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Imbush Peach

An interview with Naomi Wolf about the 10 steps from democracy to dictatorship!

Stop The Spying Now

Stop the Spying!

Friday, September 7, 2007



City Council supports RTA, denies impeachment resolutionDaily Cardinal - Madison,WI,USAIt took the Madison City Council till 4 am Wednesday, but it finally voted on a resolution to call for the impeachment of President Bush. ...See all stories on this topic

Nuns call for impeachment of Bush/CheneyA progressive group of US nuns has called on Congress to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney because of their roles in the war in Iraq.Digg / upcoming -

AND 51 William Crain (MT PDA) Impeachment Conversation with Craig ...By (Craig S. Barnes) Welcome to our ongoing and evolving series "Impeachment Conversations". Impeachment reference is for the Bush, Cheney impeachment. Some quotes from this show:. "The Human cost of war." To our Congressional leaders and Congress members ...Impeachment Podcast -

City discards impeachment ideaBy In a laborious meeting that lasted until nearly 4 am Wednesday, Madison City Council members failed to garner enough votes to support the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. ...Badger Herald: News -

The Legal Basis for ImpeachmentBy msrb The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. - - ARTICLE II, SECTION 4 OF THE ...PRO -

Nuns call for Bush, Cheney impeachmentThe letter says impeachment is warranted for their "deceiving the public under the false pretense that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction" and "destroying" the reputation of the United States and the good will of other nations. ...Religion & Spirituality - ArcaMax... -

The New Evil Empire America has become what Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union used to be
By John Kaminskiskylax@comcast.net2-28-4
Remember the Red Menace, also known as the Communist threat? Or how about the Third Reich, the creator of which became the chief metaphor for evil in the 20th century?

Most Americans, certainly those younger than 30, don't remember either. Hell, they don't even remember Vietnam or Nixon or The Beatles. The terms and their connotations are totally unfamiliar, unless encountered in history texts. Millions of Americans simply do not remember what America used to stand for - freedom, justice, equality - and as a result, don't fully comprehend the appalling reality of what America has become.

Once upon a time, back in the days of Elvis and the hula hoop, when I was a little shaver, I was taught in school that when Germany took over France, Poland and other European countries, that was wrong, and the United States sacrificed almost a half million of its own young people to reverse those situations in the name of freedom. And that happened twice, 1916-18 and 1941-45.

In the same vein, I grew up being taught that the Soviet Union's annexation of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and all of Eastern Europe was an evil deed, and that for many years in a period called the Cold War, the American military objective was aimed at overturning this unjust oppression. Back in the 1950s when I was in elementary school, we used to have routine Civil Defense drills where we used to have to hide under our desks pretending we were about to be nuked by the Russians. Really!

It's a new world now. For one thing, the population of the planet has doubled in those mere 50 years. And for another, it is the United States that is now sweeping the world, scooping up all these other countries in the name of capitalist democracy, and telling lies about why it has to go to war. And instead of railing against the powerful giant stealing freedom from all these hapless victims, as it did in years past, the American press is now cheering it, justifying it in the increasingly ambivalent names of capitalism and democracy. Worse, the American people are cheering it, too, something that's never really happened in U.S. history, when the people support a war that they know is based on lies.

Of course, the American press is cheering it because it is the American military doing it. Even the German and Russian press aren't really criticizing it in a serious way. Because there is no country that can oppose America, which spends more on its military than all the other countries in the world combined, yet still complains that it needs to spend more, even as its bridges and schools are falling apart and its manufacturing base has completely disappeared, precipitating its imminent economic collapse. Still the military spending increases, and war plans ooze out like an evil ink stain spreading across the globe.

The evil empire, number one threat to peace in the world, is now the United States. No more Red Menace. No more Third Reich. Now it's a War on Terror executed by the biggest terrorist of all - America, the nation that killed its own people by the thousands in order to trigger World War III and capture all the world's oil fields.

Now the shoe is obviously on the other foot. The United States has now assumed the role of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia at their worst and all rolled into one. It has troops poised and threatening in 127 other countries. By the diabolical mechanisms of the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund, it has already plundered most other countries financially, stealing their utilities and impoverishing their inhabitants. And those nations who resist this financial con game, like Yugoslavia, are simply invaded and coerced into servitude. Those nations who play the game, like Russia and Argentina, are reduced to abject poverty with a few pro-Western billionaires owning everything.

And woe to those nations who won't play the game, like Iraq. They are obliterated and turned into permanent war zones. Their people are murdered in their sleep by hopped-up American soldiers who are told by their cynical leaders that they are spreading democracy, when really what they are spreading are endless opportunities for plunder by politically connected corporations.

And America's leader lie about absolutely everything. Never at any time in my personal history has there been a time when an American president has not at least accidentally told the truth about something, but that time is now.

Once upon a time, Americans used to preach the cause of freedom and justice for all. It's actually written in their Pledge of Allegiance. But they don't adhere to that anymore. After all, Americans have canceled their Bill of Rights, which once made them famous - made them loved! - all over the world. Now they are feared all over the world. Reviled. When Americans launched their worldwide war on terror - based on a treasonous event in which they killed large numbers of their own people - they betrayed the whole world. They betrayed every dream of freedom anybody ever had anywhere.

The people who did it did it for a few billion dollars. Can you blame them? It's easy money blowing up countries and blaming it on somebody else. Even you might do it if you had the chance. Americans support such an idea. It's capitalism at its best, controlling the market, make money on the destruction by selling the weapons, make money on the reconstruction by involving your friends in the contracts, no public bids, of course. So you lose a few dark-skinned lives. The world is overpopulated anyway. Look at it as population control (although that it another, much larger topic).

Things have become so ugly in the United States that the liberal opposition candidate for president tells peace activists to "Get over it!" That there will be no peace no matter who is president. That America is united to overrun and ravish the whole world, simply because there is no one to stop it. This is the America that was venerated and admired all over the world. This is what America became when there was no other power to keep it honest. It became dishonest - and a killer nation.

People overseas make a mistake when the say they have nothing against the American people, that it is simply the American government they loathe and fear. It is the American people who have permitted this to happen, and they who bear the blame and will reap the whirlwind for their inaction.

Once, America set an example for the world to establish representative government and take care of its less fortunate. Today, America is still setting an example for the world, an example that democracy is a hoax, and that all we can expect for our children's futures is a dark abyss of endless war based on phony pretenses.

The thing that made the episodes with Nazi Germany and Soviet Union have happy endings was that there was somebody to fight for freedom ready to rescue those oppressed by military tyranny from a foreign power.

But now, who is ready to defend the freedom of those in Afghanistan, or in Iraq, or in Macedonia, Serbia, the Philippines, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Nicaragua, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala ... or Palestine?

Who is ready to defend freedom now that the Americans have declared freedom incompatible with security?

