Saturday, August 28, 2010



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Please forward widely:

Important August 29 United Antiwar Meeting in SF
AUGUST 29, 2010 AT 1-3 PM

The fight against U.S. wars and occupations and against the war on working people at home took a giant step forward on July 23-25 when 800 antiwar and social justice activists across the country as well as from Canada and Latin America attended the United National Antiwar Conference (UNAC) in Albany, New York. Sponsored by 31 national organizations, 128 speakers participated in 33 workshops and three major panel presentations as well as in several plenary debates to hammer out and unanimously adopt a nine-month Action Plan (See attached). The conference provided new opportunities to unite and reinvigorate a movement that has been at a low ebb for some time. UNAC participants understood that the economic crisis and never-ending U.S. wars have convinced increasing layers of the population that a return to the streets and coordinated/united actions and events in many other forms are more than ever required.

Bring the Troops Home Now!, Money for Jobs, Education, the Environment, Pensions, Housing!, etc, and End U.S. Aid to Israel! End U.S. Support to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the the Siege of Gaza! were the central demands adopted. But the conference approved a broad range of demands in opposition to U.S. threats of war against Iran and increasing U.S. incursions in Latin America and Africa.

The conference affirmed the need for solidarity with Arab and Muslim communities who have been scapegoated by the "war on terrorism" and affirmed its solidarity with political prisoners, immigrants, LGBT people and all others who have suffered from government attacks on civil liberties and democratic rights.

This was truly the largest and broadest antiwar conference in decades, a gathering that opened the door to new opportunities to broaden, deepen and re-mobilize our movement.

To help make this unanimously-adopted Action Plan, that includes activities and mobilizations of all kinds over a nine-month period and culminates in an April 9 bi-coastal San Francisco/New York/Los Angles mass mobilization, a reality, we need the collaboration and participation of everyone.

Join us on August 29 at 1:00 pm. Most all of the Bay Area activists who attended the UNAC conference will be present to relate their Albany experience and to help forge a Bay Area/Northern California UNAC (United National Antiwar Committee) to implement the ambitious plans adopted.

In solidarity,

Blanca Miessé, Bill Balderston, Jeff Mackler, Millie Phillips, Dolores Perez Priem, Carole Seligman, Daniel Alley (Bay Area UNAC conference participants, partial list)

(Special thanks to the UUs for Peace for securing the space.)


Action Program Adopted by the National Conference to Bring the Troops Home Now!
Albany, New York, July 23-25, 2010

Part 1: Preface

Given the escalation of the war in Afghanistan since the election of President Obama, the challenges facing the antiwar movement are greater now than ever.

To end the U.S. wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and re-orient the nation's priorities from empire building to solving the pressing needs at home, we need to join and support the rising mass social movements embracing the broadest popular sectors of society - which should be independent of, but welcome support from, all political parties as well as those outside any party. A winning antiwar movement must be integrally linked to the struggles for jobs, education, housing, health care, civil rights and liberties, social justice, labor rights, immigration rights, the rights of youth and children, environmental protection, gender rights, gay rights, and fundamental human rights. It must join those groups focused on those issues as well as the traditional peace movement.

History has demonstrated time and again that the combination of these qualities coupled with an inclusive, collaborative and representative leadership can change the course of history.

This was the case with the massive social movements that were constructed to end the Vietnam War, win formal civil rights for excluded races and peoples, advance the cause of women's equality, and challenge the prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people. It was the same unity in action that brought into being a massive trade union movement that challenged the previously dominant forces of the corporate elite and wrested unprecedented victories in the quality of life and culture for working people

Today we face the challenge of perpetual wars abroad becoming part of our national culture as are unceasing attacks on the quality of life and the standard of living at home. We are witness to multi-trillion dollar bailouts of the same institutions that have brought grief and pain to countless millions and obliterated hard won social and economic gains that were a century and longer in the making.

Our youth are subject to an economic draft that places them in harm's way around the world where poor people fight for their right to self-determination and resist interventions for profit and plunder. Women and children are the primary civilian victims of war both abroad and here at home, where education and social service budgets are slashed while pensions, health care, wages, union rights and civil liberties are under siege.

Trillions are expended to fund increasingly privatized wars fought in large part with mercenary armies and to maintain 865 military bases around the world. Meanwhile veterans - first place in the statistics of the homeless and unemployed - are compelled to fight for denied benefits to treat horrific diseases caused by U.S. biological and now radiation-emitting weapons of war while the people of destroyed nations suffer the same, but magnified, and long-term horrors. Moreover, they are subjected to successive incidents of grotesque and inhuman torture.

We are confronted with imperial wars over control of markets and natural resources, including the very fossil fuel resources whose continued use threatens the future of all humankind. We call for support of the Transition Town Movement, where in over 30 cities nationwide, people are mobilizing to prepare their communities for the end of the fossil fuel era. These sustainable initiatives include self-sufficiency in food, shelter, energy and community, with emphasis on psychological and moral support in the expected difficult times ahead. These efforts are independent of the actions taken by the political leadership of the country.

The U.S. gives $3 billion a year in military aid as well as economic and diplomatic support to Israel to maintain U.S. economic and strategic dominance in the region. This support sustains an apartheid regime engaged in land theft, discrimination, occupation and repression of Palestinians, including the refugees outside of Palestine, within the occupied territories, and within the borders of Israel proper. The U.S. supports Israeli acts of aggression, such as the attacks on Lebanon in 2006, the attacks on Gaza in 2008-09, and the murder of aid activists in the Free Gaza Flotilla.

Our love of humanity, opposition to expanding wars and occupations unleashed by the Pentagon, and respect for international human rights and humanitarian law, including the right of self-determination for all peoples, require that we demand of the U.S. government:

The allocation of the trillions spent on wars and corporate bailouts be directed to funding massive programs for jobs at union wages, education, a single-payer universal health care system, child care, housing and preserving the environment. Compensation to be paid to the peoples whose countries the U.S. attacked and occupied for the loss of lives and massive destruction they suffered.

The immediate, total and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. troops, mercenaries and contractors from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and the immediate closing of all U.S. bases in those countries. Bring all the Troops and War Dollars Home Now!

Reverse and end all foreclosures. Stop the government attacks on trade unions, civil and democratic rights, and immigrant communities.

End U.S. aid to Israel - military, economic, and diplomatic. End U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the blockade of Gaza.

We also recognize that Haiti, Honduras, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Costa Rica, and other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are targeted for intervention, subversion, occupation and control as a consequence of a militarized U.S. foreign policy. Our challenge is not only to end wars and occupations, but to fundamentally change the aggressive policies that inevitably lead our country to militarism and war and to show our utmost solidarity with those struggling against U.S. intervention. Toward that end, we demand the immediate closing of the School of the Americas (renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation," after being thoroughly exposed and discredited).

We also demand of all nations the abolition of nuclear weapons, inclusive of development, maintenance, storage sale and use of weapons. Given that the U.S. is the only country on earth and in history that has used nuclear weapons, and recognizing that the U.S. holds more weapons than any other country, the U.S. should take the lead in abolition of nuclear weapons and work toward nuclear free regions throughout the world.

Part 2: Proposals for United Actions

1. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the United Auto Workers (UAW) have invited peace organizations to endorse and participate in a campaign for Jobs, Justice, and Peace. We endorse this campaign and plan to be a part of it. On August 28, 2010, in Detroit, we will march on the anniversary of that day in 1963 when Walter Reuther, president of UAW, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders joined with hundreds of thousands of Americans for the March on Washington. In Detroit, prior to the March on Washington, 125,000 marchers participated in the Freedom Walk led by Dr. King. At the march, King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech for the first time before sharing it with the world in Washington. This year, a massive march has been called for October 2 in Washington. We will begin to build momentum again in Detroit on August 28th. We also endorse the August 28, 2010 Reclaim the Dream Rally and March called by Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network to begin at 11 a.m. at Dunbar High School, 1301 New Jersey Avenue Northwest.

2. Endorse, promote and mobilize for the Saturday, October 2nd "One Nation" march on Washington, DC initiated by 1199SEIU and the NAACP, now being promoted by a growing coalition, which includes the AFL-CIO and U.S. Labor Against the War, and civil rights, peace and other social justice forces in support of the demand for jobs, redirection of national resources from militarism and war to meeting human needs, fully funding vital social programs, and addressing the fiscal crisis of state and local governments. Organize and build an antiwar contingent to participate in the march. Launch a full-scale campaign to get endorsements for the October 2 march on Washington commencing with the final plenary session of this conference.

3. Endorse the call issued by a range of student groups for Thursday, October 7, as a national day of action to defend education from the horrendous budget cuts that are laying off teachers, closing schools, raising tuition and limiting access to education, especially for working and low income people. Demand "Money for Education, not U.S. Occupations" and otherwise link the cuts in spending for education to the astronomical costs of U.S. wars and occupations

4. Devote October 7-16 to organizing local and regional protests to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan through demonstrations, marches, rallies, vigils, teach-ins, cultural events and other actions to demand an immediate end to the wars and occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan and complete withdrawal of all military forces and private security contractors and other mercenaries. The nature and scheduling of these events will reflect the needs of local sponsors and should be designed to attract broad co-sponsorship and diverse participation of antiwar forces with other social justice organizations and progressive constituencies.

5. The U.S. military is the largest polluter in the world. Therefore we endorse the "climate chaos" demonstration in Washington D.C. on October 11, coordinated by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.

6. Support and build Remember Fallujah Week November 15-19

7. Join the new and existing broad-based campaigns to fund human needs and cut the military budget. Join with organizations representing the fight against cutbacks (especially labor and community groups) to build coalitions at the city/town, state and national level. Draft resolutions for city councils, town and village meetings and voter referendum ballot questions linking astronomical war spending to denial of essential public services at home. (Model resolutions and ballot questions will be circulated for consideration of local groups.) Obtain endorsements of elected officials, town and city councils, state parties and legislatures, and labor bodies. Work the legislative process to make military spending an issue. Oppose specific military funding programs and bills, and couple them with human needs funding issues. Use lobbying and other forms of protest, including civil disobedience campaigns, to focus attention on the issue.

8. Mid-March, 2011 nationally coordinated local teach-ins and protests to mark the eighth year of the Iraq War and to prepare for bi-coastal spring demonstrations the following month.

9. Bi-Coastal mass spring mobilizations in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles on April 9, 2011. These will be accompanied by distinct and separate non-violent direct actions on the same day. A prime component of these mobilizations will be major efforts to include broad new forces from youth to veterans to trade unionists to civil and human rights groups to the Arab, Muslim and other oppressed communities, to environmental organizations, social justice and faith-based groups. Veterans and military families will be key to these mobilizations with special efforts to organize this community to be the lead contingent. Launch a full-scale campaign to get endorsements for these actions commencing with the final plenary session of this conference.

10. Select a week prior to or after the April actions for local lobbying of elected officials at a time when Congress is not in session. Lobbying to take multiple forms from meeting with local officials to protests at their offices and homes. We will attend the town hall meetings of our Congresspersons and confront them vigorously on their support for the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and sanctions on Iran. We also will press them on the unconstitutional diminution of the civil liberties of all Americans and targeted populations."

11. Consistent with the call to include broad popular sectors of society in our efforts and to contend with the challenges of opposing U.S. wars and occupations while also rejecting attacks at home, National Peace Conference participants will join May Day actions on May 1, 2011, so as to unite all those standing against war and for rights. U.S. military and trade wars force millions of refugees and migrants to the U.S., where they face growing repression, including mass detentions and deportations. Many immigrants, including youth, are forced into the military, through the economic draft as well as under threat of deportation and using false promises of citizenship. By standing together as one on May Day, the antiwar and immigrant rights movements make clear their united stand against U.S. wars and for the rights of all at home and abroad

12. National tours. Organize, over a series of months, nationally-coordinated tours of prominent speakers and local activists that link the demands for immediate withdrawal to the demands for funding social programs, as outlined above. Encourage alternatives to military/lethal intervention, relying on research and experience of local and international peace team efforts.

13. Pressure on Iran from the US, Israel and other quarters continues to rise and the threat of a catastrophic military attack on Iran, as well as the ratcheting up of punitive sanctions that primarily impact the people of Iran, are of grave concern. In the event of an imminent U.S. government attack on Iran, or such an attack, or a U.S.-backed Israeli attack against Iran, or any other major international crisis triggered by U.S. military action, a continuations committee approved by the conference will mount rapid, broad and nationally coordinated protests by antiwar and social justice activists.

14. In the event of U.S.-backed military action by Israel against Palestinians, aid activists attempting to end the blockade of Gaza, or attacks on other countries such as Lebanon, Syria, or Iran, a continuations committee approved by the conference will condemn such attacks and support widespread protest actions.

15. In solidarity with the antiwar movements of Japan and Korea, each calling for U.S. Troops to Get Out Now, and given the great increase in U.S. military preparations against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, National Peace Conference participants will organize immediate protests following any attack by the U.S. on Korea. U.S. war preparations include stockpiling hundreds of bunker-busters and conducting major war games near the territorial waters of China and Korea. In keeping with our stand for the right of self-determination and our demand of Out Now, the National Peace Conference calls for All U.S. Troops Home Now!

16. Support actions to end the Israeli occupation and repression of Palestinians and the blockade of Gaza.

17. Support actions aimed at dismantling the Cold War nuclear, biological, radiological and chemical weapons and delivery systems. Support actions aimed at stopping the nuclear renaissance of this Administration, which has proposed to spend $80 billion over the next 10 years to build three new nuclear bomb making factories and "well over" $100 billion over the same period to modernize nuclear weapons delivery systems. We must support actions aimed at dismantling nuclear, biological, radiological and chemical weapons and delivery systems. We must oppose the re-opening of the uranium mining industry, new nuclear power plants, and extraction of other fossil fuels that the military consumes.

18. Work in solidarity with GIs, veterans, and military families to support their campaigns and calls for action. Demand support for the troops when they return home and support efforts to counter military recruitment.

19. Take actions against war profiteers, including oil and energy companies, weapons manufacturers, and engineering firms, whose contractors are working to insure U.S. economic control of Iraq's and Afghanistan's resources.

20. Support actions, educational efforts and lobbying campaigns to promote a transition to a sustainable peace economy.

21. Develop and implement a multi-pronged national media campaign which includes the following: the honing of a message which will capture our message: "End the Wars and Occupations, Bring the Dollars Home"; a fundraising campaign which would enable the creation and national placement and broadcast of professionally developed print ads as public service radio and television spots which communicate this imperative to the public as a whole (which would involve coordinated outreach to some major funders); outreach to sympathetic media artists to enable the creation of these pieces; an intentional, aggressive, coordinated campaign to garner interviews on as many targeted national news venues as possible which would feature movement voices speaking to the honed our nationally coordinated message; a plan to place on message op-ed pieces in papers around the country on a nationally coordinated schedule.

22. We demand the immediate and total withdrawal of U.S. military forces, mercenaries and contractors from Afghanistan and Iraq, and an end to drone attacks on Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries and call for self-determination for the people of all countries. In this demand is the necessity for full truth and transparency regarding all U.S./NATO actions and an expanded development of independent news sources for broad public knowledge of the state of the wars and occupations. We demand an end to censorship of news topics and full democratic access to freedom of information within the U.S. NATO Military Industrial Media Empire.

23. We call for the equal participation of women in all aspects of the antiwar movement. We propose nonviolent direct actions either in Congressional offices or other appropriate and strategic locations, possibly defense contractors, Federal Buildings, or military bases in the U.S. These actions would be local and coordinated nationally, i.e., the same day for everyone (times may vary). The actions would probably result in arrests for sitting in after offices close. Entering certain facilities could also result in arrests. Participants would be prepared for that possible outcome before joining the action. Nonviolence training would be offered locally, with lists of trainers being made available. The message/demand would be a vote, a congressional action to end the wars: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Close U.S. bases. Costs of war and financial issues related to social needs neglected because of war spending would need to be studied and statements regarding same be prepared before the actions. Press release would encourage coverage because of the actions being local and nationally coordinated.

