Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sibel Edmonds Exposes Massive Theft of US Nuclear Secrets

Sibel Edmonds Exposes Massive Theft of US Nuke Secrets
Larisa Alexandrova, HuffPost

Sibel Edmonds, the FBI whistle-blower who has been gagged for years by the Bush administration over intercepts she translated while at the bureau, was willing to go to prison to get her story told. She spent years trying to get her day in court, but the State Secrets gag against her prohibited her from telling her story even to a FISA judge. After years of trying to fight her way to through the maze of the US court system, Sibel Edmonds finally decided to tell her story no matter the consequences and offered to do so to any interested US media outlets.

Today, part of that story runs, but not in the United States, where not a single corporate outlet was willing to displease the White House and give Edmonds a platform. The Sunday Times Online, however, proved up to the task - somewhat. Here are the snips from that article:
"A WHISTLEBLOWER has made a series of extraordinary claims about how corrupt government officials allowed Pakistan and other states to steal nuclear weapons secrets.
Sibel Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator for the FBI, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency's Washington field office.
She approached The Sunday Times last month after reading about an Al-Qaeda terrorist who had revealed his role in training some of the 9/11 hijackers while he was in Turkey.
Edmonds described how foreign intelligence agents had enlisted the support of US officials to acquire a network of moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions.

Among the hours of covert tape recordings, she says she heard evidence that one well-known senior official in the US State Department was being paid by Turkish agents in Washington who were selling the information on to black market buyers, including Pakistan.
The name of the official - who has held a series of top government posts - is known to The Sunday Times. He strongly denies the claims.
However, Edmonds said: "He was aiding foreign operatives against US interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives."
Let me help the Times here. The person against whom these allegations are being made is Marc Grossman. The Times could have published the name and also provided the denial from Grossman's camp. I find it incredibly disturbing that they would not name the official.
"She claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior Pentagon officials - including household names - who were aiding foreign agents.
"If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this case, you will see very high-level people going through criminal trials," she said.
Her story shows just how much the West was infiltrated by foreign states seeking nuclear secrets. It illustrates how western government officials turned a blind eye to, or were even helping, countries such as Pakistan acquire bomb technology."
Those senior DOD officials who are not mentioned in the Times article, all but one are no longer in government. They are alleged to be Doug Feith, Richard Perle, among others. There is also one person who is part of these allegations, still serving in a high level position at the DOD. His last name begins with an E.
I have tried getting someone in broadcast and print media to run this story. My sources did not include Edmonds, but because of the sensitive nature of the information, I was concerned that she would go to jail anyway, unless I proved she was not a source - which would require me to reveal my sources.
I thought if I approached a big enough news outlet, the pressure generated by the public response would spare Edmonds jail time and I would not be pressured to reveal sources - something I would not have done anyway. Even a former high ranking CIA officer offered to byline the article with me if that would help sell a broadcaster/publication on running the story. No one was interested.
That the Times ran these allegations (she is under a state secrets gag folks, so it is not like she is gagged for lying) is encouraging. But that they omitted all names from the allegations is unethical. The point of a free press is not to protect the powerful against the weak, but to protect the public from the powerful. The Times was willing to stick a toe in, but was not willing to risk upsetting a foreign government (This is, after all, a British paper).
There are more names, including members of Congress and people serving in the FBI. This is what happens when basic government services as well as the most sensitive government functions are outsourced to the global marketplace.
Back to the Times article, which toward the end illustrates that someone in the editorial offices located a backbone, even if temporarily:
"She has given evidence to closed sessions of Congress and the 9/11 commission, but many of the key points of her testimony have remained secret. She has now decided to divulge some of that information after becoming disillusioned with the US authorities' failure to act.
One of Edmonds's main roles in the FBI was to translate thousands of hours of conversations by Turkish diplomatic and political targets that had been covertly recorded by the agency.