But these things tend to even out over time. Rome wasn't built in a day and it took centuries to fall apart, but eventually it was picked apart by jackals and sycophantic traitors from within.

The world will yet have the last laugh on America, after its own leaders have finished picking the bones of its financially depleted carcass.

Because Americans have given up defending true freedom around the world, the day will soon arrive (sooner than they think) when they will have to defend their own freedom against the very monster they have created by their own selfish indifference. The corporate beast that consumes freedom around the world will one day soon turn its gaping jaws on America itself, and the Americans, who have decided to forget how to defend true freedom around the world, will necessarily have forgotten how to defend their own.

Once upon a time, when I was a little shaver and the president was some guy named Ike, I was told that America was the greatest nation in the world because it was a champion of freedom and justice, and rescued the oppressed whenever people were in trouble.

So ... were they lying then and telling the truth now, or telling the truth then and lying now?

And when the rest of the world comes calling to rectify this murderous tyranny and worldwide oppression that America now practices, what will you say to them when they aim their guns at you? That you didn't know?

John Kaminski is the author of "America's Autopsy Report," a collection of his Internet essays published by Dandelion Books and featured on hundreds of websites around the world. For more information on how to get this book or to financially support his work (seriously needed now), go to Or, to read some more of his recent essays for free, go to

General Petraeus on Iraq: Always Partisan, Always Wrong
By Brent Budowsky, The Hill. Posted September 1, 2007.
It's hard to overstate how wrong Petraeus has been in his previous tours of duty in Iraq.

Gen. David Petraeus is a good man and a great soldier with a track record of almost complete failure in his previous tours of duty in Iraq.

Let this be said up front: While the president and Petraeus maneuver for him to testify on the anniversary of Sept. 11, the Speaker and majority leader should hold firm and say that this matter is not subject to discussion and the general will not testify on this date.

The fact that Petraeus would allow himself to be used in this attempt at shameful exploitation of the one day on our calendar that should be above exploitation, speaks for itself.

My views on the futility of the surge, which in fact is not a surge but a long-term escalation, have been stated before and will be stated again. The truth is, the majority of generals and admirals in the American military do not agree with the views advocated by Petraeus, Gen. Odierno, and Gen. Lynch, who most recently violated the military protocol for active duty commanders by criticizing and debating against Sen. John Warner's call for some troop withdrawals by Christmas.

To lay the foundation for the historic debate that will begin as Labor Day ends, the point of this note is to highlight how wrong Petraeus has been in his previous tours of duty in Iraq.
Fact: After the initial phase of fighting, in the areas under his command, sectarian warfare ultimately escalated and his efforts for political agreements, while worthy, failed.

Fact: In his tour of duty commanding the training of the Iraqi military, his training results were a dismal failure, and all subsequent training programs have been to redo his failed efforts and undo the damage done during that tour of duty.

Fact: There have been major disappearances, losses and/or misplacement of large amounts of Iraqi weapons that were grossly mismanaged (at best) under his command. Almost certainly those weapons were ultimately sold on the Iraqi black market with some landing in the hands of criminals, insurgents and al Qaeda terrorists who used them to kill Americans and Iraqis.

Fact: The Army has recently expanded a major criminal investigation of the mismanagement, misuse and probable corruption that happened during the Petraeus watch, under the Petraeus command. Petraeus is undoubtedly 100 percent personally honest, but there are people close to him under investigation for weapons and resources under his command, which were stolen or lost, and he bears a substantial command responsibility for bad management and bad judgment.
Fact: Shortly before the 2004 presidential election Petraeus did something that active-duty commanders should not do. In late September he wrote an op-ed piece for The Washington Post obviously as a favor to the Bush campaign, in which he applauded what he called major progress by the Iraqi military, Iraqi police and Iraqi leadership.

It is bad enough that the general, a smart guy who knew what he was doing, interfered in the 2004 presidential election, in effect advocating the position of the Republican candidate, the incumbent, on the number-one issue of the campaign, only weeks before the vote.

Beyond taking a political position in a way that an active-duty general should never do, which demonstrates political tendencies that in truth trouble many of the highest ranking military officers today, his forecast and analysis turned out to be almost completely, catastrophically wrong on every level.

We now learn the "Petraeus Report" was never the Petraeus Report; it was to be a report he drafted, to be rewritten and released with the language, forecasts and recommendations not of Petraeus, but the White House that has a long history of misrepresentation on matters regarding Iraq.

Even worse, we now learn that there will be no written report from Petraeus or the White House that was to have received his original paper. The whole exercise was a political sham, designed to buy time, and now that the time has been bought, the truth comes out: The Petraeus Report will not exist, anywhere, in written form.

As Petraeus prepared to issue what is called the Petraeus Report in September 2007, I am posting here the original Petraeus Report in The Washington Post that preceded the election in September 2004.

Members of Congress should read this and judge for themselves. In my humble opinion, what follows, written three years ago almost to the day, is a compendium of misjudgment and analysis and forecasts that a reasonable person might call delusional, and even the most charitable person would call disastrously wrong, with disastrous consequences for those who served during the three years after this op-ed was written.

Here is Petraeus, in his own words, three years ago. Judge for yourself:
Battling for Iraq
by David H. Petraeus
(From The Washington Post, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2004)

BAGHDAD -- Helping organize, train and equip nearly a quarter-million of Iraq's security forces is a daunting task. Doing so in the middle of a tough insurgency increases the challenge enormously, making the mission akin to repairing an aircraft while in flight -- and while being shot at. Now, however, 18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up.

The institutions that oversee them are being reestablished from the top down. And Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously in the face of an enemy that has shown a willingness to do anything to disrupt the establishment of the new Iraq.

In recent months, I have observed thousands of Iraqis in training and then watched as they have conducted numerous operations. Although there have been reverses -- not to mention horrific terrorist attacks -- there has been progress in the effort to enable Iraqis to shoulder more of the load for their own security, something they are keen to do. The future undoubtedly will be full of difficulties, especially in places such as Fallujah. We must expect setbacks and recognize that not every soldier or policeman we help train will be equal to the challenges ahead.
Nonetheless, there are reasons for optimism.

Today approximately 164,000 Iraqi police and soldiers (of which about 100,000 are trained and equipped) and an additional 74,000 facility protection forces are performing a wide variety of security missions. Equipment is being delivered. Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired. Command and control structures and institutions are being reestablished.

Most important, Iraqi security forces are in the fight -- so much so that they are suffering substantial casualties as they take on more and more of the burdens to achieve security in their country. Since Jan. 1 more than 700 Iraqi security force members have been killed, and hundreds of Iraqis seeking to volunteer for the police and military have been killed as well.
Six battalions of the Iraqi regular army and the Iraqi Intervention Force are now conducting operations. Two of these battalions, along with the Iraqi commando battalion, the counterterrorist force, two Iraqi National Guard battalions and thousands of policemen recently contributed to successful operations in Najaf.