24. We will convene one or more committees or conferences for the purpose of identifying and arranging boycotts, sit-ins, and other actions that directly interfere with the immoral aspects of the violence and wars that we protest.

25. We call for the immediate release from Israeli prisons of Mordechai Vanunu and for ending restrictions on his right to speak. We also call upon the Israeli government to let him travel freely and to leave Israel permanently if he so desires.

26. We call for building and expanding the movement for peace by consciously and continually linking it with the urgent necessity to create jobs and fund social needs. We call for support from the antiwar movement to tie the wars and the funding for the wars to the urgent domestic issues through leaflets, signs, banners and active participation in the growing number of mass actions demanding jobs, health care, housing, education and immigrant rights such as:

July 25 - March in Albany in Support of Muslims Targeted by Preemptive Prosecution called by the Muslim Solidarity Committee and Project Salam.

July 29 & 30 - Boycott Arizona Actions across the country as racist Arizona law

SB 1070 goes into effect, including the mass march July 30 in NYC as the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Mets.

All the other mass actions listed above leading up to the bi-coastal actions on April 9, 2011.

27. The continuations committee elected at this conference shall reach out to other peace and social justice groups holding protests in the fall of 2010 and the spring of 2011, where such groups' demands and tactics are not inconsistent with those adopted at the UNAC conference, on behalf of exploring ways to maximize unity within the peace and social justice movements this fall and next spring.


Note Date Change:

Longshore workers call for labor/community rally for:

Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail Killer Cops!

The next labor/community organizing meeting will be:

7 PM, Monday, August 30, 2010
Longshore Hall - Henry Schmidt room
400 North Point St @ Mason
near Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco
Media/Publicity: Jack Heyman 510-531-4717,

There are signs plastered all over the New York City subway system warning that, "Assaulting MTA New York City Transit subway personnel is a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison." What will Johannes Mehserle, an Oakland BART subway cop get for the murder of Oscar Grant? HE COULD EVEN GET PAROLLE! OR AS LITTLE AS FOUR YEARS! WE WANT THE MAXIMUM FOR MEHSERLE!

You are urged to attend!

A broad group of labor and community organizers met Tuesday, July 27 to help organize a mass demonstration demanding Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail Killer Cops! to take place Saturday, October 23 in Oakland. Committees were set up and organizing has begun involving people from the Bay Area and coordinated nation-wide. Bay Area United Against War Newsletter encourages everyone to become involved in organizing and building this very urgent event. We can't allow the police to have a license to murder the innocent and unarmed with a slap on the wrist. We demand the maximum for Johannes Mehserle!

Oscar Grant was murdered in cold blood!


Media/Publicity: Jack Heyman 510-531-4717,

ILWU Local 10 Motion on the Verdict in the Oscar Grant Case
Whereas, Oscar Grant's killer, BART police officer Johannes Mehserle received a verdict of involuntary manslaughter on July 8, 2010; and

Whereas, video tapes show clearly that Oscar Grant was lying face down on the Fruitvale BART platform, waiting to be handcuffed with another cop's boot on his neck posing no threat when he was shot in the back and killed in cold blood by Mehserle; and
Whereas, this is just another example in a racist justice system where police officers go free for killing young black men; and

Whereas, the Contra Costa Times reports that police are holding a rally in Walnut Creek on July 19, 2010 to show support for the killer cop so his sentence will only be a slap on the wrist; and

Whereas; the ILWU has always stood for social justice;

Therefore be it resolved that the labor movement organize a mass protest rally October 23, 2010 with participation from community groups, civil rights organizations, civil liberties organizations and all who stand for social justice demand jail for killer cops.



Bloody Hands Delivery to Pelosi

Monday August 30th 3pm
New Federal Building
90 7th Street (@ Mission St)
San Francisco, 94103
BART: Civic Center

Join CODEPINK-SF on Monday August 30th as we deliver bloody hands to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office in San Francisco to show our demands around the Iraq war debacle and counter the Pentagon's spin of a safe and positive withdrawal from Iraq.

Our demands of Speaker Pelosi include:
Full withdrawal & closure of military bases
Reparations of Iraqis
Full support for returning troop needs
Prosecution of officials who lead us into the Iraq war
Transfer of war funds to rebuild the U.S.
Taking lessons from this war to: End Afghan War
Print out the attached sheet of paper. Draw, paint or imprint a red hand onto the center. Write an extra personal note if you would like. Bring it the federal building on Monday August 30th at 3pm and we'll deliver them to Pelosi's new office.

Nancy L. Mancias
CODEPINK Women for Peace
3543 18th Street, 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94110
PINKTank ::
Facebook ::
Twitter :: nancymancias


September 2, 2010


Hyatt Regency Embarcadero
Market and Drumm Streets
San Francisco
7am to 11am

Hyatt Regency SF Airport
1333 Old Bayshore Highway
Burlingame, CA 94010
2pm to 6pm

If you need a ride to Burlingame, please let us know.
A bus will leave Local 2at these times: 2pm and 4pm

Hyatt Regency Santa Clara
5101 Great America Parkway
Santa Clara, CA 95054

Over 2,000 Protest
Hilton Union Square Proposals

Following an afternoon where nearly 300 San Francisco housekeepers were presented with Hilton's "refresh" program, which would increase their workload by 40%, over 2,000 hotel workers and community members demonstrated on August 25th and 26th for twelve hours each day, at the Hilton Union Square Hotel.

Workers are outraged at the Hilton management for proposing such an increase in workloads, on top of their contract proposals that would reduce pension benefits and require workers to pay hundreds of dollars a month for family health coverage, over the term of the contract. These proposals come as Hilton (which is owned by the Blackstone Group, the world's biggest private equity firm) recently purchased Dynegy (a power company in Houston) for $4.7 billion.

Blackstone also recently posted its fourth-straight quarterly profit and increased the value of its private-equity holdings by 16%. Stephen Schwarzman, Blackstone's Chairman, stated in April 2010, "We can feel this turnaround in the economy. It's certainly visible over the last month or two." Yet, Blackstone/Hilton continues to squeeze every last penny from its hotel workers in the name of economic hardships.

Hotel workers will continue standing together, stronger than ever, to defend their benefits and build a better future for their families and the San Francisco community! FAIR CONTRACT NOW!

Including Hilton Union Square, seven other San Francisco hotels are under boycott. These hotels are the scene of regular actions and demonstrations. Dozens of organizations, big and small, have decided to stay out of this labor dispute and use a different venue. If you have a reservation or an event at the following hotels, you should move to another hotel immediately. Please contact us for information and help.



UNITE HERE! is leading the fight to for hotel workers - many of them women of color and immigrants - in hotels across San Francisco and North America. UNITE HERE! represents more than 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who work in the hospitality, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, laundry, and airport industries. We are at the forefront of the battle for workers rights, immigration reform and living wages.

In San Francisco, union contracts for thousands of hotel workers have expired. These workers are standing in solidarity to defend their standards against dozens ruthless hotel corporations. Additionally, non-union hotel workers are also engaged in an ongoing struggle at two hotels, the HEI Le Meridien and the Hyatt at Fisherman's Wharf.

Our ground-up model of organizing and our comprehensive corporate campaigns are largely worker and volunteer run. In this current economic crisis, it is more important than ever for committed local activists to get involved in the fight for workers rights.

We are seeking enthusiastic volunteer activists to help build the labor movement in San Francisco. Currently, the Local 2 Boycott Apprenticeship Program is offering non-paid internship opportunities.


Location: San Francisco

Education: No requirement

Additional Qualifications:
Passion for social justice, assertive personality and basic computer skills for research (Spreadsheets, Databases, Internet search tools).

Duties include:

30% - Coordinating and executing creative actions at strategic locations to help enforce worker called boycotts.

70% - Research and campaign related work.

4 - 10 Hours a week minimum, Ongoing program.


Let us learn together, and fight together. Join Local 2's awesome Boycott Team.

For volunteer opportunities, please contact:
Powell DeGange,
415-864-8770 ext. 759


Bradley Manning benefit w/ Dan Ellsberg, Tom Hayden, Aimee Allison
Thursday, September 16, 7:00-9:00 P.M.
Humanist Hall
390 27th St., Oakland, CA
(Between Telegraph and Broadway)

Courage to Resist Bay Area Event Alert

"Afghanistan: Occupation, Wikileaks, and Accused Whistle-blower Army Pfc. Bradley Manning" - a benefit for the Bradley Manning defense fund


--Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistle-blower

--Tom Hayden, author and activist

--Aimee Allison, author and KPFA Morning Show Host

--Carl Davison, US Marine/Army veteran of Guantanamo Bay, Africa, and Asia

--Wikileaks "Collateral Murder" video screening

Presented by Courage to Resist_with the help of Veterans for Peace-Bay Area Chapter, National Lawyers Guild Bay Area Military Law Panel, CodePink, War Resisters League-West, Iraq Veterans Against the War-Bay Area, BAY-Peace, World Can't Wait-SF Bay, Asian Americans for Peace and Justice, Grandmothers Against the War and Bay Area United for Peace and Justice.

The Bradley Manning defense fund is hosted by Courage to Resist ( in collaboration with the Bradley Manning Support Network ( $5 requested donation at door to cover expenses, with defense fund pitch during the event. Wheelchair accessible via 411 28th Street entrance. For more info, please contact 510-488-3559 or


Berkeley, CA: Robert Fisk "Lies, Misreporting, and Catastrophe in the Middle East"
Wednesday, September 22, 7:00pm

The Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) presents the intrepid, witty and courageous author ROBERT FISK "one of the most famous journalists in the world" speaking on "Lies, Misreporting, and Catastrophe in the Middle East"

Fisk will be interviewed by scholar-activist DR. HATEM BAZIAN

Winner of countless journalism awards and three honorary doctorates, Beirut-based Robert Fisk has reported from the Middle East for over 30 years, covering 11 major wars.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 7pm
First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way (@ Dana)6 blocks from Downtown Berkeley BART

**Tickets available for Special Reception with Fisk as well!**

Tickets: $15 general, $10 students/low income
$50 includes post-event reception plus reserved event seating in front rows.


Only $15 tickets at area bookstores: (East Bay) Books Inc., Diesel, Moe's Books, Pegasus/Solano, Pegasus/Shattuck, Walden Pond (SF) Modern Times.

Benefit for children in Palestine & Lebanon. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Wheelchair accessible, ASL interpreted

For info: 510-548-0542,


October 7 Balloons and Cal Disorientation Guide 2010
Balloons invade UC Berkeley on the first day of classes! Oct. 7th Strike!
Posted on 08/27/2010 by ooofireballooo

[VIDEO] Balloons invade UC Berkeley on the first day of classes! Oct. 7th Strike!
Education 4 the People!

October 7 Day of Action in Defense of Public Education - California

MORE THAN 100 activists from across California gathered in Los Angeles April 24 to debate next steps for the fight against the devastating cutbacks facing public education.

The main achievements of the conference were to set a date and location for the next statewide mass action-October 7-and for the next anti-cuts conference, which will happen October 16 at San Francisco State University. The other key outcome was the first steps toward the formation of an ad hoc volunteer coordinating committee to plan for the fall conference.

These decisions were a crucial step toward deepening and broadening the movement. For example, the fall conference will be the key venue for uniting activists from all sectors of public education, and especially from those schools and campuses which saw action on March 4, but which have yet to plug into the broader movement.

This will be crucial for extending the scope and increasing the strength of our movement, as well as for helping us strategize and prepare for what is certain to be a tough year ahead. Similarly, the fall mass action will be crucial to re-igniting the movement following the summer months.

Organizing for the next Statewide Public Education Mobilization Conference at SFSU on OCT 16th
Posted on May 24, 2010 by ooofireballooo
Organizing for the next Statewide Public Education Mobilization Conference
@ San Francisco State University on October 16th

MORE THAN 100 activists from across California gathered in Los Angeles April 24 to debate next steps for the fight against the devastating cutbacks facing public education.

The main achievements of the conference were to set a date and location for the next statewide mass action-October 7-and for the next anti-cuts conference, which will happen October 16 at San Francisco State University. The other key outcome was the first steps toward the formation of an ad hoc volunteer coordinating committee to plan for the fall conference.

These decisions were a crucial step toward deepening and broadening the movement. For example, the fall conference will be the key venue for uniting activists from all sectors of public education, and especially from those schools and campuses which saw action on March 4, but which have yet to plug into the broader movement.

This will be crucial for extending the scope and increasing the strength of our movement, as well as for helping us strategize and prepare for what is certain to be a tough year ahead. Similarly, the fall mass action will be crucial to re-igniting the movement following the summer months.

Proposal: Form a conference organizing listserve immediately!

Please join the google group today.

* Group home page:


November 18-21, 2010: Close the SOA and take a stand for justice in the Americas.

The November Vigil to Close the School of the Americas at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia will be held from November 18-21, 2010. The annual vigil is always held close to the anniversary of the 1989 murders of Celina Ramos, her mother Elba and six Jesuit priests at a the University of Central America in El Salvador.


November 2010 will mark the 20th anniversary of the vigil that brings together religious communities, students, teachers, veterans, community organizers, musicians, puppetistas and many others. New layers of activists are joining the movement to close the SOA in large numbers, including numerous youth and students from multinational, working-class communities. The movement is strong thanks to the committed work of thousands of organizers and volunteers around the country. They raise funds, spread the word through posters and flyers, organize buses and other transportation to Georgia, and carry out all the work that is needed to make the November vigil a success. Together, we are strong!


There will be exciting additions to this year's vigil program. Besides the rally at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia with inspiring speakers and amazing musicians from across the Americas, the four day convergence will also include an educational teach-in at the Columbus Convention Center, several evening concerts, workshops and for the first time, the Latin America Solidarity Coalition will stage a one-day Anti-Militarization Organizers Conference on Thursday, November 18, 2010.


Our work has unfortunately not gotten any easier and U.S. militarization in Latin America is accelerating. The SOA graduate led military coup in Honduras, the continuing repression against the Honduran pro-democracy resistance and the expansion of U.S. military bases in Colombia and Panama are grim examples of the ongoing threats of a U.S. foreign policy that is relying on the military to exert control over the people and the resources in the Americas. Join the people who are struggling for justice in Honduras, Colombia and throughout the Americas as we organize to push back.

Spread the word - Tell a friend about the November Vigil:

For more information, visit:

See you at the gates of Fort Benning in November 2010




October 7 Balloons and Cal Disorientation Guide 2010
Balloons invade UC Berkeley on the first day of classes! Oct. 7th Strike!
Posted on 08/27/2010 by ooofireballooo

[VIDEO] Balloons invade UC Berkeley on the first day of classes! Oct. 7th Strike!
Education 4 the People!


The Video the US Military doesn't want you to see


George Orwell's "1984_


August 22, 2010

Coastal Heritage Society of La, Kindra, Jo & Vick spent the day in the bayou, bay and swamps August 19 taking air and water samples and documenting the oil that BP cant seem to find... We also found plenty of boom just floating out in the bay, and littering up the marsh - no one has bothered to pick it up...BP will not allow our fishermen or anyone else to remove it - saying we will be arrested if we do. We have about 400 more photos and will get them posted on our website as soon as we can along with the results from the air and water tests.
Visit us at

In the meanwhile, we will continue to test, to document, to share the truth with anyone who cares and to try to take care od the affected families who have NOT been paid by BP - there are plenty of them who need help. We are asking America to pitch in and help us help them. PLEASE! consider supporting our efforts by sending gift cards or donations of any size to Coastal Heritage Society of La PO Box 297 Belle Chasse, La 70037. Gift card wish list:

Walgreens (to help with medications and first aid supplies)
Walmart (to help with food, care package items, household supplies)
Kmart (to help with medications, care package items)
Visa gift cards are best as they will allow for all of the above. The amount isnt important, the action is.
Thanks for all who support our all volunteer efforts to protect the people, culture and heritage of coastal Louisiana.



