Category Archives: Justice

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Spiritual Advisor Confronts DA Krasner and the FOP

This new mural featuring Pam and Ramona Africa alongside other Black community activists was unveiled on May 11, 2021 directly across the street from Philadelphia City Hall, on the very same block where the infamous statue of Frank Rizzo once stood.Photo: Jamal Journal staff photographer Joe Piette

Mark Lewis Taylor has been a professor in religion and society at Princeton Theological Seminary since 1982. He is also the founder of Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (EMAJ), which was first known as Academics for Mumia Abu-Jamal (AMAJ). In 2007, he co-authored “20 FAQs: The Pedro Polakoff Crime Scene Photos” with Journalists for Mumia. In recent years, he has also been working as Mumia’s spiritual advisor.

In this new interview, Professor Taylor covers many topics including his personal observations from Judge Sabo’s 1995-97 PCRA (Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act) hearings. Taylor also confronts Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s Feb. 3 brief filed in opposition to all of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appeals. In support of the critiques made previously by Pam Africa and Dr. Ricardo Alvarez, Taylor now makes his own response to DA Krasner’s continued defense of Mumia’s unjust 1982 conviction.

If you have not yet done so, please sign our Color of Change petition to DA Krasner.

Jamal Journal: How did you first learn about Mumia’s case?

Mark Lewis Taylor: I still remember a rainy day in 1994 when I was just back from a summer of research and connecting with Maya activist groups in Guatemala, struggling then as it long had against European colonization, now against the neocolonialism of U.S.-backed governments in Central America. At the time of that 1994 trip back to the U.S., I was also taking up again some of the prison activist work I had done even earlier in the 1970s when working in the Virginia State Penitentiary investigating prisoner complaints.

So in the midst of all this, on the way into a New York City coffee shop to wait out the rain, I purchased a thin newspaper sold by a grassroots homeless organization – Street News, I think it was. There I read my first column by Mumia. I’m quite sure it was “War on the Poor,” which was also recorded by Prison Radio.

“War on the Poor”

Afterwards I began using many of Mumia’s writings in graduate-level classes. His writings ignited student thinking on the politics of imprisonment, policing and the death penalty. I resolved that if officials ever signed a death warrant to silence Mumia, “I couldn’t live my life as usual” (at least that’s what I found myself muttering to myself then).

Why that resolve? I often ask myself that. The answer I give is that by committing forthrightly to the movement to keep alive and release Mumia, I would be involved at the same time on multiple political fronts of liberation. I had already found that to support any one prisoner in the archipelago of U.S. mass incarceration demanded one’s utmost. It is to face a kind of abyss of human need.

While I’ve had to maintain some work for other prisoners too, the work for Mumia was such that by working for him, I felt, I was also working for so many more, and also on the larger fronts of national and international social change and liberation. (I do not accept the current squeamishness of U.S. academic culture making them reluctant to use the word “liberation,” even though I believe we should define it and use it carefully.)

Being at work as a full-time professor, in work that itself required far more than 40 hours a week, I needed every hour of my “outside” movement work to count politically in as comprehensive a way as I could imagine. Work for Mumia enabled that. That’s what I felt.

So, when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge signed Mumia’s death warrant in 1995, I requested educators’ support for Mumia. I learned that many other educators had been using Mumia’s writings. And they too found his execution intolerable. My fax machine and email inbox blew up with responses from colleagues who wanted to go to work.

Thus began years of struggle to find ways to build educators into the larger movement for Mumia headed by International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. We undertook years of organizing press conferences, newspaper ads and seeking other ways to build educators’ contributions into the larger movement.

We immediately took out ads in the Philadelphia Daily News, holding press conferences in Philadelphia. It was struggle, and we often faltered, got too busy with academic meetings and minutiae, with career advancement and more. But our moments of struggle went forward, and we continue. Our largest ad campaign culminated in a Sunday New York Times full page in the “Week in Review” section in May 2000. So, we were launched.

JJ: Why did you decide to attend the 1995 PCRA hearings in front of Judge Albert Sabo?

MLT: Well, I don’t remember any “deciding,” really. It was just a necessary stage of the movement work at the time. Besides, there was urgency in the air since Gov. Ridge had given Mumia an execution date. We joined the many who Pam Africa organized to pack the courtroom. I cannot recall who all among educators were present. I’m certain that Cornel West was (more on that below). There were other Philadelphia educators who had stepped forward for our ad campaigns and press conferences, who may also have been there: Achille Mbembe, E. Ann Matter, Ann Farnsworth-Alvear, Farah Jasmine Griffin (all four, then at UPENN), also Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak of Columbia University.

Cornel West, Angela Y. Davis and Manning Marable had already been to the fore of the struggle for Mumia long before me. They supported EMAJ (Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal) in very helpful ways. Manning Marable once told me, for example, “Always use my name in support of your events.” I am not sure if Davis and Marable were at the PCRA hearings or not. Marable at Columbia was a formative teacher for Dr. Johanna Fernández who assumed so many leadership roles in EMAJ and now coordinates the campaign to Bring Mumia Home.

I remember so much about those PCRA hearings: Pam Africa and MOVE organizing the seating in the courtroom and the rallies outside, Mumia coming into the courtroom in shackles and greeting us with raised fist, and Mumia’s lawyers drawing the ire of Judge Albert Sabo.

JJ: What do you think of Kiilu Nyasha’s description of Sabo’s courtroom in her essay, “Witness to a Lynching”?

From left, Dr. Ala Stanford, Ajeenah Amir, Sajda “Purple” Blackwell, artist Russell Craig, Pam Dr. Ala Stanford, Ajeenah Amir, Sajda “Purple” Blackwell, artist Russell Craig, Pam Africa, Krystal Strong, YahNé Ndgo and Kezia Ridgeway stand in front of the East side of the Crown mural that pays homage to their social justice work at Philadelphia’s Municipal Services Building. – Photo: Kimberly Paynter, WHYY

MLT: I still find Nyasha’s write-up to be accurate, especially in its description of the general ethos of humiliation and intimidation that Judge Sabo stoked and allowed prosecutors to inject into the proceedings. I personally did not see Sabo nod off, but he ran the courtroom indeed as the notorious “hanging judge” who had sent so many other Philadelphians to death row and long prison sentences with the racially biased demeanor that so many of us have long denounced. Even reporters working for established news venues in Philadelphia recognized this bias to be in operation.

Sometimes you wished Sabo would have fallen asleep more. What was so enraging was his continual denial of Mumia’s lawyers’ motions and his affirmation of the prosecutors’ objections. Sabo would also make off-hand remarks about Mumia’s plight, almost taunting him with references to the pending execution date.

I remember in one of the earlier hearings, when the antics of Sabo were so egregious, as he made so many off-hand racist comments and ran such a one-sided prosecutors’ courtroom. I was sitting beside Dr. Cornel West, then during his first stint at Harvard. At one point after a Sabo comment, Cornel rolled forward in his seat and gasped in loud whisper, “Mississippi 1955!”

Only toward the end of the hearings did Sabo finally relent and issue a stay of execution, precisely because of the large rallies in Philadelphia at the courthouse then and the presence in the courtroom of key dignitaries. On the day of the stay, I think the movement had helped facilitate the presence of Rev. Jesse Jackson in the courtroom among Mumia’s many other supporters. The stay came during one of the later hearings of the PCRA in 1995, really only 10 days away from the execution date in August.

JJ: In light of your experience observing Sabo, what is your response to DA Krasner’s Feb. 3, 2021, brief where he puts his stamp of approval on literally every single decision Judge Sabo made at both the 1982 trial and the later PCRA hearings?

MLT: Well, Krasner has to know what establishment reporters in Philadelphia know: All of Sabo’s courtrooms show at least a potential for racial bias as well as many comments that offer clear evidence of racial bias. Krasner also knows that the bar for tolerating racial bias in courtrooms is set exceedingly low. This “low bar” has been confirmed more than once, in a 1986 case (Batson v. Kentucky) and a 2008 case (Snyder v. Louisiana).

This means that the smallest amount of racial bias is often grounds for ruling in a defendants’ favor. One U.S. circuit court judge, Thomas Ambro of the Third Circuit, thought the low bar should be extended to Mumia, in keeping with the precedent confirmed by the Snyder case just a few weeks earlier. (See Ambro’s dissent in Abu-Jamal v. Horn et al, p. 78.)

But in the case of Mumia, who is often forced to labor under what Linn Washington has termed “The Mumia Exception,” the bar for proving racial bias was set so high that he is denied redress for what he has suffered. Krasner shows no interest in lowering the unfairly raised bar against Mumia. To perpetuate the state’s performance of that exception is to fail to be a prosecutor “for the people” of Philadelphia.

Krasner has a tendency to cite “the many other legal cases similar to Mumia’s” and the “many other problems and issues” that he wants to address progressively. He and his supporters often speak as if Krasner cannot keep up this “progressive” agenda, that he does need police cooperation to a certain extent to enact his reforms and can’t afford to alienate them.

The idea is that if he goes too far in challenging the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police), such as by pursuing litigation favorable to Mumia, the Philadelphia police and other political powers will block his larger agenda for change. It can appear that Krasner is sacrificing Mumia “for the greater good.” It is as if there is an unspoken deal with the FOP that Krasner gets to enact some positive reforms, so long as he doesn’t do anything that might lead to Mumia’s freedom.

I suggest, though, that with this kind of approach, Krasner risks losing even his more modest and comprehensive gains regarding other legal cases and issues. Remember, Mumia and his death remain a comprehensive aim of the FOP. Mumia remains the FOP’s “public enemy number one.”

If Krasner does not challenge the FOP at their own declared front-most battle line – on Mumia Abu-Jamal – then he really has not challenged the FOP fundamentally. He may achieve some short-term gains for “progressive” prosecuting, and indeed he has, but he has not really challenged the police power of the state that wants to kill Mumia and defeat the revolutionary and more humane form of the state for which Mumia fights.

JJ: In their recent SF Bay View newspaper articles, both Pam Africa and Dr. Ricardo Alvarez criticize page 5 of the Feb. 3 brief where Krasner endorses the official police version of Mumia’s arrest by writing that Mumia “resisted arrest” and “refused to walk” into the hospital. Dr. Alvarez writes: “The presumption that Mumia violently resisted arrest and then confessed is wrong, can be easily proven wrong, and is a form of harm that denies Mumia’s humanity.” What is your response to this section of Krasner’s Feb. 3 brief?

This is one segment of the original artwork created by longtime Mumia supporter Seth Tobocman to support our petition campaign. It is the centerpiece of Issue #1 and can be viewed on the Jamal Journal website.

MLT: Well, I think that both Pam Africa and Ricardo Alvarez make their cases quite well for disproving these points as they occur in Krasner’s brief. Also, Pam’s and Ricardo’s claims have been underscored numerous times by several of Mumia’s attorneys.

What is further concerning about Krasner’s arguing these points is that, to my knowledge, while his brief introduces no new characters or events into prosecutors’ view of the crime, it does rephrase the story in slight but significant ways. In the brief, the DA’s Office is not recreating a new story, but the arrest scenario is tweaked so as to emphasize many of the excuses that we now receive from police who handle protestors or who rationalize their killing of Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples in the U.S. Doesn’t this language sound familiar – “resisting arrest,” “would not walk” or was “reaching for a gun”? This language is consistent with current state power’s attempts to rationalize and describe police beatings and killings of protestors and others.

