tomasello said in an interview, "so children learn social norms because they want to be part of the group."

Children not only feel they should obey these rules themselves, but also that they should make others in the group do the same. Even 3-year-olds are willing to enforce social norms. If they are shown how to play a game, and a puppet then joins in with its own idea of the rules, the children will object, some of them vociferously.

Where do they get this idea of group rules, the sense of "we who do it this way"? Dr. Tomasello believes children develop what he calls "shared intentionality," a notion of what others expect to happen and hence a sense of a group "we." It is from this shared intentionality that children derive their sense of norms and of expecting others to obey them.

Shared intentionality, in Dr. Tomasello's view, is close to the essence of what distinguishes people from chimpanzees. A group of human children will use all kinds of words and gestures to form goals and coordinate activities, but young chimps seem to have little interest in what may be their companions' minds.

If children are naturally helpful and sociable, what system of child-rearing best takes advantage of this surprising propensity? Dr. Tomasello says that the approach known as inductive parenting works best because it reinforces the child's natural propensity to cooperate with others. Inductive parenting is simply communicating with children about the effect of their actions on others and emphasizing the logic of social cooperation.

"Children are altruistic by nature," he writes, and though they are also naturally selfish, all parents need do is try to tip the balance toward social behavior.

The shared intentionality lies at the basis of human society, Dr. Tomasello argues. From it flow ideas of norms, of punishing those who violate the norms and of shame and guilt for punishing oneself. Shared intentionality evolved very early in the human lineage, he believes, and its probable purpose was for cooperation in gathering food. Anthropologists report that when men cooperate in hunting, they can take down large game, which single hunters generally cannot do. Chimpanzees gather to hunt colobus monkeys, but Dr. Tomasello argues this is far less of a cooperative endeavor because the participants act on an ad hoc basis and do not really share their catch.

An interesting bodily reflection of humans' shared intentionality is the sclera, or whites, of the eyes. All 200 or so species of primates have dark eyes and a barely visible sclera. All, that is, except humans, whose sclera is three times as large, a feature that makes it much easier to follow the direction of someone else's gaze. Chimps will follow a person's gaze, but by looking at his head, even if his eyes are closed. Babies follow a person's eyes, even if the experimenter keeps his head still.

Advertising what one is looking at could be a risk. Dr. Tomasello argues that the behavior evolved "in cooperative social groups in which monitoring one another's focus was to everyone's benefit in completing joint tasks."

This could have happened at some point early in human evolution, when in order to survive, people were forced to cooperate in hunting game or gathering fruit. The path to obligatory cooperation - one that other primates did not take - led to social rules and their enforcement, to human altruism and to language.

"Humans putting their heads together in shared cooperative activities are thus the originators of human culture," Dr. Tomasello writes.

A similar conclusion has been reached independently by Hillard S. Kaplan, an anthropologist at the University of New Mexico. Modern humans have lived for most of their existence as hunter gatherers, so much of human nature has presumably been shaped for survival in such conditions. From study of existing hunter gatherer peoples, Dr. Kaplan has found evidence of cooperation woven into many levels of human activity.

The division of labor between men and women - men gather 68 percent of the calories in foraging societies - requires cooperation between the sexes. Young people in these societies consume more than they produce until age 20, which in turn requires cooperation between the generations. This long period of dependency was needed to develop the special skills required for the hunter gatherer way of life.

The structure of early human societies, including their "high levels of cooperation between kin and nonkin," was thus an adaptation to the "specialized foraging niche" of food resources that were too difficult for other primates to capture, Dr. Kaplan and colleagues wrote recently in The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. We evolved to be nice to each other, in other words, because there was no alternative.

Much the same conclusion is reached by Frans de Waal in another book published in October, "The Age of Empathy." Dr. de Waal, a primatologist, has long studied the cooperative side of primate behavior and believes that aggression, which he has also studied, is often overrated as a human motivation.

"We're preprogrammed to reach out," Dr. de Waal writes. "Empathy is an automated response over which we have limited control." The only people emotionally immune to another's situation, he notes, are psychopaths.

Indeed, it is in our biological nature, not our political institutions, that we should put our trust, in his view. Our empathy is innate and cannot be changed or long suppressed. "In fact," Dr. de Waal writes, "I'd argue that biology constitutes our greatest hope. One can only shudder at the thought that the humaneness of our societies would depend on the whims of politics, culture or religion."

The basic sociability of human nature does not mean, of course, that people are nice to each other all the time. Social structure requires that things be done to maintain it, some of which involve negative attitudes toward others. The instinct for enforcing norms is powerful, as is the instinct for fairness. Experiments have shown that people will reject unfair distributions of money even it means they receive nothing.