Lyrics: Smiling Faces Sometimes
Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend
Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth uh
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof

The truth is in the eyes
Cause the eyes don't lie, amen
Remember a smile is just
A frown turned upside down
My friend let me tell you
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth, uh
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
Beware, beware of the handshake
That hides the snake
I'm telling you beware
Beware of the pat on the back
It just might hold you back
Jealousy (jealousy)
Misery (misery)

I tell you, you can't see behind smiling faces
Smiling faces sometimes they don't tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof

Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
(Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes)
(Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes)
I'm telling you beware, beware of the handshake
That hides the snake
Listen to me now, beware
Beware of that pat on the back
It just might hold you back
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof

Your enemy won't do you no harm
Cause you'll know where he's coming from
Don't let the handshake and the smile fool ya
Take my advice I'm only try' to school ya


A Top Scientist Working On BP Gulf Oil Spill For The Federal Government Confirms BP Drilled Two Wells
Posted by Alexander Higgins - August 20, 2010
Dr Robert Bea, a top scientists working on the BP Gulf Oil Spill for the Federal Government confirms that BP Drilled a second well near the Deepwater Horizon leak that was previously abandoned because they almost blew it up.

I recently posted "A Tale Of Two Wells - Is BP and the Government Showing Us The Wrong Well?" which questions whether or not BP is hiding the real well that is leaking as Matt Simmon's claimed.

So here is the latest going around the internet. I haven't vetted it yet so watch and make your own judgment.

If the font is to small watch in full screen.


Larry Pinkney protests Harbor Shores golf course opening.
Political commentator and brother of protest organizer, Larry Pinkney calls for unity in the face of challenge.
Read a sample of his work here:
Here is a link to background information regarding this protest:
Mass Demonstration Planned in Benton Harbor on 8/10
August 6, 2010


Toxic Soup in Ocean Springs Ms By Lorrie Williams
August 13, 2010
August 16, 2010


BP Oil Spill Cleanup Worker Exposes the Realities of Beach Cleanup In Gulf of Mexico
August 11, 2010


NEWS BREAKING Louisiana official willing to go to jail in fight against federal Government!!
August 12, 2010


The Coast Guard threatens to have Louisiana official arrested for fighting oil spill
August 13, 2010


Days After Tar Balls Hit New York Beach Massive Fish Kills Stretch From New Jersey to Massachusetts


WikiLeaks' Collateral Murder: U.S. Soldier Ethan McCord's Eyewitness Story


On The Move: Mumia Abu-Jamal's Message to the United National Peace Conference


Videos: Hideous Conditions at Long Beach Harbor, MS
By Denise Rednour
August 7, 2010

August 7th, 2010 -- LONG BEACH MS - Very thick oil in and around the harbor at Long Beach, MS today. It's a very sad day indeed. The stench of dispersants and dead fish is in the air as well.

PLEASE, don't be fooled by mainstream media and politicians who are telling people it's over, it's safe to swim, and the seafood is harmless. All beaches in Mississippi remain open without cautions even. All waters are open to commercial and sport fishing of fin fish and shrimp. The only activity banned at the present is crab and oyster fishing.


Video: George Carlin: "The American Dream"/"Workers Nightmare"
Because the Owners of This Country Own Everything - They Own You - They Don't Want Critical Thinking - They Want Obedient Workers


Citizens of New Orleans Respond to the BP Oil Spill


Economic Hitmen: John Perkins on Economic Imperialism
[He's wrong, though, about there being a benign form of capitalism. There's only one kind of capitalism -- this kind of capitalism -- and it's all]


Narrated - Oil Leaking From BP Gulf Oil Spill Sea Floor Strata
[After the cement]


Lady Gaga Rallies Fans in Arizona: "If it wasn't for all you immigrants, this country wouldn't have s--t."
By Tanner Stransky

Lady Gaga is well known for stirring the pot while advocating for buzzy causes like gay rights, and now she's using her sizable cultural influence to stand up against SB 1070, the controversial Arizona immigration law. At her Monster Ball show in Phoenix on Saturday evening, the pop star encouraged her "little monsters" to not sit idle in regards to the law: "We have to be active. We have to actively protest," she told her audience. Since the news of SB 1070 came down, several heavyweights in the music biz have boycotted the state, but Gaga said she won't do the same.

"I will not cancel my show. I will hold you, and we will hold each other, and we will protest this state," Gaga told her audience. "I got a phone call from a couple really big rock-n-rollers, big pop stars, big rappers, and they said: 'We'd like you to boycott Arizona. We'd like you to boycott playing Arizona because of SB 1070.' And I said: 'You really think that us dumb f-ing pop stars are going to collapse the economy of Arizona?'" And that's when she urged fans to protest. "The nature of the Monster Ball is to actively protest prejudice and injustice and that bullshit that is put on our society!" See her whole impassioned speech here:


Missing Gulf Coast Oil Appears To Be Welling Up Under Barrier Island Beaches (VIDEO)

Last week, BP managed to finally cap the Deepwater Horizon oil volcano and the media suddenly found itself in the grips of a baffling problem with object permanence. Where did all the oil go, they wondered. Had it disappeared? Was it eaten by microbes? Did it get Raptured up to Oil Heaven? It was a mystery, wrapped in a miracle! At least it was until Mother Jones reporter Mac McClelland took about a minute to send some text messages to colleagues in the field, inquiring after the oil's whereabouts. They answered back: Where is the oil? How does all over the place grab you?

Over at The Upshot, Brett Michael Dykes highlights this report from WVUE in New Orleans, which confirms that the oil did not, in fact, fortuitously disappear into thin air:

According to WVUE correspondent John Snell, local officials dispatched a dive team to a barrier island off of southeastern Louisiana's Plaquemines parish to scan the sea floor for oil. The team, however, could barely see the sea floor, due to the current murky state of the area waters. But when the divers returned to shore, they made a rather remarkable discovery: tiny holes that burrowing Hermit crabs had dug into the ground effectively became oil-drilling holes. When the divers placed pressure on the ground near the holes, oil came oozing up.

So, basically, questioning where the oil has gone is the exact same thing as looking at the shoes attached to the ends of your legs and wondering if your feet have disappeared.


Video Shows Michigan Oil Spill
July 29, 2010, 1:57 pm

As my colleague Emma Graves Fitzsimmons reports from Michigan, the Environmental Protection Agency now estimates that more than one million gallons of oil may have spilled from a pipeline into the Kalamazoo River this week, which is far more than the pipeline's owner, Enbridge Energy Partners, initially estimated.

In a statement posted online, the E.P.A. explained that the government has taken charge of the clean-up effort and is working to keep the oil from reaching Lake Michigan.

On Monday, when a 30-inch pipeline burst in Marshall, Mich., releasing hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into Talmadge Creek, a waterway that feeds the Kalamazoo River, local residents started posting video of the damage on YouTube. As the site's own CitizenTube blog noted, a user calling herself Picture Takin Diva posted these aerial images of the creek, with the comment, "It's not the Gulf, but it's pretty bad!"

Another user, Corrive 9, who uploaded the video at the top of this post on Tuesday, also conducted some interviews with people who live near the river. Looking at the oily water, this man said, "It smells like a mechanic's shop, for one thing, but it's just a shame because this river was just becoming cleaner and now this. We fish this, catch a lot of small-mouth bass out here, great big ones."

A third YouTube user, who goes by 420 Stardust Glitter, uploaded these silent images of the oil water with a note saying, "The oil is so thick it's starting to look gummy and the smell of the toxins are unbearable."


BP Oil Spill Grand Isle Town Hall Meeting Part 3


Underwater Lakes Of Oil From BP Spill Will Continue To Cover Gulf Beaches With Toxic Layer Of Invisible Oil For Months
Posted by Alexander Higgins - July 28, 2010 at 10:59 pm - Permalink


Feds think public can't HANDLE THE TRUTH about toxic dispersants says EPA Sr. Analyst
July 28, 2010


Breathing Toxic Oil Vapors??? video




Instituto del Derecho de Asilo - Casa Museo Leon Trotsky, A.C.
Avenida Río Churubusco No. 410
Col. del Carmen Coyoacán
CP 04100 México, DF -- MEXICO
Tel. 56 58 87 32

Dear Friends in the United States:

We are writing this letter to invite you to support the effort to preserve and renovate the Leon Trotsky Museum (IDA-MCLTAC) in Mexico City.

Already many of our U.S. supporters have sent out appeals to their friends urging support for our project. We thank them for their efforts, and we thank the dozens of you who have already sent in financial contributions to our fund.

On August 20, at 4 p.m., we launched the International Friends of the Leon Trotsky Museum at a special event in a larger venue than our Museum's auditorium: the Foro Coyoacanense, Hugo Argüelles, Calle Allende No. 36, in the center district of Coyoacán, in the southern region of Mexico City.

This event was part of a three-day series of activities on August 19-21 marking the 70th anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky, the 35th anniversary of the opening of the Trotsky Museum, and the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Institute on the Right of Asylum.

We would like to invite all our friends and supporters in the United States to join "International Friends."

If you would like to join "International Friends," please send us a note to the email address listed above. We welcome all who support our Museum's six-point "Statement on Social Objectives" and our four-point "Renovation Project" [see below], and who wish to help us raise desperately needed funds to promote these objectives.

Our goal is for International Friends to include the broadest possible regroupment of personalities, democratic rights activists (including supporters of the right to asylum, which is one of the main themes of our Museum), political activists, and museologists of different progressive political tendencies and backgrounds.

On August 19 and August 20 we also held in our Museum's auditorium a Conference on "Socialism, Democracy and Dissident Movements." There were presentations by Mexican and international speakers. Some of the panels were the following:

- Trotsky and the Dewey Commission (Prof. Olivia Gall, UNAM and Trotsky Museum),

- Participation and Rights of Latinos in the United States (Prof. Suzanne Oboler, Editor, Latino Studies, CUNY),

- Dissident Social Movements on the Left and the Right in the United States (Alan Benjamin, Editor, The Organizer),

- The Relevance of Victor Serge (Suzi Weissman, KPFK Radio producer and author),

- Trotsky and the Dissident Movements in Eastern Europe (Prof. Gabriel García Higueras, University of Lima, Peru), and

- Victor Serge, the POUM and the "Socialism and Liberty" group (Prof. Claudio Albertini, UACM).

The program of the event launching the International Friends of the Leon Trotsky Museum on August 20 included presentations by Esteban Volkov (Trotsky's grandson and president of the board of directors of the museum) and Olivia Gall (director of the museum); a theatrical presentation by Grupo Sol Azul of Moises Mendelewicz titled "Conversations with Trotsky"; a presentation on Political Asylum in Mexico by Pablo Yankelvich (INAH); and a trailer presentation of the film "Planet Without a Visa" (by David Weiss and Linda Laub), with an introduction by Linda Laub.

Finally, on August 21, there was a placing of a wreath on the tombstones of Leon Trotsky and Natalia Sedova, with a presentation by Esteban Volkov.

We invite you to donate to our Museum preservation/renovation fund and to join our International Friends of the Leon Trotsky group and campaign. Please send your checks, payable to Global Exchange (write "Trotsky Museum" on Memo line of your check), to International Friends of the Leon Trotsky Museum, P.O. Box 40009, San Francisco, CA 94140.

Esteban Volkov Bronstein
Grandson of Leon Trotsky
President of the Board of the IDA-MCLTAC
Olivia Gall
Full Professor, CEIICH-UNAM
Director of the IDA-MCLTAC
* * * * * * * * * *

Appendix No. 1

International Friends of the
Leon Trotsky Museum (IFLTM)


The IDA-MCLTAC's Social Objectives

The Social Objective of the Institution is:

1. To maintain, protect, preserve, restore, guard and improve in all pertinent and necessary ways, the Leon Trotsky House-Museum, who must offer its visitors the best possible museology services.

2. To maintain, protect, preserve, guard and increase, in all pertinent and necessary ways, the existing materials in the Rafael Galván Library and in the association's Documentary Center, which must offer its visitors the best possible information and research services.

3. To promote and develop research, analysis, education and effective communication regarding the topic of the right of asylum, and, when related to asylum, on those of migration and refuge.

4. To promote and develop the study, analysis, education and effective communication regarding "the defense of public rights and public freedom."

5. To manage the association's assets and resources, as well as those received through donations, contributions, transfers, bequests, wills, liens, trusts, funding, agreements or employment contracts, in cash or in kind, coming from individuals or corporations, domestic or foreign, public or private. These funds and resources will be used exclusively for the purposes of the Association.

6. To establish partnerships through agreements or other legal forms provided by existing legislation, with any cultural, artistic, social or academic national or international institution, both public and private, which may contribute to the better attainment of its goals.


Appendix No. 2

Renovation Project

The Directive Council of the Institution has developed a project consisting in gradually transforming the IDA-MCLTAC into an institution that takes the figure of Leon Trotsky as its central axis, but also approaches the different ideological and political currents of socialist thought, actions and debates, the right of asylum and the history of revolutionary and post-revolutionary Mexico, in which Trotsky was admitted as a political refugee. The goal is to create an institution that will establish agreements with academics, museums and documentary, visual and bibliographical archives from all over the world, in order to offer the public:


* A well-preserved house-museum that will give its visitors an idea of the real environment in which Trotsky, his friends, guards, secretaries and guests lived between May 1939 and August 1940: a tense and anguished environment, not always but sometimes joyful, not very prosperous, but of hard work and comradeship.

* Permanent as well as temporary exhibits built on visual, audiovisual, documentary and interactive materials.


* Consultation of printed, graphic, audiovisual and interactive materials, in situ or via the web,

* The development of educational and cultural programs, which will consist in conferences, symposia, book presentations, courses and workshops.

* A small bookstore in which our visitors will find books -in three languages, if possible- related to the institution's subjects.


In it, old and new short films, movies and documentaries, organized according to different subjects of historical, political, intellectual and cultural interest will be shown and discussed.


A space that will try to constitute an original, simple, elegant and international cultural option that will harbor:

* Diverse cultural expressions of our contemporary world: sculptors, painters, mimes, actors, storytellers, dancers, poets, musicians, etc.

* The house's garden, such as it was kept by Natalia Sedova and by Sieva Volkov's family between 1939 and the early 1970s.

* A cafeteria that will serve very good coffee, tea, pastries and appetizers, and that will offer in Coyoacán a touch of originality given by four combined elements: (a) a simple international menu made by a few Baltic, Jewish, Balkan, Turkish, French, Norwegian and Mexican dishes, typical of the countries where Trotsky lived or was exiled, (b) the access to reading, in situ, some international newspapers and magazines, (c) a decoration that will portray the style of Mexican restaurants in the thirties, and (d) some music or poetry evenings.

* A shop, selling posters, little boxes, mugs, pens, calendars book markers, agendas, etc., so that our visitors may take home some of the museum's souvenirs.


Say No to Islamophobia!
Defend Mosques and Community Centers!
The Fight for Peace and Social Justice Requires Defense of All Under Attack!


Ohio may execute an innocent man unless you take action.

Kevin Keith is scheduled to be executed on September 15th, despite a wide range of new evidence that suggests he is innocent. Kevin, who has been on Ohio's death row for 16 years, was convicted on the basis of faulty eyewitness identification.

