Monday, January 01, 2007
 
Healing or Hiding? The Real Legacy of Gerald Ford
By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor, Random Lengths News

As the nation remembers President Gerald Ford, the media is telling them what to remember: “Principle, not politics” says a typical headline in the St Petersburg Times. The Chicago Tribune called his pardoning of Nixon, “a transcendent act of forgiveness.” He helped us move on, and heal. It wasn’t popular—the American people (Tut! Tut!) wanted vengeance, but he did the wise and noble thing.

At the time, however, the media was a bit more sober-minded and egalitarian. The Los Angeles Times wrote that "the pardon was a mistake, inconsistent with the fundamental principle that everyone, including the president, is equal before the law."

Indeed, rather than helping us move on, the pardoning of Nixon set the stage for increased lawlessness by subsequent Republican Administrations—and increased quiescence by Democrats. Under Reagan/Bush, there was the Iran-Contra affair, selling arms to Iran—considered a hostile nation—to illegally finance a terrorist army in Nicaragua. When it came to light, congressional Democrats declared impeachment “off the table” even before their investigation began—just as they have now done with Bush’s lying the nation into war with Iraq.

The Times was right—we have paid a terrible price by placing our presidents above the law. And Gerald Ford is man who did it. Single-handedly.

There was also the question of whether Ford’s pardon was part of a deal to become President. In his memoir, Ford himself admitted the deal was offered, and he talked it over with several aides, before writing a statement saying that he hadn’t promised anything. The Nation magazine scooped this story before Ford’s memoir appeared. On Wednesday, December 27, then-publisher Victor Navasky said, “The way I read it was it was a an attempt to put a gloss of innocence on a deal they had made. And this is a possible obstruction of justice, and that it’s something that he shouldn’t have done and against the law, and possibly, after he got nominated and confirmed, an impeachable offense, even.”

Two days later, legendary Watergrate reporter Bob Woodward revealed another explanation: the two men shared “an intensely personal friendship dating to the late 1940s but so hidden that few others were even aware of it”—that’s right a hidden relationship that “seriously influenced Ford's eventual decision to pardon Nixon.”

Before he died, Ford told Woodward, "I looked upon him [Nixon] as my personal friend. And I always treasured our relationship. And I had no hesitancy about granting the pardon, because I felt that we had this relationship and that I didn't want to see my real friend have the stigma."

Was “protecting his friend” obstructing justice? Nixon already answered that one: “When the President does it, that means it is not illegal.” That’s precisely the rationale that had Nixon headed for impeachment.

Betraying the country and the rule of law. What else are friends for?

By suppressing a full airing of Nixon’s Watergate crimes, the nation failed to fully learn the scope of criminal activity involved, making it easier for conservatives like New York Times columnist William Safire to trivialize what Nixon had done, applying the suffix “-gate” to a whole string of minor offenses. This, in turn, emboldened Republicans to impeach Clinton for whatever they could come up with. Ford planted the seeds for this, as well. In 1970, he lead an effort to impeach Supreme Court Justice William Douglas. In a famous floor speech, Ford said, “an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” When pressed, the same words were used to justify impeaching Clinton.

Brute force on the one hand, “principle” and “forgiveness” on the other. Ford was a master of the double standard.

But there was a principle he believed in—and that was covering things up. Within months of taking office, he vetoed a set of amendments substantially strengthening the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). First passed in 1966, FOIA had proven too weak to force release of important government documents—particularly in light of Watergate stonewalling. Although Ford promised the American people an open government upon taking office on August 9, he vetoed the FOIA amendments on October 17. Congress over-rode his veto the next month—371-31 in the House, and 65-27 in the Senate.

Among his advisors urging this course were Antonin Scalia, the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, along with Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld, and Deputy Chief of Staff Richard Cheney. Yes, that’s right. Ford also helped launch Rumsfeld and Cheney into the upper levels of GOP power . Cheney replaced Rumsfeld as Chief of Staff when Ford appointed Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense.

Ford also appointed George H.W. Bush as head of the CIA. In turn, Bush approved an orchestrated politicization of intelligence on the Soviet Union, known as “Team B,” a group of outside analysts that attacked the CIA’s internal analysis, claiming the Soviets would soon be militarily dominant over us.

Like the previous “bomber gap” and “missile gap” analyses—also produced in special circumstances, showing the US far behind the Soviets—Team B’s analysis was wildly off the mark. However, unlike them, it became the basis for policy—Reagan’s defense build-up, which may actually have prolonged the Cold War by delaying Mikhail Gorbachev’s ascent to power in the Soviet Union, and strengthening the hand of hardliners opposing him.

Ford also permitted Indonesia’s genocidal invasion and annexation of East Timor in 1975. Along with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, he met with Indonesian dictator Suharto, in December of 1975, on the eve of the invasion. Plans had been in the works for over a year, and were known in advance to American intelligence agencies. Indonesia was totally dependent on American military supplies, and held off its plans until it was sure they would not be cut off in case of invasion.