The police have still not provided an account for the evident physical battery that Mumia suffered at the hands of the police upon his arrest. Mumia was so badly beaten, said his sister, Lydia, that she hardly recognized him. Mumia has recounted how, after being shot, he was also beaten and rammed into a street light pole. In all likelihood, he was beaten more in the back of a paddy wagon headed for the hospital before being dumped on the floor of its ER. Instead of considering any of this as possible, Krasner’s brief foregrounds notions about Mumia “reaching for a gun” that an Officer Shoemaker reports seeing “eight inches away from Mumia’s hand?”

Krasner knows cops have been found lying and has himself spoken out about police disinformation and perjured testimony. So, why not consider them to be lying about this story? The brief says Mumia was “resisting arrest” and then is reported to have “refused to walk”? This language is especially passable and plausible for that part of the public – still all too many – who today buy into cops’ arguments designed to rationalize racialized police violence.

JJ: Returning to the topic of lynching, what do you think of Pam Africa’s assertion that police attempted to lynch Mumia on the morning of Dec. 9, 1981?

MLT: Well look, we know that the young journalist Abu-Jamal had received threats from the police long before they found him at the curb of Locust and 13th on that early morning of 1981. Terry Bisson’s biographical reflection on Mumia, entitled “On a Move: The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” cites more than one occasion when Philadelphia police would drive slowly by Mumia making hand gestures of a pointed gun and moving trigger finger, as if they had him targeted for killing.

The 1981 police attack on Mumia occurred well after Mumia had served not only in the Panthers, but also after he had written to expose police practices against MOVE and other residents and after he had directly challenged the Rizzo pro-police regime. So, after all this, finding Mumia vulnerable and shot on a curb on Dec. 9 was an opportunity for attack the police could not pass up.

And yes, battering Mumia as they did that morning qualifies as an attempted lynching. If we recall the history of lynching, we know that those actions were not carried out only by mobs of general citizens. Lynching participants also included such officials as police, lawyers, even judges and local pastors, clad in Klan costumery or other disguise. And some felt emboldened to turn up and take pictures for posterity with no disguise at all!

Sure, maybe the early morning beating did not have the same status of spectacle that the “burning and hanging lynchings” had, but surely, if you add on Mumia’s later very public trial and death sentence, the function of Mumia’s overall brutal treatment is indeed that of a lynching. Lynching in the USA, like crucifixions in Rome were intended as a kind of public service announcement to the poor and repressed: “Act up like this one hanging before you now, and this too will become your fate!”

JJ: What do you think about the Medical Professionals for Mumia petition co-written by Dr. Alvarez?

MLT: The petition was a great thing to see. Even more, I think, is the way the group, “Medical Professionals for Mumia” is mobilizing the conscience of medically-trained personnel to act on the myriad health issues posed for the increasing numbers of infirm and elderly who are incarcerated and on the ways white supremacy is at work in the profession and in the U.S. healthcare establishment. Elite higher education is also often rife with pervasive white supremacist postures and practices.

Moreover, it is so important that Dr. Ricardo is taking the advocacy and work for Mumia into his own profession. Of course, he has been a participant in the larger diverse movement. But his instincts are so right, it seems to me, to attempt to integrate the broader movement for Mumia and for all political prisoners and the incarcerated into the work-world he inhabits. I think all of us need to attempt something like this in whatever be our places of work. Not everyone can take the movement work into their work-world, into their everyday spaces of employment. I know that. It is important, though, to try where we can.

Our founding reflex of Educators for Mumia was to integrate the broader movement into the daily educational labor of teachers, as well as to enable teachers to participate in and support the larger national and international work of the movement. So, I view the petition and its vision to be an exciting development as it seeks to take the concerns of our movement into the medical profession.

JJ: A central piece of evidence cited by our Color of Change petition to DA Krasner is the 2010 ballistics test conducted by Dave Lindorff and Linn Washington, where they concluded that “the whole prosecution story of an execution-style slaying of the officer by Abu-Jamal would appear to be a prosecution fabrication, complete with coached, perjured witnesses, undermining the integrity and fairness of the entire trial.” Pam Africa has now issued a public challenge to both Michael Smerconish and DA Krasner to try and disprove the conclusions of the 2010 test. How significant do you think are the conclusions of Lindorff’s and Washington’s test?

“Test Shows Missing Evidence and Falsified Testimony from Key Witnesses in Abu-Jamal Trial”

MLT: Very significant indeed. Here are two investigative journalists who know the case inside and out. Neither of them can be dismissed as a naïve advocate who might quickly throw out claims that have no evidence. On the contrary, both have a thorough knowledge of the trial transcripts. Linn Washington has written and researched the case continuously since he visited the crime scene within one hour of the incident. Dave Lindorff has written a detailed, book-length and fair analysis of the entire case. And here, in the video of their 2010 ballistics test, they raise serious questions about the veracity of prosecution claims that Mumia stood over Officer Faulkner lying on his back and executed him with a shot to the head with other shots hitting the sidewalk. So Pam’s challenge is right-on. Let DA Krasner and media talking head Smerconish respond to the video.

The Lindorff-Washington ballistics test joins other forms of exculpatory evidence that need revisiting in the form of media attention and more adequate judicial review. Among these forms I would include the following: (a) the argument for racial bias in jury selection that emerged with training-tapes by prosecutor Jack McMahon advising young prosecutors about how and when to keep Blacks off juries, (b) Veronica Jones’ 1996 recantation of her being pressured by cops to lie against Mumia at the original 1982 trial and (c) court stenographer’s sworn affidavit that during the trial she heard the notoriously racist Judge Sabo say out of court in another room, “Yeah, and I’m gonna help them fry the n***er.” Some of these have been reviewed quickly under judicial review, some totally ignored.

None of these forms of evidence for Mumia will see the light of day, much less receive serious judicial review without public pressure. And that’s why Pam’s challenge to Krasner and Smerconish on the ballistics test is so significant.

JJ: Let’s shift to looking at your role as Mumia’s spiritual advisor. What can you tell us about that? How has it been communicating with Mumia in recent months, since the COVID and congestive heart failure diagnosis in late February and then heart surgery in April?

MLT: Yes, I had been in to visit Mumia about once every month, often for visits as long as 3-4 hours, for four years prior to the arrival of the COVID pandemic. I saw him in January 2020, and then didn’t have a visit until video visits of 2021.

Obviously, I value every minute of any visit with Mumia, whether in person or on video (limited by the DOC to 45 minutes). Moreover, I try to make the visits count for the movement, by facilitating communication between Mumia and other family members and the movement when I can.

I visited by video once with him, between the time of his COVID diagnosis, and then his going into the hospital for surgery. It is especially enraging to experience Mumia’s “being disappeared,” as he was when taken in for heart surgery. To deny his family and friends – as well as outside medical advisor – knowledge of his whereabouts exacerbates the medical trauma for everyone. This is part of the state’s violence against the incarcerated and their families, which the state seeks to justify with its concerns for “security.”

I put a minister’s collar on and searched out some nearby hospitals and eventually confirmed where he was hospitalized. But of course, neither I nor Dr. Ricardo Alvarez, with whom I was in touch about this, were given any kind of access (even by phone). Ricardo and I sent a communication into the hospital, urging its supervising officials to keep the shackles off Mumia and to open all necessary communication between Mumia and his family and key supporters.

We received nothing but denials from hospital security that Mumia was even there. After much phoning of the prison, the governor’s office and the hospital, I did receive a brief call from the PA DOC’s (Pennsylvania Department of Corrections) special counsel saying that his lawyers would make sure that Mumia could call his wife 15 minutes a day. That did happen, as I understand it, because two of Mumia’s lawyers, Bret Grote and Bob Boyle, kept pressure on DOC officials.

I don’t view the role of a “spiritual advisor” in prison to be primarily that of a sharer of words from sacred texts or the imparting of religious wisdom per se. Maybe there’s a place for that at times when it is requested by prisoners. But recall, the notion of “spirit” in most languages refers to breath, to breathing that makes for life. To work spirit, to facilitate spirit, then, is to open up passages that allow life to occur and grow. In that sense, fostering connections and opening passageways between Mumia and his family, his friends and his necessary advocates – all this is spirit work even as it is also very material, often also a kind of political practice.

The established religions of colonizers and imperialists have regularly instilled in people the idea that spirit is somehow antithetical to body. In fact, the spirit is the life of the body, the life animating our struggle to liberate all realms of material creation that suffer from oppression and injustice.

JJ: How does Mumia and your work with him relate to your scholarly interest in “liberating spirit?”

MLT: Well, as your question indicates, you know I’ve explained this notion of “liberating spirit” elsewhere, as at my website. Liberating spirit creates freeing ways of being amid global and local structures and during the daily practices that grind us down, that destroy humanity and earth – that oppress. Liberating spirit names a way being “political” in the broadest sense of engaging the powers that subjugate us. It is material life struggling and fighting, acting up creatively through the many arts and mobilizing new community with a steady relentless, resilience in our social movements to revolutionize our lives against a state that represses.

I guess that in the U.S. my participation in the work for Mumia has been a way to observe and feel “liberating spirit” to be at work in a profoundly full sense. Consider how many political issues and fronts are encountered through the movement for Mumia. The U.S. white supremacy that rationalized and then grew stronger in the wake of the slavery that built the U.S. capitalist system – well, Mumia writes in a way that remembers and foregrounds all that. He has been a vocal critic of the surveillance and police state that enforces the alienation of labor and protects the rule of capital.

He has been a spokesperson for the earth – “mother earth” as he writes with MOVE – the earth that nurtures us all. He has written my class with special commentary on the frequent erasure of women’s leadership from Christian and other religious organizations of colonizers and empire builders. He dreams, writes and works for futures free from empires and capitalists and for “the return of nature” and of a genuine “socialism and ecology.” (These latter phases are from the work of a writer whom both Mumia and I appreciate, John Bellamy Foster.)

This fullness of liberating struggle, across so many issues and up against so many fronts of resistance, has been evident from the time of Mumia’s earliest columns to his most recent writings. See for example the collection edited by Johanna Fernández in Writing on the Wall. Note the breadth of concerns covered in the three-volume work Mumia authored with Stephen Vittoria, Murder Incorporated. Again, one person cannot take up all that “liberating spirit” demands of thought and practice, but to work through the movement for Mumia Abu-Jamal is to find oneself at work, directly or indirectly on so many of the important challenges of our time. This is one of the reasons that even though I cannot be involved in as many actions of the movement for Mumia, I continually introduce my students to Mumia and the movement.

Let me give just one example of the way those struggling for and with Mumia have impacted others. In my video visit that occurred between Mumia’s COVID diagnosis and his heart surgery, he mentioned to me how deeply moved he was by words from his relatively new prison doctor, Dr. Baddick. That doctor had read Federal District Judge Robert Mariani’s decision in favor of Mumia in 2017, allowing him to be treated with antiviral meds for his Hepatitis C infection. Mumia with the help of the movement and legal work was not only saved, but something more happened. As Dr. Baddick said to Mumia: “You saved thousands of other lives.” (Indeed, Missouri is just one other state where I understand that Mumia’s case for his Hepatitis cure has since become precedent-setting for many other prisoners).

In a revised version of my 2015 work, The Executed God (397-450), a book which I dedicated to Mumia, I added a new final chapter on Mumia, explaining his importance. I borrowed literary Marxist critic Walter Benjamin’s notion of the “great criminal” to explain that the terrorizing and repressive state often makes certain figures into “great criminal” figures. They do this to demonize them to the fullest, because the state sees them as especially threatening, able to expose the founding violence of the state and also to stoke popular revolt and revolution against the state.

This is why the struggle for Mumia has been so hard. This is also why the struggle for Mumia remains so necessary: Mumia exposes the state’s violence and equips our comprehensive resistance to it.

