Debra Sweet

 Debra SweetDebra Sweet is the Director of World Can’t Wait, initiated in 2005 to “drive out the Bush regime” by repudiating its program, forcing it from office through a mass, independent movement and reversing the direction it had launched.  Based in New York City, she leads World Can’t Wait in its continuing efforts to stop the crimes of our government, including the unjust occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the torture and detention codes, as well as reversing the fascist direction of U.S. society, from the surveillance state to the criminalization of abortion and immigrants.  She has worked with abortion providers for twenty-five years, organizing community support and helping them withstand anti-abortion violence.  Since the age of 19, when she confronted Richard Nixon during a face-to-face meeting and told him to stop the war in Vietnam, she has been a leader in the opposition to U.S. wars and invasions.  Debra says, “Stop thinking like an American, and start thinking about humanity!”

She can be reached at debrasweet (at) You can read her writings at

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Invite: World Can't Wait National Meeting Nov 22-23 Chicago IL

You might be surprised to know that I don't read the Wall Street Journal regularly.  A friend just sent me Peggy Noonan's column for Friday,"Playing Frisbee on a Precipice."  The WSJ generally presents the views of those who run the empire, and clearly they are worried:


This Election & Our Responsibility

by Debra Sweet

All of us living in this country will confront change after tomorrow's election, but not the change most people think they are getting. If Obama wins, he will preside over changes we don't want and shouldn't get sucked into supporting.

I'm calling on you to keep resisting the crimes being done by your government. Tuesday, let's go out among the people at the polls, and in the evening, be among those celebrating a presumed Obama win to challenge them on the facts, and on their consciences, and raise these questions:

What are people even getting to vote about after this two year long campaign? Did you get to vote on whether the U.S. should occupy Iraq? Or whether the CIA, the private contractors, or the military should use torture and secret detentions?

And what is there to celebrate in an Obama presidency? Making us feel good about the country again when Obama is trying to unite us to fight the "good war" in Afghanistan? Happy that some combat troops will be removed from Iraq, while air strikes kill more civilians in Pakistan and Syria? How could we celebrate "national unity" when Obama's vote for the FISA law opens the way for unprecedented political repression and spying on the people?


Going Forward in Stopping the Crimes of Your Government

By Debra Sweet

I was on 125th Street in Harlem Tuesday night, and down through Manhattan until late, among people dancing in the streets, honking horns, blocking streets with joy at the election of Barack Obama.

As we promised, World Can't Wait was at Grant Park (left, with banner reading, "No More Wars for Empire") and other locations around the country, talking with people, experiencing the moment, and yes...arguing with and learning from people on what they think Obama will change. My favorite moment was an exchange with an African American woman, age 75. I was wearing the orange "no attack on Iran" t-shirt. She pointed to it and said, "I see you haven't drunk the kool-aid...You know, that's what Obama wants to do!"



The Way Forward in Resisting and Stopping the Crimes of the Government

The following is the speech given by Jill McLaughlin, national Steering Committee member, at the opening session of World Can't Wait's conference in Chicago; November 22 2008.
We meet at a time where there is much euphoria and hope among the people of this country after eight long years of the Bush Regime and its crimes. America has elected its first Black President. This is something that many people never thought possible. And this is significant and it would be wrong to try to say otherwise or disregard it. Many people in this country from all sections of society became politicized around this campaign in a way they never had before.


Stopping the Crimes of the Government: An Audacious Idea, a Challenge to Act

By Debra Sweet
(This is the text of the speech given by National Director Debra Sweet at the opening session of the Chicago conference of World Can't Wait, November 22.)

Download the Audio of this Speech
In 2005, when we embarked on this audacious idea of "driving out" a sitting president who had just been re-selected, by bringing forward a movement from the people that was independent of the government and stifling framework of politics as usual, we didn't know what would be possible.
But we knew that many people felt as we did: the idea of waiting through four more years of this Bush juggernaut of war and repression loose on the world was intolerable. We knew that passivity and denial were very dangerous when the Bush Regime was nailing into place fascistic new legal norms and changing the whole culture. Evolution, abortion and dissent were in a state of siege. Habeas corpus, privacy and fundamental rights were coming undone.
Where would this lead if the people did not resist?  The people needed to come into action to stop this, but most were in terrible paralysis which would only take them toward accepting more and even worse horrors.  People needed a vehicle for their inchoate, palpable anger and sense that the Bush regime was not legitimate. The people needed to be a force that could change history.


Are We Going to have an ANTI-War Movement in the US?


by Debra Sweet
I was at the United for Peace & Justice National Assembly this weekend.  I met some of you there who read this list; and others who were not familiar with World Can't Wait.
I worked with others -- mostly peace coalitions from the middle of the country, not in the larger cities -- to get UFPJ to support a united anti-war march in Washington DC on the sixth anniversary of the war, Saturday March 21.  By 111-49, that proposal was defeated, in favor of what UFPJ's program "Yes We Can...End the War" for a Saturday, April 4 march on Wall Street, focusing on the recession.
Not to directly challenge Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan is shameful.  On the anniversary of "Shock & Awe," and under a new president, the anti-war movement needs to be in Washington.  And many of us WILL be there. 