Thirteen years after he was convicted, Kevin discovered that one of the State's supposed "witnesses" -- a hospital nurse who was critical to corroborating the legitimacy of the surviving victim's eyewitness identification -- does not actually exist. He has an alibi affirmed by four people and new evidence has emerged implicating another suspect.

No court has heard the full array of new evidence pointing to Kevin's innocence. Take action today to stop Ohio from executing a man who very well may be innocent.


Stefanie Faucher
Associate Director


Please sign the petition to release Bradley Manning (Click to sign here)

To: US Department of Defense; US Department of Justice
We, the Undersigned, call for justice for US Army PFC Bradley Manning, incarcerated without charge (as of 18 June 2010) at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

Media accounts state that Mr. Manning was arrested in late May for leaking the video of US Apache helicopter pilots killing innocent people and seriously wounding two children in Baghdad, including those who arrived to help the wounded, as well as potentially other material. The video was released by WikiLeaks under the name "Collateral Murder".

If these allegations are untrue, we call upon the US Department of Defense to release Mr. Manning immediately.

If these allegations ARE true, we ALSO call upon the US Department of Defense to release Mr. Manning immediately.

Simultaneously, we express our support for Mr. Manning in any case, and our admiration for his courage if he is, in fact, the person who disclosed the video. Like in the cases of Daniel Ellsberg, W. Mark Felt, Frank Serpico and countless other whistleblowers before, government demands for secrecy must yield to public knowledge and justice when government crime and corruption are being kept hidden.

Justice for Bradley Manning!


The Undersigned:

Zaineb Alani
"Yesterday I lost a country. / I was in a hurry, / and didn't notice when it fell from me / like a broken branch from a forgetful tree. / Please, if anyone passes by / and stumbles across it, / perhaps in a suitcase / open to the sky, / or engraved on a rock / like a gaping wound, / ... / If anyone stumbles across it, / return it to me please. / Please return it, sir. / Please return it, madam. / It is my country . . . / I was in a hurry / when I lost it yesterday." -Dunya Mikhail, Iraqi poet


Dear Gio,

Thanks again for supporting military war resisters. We do this work because it is a tangible contribution to a future without empire and war. With your help, we've won a number of victories recently--you might have read about "Hip Hop" stop-loss soldier Marc Hall, or single mom, and Afghanistan deployment resister, Alexis Hutchinson in the news.

Now, intel analyst Bradley Manning is in the headlines and facing decades in prison for leaking a video of a massacre in Baghdad. If Pfc. Manning is the source of the video, then he did what he had to do to expose a war crime. Regardless, he's wrongly imprisoned and we are doing everything we can to support him. Keep an eye out for action alerts in the coming days on how to support Bradley!

If you have not yet had a chance to make a donation recently, I'm asking that you please consider doing so now so that together we can step up to support Bradley Manning and all GI war objectors!

Jeff Paterson,
Project Director, Courage to Resist

p.s. Our new August print newsletter is now available:


Please forward widely...


These two bills are now in Congress and need your support. Either or both bills would drastically decrease Lynne's and other federal sentences substantially.

H.R. 1475 "Federal Prison Work Incentive Act Amended 2009," Congressman Danny Davis, Democrat, Illinois

This bill will restore and amend the former federal B.O.P. good time allowances. It will let all federal prisoners, except lifers, earn significant reductions to their sentences. Second, earn monthly good time days by working prison jobs. Third, allowances for performing outstanding services or duties in connection with institutional operations. In addition, part of this bill is to bring back parole to federal long term prisoners.

Go to: and

At this time, federal prisoners only earn 47 days per year good time. If H.R. 1475 passes, Lynne Stewart would earn 120-180 days per year good time!

H.R. 61 "45 And Older," Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (18th Congressional District, Texas)

This bill provides early release from federal prison after serving half of a violent crime or violent conduct in prison.

Please write, call, email your Representatives and Senators. Demand their votes!

This information is brought to you by Diane E. Schindelwig, a federal prisoner #36582-177 and friend and supporter of Lynne Stewart.

Write to Lynne at:

Lynne Stewart 53504-054
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

For further information call Lynne's husband, Ralph Poynter, leader of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
718-789-0558 or 917-853-9759

Send contributions payable to:

Lynne Stewart Organization
1070 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York, 11216


Listen to Lynne Stewart event, that took place July 8, 2010 at Judson Memorial Church
Excerpts include: Mumia Abu Jamal, Ralph Poynter, Ramsey Clark, Juanita
Young, Fred Hampton Jr., Raging Grannies, Ralph Schoenman

And check out this article (link) too!



RIP Oscar!

Victory for movement, but justice still needs to be won

Calling on all supporters of justice for Oscar Grant and opponents of racist police brutality:

The jury verdict is not justice for Oscar Grant - it is up to the new movement to use its power to win real justice. THIS IS THE TIME TO ACT.


The maximum sentence for killer cop Johannes Mehserle.

Jail Officers Pirone and Domenici, the two police who were accomplices to murder.

Disarm and disband the BART Police.

Provide massive funding to Oakland for education and jobs for Oakland's black, Latina/o, Asian, and poor and working-class white youth.

Stop police/ICE racial profiling of Latina/o, black, Asian, and other minority youth with and without papers.

Furthermore, we call on Oakland Mayor Dellums and other governmental authorities in Oakland to declare that this verdict does not render justice to Oscar Grant and to act on the demands of the movement.

If you haven't already done so yet, join the JUSTICE FOR OSCAR GRANT ACTION PAGE on Facebook at:


"Judge William T. Moore, Jr. ruled that while executing an innocent person would violate the United States Constitution, Davis didn't meet the extraordinarily high legal bar to prove his innocence."
Amnesty International Press Release
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Contact: Wende Gozan Brown at 212-633-4247,

(Washington, D.C.) - Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today expressed deep concern that a federal district court decision puts Georgia death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis back on track for execution, despite doubts about his guilt that were raised during a June evidentiary hearing. Judge William T. Moore, Jr. ruled that while executing an innocent person would violate the United States Constitution, Davis didn't meet the extraordinarily high legal bar to prove his innocence.

"Nobody walking out of that hearing could view this as an open-and-shut case," said Larry Cox, executive director of AIUSA. "The testimony that came to light demonstrates that doubt still exists, but the legal bar for proving innocence was set so high it was virtually insurmountable. It would be utterly unconscionable to proceed with this execution, plain and simple."

Amnesty International representatives, including Cox, attended the hearing in Savannah, Ga. The organization noted that evidence continues to cast doubt over the case:

· Four witnesses admitted in court that they lied at trial when they implicated Troy Davis and that they did not know who shot Officer Mark MacPhail.

· Four witnesses implicated another man as the one who killed the officer - including a man who says he saw the shooting and could clearly identify the alternative suspect, who is a family member.

· Three original state witnesses described police coercion during questioning, including one man who was 16 years old at the time of the murder and was questioned by several police officers without his parents or other adults present.

"The Troy Davis case is emblematic of everything that is wrong with capital punishment," said Laura Moye, director of AIUSA's Death Penalty Abolition Campaign. "In a system rife with error, mistakes can be made. There are no do-overs when it comes to death. Lawmakers across the country should scrutinize this case carefully, not only because of its unprecedented nature, but because it clearly indicates the need to abolish the death penalty in the United States."

Since the launch of its February 2007 report, Where Is the Justice for Me? The Case of Troy Davis, Facing Execution in Georgia, Amnesty International has campaigned intensively for a new evidentiary hearing or trial and clemency for Davis, collecting hundreds of thousands of clemency petition signatures and letters from across the United States and around the world. To date, internationally known figures such as Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter have all joined the call for clemency, as well as lawmakers from within and outside of Georgia.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

# # #

For more information visit

Wende Gozan Brown
Media Relations Director
Amnesty International USA
212/633-4247 (o)
347/526-5520 (c)


Bernadette McAliskey Quote on Zionists:

"The root cause of conflict in the Middle East is the very nature of the state of Israel. It is a facist state. It is a international bully, which exists not to protect the rights of the Jewish people but to perpetuate a belief of Zionist supremacy. It debases the victims of the holocaust by its own strategy for extermination of Palestine and Palestinians and has become the image and likeness of its own worst enemy, the Third Reich.

"Anyone challenging their position, their crazed self-image is entitled, in the fascist construction of their thinking, to be wiped out. Every humanitarian becomes a terrorist? How long is the reality of the danger Israel poses to world peace going to be denied by the Western powers who created this monster?"


Please sign the petition to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal and
and forward it to all your lists.

"Mumia Abu-Jamal and The Global Abolition of the Death Penalty"

(A Life In the Balance - The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, at 34, Amnesty Int'l, 2000; www.

[Note: This petition is approved by Mumia Abu-Jamal and his lead attorney, Robert R. Bryan, San Francisco (E-mail:; Website:]

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


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 501c)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.

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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) Now That's Rich
[The fact is, whether or not the tax breaks for the wealthy are extended, they already got one of the biggest billion-dollar-boondoggles in the world already, plunging millions of the poorest further down into the depths of poverty with no end in]
August 22, 2010

2) As Claims for Spill Losses Shift to Administrator, Queries Follow
August 23, 2010

3) Maintenance of Oil Rig Is Subject at Hearing
August 23, 2010

"Judge William T. Moore, Jr. ruled that while executing an innocent person would violate the United States Constitution, Davis didn't meet the extraordinarily high legal bar to prove his innocence."
Amnesty International Press Release
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Contact: Wende Gozan Brown at 212-633-4247,

5) First Hand account: Florida Beaches Are Polluted With Oil (I was wrong)
Posted by Alexander Higgins
[There are videos at this]
August 24, 2010

6) The Secret Killers
By Pratap Chatterjee
The Nation, August 19, 2010

7) Missing Piece in Oil Rig Inquiry: Who Was in Charge?
August 25, 2010

8) Acrimony Behind the Scenes of Gulf Oil Spill
August 26, 2010

9) Struggling Cities Shut Firehouses in Budget Crisis
August 26, 2010

10) Rumor to Fact in Tales of Post-Katrina Violence
August 26, 2010

11) Example Set by First Military Tribunal Case Has U.S. Wary
August 27, 2010

12) Medical Use of Marijuana Costs Some a Paycheck
August 28, 2010


1) Now That's Rich
[The fact is, whether or not the tax breaks for the wealthy are extended, they already got one of the biggest billion-dollar-boondoggles in the world already, plunging millions of the poorest further down into the depths of poverty with no end in]
August 22, 2010

We need to pinch pennies these days. Don't you know we have a budget deficit? For months that has been the word from Republicans and conservative Democrats, who have rejected every suggestion that we do more to avoid deep cuts in public services and help the ailing economy.

But these same politicians are eager to cut checks averaging $3 million each to the richest 120,000 people in the country.

What - you haven't heard about this proposal? Actually, you have: I'm talking about demands that we make all of the Bush tax cuts, not just those for the middle class, permanent.

Some background: Back in 2001, when the first set of Bush tax cuts was rammed through Congress, the legislation was written with a peculiar provision - namely, that the whole thing would expire, with tax rates reverting to 2000 levels, on the last day of 2010.

Why the cutoff date? In part, it was used to disguise the fiscal irresponsibility of the tax cuts: lopping off that last year reduced the headline cost of the cuts, because such costs are normally calculated over a 10-year period. It also allowed the Bush administration to pass the tax cuts using reconciliation - yes, the same procedure that Republicans denounced when it was used to enact health reform - while sidestepping rules designed to prevent the use of that procedure to increase long-run budget deficits.

Obviously, the idea was to go back at a later date and make those tax cuts permanent. But things didn't go according to plan. And now the witching hour is upon us.

So what's the choice now? The Obama administration wants to preserve those parts of the original tax cuts that mainly benefit the middle class - which is an expensive proposition in its own right - but to let those provisions benefiting only people with very high incomes expire on schedule. Republicans, with support from some conservative Democrats, want to keep the whole thing.

And there's a real chance that Republicans will get what they want. That's a demonstration, if anyone needed one, that our political culture has become not just dysfunctional but deeply corrupt.

What's at stake here? According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, as opposed to following the Obama proposal, would cost the federal government $680 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. For the sake of comparison, it took months of hard negotiations to get Congressional approval for a mere $26 billion in desperately needed aid to state and local governments.

And where would this $680 billion go? Nearly all of it would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people with incomes of more than $500,000 a year. But that's the least of it: the policy center's estimates say that the majority of the tax cuts would go to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent. Take a group of 1,000 randomly selected Americans, and pick the one with the highest income; he's going to get the majority of that group's tax break. And the average tax break for those lucky few - the poorest members of the group have annual incomes of more than $2 million, and the average member makes more than $7 million a year - would be $3 million over the course of the next decade.

How can this kind of giveaway be justified at a time when politicians claim to care about budget deficits? Well, history is repeating itself. The original campaign for the Bush tax cuts relied on deception and dishonesty. In fact, my first suspicions that we were being misled into invading Iraq were based on the resemblance between the campaign for war and the campaign for tax cuts the previous year. And sure enough, that same trademark deception and dishonesty is being deployed on behalf of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

So, for example, we're told that it's all about helping small business; but only a tiny fraction of small-business owners would receive any tax break at all. And how many small-business owners do you know making several million a year?

Or we're told that it's about helping the economy recover. But it's hard to think of a less cost-effective way to help the economy than giving money to people who already have plenty, and aren't likely to spend a windfall.

No, this has nothing to do with sound economic policy. Instead, as I said, it's about a dysfunctional and corrupt political culture, in which Congress won't take action to revive the economy, pleads poverty when it comes to protecting the jobs of schoolteachers and firefighters, but declares cost no object when it comes to sparing the already wealthy even the slightest financial inconvenience.

So far, the Obama administration is standing firm against this outrage. Let's hope that it prevails in its fight. Otherwise, it will be hard not to lose all faith in America's future.


2) As Claims for Spill Losses Shift to Administrator, Queries Follow
August 23, 2010

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. - "The day is here," Kenneth R. Feinberg announced on Monday at the American Legion Post 139 Bingo Hall, just over a mile from this town's quiet gulf beaches. "If you've got a claim from BP, those days are over," he continued. "BP's out of the business."

"The day" was when Mr. Feinberg officially took control as administrator of the $20 billion fund set up by BP to pay out claims to those whose lives or businesses have been hurt by the BP oil spill. For the occasion, he traveled along the Mississippi coast, laying out his plans, answering questions and encouraging people to file claims immediately.

Details of his plan have been made public over the past few days, but there was no shortage of questions from the skeptical crowd at the bingo hall, a mix of shrimpers, lawyers, real estate developers, restaurateurs and politicians, in flip-flops, flats and oxford shoes.

Keath Ladner, owner of Gulf Shores Sea Products, said he had been communicating with scientists around the country and had serious concerns that the August 2013 deadline for final settlement claims might fall before the true extent of the damage was known. Even if the shrimp, crab and oysters are found to be safe, it is impossible to say how long seafood buyers will be suspicious of gulf seafood. For now, Mr. Ladner said, they certainly are not buying.

"This is one of the most difficult questions we've got," Mr. Feinberg said, before going on to list several options for Mr. Ladner, including opting out of the process and suing.

One woman, a lawyer and politician, asked if there was a cap on emergency claims. (No.) Another man asked if the fund would pay for relocation costs if someone decided to leave the gulf because of the spill. (No.) One woman was curious about Mr. Feinberg himself.

"If you're not with BP and you're not with the government, who are you with?" she asked.

"My decisions are strictly my own," said Mr. Feinberg, a Washington lawyer who also handled the Sept. 11 victims' compensation fund.

The issue of proximity to the gulf, one of the more controversial qualifications for receiving a claim, did not arise in this beach town. But there were several pointed questions about Mr. Feinberg's policy on real estate reimbursement, and the askers came away dissatisfied. Under the terms of the fund, people can be compensated if they sold property and could prove that they received much less for it than they would have if the spill had not occurred. And they could be compensated for loss of rental income.