The Turks and Israelis had planted "moles" in military and academic institutions which handled nuclear technology. Edmonds says there were several transactions of nuclear material every month, with the Pakistanis being among the eventual buyers. "The network appeared to be obtaining information from every nuclear agency in the United States," she said.
They were helped, she says, by the high-ranking State Department official who provided some of their moles - mainly PhD students - with security clearance to work in sensitive nuclear research facilities. These included the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico, which is responsible for the security of the US nuclear deterrent.
In one conversation Edmonds heard the official arranging to pick up a $15,000 cash bribe. The package was to be dropped off at an agreed location by someone in the Turkish diplomatic community who was working for the network.
Let me again offer help to the good folks at the Times. The person in question is a Turkish military official who at that time also happened to sit on the board of a particular defense contracting firm.
"The Turks, she says, often acted as a conduit for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's spy agency, because they were less likely to attract suspicion. Venues such as the American Turkish Council in Washington were used to drop off the cash, which was picked up by the official.
Edmonds said: "I heard at least three transactions like this over a period of 2½ years. There are almost certainly more."
The Pakistani operation was led by General Mahmoud Ahmad, then the ISI chief."
Now, who is General Mahmoud Ahmad?
"Intelligence analysts say that members of the ISI were close to Al-Qaeda before and after 9/11. Indeed, Ahmad was accused of sanctioning a $100,000 wire payment to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, immediately before the attacks."
You can see why Edmonds had to be silenced for "diplomatic reasons." As though diplomatic (read: business) relationships are more important than national security. Let me give you one more snip from this incredible article (minus the censorship):
"Khan was close to Ahmad and the ISI. While running Pakistan's nuclear programme, he became a millionaire by selling atomic secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea. He also used a network of companies in America and Britain to obtain components for a nuclear programme.
Khan caused an alert among western intelligence agencies when his aides met Osama Bin Laden. "We were aware of contact between A Q Khan's people and Al-Qaeda," a former CIA officer said last week. "There was absolute panic when we initially discovered this, but it kind of panned out in the end."
It is likely that the nuclear secrets stolen from the United States would have been sold to a number of rogue states by Khan.
Edmonds was later to see the scope of the Pakistani connections when it was revealed that one of her fellow translators at the FBI was the daughter of a Pakistani embassy official who worked for Ahmad. The translator was given top secret clearance despite protests from FBI investigators.
Edmonds says packages containing nuclear secrets were delivered by Turkish operatives, using their cover as members of the diplomatic and military community, to contacts at the Pakistani embassy in Washington.
Following 9/11, a number of the foreign operatives were taken in for questioning by the FBI on suspicion that they knew about or somehow aided the attacks.
Edmonds said the State Department official once again proved useful. "A primary target would call the official and point to names on the list and say, 'We need to get them out of the US because we can't afford for them to spill the beans'," she said. "The official said that he would 'take care of it'."
Read the whole thing. I urge you to print it, email it, share it with everyone you know. Edmonds has said enough now that she may very likely go to prison, but she is a true patriot and she must have our support, in the media and also in the public sphere.

The Folly of Preemptive War in Asia

GWB should have begun his reading with the UN Charter and the US Constitution, both of which prohibit our country from waging a preemptive war. Only the Congress can declare war and authorize funds for it.
There is no cure for greed and hate. If these emotions make war a necessary evil, then we must prepare for perpetual conflict. This is the creed of the military/industrial complex, which has ruled the USA since the 1950’s.
To me moderate Islamists accept our bribes and do not make threats against us while the radicals behave in the opposite manner. This can change in a minute because most Muslim nations are tribal and despotic. For this reason human rights is a foreign concept like democracy a tool for the colonialists.
The Muslims prefer the rule of a vile domestic tyrant over a benign foreign one.Typically, Asia absorbs invaders eventually becoming undifferentiated from the natives. Land war in Asia is complete folly for westerners.