The post Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Spiritual Advisor Confronts DA Krasner and the FOP first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Indigenous Fisheries vs. Mob Rule

Suspicious fire destroys Potlotek First Nation cabins.

On September 17, 2020, the Sipekne’katik First Nation of Nova Scotia opened its independent fishery, affirming the Band’s rights under Canada’s Supreme Court ruling of 1999 (the Marshall Decision), which allowed the Band to fish for a moderate living under its own regulations. On the 17th and in following days from 80 to 200 fishing boats of the commercial fishing industry came to St. Mary’s Bay to protest the new fishery. There were boat rammings, flare guns, intimidation, and destruction of lobster traps and gear. Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the DFO Conservation and Protection Divison, the RCMP, the Coast Guard, were there but provided the Band no protection.1

This began two months of intimidation, burnings, assaults, destruction and confiscation of lobster traps and gear, with mob actions by commercial fishermen unhampered by the few police on hand.

The Sipekne’katik First Nation requested and received from Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court a temporary injunction assuring protection from attacks until mid-December 2020. Canadian law was not protecting them. The Band was faced with mobs of men understood to represent commercial fishing interests but under the colors of conserving lobster stock. The commercial seafood industry is known for the near extinction of several Atlantic species of fish. If the non-Indigenous fishermen of Nova Scotia who attacked the Sipekne’katik First Nation were free men, why wouldn’t they form worker-owned fishing cooperatives similar to the Indigenous fisheries?

Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal government said the violence was a terrible thing and although military intervention was suggested by the Sipekne’katik First Nation, the number of RCMP officers was increased. While the RCMP was not able to intervene when a mob of over two hundred commercial fishermen torched a Sipekne’katik fisherman’s van and destroyed his catch, eventual arrests of over 20 participants resulted in a court date March 29th. As of mid-May reports of their trial aren’t available in the media.

Then, instead of de-escalating, the government aggressively pursued its policies of licensing restrictions and seasonal limits affecting Indigenous fisheries, despite the serious doubts of the government’s right to interfere in the Indigenous self-regulatory process. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, using the same argument of the commercial fishermen that the variant Indigenous lobster season (with its tiny catch) endangered the lobster stock, is legitimizing mob rule and the crimes of November and December 2020.

The Potlotek First Nation of Cape Breton is one of several bands self-regulating its native fishery. Durng this past April 37 lobster traps belonging to a Potlotek fisherman were seized by the DFO2 which has steadily confiscated the Band’s lobster traps since last October.3  To continue to assert its fishing rights the Potlotek Band has had to bring suit against Canada, May 10th at the Halifax Supreme Court.4

The DFO confiscates lobster traps of the Sipekne’katik First Nation as well, asserting regulations requiring conformity with the commercial industry’s season; the restrictions are imposed without Sipekne’katik’s consultation and permission as required. As a law unto itself the DFO also confiscates crab traps protected by Section 35 of the Constitution and the Sparrow Decision.5  The regulations risk closing and bankrupting native fisheries and stripping them of their Supreme Court guaranteed rights to fish for a “moderate livelihood.” The expense of proving that the government has exceeded its legal authority is placed on the First Nations.

Lack of visible prosecution of the primary crime here – terrorizing of a selected ethnic group, encourages the perpetrators.

From the perspective of the Convention on Genocide the concern is whether Canada’s government is intentionally continuing policies which lead to the extermination of Indigenous people. To limit discussion here to fishing rights, an indication of the controls on First Peoples is available in DFO licensing policy (as of November 2020); as revealed in response to a suit by Sipekne’katik First Nation against the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance: the Alliance revealed that the seafood buyers were only permitted by the DFO to buy from fisheries licensed by the DFO, and these purchases had to be within the DFO defined seasons.6  These government regulations exclude the Sipekne’katik First Nation and other newly formed Indigenous fisheries from the right to market their small catches of seafood.

Divisions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples serve those who control both for profit. I tend to see current adversarial anti-Indigenous actions, with their similarities to KKK tactics and controls in the U.S. during the last century or so, as the result of corporate interests facilitated by the government. The criminal controls don’t really benefit the often desperate commercial fishermen who effect the terrorizing. While Prime Minister Trudeau’s government expressed horror at the violence dealt the Sipekne’katik fishery, his government’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans increased the dissent by confiscating Sipekne’katik’s lobster traps — much as boats from the commercial fleet had stolen them. The government failed to protect an Indigenous community requesting protection.1  Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Sack suggested military intervention to protect his people but was refused.7  (The government was able to deploy sixty Canadian Armed Forces members to assist at Nova Scotia centres testing for COVID-19.8

The Sipekne’katik First Nation has given every indication that it will pursue justice under the law, and that this would include appeals to the U.N.. Canadian political science Professor John McGarry, described by the CBC as “an international expert on conflict management,” has assured Canadians the U.N. wouldn’t provide “peacekeepers” since the Canadian government would have to approve of any intervention. By this, Professor McGarry acknowledges the seriousness of acts against the Sipekne’katik First Nation as possibly requiring the armed military intervention of ‘peacekeepers.’9

The U.N. has refused to leave the Sipekne’katik First Nation to the promises of the Canadian State when faced by its commercial fishing industry. An April 30th letter from the head of the U.N.’s Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Yanduan Li, asks Canada to answer the allegations made by Sipekne’katik First Nations band: “According to the information received during September and December 2020, especially between 13th and 17th October, Mi’kmaw people, and in particular Mi’kmaw fishers, have been subject to escalating racist hate speech, violence, including with firearms, intimidation, burning and destruction of their property, including lobster traps, lobster processing facilities and work vehicles.” Also noted: “It is further alleged that, despite being aware of the high risks of violence, the competent Canadian authorities – in particular the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) – failed to take appropriate measures to prevent these act of violence and to protect the Mi’kmaw fishers and their properties from being vandalized.” The three page letter challenges the government’s inaction and asks for a thorough investigation. It verifies the need to ask the Canadian government to “respect, protect and guarantee the rights of Mi’kmaw peoples in relation to their fishing activites and territories,” among other guaranteed rights.10 The deadline for response is July 14th.

  1. DFO, RCMP knew violence was coming but did nothing to protect Mi’kmaw lobster harvester: Documents,” Brett Forester, February 10, 2021, aptn.
  2. Traps seized by DFO in first day of Potlotek’s moderate livelihood lobster fishery,” Ardelle Reynolds, April 30, May 1, 2021, Saltwire.
  3. Potlotek chief says band losing patience with DFO over fishery,” Tom Ayers, October 23, 2020, CBC News.
  4. Potlotek First Nation seeks injunction against DFO over self-regulated fishery,” Erin Pottie, May 11, 2021, CBC News.
  5. Mi’kmaw fisherman has crab traps seized by DFO during food fishery,” Angel Moore, April 14, 2021, aptn.
  6. Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance says licences only let them buy from DFO-authorized fisheries,” Paul Withers, Novemher 17, 2020, CBC News.
  7. ’We’re being targeted now’: Mi’kmaq chief wants military called in to N.S. lobster clashes, attacks,” Greg Mercer, October 18, 19, 2020, Globe and Mail.
  8. Canadian Armed Forces deploying personnel for Nova Scotia COVID-19 response,” April 27, 2021, CBC News.
  9. UN peacekeepers won’t monitor Sipekne’katik fishery, says expert,” Paul Withers, April 30, 2021, CBC News.
  10. Letter to H.E. Ms. Leslie Norton, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations Office, Geneva, from Yanduan Li, Chair, Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,” Reference CERD/EWUAP/103rd Session/2021/MJ/CS/ks, 30 April 2021, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, Geneva Switzerland.
The post Indigenous Fisheries vs. Mob Rule first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Jen Psaki Grilled on Assange

The U.S. government is still appealing their stunning defeat in Julian’s extradition case. While the world waits for the UK courts to act, activists continue to draw attention to Julian’s plight.

Psaki Grilled on Assange

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was grilled yesterday on press freedom and Julian’s case. Psaki deflected New York Post reporter Steven Nelson’s question by stressing the “independence” of the Justice Department.

Activists Making Things Happen!

Activists are joining together to fund a series of #FreeAssange billboards! Led by Misty Winston, they’ve raised thousands in grassroots donations to put up the first billboard in Columbus, Ohio!

Western Hypocrisy on Press Freedom Has Global Implications

Our latest blog post delves into how the persecution of Julian Assange is exposing U.S. and UK hypocrisy and undermining the West’s moral authority.

We’ve long been concerned about how this assault on press freedom would be seized upon by global human rights violators, and now we’re seeing it. The danger isn’t hypothetical — it’s happening now as countries from China to Azerbaijan deflect attention from their own abuses by pointing to the West’s “double standard.”

The post Jen Psaki Grilled on Assange first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Jen Psaki Grilled on Assange

The U.S. government is still appealing their stunning defeat in Julian’s extradition case. While the world waits for the UK courts to act, activists continue to draw attention to Julian’s plight.

Psaki Grilled on Assange

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was grilled yesterday on press freedom and Julian’s case. Psaki deflected New York Post reporter Steven Nelson’s question by stressing the “independence” of the Justice Department.

Activists Making Things Happen!

Activists are joining together to fund a series of #FreeAssange billboards! Led by Misty Winston, they’ve raised thousands in grassroots donations to put up the first billboard in Columbus, Ohio!

Western Hypocrisy on Press Freedom Has Global Implications

Our latest blog post delves into how the persecution of Julian Assange is exposing U.S. and UK hypocrisy and undermining the West’s moral authority.

We’ve long been concerned about how this assault on press freedom would be seized upon by global human rights violators, and now we’re seeing it. The danger isn’t hypothetical — it’s happening now as countries from China to Azerbaijan deflect attention from their own abuses by pointing to the West’s “double standard.”

The post Jen Psaki Grilled on Assange first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What Does a “Racist Country” Look Like Anyway?

America is not a racist country,” Republican senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said in his party’s official response to President Biden’s address to the nation on April 28. There are reasons that should have been a laugh line: Biden did not say America was a “racist country,” the Black senator was rebutting the president’s call for racial justice across all ethnicities, and the reality is that America was founded as a country in which owning and selling Black people was justified and legalized on the basis of the racist doctrine that they were part of an inferior race. Scott didn’t get a laugh. He wasn’t trying to be funny. He was being intellectually dishonest and uttering a coded racist call to the white supremacist cohort of the Republican party that he is tolerant of their different, racist point of view. That’s where denial takes you, into crazy-land. That’s where partisanship takes you, invoking unreality to pander to polarization.

Scott’s maneuver is a variation on the same racist denial that’s worked for Republicans at least since Reagan. Countering the “not a racist country” argument is tricky, since it sets a trap for saying “America is a racist country.” There’s no such thing as a “racist country.” Countries contain racists and tolerant people, just as they contain dishonest and honest people.

Vice President Kamala Harris tried to evade the “America is racist” trap by adopting Scott’s framing, then trying to sidestep it and turn it to her own partisan advantage:

I don’t think America is a racist country…. But we also do have to speak truth about the history of racism in our country, and its existence today…. we know from the intelligence community, one of the greatest threats to our national security is domestic terrorism manifested by white supremacists.

Harris is right about the threat of “domestic terrorism” from the white right, but she’s engaged in threat inflation here. Worse, she uses an inflated threat to distract from the core realities of racism in America. Daily race realities are much less dramatic than “terrorism,” but just as lethal: they keep a crowd at bay watching a police murder, but they don’t protect a teenager with his hands in the air. President Biden talked about racism this way:

We’ve all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black Americans. Now is our opportunity to make some real progress. The vast majority of men and women wearing a uniform and a badge serve our communities and they serve them honorably. I know they want to help meet this moment, as well.