But a mere drop in property value, Mr. Feinberg said unequivocally, would not be compensated.

"Is he encouraging everybody on the Gulf Coast to dump their property?" asked Mr. Ladner's brother, Kirk, who had been trying to sell beachfront property to developers before the spill. One group of developers walked away from about 13 acres and now, he said, no one wants to buy the property and he has no recourse in the claims process.

What was most frustrating about that, said Mr. Lander's partner in the land deal, Russell Elliott, was that BP had seemed open to some sort of claim on lost property value.

"Now he comes and throws it in the garbage," Mr. Elliott said. "He's made a Catch-22. You can't sell it, but you can't collect until you sell."

While those who have already filed claims did not have to provide new documentation of their losses - BP was handing over the paperwork - they did have to refile their claims. Mr. Feinberg said that as of 9 a.m. more than 500 claims had been filed.

Beverly and Frank Fontenot, owners of Benigno's seafood restaurant, fueled themselves with coffee and stayed up until midnight to call the new claims hot line as soon as it opened for business. The person on the other end could not find their claim, but the Fontenots were still more confident about the new process 10 hours later.

Dealing with BP, Mr. Fontenot said, had been a nightmare. He says he could account for at least $60,000 in lost revenue over the summer, and he has only a $5,000 check from BP to show for it.

Ms. Fontenot said she was cautiously optimistic about Mr. Feinberg.

"I believe that this man with his experience has got to have some logic, some reason behind his thinking," she said.

They filed a claim on Monday and were told they would receive the money within seven days.

"Now," she said, "we'll have to see how impressive he really is."


3) Maintenance of Oil Rig Is Subject at Hearing
August 23, 2010

HOUSTON - Government investigators are turning their attention this week to actions by onshore managers for BP and Transocean that may have contributed to the oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

After interviewing more than a dozen workers who survived the Deepwater Horizon explosion, a federal panel here is shifting its focus to land-based supervisors from the two main companies operating aboard the rig.

On Monday, the panel pressed officials from the companies about an audit that found hundreds of mechanical problems less than a year before the April 20 explosion that began the spill.

The September 2009 audit, conducted by four BP officials, cited 390 maintenance issues, including many that were considered "high priority," and would require 3,545 hours of labor.

An onshore BP official, Neil Cramond, the marine authority for the Gulf of Mexico, testified Monday that at least 63 of the 70 repairs under his supervision had been completed by the day of the disaster.

But it remains unclear whether many of the most critical problems - including an "inhibited" safety alarm and broken watertight doors - were ever repaired. Another BP official reviewed the alarm system in March and found it operational, Mr. Cramond testified. But the rig's chief technician, Mike Williams, testified last month that the main emergency alarm was not fully activated to avoid waking the crew with loud morning sirens.

Another witness, Paul Johnson, an onshore rig manager for Transocean, testified Monday that some of the maintenance issues in the audit were important enough that BP did not want drilling to continue until they were fixed.

Under questioning from BP lawyers, Mr. Johnson said Transocean lost more than $500,000 in rig rental fees for every day that repairs prevented drilling. Investigators have raised questions about whether financial realities pressured the companies to take shortcuts on safety.

Also Monday, BP prepared to remove drill pipe from the blowout preventer on its now dormant well. Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who is leading the federal response, said BP had sent a video camera into the preventer and discovered three sections of pipe inside.

Two of the sections are short and were apparently cut during the effort to cap the well. The third extends perhaps for several thousand feet below the preventer. BP will try to remove as much of the pipe as possible in order to remove the preventer and replace it with an undamaged one as it prepares for the final plugging of the well.


"Judge William T. Moore, Jr. ruled that while executing an innocent person would violate the United States Constitution, Davis didn't meet the extraordinarily high legal bar to prove his innocence."
Amnesty International Press Release
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Contact: Wende Gozan Brown at 212-633-4247,

(Washington, D.C.) - Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today expressed deep concern that a federal district court decision puts Georgia death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis back on track for execution, despite doubts about his guilt that were raised during a June evidentiary hearing. Judge William T. Moore, Jr. ruled that while executing an innocent person would violate the United States Constitution, Davis didn't meet the extraordinarily high legal bar to prove his innocence.

"Nobody walking out of that hearing could view this as an open-and-shut case," said Larry Cox, executive director of AIUSA. "The testimony that came to light demonstrates that doubt still exists, but the legal bar for proving innocence was set so high it was virtually insurmountable. It would be utterly unconscionable to proceed with this execution, plain and simple."

Amnesty International representatives, including Cox, attended the hearing in Savannah, Ga. The organization noted that evidence continues to cast doubt over the case:

· Four witnesses admitted in court that they lied at trial when they implicated Troy Davis and that they did not know who shot Officer Mark MacPhail.

· Four witnesses implicated another man as the one who killed the officer - including a man who says he saw the shooting and could clearly identify the alternative suspect, who is a family member.

· Three original state witnesses described police coercion during questioning, including one man who was 16 years old at the time of the murder and was questioned by several police officers without his parents or other adults present.

"The Troy Davis case is emblematic of everything that is wrong with capital punishment," said Laura Moye, director of AIUSA's Death Penalty Abolition Campaign. "In a system rife with error, mistakes can be made. There are no do-overs when it comes to death. Lawmakers across the country should scrutinize this case carefully, not only because of its unprecedented nature, but because it clearly indicates the need to abolish the death penalty in the United States."

Since the launch of its February 2007 report, Where Is the Justice for Me? The Case of Troy Davis, Facing Execution in Georgia, Amnesty International has campaigned intensively for a new evidentiary hearing or trial and clemency for Davis, collecting hundreds of thousands of clemency petition signatures and letters from across the United States and around the world. To date, internationally known figures such as Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter have all joined the call for clemency, as well as lawmakers from within and outside of Georgia.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers who campaign for universal human rights from more than 150 countries. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

# # #

For more information visit

Wende Gozan Brown
Media Relations Director
Amnesty International USA
212/633-4247 (o)
347/526-5520 (c)


5) First Hand account: Florida Beaches Are Polluted With Oil (I was wrong)
Posted by Alexander Higgins
[There are videos at this]
August 24, 2010

A local Florida resident who advocated the use of dispersants and had been denying that Florida waters have been polluted by the BP Gulf Oil Spill now admits he was wrong and the waters are polluted in a first hand account of the devastation.

First, let me apologize to all those members that I have criticized for putting down the Florida beaches. I have been lobbying for our beaches since the start, and I have had many good trips to the beach. That ended today, and I am disgusted. I just finished an hour long shower for me and the kids.

Second, let me say that I have lived in this area for 10 years. I am familiar with the normal way the beach looks, the water looks, the wildlife reacts. I am familiar with the seasonal changes. I have ridden out storms, I know what Red Tide and storm damage looks like. I have swam at closed beaches, I have surfed in storm surges, etc., etc.

I am going to post 5 videos and some snap shots. The videos are revealing, but they don't compare to the real thing.

Normally.......Our beaches are sugary white. The quartz is unique to this area. It leaves the Appalachian Mountainsand it is pinkish. It is sun bleached and it is so pure it squeeks when you walk on it. Of all the beaches I have experienced in Cancun, Cozumel, Jamaica, Hawaii, the West Coast, of all of the beaches, the Florida Panhandle is by far the prettiest. It has sugar white, squeeky sand, and beautiful emerald green water, visibility for snorkelers and scuba divers is typically almost 100 ft. There is no place better.

Today, we noticed something was......just off? The water was darker, the seaweed was worse, the beach was littered with Conch shells. The Horshoe crabs were aggressive. The fish were jumping a lot. But, we waded in anyway. At first we thought the seaweed had made the water darker. A tropical system passed through a few days ago, so it made sense. Once we were in the water, it felt different. It was slicker, and it burned some scrapes on my leg. Typically the seawater is soothing to skin. Today it was uncomfortable. Still we pushed on, hate to waste a good beach day, and we were looking forward to watching a sunset.

After some wading, we decided not to submerge and swim, it was just too dirty. We sat down on the beach and I dug down in the sand a little. To my surprise the hole filled with chocolate colored water? This has never happened before, no matter how much seaweed or silt is present. It NEVER penetrates the sand, and if you dig a hole you always get crystal clear water. Now I was getting very concerned!

My wife and I got up and looked more closely at the water, and we made our kids back away from it. Only now did we notice the suspended frothy brown color. We looked at each other and down the beach and we noticed a linear striation of color. The typical bright white sand was up on the dunes, but as we looked closer to the water, lines of darker and darker water marks were present. At the water line the sand was grey/black. I took my foot and dug down and the sand below the surface was brown and oily looking. The water that filled the hole, even many feet from the beach, the water that filled the hole was brown and cloudy!!

Now, the seaweed, dead conches, erratic fish behavior, and odd feeling seawater all made sense.

The dispersants are certainly working. The oil is thoroughly mixed into the sea water. It isn't washing up on the shore, instead it is embedding into the sand. The filter fish are feeling the effects the worst. The oyster beds and shell fish are dying off. The seaweed is dying. Sadly, people were fishing just down the beach from us!!

Here are the videos and I am still working on getting the snapshots up. Please feel free to ask questions. I am totally disheartened and upset at this moment. My wife was feeling depressed and we went to the beach to cheer up. That was a big mistake!


6) The Secret Killers
By Pratap Chatterjee
The Nation, August 19, 2010

"Find, fix, finish, and follow-up" is the way the Pentagon describes the mission of secret military teams in Afghanistan which have been given a mandate to pursue alleged members of the Taliban or al-Qaeda wherever they may be found. Some call these "manhunting" operations and the units assigned to them "capture/kill" teams.

Whatever terminology you choose, the details of dozens of their specific operations -- and how they regularly went badly wrong -- have been revealed for the first time in the mass of secret U.S. military and intelligence documents published by the website Wikileaks in July to a storm of news coverage and official protest. Representing a form of U.S. covert warfare now on the rise, these teams regularly make more enemies than friends and undermine any goodwill created by U.S. reconstruction projects.

When Danny Hall and Gordon Phillips, the civilian and military directors of the U.S. provincial reconstruction team in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, arrived for a meeting with Gul Agha Sherzai, the local governor, in mid-June 2007, they knew that they had a lot of apologizing to do. Philips had to explain why a covert U.S. military "capture/kill" team named Task Force 373, hunting for Qari Ur-Rahman, an alleged Taliban commander given the code-name "Carbon," had called in an AC-130 Spectre gunship and inadvertently killed seven Afghan police officers in the middle of the night.

The incident vividly demonstrated the inherent clash between two doctrines in the U.S. war in Afghanistan -- counterinsurgency ("protecting the people") and counterterrorism (killing terrorists). Although the Obama administration has given lip service to the former, the latter has been, and continues to be, the driving force in its war in Afghanistan.

For Hall, a Foreign Service officer who was less than two months away from a plush assignment in London, working with the military had already proven more difficult than he expected. In an article for Foreign Service Journal published a couple of months before the meeting, he wrote, "I felt like I never really knew what was going on, where I was supposed to be, what my role was, or if I even had one. In particular, I didn't speak either language that I needed: Pashtu or military."

It had been no less awkward for Phillips. Just a month earlier, he had personally handed over "solatia" payments -- condolence payments for civilian deaths wrongfully caused by U.S. forces -- in Governor Sherzai's presence, while condemning the act of a Taliban suicide bomber who had killed 19 civilians, setting off the incident in question. "We come here as your guests," he told the relatives of those killed, "invited to aid in the reconstruction and improved security and governance of Nangarhar, to bring you a better life and a brighter future for you and your children. Today, as I look upon the victims and their families, I join you in mourning for your loved ones."

Hall and Phillips were in charge of a portfolio of 33 active U.S. reconstruction projects worth $11 million in Nangarhar, focused on road-building, school supplies, and an agricultural program aimed at exporting fruits and vegetables from the province.

Yet the mission of their military-led "provincial reconstruction team" (made up of civilian experts, State department officials, and soldiers) appeared to be in direct conflict with those of the "capture/kill" team of special operations forces (Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and Green Berets, together with operatives from the Central Intelligence Agency's Special Activities Division) whose mandate was to pursue Afghans alleged to be terrorists as well as insurgent leaders. That team was leaving a trail of dead civilian bodies and recrimination in its wake.

Details of some of the missions of Task Force 373 first became public as a result of more than 76,000 incident reports leaked to the public by Wikileaks, a whistleblower website, together with analyses of those documents in Der Spiegel, the Guardian, and the New York Times. A full accounting of the depredations of the task force may be some time in coming, however, as the Obama administration refuses to comment on its ongoing assassination spree in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A short history of the unit can nonetheless be gleaned from a careful reading of the Wikileaks documents as well as related reports from Afghanistan and unclassified Special Forces reports.

The Wikileaks data suggests that as many as 2,058 people on a secret hit list called the "Joint Prioritized Effects List" (JPEL) were considered "capture/kill" targets in Afghanistan. A total of 757 prisoners -- most likely from this list -- were being held at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility (BTIF), a U.S.-run prison on Bagram Air Base as of the end of December 2009.

Capture/Kill Operations

The idea of "joint" teams from different branches of the military working collaboratively with the CIA was first conceived in 1980 after the disastrous Operation Eagle Claw, when personnel from the Air Force, Army, and Navy engaged in a disastrously botched, seat-of-the-pants attempt to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran with help from the Agency. Eight soldiers were killed when two helicopters collided in the Iranian desert. Afterwards, a high-level, six-member commission led by Admiral James L. Holloway, III recommended the creation of a Joint Special Forces command to ensure that different branches of the military and the CIA should do far more advance coordination planning in the future.

This process accelerated greatly after September 11, 2001. That month, a CIA team called Jawbreaker headed for Afghanistan to plan a U.S.-led invasion of the country. Shortly thereafter, an Army Green Beret team set up Task Force Dagger to pursue the same mission. Despite an initial rivalry between the commanders of the two groups, they eventually teamed up.

The first covert "joint" team involving the CIA and various military special operations forces to work together in Afghanistan was Task Force 5, charged with the mission of capturing or killing "high value targets" like Osama bin Laden, senior leaders of al-Qaeda, and Mullah Mohammed Omar, the head of the Taliban. A sister organization set up in Iraq was called Task Force 20. The two were eventually combined into Task Force 121 by General John Abizaid, the head of the U.S. Central Command.

In a new book to be released this month, Operation Darkheart, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer describes the work of Task Force 121 in 2003, when he was serving as part of a team dubbed the Jedi Knights. Working under the alias of Major Christopher Stryker, he ran operations for the Defense Intelligence Agency (the military equivalent of the CIA) out of Bagram Air Base.

One October night, Shaffer was dropped into a village near Asadabad in Kunar province by an MH-47 Chinook helicopter to lead a "joint" team, including Army Rangers (a Special Forces division) and 10th Mountain Division troops. They were on a mission to capture a lieutenant of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a notorious warlord allied with the Taliban, based on information provided by the CIA.

It wasn't easy. "They succeeded in striking at the core of the Taliban and their safe havens across the border in Pakistan. For a moment Shaffer saw us winning the war," reads the promotional material for the book. "Then the military brass got involved. The policies that top officials relied on were hopelessly flawed. Shaffer and his team were forced to sit and watch as the insurgency grew -- just across the border in Pakistan."

Almost a quarter century after Operation Eagle Claw, Shaffer, who was part of the Able Danger team that had pursued Al Qaeda in the 1990s, describes the bitter turf wars between the CIA and Special Forces teams over how the shadowy world of secret assassinations in Afghanistan and Pakistan should be run.