A memo of the meeting was not declassified until 2002. In it, Suharto disavows any territorial interests and couches the invasion in terms of "establish[ing] peace and order... in the interest of the security of the area and Indonesia."

Ford responded, "We will understand and will not press you on the issue."

Ford and Kissinger went on to discuss managing public opinion in response to the invasion. "It is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly," Kissinger said.

On his return to Washington, just a few days after the invasion, Ford sent Suharto a set of golf balls by diplomatic pouch.

A UN report issued one year ago found that the Indonesian military used starvation as a weapon of extermination, killing as many as 180,000 civilians.

Gerald Ford. He really knew how to heal.

Ford was known to joke he was “a Ford, not a Lincoln.” But it was no joking matter. Lincoln steered us through the bloodiest strife our nation has endured. Ford thought a court case was more than we could bear. Or so he said.

If Lincoln could not heal the wounds of the Civil War, it was first and foremost because he did not live to have the chance. Ford turned the wounds of Watergate into a forest of festering sores in which we still wander, lost, to this day. He, at least, is free of what he has sown. We should not mourn for him, but for ourselves.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
 
Clinton/Fox News Sunday Transcript
Chris Wallace: When we announced that you were going to be on FOX News Sunday, I got a lot of email from viewers, and I’ve got to say, I was surprised most of them wanted me to ask you this question: Why didn’t you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President? There’s a new book out which I suspect you’ve read called The Looming Tower. And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, Bin Laden said, "I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of US troops." Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole

President William Jefferson Clinton: Okay…

CW: …May I just finish the question, sir? And after the attack, the book says Bin Laden separated his leaders because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is 20/20…

WJC: No, let’s talk about…

CW: …but the question is why didn’t you do more? Connect the dots and put them out of business?

WJC: Okay, let’s talk about it. I will answer all of those things on the merits, but I want to talk about the context (in) which this…arises. I’m being asked this on the FOX network…ABC just had a right-wing conservative on "The Path to 9/11" falsely claim that it was falsely based on the 911 Commission Report with three things asserted against me that are directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission Report. I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say that I didn’t do enough claimed (then) that I was obsessed with Bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neocons claimed that I was too obsessed with finding Bin Laden when they didn’t have a single meeting about Bin Laden for the nine months after I left office. All the right-wingers who now say that I didn’t do enough said (then) that I did too much. Same people.

They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993, the next day after we were involved in Black Hawk Down. And I refused to do it and stayed
six months and had an orderly transfer to the UN. Okay, now let’s look at all the criticisms: Black Hawk Down, Somalia. There is not a living soul in the world who thought that Bin Laden had anything to do with Black Hawk Down or was paying any attention to it or even knew al Qaeda was a growing concern in October of 1993.

CW: I understand…

WJC: No wait…no wait…don’t tell me. You asked me why I didn’t do more to Bin Laden. There was not a living soul…all the people who criticized me wanted to leave the next day. You brought this up, so you get an answer.

CW: I’m perfectly happy to. Bin Laden says…

WJC: And secondly…

CW: Bin Laden says…

WJC: Bin Laden may have said that…

CW: Bin Laden says it showed the weakness of the U.S. …

WJC: It would have shown the weakness if we left right away, but he wasn’t involved in that. That’s just a bunch of bull. That was about Mohammed Adid, a Muslim warlord murdering…thousand Pakistani Muslim troops. We were all there on a humanitarian mission. We had not one mission - none - to establish a certain kind of Somali government or to keep anybody out. He was not a religious fanatic.

CW: But Mr. President…

WJC: There was no al Qaeda…

CW: …with respect, if I may, instead of going through ‘93…

WJC: You asked, you. It (was) you (who) brought it up.

CW: May I ask a general question that you can answer? The 9/11 Commission, which you talk about–and this is what they did say–not what ABC pretended they said…

WJC: Wait, wait…

CW: …They said about you and 43 and I quote, "The U.S. government took the threat seriously, not in the sense of mustering anything like that would be….to confront an enemy of the first, second or third rank"…

WJC: That’s not true with us and Bin Laden…

CW: …the 9/11 Commission says…

WJC: Let’s look at what Richard Clarke says. You think Richard Clarke had a vigorous attitude about Bin Laden?

CW: Yes, I do.

WJC: You do?

CW: I think he has a variety of opinions and loyalties, but yes.

WJC: He has a variety of opinion and loyalties now but let’s look at the facts. He worked for Ronald Reagan; he was loyal to him. He worked for George H.W. Bush and he was loyal to him. He worked for me and he was loyal to me. He worked for President Bush; he was loyal to him. They downgraded him and the terrorist operation. Now, look what he said. Read his book and read his factual assertions - not opinions–assertions. He said we took "vigorous action" after the African embassies. We probably nearly got Bin Laden.

CW: [..]