Their readiness to enter and clear the Imam Ali shrine was undoubtedly a key factor in enabling Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to persuade members of the Mahdi militia to lay down their arms and leave the shrine.

In another highly successful operation several days ago, the Iraqi counterterrorist force conducted early-morning raids in Najaf that resulted in the capture of several senior lieutenants and 40 other members of that militia, and the seizure of enough weapons to fill nearly four 7 1/2-ton dump trucks.

Within the next 60 days, six more regular army and six additional Intervention Force battalions will become operational. Nine more regular army battalions will complete training in January, in time to help with security missions during the Iraqi elections at the end of that month.
Iraqi National Guard battalions have also been active in recent months. Some 40 of the 45 existing battalions -- generally all except those in the Fallujah-Ramadi area -- are conducting operations on a daily basis, most alongside coalition forces, but many independently.

Progress has also been made in police training. In the past week alone, some 1,100 graduated from the basic policing course and five specialty courses. By early spring, nine academies in Iraq and one in Jordan will be graduating a total of 5,000 police each month from the eight-week course, which stresses patrolling and investigative skills, substantive and procedural legal knowledge, and proper use of force and weaponry, as well as pride in the profession and adherence to the police code of conduct.

Iraq's borders are long, stretching more than 2,200 miles. Reducing the flow of extremists and their resources across the borders is critical to success in the counterinsurgency. As a result, with support from the Department of Homeland Security, specialized training for Iraq's border enforcement elements began earlier this month in Jordan.

Regional academies in Iraq have begun training as well, and more will come online soon. In the months ahead, the 16,000-strong border force will expand to 24,000 and then 32,000. In addition, these forces will be provided with modern technology, including vehicle X-ray machines, explosive-detection devices and ground sensors.

Outfitting hundreds of thousands of new Iraqi security forces is difficult and complex, and many of the units are not yet fully equipped. But equipment has begun flowing. Since July 1, for example, more than 39,000 weapons and 22 million rounds of ammunition have been delivered to Iraqi forces, in addition to 42,000 sets of body armor, 4,400 vehicles, 16,000 radios and more than 235,000 uniforms.

Considerable progress is also being made in the reconstruction and refurbishing of infrastructure for Iraq's security forces. Some $1 billion in construction to support this effort has been completed or is underway, and five Iraqi bases are already occupied by entire infantry brigades.

Numbers alone cannot convey the full story. The human dimension of this effort is crucial.
The enemies of Iraq recognize how much is at stake as Iraq reestablishes its security forces.
Insurgents and foreign fighters continue to mount barbaric attacks against police stations, recruiting centers and military installations, even though the vast majority of the population deplores such attacks. Yet despite the sensational attacks, there is no shortage of qualified recruits volunteering to join Iraqi security forces.

In the past couple of months, more than 7,500 Iraqi men have signed up for the army and are preparing to report for basic training to fill out the final nine battalions of the Iraqi regular army. Some 3,500 new police recruits just reported for training in various locations. And two days after the recent bombing on a street outside a police recruiting location in Baghdad, hundreds of Iraqis were once again lined up inside the force protection walls at another location -- where they were greeted by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

I meet with Iraqi security force leaders every day. Though some have given in to acts of intimidation, many are displaying courage and resilience in the face of repeated threats and attacks on them, their families and their comrades. I have seen their determination and their desire to assume the full burden of security tasks for Iraq.

There will be more tough times, frustration and disappointment along the way. It is likely that insurgent attacks will escalate as Iraq's elections approach. Iraq's security forces are, however, developing steadily and they are in the fight. Momentum has gathered in recent months. With strong Iraqi leaders out front and with continued coalition -- and now NATO -- support, this trend will continue. It will not be easy, but few worthwhile things are.

The writer, an Army lieutenant general, commands the Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq. He previously commanded the 101st Airborne Division, which was deployed in Iraq from March 2003 until February 2004.

Lies upon lies, continue a war lead by the delusional (Part 1)
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Posted by: IanA on Sep 1, 2007 4:50 AM Current rating: Not yet rated [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]

You believe who you want. I know who I believe.Quoting

Patraeus: says Iraq "surge" working: paper, Reuters, August 30, 2007The U.S. troop surge in Iraq has thrown al Qaeda off balance and led to a reduction in sectarian violence and bombings, the U.S. commander in Iraq was quoted on Friday by an Australian newspaper as saying."We say we have achieved progress, and we are obviously going to do everything we can to build on that progress and we believe al Qaeda is off balance at the very least," General David Petraeus told the Australian in an interview after briefing Australia's defense minister, Brendan Nelson, in Baghdad.

Petraeus and U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker will testify before the U.S. Congress on either September 11 or 12.Quoting Juan Cole:, August 31, 2007Arguments over Night of the Living Dead in Iraq

A Government Accounting Office report has found that the Iraqi government has not met 13 of 18 benchmarks set by the US Congress. The report was leaked before it could be doctored by the Bush administration, which promptly denounced it and pledged to . . . doctor it.

Another thing that could be said is that of the 18 congressional benchmarks some are frankly trivial. The trivial ones are the only ones met.I personally find the controversy about Iraq in Washington to be bizarre. Are they really arguing about whether the situation is improving? I mean, you have the Night of the Living Dead over there.

People lack potable water, cholera has broken out even in the good areas, a third of people are hungry, a doubling of the internally displaced to at least 1.1 million, and a million pilgrims dispersed just this week by militia infighting in a supposedly safe all-Shiite area. The government has all but collapsed, with even the formerly cooperative sections of the Sunni Arab political class withdrawing in a snit (much less more Sunni Arabs being brought in from the cold).

The parliament hasn't actually passed any legislation to speak of and often cannot get a quorum. Corruption is endemic. The weapons we give the Iraqi army are often sold off to the insurgency. Some of our development aid goes to them, too. The average number of Iraqis killed in 2007 per day exceeds those killed in 2006. Independent counts by news organizations do not agree with Pentagon estimates about drops in civilian deaths over-all. Nation-wide attacks in June reached a daily all-time high of 177.5.

True, violence in Baghdad has been wrestled back down to the levels of summer, 2006 (hint: it wasn't paradise), but violence levels are up in the rest of the country. If you compare each month in 2006 with each month in 2007 with regard to US military deaths, the 2007 picture is dreadful. I saw on CNN this smarmy Bush administration official come and and say that US troop deaths had fallen because of the surge, which is why we should support it. Just read the following chart bottom to top and compare 2006 month by month to 2007. US troop deaths haven't fallen.

