An 800-page independent report commissioned by the US-friendly Colombian government and the radical left rebel group FARC found that US military soldiers and contractors had sexually abused at least 54 children in Colombia between 2003 and 2007 and, in all cases, the rapists were never punished–either in Colombia or stateside–due to American military personnel being immune from prosecution under diplomatic immunity agreements between the two countries. Thus far, however, these explosive claims seem to have received zero coverage in the general US press, despite having been reported on Venezuela’s Telesur(3/23/15), the British tabloidDaily Mail (3/24/15) and Russian RT (3/25/15). But why? These aren’t fringe claims, nor can the government of American ally Colombia be dismissed as a peddler of Bolivarian propaganda.
The report, authored by members and colleagues of the German affiliate of the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), is a comprehensive account of the vast and continuing human toll of the various “Wars on Terror” conducted in the name of the American people since the events of September 11, 2001. This publication highlights the difficulties in defining outcomes as it compares evaluations of war deaths in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Even so, the numbers are horrific. The number of Iraqis killed during and since the 2003 U.S. invasion have been assessed at one million, which represents 5% of the total population of Iraq. This does not include deaths among the three million refugees subjected to privations. Body Count takes a clear and objective look at the various and often contradictory–reports of mortality in conflicts directed by the U.S. and allied forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The result is a fuller picture of the devastation and lethality to civilian non-combatants throughout these regions. Unfortunately, these deaths have been effectively hidden from our collective consciousness.
In May 2015, in just under two months, 30 women from around the world will walk for peace in Korea. We are hoping to meet with North Korean women and learn about their hopes and aspirations for a reunited Korea free from war. We are also hoping to meet with South Korean women and learn about their hopes and aspirations for a reunited Korea free from war. As if that weren’t challenging enough, we hope to cross the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) that divides them and millions of families. You can visit our website to learn more about who is walking and why we’re walking to reunite families and end the Korean War. As you can imagine, it is quite the epic journey that requires traveling through Beijing, obtaining visas, coordinating travel from a dozen different countries, and everything else that comes with such a major overseas trip. Most of our delegation of dedicated women peacemakers are paying their own way, but the reality is that it is a costly event. But the impact could be “game changing” as The Nation journalist, Tim Shorrock, tweeted last week.
You get these pictures that just shock the conscience,” said Republican state Sen. Branden Petersen of Minnesota, referring to news footage of heavily armed police patrolling streets or carrying out sting operations. His bill would bar law enforcement in the state from accepting gear that’s “designed to primarily have a military purpose or offensive capability.” But Petersen and those backing similar efforts in other states — they’ve come up in California, Connecticut, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Tennessee and Vermont — face an uphill climb, partly because of the way law enforcement acquires the gear. The equipment flows through a Pentagon surplus operation known as the 1033 Program, which makes available gear that the military no longer wants.
The use of Agent Orange constitutes a war crime with devastating effects on the people in Vietnam not only during the war but even today. The U.S. military knew that its use of Agent Orange would be damaging, but, as an Air Force scientist wrote to Congress, “because the material was to be used on the enemy, none of us were overly concerned.” In recent years, however, the U.S. has begun to fund cleanup and treatment programs for Agent Orange victims. The timing of this change in policy comes as the U.S. military has been building a relationship with the Vietnamese military as part of the so-called “Asian Pivot.” Yet this relationship has been impaired by the United States’ failure to properly deal with Agent Orange. Funding for Agent Orange damages is being used to open the door to greater U.S. military involvement and influence in the region, but it will also allow an expansion of U.S. covert operations in Vietnam that set the stage for the U.S. to install a “friendlier” government, if necessary for U.S. hegemony in the region. This funding is coming through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which has close ties to the CIA and a long history of covert intelligence and destabilization. Vietnam is experiencing a greater U.S. military presence along with USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy, also known for fomenting regime change.
On Monday, March 23rd, the peace group CODEPINK will be attending an event hosted by the Foreign Policy Initiative where Senator Tom Cotton will deliver a keynote speech regarding ‘National Security Priorities in an Increasingly Dangerous World.’ Dressed as Colonial Revolutionaries and carrying Constitutions, members of CODEPINK will read Sen. Cotton an “Open Letter from the People of the United States.” The CODEPINK letter is a response to Cotton’s open letter to the government of Iran that purports to school Iranians on the US Constitution but is really designed to quash the nuclear talks. Cotton’s letter, signed by 46 other Republicans, falsely states that Congress has the power to revoke any nuclear deal reached with President Obama.
But this logic of violence is not so different from that of our own soldiers, generals and politicians. Once war is unleashed, the prescribed response to setbacks and defeats is to use even greater violence. America’s unrivaled military budget and endless investment in more advanced and more destructive weapons is predicated on that assumption. We must have “military superiority.” We must be able to militarily defeat any enemy. Anything less will leave us vulnerable. This is the same logic that draws young people to join the Islamic State, the strongest Islamist fighting force. It is easy to see that this logic leads only to total, endless war on all sides. This is the very nightmare that world leaders confronted in 1945 when they stepped back from the abyss and signed the United Nations Charter, prohibiting the use of military force except in self-defense or at the request of the UN Security Council.