And to the Republic for Which It Stands

Very much I agree with your sentiments, but your use of 'republic' made me sorrowful. To counter the USSR in 1950, Harry Truman resorted to Red Menace tactics to scare the Americans into profligate military spending. We lost our Republic to the lobbyists and the big spenders. The Republican candidates cringe at anything critical of the Administration. Cynically, the Democrats anticipate huge political gains from the defeat of our military and the collapse of our economy.
I would like to see a face off between Ron Paul and Barack Obama. Both men with a positive agenda for the country, we would win no mtter which man won.
This would recall 1952 Dwight David Eisenhower versus Adlai E Stevenson.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friends for Peace

My Bedouin friends outnumber my Jewish ones. By nature, I respect the individuality of everyone I meet. Any friendship that develops is by mutual consent and effort.
When the USA bombed Gadaffi, my Gazan work crew saved my life by hiding me from the other Arabs on site. When two terrorists opened fire on King George Street, I hit the deck with every other unarmed Jew in the vicinity.
The perpetual war between Israelis and Palestinians only proves that we are not any better [or worse] than any other battling groups on the planet.
The journey to peace starts when one person discovers his humanity and begins to look for that quality in another human being.
In every society the good people vastly outnumber the evil ones. Unfortunately, the evil-doers are much more organized and better able to pursue their selfish desires.

Evil Jewish Acts?

Evil Jewish Acts

In 1938 Gandhi advised ALL Jews to accede to the Nazi desire to exterminate them. This advice came from his experience in India where it met with remarkable success. In this Ghandhi seriously underestimated the ability and will of the Nazi death apparatus.There were 153000 Nazis at work in the death camps. The estimate that 'only' 371000 Jews died in the camps suggests great inefficiency by the Germans.After the war 600000 Jewish Holocaust Survivors immigrated to Israel. Using the low death figure, one might conclude that two-thirds of Jews evaded the Gestapo for six years.The New England Medical Journal now claims that 'only' 151000 Iraqis died due to the US invasion. They claim that 4/5ths of all deaths were from natural causes.The British medical journal Lancet updated the violent deaths every week during the war to arrive at the estimate of 1.2 millions killed.Statistics lie according to the predilections of the statisticians, or the people who were paying them.Any minority group will exaggerate the damage done to it by those in power. The Gazans equate their present plight to genocide. If the Israelis desired this, they could easily have accomplished this in a bloody morning.The Arabs have not controlled Palestine since the year 1250 AD.Jewish terrorist groups such as the Stern Gang fought the then ruling power the British. The Jews executed the standard terror tactics well known in many circles.The Jews were neither the first nor the last people to stake out a territory.Why are they singled out for inspection?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Seeking Justice

God gave us a Bible worthy of study for thousands of years. Still, we have many scholars who kidnap children and urge the government to wage preemptive war.
We have the Internet to relate the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts to the McCarran Act and to the present HR1955.
We all know what happens when we elect despots with visions of Empire.
We lack not for information, but for the moral courage to seek justice.

Administration Suppresses Evidence to Avoid Gallows

Administration Moves to Escape the Gallows
The vast majority of office holders in both parties have committed crimes against humanity during which wrongful deaths occurred. Voting for a preemptive war and funding it would hang them twice over for violating the UN Charter and our Constitution. We could execute them a fourth time for treason.Nobody in power would vote for prosecution and execution if those would include him.When you come right down to it, most leaders in most countries also deserve execution. Ours are far from the worst.
The 9/11 tragedy could have led to numerous prosecutions, if the 911 Commission had done its job.Unable to discourage the public outcry over the cover-up, the Administration’s Jane Harmon has introduced HR 1955 to quash free speech.
A special target for Jane is the, which is an assembly of 271 architects and engineers. They have put forth a plethora of new evidence about 911.Their reports urge the Congress to examine the evidence. At the Homeland Security hearings last year several lunks did not offer any arguments to counter the evidence. Instead, they tried to link the ae911truth group to a number of known terrorist groups.
This old time McCarthy ploy still works among the hateful simpletons. If 1955 passes, they will discourage free discourse by sending dissenters to prison.

Same Old Story in Gaza

Old Troubles with Gaza

The Gazans have failed to get the point of Israeli actions over the past few years. The high fence that separates the sovereign nations put the message into concrete. The Israelis want no contact with Gaza whatsoever.
Here is a good understanding of Palestinian feelings on the matter.