They are way up. Besides, they would be zero if the US were not occupying Iraq militarily, so if we should support a policy that leads to fewer troop deaths, that is the better policy.Here are the US troop death via 77 8-2006 65 7-2007 79 7-2006 43 6-2007 101 6-2006 61 5-2007 126 5-2006 69 4-2007 104 4-2006 763-2007 81 3-2006 312-2007 81 2-2006 551-2007 83 1-2006 62
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Lies upon lies, continue a war lead by the delusional (Part 2)
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Posted by: IanA on Sep 1, 2007 4:51 AM Current rating: Not yet rated [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]

Quoting Juan Cole: (continued), August 31, 2007Arguments over Night of the Living Dead in Iraq

I mean, how brain dead do the Bushies think we are, peddling this horse manure that US troop deaths have fallen? (There are always seasonal variations because in the summer it is 120 F. in the shade and guerrillas are too heat-exhausted to fight; but the summer 2007 numbers are much greater than those for summer 2006; that isn't progress.) And why does our corporate media keep repeating this Goebbels-like propaganda?

Do we really live in an Orwellian state?I'm at a conference. I would make a chart to illustrate the above if I had the time. Somebody else please do it. Maybe we bloggers can unite to keep the debate from being conducted on false premises for once.(Thanks just a million to Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly and all the others who responded to my call for a graph here. It is striking when you see it that way. Look in comments for more such links.)Repeat: US troop deaths in Iraq have not fallen and that is not a reason to support the troop escalation. And, violence in Iraq has not fallen because of the surge. Violence is way up this year.

Saturday, September 1, 2007
Religion Briefs Coalition of nuns calls for impeaching Bush and Cheney


A progressive group of U.S. nuns has called on Congress to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney because of their roles in the war in Iraq.

“The National Coalition of American Nuns is impelled by conscience to call you to act promptly to impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for ... high crimes and misdemeanors,” the group wrote in a letter written on behalf of its board members.

The letter says that impeachment is warranted for their “deceiving the public under the false pretense that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction” and “destroying” the reputation of the United States and the good will of other nations.

“The time for impeachment is now — before the example of George W. Bush’s regime is set in stone,” they wrote. “Future generations will thank you for preserving the freedom of our nation and its relation to the entire human community.”

The coalition was founded in 1969 for individual nuns dedicated to issues of social justice and human rights.

The letter was approved during a mid-August meeting of the board, held in Chicago. During that same meeting, the board unanimously adopted statements opposing all war and affirming peacemaking efforts. “Rather than continuing support of a just-war theory, a more compassionate church would oppose all war and teach peacemaking skills for all levels of government and interpersonal conflict resolution,” the statement reads.

The board also adopted statements pledging to work to “moderate the impact we make on planet Earth,” and supporting nuclear disarmament and relief efforts for the poor in Africa.

Grassroots America, A Non ProfitSeptember 6, 2007

An Open Letter to America: All Power to the People

By Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr.President of the Hip Hop Caucus

September 6, 2007 On July 1, 2007 I sought the support of regular Americans after receiving notification from the U.S. Air Force Reserve that they were threatening to discharge me on the basis of behavior that, in their words, is "clearly inconsistent with the interest of national security." The behavior in question is my outspoken opposition to the occupation of Iraq and the inadequate and inhuman response to the tragedy of Katrina.

As a result of the outpouring of support I received from all over the United States and from around the world, the Air Force backed down. Thanks to my brothers and sisters in the movement, I will end my service with the honorable discharge that I earned. I am eternally grateful, and evermore committed to taking on the powers that be for the powers that ought to be. At first, when I informed the Air Force that I would fight their harassment, they threatened me with deployment to Iraq, or even prison time.

Then with the tremendous circulation and widespread publishing of my first Open Letter, the Air Force realized if they were going to challenge me, they would have to challenge thousands of Americans from across the nation outside of Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia, on my hearing date. Even now, after all the pain we have been through as a nation these last years, the reaction of the Air Force shows that when we are organized in the face of a government that does not represent us, we the people have the power.

Mine is the third case in which the military has backed down when the people have challenged their attempts to silence dissent. When former Sgt. Adam Kokesh spoke out after risking his life in Fallujah, Iraq, the U.S. Marines threatened him with a "less than honorable" discharge but backed down after many came out in support of Adam.

When Marine Sgt. Liam Madden spoke out about this "war of aggression" in which war crimes were being committed, the Marines threatened him but again backed down when they saw organized opposition. The military now knows they will feel the wrath of the people if they threaten veterans who speak out against the occupation of Iraq.

The anti-war movement truly supported me in my case against the Air Force, which as a young African-American minister was so empowering to me personally that I pledge to increase my opposition to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. I pledge to continue my work in solidarity with the Iraqi people who are resisting U.S. occupation. I will not let the media spin that portrays all Iraqi resistors as insurgents linked to Al Qaeda and other terrorists groups, silence my moral support for the good people in Iraq who are fighting to free their land.

Indeed, I have just returned from a trip to the Middle East where I visited with Iraqi refugees. As a person of color, I have no issue with my brothers and sisters in Iraq. I also have no issue with the U.S. troops who serve with honorable intentions and so often join the military under the poverty draft. My issue is with the Bush Administration and our co-dependent Congress.

These are the six ways I see to oppose the U.S. occupation of Iraq:

1. Speaking out and creating an echo chamber of opposition;

2. Participating in acts of civil disobedience;

3. Joining the economic boycott led by the Iraq Moratorium beginning September 21st;

4. Casting your vote at the polls;

5. Giving direct aid to humanitarian programs for Iraqi refugees and internally displaced; and,

6. Counter-recruiting campaigns.

All these methods become effective when a critical mass of people is mobilized. The anti-war movement in the U.S. has yet to reach that critical mass. The critical mass that is necessary to have a real anti-war movement can be achieved by mobilizing those who are most oppressed by the U.S. government. We must link the struggles of the oppressed in the U.S. and in Iraq.

The displaced Katrina survivors and the displaced Iraqis is a good place to start. But it must go deeper than that. Literally, the money that was supposed to go to levees in New Orleans was diverted to the war in Afghanistan.

The money that is being spent to kill Brown people in Baghdad is being diverted from programs that educate Black people in the U.S. For example, for what the State of North Carolina has sacrificed in war spending in Iraq, they could have provided nearly 600,000 students four-year scholarships at public universities.

I pray that our movement finds the strength of character to listen to the very oppressed for whom we claim to speak, and let the voices, ideas and actions of the oppressed drive a movement that can finally grow to that critical mass.

For Future Generations,Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. is the President of the Hip Hop Caucus,

The Hip Hop Caucus is a national, nonprofit, non-partisan organization meant to inspire and motivate those of us born after the '60s civil rights movement. Rev. Yearwood is also a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War,

It was the day after Christmas 2005 and Christine Cegelis sat alone at her dining room table, trying to figure out how to tell her campaign volunteers that she was going to drop out of the 2006 Democratic primary.

The next evening she was to meet with friends and colleagues who had organized around her candidacy for the House of Representatives in the 6th District of Illinois. Her volunteers had walked block after block of the suburban district and spent hours making phone calls to solicit donations and promote the campaign. Many of these people had been at Cegelis's side during her 2004 campaign and witnessed the fruits of their labor when long-time Republican Representative Henry Hyde decided to retire instead of facing Cegelis again in 2006. This was their shot to have a national impact.