Just over 50 folks turned out today for the weekly Lenten season vigil at Bath Iron Works (BIW). Thanks to Lisa Savage and CodePink Maine for bringing a big bus load of people from Portland and Brunswick to the event. Lisa created and led a great skit that is being put onto YouTube as I write this. It was cold and wet on this new spring day. Maureen Kehoe-Ostensen with the Smilin’ Trees Disarmament Farm in Hope, Maine reminded us that this is now spring, even if it doesn’t yet feel like it, and that under the ground were bulbs and other plants just waiting to emerge. She said we should remember our vigils are also the seed. Maureen invited the assembled to join the two remaining Lenten vigils at BIW on the next two Saturday’s starting at 11:30 am.
Czech anti-war activists have launched the ‘Tanks? No thanks!’ campaign to protest the procession of US Army hardware through the Eastern European country. They say it has been turned into a “provocative victory parade” near the Russian border. The American military vehicles, which took part in NATO drills in Poland, Lithuania and Estonia, plan to cross the territory of the Czech Republic between March 29 and April 1 on their way to a base in the German city of Vilseck. The exercise, entitled the ‘Dragoon Ride,’ will involve over a hundred Stryker vehicles, which the US is expected to station in Europe, and will see the convoy stop in a new city every night. Last week, it was authorized by the Czech government, without any debate in the parliament, Pressenza news agency reported.
A federal district court judge will no longer accept the United States government’s secrecy arguments and has ruled that it must release thousands of photographs of detainee abuse and torture in Afghanistan and Iraq, including inhumane treatment at Abu Ghraib prison. The government is “required to disclose each and all the photographs responsive” to the Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),” according to the order by Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the US District Court of the Southern District of New York. Hellerstein found that the government still had failed to justify keeping each individual photograph secret. However, the judge stayed the order for 60 days so the Solicitor General could determine whether to file an appeal.
Last week, veterans of the U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in Nevada to join protests outside Creech Air Force Base against Drone Warfare. We were not protesting against you, the airmen (and women) who are drone operators and support personnel. We were reaching out to you because we understand the position you that you are in. We were once in that position ourselves, some of us quite recently. We know what it feels like to be caught up in strange and brutal wars not of our own making, and not clearly in the interests of our nation. We want to share some of our hard won truths, and to offer you our support. We know that drone operators and support personnel have a tough job. We understand that you are not playing video games, but rather engaging in life and death situations on a daily basis. You are not targeted and don’t have to worry about being killed and wounded. But you are human beings with feelings who suffer nonetheless. You have a conscience too.
March 19 marks two gloomy anniversaries: the 12th anniversary of U.S. invasion of Iraq and the 5th anniversary of the NATO intervention in Libya. Both overthrew Arab dictators; both left the local people in such horrific straits that many of them look back with nostalgia to the days of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi. I was in Iraq with a dozen of my CODEPINK colleagues a month before the U.S. invasion in 2003. While we found a country wracked by 13 years of draconian Western sanctions and a people scared to openly criticize Saddam Hussein, we also found a middle class country with an extremely well-educated population where women made up the majority of university students and participated in all aspects of public life.
Thirteen years ago, the intelligence community concluded in a 93-page classified document used to justify the invasion of Iraq that it lacked “specific information” on “many key aspects” of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. But that’s not what top Bush administration officials said during their campaign to sell the war to the American public. Those officials, citing the same classified document, asserted with no uncertainty that Iraq was actively pursuing nuclear weapons, concealing a vast chemical and biological weapons arsenal, and posing an immediate and grave threat to US national security.
At 9:15 am on March 19, the 12th anniversary of the U.S.’ illegal invasion of Iraq, seven members of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars shut the main gate of the Hancock Drone Base (near Syracuse, NY) with a giant copy of the UN Charter and three other giant books – Dirty Wars (Jeremy Scahill), Living Under Drones (NYU and Stanford Law Schools), and You Never Die Twice (Reprieve). The nonviolent activists also held a banner quoting Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution, stating that every treaty signed becomes the supreme law of the land. They brought the books to Hancock to remind everyone at the base of the signed treaties that prohibit the killing of civilians and assassinations of human beings. The group attempted yet again to deliver a citizens indictment for war crimes to the Hancock Air Base chain of command.
We received a note from Google Adsense informing us that all ads for our site had been disabled. Why? Because of this page showing the horrific abuses committed by U.S. troops in Iraq at Abu Ghraib. This page has been up for 11 years. During all that time Google Adsense has been running ads on our site – but as Washington gets ready to re-invade Iraq, and in bombing, killing, and abusing more civilians, they suddenly decide that their “anti-violence” policy, which prohibits “disturbing material,” prohibits any depiction of violence committed by the U.S. government and paid for with your tax dollars. This page is the third-most-visited page in our history, getting over 2 million page views since it was posted. To say this is an utter outrage would be an understatement: it is quite simply the kind of situation one might expect to encounter in an authoritarian country where state-owned or state-connected companies routinely censor material that displeases the government. Is Google now an arm of the U.S. State Department?