WJC: Now, wait a minute…

CW: …cruise missiles…

WJC: I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him. The CIA was run by George Tenet, who President Bush gave the Medal of Freedom to and said he did a good job. The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came to office. If you can criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this: after the Cole, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full scale attack/search for Bin Laden. But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan, which we got (only) after 9/11. The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that Bin Laden was responsible while I was there. They refused to certify. So that meant I would have had to send a few hundred Special Forces in helicopters and refuel at night. Even the 9/11 Commission didn’t do (think we should have done) that. Now the 9/11 Commission was a political document, too? All I’m asking is if anybody wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book.

CW: Do you think you did enough, sir?

WJC: No, because I didn’t get him.

CW: Right…

WJC: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including
all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for
trying. They had eight months to try and they didn’t. I tried. So I tried
and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and
the best guy in the country: Dick Clarke.

So you did FOX’s bidding on this show. You did you nice little conservative hit job on me. But what I want to know..

CW: Now wait a minute, sir…

WJC: [..]

CW: I asked a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

WJC: It was a perfectly legitimate question. But I want to know how many
people in the Bush administration you’ve asked this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked ‘Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole?’ I want to know how many you asked ‘Why did you fire Dick Clarke?’ I want to know…

CW: We asked…

WJC: [..]

CW: Do you ever watch FOX News Sunday, sir?

WJC: I don’t believe you ask them that.

CW: We ask plenty of questions of…

WJC: You didn’t ask that, did you? Tell the truth.

CW: About the USS Cole?

WJC: Tell the truth…

CW: I…with Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s plenty of stuff to ask.

WJC: Did you ever ask that? You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers for supporting my work on Climate Change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you’d spend half the time talking about…

CW: [laughs]

WJC: You said you’d spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7 billion plus over three days from 215 different commitments. And you don’t care.

CW: But, President Clinton…

WJC: [..]

CW: We were going to ask half the [interview time] about it. I didn’t think this was going to set you off on such a tear.

WJC: It set me off on such a tear because you didn’t formulate it in an honest way and you people ask me questions you don’t ask the other side.

CW: Sir, that is not true…

WJC: …and Richard Clarke…

CW: That is not true…

WJC: Richard Clarke made it clear in his testimony…

CW: Would you like to talk about the Clinton Global Initiative?

WJC: No, I want to finish this.

CW: All right…

WJC: All I’m saying is you falsely accuse me of giving aid and comfort to Bin Laden because of what happened in Somalia. No one knew al Qaeda existed then…

CW: Did they know in 1996, when he declared war on the U.S.? Did no one know in 1998…

WJC: Absolutely, they did.

CW: …when they bombed the two embassies?

WJC: [..]

CW: Or in 2000, when they hit the Cole?

WJC: What did I do? I worked hard to try and kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since. And if I were still President, we’d have more than 20,000 troops there trying to kill him. Now I never criticized President Bush, and I don’t think this is useful. But you know we do have a government that thinks Afghanistan is 1/7 as important as Iraq. And you ask me about terror and Al Qaeda with that sort of dismissive theme when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s book to look at what we did in a comprehensive, systematic way to try to protect the country against terror. And you’ve got that little smirk on your face. It looks like you’re so clever…

CW: [Laughs]

WJC: I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get Bin Laden. I regret it, but I did try. And I did everything I thought I responsibly could. The entire military was against sending Special Forces into Afghanistan and refueling by helicopter and no one thought we could do it otherwise. We could not get the CIA and the FBI to certify that al Qaeda was responsible while I was President. [Not] until I left office. And yet I get asked about this all the time and they had three times as much time to get him as I did and no one ever asks them about this. I think that’s strange.

CW: Can I ask you about the Clinton Global Initiative?

WJC: You can.

CW: I always intended to, sir.

WJC: No, you intended to move your bones by doing this first. But I don’t mind people asking me. I actually talked to the 9/11 Commission for four hours and I told them the mistakes I thought I made. And I urged them to make those mistakes public because I thought none of us had been perfect. But instead of anybody talking about those things. I always get these clever little political…where they ask me one-sided question. It always comes from one source. And so…

CW: [..]

WJC: And so…

CW: I just want to ask you about the Clinton Global Initiative, but what’s
the source? You seem upset…

WJC: I am upset because…

CW: …and all I can say is, I’m asking you in good faith because it’s on people’s minds, sir. And I wasn’t…

WJC: There’s a reason it’s on people’s minds. That’s the point I’m trying to make. There’s a reason it’s on people’s minds because they’ve done a serious disinformation campaign to create that impression. This country only has one person who has worked against terror…[since] under Reagan. Only one: Richard Clarke. And all I’d say [to] anybody who wonders whether we did wrong or right; anybody who wants to see what everybody else did, read his book. The people on my political right who say I didn’t do enough, spent the whole time I was president saying ‘Why is he so obsessed with Bin Laden?’ And that was ‘Wag the Dog’ when he tried to kill him. My Republican Secretary of Defense, - and I think I’m the only person since WWII to have a Secretary of Defense from the opposition party - Richard Clarke, and all the intelligence people said that I ordered a vigorous attempt to get Osama Bin Laden and came closer apparently than anybody has since.

