Tuesday, January 27, 2009

UN Official: Enough Evidence To Prosecute Rumsfeld For War Crimes And Are We Civilized Enough to Hold Our Leaders Accountable for War Crimes?

UN Official: Enough Evidence To Prosecute Rumsfeld For War Crimes And Are We Civilized Enough to Hold Our Leaders Accountable for War Crimes?


(Revolt Against The BBC Over Gaza Aid And The Obama Administration On The Move)


Conversations In The Coffee House.


"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then, to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in broad daylight!"

- Emile Zola, J'accuse! (1898) –






UN Official: Enough Evidence To Prosecute Rumsfeld For War Crimes


By David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster


Monday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak told CNN’s Rick Sanchez that the US has an “obligation” to investigate whether Bush administration officials ordered torture, adding that he believes that there is already enough evidence to prosecute former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.


“We have clear evidence,” he said. “In our report that we sent to the United Nations, we made it clear that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld clearly authorized torture methods and he was told at that time by Alberto Mora, the legal council of the Navy, ‘Mr. Secretary, what you are actual ordering here amounts to torture.’ So, there we have the clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing but, nevertheless, he ordered torture.”


Asked during an interview with Germany’s ZDF television on Jan. 20, Nowak said: “I think the evidence is on the table.”


At issue, however, is whether “American law will recognize these forms of torture.”


A bipartisan Senate report released last month found Rumsfeld and other top administration officials responsible for abuse of Guantanamo detainees in US custody.


It said Rumsfeld authorized harsh interrogation techniques on December 2, 2002 at the Guantanamo prison, although he ruled them out a month later.


The coercive measures were based on a document signed by Bush in February, 2002.

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Are We Civilized Enough to Hold Our Leaders Accountable for War Crimes?

The World Is Watching | By John W. Dean


Remarkably, the confirmation of President Obama’s Attorney General nominee, Eric Holder, is being held up by Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, who apparently is unhappy that Holder might actually investigate and prosecute Bush Administration officials who engaged in torture. Aside from this repugnant new Republican embrace of torture (which might be a winning issue for the lunatic fringe of the party and a nice way to further marginalize the GOP), any effort to protect Bush officials from legal responsibility for war crimes, in the long run, will not work.


It is difficult to believe that Eric Holder would agree not to enforce the law, like his recent Republican predecessors. Indeed, if he were to do so, President Obama should withdraw his nomination. But as MSNBC “Countdown” anchor Keith Olbermann stated earlier this week, even if the Obama Administration for whatever reason does not investigate and prosecute these crimes, this still does not mean that the Bush Administration officials who were involved in torture are going to get a pass.


With few exceptions, the discussion about what the Obama Administration will do regarding the torture of detainees during the Bush years has been framed as a domestic matter, and the fate of those involved in torturing has been largely viewed as a question of whether the Department of Justice will take action. In fact, not only is the world watching what the Obama Administration does regarding Bush’s torturers, but other countries are very likely to take action if the United States fails to do so.


Bush’s Torturers Have Serious Jeopardy


Philippe Sands, a Queen’s Counsel at Matrix Chambers and Professor of International law at University College London, has assembled a powerful indictment of the key Bush Administration people involved in torture in his book Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values. He explains the legal exposure of people like former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, Dick Cheney’s counsel and later chief of staff David Addington, former Office of Legal Counsel attorney John Yoo, the former Department of Defense general counsel Jim Haynes, and others for their involvement in the torture of detainees at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and CIA secret prisons.


After reading Sands’s book and, more recently, listening to his comments on Terry Gross’s NPR show “Fresh Air,” on January 7, 2009 I realized how closely the rest of the world is following the actions of these former officials, and was reminded that these actions appear to constitute not merely violations of American law, but also, and very literally, crimes against humanity — for which the world is ready to hold them responsible.


