Kevin Gosztola

Obama: Continuing to Block Release of Torture Photos

 By Kevin Gosztola 

 
Despite the fact that more and more information continues to trickle out because of the diligence of individuals, groups and organizations concerned about accountability for torture and other violations of civil liberties, the Obama Administration continues to block the release of photos, withhold information and stonewall efforts to hold Bush Administration officials accountable.
 
Throughout the Obama Administration, episodes have regularly taken place each time firsthand accounts on "enhanced interrogation techniques" and terror suspects in prisons and descriptions from policy papers detailing interrogation procedures are released as a result of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

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The Tea Party as Shock Troops for Those in Power

By Kevin Gosztola 

Down on Daley Plaza in Chicago, around one thousand people gathered for the Tea Party Tax Day Protest at noon. Groups like Americans for Prosperity, Campaign for Liberty, and the Illinois Policy Institute had individuals at the Tax Day protest. There also were a handful of people from gun's rights groups, the military, and from white nationalist groups.
 
The focus of the rally was November 2nd. Much of the crowd talked about and held signs indicating they couldn't wait for the midterm elections. In fact, the Tea Party Chicago protest slogan was "Repeal it. Replace Congress."

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Can We Truly Understand What's Happening in Iran?

 

by Kevin Gosztola    
 
While we watch video and images from Iran, blog and tweet and become transfixed and mesmerized by what is unfolding, how possible is it for us to understand and grasp what is really happening in Iran?
 
The Huffington Post, the Lede, Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish, Juan Cole’s Informed Comment, the Daily Kos, the NIAC Blog, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran all have posted a myriad of rumors, video, photos, tweets, hearsay, interviews, reports, emails, etc from Iran. But, what are we to make of all of this information?

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61 Arrested, Hundreds Protest Obama's War in Afghanistan

By Kevin Gosztola

I spoke with Elaine Brower, an organizer with the World Can't Wait, about yesterday's protest outside the White House which ended in a massive arrest of 82 people including well-known peace advocates David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan.

As she explained it, people began to show up to McPherson Square at 9:15 am. They put on orange jumpsuits and held up big signs of Gonzales, Cheney, and Bush. The press came over to talk to them and the crowd began to grow.

Activists lined up around a fountain in the square to give the press a photo opportunity.

At 10:35 am ET, Brower left with a group that headed over to the White House so they could be present when Obama held his press conference on health care at 11:15 am ET.

They stood right outside the White House gate (and forced the White House press corps to find another way to get into a press briefing).

The group chanted "Healthcare Not Warfare" and other slogans.

The police wound up chasing them off the sidewalk.

The press were interested in the 75 or more protesters who had gathered outside the gate. They were turning and looking to hear who was shouting "Bring the Troops Home", "Close Gitmo", etc.

As noon approached, the police became more and more intrusive. David Swanson was shouting about First Amendment rights and freedom of speech on a bullhorn as the crowd grew to somewhere between 200 and 300 people.

Brower sat in stress positions. She sat in a cage giving the press another great photo opportunity.

Different affinity groups were now set up outside the White House. Veterans for Peace had coffins. World Can't Wait setup a museum that involved a waterboarding demonstration and signs detailing walling, stress positions, etc through graphic photos.

Members of Witness Against Torture chained themselves to the fence outside the White House.

The press took pictures and video and interviewed many of the protesters about torture.

The group of protesters began to participate in a reading of the names of those who died in Afghanistan. They chanted after a few names were read, "Mourn the dead. Heal the wounded. End the war," and then the names would continue to be read. They would chant again.

This went on for 45 minutes before the police on horses broke up the demonstration and pushed the crowd in the street behind a perimeter created with caution tape.

Those inside the caution tape were warned a few times and then arrested. A big air-conditioned bus showed up to cart the protesters off to Anacostia. They were processed immediately and then told they would have to come back in 15 days.

Brower noted a shift in protocol. Instead of going through the entire process of getting re-fingerprinted, running protesters' records, etc, the police chose to issue citations and force out-of-towners to come back.

The protest was overwhelmingly peaceful. I asked Brower what she thought about the fact that someone from the press corps mentioned the protest to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. I mentioned how the Obama Administration issued a statement saying "leaving Afghanistan is not an option."

Brower said that Gibbs and Obama knew we were there (despite what Gibbs said to the press corps). She does not think they will listen to protest or consider what they have to say. But, people should understand that the people who voted him into office are now standing at his door yelling at him to shift policy.

She added his "base is slipping" and he's going to have to answer to people who wonder why he is abandoning his base.

This was the first protest ever done with a prime focus on Afghanistan.