CW: All right…

WJC: And you guys try to create the opposite impression when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s findings and you know it’s not true. It’s just not true. And all this business about Somalia – the same people who criticized me about Somalia were demanding I leave the next day. Same exact crowd.

CW: One of the…

WJC: So if you’re going to do this, for God’s sake, follow the same standards for everybody.

CW: I think we do, sir.

WJC: Be fair.

CW: I think we do. One of the main parts of the Global Initiative this year is religious reconciliation. President Bush says that the fight against Islamic extremism is the central conflict of the century and his answer is promoting democracy and reform. Do you think he has that right?

WJC: Sure. To advocate democracy and reform in the Muslim world? Absolutely. I think the question is: What’s the best way to do it? I think also the question is how do you educate people about democracy? Democracy is about way more than majority rule. Democracy is about minority rights, individual rights, restraints on power. And there’s more than one way to advance democracy. But do I think on balance, that in the end, after several bouts of instability, do I think it would be better if we had more freedom and democracy? Sure, I do. …[Do I think] the president has a right to do it? Sure, I do. But I don’t think that’s all we can do in the Muslim world. I think they have to see us try to get a just and righteous peace in the Middle East. They have to see us as willing to talk to people who see the world differently than we do.

CW: Last year at this conference you got $2.5 billion in commitments, pledges. How did you do this year?

WJC: Well, this year we had $7.3 billion, as of this morning.

CW: 7…Excuse me…

WJC: $7.3 billion, as of this morning. $3 billion of that is…that’s over a multi-year [commitment]. These are at most 10-year commitments. That came from Richard Branson’s commitment to give all his transportation profits to clean energy investments. But still that’s over $4 billion [raised excluding Branson’s donation]. And we will have another 100 commitments and probably raise another billion dollars. We have a lot of commitments still in process.

CW: When you look at the $3 billion from Branson, plus billions that Gates is giving and Warren Buffet, what do you make of this age of philanthropy?

WJC: I think that for one thing, really rich people have always given money away. They’ve endowed libraries and things like that. The unique thing about this age is first of all, you have a lot of people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who are interested in issues around the world that grow out of the nature of the 21st century and its inequalities - the income inequalities, the education inequalities, the health care inequalities. You get a guy like Gates who built Microsoft and he actually believes that he can help overcome all of the health disparities in the world. That’s the first thing. Second thing, there are a lot of people with average incomes who are joining me because of the Internet. Take the tsunami, for example. We had $1.3 billion given….by [average income] households. The third things you have all these NGOs [non-governmental organizations] that you can partner with along with the government. So all these things together mean that people with real money [can contribute] in ways that help people that before would have been only the object of government grants and loans.

CW: I know we’re over, but can I ask you two political questions? Let’s talk
some politics. In that same New Yorker article, you say you’re tired of Karl
Rove’s BS. I’m cleaning up what you said.

WJC: I also say I’m not tired of Karl Rove. I don’t blame Karl Rove. If you’ve got a deal that works, you just keep on doing it.

CW: So what is the BS?

WJC: Well, every even number year–right before an election–they come up with some security issue. In 2000, right before the election. In 2002, our party supported them in undertaking weapon inspections in Iraq and were 100% behind them in Afghanistan and they didn’t have any way to make us look like we didn’t care about terror. And so they decided they would [push] the Homeland Security bill that they opposed and they put some pill in it that we wouldn’t pass–like taking the job rights away from 170,000 people–and then [they could] say that we were weak on terror if we weren’t for it. This year I think they wanted to make the question of prisoner treatment and intercepted communications the same sort of issue until John Warner came and Lindsey Graham got in there and it turns out there were some Republicans who believe in the Constitution and their convictions…some ideas about how best to fight terror.

As long as the American people believe that we take this seriously and we may have our differences over Iraq, but I think we’ll do fine this election.

Even if they agree with us about the Iraq war, we could be hurt by Karl Rove’s new foray if we don’t make it clear that we care about the security of this country. We want to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, which they haven’t [done] in four years. We want to [..] Afghanistan against Bin Laden. We want to make America more energy-independent. If they want to talk about Iraq, say what they really want about Iraq.

But Rove is good and [that is] why I honor him. I’ve always been amused by how good he is. But on the other hand, this is perfectly predictable. We’re going to win a lot of seats if the American people aren’t afraid. If they’re afraid and we get divided again, then we’ll only win a few seats.

CW: Do you think the White House and the Republicans want to make the American people afraid?