"Humans clearly evolved the ability to detect inequities, control immediate desires, foresee the virtues of norm following and gain the personal, emotional rewards that come from seeing another punished," write three Harvard biologists, Marc Hauser, Katherine McAuliffe and Peter R. Blake, in reviewing their experiments with tamarin monkeys and young children.

If people do bad things to others in their group, they can behave even worse to those outside it. Indeed the human capacity for cooperation "seems to have evolved mainly for interactions within the local group," Dr. Tomasello writes.

Sociality, the binding together of members of a group, is the first requirement of defense, since without it people will not put the group's interests ahead of their own or be willing to sacrifice their lives in battle. Lawrence H. Keeley, an anthropologist who has traced aggression among early peoples, writes in his book "War Before Civilization" that, "Warfare is ultimately not a denial of the human capacity for cooperation, but merely the most destructive expression of it."

The roots of human cooperation may lie in human aggression. We are selfish by nature, yet also follow rules requiring us to be nice to others.

"That's why we have moral dilemmas," Dr. Tomasello said, "because we are both selfish and altruistic at the same time."


7) Last conspiracy charge in the SF 8 case dropped - Dec 3 court report
Date: 12/3/2009 12:12:38 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: cdhrsupport@ freedomarchives. org

Last conspiracy charge in the SF 8 case dropped

In court today, December 3, the prosecution dropped the conspiracy charge
against Francisco (Cisco) Torres , citing lack of evidence. The defense has
argued from the beginning that the conspiracy charges against the San
Francisco 8 from 37 years ago had no validity because the statute of limitations
passed long ago. The state's motion to dismiss this count two (conspiracy)
tacitly acknowledges the defense arguments which had already led to dismissing
the conspiracy charges against Richard O'Neal, Herman Bell, Hank Jones, Ray
Boudreaux, Richard Brown, and Harold Taylor.

Motion to dismiss: prejudicial delay

The next court date is scheduled for January 7 (at 9:00 a.m. in Department
22) when the defense and prosecution will present to the court a joint
statement of uncontested facts bearing on the defense motion to dismiss the
remaining charge against Cisco (count one, murder) on the grounds of prejudicial
delay. If there are contested facts that either side feels is pertinent to
the determination of the motion to dismiss then the court on January 7 will
decide whether to resolve the issues relative to the contested facts before,
during or after the preliminary hearing.

The Preliminary Hearing remains scheduled for February 18, 2010.

Support Cisco, come to court January 7. Drop all charges!

Please support these brothers by sending a donation. Make checks payable to
CDHR/Agape and mail to the address below or donate on line:

www.freethesf8. org/donate. html

Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR)
PO Box 90221
Pasadena, CA 91109
(415) 226-1120
FreetheSF8@riseup. net

www.freethesf8. org


8) Reform or Else
Op-Ed Columnist
December 4, 2009

Health care reform hangs in the balance. Its fate rests with a handful of "centrist" senators - senators who claim to be mainly worried about whether the proposed legislation is fiscally responsible.

But if they're really concerned with fiscal responsibility, they shouldn't be worried about what would happen if health reform passes. They should, instead, be worried about what would happen if it doesn't pass. For America can't get control of its budget without controlling health care costs - and this is our last, best chance to deal with these costs in a rational way.

Some background: Long-term fiscal projections for the United States paint a grim picture. Unless there are major policy changes, expenditure will consistently grow faster than revenue, eventually leading to a debt crisis.

What's behind these projections? An aging population, which will raise the cost of Social Security, is part of the story. But the main driver of future deficits is the ever-rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid. If health care costs rise in the future as they have in the past, fiscal catastrophe awaits.

You might think, given this picture, that extending coverage to those who would otherwise be uninsured would exacerbate the problem. But you'd be wrong, for two reasons.

First, the uninsured in America are, on average, relatively young and healthy; covering them wouldn't raise overall health care costs very much.

Second, the proposed health care reform links the expansion of coverage to serious cost-control measures for Medicare. Think of it as a grand bargain: coverage for (almost) everyone, tied to an effort to ensure that health care dollars are well spent.

Are we talking about real savings, or just window dressing? Well, the health care economists I respect are seriously impressed by the cost-control measures in the Senate bill, which include efforts to improve incentives for cost-effective care, the use of medical research to guide doctors toward treatments that actually work, and more. This is "the best effort anyone has made," says Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A letter signed by 23 prominent health care experts - including Mark McClellan, who headed Medicare under the Bush administration - declares that the bill's cost-control measures "will reduce long-term deficits."