But pressure coming from the national Democratic Party was too great. The Democrats had found a challenger for Cegelis, an Iraq veteran named Tammy Duckworth. Contributions were pouring into the opposing campaign and Duckworth was shuttled into the national media spotlight. Cegelis began receiving calls from Democratic members of Congress informing her that they were planning to support Duckworth.

Some of Cegelis's own paid campaign staff implored her to drop out; and she had every reason to listen. She had only $40,000 in the bank, her campaign manager had given up on the campaign and given her office staff two weeks' paid vacation without Cegelis' permission, and her media coordinator had recently quit. Rumor had it that Illinois Senator Barack Obama was going to star in television commercials for Duckworth - star power the Cegelis campaign could never match.

The next day when she sat down in her campaign office with her twelve closest volunteers, Cegelis prepared herself to admit defeat. She laid out the worst-case scenario: The Democratic Party was willing to spend millions of dollars to defeat her in the primary. If she did manage to beat Duckworth, the party would not help her in the general election, leaving the campaign on its own to face a Republican candidate who was hand picked by the national Republican Party.

Instead of agreeing to quit, every one of her volunteers looked her in the eye and said, "We are here to fight."

In May 2004, a former candidate for the New York State Legislature named Cynthia Pooler founded November Victories and Democrat Unity, online forums for new candidates who were running for Congress as Democrats.

"Before you knew it, candidates started talking about the difficulties they were having with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic leadership," Pooler said.

According to Democratic candidates who ran for House of Representative seats in 2006, Rahm Emanuel, then head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, took sides during the Democratic primary elections, favoring conservative candidates, including former Republicans, and sidelining candidates who were running in favor of withdrawal from Iraq.

Appointed as head of the DCCC by then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Emanuel spearheaded the Democratic Party effort to regain control of the House of Representatives during the 2006 election cycle. Emanuel claimed credit for the Democratic takeover and was promoted to chairman of the Democratic Caucus, the fourth-highest ranking position in the House. But his election tactics have been criticized by progressive activists and former Congressional candidates.

According to his critics, Emanuel played kingmaker by financially supporting his favored candidates during primary contests with other Democrats. His critics say that this interference was in direct contradiction of a DCCC policy to "remain neutral" in party primaries.

According to Doug Thornell, spokesperson for the DCCC, "The policy of the DCCC is not to get involved in primaries, unless there is an unusual circumstance that demands it. I cannot speculate on what those circumstances might be. The majority of these cases [2008 primaries] will be left up to the voters on the ground. Meddling hasn't taken place this cycle, and for the most part last cycle. That isn't an accurate way to describe what happened. We are cognizant of having local support for our candidates."

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, would not comment on the DCCC's alleged interference.

However, a source close to the DNC indicated that there was disagreement between Dean and Emanuel over election tactics. In his recent book, "The Thumpin'," Naftali Bendavid, a journalist who spent months inside the DCCC operation and at Emanuel's side, reported a heated conversation between Dean, Emanuel and Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) regarding election strategies of the DCCC and the DNC. At the time, Dean was focusing on helping local organizations across the country to mobilize their communities to support Democrats.

Emanuel wanted to focus the resources of the national party on specific races that were the most likely to be competitive for Democrats. According to Bendavid, Emanuel said to Dean, "You're nowhere, Howard. Your field plan is not a field plan. That's fucking bullshit ... I know your field plan - it doesn't exist. I've gone around the country with these races. I've seen your people. There is no plan, Howard."

How Emanuel came to his decisions about which candidates to support against Democratic opponents is known only to Emanuel and his staff. Emanuel declined direct comment on this story. But an examination of individual races reveals a pattern of financial and political support for wealthy conservative candidates and an assault on their grassroots-supported opponents who were running on platforms that included a full withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.

Illinois's 6th District: Christine Cegelis vs. Tammy Duckworth
A well-documented instance of interference by the DCCC during a Democratic primary occurred during the contest between Christine Cegelis and Tammy Duckworth. Cegelis, a strong proponent of withdrawal from Iraq, encountered unexpected and effective opposition from the DCCC.

Cegelis challenged former 16-term Republican Congressman Henry Hyde in 2004. An information technology specialist, Cegelis had no previous experience in politics, but decided to face off against an entrenched incumbent Republican. Her 2004 campaign, run on a meager budget with mostly volunteer staff, was able to create a tightly knit grassroots infrastructure in the Illinois 6th Congressional District. In 2004, Cegelis received just over 44 percent of the vote. The 82- year-old Hyde decided to retire rather than face another reelection campaign in 2006. This seat became a top target for the Democratic leaders and a microcosm of a much larger battle for the future of the Democratic Party.

Emanuel, himself a congressman from the neighboring 5th District of Illinois, apparently tried to recruit six different candidates to run against Cegelis. According to Kevin Spidel, campaign manager for the Cegelis campaign, all of Emanuel's attempts failed because the potential candidates "all said 'hell no!' They knew the resentment they would face. If you were in the district, you knew how much Cegelis was loved. She built her own machine."

Eventually, Emanuel found a candidate who lived just outside the district, Tammy Duckworth. Duckworth, a helicopter pilot who was severely injured in combat in Iraq, was convinced to run against Cegelis by Emanuel and two Democratic heavyweights, Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama.

Duckworth was not a proponent of a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq. The Los Angeles Times, quoting Duckworth, reported that she believed the military should not "'simply pull up stakes' in Iraq because it would 'create a security vacuum' and 'risk allowing [Iraq] ... to become a base for terrorists.'" According to the same article, Duckworth supported "a pullout of US forces on a schedule based on the training of Iraq's armed forces."

Expedited withdrawal from Iraq was a main plank of the Cegelis campaign platform.
According to Bendavid's book, "Duckworth quickly became the center of a nasty fight over Emanuel's tactics." According to Bendavid, "Emanuel, Durbin, and other Democratic leaders did not believe Cegelis was working hard enough or raising sufficient money ... [Emanuel, Durbin, and other Democratic leaders] used their clout to persuade Duckworth to run and to direct money, attention, and endorsements her way."

Tim Bagwell, a grassroots activist and Cegelis campaigner, said that Duckworth was "hot-wired" into the national media and fund-raising circuit by the DCCC. George Stephanopoulos, who served in the Clinton administration with Emanuel, interviewed Duckworth on his Sunday morning ABC News program, elevating her to national prominence.

According to Spidel, the Cegelis campaign was prevented from accessing Democratic fund-raising and Political Action Committee lists held by the DCCC. Cegelis said that many of the potential donors she contacted had been instructed by the DCCC not to give her campaign money. She felt that she was locked out.

"To tell you I didn't take it personally is wrong," Cegelis said, adding, "this was the wrong way to choose a representative. It is wrong of parties to exclude people from the primary elections. The primary is the time for the people to choose who is on the ballot; those decisions should not be made in back rooms."