WJC: Of course they do. They want another Homeland Security bill and they want to make it not about Iraq but some other security issue, where if we disagree with them, we are by definition endangering the security of the country. And it’s a big load of hooey. We’ve got nine Iraq war veterans running for House seats. President Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy is the Democratic candidate for Senate in Virginia. A three-star admiral who was on my NSC staff - who also fought terror, by the way - is running for the seat of Curt Weldon in Pennsylvania. We’ve got a huge military presence in this campaign and you can’t let them have some rhetorical device that puts us in a box that we don’t belong in.

That’s their job. Their job is to beat us. But our job is to not let them get away with it and if we don’t, we’ll be fine.

CW: Mr. President, thank you for one of the more unusual interviews.

WJC: I promise you, I was not trying to [..].

Tuesday, April 04, 2006
 
Marcy Winograd Blocks Democratic Party Endorsement of Incumbent Jane Harman
Progressive Democrat Marcy Winograd won 35% of the 104-delegate vote at last weekend's Democratic Party delegate caucus in Harbor City, thus blocking Congresswoman Jane Harman from receiving the party's endorsement ahead of the State Party Convention in Sacramento. Harman will have a better shot at the convention, where local grassroots representation will be diluted. Winograd's campaign reports about the event here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006
 
Long Beach Student Walkouts Continue
Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

On Monday, roughly 2,000 Long Beach students participated in day-long walkouts in protest of draconian immigration law changes being proposed in Congress. Students marched to three congregation centers: Houghton Park, Cesar Chavez Park and the Long Beach Civic Center Plaza. The march down Pacific Avenue to the Civic Center stretched at least six or seven blocks, with banners, flags and signs.

According to a jointly prepared police and school district press relesases, students came from seven Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) high schools: Millikan, Wilson, Jordan, Renaissance, Cabrillo, Poly and Lakewood. They were joined by students from Mayfair and Paramount high schools as well, as well as by a scattering of Long Beach middle school students.

Traffic was "significantly impacted" according to police, who deployed approximately 400 officers in response, activating the SWAT team, deploying detectives, and mobilizing over eighty off-duty officers. According to the LBPD/LAUSD:
In response to the protest activities, the City of Long Beach activated its Emergency Operations Center. Representatives from various city departments, the Long Beach Unified School District, and the California Highway Patrol worked under a unified command to coordinate citywide resources and ensure the safety of the students and the community.
Walkouts continued Tuesday, according to LBUSD spokesperson Chris Eftychiou. "Today we have had as many as 1000 total, including a handful of students from a few middle schools as well," he said. These included roughly several hundred combined from Wilson, Poly & Cabrillo, roughly 120 from Millikan, 50 from Lakewood and 150 from Jordan, according to a more detailed report from LBreport.com. Over 100 students reportedly left Hill Middle School, while most other Middle School walk-outs numbered between 20-30 or less.

On Tuesday, LBUSD drafted a letter to parents, stating:
When societal or political issues arise in our community, our state, or our nation, we encourage students to voice their concerns and participate in appropriate classroom discussion about these events. We discourage activities that jeopardize the safety of students or interrupt the educational process.

It is important to remember that there are consequences when a student leaves class or campus without permission. Consequences will be determined consistent with school practice based upon a student’s involvement and behavior.

I hope you will stress to your children the importance of remaining on campus and expressing their opinions in a safe and productive manner.
Yet, a substantial body of pedagogical theory stresses the importance of engaging students in the world around them. When students take the initiative to engage the world without teachers having to prod them, there could be smarter ways for schools to react, and further their education, than trying to quickly sedate them again.

 
Students Walk out, Protest in Solidarity
By James preston Allen, Publisher

On Monday March 26 a reported 40,000 southern California highschool students took to the streets to protest the pending immigration legislation in Washington DC. Students from all over Los Angeles walked out of schools and demonstrated their solidarity with immigrant rights organizers who held a mammoth 500,000 person protest the previous Saturday at City Hall in LA. Locally students from Banning, Carson, and San Pedro high schools left classes and marched by the hundreds in an air of gleefull protest that snarled traffic on the 110 Harbor freeway and then wound its way back through San Pedro on South Pacific Avenue then back to the High School. Many LAUSD schools were on "lock down" and the automated phone messaging system for Dana Middle School, which adjoins the San Pedro high school notified parents that as of Tuesday this school as all LAUSD high schools and Middle schools would be on lock down.

School officials and Harbor Division police gathered at the area around the mouth of the Harbor Freeway to discourage further disruptions. LAPD Captain Gannon said, "If the kids get out our job is to help facilitate them, if they want to march. But we definitely don’t want to see anyone get hurt." Referring to the students that clogged the Harbor Freeway on Monday. "I hate to see one of these kids get hit," Gannon concluded.

Even Councilwoman Janice Hahn seemed supportive of the student’s right to demonstrate, "especially on Ceasar Chavez Day," she explained. Perhaps this will, "Get our young people out of their apathetic nature [and motivate] them to vote in the future," Hahn said.

 
Carson Rocked by Protests
By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter

High-school students protesting proposed federal legislation staged large demonstrations in Carson on Monday and Tuesday. Students in many communities nationwide walked out of classes for several days over the past week to protest a bill passed by the House of Representatives last December that would make being in the US illegally a felony.