“Israel, despite its airstrikes and bloody incursions, has been unable to halt the rocket fire from Gaza or free Cpl. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured in the summer of 2006. Continued collective abuse and starvation will not break Hamas, which was formed, in large part, in response to Israel's misguided policies and mounting repression. There will, in fact, never be Israeli-Palestinian stability or a viable peace accord now without Hamas' agreement. And the refusal of the Bush administration to intercede, to move Israel toward the only solution that can assure mutual stability, is tragic not only for the Palestinians but ultimately Israel.
And so it goes on. The cycle of violence that began decades ago, that turned a young Palestinian refugee with promise and talent into a militant and finally a martyr, is turning small boys today into new versions of what went before them. Olmert, Bush's vaunted partner for peace, has vowed to strike at Palestinian militants "without compromise, without concessions and without mercy," proof that he and the rest of his government have learned nothing. It is also proof that we, as the only country with the power to intervene, have become accessories to murder.”
Excerpt from

Before nationhood the Palestinians had an arguable case. The world owed them a living as amends for their suffering under occupation. They had a right to resist the occupiers by any means possible.
After Israel withdrew and democratic elections took place, the people became a nation with responsibilities for her actions.
Instead, they elected terrorists to represent them.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sleeping in My Mercedes Benz

Sleeping in My Mercedes Benz

Watching little TV, I can't say I've missed the writers. By the time they return the recession will be in full swing.
Perhaps, they will find a new profession like building mud brick adobe houses. Mudslinging is their forte I understand.
Still, my horse is behind my cart.
Israel drafted me before I was able to make money writing. After a few weeks dodging rockets in Lebanon, they made me a truck driver.
My truck is much roomier than a Mercedes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Terrorism is Extortion on a National Level

Lebanon: From Lebanon, Green Resistance, calls for just that. Resistance. What does that mean? “the act or power of resisting, opposing, or withstanding” … and “the capacity of an organism to defend itself against harmful environmental agents”Gaza is in darkness. Where is our cry? Where is our resistance? Still in Lebanon, Ibn Bint Jbeil posts a number of paintings and cartoons to drive home the suffering in Gaza. He also writes: Gaza, Palestine, the largest concentration camp on Earth, is today under the most brutal, inhumane, genocidal siege. May God protect and bless them.

Terrorism is extortion at a national level. Essentially, the writer assumes for the Palestinians the Israeli reality for the past 60 years.
Israel is the nation surrounded by hostile neighbors since 1948. The Arabs threaten to kill all the Jews [genocide].
If the Palestinians had opted for peaceful economic development, they would have no need for the beggar bowl tactic.

Losing a Preemptive War

Still in Egypt, Zeinobia laments Egypt's role (or lack of) in dealing with the crisis. She complains:
I will start with the bitter fact that the Egyptian role as leading country in the Arab world , as if Egypt does not care I found today that Saudi Arabia is calling for immediate urgent Arab summit in Cairo to discuss what is going in Gaza for Siege , the Saudi Arabia is the one that is calling for immediate summit , not Egypt , Egypt is the one that should call for this summit immediately , with my all respect to Saudi Arabia.
On Gaza, the blogger writes:
Now let's go to Gaza , one of the worst things ever in the problem is that Egypt is exporting natural gas to Israel for the cheapest price ever that created a loss to us where the people in Gaza are in terrible siegeAlready the least thing Egypt can do is to open the borders and send immediate medical aids to the Great people of Gaza who hided our soldiers and officers in 1967 ..People shame on the world and shame on us .Gaza has no light or power in the middle of terrible winter. This is a conspiracy to get rid not only from Hamas but from the people of Gaza ,these people are suffering in the worst way ever.

If Gaza is not self-sufficient, it was rather foolish of her to attack preemptively the fourth strongest military establishment in the world. When my stepson was much younger, he succeeded with a similar tactic. He spat into the family Coca Cola bottle so none of the others would drink from it. When a neighbor attacked me and ripped my shirt, I opened it more widely to benefit my case before the Police.
After Israel used Eastern European laborers to replace Arabs, a number of them wanted their old jobs back. A number of fathers lost the rights to welfare for their four wives. The Arab States provided the final setback by reducing grants-in-aid across the boards. With massive walls in place, the final Israeli step was to withdraw from the territory. Everybody in the region would have been better off if both sides had completely ignored one another.
No Israeli administration would survive another concession for a peace that will never materialize.

