“Trust us…” — trailer for War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us To Death

October 2nd, 2007

Here is a trailer for the recently released film War Made Easy

The film, narrated by Sean Penn and featuring anti-war media critic Norman Solomon, is now playing in select theaters.

Unearthed in Colombia

May 6th, 2007

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) – Forensic teams have unearthed 211 bodies buried in dozens of mass graves near a single town in southern Colombia in the past 10 months, a legacy of fierce fighting in this coca-rich land.

Chief prosecutor Mario Iguaran told a news conference Saturday that investigators exhumed 105 bodies alone on Friday near La Hormiga, 340 miles (540 kilometers) south of Bogota in the province of Putumayo. Most of the victims, who investigators believe were killed between 1999 and 2001, had been dismembered before burial.

Historically a key region for growing the coca plant that is used to make cocaine, the Putumayo jungles near the border with Ecuador are the scene of almost daily fighting between leftist rebels, far-right paramilitaries and state security forces.

Iguaran said that based on information from local residents, authorities suspect both the paramilitaries and the rebels were responsible for the killings. Both sides regularly kill civilians they believe to be aiding their enemies.

Investigators have been digging for the mass graves in Putumayo since August of last year.

Forensic teams have found hundreds more shallow graves in recent months, as demobilized paramilitaries confess their crimes as part of a peace deal with the government.

Iguaran’s office estimates 10,000 murdered Colombians lie in unmarked graves across this South American country, now in its fifth decade of civil conflict.

Toby Muse, Associated Press (2007-05-06): Colombia Finds 211 Bodies in Mass Graves

Press reports have only told a little bit of the story behind the mass graves discovered in Putumayo. They mostly do not mention that it has become increasingly clear that the paramilitaries have been covertly sponsored and encouraged by powerful men within the Colombian government–possibly including President Alvaro Uribe himself–as a clandestine part of the military and drug war projects heavily underwritten by the United States government’s Plan Colombia.

The long, cozy relationship between Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and the US Congress is over. Washington has spent billions on the Plan Colombia policy to combat terror, increase security and economic development, and stymie the drug trade with little to show for it. Ongoing investigations into links between Colombian leaders and former paramilitary commanders have revealed close ties. For the Democratic leaders in Congress this has become hard to ignore, especially when discussing a possible free trade agreement (FTA) or continuing the financing of Plan Colombia.

… Beyond perceptions of human rights atrocities and the killings of union leaders, the reality is that paramilitary forces for many years have been the law of the land in rural areas where the Colombian state had little to no presence. Before Plan Colombia took flight, the 1990s was a decade when paramilitarism was seen as a viable solution to confront the spread of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The shady nature of the relationship between Colombian leaders and paramilitary commanders allowed the latter to operate beyond the law with impunity. Such latitude, combined with profits from selling cocaine to the US market, allowed the paramilitaries to quickly grow beyond the control of their rural landowner masters. And one of them, it seems, might have been Alvaro Uribe himself.

Yet through his connections, Uribe sparked a process of disarmament that has led Colombia down a path that, among other unintended destinations, has taken Colombia into a phase of truth telling whereby Colombian leaders from the military, Congress and the president’s office, have been forced to reckon with their past.

While the so-called para-politico scandal continues and Uribe has managed to avoid direct scrutiny in Bogota, leaders in Washington don’t want to be seen as having supported the Colombian president when the scope of his past involvement with the paramilitaries is in question, despite the argument that such ties were necessary.

Sensing a climate change, Uribe hired a lobbying firm with known close ties to Democrats, The Glover Park Group, at US$40,000 a month to help improve his image in Congress.

His first stop in Washington was the White House, where US President George W Bush showed open-ended support for Uribe’s US$700 million request for Plan Colombia.

It is very important for this nation to stand with democracies that protect human rights and human dignity, democracies based up the rule of law, Bush said.

Uribe’s next meeting took him to the offices of Senator Patrick Leahy, who chairs the subcommittee that oversees congressional spending on Plan Colombia. In April, the subcommittee froze US$55.2 million in military aid to Colombia, citing accusations that paramilitary groups had infiltrated the Colombian government and military.

Leahy and Uribe likely discussed this as well as the fallout after the mid-April speech Colombian Senator Gustavo Petro gave his country’s Congress during which he presented a list of some 2,000 names of individuals closely tied to paramilitaries. One of those names was Santiago Uribe, the president’s brother.

Sam Logan, Spero News (2007-05-05): Uribe’s reality check

It is also increasingly clear that paramilitary groups, which have repeatedly murdered peasant activists and union organizers, have been backed by United States corporations.

Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe headed to Washington this week, hoping to contain the fallout from an ever-widening scandal linking some of his closest allies to right-wing paramilitaries — a scandal that is threatening a key free-trade agreeement and future military aid from the U.S.

The trip puts Uribe under the spotlight of a Democratic-controlled Congress, some of whose legislators have expressed concern over the light sentences awaiting confessed paramilitary leaders under a deal negotiated by the Colombian government.

But Washington has made its own deal with at least one backer of the Colombian paramilitaries: Under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in March, banana giant Chiquita Brands International acknowledged it had paid $1.7 million to Colombia’s paramilitary groups. The company said it had made the payments to protect its employees, but about half of the money was paid after the paramilitary federation in question, the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, had been placed on Washington’s list of foreign terrorist organizations in September of 2001.

… Still, Chiquita continued to make monthly payments to the AUC until February 2004, even after disclosing the situation to the Justice Department.