About two hundred, mostly Hispanic students gathered for about an hour in front of City Hall on Monday, waving Mexican flags and carrying misspelled and obscenity-laced signs criticizing the House Bill 447.

"We had a few people throw water bottles and there was some jaywalking," said Capt. Todd Rogers of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, but there were no arrests.

The next morning about 1,000 students from several area schools gathered in front of Carson High School. Police made three arrests, two for assault on a police officer and one for disorderly conduct.

A spokesperson for Carson High School said the school was in complete lockdown for the later part of Monday and all day Tuesday.

"We support the constitutional right to protest," said Rogers, "but they've got to do it safely."

 
Massive Immigration Law Protests Set Tone In LA
The largest-ever demonstration in LA history on Saturday, March 25--estimated at anywhere from 500,000 to over 1,000,000 people--set a tone that drew students in a widespread walkout the day before, and even larger walkouts the following Monday. While LAUSD went on lockdown the next day, walkouts continued locally in Long Beach. The continued demonstrations raise the possibility of a fundamental shift in citizen attitudes, and willingness to take political action. It also appears to signal a significant set-back in the GOP's long-term strategy to try to woo Latino voters.



Photo: Matt Highland. Click to enlarge.

 
Meet Marcy Winograd--Progressive Dem Challenges Harman Over War
By Chris Yang, Staff Reporter

It's not just that Jane Harman voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq and in favor of the Patriot Act. She's also recently defended Bush's illegal wiretapping program, and helped prevent the House Intelligence Committee--where she is the ranking Democratic member--from even conducting an investigation. Given her continued support for Bush's war policies, its no surprise she faces some fierce opposition from her constituents particularly in Venice and San Pedro. But now she's facing a primary challenge as well, as local activist Marcy Winograd has stepped forward to challenge the much wealthier incumbent in the June 6 primary.

The activist and self-described progressive recently spoke with Random Lengths to discuss her campaign and the issues facing the district. Winograd hails most recently from Pacific Palisades, and only entered the race after efforts to recruit someone already living in the district failed, but her history with the community gives her a strong well of support with which she can draw from. Winograd was raised in West Los Angeles and attended UC Berkeley. She has worked previously as a news director for KPFK, and has held several positions within the Los Angeles schools. She is currently serving as the President of Los Angeles chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America and is a member of Palisadians for Peace. In addition to her work as an activist, she co-authored a book titled "Lights, Camera, Woof! Writing For Pet Entertainment Television, an Activity Workbook", which is described as a guide for young writers.


Winograd at Arlington West Memorial.


In addition to supporting the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq, Winograd believes the United States should embrace a whole new foreign policy. "Security is about building trust," Winograd said. How did she feel about the invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11? "I questioned whether this was the answer. How much did this really resolve things?" said Winograd. She called the current situation in Afghanistan a "morass." (Heroin now accounts for nearly 80% of the country's economy.)

On more local issues, Winograd has positioned herself as a strong advocate for the environment and an opponent of the powerful development interests that have beset Southern California. Winograd's strongest motivation for running against Representative Harman was the incumbent's consistent record of unwillingness to oppose the president's reckless agenda. She ticked off a list of items that the representative supported but which she opposed: the Patriot Act, the bankruptcy bill, the introduction of new nuclear weapons (known as "bunker busters") into the U.S. arsenal, and the authorization to use force in Iraq.

As an activist, Winograd is no stranger to confrontation. Late last year she led a protest at the Los Angeles Times to oppose the firing of the liberal columnist Robert Scheer. She also participated in a protest of a Hillary Clinton fundraiser, stating "Hillary Clinton leads us to war. That's not the kind of leadership we need." In addition to opposing pro-war democrats, Winograd has also had run-ins with pro-war conservatives like David Horowitz, who described an encounter he had with the candidate in an article on his website (frontpagemag.com) titled "Indoctrination in High School".

Since she announced herself as a candidate, Winograd has managed to garner endorsements and interest from several well-known politically active citizens, including Vietnam veteran and anti-war activist Ron Kovic, actor-activist Ed Asner, and Pentagon Papers author Daniel Ellsberg.

During the primary season preceding the 2004 presidential campaign, Winograd voted for anti-war candidate Dennis Kucinich even though she "…knew he could not win." Does that mean she would be a carbon copy of the representative from Ohio? Only Winograd knows for sure. One thing about this election though is certain: whoever wins the primary is virtually guaranteed to win the general election in November. Given Congress's abdication of its duty in October of 2002 when it gave the power to wage war to one man, Winograd's entrance into the election will no doubt be welcomed by many in the community. The question that remains for residents now is: Can she do it?

