Thursday, April 29, 2010

... governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

The title of this post comes from the Declaration of Independence. This is a very powerful statement, both threatening to government and placing extreme responsibility upon the governed. Because government derives their right to govern from us, when government infringes upon unalienable rights, we are collectively responsible for their actions.

What Israel has done to Palestine is a modern example of "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism. ... it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."

Though the Declaration of Independence was written to justify the self defense of the colonies against abuse, at no point does it hold the governed innocent for government abuse of those not consenting to be governed. Under the name of the War on Terror our government kidnapped people, held them without trial, and tortured them. These citizens of other nations did not consent to be governed by us. Some of these people did nothing wrong except to be of the wrong religion and in the wrong place. If our declaration of independence was justified; if the very beliefs that formed the basis of our form of government as expressed in the Constitution are still our beliefs today, then we have a moral duty to correct these wrongs and insure that they never happen again.

This is not an issue of the past. We are still holding innocent people only because they can not be returned to their nation of origin. We still have innocent people held in chains (literally). When we do release them they are kept in chains and locked to the floor of the plane as we return them to their country.

There is one and only one way to insure that no leader of the United States ever treats humans as inhumanely as we have recently. That is to take the leaders, all of who consented to be governed, and give them what they what they took away from so many. We must give them a fair trail and if appropriate send them to prison.

The logical question, and one I was asked is "what can I do?" I too feel that what I do is insignificant. This is what Patti Smith said in an interview.
Well, I mean, I would never call myself an activist ever. I don’t really—I mean, I hope that I am a humanist and sort of a good citizen. I really think of the people who are out there in the front lines every day and I am so grateful to all of you. I am sort of- I think of activism on many levels for people that are out in the trenches and then citizens who can do just small things, the smallest things.

This blog is one of my "smallest things." It does good only if it is read. Patti Smith's music only has an impact if people listen to it.

Murat Kurnaz was born in 1984. In 2001 he was detained, abused, and held at Guantanamo, even though he did nothing wrong or against our country. After five years he was returned to Germany, and when his parent removed his chains (yes his parents) he fell down because he didn't know how to walk without chains. This gentleman is now trying to help other victims of our government, and to live without bitterness.

This is a link to Patti Smith's song about Murat Kurnaz.

Please help Patti Smith make a difference by sharing her song.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Sometimes others have already already put ideas into words better, and more concisely than I can. With that in mind I have some quotes below. I have chosen speakers with proven credentials.

I knew I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without first having spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today—my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent...
–Martin Luther King, Jr., Riverside Church, NYC April 4, 1967

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
–James Madison, "Political Observations", April 20, 1795; also in Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (1865), Vol. IV, p. 491

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.
-Martin Luther King, Jr., The Trumpet of Conscience, 1967

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose—and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
–Abraham Lincoln

I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.
–Abraham Lincoln

Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived.
–Abraham Lincoln

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
–Abraham Lincoln

Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.
–Albert Einstein

Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.
–Albert Einstein

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.
–Albert Einstein

Wars are not paid for in wartime, the bill comes later.
–Benjamin Franklin

A highwayman is as much a robber when he plunders in a gang as when single; and a nation that makes an unjust war is only a great gang.
–Benjamin Franklin, Speaking to Benjamin Vaughan, 14 March 1785.

I hope....that mankind will at length, as they call themselves responsible creatures, have the reason and sense enough to settle their differences without cutting throats...
–Benjamin Franklin

There never was a good war or a bad peace.
–Benjamin Franklin

Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
–Benjamin Franklin

We Americans have no commission from God to police the world.
–Benjamin Harrison, from an 1888 address to Congress

No nation ever had an army large enough to guarantee it against attack in time of peace, or ensure it of victory in time of war.
–Calvin Coolidge

War is never economically beneficial except for those in position to profit from war expenditures.
–Congressman Ron Paul

We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.
–Dwight D. Eisenhower

War settles nothing.
–Dwight D. Eisenhower

I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.
–Dwight D. Eisenhower

In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.
–Franklin Delano Roosevelt

I have included these quotes, most from people with credentials equal to the above, for varying reasons. I hope the author and/or the time makes my reason evident.

Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.
–Adolph Hitler

Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths...I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?
–Barbara Bush, ABC's "Good Morning America," March 18, 2003.

You cannot be on one hand dedicated to peace and on the other dedicated to violence. Those two things are irreconcilable.
–Condoleeza Rice, Comment trying to convince mideast policy makers Russia, the EU and the UN to stop aid to the new Hamas Palestinian government; 1/30/06.

The question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is not very damned many.
–Dick Cheney, Speaking to the Discovery Institute after the first Gulf War, on 8/14/1992, when he was Secretary of Defense.

There are a lot of people who lie and get away with it, and that's just a fact.
–Donald Rumsfeld

Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.
–Donald Rumsfeld

I will conclude with these observations.
1. In my life we have been at war during these times.
Korean War 1950 - 1953
Second Indochina War (Vietnam War) advisers and sponsors only 1950 - 1960
Operation Blue Bat 1958
Second Indochina War (Vietnam War) 1960 - 1975
First Taiwan Strait Crisis 1954 - 1955
Second Taiwan Strait Crisis 1958
Bay of Pigs 1961
Operation Power Pack 1965 - 1966
Angolan Civil War 1975 - 1976
Nigerian Civil War 1981 - 1990
First Gulf of Sidra Incident 1981
Operation Urgent Fury 1983
Multinational Forces in Lebanon 1984
Operation Prairie Fire 1986
Operation El Dorado Canyon 1986
Iran-Iraq war 1989
Second Golf of Sidra Incident 1989
Operation Just Cause 1989 - 1990
Gulf War 1991
Somali Civil War 1992
Bosnian War 1992
Operation Uphold Democracy 1999
War on Terrorism 2001 - now
Second Liberian Civil War 2003
2004 Haiti rebelion 2004
Thus in my life we have not been involved in military conflicts during 15 of my 60 years.
1977 - 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1993 - 1998, 2000

2. Children born during a time of peace are now at least 9 years old, and we have teenagers who can not remember a time of peace.