Bendavid goes on to quote Emanuel saying of Cegelis, "If she would only work as hard as she would goddamn whine.... She's the only one who says, 'What can you do for me?" adding, "[Cegelis] could absolutely win. She's just not doing it."

Emanuel's assertion about Cegelis's work ethic was hotly contested by members of her campaign.

Cegelis said that she woke up at 4 a.m. every day to go to train stations in the district to shake hands with commuters during the morning rush hour. Then around 9 a.m. she would get on the phone in her campaign headquarters to try and bring in contributions. She would walk to a volunteer's house near her headquarters, where she would nap on the couch from 4:30-6 p.m. After dinner she would get into her car and drive to different neighborhoods for "Coffee with Christine," small gatherings in the homes of constituents of the 6th District where neighbors would gather to share their ideas with Cegelis.

According to Spidel, Emanuel worked against Cegelis because of her support for withdrawal from Iraq and her outspoken opposition to "free trade" legislation like the Central American Free Trade Agreement. "In 2006 the DCCC was Emanuel's personal weapon. He executed based on his needs. He needed votes on 'free trade' legislation that he supports, and he knew that [Cegelis] was one of the Democrats who would vote her own way," Spidel said.

Spidel said that Emanuel worked to defeat Cegelis because she represented a threat to the established Illinois Democrats and because she did not seek their approval before running. "Chicago politics is a family. If you didn't go into the city and kiss certain rings, you were not given certain resources like Political Action Committee lists and donor lists. Cegelis' success hurt some egos and the party didn't like their lack of control," Spidel said.

While Cegelis maintained strong volunteer support, the DCCC-backed Duckworth campaign spent close to $1 million in the primary. The race was extremely close, with Duckworth receiving 44 percent to Cegelis's 40 percent.

"Cegelis was the reason the district was in play in the first place," Spidel said. "If a candidate was able to grow a serious grassroots campaign, especially in a district that historically favored Republicans, it seems illogical to try and challenge it from outside the district. If a Congressional district was completely off the radar before 2004 and the only reason the DCCC was looking at it as a pickup opportunity in 2006 was because of the work a grassroots candidate did, to have come in and discredited the grassroots candidate undermined the entire effort. The DCCC just threw their money away."

Duckworth was beaten in the general election by a right-wing Republican, former State Senator Peter Roskam. One of Roskam's main criticisms of Duckworth was the fact that her home was not located in the district. Roskam won with 51 percent of the vote to Duckworth's 49 percent.

Florida's 13th District: Jan Schneider vs. Christine Jennings
Dr. Jan Schneider, a graduate of Yale Law School and a Ph.D in political science, ran as the Democratic challenger in Florida's 13th Congressional District against Republican Katherine Harris in 2004. In 2004, Schneider was the most competitive Democratic challenger in Florida, garnering 45 percent of the vote against Harris, but Harris won.

Harris vacated the seat in 2006 in order to run for the Senate. Harris' departure was an opportunity for Schneider and her locally mobilized campaign to win a seat for the Democratic Party.

Schneider was an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq and made the war a central issue in her campaigns. Schneider said recently that she "supports the withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq to begin within the next 120 days," a plan approved by the United States House of Representatives in July of this year.

Schneider faced a primary challenge in 2006 from Christine Jennings, a former Republican banker and businesswoman. According to a candidate information page hosted by The Sarasota Herald Tribune, "Jennings doesn't have a specific direction for conducting the war and says she needs more information." Regarding the withdrawal legislation passed by the House in July 2007, Jennings said that she was "not sure whether she would have voted for it." According to Congressional Quarterly, "many Democratic officials thought Jennings's business background would make her a more viable general election contender."

Schneider defeated Jennings by nine percentage points in the 2004 primary.
Schneider became concerned about possible interference from the DCCC during the 2006 primary because, according to Schneider, Jennings had a very wealthy Democratic contributor on her side. Frank Brunckhorst III, a well-known donor to both the Democratic Party and to powerful Democratic members of Congress from Florida, accompanied Jennings to the Democratic National Convention in 2004.

Schneider sat down with Emanuel in 2005 to address her concern that Jennings might get preferential treatment from the DCCC during the primary. According to Schneider, Emanuel told her that the DCCC's policy was not to choose sides during primaries. On May 26, 2005, Emanuel wrote a letter to Schneider reiterating the policy of the DCCC: "You expressed concerns about the DCCC getting involved in party primaries. While our preference is to avoid having them, our policy is to remain neutral," stated the letter, signed by Emanuel.

Schneider claims that Emanuel broke this policy during the 2006 primary race. "Emanuel caused the Schneider campaign to be removed from the DCCC website and circulated solicitations for contributions to Democratic candidates indicating that there was no [Democratic] primary in the Florida 13th," according to a memorandum Schneider prepared.

Schneider blames the DCCC for misleading Senator John Kerry (D- Massachusetts) into thinking that Jennings was running in the primary without any competition from within the party. Kerry gave a $1,000 donation to the Jennings campaign, which was publicized by Jennings as an endorsement. When Schneider confronted Kerry about this donation, Kerry apologized and said that he donated based on assertions by Emanuel that the race was "a targeted race with no primary," and that he never meant to interfere with an intra-party contest, according to Schneider. Congresswoman Shelly Berkley (D- Nevada) says that the DCCC sent her a letter asking her to contribute to races where there was no primary. The letter listed the Florida 13th as a race with only one Democrat pursuing the party's nomination.

Appearing on the satirical comedy central program, "The Colbert Report," in May 2006, Schneider expressed her frustration with the Democratic Party. "I'm pretty disgusted with both parties these days - the Republicans for what they stand for and the Democrats for what they don't."

In 2006, Jennings received 62 percent of the primary vote and defeated Schneider. Jennings went on to lose to Republican Vern Buchanan by 373 votes in a district with electronic voting machines that did not produce a verifiable paper record. More than 18,000 ballots recorded no votes for either Buchanan or Jennings. An election challenge filed by Jennings is making its way through the House Administration Committee.

Cegelis and Schneider, outspoken anti-war candidates who ran competitive campaigns in 2004 against incumbent Republicans, were challenged and defeated from within their own party in 2006. Both races ultimately ended in extremely close losses for the Democratic Party.

California's 11th District: Jerry McNerney vs. Steve Filson
One grassroots campaign that made withdrawal from Iraq a central issue was able to defeat a DCCC-backed candidate despite direct interference during the intra-party primary.

Democrat Jerry McNerney, an engineer and wind energy expert, had previously challenged incumbent Republican Richard Pombo in 2004. With a late start and little organization, McNerney's 2004 campaign only received 39 percent of the vote in a district that voted 45 percent for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. McNerney's effort put the 11th District back into play, and his campaign was revamped in order to mount a serious challenge to Pombo in 2006.