The fact that we're seeing the first really serious attempt to control health care costs as part of a bill that tries to cover the uninsured seems to confirm what would-be reformers have been saying for years: The path to cost control runs through universality. We can only tackle out-of-control costs as part of a deal that also provides Americans with the security of guaranteed health care.

That observation in itself should make anyone concerned with fiscal responsibility support this reform. Over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office has concluded, the proposed legislation would reduce, not increase, the budget deficit. And by giving us a chance, finally, to rein in the ever-growing spending of Medicare, it would greatly improve our long-run fiscal prospects.

But there's another reason failure to pass reform would be devastating - namely, the nature of the opposition.

The Republican campaign against health care reform has rested in part on the traditional arguments, arguments that go back to the days when Ronald Reagan was trying to scare Americans into opposing Medicare - denunciations of "socialized medicine," claims that universal health coverage is the road to tyranny, etc.

But in the closing rounds of the health care fight, the G.O.P. has focused more and more on an effort to demonize cost-control efforts. The Senate bill would impose "draconian cuts" on Medicare, says Senator John McCain, who proposed much deeper cuts just last year as part of his presidential campaign. "If you're a senior and you're on Medicare, you better be afraid of this bill," says Senator Tom Coburn.

If these tactics work, and health reform fails, think of the message this would convey: It would signal that any effort to deal with the biggest budget problem we face will be successfully played by political opponents as an attack on older Americans. It would be a long time before anyone was willing to take on the challenge again; remember that after the failure of the Clinton effort, it was 16 years before the next try at health reform.

That's why anyone who is truly concerned about fiscal policy should be anxious to see health reform succeed. If it fails, the demagogues will have won, and we probably won't deal with our biggest fiscal problem until we're forced into action by a nasty debt crisis.

So to the centrists still sitting on the fence over health reform: If you care about fiscal responsibility, you better be afraid of what will happen if reform fails.


9) C.I.A. to Expand Use of Drones in Pakistan
December 4, 2009

WASHINGTON - Two weeks ago in Pakistan, Central Intelligence Agency sharpshooters killed eight people suspected of being militants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and wounded two others in a compound that was said to be used for terrorist training.

Then, the job in North Waziristan done, the C.I.A. officers could head home from the agency's Langley, Va., headquarters, facing only the hazards of the area's famously snarled suburban traffic.

It was only the latest strike by the agency's covert program to kill operatives of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their allies using Hellfire missiles fired from Predator aircraft controlled from half a world away.

The White House has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.'s drone program in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas, officials said this week, to parallel the president's decision, announced Tuesday, to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. American officials are talking with Pakistan about the possibility of striking in Baluchistan for the first time - a controversial move since it is outside the tribal areas - because that is where Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to hide.

By increasing covert pressure on Al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan, while ground forces push back the Taliban's advances in Afghanistan, American officials hope to eliminate any haven for militants in the region.

One of Washington's worst-kept secrets, the drone program is quietly hailed by counterterrorism officials as a resounding success, eliminating key terrorists and throwing their operations into disarray. But despite close cooperation from Pakistani intelligence, the program has generated public anger in Pakistan, and some counterinsurgency experts wonder whether it does more harm than good.

Assessments of the drone campaign have relied largely on sketchy reports in the Pakistani press, and some have estimated several hundred civilian casualties. Saying that such numbers are wrong, one government official agreed to speak about the program on the condition of anonymity. About 80 missile attacks from drones in less than two years have killed "more than 400" enemy fighters, the official said, offering a number lower than most estimates but in the same range. His account of collateral damage, however, was strikingly lower than many unofficial counts: "We believe the number of civilian casualties is just over 20, and those were people who were either at the side of major terrorists or were at facilities used by terrorists."

That claim, which the official said reflected the Predators' ability to loiter over a target feeding video images for hours before and after a strike, is likely to come under scrutiny from human rights advocates. Tom Parker, policy director for counterterrorism at Amnesty International, said he found the estimate "unlikely," noting that reassessments of strikes in past wars had usually found civilian deaths undercounted. Mr. Parker said his group was uneasy about drone attacks anyway: "Anything that dehumanizes the process makes it easier to pull the trigger."

Yet with few other tools to use against Al Qaeda, the drone program has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress and was escalated by the Obama administration in January. More C.I.A. drone attacks have been conducted under President Obama than under President George W. Bush. The political consensus in support of the drone program, its antiseptic, high-tech appeal and its secrecy have obscured just how radical it is. For the first time in history, a civilian intelligence agency is using robots to carry out a military mission, selecting people for killing in a country where the United States is not officially at war.