"No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." James Madison

"Thus in my life we have not been involved in military conflicts during 15 of my 60 years." Stanford Smith

A theory

After the December "underwear bomber" incident I realized that Al Qaeda did not really want to blow up the plane, but rather they wanted the U.S. to believe that it was a failed attempt.

Suppose that the "bombing attempt" had succeeded. A bomb would be the immediate suspected cause, and likely Al Qaeda would have taken credit. But, it would take an investigation to determine cause, they might not be able to determine with certainty that it was a bomb, and unless they found pieces of a man's genitals splattered around the plane they would not know where the bomb had been hidden.

Now, look at the results of this and previous "failed" attempts, presuming Al Qaeda's goal is to maximize the impact on our lives. After the "shoe bomber" we had to remove our shoes to go through security. Al Qaeda would know the explosive they used could not be easily set off, and would probably know from reports that even if it had exploded the damage would likely not have been catastrophic.

I imagine the Al Qaeda leadership sitting around making fun of us; thousands upon thousands taking off their shoes just to get on a plane, and someone says "I wonder if we could get them to take off their clothes!" After they stop laughing, one of them on a sleepless night gets an idea. "Of course. Exploding underpants."

Though that conversation is fantasy, look at the results. We are so accustomed to being unreasonably searched without cause that many are willing to be virtually stripped naked by a stranger on a machine with a hard drive on the promise that the image will be destroyed.

I believe that these "failed" attempts are also in the interest of some in our government. There was a study of what average people could come up with to defeat our security, so they know that any steps they take can be defeated. So why is there a rush to implement virtual strip searches, except that they have the technology and were looking for an excuse?

I will conclude with this. Let us hope that no one tries to set off a tampon bomb.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Sound of Silence

I hope that you are physically sick by the end of this. I will keep words to a minimum.

The attack on Gaza was done with ammunition bought by the U.S. tax payers, and in many cases made in America.

The Palestinian tools of death.
The Israeli tool.

White phosphorous shells. The indiscriminate attack on civilians is a war crime. As such white phosphorous shells can only can only be used to light up the sky.
This is the illegal use of the shells over Gaza. Each streak you see will likely start a fire.
The next pictures are of a U.N. school.

Other pictures. One Haiti rescue worker described Haiti as looking like Gaza.

Lowering a child into a grave.

What do I have to do to get you to speak of the unspeakable? What does it take to end the deafening silence? Please act, and if you think this post will get others to act, please send them here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A letter to the President

I sent the following letter to Mr. Obama. I ask readers of this to please tell our president that no person is above the law. Here are two reasons not mentioned in the letter.

Global warming: in 1997 Unocal Corporation was negotiating with the Taleban to build an oil pipeline across Afghanistan. The agreement reached fell apart. Iraq has major oil reserves. These are the two main countries we attacked.

Drugs: The Taleban banned the cultivation of opium poppies, and by 2001 only 30 sq. mi. were cultivated. Prior to that 87% of the world's heroin came from these crops. One year after our invasion there were 285 sq. mi. cultivated. Now the production is at an all time high.

Mr. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Mr. Obama
After your election you asked for input from the public on what was important to them. There were numerous suggestions asking for an investigation of the previous administration for crimes of war, each with many “yes” votes. Your reasoning for not doing that was largely that you wanted your administration to “look forward”. I understand the importance of not expending too much time, energy, and political good will on events of the past. I also understand the importance of insuring that our government is not above the law.

Clearly the events of the last year prove that there is no political goodwill when dealing with people who wish only to obstruct your success. We can disagree on what is too much time and what is too much energy. I am going to address the importance of insuring that our government is not above the law.

I marched in protest to our involvement in Vietnam, and as our troops returned we learned about the atrocities committed in our name. Over time we have learned about other crimes. Yet there were no investigations of our government leaders, and as recently as 2002 archives were removed from public view because they were “exempt from the Freedom of Information Act”. The precedence was made that our leadership is above the law.

Over the years since our withdrawal from Vietnam the U.S. government has on several occasions committed acts that could be interpreted as violations of U.S. or international law. While we have supported the prosecution of foreign leaders, except for the actions of the Nixon administration our leaders have not been the subject of investigations.

I want to believe that your administration supports the rule of law, and supports the very reason that you are Mr. Obama, the title of a commoner. It was therefore with distress that I learned of State Department legal advisor Harold Koh’s March 25th justification for the use of unmanned drones. I am not competent to make a decision as to the legality of their use. My distress is over the statement made that now is not the time to adjudicate the legality combined with no real justification except to say the there is a non-disclosed process in place to insure compliance with law.

This sets up the perfect “we are above the law” scenario. During the time that our government is acting is not the appropriate time to review the legality of the actions, and after the actions have taken place is inappropriate because we need to move forward. The only remaining option is to investigate before the action takes place which is absurd and absurdly illegal. Because we are dealing with international law, you are setting international precedence. This precedence can be used by any powerful nation. China, Russia, and others can commit acts at will, say that now is not the time to question them, and then say that it is in the past and they are moving on.

We must break the precedence. We must let the world know that no one in the United States is above the law. In keeping with your wish to not make this a Republican vs. Democratic battle, I suggest an investigation into the actions of every living president. I suggest investigating the greatest ex-president of my life, Jimmy Carter, plus Bill Clinton, both senior and junior Bush, and you.

It is with great concern for our future that I sign this:
Stanford Smith