My fellow Americans, we have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve, to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system and to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the house already….

The country supports this reform and Congress should act. We have a giant opportunity to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice, real justice, and with the plans outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues America and American lives in other ways….

This is not demagoguery built around some notion of a “racist country,” this is a reality-based appeal to Americans to demonstrate their goodness by addressing the systemic racism that ebbs and flows through American life every day, and always has. The nation has made progress, some progress, but daily justice is a far cry from reality.

Denying this reality, or minimizing it, is a habitual Republican tactic (or possibly a sincere belief, perhaps). Like Scott, Republican senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina doesn’t acknowledge that systemic racism is part of the fabric of American life. On Fox News, Graham denied any racism, arguing that, because the country elected a Black president and a Black vice president, “our systems are not racist. America is not a racist country.” Fox host Chris Wallace did not ask Graham to interpret the country’s election of a white bigot president in between the Black officials. That strikes me as a pretty clear example of systemic racism at work, although it could just be the familiar intellectual laziness of American journalism. Or both.

The day before the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict on April 20, CNN’s Chris Cillizza contributed to a multi-faceted example of the way systemic racism works. In Cillizza’s view, with the country “on knife’s edge” awaiting a verdict, “elected officials … need to urge calm and restraint.” He then falsely accused a congresswoman of inciting violence, with a headline reading: “Maxine Waters just inflamed a very volatile situation”

Cillizza chose not to acknowledge that the volatility of the situation, whatever it actually was, was the result of a long history of juries failing to convict guilty cops, possibly even a stone-cold killer like Chauvin. In advance of events he could know know, Cillizza was not only anticipating a racist verdict, he was preparing to scapegoat Maxine Waters for whatever reaction resulted from such a travesty of justice. Actually, he was scapegoating a Black congresswoman in advance on the basis of things she did not say in the way that he reported them:

“I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty,” she said in response to reporters’ questions. “And if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to stay on the street. We get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

Cillizza went on to editorialize based on his cherry-picked misquote:

… That sort of rhetoric — at a moment of such heightened tensions — is irresponsible coming from anyone. It’s especially irresponsible coming from an elected official like Waters.

By strong implication, Cillizza was accusing Waters of inciting violence. No matter that the violence had not happened (and, as it turned out, would not happen). Cillizza has been around long enough to know that Maxine Waters is constantly demonized by the right, so why is he jumping on that particular lynchwagon with such careless abandon?

In fact, Cillizza has quoted her out of context – whether out of malice or laziness, who’s to say? The full transcript of her remarks offers no evidence that she was calling for any violence. Although Cillizza acknowledges that Waters made her comments in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, in the context of another incident of cop violence, the killing of Daunte Wright in the driver’s seat of his car, Cillizza makes no effort to distinguish between those contexts.

Waters was addressing the Brooklyn Center killing when a reporter change the subject and asked about Derek Chauvin. After some overlap and confusion, Waters answers the question, “What should protestors do?” for which the context is ambiguous, but the only protestors were there in Brooklyn Center, where the case is far from adjudicated or resolved. Waters seems to answer in that context, informed by America’s systemic racism:

Well, we’ve got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.

After the Chauvin verdict, variations on this answer became a common response (including Biden’s call for passing the George Floyd Act). There is no call for violence in the call to confront ongoing, systemic racism. But Cillizza in his lily-white political correctness feels free to lecture a victim based on his projection of her nonexistent call for violence. Even so, not a big deal if it stops there, with a casually racist slur from another veteran journalist. But it didn’t stop there, the story had legs. As the Washington Post reported:

Republicans have highlighted Waters’s comments as having the potential to lead to violence, but they have also faced accusations of hypocrisy over their lack of action over former president Donald Trump’s frequent inflammatory comments, or on members of their own party who have been accused of egging on violence.

Eric Nelson, one of Derek Chauvin’s defense lawyers, promptly tried to take advantage of the offending Waters quote. On April 19, with the jury out of the courtroom, he used it as the basis for a motion to declare a mistrial. He claimed that Waters:

… an elected official, a United States Congressperson, was making what I interpreted to be and what I think are reasonably interpreted to be, threats against the sanctity of the jury process, threatening and intimidating a jury, demanding that if there’s not a guilty verdict that there would be further problems….

After a brief colloquy with the judge, Nelson concluded:

And now that we have U.S. Representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to this specific case, it’s mind boggling to me, Judge.

Immediately, Judge Peter Cahill responded with extrajudicial commentary:

Well, I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned. But what’s the state’s position?

The state’s position was that the motion for mistrial was based on “vague statements” and that the basis of the motion was tantamount to hearsay:

If there’s a specific statement that a specific U.S. Representative made, then there needs to be some formal offer of proof with the exact quotes of the exact statement or some kind of a declaration. And I’m sure Mr. Nelson can do that if he thinks that that’s something that’s appropriate. I don’t know that this particular Representative made a specified threat to violence. I don’t know what the context of the statement is….

And so I just don’t think that we can muddy the record with vague allegations as to things that have happened without very specific evidence that’s being offered before the court….

And so without any specific offer of proof or information in the record, without any specific evidence that this particular jury was influenced in any particular way, I believe that the defendant’s motion should be denied.

This is precisely the sort of analysis that Cillizza and others should have made before accusing Maxine Waters of inciting violence. The evidence isn’t there. Attorney Nelson acknowledged that the best case is only interpretation – in other words: speculation, projection, predisposition to think the worst of a demonized Black congresswoman. Prejudiced people tend not to stop and think.

Before denying the motion for mistrial, Judge Cahill took the time to excoriate Rep. Waters and other unnamed elected officials for commenting on the Chauvin case in ways that, he implies, violate their oath of office. He concluded his brief diatribe by saying: “A congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot.” But if that’s the case, why rant on about it?

Elsewhere in the jungle of American racism, Republicans in Congress set about once again trying to censure Maxine Waters for the things they wished she’d said. This time, Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy introduced a two-page censure resolution that selectively quotes Rep. Waters out of context. The bulk of the resolution relies on extensive quotes from Judge Cahill’s comments, also selectively and out of context.

On April 20, the House voted 216-210 (4 members not voting) along strict party lines to table McCarthy’s resolution, effectively rendering it moot. The previous motion to censure Rep. Waters was sent to the Ethics Committee, never to be seen again. Following the vote on her censure motion, Rep. Waters said:

I love my colleagues and they love me. I don’t want to do anything to hurt them or hurt their chances for re-election. I will make sure that they are comfortable with my kind of advocacy so that we can all be sure that we can do the right thing.

Even though America is not a “racist country,” far too many Americans, consciously and unconsciously, behave in racist patterns.

And sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they convict guilty cops. Sometimes they defend their Congressional colleagues. Sometimes they acknowledge that combatting racism requires endless, nonviolent confrontation.

The post What Does a “Racist Country” Look Like Anyway? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

A Very British Case: Postmasters and Miscarriages of Justice

British justice is a splendidly odd animal.  Its miscarriage is one of those wonders of institutional repetition.  When textbooks are written on the subject, one will feature prominently.  On April 23 this year, the convictions of 39 former sub-postmasters were quashed by the criminal division of the Court of Appeal.  They had been accused, and convicted, for theft and dishonesty after the UK Post Office installed the wonky wonder of the Horizon IT system.

There were figures such as Seema Misra, convicted for stealing £74,000 in cash from the Post Office branch under her stewardship in West Byfleet in 2010.  At the time, the press delighted in calling her the “pregnant thief”.  Her husband was assaulted by locals.  Della Robinson, who ran the Dukinfield, Greater Manchester Post Office, could not account for £17,000 by 2012.  She was suspended, reported to the police and faced a community service sentence.

The reason for their convictions lay in the accounting nightmare produced by the Horizon system.  It had ominous beginnings, growing up from a contract between the computer company ICL, the Post Office and the Benefits Agency, all part of what were termed private finance initiatives (PFI).  Developed by Japanese company Fujitsu, Horizon featured a swipe card system for paying pensions and benefits via the counters of Post Office branches.  The venture proved calamitous, ailed by chronic mismanagement, weaknesses in the technology and general human incompetence.  The cost of that endeavour to the British taxpayer: £700 million.

Refusing to wipe the slate clean, the Post Office beefed up the Horizon project, using it to convert accounting done through paper format into an electronic system.  Over time, this made it the largest IT contract in Europe not connected with the military.   But the stench refused to go away.  “Serious doubts over the reliability of the software remained,” warned the Post Office board of directors in their minutes in September 1999.

Glitches duly mounted.  Variations in revenue in some branches were noted.  Two months after Horizon began operating, the Post Office branch in Craig-y-Don in Wales showed up a “variance” totalling £6,000.  In time, these proliferated. In some cases, sub-postmasters, seeing these errors as not occasioned by computer error but their own, sought to cover revenue discrepancies with their own resources.  Their contracts did mention that shortfalls be covered in instances of “carelessness or error”.

Between 2000 and 2014, the Post Office, with witch-hunting zeal, prosecuted a stunning 736 sub-postmasters, seeking convictions for false accounting and theft.  Many were financially ruined.  A number took to addiction, suffered ill-health and premature death.  The sheer number facing charges raised an obvious question: how could there have been so many copy-cat crimes perpetrated by supposedly upstanding workers? (The Post Office itself admitted to investing time identifying and recruiting appropriate candidates.)  The more troubling, and logical reason: the continuing, near manic refusal to acknowledge the gremlins in the Horizon system.

The sub-postmasters fought back.  In December 2019, the Post Office agreed to settle with 555 claimants, accepting that it had previously erred in its “dealings with a number of postmasters”, agreeing to pay £58m in damages, with claimants receiving a £12 million share after legal fees.

Battle that year was also waged in the High Court through several trials.  The Post Office, remarkably, attempted to tar the presiding judge Sir Peter Fraser in one case with the brush of bias, suggesting he step down.  The failed effort to recuse him had arisen because of a previous ruling that over 500 sub-postmasters had been wrongly held responsible for Horizon’s accounting bungles.   In another of Justice Fraser’s judgments handed down in December 2019, the Post Office was accused of showing “simple institutional obstinacy or refusal” in considering “any possible alternatives to their view of Horizon, which was maintained regardless of the weight of factual evidence to the contrary.”  Reality was ignored.  “It amounts to the 21st century equivalent of maintaining that the earth is flat.”

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) proceeded to refer 42 sub-postmaster cases to the Court of Appeal.  The judges were charged with considering whether the prosecutions had been an abuse of court process and whether the convictions were unsafe. The salient consideration was whether the Horizon accounting system, already damned by Fraser, was reliable or not.

To the last, the Post Office, rather than conceding in full error, fought.  It did concede that 39 of the 42 former sub-postmasters “did not or could not have a fair trial.”  But in 35 of those 39 cases, it objected to the claim that the prosecutions were “an affront to the public conscience”.

In the criminal division of the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Holroyde and his fellow judges found the “failures of investigation and disclosure were in our judgment so egregious as to make the prosecution of any of the ‘Horizon cases’ an affront to the conscience of the court.”  The Post Office had effectively reversed the burden of proof by firstly assuming that the Horizon system was reliable and placing the onus upon the sub-postmasters to show why shortfalls had been registered.  “Denied any disclosure of material capable of undermining the prosecution case, defendants were inevitably unable to discharge that improper burden.”  Their prosecutions, convictions and sentences were pursued “on the basis that the Horizon data must be correct, and cash must therefore be missing, when in fact there could be no confidence as to that foundation.”