Here is what Professor Sands told Terry Gross on NPR: “In talking to prosecutors around the world, as I have done, they all recognize the very real political difficulties of taking on someone who has been Vice President of the United States, or President of the United States, or Secretary of Defense of the United States. But those arguments melt away as you go a little down the chain. And I don’t think the same arguments would apply in relation to the man, for example, who was Vice President Cheney’s general counsel, at the time the decisions were taken, David Addington … I think he faces a very real risk of, you know, investigation for complicity in an act that amounts to torture … ” Later, referring to “international investigations,” he added that Addington (and others) were at “serious risk of being investigated.”


These are remarkable statements from a very well-informed man. Because we have a common publisher, I was able to contact him in London, and pose a few questions. I find his book, statements and responses to my questions chilling.


Q & A With Professor Philippe Sands


The following is my email exchange with Professor Sands:


John W. Dean: When talking to Ms. Gross you said you were not calling for such international investigations because we all need more facts. Given the fact that Judge Susan Crawford has now made clear that torture occurred, do you — and others with your expertise and background — have sufficient information to call for other countries to take action if the Obama Administration fails to act?


Philippe Sands: Last week’s intervention by Susan Crawford, confirming that torture occurred at Guantanamo, is highly significant (as I explain in a piece I wrote with Dahlia Lithwick: “The Turning Point: How the Susan Crawford interview changes everything we know about torture”). The evidence as to torture, with all that implies for domestic and foreign criminal investigation, is compelling. Domestic and foreign investigators already have ample evidence to commence investigation, if so requested or on their own account, even if the whole picture is not yet available. That has implications for the potential exposure of different individuals, depending on the nature and extent of their involvement in acts that have elements of a criminal conspiracy to subvert the law.


JD: If yes, can you share what you and others might do, and when?


PS: I am in the process of completing the epilogue to my book Torture Team, which will be published in May 2009. That will set out, in detail, what I learned when I made a return visit to the European judge and prosecutor with whom I met in the summer of 2007, as described in the book. Watch this space.


JD: If no, what would it take for those like you to call for all countries with potential jurisdiction to take action?


PS: More than 140 countries may potentially exercise jurisdiction over former members of the Bush Administration for violations of the 1984 Torture Convention and the 1949 Geneva Conventions, including the standards reflected in their Common Article 3. Whether they do so, and how they might do so, turns on a range of factors, including their domestic procedural rules. In the United Kingdom, one criminal investigation is already underway, in relation to the alleged treatment of Binyam Mohammed, a Guantanamo detainee who is a British resident. I doubt it will be the last. That said, having set out the relevant facts in one case [in my book], to the best of my abilities, I feel it will now be for others to take this forward as they consider appropriate.


JD: Also, when talking to Ms. Gross you said that you did not think that David Addington and others involved in torture were likely to be travelling outside the United States. Do you know for a fact that any country might take action? Have you discussed this with any prosecutors who could do so?


PS: This will be addressed in the epilogue to Torture Team.


JD: Do you believe that a failure of the Obama Administration to investigate, and if necessary, prosecute, those involved in torture would make them legally complicit in the torture undertaken by the Bush Administration?


PS: No, although it may give rise to violations by the United States of its obligations under the Torture Convention. In the past few days there have been a series of significant statements: that of Susan Crawford, of former Vice President Cheney’s confirming that he approved the use of waterboarding, and by the new Attorney General Eric Holder that he considers waterboarding to be torture. On the basis of these and other statements it is difficult to see how the obligations under Articles 7(1) and (2) of the Torture Convention do not cut in: these require the US to “submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution”. What happens thereafter is a matter for the prosecutor, who may decide that, in accordance with applicable standards (”authorities shall take their decision in the same manner as in the case of any ordinary offence of a serious nature under the law of that State”) and the facts of the case, including the prospects for a successful prosecution, that proceeding to actual prosecution is not justified.


JD: Finally, you mentioned the case proceeding in the UK regarding possible torture of a British national. Is it possible that even an American ally like Great Britain could seek extradition, and undertake prosecution, of U.S. officials like Addington and Yoo for facilitating the torture of a citizen of Great Britain — if the U.S. fails to act?


PS: It is possible. The more likely scenario, however, is that which occurred in Senator Pinochet’s case: the unwitting traveller sets foot in the wrong country at the wrong time.


