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Iraq Unembedded * Breaking Silence * Bush Law


17 January 2006

"Our lives begin to end the day

we become silent on things that matter."


- Martin Luther King, Jr.

1) Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
2) Iraq Unembedded

- - U.S. Military Called On to Compensate Iraqi Civilians
- - National Security Whistleblowers "Call to Patriotic Duty"
- - Gore: Bush 'Repeatedly and Persistently' Broke the Law
3) NASA Debates Public Safety Of Pluto Launch

Editor's Notes:


The first item is from a speech by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., when he spoke out against the Vietnam War on the day one year from his assassination. His speech reads like a deja-vu of the current US inhumane-quagmire-policy in Iraq. Item two begins with a powerful review on a new book featuring 'gripping war photos from four independent photojournalists' revealing a key lesson on reality and war. Also in this section is more from Sibel Edmonds, and the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. The third item covers a mainstream article reviewing NASA's safety concerns in launching 24 pounds of radioactive Plutonium on a rocket ship from Florida, expected lift-off, today.

"I'm very much in favor of the space program,
but I think the use of plutonium in space
is a manifestation of organized insanity"


John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology



1) Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
By Rev. Martin Luther King
4 April 1967

Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967,
meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church. NYC

[EXCERPT]

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not "ready" for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators -- our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change -- especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese --the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged.

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for onE "Vietcong"-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them -- mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political force -- the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

..Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

For the complete speech transcript, see:
www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html
or
http://academic.udayton.edu/race/06hrights/WaronTerrorism/war01.htm
or
www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm



2) Iraq Unembedded

- - U.S. Military Called On to Compensate Iraqi Civilians
- - National Security Whistleblowers "Call to Patriotic Duty"
- - Gore: Bush 'Repeatedly and Persistently' Broke the Law

Iraq Unembedded
A new book featuring gripping war photos from four independent photojournalists
tells the story an embedded US press corps couldn't tell.

by James Heflin -
Published by the Valley Advocate
January 5, 2006

Just before the war in Iraq began, I happened upon a protest in downtown Northampton. The main intersection was blocked by the protesters, several of whom were splayed out on the concrete as fake war casualties. I went up close. I've thought of war, of organized killing, as a failure of reason for a long time. Those who would seek war, as our commander-in-chief seems to, first have to manage to dispense with the bother, the irritation of the deaths of innocents that mars any military action, no matter how noble.

But those deaths mostly still bother the rest of us. I stood in the intersection, and the utter reality of the abstraction--war--that I had been fighting in print since Bush's first obvious lies, became in the next moments more tangible. It all came down to what was being enacted there: death. I believed that soon, despite all of us who could see that Bush was hyping cobbled-together, well-spun intelligence, real and innocent people would be lying on the streets of Baghdad, blood blooming from some terrible wound. You've got to have a really good reason to do that to someone, even someone who opposes you. Somehow, standing there surrounded by others who felt as I did, seeing their passion on display, and seeing their enactment of Iraqi casualties, I felt, viscerally, a sense of loss and despair, and I imagined all too well the death that would come, no matter how many of us thought Bush's trumped-up scare tactics weren't sufficient reason to fight.

I knew, too, that the sense of horror at lost life, at helpless victims shattered by our bombs, bombs with all our names attached, whether we like it or not--was precisely what warmongers never want us to feel. These are the people who think the lesson of Vietnam was that images of war, not the moral cost of killing, are bad for you. It must be necessary to remain a naif or to harden oneself against the humanity of an enemy to hold such a position. Bush has worked hard to make sure most Americans remain nave, remain in a starry-eyed state where "freedom" and "liberation" and "democracy" stir the proper fervor, unsullied by the knowledge that acting on abstractions still carries un-abstract costs.

The photos in the book Unembedded (from Chelsea Green publishers) are the work of four photojournalists--Kael Alford (American), Thorne Anderson (American), Rita Leistner (Canadian) and Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (Iraqi)--who put the acquisition of these important images above all else, braving whatever they would find beyond the borders of Iraq. This is the real version of what I could only imagine in Northampton; this is a tiny bit of what happened in Iraq, the real faces of loss and despair. The images they brought back are absorbing and fascinating, but more than that, they are complicated--complicated in that the reactions they elicit are not readily file-able for someone trying to impose a lefty or righty filter on the world. Something, one imagines, like the reality of life in Iraq.