The snarling ugliness of conduct by the Post Office was laid bare.  It refused to comply with its own obligations when prosecuting the sub-postmasters using Horizon data.  It doggedly insisted that the sub-postmasters “make good all losses and could lose their employment if they did not do so.”  This was all done despite the selection of those very same individuals as trustworthy occupants of their positions.  The Post Office also dismissed claims that the shortfalls had arisen because of “an error or bug in the system”.  Internal documentation dealing with the explanation by one sub-postmaster that a system error had occurred was contemptuously swatted as “jumping on the Horizon bandwagon”.

Of the 42 original appellants, only three – Wendy Cousins, Stanley Fell and Neelam Hussain – failed to achieve their aim.  Their convictions were found to be safe, as “the reliability of Horizon data was not essential to the prosecution case”.  For the rest, a grotesque, wearing chapter of British injustice had been reversed.  An unquestioning faith and dogma, alloyed with some venality, had been repudiated.  Sadly, the Post Office executives, board members and those at Fujitsu, remain at large, ready for the next erring.

The post A Very British Case: Postmasters and Miscarriages of Justice first appeared on Dissident Voice.

W’s Chickens Coming Home to Roost, yet the Media Cocks Aren’t Crowing

Censorship comes in many forms. One of [them] is a colossal moral indifference to official crimes at the highest levels of our government.

— Ralph Nader, April 17, 2021, Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Disclaimer: This is not a traditional mainstream or even left-stream book review. However, Steven C. Markoff’s book does play as the impetus and linchpin to my essay, more of an analysis/reaction to his book.  I give The Case Against George W. Bush, high marks. Read Steve’s book. Press your respective legislators to push for an investigation of W.’s crimes. Markoff sets out in the book about how those crimes were committed. I reference those. He completes his case: The evidence is there to prosecute and find guilty the 43rd President of the USA, George W. Bush.

Nader’s Raiders of the Lost Warriors

I was hitting the old Ralph Nader podcast a week ago when I stumbled upon Steven C. Markoff’s book, The Case Against George W. Bush. Nader had Markoff on his podcast, and both talked about the crimes of W Bush, and even more pertinently, the lack of a criminal case against George W. Bush, as well as the crickets in the so-called liberal media (SCLM) as well in the left press concerning Steve’s book.

I quickly emailed Steve for a copy of his book to review, and he came back at me with a PDF of this book which, as I have stated, has been iced out of mainstream media: no interviews, no reviews let alone getting Steve into a room one-on-one, or onto a Zoom call with other guests to parse his well-researched, well-quoted book on the crimes of George W. Bush.

The Case Against George W. Bush by Steven C. Markoff, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

Of course, those crimes are more than crimes of omission, or crimes of secret rendition and torture sites, or the crimes of Abu Ghraib “prison” and Guantanamo. The crime was more than just all the lies about WMD’s and Saddam murdering babies. The big crime was Bush and his Regime of psychotic sociopaths of the neocon variety completely derailing valid, active and clear intelligence that Osama bin Laden was about to make a huge fiery asymmetrical splash on the world stage.

Markoff lays out the daily briefs, the back and forth communiqués, the speeches Bush and others on his team made which all provides evidence of what “we” know about Osama bin Laden. The entire gambit goes back to the Soviet Union’s role in Afghanistan, then with Carter, Reagan, Bush Senior, Clinton and leading up to the ex-governor of Texas, W Bush.

Carter Doctrine 25 years before 9/11

Unfortunately, Jimmy Carter’s man  got the Soviet Union and then USA, all tangled up in Afghanistan.

The best way for us to understand Afghanistan is to look at the record of American involvement going back four decades and to look at the record requires a reexamination of President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski. From the start, U.S. policy formation surrounding Afghanistan has lived in a realm of magical thinking that has produced nothing but a catastrophe of nightmarish proportions. Brzezinski impacted the future of American foreign policy by monopolizing the Carter administration in ways that few outside the White House understand. In his role as national security advisor he put himself in a position to control information into and out of the White House and when it came to Afghanistan – to use it for whatever purposes he saw fit.

“Brzezinski was an obsessive Russia-hater to the end. That led to the monumental failures of Carter’s term in office; the hatreds Brzezinski released had an impact which continues to be catastrophic for the rest of the world.” Helmer wrote in 2017, “To Brzezinski goes the credit for starting most of the ills – the organization, financing, and armament of the mujahedeen the Islamic fundamentalists who have metastasized – with US money and arms still – into Islamic terrorist armies operating far from Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Brzezinski started them off.”

— ‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

The Clinton “team” briefed the incoming George W. Bush “team” before his January 2001 inauguration about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. For the younger Bush, he repudiated the evidence trail from so many intelligence sources. His eyes were on Operation Iraqi Freedom, but first called, O.I.L,  which was propagated by Jay Leno incessantly after it was blurted out from the source:

On the afternoon of March 24, 2003 days after the U.S launched missiles at Baghdad to start the illegal war, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer held a press briefing. After a few minutes, a couple of sentences into the briefing, he verbally stumbled on the name of Bush’s war, stating, “Operation Iraqi, uh, Liberation.”

Calling it “Operation Iraqi Freedom” officially is just more War is Peace, Lies are Truth bullshit. And that 2001 invasion of Afghanistan ― “Operation Enduring Freedom” – is yet more of the PT Barnum spin, all catalogued in the annals of United States Central Command and U.S. Army War College.

Trail of Tears, Trails of Evidence

Markoff’s book is a straightforward record of myriad published records – taped speeches, newspaper articles/Op-Eds, sections from books, redacted memos and top secret records. As a buttress to the asymmetrical history of what happened leading up to and during the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequently all that went wrong in the Middle East, this upcoming 20th anniversary of 9/11, Markoff’s book should be required reading.

But reading isn’t enough for just consuming Markoff’s book, and reading it is not enough for those of us who have been fighting the wars, those in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all the others. What we need is a truth and reconciliation hearing for all those murdered in the September 11 attacks (around 3,000) as well as the countless hundreds of thousands (several million some estimates determine up to today) killed when the USA bombed and razed Iraq.

The deep links between terror attacks and Southwest Florida - News - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Sarasota, FL

Remember that famous photo of Bush reading about a goat to kids in Florida:

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Bush was at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota County, Florida, reading “My Pet Goat.”

Oh, his dedication to inner-city first graders and listening to them recite the goat story is golden. Earlier, Bush had been on the way from his hotel to the school in his motorcade when it was reported to him a passenger jet had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. Old commander in Chief Bush believed the crash was an accident caused, perhaps, by pilot error.

That old goat, man, what a story, so much so that when Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff, entered the classroom at 9:06 to tell this president a second airplane had struck the South Tower and that the nation was under attack, Bush stayed on his duff for seven more minutes, following along as the children finished reading the book.

“Class Goat”

Goat may be an old West Point term for the man/woman graduating last in his/her class, but one infamous George the Goat from the Army Academy is none other than George Armstrong Custer.

Unfortunately, the proverbial goat in America’s eyes is the million people murdered and millions more suffering because of the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Steve’s book lays out the three legal frameworks or cases for prosecuting Bush (and solely Bush, not Bush and Company LLC) for crimes against humanity (in Iraq and Afghanistan) and Bush’s own responsibility for those several thousand who died on that fateful day, September 11, 2001.

Mathematician Finally Solves Goat Problem: Here's the Answer

Here’s part of a blurb on the book’s web site, Rare Bird Lit:

Steven C. Markoff presents sourced evidence of three crimes committed by George W. Bush during his presidency: his failure to take warnings of coming terror attacks on our country seriously; taking the United States, by deception, into an unnecessary and disastrous 2003 war with Iraq; costing the lives of more than 4,000 Americans and 500,000 others; and breaking domestic and international laws by approving the torture as means to extract information. While Markoff lays out his case of the crimes, he leaves it up to the reader to decide the probable guilt of George W. Bush and his actions regarding the alleged crimes.

Casualties of War — Truth, Honor, Duty to Protect 

I had cut my teeth as a reporter in El Paso and elsewhere covering and following that other container ship of lies – Reagan’s crew of felons and thugs who philandered the American public with their special form of Murder Incorporated in Central America, and notably, Nicaragua. Or the illegal invasion of Panama under George H. W. Bush. Oh, those invasions, coups, clandestine bombings, proxy wars, incursions, secret operations, PsyOps.

I even ended up “down south,” in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua running into all sorts of odd fellows in the “drugs for guns” continuing criminal enterprise involving some of this country’s more nefarious “diplomats” and “generals” and CIA/NSA scum. Oh, those yellow belly Contras, murdering civilians and bombing schools and clinics for Reagan and Company. Those freedom fighters, AKA, the biggest lying cheats in recent times in Central America, Los Contras.

And the dead horse isn’t dead, and another author, like Markoff, just couldn’t buy the bs on those Contras:

Thus, in his 2012 book, The Manufacturing of a President, Wayne Madsen claims, based upon his numerous intelligence sources, that the CIA and Mossad have both been funding these rearmed Contras, and that they have been shipping these Contras arms over both the Honduran and Costa Rican borders.  He claims also that the Honduran government which came to power through the 2009 coup – a coup which the Obama Administration actively aided and abetted to unseat a leftist government which, by the way, happened to be friendly to Daniel Ortega – has been key to helping both support the Contras as well as to provide a staging ground for the covert operations to bring down the Sandinista government.  In other words, Honduras is playing the very same role it did in the 1980s, and the US-backed coup in 2009 – a mere 2 years after Ortega was elected – was crucial to this role.

Dan Kovalik

Of course, the Bush Family Legacy was also all written over that fiasco, and again, it was easy for me to continue my penchant for understanding how rotten the United States is as I am the son of a Vietnam War regular army veteran, who put in 31 years in uniform.

Lords of War, the Racket that is General Smedley Butler’s war warnings. Or Gary Webb, killing the messenger, the same CIA-infused Washington Post, New York Times and LA Times, to just name a few of the publications that corrupted the real work of Webb uncovering that entire drugs for guns Mafiosi.

Robert Parry, deceased now, but a journalist who started Consortium News in 1994, with Webb as one of his big stories on how bad the US government is, and how bad the mainstream media has become.

Here, Parry:

So what I was seeking by the mid-1990s was some solid ground in which to plant a flag for honest journalism, rather than constantly being forced into retreat, pulled by nervous editors and producers looking over their shoulders out of fear of right-wing retaliation. From solid ground, I thought, we could produce journalism that simply assessed the facts and made independent judgments regardless of who might be offended.

In 1995, it was my oldest son, Sam, who suggested the then-novel idea of “a Web site.” I didn’t fully understand what a Web site was and Sam was no techie but he demonstrated extraordinary patience in building our original Internet presence. (Back then, there were no templates; you had to start from scratch.) We married old-fashioned investigative reporting with the new technology of the Internet and began publishing groundbreaking investigative articles.

We followed evidence where it went, even when it flew in the face of the conventional wisdom, such as our work on the 1980 October Surprise issue of whether Reagan and Bush went behind President Jimmy Carter’s back during his Iran-hostage negotiations, much the way Nixon had in sabotaging Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968.

Not only did we present our own original work but we buttressed investigations by other serious journalists, such as Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News when, in 1996, he revived Ronald Reagan’s Contra-cocaine scandal. When the major newspapers set out to destroy Webb and discredit his revelations, Consortiumnews was one outlet that took on the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Yes, we were outgunned. Despite showing that Webb was not only right but actually understated the problem of Contra-cocaine trafficking, we still could not save Webb from having his career destroyed and then watching the big newspapers essentially high-five each other for having helped cover up a serious crime of state.