What Will The Obama Administration Do?


As all who have followed this issue know, President Obama hedged after he was elected as to what he may or may not do. So too did his Attorney General nominee. After Eric Holder declared waterboarding to be unlawful, no one on the Senate Judiciary Committee truly followed up as to what he was going to do, but it appears they are going to now press him on that point.


My question is how can the Obama Administration not investigate, and, if appropriate, prosecute given the world is watching, because if they do not, other may do so? How could there be “change we can believe in” if the new administration harbors war criminals — which is the way that Philippe Sands and the rest of the world, familiar with the facts which have surfaced even without an investigation, view those who facilitated or engaged in torture?


One would think that people like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Addington, Gonzales, Yoo, Haynes and others, who claim to have done nothing wrong, would call for investigations to clear themselves if they really believed that to be the case. Only they, however, seem to believe in their innocence — the entire gutless and cowardly group of them, who have shamed themselves and the nation by committing crimes against humanity in the name of the United States.


We must all hope that the Obama Administration does the right thing, rather than forcing another country to clean up the mess and seek to erase the dangerous precedent these people have created for our country. A first clue may come when Holder resumes testifying.

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Parsing Obama


The executive orders are so far very subtle but very smart. Scott Horton's analysis is the most telling. Some will be disappointed that Obama is not about to condemn the out-going war crimes of Bush, Cheney et al. in ringing terms. But the election did that. And as the era of the dark side recedes a little, my sense of the looming reality is as follows. The men who ordered a man tied to a chair, doused in water, and chilled to hypothermia so intense he had to be rushed to emergency medical care, the men who presided over at least two dozen and at most a hundred prisoners tortured to death, the men who ordered an American servicewoman to smear fake menstrual blood over a Muslim's face in order to win a war against Jihadism, the men who ordered innocents stripped naked, sexually abused, terrified by dogs, or cast into darkness with no possibility of a future, and did all this in the name of the Constitution of the United States, the men who gave the signal in wartime that there were no limits to what could be done to prisoners of war and reaped a whirlwind of abuse and torture that will haunt American service members for decades: these men will earn the judgment of history. It will be brutal.


We will need some formal and comprehensive record of all that happened, and the Congress will surely begin to move on that (and they should not exempt their own members from scrutiny either). And as specific allegations of torture emerge, the Justice Department will have no option but to prosecute. To ignore such charges is itself a dereliction of constitutional duty.


In the last two weeks, two very important things have happened that make that especially hard to avoid. The Bush administration's chief prosecutor at Gitmo, Susan Crawford, has herself conceded that torture did indeed take place in that camp, and specifically against Qahtani, the prisoner whose torture was personally monitored by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, and whose torture log is in the public domain. An attorney general presented with clear evidence of torture engaged in by public officials has no choice but to prosecute - or to make a mockery of his office. It is absurd to ignore the men who have primary responsibility for the crime.


The second big thing is that the perpetrators of war crimes are no longer in power. I predict that as fear of administrative reprisal ebbs, more and more whistle-blowers will come forward with evidence of what was done under Bush and Cheney, in defiance of domestic and international law. That Bush and Cheney got hacks to write absurd legal memos saying that, in Bush's own words, "whatever we wanted to do" was legal will mean nothing. Yoo and Bybee are the kind of useful, amoral sycophants and apparatchiks that always emerge and flourish in lawless states eager to put up a facade of legalism to defend their power-grabs. 


I do not believe in a witch-hunt in the CIA, whose many hard-working officers deserve support not censure. I do believe in holding responsible those high elected officials who broke the law and violated the Constitution in authorizing war crimes. It should take as much time as needed for a thorough accounting; it should be meticulously fair; it should be geared solely to ensure that the rule of law is no longer in question; and that only those truly responsible at the top of the chain of command are held liable. But if we do not hold these men to account, the precedent they set is alarming.