There is happiness on one page, utter despair on the next. The photographers write lengthy captions about most of their shots, and each offers a longer essay as well. In one image (by Thorne Anderson), a boy urinates on a fallen statue of Saddam. In another (by Kael Alford), a young boy sits staring on a hospital floor beside his mother, who's bleeding and has been given up for dead by doctors. The former may provide vindication for those who hang onto turning out Saddam as the ultimate war rationale.

The latter may well be the most important image in the book.

The boy is clearly deep in thought, and he seems strangely calm. His is a look of cold calculation, not fear or sadness. He seems oblivious to his own injuries. Of such moments, repeated countless times as bombs fall on the Muslim world, terrorists are made. What Alford froze with her lens is surely a moment of traumatic change for just one of the thousands of victims of our war. Our justifications--"freedom is on the march"--can't change the fact that a boy's mother is dying at our hands. It's all too clear that, with every one of those moments, anti-American sentiment is seared into young brains, and we are seeing to the certain creation of another generation of terrorism and conflict. This boy may never take up arms against the United States, but whatever he does, thanks to this war, he must grapple for the rest of his life with the horror of his mother's death at our hands. It may be difficult for him to think of those hands as benevolent.

That's not something that Bush and all his illegal wiretapping can prevent. If we do not look unflinchingly at such moments, understand them and seek to prevent the damage they do, we will be doomed to ceaselessly pursue the "war on terror." We must realize that one can declare war on an emotion--terror--but one can only do battle with the non-abstract, with real people, and dealing with them poorly often makes them willing to take up arms against us and employ terrorism as a tactic.

Unembedded , though at first it appears to be but a slender volume of modest import, is a truly hard-won book, and it should be required viewing. This depiction of events that befell (and still befall) Iraqis, this, for better or ill, is a slice of the real results of our invading Iraq. It may be bad from a strictly military point of view to humanize the enemy--it's hard even for the well-trained to kill someone they see as a real person--but it's vastly important to understanding the causes of terrorism and actually dealing with them. And that, in the end, is the only way out of Bush's war.

For complete original article, with photos and reference-links, see:
http://valleyadvocate.com/gbase/News/content.html?oid=oid:138707

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- - U.S. Military Called On to Compensate Iraqi Civilians
Published on Monday, January 16, 2006 by OneWorld.net
U.S. Military Called On to Compensate Iraqi Civilians
by Haider Rizvi

NEW YORK - U.S.-based humanitarian groups are urging the administration of President George W. Bush to compensate the families of innocent Iraqi citizens killed as a result of aerial bombings by the U.S. military.

The call comes after U.S. military officials admitted that they had mistakenly bombed a civilian residence in the northern Iraqi town of Baiji over a week ago. The air raid that killed at least six people in their home prompted widespread anger among local communities.

"When mistakes happen, we have a responsibility to help the victims and their loved ones," said Sarah Holewinsky, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Innocent Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC).

For the complete article, see:
www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0116-04.htm

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- - National Security Whistleblowers "Call to Patriotic Duty"
By Sibel Edmonds & William Weaver
December 29, 2005
NSWBC Call to Patriotic Duty
By Sibel Edmonds & William Weaver

Without whistleblowers the public would never know of the many abuses of constitutional rights by the government. Whistleblowers, Truth Tellers, are responsible for the disclosure that President George W. Bush ordered unconstitutional surveillance of American citizens. These constitutional lifeguard take their patriotic oaths to heart and soul: Rather than complying with classification and secrecy orders designed to protect officials engaging in criminal conduct, whistleblowers chose to risk their livelihoods and the wrath of their agencies to get the truth out. But will they be listened to by those who are charged with accountability?

[EXCERPT]

Accountability, in the end, always comes down to the public's right to know, the right to have the most basic knowledge about what its servants are doing with its money and its authority. Ambassador Maxwell Taylor, when asked what he thought about the public's right to know of what the government is doing on its behalf, infamously responded the he did not "believe in that as a general rule." Fortunately, that is not a general rule that comports with our system of government. Citizens cannot make informed choices if they do not have the facts. Public servants should not be forced to choose between career and conscience, between commitment to oath and commitment to colleagues, and if we live by our words, laws, and principles they will not have to. Protecting all employees of the People are that:

o Their higher loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law;

o Information may never be classified as secret merely because it is embarrassing or incriminating, or to cover up criminal and unlawful conduct;

o There is no agreement that public servants may sign that will require them lie to the Congress or courts;

o The United States' Code of Ethics for Government Service explains carefully and clearly in an assured voice that "Any person in government service should put loyalty to the highest moral principles and to the Country above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department."