As indicated in my original entry, the people are trying to push Obama to do what needs to be done. He is ignoring people, pretending people are not there protesting, going about business as usual and simply talking to generals, asking Congress to help with Afghanistan, etc.

How do you confront the reality that Americans will not be able to make Obama do it like they thought they would do when they voted him in office? How do you deal with the idea that he won't deliver hope and change when it comes to Afghanistan?

The answer may be depressing but Americans cannot become further demoralized. Americans must become energized and go out and organize protests in community that share with other Americans the reality of the war in Afghanistan.

For more, read this press release from Voters for Peace and read David Swanson's article, "We Were Arrested for Speaking."

 

Obama Employs Bush Administration Tactic to Halt Release of Detainee Photos

 

By Kevin Gosztola
 
On Wednesday, Obama said he “would try to block the court-ordered release of photos showing U.S. troops abusing prisoners.” The release, which was to be the result of a Freedom of Information Act request made by the ACLU, had been reasonable in the final weeks of April, but today, Obama chose to come out against the release.
 
According to the Associated Press, “out of concern [that] the pictures would "further inflame anti-American opinion" and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan” Obama planned to block them.
 
Obama intends to block the release of the photos because they may negatively impact American empire and American military adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gen. Ray Odierno, a prime architect of “the surge” in Iraq, and Gen. David Petraeus influenced Obama’s decision after informing the administration that they were afraid the photos will “cost American lives.”

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Doctors Aided CIA Interrogators, Human Experimentation

 by Kevin Gosztola 

 
Recently an ethics group known as Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) produced a report titled, “Aiding Torture,” that has been, for the most part, ignored by American news media. The report concludes that “health professionals participated at every stage in the development, implementation, and legal justification” of the CIA’s torture program.
 
While news in America disregards the PHR report that was compiled by the ethics group after reading the 2004 CIA Inspector General report released just over a week and a half ago, the Guardian in the UK details one particularly appalling portion of the report.

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Can the World Wait?

By Kevin Gosztola
 
 "America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered." -Louis D. Brandeis Success at the World Can't Wait (WCW) National Meeting this weekend rested upon whether those participating would be able to deliberate and synthesize ideas so that an agenda of goals and objectives could be formulated in the not-so-distant future. It depended on whether this deliberation and synthesis of ideas could be productive or not. When considering this, the WCW National Meeting was very productive especially since it features voices on the "left" that range from Revolutionary Communist to those willing to enter the voting booth on Election Day.
 

Such diversity could be a barrier to conversation. But unlike the U.S. Congress, which likes to put on a dog and pony show for Americans that features so-called right wingers squaring off with so-called liberals, the WCW is a group deeply invested and deeply confident in the necessity for WCW to produce real change in this country.

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Obama’s “Cosmic War”

 by Kevin Gosztola    

I wrote this on August 19 as another New York Times article on how criminal the Bush Administration was as it waged and expanded the "war on terror" circulated. It is referenced and discussed at the end of this article.
 
Underneath the takeover of the health care debate by right wing mobs, beneath the dumbfounding and ostentatious discussion on whether the U.S. economy is out of a recession or has saved itself from a depression, is the central issue of the "global war on terror," an agenda pursued by "the terrorism industry" that could hold Americans hostage over the next few decades.
 

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Re-Branding the World Can't Wait

By Kevin Gosztola
 
Ever been to a protest event and said to your self, "What's with all the orange?"
 
The organization responsible for the prevalence of orange at rallies and marches across the U.S. (which calls attention to the Bush Administration's use of torture) has been the World Can't Wait---Drive Out the Bush Regime.
 
Now that Obama has been elected, the organization is holding its national meeting in Chicago to discuss how to respond to the election of Obama and how to re-brand itself to create real change.
 
Allow me to give you an update on how the meeting is going---an insider's point of view from an insider who really wants this group to succeed but at the same time wishes to objectively address this group's status in America.
 

Obviously, World Can't Wait---Drive Out the Bush Regime needs to be updated since on January 20th (provided that major incidents do not occur which conspiratorial nutcases will probably delight in bringing to my attention via the comments section of this article) there will be no Bush Regime to drive out anymore.

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Why Bush Considered Sending Military into Buffalo, NY

 By Kevin Gosztola 

 The New York Times reported in its Late Edition on Saturday, July 25, 2009 that "top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda."
 
The idea to deploy troops domestically made it to a "high level meeting" and, as the New York Times, advisers like Dick Cheney and David S. Addington argued in favor of deploying troops. Advisers believed that "the president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna Six, and declare them enemy combatants."

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About

World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.