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The State

National Call-in Day to Repair the USA PATRIOT Act

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Thank you for all your calls and visits to Congress, your resolutions, and your other actions to defend civil liberties. In December, a bipartisan group of senators stopped a bill that would have reauthorized expiring PATRIOT Act provisions from coming to a vote because it failed to safeguard essential civil liberties. In anticipation of the new February 3 deadline for the PATRIOT Act's reauthorization, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee has designated January 25, 2006, as National PATRIOT Act Call-In Day. Dozens of other organizations are joining us (see below).

kolya writes:

"Long-Term Strategizing: Anticipating Uncertain Futures"
Kolya Abramsky

This text is intended as a contribution to the upcoming PGA chat-meeting aimed at continuing the process of relaunching the global PGA process on a new footing. However, rather than addressing organizational themes internal to PGA as an organizational process, it focuses on long term social, political and economic themes. As such, it is hoped that it will be relevant not just to those involved in PGA , but also to other emancipatory global networks in general.

The aim of this text is twofold:

— To pose some long term questions as to the type environment that PGA (and other global networks) may find itself fighting in the coming years. No answers are expected…;

— To propose that the topics in this text form the basis of a collectively produced bilingual publication (perhaps in the name of PGA?) in time for the next global conference as an analytical tool. This depends on levels of interest.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

"Torture and White Phosphorus"

John Chuckman

"The captured terrorists of the 21st century do not fit easily into traditional systems of criminal or military justice, which were designed for different needs. We have to adapt." — Condoleezza Rice

I've previously charged Condoleezza Rice with having an appalling ignorance of history. I don't mean the kind of knowledge — dates of battles, names and terms of treaties, etc. — that earns a good grade on an exam. We know Condoleezza got good grades in school. No, I mean a deeper understanding of the economic, social, and moral forces of history and of the irrepressible role of truth despite the countless attempts to silence it.

Guerilla warfare, terrorism, and fanatical causes are not new to the 21st century, they are as old as human society, and governments have had many ways of dealing with them. This goes so far as governments changing around those regarded as terrorists and heroes, according to the needs of the time, much the way victors in a war define who were the good guys and bad guys.

One thing history surely does tell us is that nothing is more dangerous than Condeleezza's tendency to speak in sweeping, virtually meaningless generalizations about the people she regards as foes. Every war of aggression, every wave of state terror, every deadly fanatical cause has used just such terms. People are described with de-humanized slogans, making them easy to hate and abuse. We should all go on a personal terror alert when powerful figures talk this way.

dave negation writes:

Grand Jury Targets Portland, Oregon Activists

Two Portland activists, Frank Winbigler and Shannon (Nonny) Urick, were today served with papers ordering them to be a witness for a federal Grand Jury, and were also advised that they are both a target of the Grand Jury’s investigation. Nonny and Frank both have a long history of human, animal and environmental activism. The Grand Jury is scheduled for 3/16/06 in Eugene, Oregon.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

"Canada's Prince of Darkness:
Michael Ignatieff,
Or Thomas Friedman in Striped Trousers, Silk Stockings and Garters"

John Chuckman

If Michael Ignatieff is anything, it's connected, and I do not mean just to the relatively small establishment of Canada, I mean connected to the shadowy godfathers of world empire. Ignatieff has a rich career in America where truly loyal service, whether by natural or adopted sons, is always handsomely rewarded.

Another Canadian, David Frum, made it all the way to the White House with his custom-tailored scribbling. So too such a genuinely dangerous American as Pat Buchanan. How does a man like Thomas Friedman pick up prizes writing advertising copy for the Pentagon? As I said, loyalty is handsomely rewarded.

David Frum and Pat Buchanan both fell from grace, but there is little danger of Ignatieff's doing so. He almost perceptibly pants and gasps when he applies words to the imperial splendor of which he stands in awe.

"The End Of Copyright"

Ernest Adams

I think we are witnessing the beginning of the end of a major era in world
history. It may take fifty years, it may take a hundred, but the age of copyright
is drawing to a close. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but
it's inevitable. And I say this as the author of two books and over 75 columns
like this one, all copyrighted.

CKUT Radio: Benedict Anderson - "Anarchism and Anti-Colonialism"

Listen to a lecture on anarchism and its relationship to anti-colonial struggles, given by professor Benedict Anderson of Cornell University. Recorded at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).

-->To dowload or listen to the lecture, visit here.

This talk, entitles "Anarchism and Anti-Colonialism" was given by Benedict Anderson, a professor at Cornell University and the author of the book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Professor Anderson recently published Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination.

In this talk, Anderson looks at anti-colonial struggles in three places, the Phillipines, South Africa, and Cuba, and examines how these movements related and interplayed with the growing anarchist movements of Eastern and Western Europe. Particular attention is paid to "propaganda by the deed", an era of anarchism when numerous assassination attempts of political leaders were carried out by anarchists.

This talk was presented by the Montreal Institute for International Studies at UQAM (University of Quebec in Montreal).


Hoipolloi Cassidy writes:

"Paris, Texas"

Hoipolloi Cassidy

In France all courts are kangaroo, at least potentially. As a rule the system works as well as any other: you're presumed to be guilty until proven innocent, but there are levels of presumption and therefore levels of proof throughout the whole process, from Jean-Pierre who witnesses and interferes to the gendarme who determines and passes you on to inspector Maigret, concerned to get the whole picture, to the investigating magistrate, the courts, the judge, the jury. As a rule there's a some kind of checks and balances, and as usual in France they're more a question of connections and individualism than a strict enforcement of rules. But the system goes wrong when these levels are by-passed: when legal professionals work against the community, not within it; when the inner circles and the political cliques take over; when ruling-class paranoia takes control. And the system's gone wrong in the suburbs of Paris.