The Folly of Preemptive War

Egypt: Hossam Al Hamalawy, from Egypt, posts an email he received from Mohammad Omar, in Palestine. The message says:
Where to start…, what to talk about…? The crippling electricity shortages, affecting hospitals as well as civilians? The air strikes & on-going, daily bombings by the Israeli army, their indiscriminate targeting of civilians and police stations…? Israel ’s non-accidental, enforced starvation of 1.5 million people by closing off ALL borders and not allowing in even UN aid, let alone basic medicinal, food, and construction needs…?Shortages of fuel have re-surfaced in Gaza : most of Gaza has no electricity and even more importantly, the shortage of medicine in Palestinian hospitals continues to increase, with the Ministry of Health reporting a looming humanitarian catastrophe.Or should I begin with the bomb which just hit a wedding close to the Ministry of Interior building in Gaza City , with 15 apartment buildings within the bomb’s target range? One woman was killed and 47 others were injured –mostly children and women who had been inside their homes or playing on the street!!

At some point or other every nation must choose between guns and butter. Do we introduce our kids to classical music or to bus bombing? Do we pursue economic development, or do we invade another country to steal her property.
The people of Gaza have chosen guns, bombing and invasion. If they had succeeded in murdering all Israelis, they would be enjoying the standard of living bought by our toil and industry.
Violence is its own reward.If the Americans haven't realized this, how can we expect the Palestinians to smarten up?

When Did the War Stop?

From Palestine, Angelita explains the situation on the ground: Sometimes there aren’t enough words to describe what we are witnessing and what the news keep shoving down our throats every morning till we reached a point that nothing surprises us anymore, but what is happening in Gaza comes as a shock that leaves the majority of us speechless and helpless …In a time and life that human rights are becoming a major factor in how societies are governed … in a world that the international community is judging the backward Middle East because of honor crimes, poverty, violence against women and primitive culture … the same community is standing still to watch as Gaza is being crucified and executed … it is cold and they don’t have heat … they are cut out from the rest of the world … and as well as they are dying by bullets and military attacks; they are also being killed by hunger and cold …
I choose to raise my voice to say STOP … ENOUGH … Life is not a game and just because they reside in Gaza … it does not make their lives of any less value than any other human in any part of the world … Excerpt from Since it was zero degrees Centigrade in my flat last night, I understand Angelita's plight. Two summers ago she opened a preemptive attack on me designed to enlist her friends to drive me into the sea. Although her cohorts murdered [preemptive war by definition is murder] hundreds of my countrymen, they did not achieve their savage aims.Thus invaded and violated, we would have been within our rights to retaliate to the fullest extent.Angelita, you are lucky to be alive. If the Iraqis would have massacred the American invaders, the world would have cheered. Why is there a different standard for Israelis?Under three blankets I am toasty warm at night. They are cheaper than starting wars.