Task Force 373

Fast forward to 2007, the first time Task Force 373 is mentioned in the Wikileaks documents. We don't know whether its number means anything, but coincidentally or not, chapter 373 of the U.S. Code 10, the act of Congress that sets out what the U.S. military is legally allowed to do, permits the Secretary of Defense to empower any "civilian employee" of the military "to execute warrants and make arrests without a warrant" in criminal matters. Whether or not this is indeed the basis for that "373" remains a classified matter -- as indeed, until the Wikileaks document dump occurred, was the very existence of the group.

Analysts say that Task Force 373 complements Task Force 121 by using "white forces" like the Rangers and the Green Berets, as opposed to the more secretive Delta Force. Task Force 373 is supposedly run out of three military bases -- in Kabul, the Afghan capital; Kandahar, the country's second largest city; and Khost City near the Pakistani tribal lands. It's possible that some of its operations also come out of Camp Marmal, a German base in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Sources familiar with the program say that the task force has its own helicopters and aircraft, notably AC-130 Spectre gunships, dedicated only to its use.

Its commander appears to have been Brigadier General Raymond Palumbo, based out of the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Palumbo, however, left Fort Bragg in mid-July, shortly after General Stanley McChrystal was relieved as Afghan war commander by President Obama. The name of the new commander of the task force is not known.

In more than 100 incident reports in the Wikileaks files, Task Force 373 is described as leading numerous "capture/kill" efforts, notably in Khost, Paktika, and Nangarhar provinces, all bordering the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of northern Pakistan. Some reportedly resulted in successful captures, while others led to the death of local police officers or even small children, causing angry villagers to protest and attack U.S.-led military forces.

In April 2007, David Adams, commander of the Khost provincial reconstruction team, was called to meet with elders from the village of Gurbuz in Khost province, who were angry about Task Force 373's operations in their community. The incident report on Wikileaks does not indicate just what Task Force 373 did to upset Gurbuz's elders, but the governor of Khost, Arsala Jamal, had been publicly complaining about Special Forces operations and civilian deaths in his province since December 2006, when five civilians were killed in a raid on Darnami village.

"This is our land," he said then. "I've been asking with greater force: Let us sit together, we know our Afghan brothers, we know our culture better. With these operations we should not create more enemies. We are in a position to reduce mistakes."

As Adams would later recall in an op-ed he co-authored for the Wall Street Journal, "The increasing number of raids on Afghan homes alienated many of Khost's tribal elders."

On June 12, 2007, Danny Hall and Gordon Philips, working in Nangarhar province just northeast of Khost, were called into that meeting with Governor Sherzai to explain how Task Force 373 had killed those seven local Afghan police officers. Like Jamal, Sherzai made the point to Hall and Philips that "he strongly encourages better coordination... and he further emphasized that he does not want to see this happen again."

Less than a week later, a Task Force 373 team fired five rockets at a compound in Nangar Khel in Paktika province to the south of Khost, in an attempt to kill Abu Laith al-Libi, an alleged al-Qaeda member from Libya. When the U.S. forces made it to the village, they found that Task Force 373 had destroyed a madrassa (or Islamic school), killing six children and grievously wounding a seventh who, despite the efforts of a U.S. medical team, would soon die. (In late January 2008, al-Libi was reported killed by a Hellfire missile from a Predator drone strike in a village near Mir Ali in North Waziristan in Pakistan.)

Paktika Governor Akram Khapalwak met with the U.S. military the day after the raid. Unlike his counterparts in Khost and Nangarhar, Khapalwak agreed to support the "talking points" developed for Task Force 373 to explain the incident to the media. According to the Wikileaks incident report, the governor then "echoed the tragedy of children being killed, but stressed this could've been prevented had the people exposed the presence of insurgents in the area."

However, no military talking points, no matter in whose mouth, could stop the civilian deaths as long as Task Force 373's raids continued.

On October 4, 2007, its members called in an air strike -- 500 pound Paveway bombs -- on a house in the village of Laswanday, just six miles from Nangar Khel in Paktika province (where those seven children had already died). This time, four men, one woman, and a girl -- all civilians -- as well as a donkey, a dog, and several chickens would be slaughtered. A dozen U.S. soldiers were injured, but the soldiers reported that not one "enemy" was detained or killed.

The Missing Afghan Story

Not all raids resulted in civilian deaths. The U.S. military incident reports released by Wikileaks suggest that Task Force 373 had better luck in capturing "targets" alive and avoiding civilian deaths on December 14, 2007. The 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) was asked that day to support Task Force 373 in a search in Paktika province for Bitonai and Nadr, two alleged al-Qaeda leaders listed on the JPEL. The operation took place just outside the town of Orgun, close to U.S. Forward Operating Base (FOB) Harriman. Located 7,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains, it hosts about 300 soldiers as well as a small CIA compound, and is often visited by chattering military helicopters well as sleepy camel herds belonging to local Pashtuns.

An airborne assault team code-named "Operation Spartan" descended on the compounds where Bitonai and Nadr were supposed to be living, but failed to find them. When a local Afghan informant told the Special Forces soldiers that the suspects were at a location about two miles away, Task Force 373 seized both men as well as 33 others who were detained at FOB Harriman for questioning and possible transfer to the prison at Bagram.

But when Task Force 373 was on the prowl, civilians were, it seems, always at risk, and while the Wikileaks documents reveal what the U.S soldiers were willing to report, the Afghan side of the story was often left in a ditch. For example, on a Monday night in mid-November 2009, Task Force 373 conducted an operation to capture or kill an alleged militant code-named "Ballentine" in Ghazni province. A terse incident report announced that one Afghan woman and four "insurgents" had been killed. The next morning, Task Force White Eagle, a Polish unit under the command of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division, reported that some 80 people gathered to protest the killings. The window of an armored vehicle was damaged by the angry villagers, but the documents don't offer us their version of the incident.

In an ironic twist, one of the last Task Force 373 incidents recorded in the Wikileaks documents was almost a reprise of the original Operation Eagle Claw disaster that led to the creation of the "joint" capture/kill teams. Just before sunrise on October 26, 2009, two U.S. helicopters, a UH-1 Huey and an AH-1 Cobra, collided near the town of Garmsir in the southern province of Helmand, killing four Marines.

Closely allied with Task Force 373 is a British unit, Task Force 42, composed of Special Air Service, Special Boat Service, and Special Reconnaissance Regiment commandos who operate in Helmand province and are mentioned in several Wikileaks incident reports.


"Capture/kill" is a key part of a new military "doctrine" developed by the Special Forces Command established after the failure of Operation Eagle Claw. Under the leadership of General Bryan D. Brown, who took over the Special Forces Command in September 2003, the doctrine came to be known as F4, which stood for "find, fix, finish, and follow-up" -- a slightly euphemistic but not hard to understand message about how alleged terrorists and insurgents were to be dealt with.

Under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in the Bush years, Brown began setting up "joint Special Forces" teams to conduct F4 missions outside war zones. These were given the anodyne name "Military Liaison Elements." At least one killing by such a team in Paraguay (of an armed robber not on any targeting list) was written up by New York Times reporters Scott Shane and Thom Shanker. The team, whose presence had not been made known to the U.S. ambassador there, was ordered to leave the country.

"The number-one requirement is to defend the homeland. And so sometimes that requires that you find and capture or kill terrorist targets around the world that are trying to do harm to this nation," Brown told the House Committee on Armed Services in March 2006. "Our foreign partners... are willing but incapable nations that want help in building their own capability to defend their borders and eliminate terrorism in their countries or in their regions." In April 2007, President Bush rewarded Brown's planning by creating a special high-level office at the Pentagon for an assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities.

Michael G. Vickers, made famous in the book and film Charlie Wilson's War as the architect of the covert arms-and-money supply chain to the mujaheedin in the CIA's anti-Soviet Afghan campaign of the 1980s, was nominated to fill the position. Under his leadership, a new directive was issued in December 2008 to "develop capabilities for extending U.S. reach into denied areas and uncertain environments by operating with and through indigenous foreign forces or by conducting low visibility operations." In this way, the "capture/kill" program was institutionalized in Washington.

"The war on terror is fundamentally an indirect war... It's a war of partners... but it also is a bit of the war in the shadows, either because of political sensitivity or the problem of finding terrorists," Vickers told the Washington Post as 2007 ended. "That's why the Central Intelligence Agency is so important... and our Special Operations forces play a large role."

George W. Bush's departure from the White House did not dampen the enthusiasm for F4. Quite the contrary: even though the F4 formula has recently been tinkered with, in typical military fashion, and has now become "find, fix, finish, exploit, and analyze," or F3EA, President Obama has, by all accounts, expanded military intelligence gathering and "capture/kill" programs globally in tandem with an escalation of drone-strike operations by the CIA.

There are quite a few outspoken supporters of the "capture/kill" doctrine. Columbia University Professor Austin Long is one academic who has jumped on the F3EA bandwagon. Noting its similarity to the Phoenix assassination program, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the U.S. war in Vietnam (which he defends), he has called for a shrinking of the U.S. military "footprint" in Afghanistan to 13,000 Special Forces troops who would focus exclusively on counter-terrorism, particularly assassination operations. "Phoenix suggests that intelligence coordination and the integration of intelligence with an action arm can have a powerful effect on even extremely large and capable armed groups," he and his co-author William Rosenau wrote in a July 2009 Rand Institute monograph entitled" "The Phoenix Program and Contemporary Counterinsurgency."

Others are even more aggressively inclined. Lieutenant George Crawford, who retired from the position of "lead strategist" for the Special Forces Command to go work for Archimedes Global, Inc., a Washington consulting firm, has suggested that F3EA be replaced by one term: "Manhunting." In a monograph published by the Joint Special Operations University in September 2009, "Manhunting: Counter-Network Organization for Irregular Warfare," Crawford spells out "how to best address the responsibility to develop manhunting as a capability for American national security."

Killing the Wrong People

The strange evolution of these concepts, the creation of ever more global hunter-killer teams whose purpose in life is assassination 24/7, and the civilians these "joint Special Forces" teams regularly kill in their raids on supposed "targets" have unsettled even military experts.

For example, Christopher Lamb, the acting director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, and Martin Cinnamond, a former U.N. official in Afghanistan, penned an article for the Spring 2010 issue of the Joint Forces Quarterly in which they wrote: "There is broad agreement... that the indirect approach to counterinsurgency should take precedence over kill/capture operations. However, the opposite has occurred."

Other military types claim that the hunter-killer approach is short-sighted and counterproductive. "My take on Task Force 373 and other task forces, it has a purpose because it keeps the enemy off balance. But It does not understand the fundamental root cause of the conflict, of why people are supporting the Taliban," says Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and State Department contractor who resigned from the government last September. Hoh, who often worked with Task Force 373 as well as other Special Forces "capture/kill" programs in Afghanistan and Iraq, adds: "We are killing the wrong people, the mid-level Taliban who are only fighting us because we are in their valleys. If we were not there, they would not be fighting the U.S."

Task Force 373 may be a nightmare for Afghans. For the rest of us -- now that Wikileaks has flushed it into the open -- it should be seen as a symptom of deeper policy disasters. After all, it raises a basic question: Is this country really going to become known as a global Manhunters, Inc.?


7) Missing Piece in Oil Rig Inquiry: Who Was in Charge?
August 25, 2010

HOUSTON - Even after dozens of witnesses, a hundred hours of testimony and three months of investigation, a chairman of a federal panel exploring the Deepwater Horizon disaster admitted Wednesday that he still lacked a simple fact: Who was the top authority on the oil rig when it exploded?

The finger-pointing among various witnesses and lawyers has become so routine at the government hearings that the chairman, Capt. Hung Nguyen of the Coast Guard, said he viewed the rig as a "three-legged stool" - wobbly and without anyone taking responsibility.

"Somebody's got to be in charge here," Mr. Nguyen said. "I just don't have a clear picture in my mind of who it is here."

The panel of Coast Guard and Interior Department representatives is trying to determine the causes of the explosion that led to the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But the hearings have been dominated by disagreements among lawyers for the companies involved: BP, which owned the well and leased the rig; Transocean, the rig's owner; and Halliburton, which poured cement around the well.

Looming over the hearings are pending civil trials and a Department of Justice criminal investigation that are likely to involve the same witnesses and rely on facts that emerge from their testimony.

This week, BP has been pushing back against the perception that it is primarily responsible for the spill. On Wednesday, the company issued a statement saying that Halliburton should have stopped work on cementing the well if its workers held genuine safety concerns. To not do so, BP said, would be "morally repugnant."

Halliburton replied with a statement that said BP had ignored its warnings and persisted with a risky plan to use fewer devices called centralizers when cementing the well. "Ultimately, Halliburton acted on the decisions of and at the explicit direction of the well owner," the statement said.

The dispute follows testimony Tuesday about a report from Halliburton to BP two days before the explosion that said the cement could result in a "severe gas flow" problem.

The federal hearings have unearthed many new details about the final actions taken to try to control the runaway well.

On Wednesday, a senior BP official testified that emergency equipment at the top of the well had been configured improperly and therefore delayed the response effort. The official, Harry Thierens, the vice president for drilling and completions, testified that it was the responsibility of Transocean, the rig's owner, to maintain and configure the equipment.

That testimony could help investigators explain a lingering mystery: why the equipment did not shear the well closed as designed.

The equipment, known as a blowout preventer or BOP, is designed to suppress rising hydrocarbons inside the well. It was one of many devices that malfunctioned as engineers tried for months to control the well.

Transocean released a statement saying that the configuration mistake "had no bearing on the BOP's ability to function on the night of the incident." The statement added that the mistake was discovered by a subsea robot within 24 hours.

The oil leak went uncontrolled for 86 days, causing the largest deepwater oil spill in United States history, before engineers finally capped it on July 15.


8) Acrimony Behind the Scenes of Gulf Oil Spill
August 26, 2010

This article is by Clifford Krauss, Henry Fountain and John M. Broder.

HOUSTON - Richard Lynch was walking down the hall in BP's crisis command center in early May when some engineers rushed up, bearing bad news.

"We've lost the cofferdam," they said.

In fact the cofferdam, a 100-ton, four-story-high steel dome that the company had lowered to try to contain the flow of oil from its out-of-control well, had become clogged with icelike crystals and was rising in the water, full of flammable gas and oil.

"I said: 'What the hell do you mean you've lost the cofferdam? How did you lose it? Don't give me that!' " Mr. Lynch, a BP vice president and a leader of the effort to kill the well, recalled. "This thing has taken off like a damn balloon."

Had the dome hit one of the work ships, another inferno like the one that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig might have resulted, with more lives lost. But eventually the engineers managed to maneuver it to safety.

"The last thing you'd want is this thing filled with ice rushing up to the bottom of the vessel," Mr. Lynch said.

The official death of the now-notorious Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico is expected after Labor Day, with the completion of a relief well. Whether the four-month effort to kill it was a remarkable feat of engineering performed under near-impossible circumstances or a stumbling exercise in trial and error that took longer than it should have will be debated for some time.

But interviews with BP engineers and technicians, contractors and Obama administration officials who, with the eyes of the world upon them, worked to stop the flow of oil, suggest that the process was also far more stressful, hair-raising and acrimonious than the public was aware of.

There were close calls, the details of which were not released to the public, like the panic over the rising dome. Sleep-deprived men and women neglected family birthdays and watched long-planned summer vacations vanish. Inside the command center here and at the well site, 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana, tempers flared - in one heated argument, a senior engineer on a ship threatened to throw another senior engineer overboard - and blood pressures rose.

The dome was only the first public debacle. As failure followed failure, the relationship between BP executives and administration officials deteriorated, resulting in disputes that some oil industry experts say delayed the killing of the well.

Looking back, administration officials said that they became concerned that BP could not handle the crisis and that at crucial junctures the company made serious errors of judgment. "There was an arc of loss of confidence," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "I was not comfortable they knew what they were doing."