McNerney was a strong critic of the occupation of Iraq and publicly supported Congressman John Murtha's "redeployment" plan for US combat troops serving in Iraq. According to A. J. Carrillo, campaign manager for McNerney, this position on the war made McNerney seem like a fringe candidate to Democratic leaders in Washington. "In the fall of 2005, candidates who were in favor of enforcing a timetable for withdrawal were considered 'liberals' who couldn't win in districts that trended Republican," Carrillo said.

In a move that seems to run contrary to Emanuel's stated policy that the DCCC was to "remain neutral" in primary contests, McNerney's primary opponent, Navy veteran and former Republican Steve Filson was, according to Carrillo, endorsed in the primary by the DCCC. In contrast to McNerney, Filson did not campaign in support of a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

According to Carrillo, Filson was on Emanuel's short list of top-tier candidates, a designation that helped steer early campaign donations to the Filson campaign. "Party insiders were calling and asking that McNerney drop out and let Filson take on Pombo," Carrillo said. According to Carrillo, when McNerney refused to step aside, the DCCC went to work on behalf of his primary opponent.

Carrillo saw DCCC press secretary Sarah Feinberg assisting the Filson campaign at a debate between the two candidates during the primary. Carrillo claims that he received word from a Congressional source that the DCCC was advising Filson's campaign on messaging and strategy. Carrillo's source leaked the information from the DCCC to the McNerney campaign.

Apparently the DCCC ordered a company that prints and distributes campaign mailings to targeted voters not to work with the McNerney campaign. According to Carrillo, he had spoken to the company and faxed them a contract, when a representative from the company called him and said that there was "a minor issue with the DCCC but it shouldn't be a problem." The next morning a company representative called back and said the company could not do business with the McNerney campaign. "The company said that they got an ultimatum from the DCCC. They did a lot of business with the DCCC, so it wasn't worth risking it all just for our campaign. We had to scramble to find another company," Carrillo said.

Despite the primary interference, McNerney did not get discouraged. "Jerry was not bitter or angry about the experience," Carrillo said, adding, "he just went out and decided to prove them all wrong. He really is Mr. Smith goes to Washington."

The campaign received a boost from an old-school Republican, former Congressman and veteran Pete McCloskey, who came out of retirement to challenge incumbent Congressman Pombo in the Republican primary. Pombo beat McCloskey, but the fight left Pombo damaged. McCloskey, one of the authors of the Endangered Species Act, attacked Pombo for his assault on environmental protection regulations and his association with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. After losing the primary, McCloskey supported the McNerney campaign. McNerney ended up winning the seat with slightly more than 53 percent of the vote.

Florida's 16th District: David Lutrin vs. Tim Mahoney
Wealthy businessman Tim Mahoney, a self-described "fundamental Christian," was recruited by the DCCC to run against then-Congressman Mark Foley in Florida's 16th District. According to The Palm Beach Post, Mahoney switched his registration from Republican to Democrat in July of 2005. Mahoney did not support a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

David Lutrin, a school teacher, union activist and staunch supporter of immediate withdrawal from Iraq, decided to run against Foley before Mahoney entered the race. After Mahoney declared his candidacy, Lutrin was contacted by field organizers for the DCCC who asked him to drop out and let Mahoney run unopposed.

Lutrin said that he also met personally with Mahoney. During a three- hour breakfast meeting, Mahoney offered Lutrin a higher-paying job if he agreed to drop out of the primary. "Mahoney tried to get me to run in a different district. He offered me a job at one of his non-profit organizations where he said that I would make more than I was making as a teacher. He said I could campaign full time while working at his non-profit as long as I agreed to drop out of the race," Lutrin said. Lutrin declined the job offer.

According to Lutrin, when he refused to step aside, the DCCC shored up local political support for Mahoney. The local AFL-CIO chapter, of which Lutrin was a member, came out with an early endorsement of Mahoney's campaign. According to Lutrin, the union told him that "they would like to back a fellow union brother, but Mahoney has more money and more political support from the party." Lutrin eventually dropped out of the race when the local teachers' union decided to support Mahoney.

Before it was revealed that then-incumbent Mark Foley had engaged in sexually explicit conversations with a teenage Congressional page, Florida's 16th district had been considered a safe seat for Republicans.

It has been reported that the DCCC knew that Foley was engaging in inappropriate communications with Congressional pages before the story made headlines. According to CNN, a Democratic House staff member sent copies of suggestive email correspondence between Foley and an teenage Congressional page to the DCCC communication director, Bill Burton, in the fall of 2005. Burton later said that he had informed Emanuel of the emails when he received them.

On October 8, 2006, Emanuel joined Republican Congressman Adam Putnam (R-Florida) on ABC's "This Week," hosted by George Stephanopoulos to discuss Foley's conduct. Emanuel dodged multiple questions about when he became aware of the misconduct by Foley. Democrats were decrying the lack of action taken by then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert on the issue.

The exact date that the DCCC became aware of the Foley emails that resulted in his losing the election and the exact date that the DCCC's recruitment of Tim Mahoney to switch parties and run as a Democrat against Foley are not yet known at the time of this writing.

Mahoney won the seat in 2006 and joined The Blue Dog Coalition.

The New Democratic Majority

While Emanuel is given credit for turning power over to the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives, the majority is fractured.

Many of the candidates that Emanuel helped elect have joined with a group of self-styled conservative Blue Dog Democrats and have cast key votes with Republicans and stymied Democratic efforts to end the occupation of Iraq and the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

Thirteen of the Democratic members of the House elected in 2006 joined The Blue Dog Coalition; a group that, according to its spokesperson, has no official stance on withdrawal from Iraq or the president's warrantless wiretapping program. However, 30 out of 47 of the Blue Dog members broke with the majority of Democrats and cast votes in favor of the recent Protect America Act, a bill that greatly expanded the power of the executive branch to spy on Americans. The caucus also broke with the majority of Democrats when 40 of the Blue Dog members voted to continue funding the occupation of Iraq without a timetable for withdrawal.

In an interview shortly after his election, freshman Blue Dog member Tim Mahoney told the Charlotte Sun, a local paper from his district, that he attended a meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and told her "The president should be free to maintain troops in Iraq, if the purpose is to thwart terrorism."

This story is based on a month-long investigation by Truthout into the practices of the DCCC and scores of interviews with Congressional spokespeople, political activists and former candidates for office.

Matt Renner is an assistant editor and Washington reporter for Truthout.
Nippon Oil to buy Iran oil in yen

Japanese firm Nippon Oil is to start paying for Iranian oil in yen, rather than in US dollars.

The first payments to be made in the new currency for crude oil contracts will take place in October.

Iran has been increasingly selling oil in currencies other than the US dollar, which has fallen in value.

Iran, the fourth-biggest oil exporter, has made the shift in the light of political differences with the US over its nuclear programme.

While Iran says the project is for civilian purposes only, the US argues it is to develop nuclear weapons.