Monday, January 21, 2008

No Thanks Mr Gandhi

No Thanks Mr Gandhi
By Rabbi Avi Shafran, Aish

In a 1938 essay, Mohandas ("Mahatma") Gandhi, the spiritual and political leader of the Indian independence movement, counseled Jews in Nazi Germany to neither flee nor resist but rather offer themselves up to be killed by their enemies, since their "suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy."
When all hope is lost, a Jew about to be killed "al Kiddush Hashem" -- as a Jewish martyr -- is indeed to reach for serenity, even happiness, at the opportunity to give up his life because of who he is. When Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, the great Lithuanian Jewish religious leader and scholar, was murdered by Hitler's henchmen in 1941, he reportedly told the students about to be killed with him that "In Heaven it appears that they deem us to be righteous because our bodies have been chosen to atone for the Jewish people... In this way we will save the lives of our brethren overseas... We are now fulfilling the greatest commandment... The very fire that consumes our bodies will one day rebuild the Jewish people."
But Jewish martyrdom is not something to be courted. And so Mr. Gandhi's advice for Jews during the Holocaust was, even if consonant with his personal beliefs, from Judaism's point of view profoundly wrong.
And Gandhi's advice was even more disturbing in light of his admission, in that same essay, that the "cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me." Jews, he said, should "make... their home where they are born." It is, moreover, he went on, "inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs."
Apples, they say, don't fall far from trees. A rotten one fell with a loud splat recently over at The Washington Post. On a weblog -- "On Faith" -- sponsored by that paper in conjunction with Newsweek Magazine, Arun Gandhi, a grandson of Mohandas and co-founder of the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the University of Rochester, opined that "the Jews today" are intent on making Germans feel guilty for the Holocaust (which he chose to spell with a lower-case "h") and that they insist that "the whole world must regret what happened to the Jews."
"The world did feel sorry," he reminded his readers, "for the episode." But "when an individual or a nation refuses to forgive and move on, the regret turns into anger."
Ah, yes, that unpleasant "episode," more than 60 years ago. And those Jews still can't bring themselves to forgive the Nazis.
Like his grandfather was, Mr. Gandhi petit-fils is also concerned with Israel. Addressing those who defend the Jewish State's security barrier and use of weapons to fight terrorism, he challenged: "[Y]ou believe that you can create a snake pit -- with many deadly snakes in it -- and expect to live in the pit secure and alive?"
And so the man of peace, grandson of the same, reached the conclusion that actions like Israel's "created a culture of violence, and that Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity."
Interesting. Although his own concern about Jews was not exactly their militarism, Hitler similarly saw them as jeopardizing humanity's survival. Well, whatever.
The primary focus of your ire should have been not those living in the snake pit, but rather the snakes themselves.
Grandson Gandhi subsequently apologized for his "poorly worded post." In the course of his apology he even took care to capitalize "Holocaust." But his apology itself, unfortunately, consisted solely of his regret at having implied that "the policies of the Israeli government are reflective of the views of all Jewish people." Many Jews, he explained, "are as concerned as I am by the use of violence for state purposes..."
Well, thank you, Mr. Gandhi. But no thanks. I cannot speak for all of the Jewish people, of course, but for my part I must decline your apology. Not because I bear you any grudge or ill will and certainly not because I am hard-hearted. I don't think I have ever rejected an apology in my life, until now.
It's not because I am blinded by some ethnic rage over the unpleasantness of that World War II episode. And not because I am a knee-jerk defender of Israel in whatever her leaders decide to do; I am not.
No, I reject your apology simply because you seem to have missed the entire point of why your original post was so offensive -- frankly, revolting. It is astounding that you still don't seem to realize your insult and error.
They lie in where you directed your words. You are welcome to criticize Israeli decisions, even the wisdom of Israel's establishment itself, if you agree with your grandfather's views. But if your ultimate concerns are in fact peace and humanity's survival, then in a world where Jews are regularly attacked simply for being Jews and Israelis simply for being Israelis, where Jewish tombstones are defaced and broken, where Arab countries will not permit Israelis to enter their borders and Arab textbooks teach children to hate Jews as a matter of religious and cultural obligation, where a United Nations routinely ignores murder, mayhem and unspeakable cruelty in scores of countries but just as routinely condemns Israel for defending herself, the primary focus of your ire should have been not those living in the snake pit, but rather the snakes themselves.

From the Second Bush Inaugural Speech

The Second Inaugural

“We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.
We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people.
America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.”