In the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, C.I.A. officials were not eager to embrace killing terrorists from afar with video-game controls, said one former intelligence official. "There was also a lot of reluctance at Langley to get into a lethal program like this," the official said. But officers grew comfortable with the program as they checked off their hit list more than a dozen notorious figures, including Abu Khabab al-Masri, a Qaeda expert on explosives; Rashid Rauf, accused of being the planner of the 2006 trans-Atlantic airliner plot; and Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

The drone warfare pioneered by the C.I.A. in Pakistan and the Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan is the leading edge of a wave of push-button combat that will raise legal, moral and political questions around the world, said P. W. Singer, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and author of the book "Wired for War."

Forty-four countries have unmanned aircraft for surveillance, Mr. Singer said. So far, only the United States and Israel have used the planes for strikes, but that number will grow.

"We're talking about a technology that's not going away," he said.

There is little doubt that "warheads on foreheads," in the macho lingo of intelligence officers, have been disruptive to the militants in Pakistan, removing leaders and fighters, slowing movement and sowing dissension as survivors hunt for spies who may be tipping off the Americans. Yet the drones are unpopular with many Pakistanis, who see them as a violation of their country's sovereignty - one reason the United States refuses to officially acknowledge the attacks. A poll by Gallup Pakistan last summer found only 9 percent of Pakistanis in favor of the attacks and 67 percent against, with a majority ranking the United States as a greater threat to Pakistan than its archrival, India, or the Pakistani Taliban.

Interestingly, residents of the tribal areas where the attacks actually occur, who bitterly resent the militants' brutal rule, are far less critical of the drones, said Farhat Taj, an anthropologist with the Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy. A study of 550 professional people living in the tribal areas was conducted late last year by the institute, a Pakistani research group. About half of those interviewed called the drone strikes "accurate," 6 in 10 said they damaged militant organizations, and almost as many denied they increased anti-Americanism.

Dr. Taj, who lived at the edge of the tribal areas until 2002, said residents would prefer to be protected by the Pakistani Army. "But they feel powerless toward the militants and they see the drones as their liberator," she said.

In an interview this week with the German magazine Der Spiegel, the Pakistani prime minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, said the drone strikes "do no good, because they boost anti-American resentment throughout the country." American officials say that despite such public comments, Pakistan privately supplies crucial intelligence, proposes targets and allows the Predators to take off from a base in Baluchistan.

Pakistan's public criticism of the drone attacks has muddied the legal status of the strikes, which United States officials say are justified as defensive measures against groups that have vowed to attack Americans. Philip Alston, the United Nations' special rapporteur for extrajudicial executions and a prominent critic of the program, has said it is impossible to judge whether the program violates international law without knowing whether Pakistan permits the incursions, how targets are selected and what is done to minimize civilian casualties.

A spokesman for the C.I.A., Paul Gimigliano, defended the program without quite acknowledging its existence. "While the C.I.A. does not comment on reports of Predator operations, the tools we use in the fight against Al Qaeda and its violent allies are exceptionally accurate, precise and effective," he said. "Press reports suggesting that hundreds of Pakistani civilians have somehow been killed as a result of alleged or supposed U.S. activities are - to state what should be obvious under any circumstances - flat-out false."

From 2004 to 2007, the C.I.A. carried out only a handful of strikes. But pressure from the Congressional intelligence committees, greater confidence in the technology and reduced resistance from Pakistan led to a sharp increase starting in the summer of 2008.

Former C.I.A. officials say there is a rigorous protocol for identifying militants, using video from the Predators, intercepted cellphone calls and tips from Pakistani intelligence, often originating with militants' resentful neighbors. Operators at C.I.A. headquarters can use the drones' video feed to study a militant's identity and follow fighters to training areas or weapons caches, officials say. Targeters often can see where wives and children are located in a compound or wait until fighters drive away from a house or village before they are hit.

Mr. Mehsud's wife and parents-in-law were killed with him, but that was an exceptional decision prompted by the rare chance to attack him, the official said.

The New America Foundation, a policy group in Washington, studied press reports and estimated that since 2006 at least 500 militants and 250 civilians had been killed in the drone strikes. A separate count, by The Long War Journal, found 885 militants' deaths and 94 civilians'.

But the government official insisted on the accuracy of his far lower figure of approximately 20 civilian deaths, noting that the Pakistani press rarely reported local protests about civilian deaths, routine occurrences when bombs in Afghanistan have gone astray.