The Three Crimes of the POTUS #43 (Secret Service called him Trailblazer)

I am not going astray here, kind reader. What Steven talked a lot about on the Ralph Nader podcast was how that same media, the So-called Liberal Press, has virtually gone silent on his book, a type of passive censorship that can eat at the soul of any author.

In reality, the “case against Bush” is the case against mainstream media/press and their close ties to not just the chambers of power, but within their “embeddedness,” inside the ranks, as well as their allegiance to, and participation in, the national security state’s various bureaus of hit men and hit women.

When I finished the book, I offered the book to everybody that I had quoted, which was… around ninety authors. I offered it to Condoleezza Rice, I offered it to Dick Cheney, I offered it to the [George W.] Bush [Presidential] Library. I haven’t heard from one person about the book.

— Steven Markoff stated on Nader’s show.

Interestingly, Markoff incorporates Richard Clarke’s words as a preface to this book. Clarke actually strips culpability from Rumsfeld, Cheney, and others laying the blame on Bush personally. Here, early in Markoff’s book, Clarke puts it clearly in his mind.

While I may be considered by some to be prejudiced in my judgment, there are facts that any objective observer must accept.

• First, Bush ignored warnings about the serious threat from Al Qaeda prior to 9/11.
• Second, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in violation of international law, when Iraq had been uninvolved in 9/11 and offered no imminent threat to the United States.
• Third, Bush authorized the use of torture and denied prisoners due process, both acts in violation of international law.

Note that in each case I say that Bush did these things, not the Bush administration. There is a revisionist school that seeks to place the blame on Bush’s vice president, Richard B. Cheney. While there can be little doubt that Cheney encouraged Bush to take many of these actions, it is not true that the president was merely a tool of a mendacious and scheming subordinate.

The evidence is now clear that Bush agreed with his vice president and knew full well what he was doing. He was an enthusiastic participant, a believer in the war on terror and the war on Iraq. It is true, however, that he did not master or manage the details of either war until the last few years of his eight-year presidency.

— Richard A. Clarke, in the Forward of Markoff’s book.

[In 1992, President George H. W. Bush appointed Richard A. Clarke to chair the Counterterrorism Security Group and to a seat on the United States National Security Council. President Bill Clinton retained Clarke and in 1998 promoted him to the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism. Under President George W. Bush, Clarke initially continued in the same position and later became the special advisor to the president on cyber security. He left his government position prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.]

Markoff uses Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, as a touchstone of sorts. That was in 2007.

Importantly, Clarke had the necessary government background, involvement, and position to know about what he wrote. When I finished Clarke’s book, I was shocked. Could Bush have really disregarded threats of bin Laden and Al-Qaeda prior to 9/11? If so, was there a compelling reason that Bush spent his political capital and energy going after Hussein? Could it be that George W. Bush’s Iraq War was about oil?

It occurred to me that while Clarke seemed knowledgeable about terrorists, 9/11, and the run up to our 2003 invasion of Iraq, he was just one person, and his knowledge was limited to what he had personally seen and learned.

I thought that if I combined details from Clarke’s book with related information from other diverse sources with inside or special knowledge of those times and places, that combined information could produce new and clearer insights about 9/11 and the Iraq War. I then set out to find what additional facts and information were available on those and related topics.

— Steven Markoff, The Case Against George W. Bush

Torture, Rendition, Yellow Cake, WMD’s

I remember protesting U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales June 27, 2007, in Spokane, when he showed up to talk about his department under Bush. Many of us were there to protest publicly Gonzales and the Bush administration, for many things, including that 2002 memo written by Gonzales that said Bush had the right to waive anti-torture laws and treaties that protect prisoners of war.

Oh, the long arm of the “law” that Wednesday afternoon took a good friend down to the ground, arborist Dan Treecraft. He did nothing wrong, but Dan along with another person, was arrested for public disturbance.

I was there with students of mine from two community colleges where I taught, and alas, even those two respective presidents and chairs of the department where I taught thought they had the right to tell a faculty member what he could and couldn’t do as part of a class assignment on “what it’s like to come out and protest a representative of your/our government who states torture is okay.”

Ironically, he was in Spokane to talk about “gang enforcement,” and Gonzales  wasn’t alluding to the biggest continuing criminal enterprise Gang called the United States of America.

Steve’s book is a guide, a probable pathway for lawmakers, voters, and others, including the Press, to ratchet up the attention on George W. Bush the War Criminal, and to put to rest the fawning and ameliorating reputation of Bush as The Painter (sic) Friend of Michelle Obama and Ellen.

The kicker in Markoff’s book, says it all, quite damningly, but the reality is that the War is a Racket machine is a very fine tuned complex – Big Business Complex: Burger King, et al; Home Depot, et al; Mercenaries ‘R Us, et al; paint, air conditioning, roads, drywall, vehicles, depleted uranium, fuel, water, food suppliers, et al; all those financial products, that medical complex et al; Big Ag, Big Oil, Big Chemical, Big Prison et al, all in the manner of the for-profit system that is subsidized – welfare-ized – by the US taxpayer. Insanity we have already seen in other wars, and that War on Vietnam, not enough lessons learned there? I’ve been up close and personal with that war, in Vietnam as a civilian, and as a son of a wounded regular Army officer, social worker for wounded veterans, homeless vets and their families, instructor of college writing for Vietnam veterans.

There is no urban legend attributed to those $200 hammers and $600 toilet seats and $2000 each bolts holding the shrouding of Patriot missiles. War is graft central, and how many millionaires and billionaires were created after World War I? Read General Butler’s, War is a Racket.

Evidence of Crimes as Eight Bullet Points

This shit is personal to me, as well, since I have had friends and students coming back from Bush’s wars, full of trauma, fucked up beyond repair, walking PTSD warriors with all that resentment, anger and physical outbursts, and nowhere to go. Here is Steve’s book, again, near the end:

Could the following quote from Payback, a book by David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton, in part on the strategy of redirected aggression, explain Bush’s taking our country to war on his misleading and false premises?

“George W. Bush and his Administration were not stooges at all, but quite brilliant. They read the need of most Americans at the time: to hit someone, hard, so as to redirect their suffering and anger [from 9/11]. The evidence is overwhelming that for the Bush Administration’s ‘neocons,’ the September 11 attacks were not the reason for the Iraq War; rather, it was a convenient excuse for doing something upon which they had already decided. Their accomplishment—if such is the correct word—was identifying the post-9/11 mood of the American people, and manipulating this mood, brilliantly, toward war.”

It’s difficult to fathom the extent of the death and destruction caused by George W. Bush’s three crimes, but his legacy of death and destruction are of Olympic proportions.

  •  An estimated 2,977 people killed by the attacks on 9/11, and thousands more injured or incapacitated that day. In addition, hundreds if not thousands have died and will die early from the toxic air from the collapse of the Twin Towers and its aftermath.
  • By one count, there were 4,400 United States personnel killed and 30,000 wounded in the Iraq War as of August 31, 2010; tens of thousands more wounded physically and emotionally crippled by participating in that war; millions of Americans and their families destroyed, devastated, and/or traumatized by 9/11 and Bush’s 2003 Iraq War.
  •  As many as 650,000 deaths or more from Bush’s Iraq War, deaths that wouldn’t have occurred but for that war.
  •  Many of our civil rights, and the civil rights of others around the world, were curtailed due to the fear created by 9/11, a fear used by some as an opportunity to weaken our liberties.
  •  Three to seven trillion dollars in costs to our country from 9/11 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Those unnecessary trillions were and will be added to our national debt, a sum burdening our future, the future of our children, and perhaps of generations to come.
  •  Bush’s torture of prisoners puts American soldiers captured in future wars at greater risk of being tortured.
  •  The loss of America’s prestige and moral authority from Bush’s unnecessary Iraq War and torturing prisoners will hurt our country in the years ahead.
  •  Sixteen different US spy agencies on September 24, 2006, concluded that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq since March 2003 has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicals— effectively increasing the terror threat in the years after 9/11—and that the Bush administration tortured detainees and that torture wasn’t effective in securing intel otherwise unavailable.

Because America invaded a sovereign country without credible reason and tortured prisoners, how can we say without hypocrisy that other countries shouldn’t do the same to other nations or to us? What moral authority do we have to tell others it is wrong to torture?

— Steven Markoff, The Case Against George W. Bush

Pretty damning, and as I file this review/analysis/rant, that W is at it again, and his stupidity is the stunt, no, smart as a fox, or pet-painting war criminal?

George W Bush shakes hands with Condoleezza Rice in Washington DC on 5 January 2006.

In a People interview, the former president said he told his former secretary of state he had written for her. “She knows it,” said Bush, 74, “But she told me she would refuse to accept the office.”

Bush has been doing press to support the release of his book, Out of Many, One, which features his painted portraits of American immigrants and the stories of their lives.

He called current-day Republicans “isolationist, protectionist, and, to a certain extent, nativist.”

“Really what I should have said — there’s loud voices who are isolationists, protectionists and nativists, something, by the way, I talked about when I was president,” Bush said. “My concerns [are] about those -isms, but I painted with too broad a brush … because by saying what I said, it excluded a lot of Republicans who believe we can fix the problem.”

Shadow of War — Ghosts of the Dead

We’ll see if People magazine interviews Markoff, and gets a bit under the skin of his fine book, all 360 pages, with a decent bibliography and works cited section.

His conclusion:

Regardless of how I or others see what I submit are Bush’s criminal acts, some will continue to argue that while he wasn’t a perfect president, at least he rid the world of the tyrant, Hussein. Yes, he did, but for what reason, by what method, and at what cost?

In addition to the unnecessary deaths and wounding of thousands of brave Americans, hundreds of thousands of others died and were injured from Bush’s unnecessary Iraq invasion. The trillions of dollars Bush’s war has cost has and will continue to be added to our national debt. A debt saddling our future.

In conclusion, I believe the evidence in this book shows Bush’s three crimes were reckless, dishonest, and tragically unnecessary.

I rest my case.

— Steven Markoff, The Case Against George W. Bush

Of course, there are gross inaccuracies when it comes to US-induced casualties, and the first casualty of war is truth, for sure:

Of the countries where the U.S. and its allies have been waging war since 2001, Iraq is the only one where epidemiologists have actually conducted comprehensive mortality studies based on the best practices that they have developed in war zones such as Angola, Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda. In all these countries, as in Iraq, the results of comprehensive epidemiological studies revealed 5 to 20 times more deaths than previously published figures based on “passive” reporting by journalists, NGOs or governments.

Taking ORB’s estimate of 1.033 million killed by June 2007, then applying a variation of Just Foreign Policy’s methodology from July 2007 to the present using revised figures from Iraq Body Count, we estimate that 2.4 million Iraqis have been killed since 2003 as a result of our country’s illegal invasion, with a minimum of 1.5 million and a maximum of 3.4 million.

Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies, March 19, 2018

main article image

[Civil protection rescue teams work on the debris of a destroyed house to recover the body of people killed in an airstrike during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants on the western side of Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)]

For Markoff, it’s the lives that were destroyed by Bush. That is the echo in his words, and the ghosts of those murdered are the shadows between the lines in The Case Against George W. Bush. 

Roots of Zionism and U.S. Liberty to Iraq and Now Iran

Alas, I am ending this analysis/response to Markoff’s book, The Case Against George W. Bush, by slogging through another quagmire, and then some reference to books on just who was lobbying to attack Iraq. We have Markoff trying to open up a case against W. Bush, and his book is clear, focused, not one we’d expect in the pantheon of history books or investigative research/journalistic screeds.