They have, after all, argued that the executive branch can do anything to anyone to defend the nation's security as defined and measured by that executive branch itself. They have argued that that power is permanent and not restricted to a discrete length of time. They have declared the Constitution to be entirely subject to the executive's will, checked only by a four year "moment of accountability". And they are unrepentant - even boastful of their actions. We cannot leave that precedent in place. Why? I know no better popular expression of the case than that made by Robert Bolt in this imagined conversation between Thomas More and the John Yoo of his day, William Roper:


William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!


Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?


William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!


Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!


Yes, I give prisoners of war, even the demons of al Qaeda, the benefit of the law. For my own safety's sake. And ours'.


Money for Nothing — and Corruption for Free  By Peter Schweizer, CQ Guest Columnist


“He comes to Washington and tells me a sad story,” Franklin D. Roosevelt once said of New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. “The tears run down my cheeks and tears run down his cheeks and the first thing I know, he has wrangled another 50 million dollars.”


There may or may not be tears in Washington these days, but with more than a trillion dollars in bailout money pouring out of Washington and President Obama talking of a 21st century New Deal, the amount of dollars has certainly exploded.


With taxpayer dollars going to banks, investment houses, and automakers (with others certain to get into line) and heavy spending on infrastructure and other works projects coming soon, there has been a sharp and healthy debate about whether this burst of Keynesism actually makes good economic sense.


Overlooked is the harsh reality that the Obama economic agenda can stimulate political graft, cronyism and corruption in Washington.


Anytime you give public officials the opportunity to pass out cash, loans, or public contracts, you create powerful incentives for corruption.


Create an opportunity to pass out hundreds of billions of dollars and you end up with temptations for corruption on steroids.


Part of the problem is how it will be determined where the money will actually go.


The notion that the Obama administration and leaders in Congress will somehow separate sound economic decision-making from partisan political gain is a seductive myth.


Consider our experience with the last New Deal.


Harry Hopkins, who oversaw both the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the distribution of funds from the Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA), understood very quickly how these funds could be used for partisan political ends.


“I thought at first I could be completely non-political,” Hopkins is quoted by Robert E. Sherwood in the definitive “Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History.”


“Then they told me I had to be part non-political and part political. I found out that was impossible, at least for me. I finally realized that there was nothing for it but to be all political.”   Page:  1  2  3  |  Next >>


Obama Tries to Set a Bipartisan Tone in Trip to Meet With Hill Republicans

By Edward Epstein and Kathleen Hunter, CQ Staff


When President Obama motors up to the Capitol on Tuesday for back-to-back sessions with House and Senate Republicans, he will be searching for support for his stimulus plan and trying to foster a spirit of openness that might come in handy for future legislative battles.


Congressional historians say the new Democratic president’s trip to Congress to speak to the opposing party’s members might be historic. “A formal address by the president of the United States to the opposing party’s respective caucus or conference on Capitol Hill is unusual,” said Anthony Wallis, a researcher with the Office of the House Historian.


Presidents have journeyed to the Capitol to meet with members from their own party and have traveled to the other party’s annual policy conferences. President George W. Bush , for instance, flew to Williamsburg, Va., in early 2007 to address House Democrats after they took control of the House the previous November. But the feelings of bipartisan cooperation engendered by Bush’s visit soon disappeared. And early in his first term, President Ronald Reagan met with senators of both parties in the President’s Room just off the Senate floor, when Republicans were in the majority in the upper chamber.


But Obama made reaching out to Republicans a key part of his 2008 candidacy, and experts say Tuesday’s rare midday sessions appear to reflect an interest in bridging the partisan gap.


“When you are president and you go up to Capitol Hill, it’s a win-win situation,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political communications at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “You increase media attention and you lay down a marker to the opposition that there is a high price to pay for opposing you.”


“I think he’s trying to set a different tone and maybe pick up votes” for the stimulus package of more than $800 billion, said Ronald Peters, a congressional scholar at the University of Oklahoma. Top GOP leaders in the House and Senate have so far slammed the package for being short on tax cuts while adding hundreds of billions of dollars in spending that they say won’t quickly create jobs.


But even if big majorities of Republicans oppose the stimulus, the president must still look ahead. “He’s got other fish to fry, on such things as health care and Social Security reform, and wants to build on this,” Peters said. “If he has to rely on Democrats alone to pass things, he can. But he’d rather not.”