… Chiquita spokesman Michael Mitchell said that the company had felt obliged to make the payments to protect its employees. “We believe they saved people’s lives,” he said. However, during the time Chiquita was making the payments, thousands of people across Colombia died at the hands of the AUC, which expanded its power. In the banana belt alone between 1997 and 2004, right-wing paramilitaries are blamed for 22 massacres in which 137 people were killed, according to government figures.

Sibylla Brodzinsky, TIME (2007-05-02): Terrorism and bananas in Colombia

An Appeal to Conscience to Those Who Would Bomb Iran, by Ann Wright

May 2nd, 2007

This was printed in Truthout in February 2007, and also reported in Feminist Daily News (2007-02-26). Emphasis has been added.

Bombing Iranian facilities by the US military will cause the cycle of violence to begin again. If the US attacks Iran, by international law Iran has the legal right to defend itself from aggressive action by another country. The world will be watching carefully to see if the US provokes an incident whereby the Iranian military is forced into action against US forces. The Gulf is filled with US military ships which may, by the actions of the Bush administration, become legitimate targets.

While we are on the topic of history and aggression, after World War II, the United States executed German and Japanese military officers who were convicted of crimes against peace (wars of aggression) and for violations of the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles.

The Nuremberg Principles provide for accountability for war crimes committed by military and civilian officials.

Principle IV of the Nuremberg Principles states: The fact that a person acted pursuant to an order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

Principle VI of the Nuremberg Principles: The following crimes are punishable as crimes under international law:

a. Crimes against peace: i. Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; ii. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

b. War Crimes: Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

c. Crimes against humanity: Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done, or such persecutions are carried on in execution of, or in connection with any crime against peace, or any war crime.

Attacking Iran will be a crime against peace, a war crime. Those conducting military operations will be violating the Nuremberg Principles, the Geneva Conventions and the Laws of Land Warfare. Prosecution for commission of war crimes is possible.

I appeal to the conscience of US Air Force and US Navy pilots and military personnel who command cruise missiles and pilot bombers and those who plan the missions for the pilots and missile commanders. I ask that they refuse what I believe will be unlawful orders to attack Iran.

Accountability for one’s actions is finally becoming possible under the new Congress. While refusal to drop bombs may initially draw punishment and the loss of one’s military career, those who refuse will save their soul, their conscience and will prevent another criminal action in the name of our country by the Bush administration.

US Army Reserves Colonel (retired) Ann Wright, (2007-02-13): An Appeal to Conscience to Those Who Would Bomb Iran

Further reading:

Wars are Based on Pillars

April 21st, 2007

This is from an Inter Press Services story on the January 27, 2007 march against the war in Iraq, which drew 500,000 demonstrators to Washington, DC, and thousands more to smaller demonstrations around the country.

In Seattle, more than 1,000 people turned out to protest. Among the speakers at that rally was first Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to face prosecution for refusing to serve in Iraq.

Long-time social activist Tom Hayden told IPS President Bush’s ability to wage war is increasingly tenuous.

Wars are based on pillars, Hayden said. You need available soldiers, you need bipartisan support. You need recruitment of more soldiers, you need money, you need your moral reputation to be preserved and you need allies. By any of those measures the pillars are being undermined.

Hayden noted that more than 1,000 active duty U.S. soldiers have signed a petition calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Unhappiness with the war is also growing among veterans, with the group Iraq Veterans Against the War estimating their organisation has quadrupled in size over the last year.

Supporting the troops that have signed these petitions and supporting efforts to stop military recruitment at our high schools and at community colleges are absolutely vital, Hayden added. But people every day can do something. You want to convince your undecided neighbor to go against, you want to convince your kid not to go, you want to take a picket sign to the military recruiting office. You want to link up with the poor people’s and labour organisations and say this war costs 287 million dollars an hour.

If you put your energies toward a pillar they will eventually tip, he said, and they cannot fight a war without these resources.

Aaron Glantz, Inter Press Service (2007-01-28): Anti-War Marches Draw Hundreds of Thousands

In The Warhead, by OTEP

April 2nd, 2007

Thanks to Victoria Marinelli (2005-07-09) for the link.

Here is a music video of In The Warhead by OTEP.

In The Warhead

Why?
The king of lies
Is alive
Look around
Look inside
Infidel [x3]

It begins here, it ends now
The prince must pay
His head or the crown
Rob the poor, slaughter the weak
Distort the law, perfect deceit

Do I need a gas mask?
Should I get inoculated?
Will this war last?
Will we be incincerated?

False gods
Death squads
Blind

This is a catastrophe
Weapon systems activated
Puritans have invaded
This is a catastrohpe
To protect against the threat
Order must be kept [x3]

Do I need a gas mask?
Should I get inoculated?
Will this war last?
Will we be incincerated?
False gods
Death squads
Blind

The elephants march to war
Concede
Conform
Concede
Conform
Deny the big lie
My tribe
Join me
An alliance of defiance, in the warhead [x3]
An alliance of defiance
All are welcome here
Give me your tired, give me your sick, give me your indulgence and decadence [x3]
He lied, they died, keep the peasants terrified [x2]
This is a catastrophe
You must lead if they get me
On my command
Break free
Break free
Break free
Break free.

Danziger: Stay the course

October 30th, 2006

Here is a cartoon of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush rafting in the sea. Cheney is holding a sign reading “Stay the course.” A buoy ahead reads “Oops! Election ahead, change course!” The raft they are using turns out to be a floating corpse.

Jeff Danziger (2006-10-21)

Good thing that’s been cleared up.

October 20th, 2006

You know, I hear people say, Well, civil war this, civil war that. The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box. And a unity government is working to respond to the will of the people.

George W. Bush, August 7, 2006