Daniel S. Markey, who studies South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the comments of two anti-Taliban tribal leaders he spoke with on a recent trip to Pakistan seemed to capture the paradox of the drones.

The tribal leaders told him that the strikes were eliminating dangerous militants while causing few civilian deaths. But they pleaded for a halt to the attacks, saying the strikes stirred up anger toward the United States and the Pakistani Army, and "made them look like puppets," he said.

"It gave the lie," Mr. Markey said, "to the argument we've made for a long time: that this fight is theirs, too."


10) Gates Says Afghan Drawdown Timing Is Flexible
"...the pace of the withdrawal would be determined by 'conditions on the ground.'"
December 4, 2009

WASHINGTON - Obama administration officials tried again on Thursday to reassure members of Congress anxious about the military buildup in Afghanistan, telling them repeatedly that American troops can begin to withdraw in July 2011. But the lawmakers seemed more interested in how long the withdrawal would take.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said July 2011 "will be the beginning of a process, an inflection point, if you will, of transition for Afghan forces as they begin to assume greater responsibility for security." He went on to say that the pace of the withdrawal would be determined by "conditions on the ground."

"It will be a gradual but inexorable process," Mr. Gates told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in remarks on President Obama's plan to ship about 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan next year, bringing the total American troops there to about 100,000.

Several members of the Foreign Relations Committee clearly wanted far more specifics than Mr. Gates offered in his nuanced remarks. Indeed, Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, was skeptical even about the July 2011 target date for beginning to bring home the troops, calling it "clearly aspirational."

"Can any of you tell me, after July 2011, that we won't have tens of thousands of troops years after that date?" Mr. Menendez asked Mr. Gates, as well as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who were also testifying.

Mrs. Clinton said the "best information available at the moment" pointed to July 2011 as the pivotal moment. But she said that the withdrawal of troops would go on "probably for the foreseeable future," as would requests for "continuing logistical support for the Afghan security force."

Moreover, Mrs. Clinton said, despite the "limited" duration of the American military presence in Afghanistan, "our civilian commitment must continue, even as our troops begin coming home."

"We will be asking the young men and women, who not only serve in the military but are part of our civilian service team, to be taking great risks and facing extraordinary sacrifices," she said, adding that "we will do everything we can to ensure that their sacrifices make our nation safer."

As they have before, Mrs. Clinton and the Pentagon officials asserted, sometimes in the face of skeptics, that problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan must be dealt with together, and that terrorists from Al Qaeda and the Taliban insurgents are part of the same threat, even if they do not always coordinate their efforts.

The officials asserted, too, that the plans to withdraw American troops were definite enough, with the July 2011 starting date, to pressure the Afghan government to assume its responsibilities, yet flexible enough to meet the needs of the American military.

"It's not arbitrary at all," Admiral Mullen said, calling 2011 the right time to begin the transition to full Afghan control "responsibly and based on conditions."

Some members of Congress, notably Senator John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, have argued that it is unwise to set even an initial withdrawal date because doing so encourages an enemy. But Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the foreign relations panel, disagreed. Setting a target date "will help create a sense of urgency" among Afghans, Mr. Kerry said.

"And for the Afghans who chafe at foreign boots on their soil, it sends a message that while America will remain committed to the Afghan people, we aren't interested in a permanent occupation," Mr. Kerry said.

Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, wanted to know just what "conditions on the ground" would indicate that the withdrawal process could begin.

Mrs. Clinton said, "I think you raised a very profoundly important question." Part of the answer, she said, is "decentralization of government's function and authority" to reflect the way the mountainous, mostly rural country actually operates.

The Obama administration has tried to distinguish its efforts in Afghanistan from what it has characterized as the Bush administration's overly ambitious goals to build a democratic government in Iraq. Mr. Kerry said he was pleased that the approach to Afghanistan that Mr. Obama laid out did not amount to "an open-ended nation-building exercise or a nationwide counterinsurgency campaign."

But the difference between engaging in "nation-building" and propping up a fledgling Afghan government may not always be easy to discern. For instance, Mrs. Clinton said that America's commitment to Afghanistan was reflected not only by the presence of American troops but also by the significant commitment of American civilians in the country.

"Civilian experts and advisers are helping to craft policy inside government ministries," Mrs. Clinton said, adding that financial aid for those ministries would not be released until American overseers had confidence in them.

At another point, Admiral Mullen noted that the development of a reliable Afghan Army had been slow because "the Taliban make a lot more money than the national security forces right now." (The opium trade is a primary source of income for the Taliban.)