Report From D.C.: Intense Engagement With Thousands

by Debra Sweet

World Can't Wait activists were on the streets of Washington Sunday through Thursday of this inaugural week, in a cold, somewhat exhausting, and intense engagement with thousands of people. I met people on the World Can’t Wait elist there, and many new people who care about humanity. Our group -- ages 20+ through 60+ got into the fray, and suffice it to say, we will be remembered as people think about what we challenged them with.

We had two large orange banners:

"STOP OCCUPATIONS & TORTURE FOR EMPIRE!" and "PROSECUTE BUSH WAR CRIMES NOW!" Along with the ARREST BUSH signs, these were hugely popular, and it would have been simple to leave it at that. But we went into the inaugural crowds, and among the antiwar movement, with a challenge to think critically about where Barack Obama is leading, and face up to that reality. Quite a few people didn't want to hear it; some did, and many of you who did have been added to our elist. Welcome.


Continuing Occupations, “Good” Wars, and the Wartime President


By Debra Sweet

Barack Obama said last Tuesday night to Congress, ” I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens halfway around the world. We will not allow it.”

I wonder how people in the Middle East felt hearing that, having been bombed as if they are terrorists for most of this decade, either directly by US planes, or with US made weapons, as in Gaza?  An Iraqi in Sikrit, said, “In fact, the US forces achieved one thing: That is destroying Iraq … We hope that the US soldiers will leave our country sooner rather than later in order to put an end to the bloodiest pages in Iraq’s history.”


Meeting, Web-Cast to Galvanize Opposition to War and Torture


What is the responsibility of the anti-war movement as the occupation of Iraq continues into a 7th year?  And as the first wave of 30,000 additional troops is sent to Afghanistan?
Tonight, hear Fr. Luis Barrios, Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux, with Debra Sweet moderating. 
Matthis Chiroux: Matthis is an Iraq/Afghanistan war veteran, honorably discharged after 5 years in the army. But he received forced reactivation orders for Iraq, and has publicly refused those orders. Thus, he is now a military
Elaine Brower: Elaine is a leader of World Can't Wait and outspoken activist against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her son is currently stationed in Iraq.  "It's Not OK."
Fr. Luis Barrios: Luis is an Episcopal Priest and Chair of the Department of Latin American and Latina/o Studies at John Jay College. On Monday, he will report for a 2 months sentence in federal prison for civil disobedience to Shut Down the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia last November.
In New York: Community Church, 40 East 35th St. (between Park and Madison); 6:30 to 8:30, Thursday March 5th
Everywhere else:
LIVE web-cast:
Thursday March 5 6:40 EST


Shut Down Guantanamo! D.C. Action, April 30

 By Debra Sweet

 Thursday April 30, I was part of an action by Witness Against Torture dramatizing the demand to close Guantanamo.  61 of us had the names of detainees in detention in Guantanamo who have been cleared to be released, but are still waiting, or of the 5 men who have died in custody.  We stood in front of the White House, and were arrested, charged with violating a police order.
(Click on Read More to see videos)
Witness Against Torture has been outside the White House for much of the first 100 days of the Obama administration, talking to thousands of people, including many tourists, about the fact that 50 detainees are on hunger strike in Guantanamo because they aren't being released.  They are being force-fed.
This action was unusual in that the men we were focusing on actually knew, having been told by their lawyers, that we were protesting yesterday. 
The action started with 150 of us walking silently from the Capitol to Lafayette Park, across from the White House.  It was difficult to see with the black hood covering one's face, but I saw lots of tourists, and heard parents explaining to the their children why we were marching.
We have been asking you what you think about the torture memos released on April 16.  If you haven't taken the survey yet, please do so now.


War Criminals, Torturers on Parade: Protest May 28th, and Wherever they Appear


By Debra Sweet
There’s a moment here, this month, when more and more is coming out about the systematic, sanctioned use of torture by the US, approved at all levels, including the responsible Democrats in Congress. In two weeks, more photos come out for the world to see.
And the war criminals are on parade.  Dick Cheney is leading the argument for the open, justified use of torture.
On Face the Nation Sunday, he said that what the Bush regime had done is not torture.  CBS reported, "Cheney still bristled at the suggestion that what President Bush authorized constituted torture, saying they weren't in the "torture business...I think it's very, very important that we have a clear understanding that what happened here was an honorable approach to defending the nation, that there was nothing devious or deceitful or dishonest or illegal about what was done."
And, the clincher: Cheney, when asked if Bush knew about the interrogation program: "I certainly, yes, have every reason to believe he knew -- he knew a great deal about the program. He basically authorized it. I mean, this was a presidential-level decision. And the decision went to the president. He signed off on it." 



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.