A Time to Break Silence

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
By Rev. Martin Luther King 4 April 1967
Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City
[Please put links to this speech on your respective web sites and if possible, place the text itself there. This is the least well known of Dr. King's speeches among the masses, and it needs to be read by all]
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.
The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.
Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.
Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.
In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.
I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.
Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.
Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.
The Importance of Vietnam
Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.
Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.
My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.
For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:
O, yes,I say it plain,America never was America to me,And yet I swear this oath--America will be!
Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.
As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission -- a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for "the brotherhood of man." This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the "Vietcong" or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?
Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.
This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.
Strange Liberators
And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.
They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.
Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not "ready" for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.
For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.
Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.
After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators -- our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change -- especially in terms of their need for land and peace.
The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese --the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged.
They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one "Vietcong"-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them -- mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.
What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?
We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political force -- the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?
Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.
Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front -- that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the north" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.
How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them -- the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?
Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.
So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.
When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.
Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.
At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.
This Madness Must Cease
Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.
This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:
"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."
If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.
The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.
In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:
End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.
Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.
Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.
Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.
Protesting The War
Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.
As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.
There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.
In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.
This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.
The People Are Important
These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."
A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.
This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept -- so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force -- has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:
Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word."
We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.
We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.
As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:
Once to every man and nationComes the moment to decide,In the strife of truth and falsehood,For the good or evil side;Some great cause, God's new Messiah,Off'ring each the bloom or blight,And the choice goes by foreverTwixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper,Yet 'tis truth alone is strong;Though her portion be the scaffold,And upon the throne be wrong:Yet that scaffold sways the future,And behind the dim unknown,Standeth God within the shadowKeeping watch above his own.
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New Israeli Censorship Law in Progress

Israel Knesset Passes New Censorship Law
Gilad Notan, Global Voices

Israeli web culture is known for having an active talkback (web commenting) scene. Every major news site allows users to submit comments for every single one of its stories. Israeli culture at its best and worst thrives through discussions held within these spaces; discussions which are planned to fall under future censorship, according to the Talkback Law, proposed by Knesset member Israel Hasson. The proposal passed initial voting in the Knesset yesterday, January 16th.
According to the proposal, a popular site, defined as one with an average of 50,000 hits or more per day, will be considered a “newspaper” and thus liable for the damage or harm caused to a person as a result from its user generated content (i.e. - comments). Ironically, the web post describing this case, published yesterday on the popular ynet news site, has already received over 200 comments.
Hasson's reasoning for the importance of such a law:
“It is unreasonable that a response, possibly anonymous, sent to a newspaper, will be held under the editor's responsibility, but a response submitted to the online portal of that same newspaper will be under nobody's authority… We must not turn the network into a vandalizing, evil tool.”
Gal Mor's recent post describes Hasson's argument as coarse and lacking reference to implications on the basic right for freedom of speech:
Israel Hasson's proposal, which imposes criminal responsibility on commentators, editors and operators of large websites, passed the preliminary vote today. 29 Knesset members supported and only two opposed this evil law proposal. Evil - not because those who slander will tremble before writing now, but because of the lack of reference to the thin texture of freedom of speech. The legislator's coarse treatment of the internet is similar to that of a Beitar (sports group) fan's visit to a museum.
It is hard to claim that Shelly Yachimovich, who opposed the proposal along with Gideon Sa'ar, saved the Knesset's dignity, not even that of the Labor party. But her vote and reasonings are definitely worthy of respect: “the internet works by a different code of conduct from those of traditional media. True, it is not pleasant to have slanderous talkbacks pointed at you, even I feel unpleasant sometimes, but not enough for me to lower the gavel as a legislator. I suggest to remove this proposal from the daily agenda. It harms freedom of speech and will not be effective. The immense advantages of the web outweighs its disadvantages by far.”
It is necessary now to think of an effective response to protest the continuation of this legislative process. For instance, set one day when all the websites block the option to insert a talkback in order to demonstrate what will happen if this proposal is accepted.
UvalS writes about privacy and posts a link to an online petition:
Part of what I like about the internet is anonymity… I do not like being forced to identify or expose of my information on the web. But I do it when I want to, and that is the big difference. No one forces me to identify and give my private information. And here essentially is your problem, Israel Hasson.
I don't really believe in petitions, but to sit and do nothing will never help. Nana created an online petition against the Talkback Law here.
Jonathan Klinger's argument notes the government's attempt to make private entities liable to censor data, and warns that a future implementation of this law will diminish freedom of speech and conversation, as in Iran:
I'd like to emphasize two major topics: death to the culture of discussion on the one hand, and forcing websites to report the amount of traffic on the other. It is clear to everyone that filtering content on the web leads to censorship. It is clear that forcing websites to be liable, will lead to them not supporting the conversation. I do not believe that, by Hasson's words, “we have progressed today a substantial step towards a culture of conversation and mutual honor in the State of Israel”. The only advancement that we saw today, after the approval of this law proposal in the government's committee, is towards a country where censorship is operated by private entities for the government… We will all pay the price for this censorship!
The real blow in rights is that of the websites and their right of property: they will be obliged to report to a government apparatus the number of hits on their pages, the information of their editors and their information stored in a site list. This is substantial damage to one's right of expression, especially when the person does not have the ability to open a website that will act as a stage because he/she will be subject to sign up with a government official. Israel will be like Iran, where website owners must register with the government and be fully liable (for their content).
Hanan Cohen describes his feeling of fatigue, constantly trying to protect Israeli democracy:
… I have a feeling that every time we shout about a new topic, from subject to subject, from law proposal to the next, we become tired. The struggle over a law or against censorship drown us with the little details. And in the meanwhile, the general trend is increasing. We need to start talking about the general trend and point to the forest, not just the trees.
Earlier in his post, Hanan relates to various law proposals which have been brought to the discussion board during the current government's reign in power:
The Talkback LawThe Internet Censorship LawCommunication information Law (Big Brother Law)Censorship during the second Lebanon warDaniel Friedman's reform in the legal systemReduction of the strike's legitimacy as a method for protest
In the meanwhile, the Hebrew blogosphere braces for a fight. Various commentary cartoons and slogans have already been created to draw activists attention to the implications of the Talkback Proposal. Following are two images. The first, a slogan, designed by Liz Cugan and posted on Ma'ariv's site. This translates to “Talkback Now” and relates to a well-known campaign in Israel, rallying for “Peace Now”. The following image is designed with similar font, colors and wording.