In the House, where Democrats hold a majority of 255 seats to the Republicans’ 178, the stimulus (HR 1) is expected to pass easily on Wednesday. In the Senate, where Republicans hold 41 seats — one more than the number a united GOP caucus would need to mount a filibuster — the president has less room to maneuver. The Senate version of the stimulus could come to the Senate floor within a few days.


Already in the 111th Congress, House Republicans have shown they aren’t monolithic. On Jan. 14, when the House voted to expand the children’s health insurance program (HR 2) by a vote of 289-139, 40 Republicans joined 249 Democrats in support. Several House aides suggest that those 40 Republicans form the core of potential GOP support that the president is courting by visiting that party’s House conference.


House Republican leaders sent Obama a letter last week requesting the meeting. The top House and Senate GOP leaders, joined by their Democratic counterparts, met with Obama on Jan. 23 in the White House and were able to present some of their ideas to him. News accounts afterward said Obama didn’t knock down their tax cut ideas but did remind them that his ideas for boosting the economy had prevailed in the Nov. 4 election and that tax cuts make up a large share of the package he has unveiled.


But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday that Obama is still serious about considering GOP ideas.


“I think there is a very deliberative process whereby these ideas will be certainly discussed with the president” before some are debated and voted upon, Gibbs said.


Farnsworth said Obama is appealing to a much wider audience than just Congress. “The real importance of this appearance is trying to convince the public that he is trying to meet the Republicans halfway and govern in a more bipartisan way,” he said.


Page: 1  2  3  |  Next >>


Rahm Plans Private White House Meeting with Moderate Republicans


By CQ Staff | January 26, 2009 5:17 PM |  The president's top aide, Rahm Emanuel, has invited a group of moderate Republicans to a private White House meeting Tuesday amid a Democratic push to add bipartisan flavor to an $825 billion economic stimulus package making its way through Congress.


The smaller confab is scheduled to take place after Obama and Emanuel meet separately with large caucuses of congressional Republicans and congressional Democrats on Tuesday.


It appears to be something of a continuation of the bipartisan dinners Emanuel held with Republicans during his three-term stint as a Democratic House member from Chicago, and it is not clear whether the stimulus will be the focus of the meeting, one of many subjects or simply the $825 billion gorilla in the room.


Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., said the invitation to the White House from the newly minted chief of staff sets a new tone. "That hasn't been done as much in the most recent Bush administration," Petri said.


Petri is among the Republicans who has yet to decide which way he will vote on a package that combines $550 billion in spending on education, infrastructure improvements, health insurance, unemployment benefits and other administration priorities with $275 billion in tax cuts.


"I'm trying to get a better sense of how this all fits into the greater scheme of things," said Petri, who would like to see more spending on infrastructure projects and get a better explanation of how the package fits together with a $700 billion financial recovery package and other items on the agenda. "I'm still basically looking at it."


Though Emanuel's tough-guy theatrics and spicy speech have helped him build a reputation as a relentless partisan, he quietly cultivated working relationships with Republicans throughout his three terms as a representative from Chicago.


Since being tapped as Obama's aide-de-camp, he has passed his private contact information to Democrats and Republicans alike to keep the lines of communication open along Pennsylvania Avenue.


The appropriately timed meeting with the Tuesday Group suggests he plans to use the prestige of the White House to continue courting potential political allies from the ranks of a beleaguered GOP.  -- Jonathan Allen


Republican Petri Weighs Supporting Obama's Stimulus

Wisconsin Rep. Tom Petri is in the small minority of House Republicans -- perhaps a caucus of one -- saying the package spends too little on infrastructure projects. READ 


Obama Approves Missile Strikes In Pakistan

This is why we rid ourselves of 
BushCheney and their pack of killers. And this is why the American people and the world are now railing against the brutal overreactions of the Israeli military against Gaza, another issue President ...