Last year, Iran inserted a clause into oil contracts enabling it to require payment in currency other than the US dollar.

Iran and other countries that rely heavily on oil exports have been hard hit by the decline in the dollar's value.

The move is not intended to change the original value of the oil contracts being traded.


Can you hear it? That's the sound of our whip hitting the ground as we welcome Congress back from vacation. We are in DC all September to remind our Representatives it's time to lead us out of Iraq--no more excuses. Congressional leaders have done a miserable job "whipping" their members to end the war so we'll ride them until they start to represent us!

Check out our awesome new Whip Congress into Shape video and help us get it out there--if you have a blog, please blog about it, or send the link to your favorite political and cultural bloggers with the accompanying article or your own passionate words. Thanks to Mark Farinas and Bad Monkey Studios for taking our vision and animating it with such spirit!

We have also started an exciting new pledge drive to Whip Congress into Shape and bring our troops home. Click here to pledge and we will send you a simple action each week to end the war and an opportunity to invite more people to pledge. Whoever inspires the most people to pledge by the end of each month will win an unforgettable week at the CODEPINK house in DC!

This month, our pledge asks you to call your Congressperson once a week. Our action happens to coincide with a national progressive call--in TODAY, Thursday, September 6th. Please call your Representative and both Senators through the Congressional switchboard (202) 225-3121 and tell them "I want you to act now to end the war and occupation of Iraq and prevent a catastrophic war with Iran.

The Congress has the constitutional right and a moral responsibility to use the power of the purse to withdraw all U.S. soldiers and contractors from Iraq on a rapid and binding schedule. Don't Buy Bush's War!"

Thank you for helping us Whip Congress into Shape!

With peace and power,Dana, Desiree, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Jodie, Karin, Liz, Medea, Nancy, Pamela, Patricia, Rae, Samantha, and Vanessa

Judge Invalidates Patriot Act Provisions
FBI Is Told to Halt Warrantless Tactic
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff WriterFriday, September 7, 2007; Page A01

A federal judge struck down controversial portions of the USA Patriot Act in a ruling that declared them unconstitutional yesterday, ordering the FBI to stop its wide use of a warrantless tactic for obtaining e-mail and telephone data from private companies for counterterrorism investigations.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York said the FBI's use of secret "national security letters" to demand such data violates the First Amendment and constitutional provisions on the separation of powers, because the FBI can impose indefinite gag orders on the companies and the courts have little opportunity to review the letters.

The secrecy provisions are "the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values," Marrero wrote. His strongly worded 103-page opinion amounted to a rebuke of both the administration and Congress, which had revised the act in 2005 to take into account an earlier ruling by the judge on the same topic.

Although a government appeal is likely, the decision could eliminate or sharply curtail the FBI's issuance of tens of thousands of national security letters (NSLs) each year to telephone companies, Internet providers and other communications firms. The FBI says it typically orders that such letters be kept confidential to make sure that suspects do not learn they are being investigated, as well as to protect "sources and methods" used in terrorism and counterintelligence probes.

The ruling follows reports this year by Justice Department and FBI auditors that the FBI potentially violated privacy laws or bureau rules more than a thousand times while issuing NSLs in recent years -- violations that did not come to light quickly, partly because of the Patriot Act's secrecy rules.

"The risk of investing the FBI with unchecked discretion to restrict such speech is that government agents, based on their own self-certification, may limit speech that does not pose a significant threat to national security or other compelling government interest," Marrero said.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the ruling. "We are reviewing the decision and considering our options," said spokesman Dean Boyd.

But Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit in the case, said the ruling "is yet another setback in the Bush administration's strategy in the war on terror and demonstrates the far-reaching efforts of this administration to use powers that are clearly unconstitutional."

Marrero's decision would bar the use of NSLs to demand data from electronic communications companies, a procedure that was the focus of the lawsuit. But the ruling appears to leave untouched the FBI's ability to demand bank records, credit reports and other financial data related to counterterrorism and other probes, because those authorities are covered by other statutes, according to legal experts. Marrero delayed enforcement of his order for 90 days to give the government a chance to appeal.

Although the FBI has had the ability to issue NSLs for many years, the Patriot Act, enacted in October 2001, significantly relaxed the rules for using them while increasing the secrecy requirements. The result has been a surge in NSL requests, from fewer than 9,000 in 2000 to nearly 50,000 in 2005, according to Justice Department records.

Yesterday's ruling marks the second time that Marrero has struck down the Patriot Act's NSL provisions. In 2004, after the ACLU filed suit on behalf of the same plaintiff -- an Internet service provider identified as John Doe -- he ruled similarly that the NSL provisions were unconstitutional because they silenced recipients and gave them no recourse through the courts.

While a government appeal was pending, Congress passed legislation in 2005 aimed at solving the problems identified by Marrero. But the judge ruled yesterday that the revisions were not adequate and that under the new law, "several aspects . . . violate the First Amendment and the principle of separation of powers."

The new legislation essentially required the courts to go along with the gag orders as long as the FBI certified that the secrecy was justified. Marrero suggested in his decision that Congress could solve the problems by more sharply limiting the FBI's ability to silence recipients while allowing more oversight from the courts.

Marrero, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1999, warned of "far-reaching invasions of liberty" when the courts refuse to set limits on government power. He pointed specifically to Supreme Court rulings that sanctioned the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II and upheld racial segregation in schools and other public accommodations.

Most lawmakers were quiet about yesterday's ruling. Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), the only senator to vote against the original Patriot Act in 2001, said in a statement, "Congress needs to fix the mess it created when it gave the government overly-broad powers to obtain sensitive information about Americans."

Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy group, said the ruling, if it stands, should provoke Congress to enact new legislation. "Congress will need to amend the NSL statute to put in place a system of prior judicial review. . . . That's something it should have done six years ago in the original Patriot Act."

The issue of national security letters poses a dilemma for telecommunications carriers, which want to comply with government efforts to fight terrorism but also want to be seen as respecting customers' privacy, said Herbert Fenster, a director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's National Chamber Litigation Center who has represented major carriers.

"There is a natural tension between good citizenship on the one hand and sound business judgment on the other," he said. "When complying necessitates that they partner with the government, and when it all comes out [in public], it's bad for business."

Fenster said there have been cases in which carriers questioned NSLs and in a few cases, the NSLs were withdrawn. Sometimes, there was a compromise. In some cases, the demand letter was eventually made public.

Justice Department and FBI officials have strongly defended their use of NSLs and say they have implemented numerous reforms to lower the number of privacy violations. Administration officials have also characterized the letters as a crucial method of quickly obtaining information in the early stages of an investigation.

Kenneth Wainstein, head of the Justice Department's National Security Division, told the House intelligence committee earlier this year that NSLs are "important building blocks in national security investigations, and we must continue [to] use them if we are to be successful at heading off the threat of international terrorism in the United States."

Staff writer Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.

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