Thursday, July 14, 2005
 
GOP Defends Treason, Advocates Terror
On Air America's Morning Sedition, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg accused Karl Rove of treason for his role in outing Valerie Plame, a covert CIA agent. Plame was outed in retaliation for her husband, Joseph Wilson writing an Op-Ed in the New York Times, "What I Didn't Find in Africa", exposing the Niger-Iraq uranium connection as a fraud.

Mark Maron and Mark Riley were interviewing Lautenberg regarding his call for Karl Rove to lose his security clearance as a result of the Plame leak.
But Lautenberg is hardly alone. On April 26, 1999, former President George H.W. Bush spoke at the dedication ceremony for the CIA's George Bush Center for Intelligence. He said, in part:
In the first few months after the leak of Plame's name, White House spokesman Scott McClellan in a September 29, 2003 press briefing:
It is now clear that Rove "was involved in it," and... what do you know? The Bush lied again. He's not firing Rove. Instead, the entire GOP is responding with page 1 from Rove's playbook--attack the enemy's strength. The strength is that Joe Wilson was right. Outing his wife was the act of traitors, as Bush Sr. put it. And Bush Jr. is defending traitors.

The GOP has a set of talking points trying to turn the story into an attack on Wilson's credibility, and defending Rove's exposure of Wilson's wife. The first talking point is:by calling on Bush to keep his word. The next two talking points are:But Wilson never made any such claim! In his Op-ed, Wilson wrote:Republicans are trying to frame this as a husband-wife vendetta. But Plame had no role in sending Wilson to Africa. All she did was tell her superiors of his knowledge and contacts there. The documents Cheney relied on were later turned over the the IAEA, which quicky found them to be inept forgeries.

All this is a desperate attempt to distract attention from Bush's broken promise to get rid of anyone involved in the leak--because without Rove, Bush would be lost.

Upping the ante even more, GOP Congressman Peter King (NY) said on MSNBC's Scarborough program "Joe Wilson has no right to complain. And I think people like Tim Russert and the others, who gave this guy such a free ride and all the media, they're the ones to be shot, not Karl Rove."

For the record, to date no Democrat has called for Karl Rove to be shot. However, treason is a capital crime. Tim Russert's "reporting"--even at its worst--is not.

Thursday, June 23, 2005
 
Downing Street Memos Leak Into US Press
Eleven days after LA Times Editiorial and Opinion Page Editor Michael Kinsley pooh-poohed the Downing Street Memo ["The Left Gets A Memo"], the Times has continued to ignore the issues they raise in its news coverage, but now they have run a commentary by Michael Smith, the British reporter who broke the story for the London Sunday Times.

Smith reports on receiving two sets of memos. The first, which he received nine months ago when he worked for the London Daily Telegraph, and was still a staunch war supporter, "were to change completely my opinion of the decision to go to war and the honesty of Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush." They dealt with the period before Bush and Blair held a summit in Crawford, Texas in early April, 2002.

The second batch came from a different source, when he was writing for a different paper, and related to Blair's war Cabinet meeting on July 23, 2002. He writes:
Smith goes on to describe how the increase in bombing Iraq was intended to provoke Iraq into a counter-attack that could then justify all-out war:
This point is vitally important, of course. It's another nail in the coffin for Bush.

Smith's analysis only scratches the surface, however, when it comes to the issue of the media. The official corporate media spin has been that the Downing Street Memo contains "nothing new." And in a sense they're right--more right than he is. Everything that's in them was obvious to any clear-headed observer--incuding the increase in bombing Iraq, and the purpose behind it.

A similarly transparently false strategy was used in funding the terrorist war on Nicaraugua in the early 1980s. It began with the rationale of interdicting arms flowing from Nicaragua to the rebels in El Salvador. But the two countries do not share a land border, and terrorists we funded were based in Honduras--which already had an army we provided aid to that could interdict any arms flow through its territory. The terrorists we funded did nothing to stop arms flow through Honduras. They used Honduras as a base for raids on civilian targets in Nicaragua--terrorizing the population in an attempt to undermine support for the government. After almost two years of charade, the rationale was simply dropped. It was no longer needed for propaganda purposes.

The situation was the similar with Iraq. The lies were right in front of us for all to see. But Bush, Blair and the same official corporate media were all busy telling us, "Who are you going to believe, us or your own lying eyes?"

On September 11, 2002, USA Today ran a story, "Iraq course set from tight White House circle", which stated as fact:
No less a figure than Condi Rice confirmed their story:
That story ran in one of America's few national newspapers, yet it was utterly ignored then, and remains utterly ignored today. This behavior pattern clearly shows the corporate media's complicity in taking us to war illegally. They knew we were being lied to, and they looked away at best, and repeated the lies as fact at worst. Is there any wonder why they are reluctant to investigate?

Now that the Times has printed Michael Smith's account as commentary, will they follow up with news coverage? Will they have their national reporters ask the Administration the tough questions that activists and Congressmembers have already put repeatedly without getting answers? And if the Administration refuses to answer, or responds with bald-faced lies, will they simply print that that is what the Administration has done? Or will they continue--actively or passively--to be part of the coverup?