Calling a Time Out | By George McGovern | Thursday, January 22, 2009


As you settle into the Oval Office, Mr. President, may I offer a suggestion? Please do not try to put Afghanistan aright with the U.S. military. To send our troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan would be a near-perfect example of going from the frying pan into the fire. There is reason to believe some of our top military commanders privately share this view. And so does a broad and growing swath of your party and your supporters.


True, the United States is the world's greatest power -- but so was the British Empire a century ago when it tried to pacify the warlords and tribes of Afghanistan, only to be forced out after excruciating losses. For that matter, the Soviet Union was also a superpower when it poured some 100,000 troops into Afghanistan in 1979. They limped home, broken and defeated, a decade later, having helped pave the way for the collapse of the Soviet Union.


It is logical to conclude that our massive military dominance and supposedly good motives should let us work our will in Afghanistan. But logic does not always prevail in South Asia. With belligerent Afghan warlords sitting atop each mountain glowering at one another, the one factor that could unite them is the invasion of their country by a foreign power, whether British, Russian or American.


I have believed for some time that military power is no solution to terrorism. The hatred of U.S. policies in the Middle East -- our occupation of Iraq, our backing for repressive regimes such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, our support of Israel -- that drives the terrorist impulse against us would better be resolved by ending our military presence throughout the arc of conflict. This means a prudent, carefully directed withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and elsewhere. We also need to close down the imposing U.S. military bases in this section of the globe, which do so little to expand our security and so much to stoke local resentment.


We cannot evade this reckoning. The British thought they could extend their control over Iraq even while pulling out their ground forces by creating a string of bases in remote parts of the country, away from the observation of most Iraqis. It didn't work. No people that desires independence and self-determination wishes to have another nation's military bases in its country. In 1776, remember, 13 little colonies drove the mighty British Empire from American soil.


In 2003, the Bush administration ordered an invasion of Iraq, supposedly to reduce terrorism. But six years later, there is more terrorism and civil strife in Iraq, not less. The same outcome may occur in Afghanistan if we make it the next American military conflict.


Mr. President, the bright promise of your brilliant campaign for the White House and the high hopes of the millions who thronged the Mall on Tuesday to watch you be sworn in could easily be lost in the mountains and wastelands of Afghanistan.


The Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz has estimated that the war in Iraq will have a total cost of more than $3 trillion. That war has clearly weakened our economy and our armed forces even as it has made the national debt soar. The Bush administration committed itself to Iraq before the recession. Today, with our economy teetering, does the Obama administration believe that it is time for yet another costly war in yet another Muslim country?


I'm aware that some of my fellow Americans regard me as too idealistic. But sometimes idealism is the best realism. And at a minimum, realism and idealism need not be contradictory. The invasion and occupation of Iraq has not only angered Iraqis who have lost family members, neighbors or homes; it has also increased the level of anger throughout the Muslim world and thrown up obstacles to our political leadership in that deeply important part of the planet.


Like you, Mr. President, I don't oppose all wars. I risked my life in World War II to protect our country against genuine danger. But it is the vivid memory of my fellow airmen being shot out of the sky on all sides of me in a war that I believe we had to fight that makes me cautious about sending our youth into needless conflicts that weaken us at home and abroad, and may even weaken us in the eyes of God.


As you have noted, Mr. President, we take pride in our soldiers who conduct themselves bravely. But as you have also said, some of these soldiers have served two, three and even four tours in dangerous combat. Many of them have come home with enduring brain and nerve damage and without arms and legs. These troops need rest, rehabilitation and reunions with their families.


So let me suggest a truly audacious hope for your administration: How about a five-year time-out on war -- unless, of course, there is a genuine threat to the nation?


During that interval, we could work with the U.N. World Food Program, plus the overseas arms of the churches, synagogues, mosques and other volunteer agencies to provide a nutritious lunch every day for every school-age child in Afghanistan and other poor countries. Such a program is now underway in several countries approved by Congress and the United Nations, under the auspices of the George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Act. (Forgive the self-serving title.) Although the measure remains painfully underfunded, with the help of other countries, we are reaching millions of children. We could supplement these efforts with nutritional packages for low-income pregnant and nursing mothers and their infants from birth through the age of 5, as is done here at home by WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.