Some writers, thinkers, educators and journalists (such as myself), however, were already looking into the scope of this terror campaign, the implications of US Patriot Act, the entire mess that is Israel’s murderous mucking about in the Middle East with Israel-Firster American corporate heads, administration wonks, politicians and more clandestine and nefarious actors behind the scenes, supreme puppet masters and Svengali types.

All those Israeli wars led to the destruction of Lebanon, Syria and the biggest obstacle at the time, Iraq.

And, here I go again, tangentially putting more fuel into the fires that immolated Iraq and which have blazed through the Middle East before and during and since W. Bush and his Klan invaded the Middle East.

Here, I reference a recent piece by Timothy Alexander Guzman who briefly alludes to the AIPAC/Israel/Israel-firster connection to the invasion(s) of Iraq in his piece, “The Prospect of a Major False-Flag Operation in the Middle-East Grows by the Day: Remembering June 8th, 1967 the Day Israel Attacked the USS Liberty: “It’s was all part of the long-term plan and Iraq was part of that plan, in fact, the most powerful lobby in Washington is AIPAC and the Bush neoconservatives including Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Bill Kristol, Elliot Abrams and others who pushed Washington into a war with Iraq. According to John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, authors of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)  was a major supporter for the War on Iraq”:

AIPAC usually supports what Israel wants, and Israel certainly wanted the United States to invade Iraq. Nathan Guttman made this very connection in his reporting [in Haaretz, April 2003] on AIPAC’s annual conference in the spring of 2003, shortly after the war started: “AIPAC is wont to support whatever is good for Israel, and so long as Israel supports the war, so too do the thousands of the AIPAC lobbyists who convened in the American capital.” AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr’s statement to the New York Sun in January 2003 is even more revealing, as he acknowledged “‘quietly’ lobbying Congress to approve the use of force in Iraq” was one of “AIPAC’s successes over the past year.” And in a lengthy New Yorker profile of Steven J. Rosen, who was AIPAC’s policy director during the run-up to the Iraq war, Jeffrey Goldberg reported that “AIPAC lobbied Congress in favor of the Iraq war.”

— John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, authors of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy


Liberty Survivors Say US Still Downplays Israel's Attack on Ship |

[Oh, that anniversary, of the attack by Israel on the Liberty, June 8th (1967)]

I suppose this entire mess that Markoff catalogues in his book, as a triumvirate of crimes by George W. Bush, could for me, personally, be summed up, in my mind, with President George W. Bush, speaking at the annual AIPAC conference in May of 2004:

You’ve always understood and warned against the evil ambition of terrorism and their networks. In a dangerous new century, your work is more vital than ever.

Steven Markoff doesn’t go there, for sure, and that is what makes Markoff’s book unique, too:  a clean record of the mess and blunder and murderous trail George W. Bush left in his wake as leader of the so-called “free world.”

The post W’s Chickens Coming Home to Roost, yet the Media Cocks Aren’t Crowing first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ramsey Clark: A Life Well Lived for the People of the World

Samarra Iraq 1996, Ramsey Clark visiting pharmaceutical plant. Photo: Bill Hackwell

Yesterday (April 10) Ramsey Clark died at the age of 93 in New York, and today justice and peace loving people and movements in the US and around the world are in mourning for a man who stood up and fought tirelessly in support of justice, equality and against his country’s drive for endless wars.

Ramsey Clark, the son of a Supreme Court Justice, was a lawyer who began an 8 year career in the US Justice Department in 1961 where he helped draft the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1968 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, becoming the US Attorney General in 1967. During this time he took on the establishment by banning wire tapping of progressive movements, calling for the abolition of capital punishment and banning federal executions.

Ramsey could have easily remained in the ruling class circles he was born into but once outside of the US government he became a voice against its policies that could not be ignored. He chose instead to become a beacon of unequivocal support for the people of the world going to literally more than 100 countries on fact finding missions and leading humanitarian delegations. He flew tirelessly to countries being targeted by the Pentagon sometimes even as the bombs were beginning to fall.

Sanctions as a Weapon of War

It is almost impossible to list all the countries and peoples that Ramsey Clark stood up for but perhaps his role in helping to expose the 12 years (between the first Gulf War to the full scale attack in 2003) of sanctions against Iraq is the most illustrative one in showing the cruelty of the slow misery and death that sanctions cause. During that time, Ramsey went to Iraq over and over again to document just how horrific it was. In February 1996, I had the honor of accompanying him as the photographer on a delegation to document on the ground evidence for a report being compiled by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization that was claiming that 567,000 Iraqi children had died as a consequence of the draconian economic sanctions being applied in just 5 years. We went from empty hospital to empty hospital where doctors informed us that children were dying from preventable dysentery because they could not even get or produce simple hydration tablets and that diseases that had been eliminated were re appearing because of the conditions. Prior to the war Iraq had the most modern medical system in the Middle East. We witnessed a pharmaceutical factory that lay dormant because they could not get material needed to make medicine. Sewage flowed into the Tigris River through bombed out sanitation plants that could get no spare parts to get them running again. It was obvious everywhere we went, from government officials to people on the street the level of respect and love that people in Iraq and throughout the Middle East for that matter had for Ramsey.

Today the US has sanctions leveled at over 20 countries for the crime of insisting on their independence. Ramsey Clark was opposed to all sanctions and said, “The lawlessness and cruelty of death-dealing sanctions must be recognized as genocide and a crime against humanity and must be prohibited.”

Support for Self Determination in Latin America

Over the years Ramsey played a significant role by leading delegations and participating in events throughout Latin America and the Caribbean including against the US-financed Contras during the Reagan years, to meeting with Hugo Chavez as leader of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, the Zapatistas in Chiapas and support for the FMLN in El Salvador.

Ramsey actively opposed the over 60-year blockade of Cuba and called for the closure of the illegally occupied US naval base at Guantanamo and returning the land to the Cuban People. He involved himself in the struggle to send Elian Gonzalez home with his father and the prolonged campaign to free the Cuban 5 from US prisons. In recognition for his endearing and unwavering support Ramsey was awarded the Order of Solidarity granted by the State Council of the Republic of Cuba in November 2013 in Holguin by the mothers of the five Cuban heroes.

Today, Cuban President Miguel-Diaz Canel Bermudez tweeted, “We mourn the death of
Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General. Honest and supportive, he joined us in crucial battles and was critical of the great injustices committed by his country in the world. Cuba pays grateful tribute to him.”

Fernando Gonzalez, President of the Institute of Friendship with the People (ICAP) added, “Ramsey was a sincere and faithful friend of Cuba. We share common ideals with regard to civil and human rights and the defense of just causes like Palestine… Cuba will never forget a friend as loyal as Ramsey Clark”.

Today on facebook, anti war activist Brian Willson said from Nicaragua something that rings true to many of us about what a role model Ramsey Clark was. He was just that for a generation of activists, always speaking truth to power, calm and humble, but with unrelenting conviction.

Ramsey Clark Presente!

  • Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English
  • The post Ramsey Clark: A Life Well Lived for the People of the World first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Justice in China and the West

    To begin, it must be emphatically stated that the arrest of any person on knowingly false charges is a grave abnegation of morality and a despicable travesty of justice by whichever governmental, law enforcement, or judicial body involved.

    The Canadian government has upped its diplomatic pressure to secure the release of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were arrested in China more than 2 years ago for allegedly spying for a foreign entity and illegally procuring state secrets.

    The CBC pointed to a “show of solidarity, 28 diplomats from 26 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and Czech Republic” — i.e., western support — for the Canadians outside the Chinese court.


    Canada portrays the detention of Spavor and Kovrig as retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou who, on 1 December 2018, was transferring planes at Vancouver International Airport en route to Mexico from Hong Kong.

    The complaints and criticisms in Canadian state media, the CBC, would seem to apply equally or more so to Meng.

    1. “‘It’s not been a transparent process,’ says Canadian diplomat after trial”

    On 10 December 2020, Reuters reported, “A Canadian border official on Thursday admitted to giving “incomplete” testimony in court the previous day and having breached a judge’s instruction not to discuss the case as witness cross examination in Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s U.S. extradition hearing resumed.”

    Further to transparency, the Canadian government has also claimed that it can’t release certain documents in the Meng case citing national security.

    1. “it’s been ‘an emotional time’ for Spavor, his family and Canadians in general”

    And what kind of time is it presumed to be for Meng, her family, Chinese in general, and people who demand transparency and justice? Do their emotions not count?

    1. “It’s been more than two years that he has been held arbitrarily in detention here in China.”

    It has been a little bit longer since Meng was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

    The CBC detailed the extradition charges against Meng: “fraud and conspiracy in New York in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC banker about her company’s control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.” The Canadian government does not apply those US sanctions.

    The Washington Post writes,

    International and bilateral treaties required that China provide Canadian diplomats access to the trial, but the court said Chinese law regarding trials on state security charges overrode such obligations…

    Zhao Lijian [– the deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department –] said that since the case involves state secrets, it is not heard in open court and no one is allowed to sit in on the trial.

    While the western media criticizes secrecy in the two Michael’s case in China, Canada invokes its own secrecy in the Meng case. Robert Frater, a lawyer representing Canada’s attorney general, argued that Meng’s defense team’s “application calls for proper arguments that can only be made in hearings closed to the public because of the sensitivity of the documents.”

    Meng’s lawyers complained at the extradition hearing that Canadian officials colluded with the US to arrest their client. Defense attorney Tony Paisana stated Canadian Border Services Agency officers took Meng’s phones, obtained their passwords, and turned everything over to Canadian police who made the data available to the FBI.

    Quid pro quo?

    Global News quotes US secretary-of-state Anthony Blinken: “We join our partners in calling on Beijing to immediately release the two arbitrarily detained Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.”

    Blinken posited (and rightly so): “Human beings are not bargaining chips.”

    Previous US president Donald Trump seems not to agree, as he spoke to becoming involved in the extradition case against Meng: “If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security, I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”

    PM Trudeau has said the two Michaels are detained on “trumped up” charges.

    Western media impugns China’s justice system

    Canadian news network CTV states, “Chinese courts have a conviction rate of over 99%.”

    This is corroborated by China Justice Observer: “In China, the conviction rate was 99.965% in 2019 and 99.969% in 2018.”

    The reported rates of conviction are sky high, and one wonders how a justice system could be so adept at legitimately achieving such rates. Skepticism seems fair enough. But what do the conviction rates indicate about justice in China overall? Might China be casting a large-mesh net to convict alleged criminals, allowing some suspects with insufficient evidence against them to slip through? Much more information is required to assess these conviction rates.

    For instance, if China has illegitimate sky high conviction rates, then in comparison to the US and Canada, one might well expect that Chinese jails are overflowing with prisoners?

    Looking at incarceration rates is just one means to put a different lens on what lies behind China’s extremely high conviction rates.

    The Institute for Criminal Policy Research at Birkbeck College, University of London compiles an online database providing free access to information on prison systems around the world: the World Prison Brief at I used this database to construct the below table.

    Rates of Incarceration

    In Canada, China, Taiwan, and the United States

    State Number incarcerated per 100,000 Total number incarcerated
    Canada 104 38,570
    China (PRC) 121 1,710,000
    Taiwan (ROC) 258 60,956
    United States 639 2,094,000

    The table reveals that the incarceration rate in Canada is only a little lower than in China. The rate of incarceration is much higher in the USA than in other compared states. The ROC, supported at a distance by many western governments, provides a useful comparable context to the PRC. In Taiwan: “The conviction rate of those that go to trial is more than 90 percent.”