But, Admiral Mullen said, the American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, is seeing to it that that the Afghan forces' pay is being increased significantly, "which we think will have an impact."

An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed comments about the withdrawal of American forces to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. They were made by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.


11) Abortion Battle Shifts to Clinic in Nebraska
December 4, 2009

BELLEVUE, Neb. - The national battle over abortion, for decades firmly planted outside the Kansas clinic of Dr. George R. Tiller, has erupted here in suburban Omaha, where a longtime colleague has taken up the cause of late-term abortions.

Since Dr. Tiller was shot to death in May, his colleague, Dr. LeRoy H. Carhart, has hired two people who worked at Dr. Tiller's clinic and has trained his own staff members in the technical intricacies of performing late-term abortions.

Dr. Carhart has also begun performing some abortions "past 24 weeks," he said in an interview, and is prepared to perform them still later if they meet legal requirements and if he considers them medically necessary.

"There is a need, and I feel deeply about it," said Dr. Carhart, visibly weary after a day when eight patients had appointments at his clinic here.

The late-term abortions, coming after the earliest point when a fetus might survive outside the womb, are the most controversial, even among some who favor abortion rights. A few of Dr. Carhart's employees quit when he told them of his plans to expand the clinic's work.

Opponents of abortion, who had devoted decades to trying to stop Dr. Tiller's business with protests and calls for investigations, are now turning their efforts to stopping Dr. Carhart. Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group, said he had traveled from the group's headquarters in Wichita, Kan., to Nebraska six times in recent months, portraying this suburb of fewer than 50,000 as a new battlefield in the abortion fight.

"We're trying to get criminal charges against him, to get his license revoked, and to get legislators there to look at the law," Mr. Newman said of Dr. Carhart.

State law in Nebraska bans abortions in cases when a fetus clearly appears to have reached viability, except to "preserve the life or health of the mother."

Abortion-rights advocates say the need exists for late-term abortions, in cases of extraordinary genetic defects and other dire health circumstances, and some had worried that only a few physicians would be willing to provide such care after Dr. Tiller's killing, an act prosecutors say was carried out by an abortion foe.

"He's standing up, and so are some others," Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, said of Dr. Carhart.

A few other doctors have long performed late-term abortions, and some said both the threats against them and their efforts at security had increased since Dr. Tiller's death.

Dr. Carhart, 68, knew Dr. Tiller for years, and would make regular trips to his clinic in Wichita to perform abortions there, as other physicians did. Though Dr. Tiller's clinic was not the only one in the country performing late-term abortions, it was a focal point for controversy. Operation Rescue even moved its headquarters to Wichita because of Dr. Tiller's practice.

Dr. Carhart, who has been performing abortions since the 1970s, is no stranger to the debate; he has been a litigant in two abortion-related cases decided by the United States Supreme Courtover a particular method of abortion referred to by critics as "partial-birth abortion." And immediately after Dr. Tiller's killing, Dr. Carhart offered to continue operating his clinic, but the Tiller family decided to close it.

Still, in the months since the killing, Dr. Carhart has made changes at his clinic and to his lifestyle as he has openly moved to take up Dr. Tiller's cause.

Visitors to the clinic here must pass through a metal detector, new security cameras scan outside the building and a security consultant is employed full time. Dr. Carhart says he goes out publicly only on short, unscheduled trips and rarely eats out (and when he does, he says he stays less than 30 minutes). Dr. Carhart, an Air Force veteran, said his daughter was wed this fall on a nearby military base, mainly for security and privacy.

"We do everything differently now," he said.

Dr. Carhart declined to provide specifics on how late in a pregnancy he would be willing to perform an abortion. Dr. Tiller performed them, in some cases, as late as in the third trimester of pregnancy. Dr. Carhart's fee schedule lists prices for abortions up to 22 weeks and 6 days (at that point, $2,100 in cash or $2,163 on a credit card), but notes that abortions after 23 weeks are available "after consultation with our doctor," and that abortions after the 27th week may take four days.

At his clinic in the past, Dr. Carhart said, he had performed abortions up to about 22 weeks into gestation - considered by some to be near the earliest point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, a notion known as viability and one that is cited in many laws related to abortion.

Dr. Carhart's opponents insist that late-term procedures violate state and federal statutes as well as professional rules. They have approached officials in Nebraska seeking an investigation. Mr. Newman, who had regularly called for investigations into Dr. Tiller's work but strongly denounced his killing, has submitted a complaintabout Dr. Carhart to Jon Bruning, Nebraska's attorney general. In it, Mr. Newman accuses Dr. Carhart of using improper operating procedures under shoddy conditions.