Thursday, June 09, 2005
 
Bush And Blair Lie About Downing Street Memo--Analysis
At a joint press conference on June 7, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair both blatantly lied in response to a question about the Downing Street Memo (DSM). Rather than respond to the substance of the memo itself, they repeated the very propaganda line which minutes reveal as a deliberate falsehood. Bush and Blair did not even try to discredit the minutes themselves, which is the only possible way to refute the underlying claim.

The question asked was, "On Iraq, the so-called Downing Street memo from July 2002 says intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy of removing Saddam through military action. Is this an accurate reflection of what happened? Could both of you respond?"

Naturally, both men responded to the ineptly-stated question by denying everything. "No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all," said Blair.

But the memo itself—minutes of a meeting Blair held with his top advisors on July 23, 2002—said, "C [British intelligence chief Sir Richard Dearlove] reported on his recent talks in Washington.... Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Blair made no attempt to explain why the meeting minutes directly contradict him.

"And somebody said, well, you know, we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam. There's nothing farther from the truth," added Bush.

That somebody, Sir Richard Dearlove, is the head of MI6, the British equivalent of the CIA. Bush made no attempt to justify his accusation that Britain's chief of national intelligence is a liar.

Bush also said, "[W]e worked hard to see if we could figure out how to do this peacefully, take a -- put a united front up to Saddam Hussein, and say, the world speaks, and he ignored the world. Remember, 1441 passed the Security Council unanimously." Not only is this statement contradicted by the Downing Street Memo, it also lies about Saddam's response: he allowed the weapons inspectors back into Iraq, essentially complying with Resolution 1441.

 
Bush And Blair Lie About Downing Street Memo--Text
At a joint press conference on June 7, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair both blatantly lied in response to a question about the Downing Street Memo. Here is the text of the question and response. Analysis to follow:

PRESIDENT BUSH: Steve.

Q Thank you, sir. On Iraq, the so-called Downing Street memo from July 2002 says intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy of removing Saddam through military action. Is this an accurate reflection of what happened? Could both of you respond?

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Well, I can respond to that very easily. No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all. And let me remind you that that memorandum was written before we then went to the United Nations. Now, no one knows more intimately the discussions that we were conducting as two countries at the time than me. And the fact is we decided to go to the United Nations and went through that process, which resulted in the November 2002 United Nations resolution, to give a final chance to Saddam Hussein to comply with international law. He didn't do so. And that was the reason why we had to take military action.

But all the way through that period of time, we were trying to look for a way of managing to resolve this without conflict. As it happened, we weren't able to do that because -- as I think was very clear -- there was no way that Saddam Hussein was ever going to change the way that he worked, or the way that he acted.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I -- you know, I read kind of the characterizations of the memo, particularly when they dropped it out in the middle of his race. I'm not sure who "they dropped it out" is, but -- I'm not suggesting that you all dropped it out there. (Laughter.) And somebody said, well, you know, we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam. There's nothing farther from the truth.

My conversation with the Prime Minister was, how could we do this peacefully, what could we do. And this meeting, evidently, that took place in London happened before we even went to the United Nations -- or I went to the United Nations. And so it's -- look, both us of didn't want to use our military. Nobody wants to commit military into combat. It's the last option. The consequences of committing the military are -- are very difficult. The hardest things I do as the President is to try to comfort families who've lost a loved one in combat. It's the last option that the President must have -- and it's the last option I know my friend had, as well.

And so we worked hard to see if we could figure out how to do this peacefully, take a -- put a united front up to Saddam Hussein, and say, the world speaks, and he ignored the world. Remember, 1441 passed the Security Council unanimously. He made the decision. And the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power.

 
Marines Kidnap Recruiting Target
Marine recruiters escalated from harrassment to outright kidnapping in pursuit of Axel Cobb, a recent high graduate in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, a small town 65 miles north of Seattle, according to a published account by Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Susan Paynter.

It began with "a relentless barrage of calls" when he turned 17. His mother, Marcia, tried using call blocking. (Axel's father, a Marine Corps Vietnam Vet, died when he was 4.) "And that's when she learned her first hard lesson," Paynter wrote. "You can't block calls from the government, her server said." The harrassing phone calls continued for over a year. Then: The next weekend, when his mother was out of town, Axel was hounded at home, then at work, where he was browbeaten into taking a ride. He had no idea he would not be going home that night. They drove him to Seattle, 65 miles away. He was allowed to sleep a few hours in a motel. Then:She had tried to contact her son, but the Marines had confiscated his cell phone, "so he wouldn't be distracted during tests."

The whole chilling story is told here.

If this is what the Marines will do to an 18-year old American kid they're trying to recruit, is it any wonder what they'll do to "the enemy"?

Somebody needs to tell them, "No means no."

And if the American people will not willingly fight a war, it obviously should not be fought. Let those who believe in it so ferverently go sign up themselves. And leave the Axel Cobbs of America alone.