    The sky high incarceration rates have a pecuniary purpose in the US: prison labor.

    Prison labor has been a part of the U.S. economy since at least the late 19th century. And today it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry with incarcerated people doing everything from building office furniture and making military equipment to staffing call centers and doing 3D modeling.

    Kevin Rashid Johnson, who was convicted of murder in 1990 when he was 18 years old, calls it slave labor. In 2018, Johnson supported a nationwide boycott of the commissary. Said he:

    I see prison labor as slave labor that still exists in the United States in 2018. In fact, slavery never ended in this country.”

    At the end of the civil war in 1865 the 13th amendment of the US constitution was introduced. Under its terms, slavery was not abolished, it was merely reformed.

    However, neither Canada nor China get a free pass when it comes to prison labor.

    The Rule of Law

    Antony Blinken, seemingly without embarrassment, speaks of the United States as upholding “the rule of law globally” in the self-deception or the belief that such is the case. In fact, Washington has always expected other countries to support the international rule of law — although exempting good friends like Israel and Saudi Arabia.
    Graham E. Fuller

    Law is written morality, while morality is conscious law. We should integrate the rule of law with rule by virtue, pay more attention to the rule of virtue in citizens’ conduct, and encourage citizens to protect their legitimate rights and interests in accordance with the law while conscientiously fulfilling their duties prescribed by law, which means enjoying rights while performing duties.
    — Xi Jinping, The Governance of China (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2014): location 2237

    Placing the focus solely on conviction rates is casting an aspersion on the rule of law in China.

    I have concerns about, not so much the rule of law in China, but the application of sentencing to convicted persons. In particular, I am opposed to the death penalty for a variety of reasons outside the scope of this article.

    Nonetheless, insofar as advancing the rule of law in China, it is identified as a cornerstone in the further development of the Chinese nation.

    Meanwhile, in Canada, adherence to the rule of lawn is revealed especially when it comes to the state’s strong-arm tactics toward First Nations with its weaponized RCMP.

    The ad nauseam allegations of a genocide in Xinjiang

    Seemingly separate to the two Michaels in China, but given the close timing suspect, Trudeau allowed a free vote in Canada’s House of Commons on 22 February. Without dissent the parliament declared that a genocide (based on sham allegations) is taking place against China’s Uyghurs. Trudeau and his cabinet, it must be noted, abstained from the vote.

    Western countries, led by the United States, the European Union, Britain, and Canada — notably those involved in warring against Muslim majority countries1 — points to crocodile tears over the alleged genocide in Xinjiang.

    In the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee (on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Issues), 39 countries called on China to “respect human rights, particularly the rights of persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities, especially in Xinjiang and Tibet.” (Of note is the wording to “respect human rights” and not condemn China for human rights abuses).

    Cuba’s UN Representative Ana Silvia Rodríguez Abascal countered with a statement on behalf of 45 countries in defense of China’s treatment of Uyghurs in China.

    This is not a matter to be decided by numbers, but 64 countries came out in solidarity with China in Xinjiang. And no Muslim countries are criticizing China over Xinjiang.

    It is curious upon what moral basis Canada derives the right to pronounce on genocides elsewhere given that Canada exists as a state founded on a genocide of its Indigenous nations.2 Canada is profiting from Saudi Arabia’s genocide/humanitarian disaster waged against its southern neighbor Yemen. Further demonstrating the Canadian government’s hypocrisy is its solidarity with Israeli apartheid and failure to condemn Israel’s slow-motion genocide of the predominantly Muslim Palestinians .

    China’s Great Crime is to be successful

    China has committed the unpardonable crime of being a Communist government and practicing socialism with Chinese characteristics. The Chinese economy is far outstripping western capitalist economies.3 China ended extreme poverty (and that includes Xinjiang, weird to pull a people out of poverty and be accused of killing them) — something difficult to achieve in Canada and the US.4

    China recovered relatively quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic. Its economy maintained positive growth while western economies floundered, and many western health systems still struggle with the pandemic.

    The particularly hard-hit US has lashed out at China, with president Donald Trump blaming it for the “China virus.”

    The president Joe Biden administration continues the anti-China rhetoric. White House press secretary Jen Psaki even expressed concern about “Russia and China using vaccines to engage with countries in a way where they’re not holding them at times to the same standard the United States and a number of other countries would hold them to on human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and even freedom of media.”

    What standard might that be? That China, unlike the West, provides the COVID-19 vaccine as a “global public good” rather than something to reap a windfall profit from?

    If the US, UK, and Canada and western media are so concerned about human rights, justice, freedom of speech, and even freedom of media, then what about their imprisoning and subjecting publisher Julian Assange to what is, essentially, a slow-motion assassination. And for what? For reporting the war crimes of the West. Chinese officials are subdued on the issue. But China Daily published an op-ed that stated, “There’s no doubt that Assange is being persecuted by the US government for fulfilling his role as an independent journalist by publishing leaked documents that are in the public interest.”

    1. As detailed by Gideon Polya in his book US-Imposed Post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide.
    2. See Bruce Clark, Ongoing Genocide caused by Judicial Suppression of the “Existing” Aboriginal Rights (2018). Review; Bruce Clark, Justice in Paradise (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999); Splitting the Sky with She Keeps the Door, The Autobiography of Dacajeweiah, Splitting the Sky, John Boncore Hill: From Attica to Gustafsen Lake (John Pasquale Boncore, 2001). Tamara Starblanket, Suffer the Little Children: Genocide, Indigenous Nations and the Canadian State (Clarity Press, 2018). Review; Tom Swanky, The Great Darkening: The True Story of Canada’s “War” of Extermination on the Pacific plus The Tsilhqot’in and other First Nations Resistance(Burnaby, BC: Dragon Heart Enterprises, 2012). Review; James Daschuk, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life (University of Regina Press, 2013); Robert Davis and Mark Zannis, The Genocide Machine in Canada (Black Rose, 1973).
    3. Granted, to what extent a country’s economy is capitalist or socialist is usually not an all-or-nothing practice.
    4. Beate Trankmann, the resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme in China congratulated China on the achievement. Voice of America disputes the achievement.
    The post Justice in China and the West first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    The Nakba of Sheikh Jarrah: How Israel Uses ‘the Law’ to Ethnically Cleanse East Jerusalem

    A Palestinian man, Atef Yousef Hanaysha, was killed by Israeli occupation forces on March 19 during a weekly protest against illegal Israeli settlement expansion in Beit Dajan, near Nablus, in the northern West Bank.

    Although tragic, the above news reads like a routine item from occupied Palestine, where shooting and killing unarmed protesters is part of the daily reality. However, this is not true. Since right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced, in September 2019, his intentions to formally and illegally annex nearly a third of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, tensions have remained high.

    The killing of Hanaysha is only the tip of the iceberg. In occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a massive battle is already underway. On one side, Israeli soldiers, army bulldozers and illegal armed Jewish settlers are carrying out daily missions of evicting Palestinian families, displacing farmers, burning orchards, demolishing homes and confiscating land. On the other side, Palestinian civilians, often disorganized, unprotected and leaderless, are fighting back.

    The territorial boundaries of this battle are largely located in occupied East Jerusalem and in the so-called ‘Area C’ of the West Bank – nearly 60% of the total size of the occupied West Bank – which is under complete and direct Israeli military control. No other place represents the perfect microcosm of this uneven war like that of the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem.

    On March 10, fourteen Palestinian and Arab organizations issued a ‘joint urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Procedures on forced evictions in East Jerusalem’ to stop the Israeli evictions in the area. Successive decisions by Israeli courts have paved the way for the Israeli army and police to evict 15 Palestinian families – 37 households of around 195 people – in the Karm Al-Ja’ouni area in Sheikh Jarrah and Batn Al-Hawa neighborhood in the town of Silwan.

    These imminent evictions are not the first, nor will they be the last. Israel occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem in June 1967 and formally, though illegally, annexed it in 1980. Since then, the Israeli government has vehemently rejected international criticism of the Israeli occupation, dubbing, instead, Jerusalem as the “eternal and undivided capital of Israel”.

    To ensure its annexation of the city is irreversible, the Israeli government approved the Master Plan 2000, a massive scheme that was undertaken by Israel to rearrange the boundaries of the city in such a way that it would ensure permanent demographic majority for Israeli Jews at the expense of the city’s native inhabitants. The Master Plan was no more than a blueprint for a state-sponsored ethnic cleansing campaign, which saw the destruction of thousands of Palestinian homes and the subsequent eviction of numerous families.

    While news headlines occasionally present the habitual evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and other parts of East Jerusalem as if a matter that involves counterclaims by Palestinian residents and Jewish settlers, the story is, in fact, a wider representation of Palestine’s modern history.

    Indeed, the innocent families which are now facing “the imminent risk of forced eviction” are re-living their ancestral nightmare of the Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine in 1948.

    Two years after the native inhabitants of historic Palestine were dispossessed of their homes and lands and ethnically cleansed altogether, Israel enacted the so-called Absentees’ Property Law of 1950.

    The law, which, of course, has no legal or moral validity, simply granted the properties of Palestinians who were evicted or fled the war to the State, to do with it as it pleases. Since those ‘absentee’ Palestinians were not allowed to exercise their right of return, as stipulated by international law, the Israeli law was a state-sanctioned wholesale theft. It ultimately aimed at achieving two objectives: one, to ensure Palestinian refugees do not return or attempt to claim their stolen properties in Palestine and, two, to give Israel a legal cover for permanently confiscating Palestinian lands and homes.

    The Israeli military occupation of the remainder of historic Palestine in 1967 necessitated, from an Israeli colonial perspective, the creation of fresh laws that would allow the State and the illegal settlement enterprise to claim yet more Palestinian properties. This took place in 1970 in the form of the Legal and Administrative Matters Law. According to the new legal framework, only Israeli Jews were allowed to claim lost land and property in Palestinian areas.

    Much of the evictions in East Jerusalem take place within the context of these three interconnected and strange legal arguments: the Absentees’ Law, the Legal and Administrative Matters Law and the Master Plan 2000. Understood together, one is easily able to decipher the nature of the Israeli colonial scheme in East Jerusalem, where Israeli individuals, in coordination with settler organizations, work together to fulfill the vision of the State.

    In their joint appeal, Palestinian human rights organizations describe the flow of how eviction orders, issued by Israeli courts, culminate into the construction of illegal Jewish settlements. Confiscated Palestinian properties are usually transferred to a branch within the Israeli Ministry of Justice called the Israeli Custodian General. The latter holds on to these properties until they are claimed by Israeli Jews, in accordance with the 1970 Law. Once Israeli courts honor Israeli Jewish individuals’ legal claims to the confiscated Palestinian lands, these individuals often transfer their ownership rights or management to settler organizations. In no time, the latter organizations utilize the newly-acquired property to expand existing settlements or to start new ones.

    While the Israeli State claims to play an impartial role in this scheme, it is actually the facilitator of the entire process. The final outcome manifests in the ever-predictable scene, where an Israeli flag is triumphantly hoisted over a Palestinian home and a Palestinian family is assigned an UN-supplied tent and a few blankets.

    While the above picture can be dismissed by some as another routine, common occurrence, the situation in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem has become extremely volatile. Palestinians feel that they have nothing more to lose and Netanyahu’s government is more emboldened than ever. The killing of Atef Hanaysha, and others like him, is only the beginning of that imminent, widespread confrontation.

    The post The Nakba of Sheikh Jarrah: How Israel Uses ‘the Law’ to Ethnically Cleanse East Jerusalem first appeared on Dissident Voice.