Representatives of Mr. Bruning would not comment on whether an investigation was taking place. Marla Augustine, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Health and Human Services, which regulates physicians, said Dr. Carhart had no formal disciplinary actions on his record.

(In 1993, she said, he signed an assurance of compliance with the state, promising not to do certain things, like talk on the phone during surgical procedures, but the agreement says it did not mean he had admitted committing any violations and was not considered a disciplinary action.)

Dr. Carhart, meanwhile, said he had heard nothing lately from state officials. "Anybody can file a claim," he said.

A brochure for his clinic shows a photograph of Dr. Carhart beside Dr. Tiller, and says that the clinic dedicates "our services to women in honor of" Dr. Tiller. Asked whether he feared a similar fate as Dr. Tiller's, Dr. Carhart said he had signed up for this life.

"They have never targeted me more," he said of abortion opponents. "But to me, the most dangerous response would be for me to stop what I am doing. The thought that killing Tiller might also succeed in closing another clinic - that's my main reason for keeping open."


12) Panel Criticizes Military's Use of Embedded Anthropologists
December 4, 2009

A two-year-old Pentagon program that assigns social scientists to work with military units in Iraq and Afghanistan has come under sharp criticism from a panel of anthropologists who argue that the undertaking is dangerous, unethical and unscholarly.

The committee, which released the report on Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, the discipline's largest professional group, has been studying the program since its inception in 2007.

The panel concluded that the Pentagon program, called the Human Terrain System, has two conflicting goals: counterinsurgency and research. Collecting data in the context of war, where coercion and offensive tactics are always potentially present, "can no longer be considered a legitimate professional exercise of anthropology," the report says.

The idea that the military should have a deeper understanding of the cultures and societies in which it operates is one that both academics and Defense Department officials support. How to accomplish that goal is the question.

Commanders in the field have reported that the advisers helped reduce the number of combat operations and enabled units to focus more on nonmilitary needs like local health care and education. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said, "The net effect of these efforts is often less violence across the board and fewer hardships and civilian deaths."

The panel's criticisms are not surprising; the association's executive board had previously expressed serious reservations about the program. Still, it assigned an internal committee to look at the Human Terrain System in more depth. Although political scientists, sociologists, area studies specialists and linguists are also involved in the program, the panel said it focused only on anthropologists.

The report cited insufficient training to prepare scholars for work in the field, concern about confidentiality and obtaining informed consent from the local population, and the possibility that collected research could be used to select military targets. Scholars are supposed to refuse to hand over any data they suspect will be used for choosing targets.

Many people who were interviewed for the report requested anonymity, so it is impossible to assess specific charges of unethical or flawed practices.

Some criticism of the program has also come from inside the Defense Department, from those who produce similar types of sociological and cultural assessments. In the March-April issue of Military Review, published by the Army, Maj. Ben Connable of the Marines wrote that the Human Terrain System approach is a quick-fix policy that "is inconsistent with standing doctrine and ignores recent improvements in military cultural capabilities."

Social scientists working for the Terrain System program have been asked, for example, to answer questions like: How do poor sanitation, health and educational services affect local support for insurgents? Why have young men been forced to leave the country to look for work? Why might children throw rocks at soldiers? How can jobs be created? Are people scared to vote in elections? And what projects should be financed?

Over the past couple of years the Pentagon has actively recruited academics to give advice on how to supplement its military policy. One goal in Afghanistan, for example, has been to strengthen the central government and civilian institutions so that it can counter the Taliban's influence. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the senior allied commander in Afghanistan, said at the end of August that "our strategy cannot be focused on seizing terrain or destroying insurgent forces; our objective must be the population." He added that "gaining their support will require a better understanding of the people's choices and needs."


13) No Testimony From Judges in Prosecution of Radio Host
"Mr. Turner's lawyers have said he was protected by the First Amendment as an Internet broadcaster and blogger. They have also argued that because Mr. Turner was once an F.B.I. informer, he should be shielded from prosecution. They argued that the agents had told Mr. Turner what he could say on the Internet without violating the law."
December 4, 2009

Federal prosecutors rested their case Thursday in the trial of a New Jersey Internet broadcaster charged with threatening federal judges, without calling any of the three appeals court judges the broadcaster had written "deserve to be killed."

In two days of testimony, the prosecutors called six federal agents to tell a jury in Federal District Court in Brooklyn about the remarks of the incendiary right-wing broadcaster and blogger, Harold C. Turner of North Bergen.