Those on the industry side saw it differently. "The only benefit I see is they actually challenged us to a level of detail and communication," Mark Mazzella, BP's top well-control expert, said of the government scientists who stepped in to supervise the effort. "They didn't offer anything that changed anything we actually did."

A decision by Energy Secretary Steven Chu to turn to BP's competitors for advice was viewed as an insult by many at the company, said a technician who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the matter.

The tensions above filtered down to the command center - a series of rooms on the third floor of a tower on BP's campus in Houston's Westlake section - where the seasoned well experts faced a challenge of unparalleled scale and difficulty: to apply techniques used often on land to an out-of-control well 5,000 feet underwater.

"If ever there was a 'war,' this would qualify," one contractor wrote in a letter to BP.

The walls of the center were papered with notes from well-wishers: "You are heroes, may God lead, direct and protect you all," read a poster sent by BP workers in South Africa. BP offered the scores of exhausted workers services including massages, "stress therapy" and information on sleep hygiene and ergonomic techniques to reduce physical strain.

But by mid-August, when the oil was finally contained, the well was cemented and all that remained was the completion of the relief well, the intensity of the experience was becoming clear to many of those who worked to stop the worst marine oil spill in American history.

"It's been one of those sort of very profound periods in your life," said Paul Tooms, BP's vice president for engineering. "I'm not quite sure what normal is going to feel like after this."

Mounting Frustrations

Mr. Mazzella, the BP well-control expert, who ropes and rides at rodeos in his spare time, was at a practice rodeo in early June when the wife of a friend confronted him.

"You're not doing a very good job, are you?" she said.

Even Mr. Mazzella's elderly father pointedly asked him one day when BP would finally get the well plugged.

"We are tired of hearing about it on the TV," he told his son.

Mr. Mazzella said he and his colleagues struggled to shrug off the criticism and stay focused on their task. But the humiliation peaked over Memorial Day weekend, when the procedure called the top kill also met with failure.

Senior BP executives and government officials, once again, had publicly offered optimistic predictions about the success of the technique, which involved pumping in heavy drilling mud and, in a process known as a junk shot, assorted objects including golf balls. Privately, it turned out, some engineers with BP and with Wild Well Control, a contractor, were far less confident that the top kill would work.

For three days, engineers worked high-powered pumps on two surface ships to overcome the oil and gas belching out of the well.

At one point, technicians said in interviews, a plumbing problem on one of the pump ships forced a delay in the operation. Then a screaming match over the radio between two senior engineers ended in one of them threatening to come over and throw the other overboard.

At the Houston command center, officials assembled to monitor the top kill. A BP technician called out pressure readings. Dr. Chu, in shirtsleeves, performed his own calculations with paper and pen.

As they watched, the pressures started to decrease - a sign that the pumped-in drilling mud was succeeding in overcoming the pressure of the oil spewing out of the well. There were high-fives around the room, and government officials sent text messages to the White House saying that victory might be near.

But an hour later, the pressure readings leveled off. The attempt had failed.

The next day, Dr. Chu, concerned about putting too much pressure on the well, ordered an end to the operation. It was a turning point: the government was now in charge, and with greater frequency, Energy Department officials and scientists were conferring with Exxon Mobil and Shell engineers, asking for advice about what to do next.

For BP's engineers and technicians, it was one more thing to be depressed about. Mr. Mazzella recalled the faces of his crew members when they returned from the ships by helicopter to Houma, La., after the top kill had failed.

"They were down, they were," he said. "It impacted everybody when we had to walk away from that thing and the oil was still flowing."

"Everybody came up to me," Mr. Mazzella said, "and they were almost apologetic - 'We're sorry we didn't get this done.' "

His voice trailed off. "We didn't get this done," he repeated softly.

Learning From Failures

With the top kill abandoned, "it was quite obvious that this was going to keep going for some time," Mr. Tooms recalled. The problems facing the team seemed overwhelming.

"I didn't feel like I had the answers," he said.

For the most part, Mr. Tooms said, he was able to ignore the news clippings sent by friends back home in Britain. But reports in the American news media would send him ranting to his boss.

At the same time, government scientists were starting to press BP for more data and more analysis.

Dr. Chu told his Energy Department associates he was no longer willing to settle for half-measures or wishful thinking. "I wanted to make sure this thing is really killed dead, dead, dead," he said in an interview.

But Kent Wells, a BP senior vice president who early on became the effort's public face, said in an interview that looking back, the Houston engineers had learned something from the failures. The experience with the cofferdam, for example, had taught them a better way to cap the well - avoiding the formation of the icelike crystals by first lowering the capping device to the seabed off to the side, away from the plume of oil, then sliding it into place. This paid off less than a month later, he said, when engineers installed a loose-fitting "top hat" cap on the well.

The top hat was the first modest success, eventually funneling about 15,000 barrels of oil a day for surface collection. But it was viewed only as a stopgap; what was needed, many on the team were convinced, was a more radical approach, one that had been proposed only a few days after the blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig, when the team brainstormed solutions to the disaster: a tight-fitting cap.

"To meaningfully go forward in any rational way required a pretty bold step, which was to open up the flow again and put a device on that that would give you some pressure control," Mr. Tooms said. "That was for me the defining moment."

A Pressing Question

As bolts go, this one was enormous: nearly a foot and a half long and tipping the scales at 51 pounds. With five identical ones, it held what remained of the broken riser pipe atop the well's crippled blowout preventer at the seabed.

If there was to be any hope of putting on the cap and shutting off the flow of oil before the relief well did the job later in the summer, the bolts had to be removed. But no one knew how stuck they might have become by sitting in the deep for so long.

To the public, their expectations dulled by the repeated failures, a tight-fitting cap was just one more hill on a four-month roller coaster ride. But engineers were focused on a single pressing question: Could the bolts could be loosened by remotely operated submersibles, the high-tech marionettes that did the work in the crushing pressures and frigid temperatures 5,000 feet down?

The engineers scrounged around and came up with the biggest subsea torque wrench they could find, and watched from the Houston command center as a remotely operated submersible used it to easily loosen one of the bolts.

That seemingly simple act was a game-changer, said Mr. Lynch, the BP vice president.

"Suddenly," he said, "I've got a pressure containment device I can put on this, and it's real and it works. Now I've got an opportunity to close the well in."

Which is what the engineers did several days later, bolting on the new device, called a capping stack, and preparing to conduct an "integrity test" by slowly closing valves on the stack and raising the pressure in the well.

Yet the test was delayed, a fact that BP and government officials publicly attributed to a benign request by the government for more information. In fact, a dispute had erupted. BP wanted to go ahead with the tests. Dr. Chu and his advisers were blocking them. Closing the valves, they argued, could force the oil out of the well and make a bad situation much worse.

The government team convened a conference call with hydrologists and geophysicists from universities and other oil companies. They raised alarms to Mr. Wells, Andy Inglis, BP's chief executive for exploration and production, and James Dupree, a BP senior vice president, who continued to insist that the procedure was safe, administration sources say.

"Chu raised his concerns about the subsea geology with the BP people and they couldn't answer his questions," an aide to the energy secretary said. "The result was that the plan to conduct the integrity test was halted for 24 hours."

Some BP executives, a government official said, were furious, skipping some of the scheduled engineering meetings over the next several days.

"It was like, 'Where the hell are they?' " the official said. "It was frustrating to them that people were still asking questions."

Eventually, BP engineers persuaded the government to continue with the test, and on July 15, Mr. Tooms stood in the engineering room, watching the valves being closed on video feeds.

The room was hushed, except for the background radio chatter between technicians in Houston and out in the gulf, calling out pressure readings and the number of turns as the final valve was dialed closed. "And then there was almost kind of a pause," Mr. Tooms said, "kind of like a realization that it stopped."

At two news conferences on July 16 - the tension between the government and BP had long before led them to hold briefings separately - Mr. Wells and Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who led the federal government's response to the spill, announced that the test had started. Oil was no longer flowing into the gulf. On BP's live video feed, the torrents of oil and gas gave way to images of small white particles drifting lazily through the water past a quiet metal hulk.

Yet how long the respite would last was uncertain. The government scientists were still skeptical about leaving the cap closed, while BP engineers were convinced that the well could handle the pressure.

The issue came to a climax at a meeting the next morning in the 20th-floor boardroom at the BP office tower. Mr. Tooms's team took up many of the 22 seats around the long conference table. They were joined by government scientists. Dr. Chu was dialed in by speaker phone, as were Carol Browner, President Obama's adviser on environmental issues, and Admiral Allen.

"We just laid out our technical case of why we believed what we believed," Mr. Tooms said. "When you have the level of intellectual you are talking to, they are going to ask you questions about why your technical case is correct. And we went through all that."

It would prove a pivotal moment. After hours of discussion, the government agreed to keep the cap closed. The pressure held, the flow of oil remained shut off and BP could eventually proceed with plans to seal the well permanently.

"Had we opened it up at that point that would have been, I think, probably the darkest moment in my career," Mr. Tooms said.

One More Twist

In the weeks after the oil was shut off, the well offered up one final surprise.

The story had gradually receded from the headlines - a comfort to BP executives, who had watched the company's stock price plummet, and to the Obama administration, which had been criticized for the speed of its response to the leak.

But on Aug. 2, as workers prepared to pump mud into the well to kill it permanently, an engineer stuck his head into office of Mr. Lynch, the BP vice president.

"Richard, we've got a problem," the engineer said.

A hydraulic leak had caused a critical valve on the cap to open up again. A second, fail-safe valve behind it was being kept closed by little more than friction. If that second valve opened, oil and gas would again start pouring into the gulf.

In the end, the valve held, and a renewed nightmare was averted.

But as Mr. Lynch recalled, "The difference between us having the well shut and everything going swimmingly well and the fact that we could have been flowing hydrocarbons back into the sea was that close."


9) Struggling Cities Shut Firehouses in Budget Crisis
August 26, 2010

SAN DIEGO - Fire departments around the nation are cutting jobs, closing firehouses and increasingly resorting to "rolling brownouts" in which they shut different fire companies on different days as the economic downturn forces many cities and towns to make deep cuts that are slowing their responses to fires and other emergencies.

Philadelphia began rolling brownouts this month, joining cities from Baltimore to Sacramento that now shut some units every day. San Jose, Calif., laid off 49 firefighters last month. And Lawrence, Mass., north of Boston, has laid off firefighters and shut down half of its six firehouses, forcing the city to rely on help from neighboring departments each time a fire goes to a second alarm.

Fire chiefs and union officials alike say it is the first time they have seen such deep cuts in so many parts of the country. "I've never seen it so widespread," said Harold A. Schaitberger, the general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The risks of cutting fire service were driven home here last month when Bentley Do, a 2-year-old boy who was visiting relatives, somehow got his hands on a gum ball, put it in his mouth, started laughing and then began choking.

"It blocked the air hole," said his uncle, Brian Do, who called 911 while other relatives frantically tried to dislodge the gum ball. "No air could flow in and out."

It is only 600 steps from the front door of the neatly kept stucco home where the boy was staying to the nearest fire station, just down the block. But the station was empty that evening: its engine was in another part of town, on a call in an area usually covered by an engine that had been taken out of service as part of a brownout plan.

The police came to the home within five minutes and began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, officials said. But it took nine and a half minutes - almost twice the national goal of arriving within five minutes - for the fire engine, with a paramedic and more medical equipment, to get there. An ambulance came moments later and took Bentley to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The San Diego Fire-Rescue chief, Javier Mainar, said it was impossible to say whether the delay contributed to Bentley's death on July 20. But he said there was no doubt that the city's brownouts, which take 13 percent of firefighters off the streets each day to save $11.5 million annually, led to the delay.

"You can just lock everything down and look at it sequentially, chronologically, as to what occurred," Chief Mainar said in an interview. "There is no question that the brownout of Engine 44 resulted in Engine 38 having to take a response in that community, and because of that, Engine 38 was now out of position to respond to something that happened just down the street from their fire station."

Fire service was once a sacred cow at budget time. But the downturn has lingered so long that many cities, which have already made deep cuts in other agencies, are now turning to their fire departments.

Some are trying to wrest concessions from unions, which over the years have won generous pension plans that allow many firefighters to retire in their 40s and 50s - plans that many cities say are unaffordable. Others want to reduce minimum-staffing requirements, which often force them to resort to costly overtime to fill shifts. Others are simply cutting service.

Analysts worry that some of the cuts could be putting people and property in danger. As the downturn has worn on, ISO, an organization that evaluates cities' fire protection capabilities for the insurance industry, has downgraded more cities, said Michael R. Waters, ISO's vice president of risk-detection services.

"This is generally due to a reduction in firefighting personnel available for responding to calls, a reduction in the number of responding fire apparatus, and gaps in the optimal deployment of apparatus or deficiencies in firefighter training programs," Mr. Waters said in a statement.

Several fire chiefs said in interviews that the cuts were making them nervous.

"It's roulette," said Chief James S. Clack of the Baltimore City Fire Department, which recently reduced the number of fire units closed each day to three from six. Officials saw that the closings in the 55-unit department were in some cases leading to longer response times. "I'm always worried that something's going to happen where one of these companies is closed."

Early in his mayoralty, Michael R. Bloomberg of New York closed six fire companies to save money. This year, a threat to close 20 more - a 6 percent reduction in New York's fire companies - was averted when the city found savings elsewhere.

Several cities - including Lawrence - have said that they were forced to cut service because the unions failed to make concessions. Mr. Schaitberger, the union president, who was here for a union convention, said that protecting the pensions his members have won over the years was a top priority this year.

The pension issue has an added resonance in San Diego. The city was forced to consider a bankruptcy filing even before the Great Recession, and was barred from raising money by selling bonds to the public after officials disclosed that they had shortchanged the pension fund for city workers for years, even as they improved pension benefits. San Diego's pension fund has only two-thirds of the money it needs to pay the benefits promised to retirees, according to an updated calculation made by the city in the spring, and faces a shortfall of $2.1 billion.

So even before the recession and the brownouts, fire service in San Diego was stretched thin. A previous San Diego fire chief, Jeff Bowman, was hired in 2002 with a mandate to build up the department, but he resigned in 2006, after the pension-fueled fiscal crisis surfaced and it became clear that he would not get the money to build and staff the extra fire stations he believed were needed. "The question is whether fire protection is adequate, and in my opinion it's not," he said in an interview.

After Bentley Do died, the City Council agreed to put a question on the ballot in November asking voters to approve a sales tax increase, which could be put in place only if the city adopts certain budget and pension reforms. The money could restore the fire service and help close a deep budget gap projected for next year.

But it would come too late for the Do family. Bentley, whose father, Nam Do, an American, was working in Vietnam as an architect, was just visiting San Diego with his mother, Mien Nguyen. Ms. Nguyen, who was six months pregnant, was here to take the oath of United States citizenship. She was sworn in the day after Bentley died, Brian Do, the uncle, said, but she fainted when she got her certificate and was taken to the hospital. Nam Do left his job in Vietnam to come here to grieve for his son, and goes to a temple every day, Brian Do said.

He said that the family had no plans to sue the city. "We're not blaming the city or blaming the Fire Department," he said, "but the reason I speak out is because I want them to do a better job for other people."


10) Rumor to Fact in Tales of Post-Katrina Violence
August 26, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - In the days after Hurricane Katrina left much of New Orleans in flooded ruins, the city was awash in tales of violence and bloodshed.

The narrative of those early, chaotic days - built largely on rumors and half-baked anecdotes - quickly hardened into a kind of ugly consensus: poor blacks and looters were murdering innocents and terrorizing whoever crossed their path in the dark, unprotected city.