Contact:

Sibel Edmonds-Director, National Security Whistleblowers Coalition,
sedmonds@nswbc.org

Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI language specialist, was terminated from the bureau after reporting security breaches, cover-up, and blocking of intelligence with national security implications. Since that time, court proceedings in her whistleblower case have been blocked by the imposition of "State Secret Privilege," and Congress has been prevented from discussion of her case through retroactive reclassification by the Department of Justice. Edmonds, fluent in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani; holds an MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, and a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University.

Professor William Weaver, NSWBC Senior Advisor, wweaver@nswbc.org

Bill Weaver served in U.S. Army signals intelligence for eight years in Berlin and Augsburg, Germany, in the late 1970s and 1980s. He holds a law degree and Ph.D. in politics from the University of Virginia. He currently is an associate professor and associate director of faculty for the Institute for Policy and Economic Development and an Associate in the Center for Law and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso. He specializes in executive branch secrecy policy, governmental abuse, and law and bureaucracy.

About National Security Whistleblowers Coalition

National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), founded in August 2004, is an independent and nonpartisan alliance of whistleblowers who have come forward to address our nation's security weaknesses; to inform authorities of security vulnerabilities in our intelligence agencies, at nuclear power plants and weapon facilities, in airports, and at our nation's borders and ports; to uncover government waste, fraud, abuse, and in some cases criminal conduct. The NSWBC is dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers through a variety of methods, including advocacy of governmental and legal reform, educating the public concerning whistleblowing activity, provision of comfort and fellowship to national security whistleblowers suffering retaliation and other harms, and working with other public interest organizations to affect goals defined in the NSWBC mission statement. For more on NSWBC visit nswbc.org

For the complete article, see:
www.opednews.com/maxwrite/print_friendly.php?p=opedne_sibel_ed_051229_nswbc_call_to_patrio.htm

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- - Gore: Bush 'Repeatedly and Persistently' Broke the Law
Published on Monday, January 16, 2006 by the Associated Press
Gore: Bush 'Repeatedly and Persistently' Broke the Law
by Larry Margasak

WASHINGTON - Former Vice President Al Gore called Monday for an independent investigation of President Bush's domestic spying program, contending the president "repeatedly and persistently" broke the law by eavesdropping on Americans without court approval.

www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0116-08.htm

- - For transcript of speech, see:

Read whole speech here:
http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Text_of_Gore_speech_0116.html



3) NASA Debates Public Safety Of Pluto Launch
POSTED: 6:22 pm EST January 10, 2006

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's leaders debated on Tuesday whether it's safe to launch the first mission to the planet Pluto -- a mission powered by radioactive plutonium.

The launch is scheduled for next Tuesday [1/17/06], and extraordinary safety precautions are being taken at Cape Canaveral, WESH 2 space specialist Dan Billow reported.

The mission needs clearance from the White House and from NASA's administrator in Washington. The safety debate was under way all afternoon Tuesday, even as teams of radiation specialists make their way to Brevard County to be ready in case of an accident.

Across Brevard County, 16 teams of radiation specialists and two radiological control centers will deploy before Tuesday's launch.

"They've got aircraft, they've got manpower, they've got the vehicles, they've got the most modern sensors probably available in the world today," Bob Lay, Brevard County's emergency operations manager.

The Pluto probe carries 24 pounds of plutonium, which is needed to generate electricity for its cameras and transmitters. The probe will be launched on an Atlas 5 rocket, a new and more powerful version of t he rocket never launched before.

If it explodes during liftoff, there is a very small chance the ground could be contaminated with cancer-causing radioactive particles. In fact, a test version of one of the rocket's fuel tanks has ruptured, which could cause just such an explosion.

"So, we're trying to understand why that tank ruptured," said Kennedy Space Center director Jim Kennedy.

Not much time is left. Launch is scheduled for next Tuesday, and the probe must get off the ground by mid-February while Pluto, its target, is within range.

"We do not play games with the public's health and safety. We recognize the importance of that, and it's a part of our charter to make sure that we protect the public," Kennedy said.

NASA has not yet announced any conclusion from Tuesday's top-level safety review, but earlier, Kennedy said it appears experts are leaning toward clearing the rocket for launch.

For original article posting, see:
www.wesh.com/news/5984374/detail.html



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