Is this proposal pie-in-the-sky? I don't think so. It's food in the stomachs of hungry kids. It would draw them to school and enable them to learn and grow into better citizens. It would cost a small fraction of warfare's cost, but it might well be a stronger antidote to terrorism. There will always be time for another war. But hunger can't wait.



George McGovern, a former senator from South Dakota, was the Democratic nominee for president in 1972.


Q&A: ‘Gaza Will Take Years to Recover’


Gaza will need years to recover from the devastating Israeli assault, says Katharina Ritz, head of mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Israel’s 22-day assault left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead, and decimated much of the coastal territory’s infrastructure…(More)


(Would This Happen In The USA?)

We Will Never Work For The BBC Again - Actors And Directors In Gaza Protest


ACTORS and directors have warned the BBC they will not work for the corporation again if it does not broadcast the Gaza charity appeal.


In a letter written to Mark Thompson, the BBC’s director-general, the actors Tam Dean Burn and Pauline Goldsmith, and the directors Peter Mullan and Alison Peebles, said they were “appalled” by the refusal to show the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal.


Their ultimatum came as the satellite broadcaster Sky also decided yesterday it would not screen the DEC film. Like the BBC, it said it wanted to protect the impartiality of its news reports.


Gaza is in the grip of a humanitarian crisis, with its 1.5 million population urgently needing food, water, medicine and shelter, after Israel’s three-week assault.


The BBC said yesterday it had received about 15,000 complaints about its decision not to screen the appeal for the DEC, which represents several charities.


A sit-in protest has been staged at the BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow, with some demonstrators setting fire to their TV licenses, while a line of police officers guarded the entrance to Broadcasting House in London.


The open letter to the BBC, written a day after the Oscar nominee Samantha Morton threatened to boycott the corporation, reads: “We, the undersigned actors and directors, like millions of others, are absolutely appalled at the decision by the BBC to refuse to broadcast the DEC appeal for Gaza.


“We therefore are taking what action we can in protest at this decision by stating, like our fellow actor Samantha Morton, we will never work for the BBC again unless this disgraceful decision is reversed. We will urge others from our profession and beyond to do likewise.


“We will also not pay our TV license fee in protest and encourage others to do likewise. It is time for the people of Britain to take a stand on this issue by demanding the BBC reverse this decision and by supporting the call from Palestinian civil society for a complete economic, academic and cultural boycott of Israel until it ends its pitiless violence against the long-suffering people of Gaza and the whole of Palestine.”


The decision not to broadcast the appeal has also attracted a chorus of condemnation. The Charity Commission said it was “very disappointed” with both Sky and the BBC. Dame Suzi Leather, its chairwoman, said: “Emergency appeals of this nature rely on publicity to ensure they are well supported by the public, and without the funds that result from that publicity, the work of the member aid agencies of the DEC could be severely hampered.”


The Labour peer Baroness Uddin, the first Muslim woman in the House of Lords, told Mr Thompson yesterday that the BBC’s decision had been a “gross misjudgment”. She said: “We should all be demanding that BBC governors intervene in this matter and reconsider its position.”


Angus Robertson, MP, the SNP’s Westminster leader and a former international affairs reporter with the BBC, said: “With every day that passes, the BBC’s defiance becomes more and more ridiculous.”


John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, also criticized the corporation, saying the money the appeal was raising was for those who were hungry, sick, wounded or in need of shelter.


Avi Shlaim, the professor of international relations at the University of Oxford, said Sky and BBC management were behaving in a “cowardly” way.


Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a UK Muslim youth organisation, also urged the broadcasters to reconsider.


Judith Robertson, who chairs DEC Scotland, has called for Scots to donate to the Gaza appeal: “Clearly, the DEC is disappointed that the BBC has decided not to broadcast the appeal film. However, what matters most is that the public make a donation.”


• Donate to the DEC Gaza Crisis Appeal at www.dec.org.uk, by calling 0370 60 60 900, or at any Oxfam, Red Cross, Save the Children or Islamic Relief shop, high-street bank or post office.

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