"As you look back on it, at the time it was being reported, it looked like the city was under siege," said Russel L. Honoré, the retired Army lieutenant general who led military relief efforts after the storm.

Today, a clearer picture is emerging, and it is an equally ugly one, including white vigilante violence, police killings, official cover-ups and a suffering population far more brutalized than many were willing to believe. Several police officers and a white civilian accused of racially motivated violence have recently been indicted in various cases, and more incidents are coming to light as the Justice Department has started several investigations into civil rights violations after the storm.

"The environment that was produced by the storm brought out what was dormant in people here - the anger and the contempt they felt against African-Americans in the community," said John Penny, a criminologist at Southern University of New Orleans. "We might not ever know how many people were shot, killed, or whose bodies will never be found."

Broken levees left 80 percent of New Orleans submerged, but in unflooded Algiers Point, for instance, a mostly white enclave in a predominantly black neighborhood on the west bank of the Mississippi River, armed white militias cordoned off many of the streets.

They posted signs that boasted, "We shoot looters." And the sound of gunfire peppered the hot days and nights like thunderclaps of a second storm.

Reginald Bell, a black resident, said in a recent interview that he was threatened at gunpoint by two white men there a few days after the storm. The men, on a balcony a few blocks from his home, yelled at him, "We don't want your kind around here!"

Then one of the men racked his pump-action shotgun, aimed it at Mr. Bell and dared him to be seen again on the streets of Algiers Point, Mr. Bell said. The next day, he said, the men confronted him on his porch while he sat with his girlfriend. They shoved guns - a shotgun and a long-nose .357 Magnum - in the couple's faces and reiterated their demand.

"There was no electricity, no police, no nothing," said Mr. Bell, 41, sitting on his porch on a recent afternoon. "We were like sitting ducks. I slept with a butcher knife and a hatchet under my pillow."

The West Bank area of the city was spared any flooding, but in the days and weeks after the storm, it was littered with fallen trees and, according to witnesses, with the bodies of several black men - none of whom appeared to have drowned.

"I done seen bodies lay in the streets for weeks," said Malik Rahim, who lives around the corner from Mr. Bell and came to his aid. "I'm not talking about the flooded Ninth Ward, I'm talking about dry Algiers. I watched them become bloated and torn apart by dogs. And they all had bullet wounds.

"We've been screaming it from the top of our lungs since those first days, but nobody wanted to listen."

Mr. Bell said that he went to the police not long after the confrontation with the two gun-wielding white men but no report or action was taken. It was not until last year when he was interviewed by a federal grand jury looking into civil rights violations in post-Katrina New Orleans that people seemed to pay attention, he said.

Some of the most serious accusations surfaced after investigations by The Times-Picayune and the nonprofit news organization ProPublica, which spotlighted much of the police violence and racially motivated violence around Algiers Point.

One case is that of a former Algiers resident, Roland J. Bourgeois Jr., who is white and was accused of being part of one of the vigilante groups. He was recently indicted by the federal government on civil rights charges in the shooting of three black men who were trying to leave the city. According to the indictment, Mr. Bourgeois, who now lives in Mississippi, warned one neighbor that "anything coming up this street darker than a brown paper bag is getting shot."

The highest-profile case involving the police is the Danziger Bridge shooting in eastern New Orleans, where six days after Katrina, a group of police officers wielding assault rifles and automatic weapons fired on a group of unarmed civilians, wounding a family of four and killing two, including a teenager and a mentally disabled man. The man, Ronald Madison, 40, was shot in the back with a shotgun and then stomped and kicked as he lay dying, according to court papers.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu in May invited the Justice Department to conduct a full review of the city's Police Department. The Justice Department has also begun several civil and criminal investigations into post-Katrina violence involving the police and civilians.

Thomas Perez, an assistant attorney general, said the federal government was investigating eight criminal cases involving accusations of police misconduct. Many people in the city - including activists, victims and witnesses - had long contended that racial violence was being ignored by local law enforcement.

"We were dismissed as kooks for the last four years," said Jacques Morial, a co-director of the Louisiana Justice Institute, a nonprofit advocacy organization, and the son of New Orleans' first black mayor. "I think what we are seeing now recalibrates the reality of Katrina, and I think it vindicates lots of folks."

The city's police superintendent, Ronal Serpas, who took over the department in May, said he was troubled by what has come to light since the storm.

"We have to confront this and look at it head on," Mr. Serpas said. "There have been far too many examples of men who have worn this badge and admitted in court to behavior that is an absolute insult to this city and to the men and women of this department who wear this badge with dignity and pride."

On a recent afternoon, Mr. Rahim, 62, walked through the streets of Algiers and pointed out where, block by block, the militias had set up barricades and stood guard. He walked along the levee where the charred remains of Henry Glover were found in the trunk of a burned-out car, precipitating the indictment of three current and two former police officers.

"How can you remove the scars from the eyes of all the children who witnessed these atrocities?" Mr. Rahim asked.

General Honoré said that he had been asking himself questions, too.

"I think, every year there is more time for people to reflect on it," he said. "I came out of Katrina with one perspective on it. And there isn't a month that goes by that I don't talk to someone who survived it who gives me a different perspective than I had before."


11) Example Set by First Military Tribunal Case Has U.S. Wary
August 27, 2010

WASHINGTON - After working for a year to redeem the international reputation of military commissions, Obama administration officials are alarmed by the first case to go to trial under revamped rules: the prosecution of a former child soldier whom an American interrogator implicitly threatened with gang rape.

The defendant, Omar Khadr, was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan and accused of throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier. Senior officials say his trial is undermining their broader effort to showcase reforms that they say have made military commissions fair and just.

"Optically, this has been a terrible case to begin the commissions with," said Matthew Waxman, who was the Pentagon's top detainee affairs official during the Bush administration. "There is a great deal of international skepticism and hostility toward military commissions, and this is a very tough case with which to push back against that skepticism and hostility."

Senior officials at the White House, the Justice Department and the Pentagon have agreed privately that it would be better to reach a plea bargain in the Khadr case so that a less problematic one would be the inaugural trial, according to interviews with more than a dozen current and former officials. But the administration has not pushed to do so because officials fear, for legal and political reasons, that it would be seen as improper interference.

Mr. Khadr's trial at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay started earlier in August but was put on a monthlong hiatus because a lawyer got sick and collapsed in court. The pause has allowed the administration to consider the negative images the trial has already generated.

Chief among them are persistent questions about the propriety of prosecuting a child soldier. Moreover, in a blow to establishing an image of openness, the Pentagon sought to ban journalists who wrote about publicly known information that it decreed should be treated as secret.

The judge declined to suppress statements Mr. Khadr made after an Army interrogator sought to frighten him with a fabricated story about an Afghan youth who disappointed interrogators and was sent to an American prison where he died after a gang rape. In a pretrial hearing, the interrogator confirmed making that implicit threat, but the judge ruled it did not taint Mr. Khadr's later confessions.

And prosecutors disqualified an officer from the jury because he said he agreed with President Obama that Guantánamo had compromised America's values and international reputation.

Administration officials would speak only anonymously about deliberations on whether to try to abort the trial. But their view about the need to improve the system's perceived credibility - so allies will cooperate by providing evidence or extraditing defendants - was echoed by Kenneth L. Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security in the Bush administration.

"It is important for the government to be able to proceed through a trial, to do so in a transparent way, and have the world see that this is a fair process with strong safeguards and full due process," he said. "The sooner that happens, the better."

No one intended the Khadr case to be the first trial under the revamped system.

He had already been charged when Mr. Obama froze the tribunals in January 2009. In November, after Congress overhauled commission rules, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. included Mr. Khadr in an initial batch of five detainees who would remain in the military system.

At the time, officials say, it was assumed that other referrals would quickly follow. But controversy over Mr. Holder's decision to move five other detainees to the regular court system for a trial in New York over the Sept. 11 attacks shut down the process, and military prosecutors resumed Mr. Khadr's case.

Mr. Khadr, who was born in Toronto and comes from a Qaeda-linked family, was a teenager in 2002 when he was found, heavily wounded, at a compound in Afghanistan after a firefight with United States troops. A grenade blast in that battle killed an Army sergeant, Christopher Speer.

Investigators concluded that Mr. Khadr threw the grenade - a theory defense lawyers reject. A videotape found at the compound was said to show Mr. Khadr helping to make and plant roadside bombs. But the centerpiece of five charges against him is Sergeant Speer's killing.

Earlier this summer, prosecutors and retired Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald, the commissions' convening authority who must approve any sentence, apparently raised the possibility of a deal that would allow Mr. Khadr to serve only a few years, rather than a potential life sentence, if he pleaded guilty.

But Mr. Khadr, now 23, reacted by firing two defense lawyers. He told the court he was offended by what he saw as an attempt to "legitimize the sham process" by dangling "the least sentence possible" to coerce a confession.

Still, Dennis Edney, a Canadian lawyer assisting the Khadr family, said a deal involving a lesser charge, like conspiracy to support terrorism, remained possible.

"I would strongly recommend a reasonable deal to Omar if the murder charge was off the table," Mr. Edney said.

Sergeant Speer's wife, Tabitha Speer, might object to that outcome. She attended the opening of the trial and has written of her husband's death, "The pain now carried by both myself and our children will last a lifetime."

Administration officials have discussed whether senior civilian leaders at the Pentagon or elsewhere could get involved, helping to revive plea negotiations or even directing Admiral MacDonald to make a more attractive offer. (Admiral MacDonald did not respond to an interview request.)

A similar high-level intervention would clearly be allowed in the regular court system, where the attorney general supervises prosecutions. But tribunal rules insulate commission officials.

A provision in the Military Commissions Act prohibits "unlawful command influence," defined as attempting "to coerce, or, by any unauthorized means, influence" the judgment or actions of prosecutors or the convening authority. Officials are debating what that means.

The provision's wording was suggested to lawmakers in 2006 by Col. Morris D. Davis, then the chief commissions prosecutor, who complained that Bush appointees had inappropriately pressured him to take aggressive steps like using evidence he considered tainted by torture.

Now retired, Colonel Davis said he believes the provision was not meant to bar pressure to sweeten a plea offer: "It's clearly not 'command influence' to do something favorable to the accused," he said. "The whole concept was the opposite of that."

Still, the statute makes no such distinction. And officials do not want to risk intervening, lest it become partisan ammunition for conservatives who might accuse them of using political interference to coddle a terrorist.

Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale Law School, said there was " no clear answer" to how far administration officials may intrude. But given the risks, he said, "they are right to be cautious."


12) Medical Use of Marijuana Costs Some a Paycheck
August 28, 2010

Residents in 14 states and Washington can now appeal to their doctors for prescriptions for medical marijuana to help them with their pain.

Their employers, however, may not be so understanding.

In some cases, workers have been fired for failing drug tests despite having prescriptions saying, in effect, that what they are doing is legal according to the laws of their states.

Though the number of such cases appears to be small, they are exposing a new legal gray area, with workers complaining of rights violations and company officials scratching their heads over how to enforce a uniform policy for a drug that the federal government has not recognized as having a legitimate medical purpose.

"The current state of affairs puts employers in a very difficult situation," said Barbara L. Johnson, an employment lawyer in Washington. "But the reality is that there are no federal guidelines like there are when dealing with other types of prescription medications."

Some workers have learned about this legal quandary first-hand, at the cost of their jobs.

Nick Stennet, 20, has a congenital disorder called Poland's syndrome, which left him without a chest muscle on the right side of his body and with a right hand with fingers substantially shorter than those on his left.

Doctors prescribed one or two inhalations of marijuana each night before bed to relieve severe muscle stiffness and shooting pains in his arms.

Mr. Stennet said he told the human resources manager at the Home Depot in Hilo, Hawaii, about his prescription when he was being hired. But after his drug test came back positive for tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active chemical in marijuana, he was out a job.

"Why would they send me down there when they know I am going to test positive?" he said. "I feel like they put me through ridicule when it was so avoidable."

Steve Holmes, a Home Depot spokesman, said the company followed federal guidelines for its drug policy. Employees are allowed to take a leave if they choose to use marijuana to combat the side effects of treatment for a serious ailment. When they return, however, the THC must be out of their systems.

"It's a safety issue for us," Mr. Holmes said.

Cynthia Estlund, a professor of labor and employment law at New York University, said that only one state that had legalized medical marijuana had taken the additional step of saying explicitly that it was unlawful to fire someone for using a lawful substance.

At the same time, Ms. Estlund said, "Nothing in the law tells employers what to do, so they don't have to fire them under federal law."

That is the objection raised by Scott Michelman, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of his client, Joseph Casias.

In 2008, Mr. Casias, a father of two who medicates with marijuana to relieve the pain of inoperable brain and sinus cancer, was named associate of the year at the Wal-Mart in Battle Creek, Mich. But when he injured his knee last year, company policy required a drug test. The positive result cost him his job.

In June, the A.C.L.U. filed a complaint in state court on his behalf, citing wrongful termination. He is seeking reinstatement and damages.

"The cancer is not what's keeping him from earning a living - Wal-Mart is," Mr. Michelman said. "There's actually no law to require Wal-Mart to do what they did."

Greg Rossiter, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, said: "This is obviously an unfortunate situation all around. But we have to consider the overall safety of our customers and our associates."

On the broader legal question, Mr. Rossiter added: "As more states allow this treatment, employers are left without guidelines."

Only the Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Act offers protection to medical marijuana cardholders for students, employees and tenants. Michigan's law does not compel an employer to make accommodations for marijuana consumption "in any workplace" or for "any employee working while under the influence of marijuana," according to the legislation.

While that addresses marijuana smoking at work or just before work, the Michigan law does not speak to what employees can do away from work. Mr. Michelman of the A.C.L.U. said he believed that there was no gray area and that federal law does not govern the relationship between a private employer and an employee.

"There is only one law governing this situation, and that's Michigan law," he said.

John Vasconcellos, a California state senator who was a leading advocate for medical marijuana legislation there, said lawmakers had not anticipated such a collision of state and federal law in employment practices.

"I think they're hiding from common sense, and they're hiding from the science that shows it might help their employee be more healthy and feel less pain," Mr. Vasconcellos said of companies that fired employees with medical marijuana registry cards, prescriptions or endorsements from doctors.

In Colorado, the right to use medical marijuana for a debilitating medical condition is protected by the State Constitution - though with limitations - making it unique among states where it is legal. But Brandon Coats, 30, a phone operator at Dish Network who has used a wheelchair since he was paralyzed in a car accident 14 years go, was fired after a random drug test came back positive.

Mr. Coats's doctors had recommended medical marijuana to control his involuntary muscle spasms and seizures after prescription drugs were no longer effective for him. A few puffs before bed allows him to work comfortably the next day, said his lawyer, Michael Evans.

Mr. Evans said that Mr. Coats - who, he said, had consistently received good performance reviews - was terminated for conduct that was legal and outside of work.

In an e-mail, Francie Bauer, the company's corporate communications manager, said: "Dish Network does not comment on the specifics of employee matters. As a national company with more than 21,000 employees, Dish Network is committed to its drug-free workplace policy and compliance with federal law, which does not permit the use of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes."

The issue has not worked its way through the Colorado courts.

Some companies have begun to recognize marijuana as a legitimate therapy. Jian Software, based in Chico, Calif., recently consulted with the National Organization of Marijuana Reform Laws, or Norml, in an effort to institute a drug policy that accounts for the medicinal use of marijuana.

This is necessary, said R. Keith Stroup, legal counsel for Norml, because the courts have not yet held that medical marijuana users enjoy "a legally enforceable, fundamental right" to smoke.

"Employers in states that have legalized the medical use of marijuana under state law unfortunately remain free to fire employees who test positive for THC," Mr. Stroup said in an e-mail. "It is terribly unfair to these patients, but at this time it is not illegal."


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