"Superpower Vulnerability"

Henry C.K. Liu

[The author notes that "this article was rejected by Asia Times without explanation."]

That the US is now the world’s sole remaining superpower is above challenge. This unchallenged status has affected US approach to formulating foreign and domestic policies in the post-Cold War era. In foreign policy, the US has been operating on the basis that its national values have been validated by triumph in the Cold War and that its resultant sole superpower status now earns it both the moral right and the military means to spread such values over the whole world. Resistance to such self-righteous values is now deemed evil by US moral imperialism, in need of elimination not by persuasion but by force. This new approach has made the world less safe than it was during the Cold War, the end of which briefly entertained a false hope for a new age in which a world with only one superpower could thereafter live without war, hot or cold. Instead, the world has been plunged into successive holy wars of imperialistic moral conquest by the sole remaining superpower, bringing escalating terrorist attacks onto the US homeland. The impact on domestic policy from terrorist threats has in turn been the wholesale suspension of civil liberties in the name of homeland security.

Such holy wars of moral imperialism cannot be blamed entirely on neo-conservatives in the second Bush administration. While the two wars on Iraq were initiated by the two pere et cie Bush administrations that sandwiched eight years of Clinton rule, the Bosnia and Kosovo wars were the handiwork of Clinton administration neo-liberals. The faith-based foreign policy of George W Bush echoes the value-based interests of the foreign policy of Bill Clinton, such as the grandiose aim of enlarging democracy by force around the world and preventing mass starvation and ethnic genocide by spilling more blood.

The US under Clinton sent troops into Bosnia with a host of policy delusions, such as revitalizing an outmoded NATO to perpetuate European security dependence on the US, ending a local war that could spill beyond the borders of Croatia and Serbia, establishing a closer relationship with the Russian military, demonstrating that the US is willing to use its super military power to spread its national values overseas even though the security of the US was not threatened and neutralizing domestic criticism of amorality in a foreign policy based of realpolitik. The wary US military demanded and received clear rules of engagement towards these flamboyant political objectives, allowing soldiers who were attacked, or threatened with attack, field authority to respond with lethal force quickly and massively; exempting the military from having to perform jobs of refugee resettlement, monitoring elections, controlling civilian traffic, supplying food, clothing, fuel or other basic needs to the civilian population; no hard time lines for moving forces into Bosnia, hence allowing the military to enter Bosnia slowly with deliberation and in the safest possible way; committing to a clearly-defined departure date (December 1996) for military forces; limiting the mission to peacekeeping and not peace enforcement and if there were major attacks on the Implementation Force, US forces would withdraw; a solid understanding that “mission creep” would be firmly resisted; provision of the best of the newest equipment to US forces on the ground in the air and on the sea and the State department arrangement for military cooperation from neighboring states, especially Hungary, Albania, Croatia, Serbia. In fact, the military served notice that it was the wrong tool for achieving the administration’s limited-war political objectives. It was a perfectly appropriate position. The US military is arguably the best in the world, best led, best equipped and best trained. But its performance and morale are steadily eroded by assignments to missions that are best handled by non-military means. When a well-oiled machine is use inappropriately, both the machine and the task suffer.

The experience in Bosnia, a nation which existed only in the imagination of US ideologue policymakers, should have served as a clear warning for Kosovo and Iraq. It was Bosnia that “animated our policy towards Kosovo,” Nicholas Burns, US ambassador to Greece, told Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow at the conservative Cato Institute. Even though the US spent $12 billion and occupied Bosnia for more than three years, Clinton’s arm-twisting Dayton scheme was a policy failure. To this date, nationalist Serbs continue to dominate local politics and refugees are not returning home. There is little home-grown economic growth. The kind of democracy being introduced by the US “more represents Boss Tweed than George Washington” as the US and its NATO allies force Bosnians to live under a government that represents none of them. Internecine local conflicts always have a longevity that exceeds US political attention span.

Bandow testified on March 10, 1999 before the House International Relations Committee Hearing on “The US Role in Kosovo” that the Clinton administration attempted to impose “an artificial settlement in Kosovo with little chance of genuine acceptance by either side.” A US diplomat in Belgrade was reported to have said: "If you're a Serb, hell yes the KLA [Kosovo Liberation Army] is a terrorist organization." Even moderate ethnic Albanians admit that the KLA had targeted Serb policemen and other government employees, any Serbs viewed as abusing Kosovars, as well as Albanian collaborators. Each cycle of violence spawned more deadly violence. Belgrade understandably accused the US of aiding and abetting terrorists in Kosovo directly but remotely from Washington.

Solve et Coagula writes:

Deficits at Home, Welfare Abroad
Solve et Coagula

In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and with an ongoing war in Iraq that costs more than $1 billion per week, taxpayers might think Congress has better things to do with $21 billion than send it overseas. Yet that’s exactly what Congress did last Friday, approving a useless and counterproductive foreign aid spending bill. Never mind that the total federal debt recently topped $8 trillion, or that a major US city was virtually destroyed only a few months ago.

Arrogant is the only word to describe a Congress that cares so little about its own taxpaying citizens while pretending to know what is best for the world.


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