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The Urgent Need for Decisive and Principled Leadership in the Anti-War Movement

 

By Debra Sweet
 
UNITY in the antiwar movement: SAVE these dates: Monday October 5; Saturday October 17; Friday March 19, 2010
 
I was among the World Can't Wait supporters attending the National Assembly to End the Occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan this weekend in Pittsburgh.  Read the proposal World Can't Wait brought.   I'm glad to be able to say that out of the Assembly came a vote and intention to support a two-week period of mass, united actions against the occupations from October 3 - October 17, 2009.  Based on support of most of the participants, a demand was added to "end war crimes, including torture." 
 
This action period includes Monday, October 5 as a mass protest and non-violent civil resistance action in Washington, at the US House offices and the White House to mark the US occupation of Afghanistan, which begun that week in 2001.  The period culminates with Saturday October 17th regional and local actions against the wars.  October 17 is the 40th anniversary of the famous Vietnam Moratorium in 1969 that Daniel Ellsberg referred to as so huge that it forced Richard Nixon to shelve plans to nuke Vietnam.
But the Assembly decided, for reasons I strongly disagree with, not to choose any date, particularly a week date, next spring, to protest what will be the 7th anniversary of the occupation of Iraq -- an occupation, which by then, will be just as horrible for the Iraqi people as it is now.  David Swanson, Steve Coleman of the Iraq Moratorium, and myself spoke in favor of Friday March 19, 2010 as a day to begin building for now.  Yes, it's a week day, which is the point.  We should assert the need to stop "Obama's wars" and build the necessary movement over the next 8 months to do significant action that day, particularly in Washington.
 
The arguments against March 19, 2010 were that other groups need to be consulted before what is likely the largest antiwar conference of the year decides on a date; and that working people won't take off a week day to protest.  As far as I'm concerned, the antiwar movement has collapsed and urgently requires decisive, principled leadership now in order not to become completely irrelevant.  So I'm saying, now that we should have the necessary discussion and planning quickly, and get on it!
 
ALSO: September 20-25, the G-20 group of governments is meeting in Pittsburgh to address the world economic crisis/recession.  World Can't Wait will be there protesting with people from around the world.
 
Investigating Torture: What is Eric Holder Talking About?  What Will Obama Do?
 
NOT much, without our visible resistance.  I know there's excitement because Holder is finally -- and seemingly, honestly -- talking to the press about how he's agonized over the details of the Bush era torture, and is leaning towards some investigation.  Rahm Emmanuel and much of the Democratic leadership doesn't want to go there.  Michael Ratner and other defenders of the detainees are rightly worried that any probe will avoid going to the top and opening up huge issues of executive privilege and criminality.  
 
Barack Obama, traveling the world this week, can't get away from the specter of war crimes and torture that hangs over his administration.  This week, Newsweek featured a long piece based on interviews with Attorney General Eric Holder, indicating some of the struggle going on inside the Obama administration over what to do about the torturers of the Bush era, some of which are still working for the government, others of which are spreading their pro-torture message elsewhere.  See Is Texas Harboring a Torture Decider? by Ray McGovern on warcriminalswatch.org. 
 
Some of those on the Intelligence Committee are very angry that Cheney -- for more than 8 years -- seems to have gotten the CIA to lie to Congress about its executive assasination program.  The New York Times covered the program Saturday, and The Wall Street Journal covers it today.  Leon Panetta says he stopped the program when he heard about it, this month, and that it was never developed.  I remember when some of all this ground was covered by the Church Committee in 1975, when the CIA was curbed somewhat from its free-lance murder, coup, and counter-revolution programs -- ironically, or not, also revealed by Seymour Hersh as the "family jewels" of the CIA -- the Church rules have steadily been supplanted by the gloves-off, going to the "dark side" crimes of the Bush era.
 
There's also international pressure on Obama to investigate the war crimes of General Dostum of Afghanistan, one of the US' favorite war lords during the initial 2001 invasion.  War Crimes and the White House: The Bush Administration's Cover-Up of the Dasht-e-Leili Massacre, also discussed this morning on Democracy Now.  After the Pentagon said the massacre wasn't its problem, Obama made statements this weekend that there would be an investigation.
 
What WE do, visibly, is very important! There can be no "wait and see" or "hope for the best" and for the good intentions of the Obama administration to take over.  This is an uphill fight for justice, and we demand...Release the torture photos, prosecute the war crimes!
 
HIGHLIGHT of a busy month: Talking with Candace Gorman, Guantanamo Attorney, on July 9
 
"There has been no change in the Department of Justice" under the Obama administration as far as the rights of the Guantanamo detainees.  This is one of the things Candace Gorman told us Thursday night on a conference call planned to bring activists closer to the lives of front-line defenders of the torture detainees.  Candace told us in detail about the lives of her two clients, still in Guantanamo, one of whom is seriously ill.  Candace, who is an advisor to War Criminals Watch, also talked about why she's put aside her other civil rights work to concentrate on stopping war crimes.  It was a privilege to share an hour with her. 

 

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