The chief prosecutor, William R. Hogan Jr., said there was no need to call the appeals court judges for the government to prove its case.

The defense declined to present any evidence, and the case is to go to the jury Friday after closing arguments.

In testimony Thursday, the agents described the usually hidden world of the threats that sometimes percolate behind the scenes of the orderly federal courts. One deputy federal marshal said he raced to Mr. Turner's home in 2008 and persuaded him not to follow through with a threat Mr. Turner had posted to make public the names and addresses of the children and grandchildren of justices of the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Turner is charged with threatening three judges who approved local laws that banned handguns.

Lawyers in the case had suggested that the prosecutors would take the unusual step of calling the three judges: Frank H. Easterbrook, the chief judge of the federal appeals court in Chicago; Richard A. Posner, a conservative legal theorist who is among the most prolific members of the judiciary; and William J. Bauer, a veteran Illinois lawyer who was placed on the federal bench by President Richard M. Nixon.

The case was moved to Brooklyn in an unusual change of venue after Mr. Turner was charged by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago, because he would otherwise have faced trial in the same building where the three judges work.

Prosecutors showed the jurors Web postings Mr. Turner made last June listing the names and office addresses of the three federal judges. Jurors were also shown a map he posted that indicated the locations of truck-bomb barriers outside the federal court building in Chicago.

Mr. Turner's lawyers have said he was protected by the First Amendment as an Internet broadcaster and blogger. They have also argued that because Mr. Turner was once an F.B.I. informer, he should be shielded from prosecution. They argued that the agents had told Mr. Turner what he could say on the Internet without violating the law.


14) An Underemployed Victim of the Recession, Now Ill and Facing Eviction
The Neediest Cases
December 4, 2009

Teresa Gates is angry, and she doesn't care who knows it.

In the current recession, "New York is one of the hardest-hit cities," Ms. Gates said in an incredulous tone that grew louder as she went on. "A whole bunch of us are losing our homes. If we're not losing our jobs, our hours are being slashed in half. We have no money, nowhere to turn, and then we go to welfare" offices, only, in her case, to be rejected for emergency aid, she said, though putting it more colorfully than that.

"In a country that is supposed to be as prosperous as America," she added, "it is absolutely disgraceful."

The reason for her outrage is her sudden departure from solvency, a development set off by the one-two punch of the economic meltdown and a stroke.

"All of a sudden, it just felt like the left side of my face was on fire," she said of the stroke she had, in July. "My lip felt numb, like I'd been to the dentist and got shot full of Novocain."

Ms. Gates, 49, already suffered from an assortment of ailments - diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, depression, anxiety and a herniated disc - that required eight medicines a day.

The blood clot that caused her stroke was on her brain stem, and luckily it dissipated, causing no lasting damage. But Ms. Gates did suffer dizziness, weakness and vision disturbances, and the episode worsened her depression. She cried every day in the hospital, and continued crying when she returned home.

And she did not have time to be sick, having just completed a course of training in home health care after 30 years of administrative work. She was laid off from an office job in March 2008, and employment, which she secures through a temp agency, has been only part time since.

This is where she gets really mad.

"I have a two-page résumé with all the jobs I've had, and all the skills I have, and I can't get anything," she said. "If I lose my home, I have no idea where I'm going to go. Probably a motel, or a shelter, where I'll have to sleep with one eye open."

Her two-bedroom apartment in Franklin Plaza in East Harlem was passed down to her when her mother died in 1991. She has lived there since she was 3, and still sleeps in her childhood bedroom. She pays $803 a month, and without steady work she has fallen behind for a second time this year and faces eviction.

She still gets unemployment benefits, because she works only part-time. She used to get $226 a week, but now gets $25 extra, for reasons she does not understand. "I guess it's out of the generosity of the state's heart," she said.

In April, Ms. Gates, who is single and has no children, owed $1,969 in maintenance and faced eviction for the first time. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, two of the seven beneficiary agencies of The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, paid her debt. But she fell behind again, and now owes $1,885. She faces an eviction proceeding in housing court on Dec. 21, and may ask the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies for further assistance.

Her part-time job as a home health care aide pays minimum wage and offers no health insurance. She was not approved for an emergency loan from the Human Resources Administration to help with the arrears in April because officials did not think she would be able to pay it back. Her application for Medicaid, which she submitted during her hospitalization, was approved after what she called an agonizing wait.

"I've never been in this situation before," she said. "I've never not been able to pay."

She cannot even afford a MetroCard, she said.

"If I break $200 a month," in earnings, "I'm doing good. The only thing I can afford to do is go around the corner and come back."