The illustration below was created by Roni, describing the possible result of posting comments on a site.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Human Condition in Five Easy Pieces

Out of the Past

Those of you who waste a portion of your lives pondering the human condition will welcome these five motion pictures. Long before the neocons overthrew the government, Hollywood film auteur had the human race all figured out.
“Out of the Past” leading lady Jane Greer as Kathy illustrates the 1947 feminist question by shooting her three leading men.
The mistress of gambler Kirk Douglas [Witt], she punctures his stomach with lead and escapes with his $40,000. A glutton for punishment, Witt hires private detective Robert Mitchum [Jeff] to bring Kathy and the money back to the fold.
One look at the stunning Kathy persuades Jeff to join her side. The two leave Acapulco for northern California. By chance, Jeff’s former partner Steve Brody sights them and follows Kathy to the lovers’ hideaway. After Steve demands the $40,000 [and not Kathy], she shoots him to death, runs away in the car and leaves Jeff to bury the body.
Jeff changes his name, opens a gas station and courts a local small town virgin who favors him over the sheriff.
One of Witt’s henchmen spies Jeff pumping gas. Witt offers Jeff a new job to get incriminating tax evasion evidence from an unscrupulous lawyer. Especially after Kathy re-appears as Witt’s mistress, Jeff fears all of them are using him as a scapegoat.

Orson Welles directs the 1948 “A Touch of Evil” starring as the corrupt sheriff. Fond of strangling witnesses and framing innocent suspects, Orson conducts a one-man border war with Mexico.
The supporting cast includes Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and Marlene Dietrich with Dennis Weaver, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Joi Lansing making cameo appearances.
If you don’t like movies, you can obtain similar wisdom from two years study at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
An updated DVD version contains Welles’ original edits foolishly cut by Universal.

Directed in 1966 by Gillo Pontecorvo, “The Battle of Algiers” will tell you everything you will ever need to know about the Middle East, the Arabs and the colonialist Europeans.
This monumental film presents all participants as human beings with nary a slip into stereotyping or propaganda.

In 1948 George Orwell wrote the definitive 21st century novel. A 2008 re-reading will disclose Orwell a prophet or the leader of world events. However we consider him, he is right on the money.
The two filmed versions of “1984” leave the viewer with the uncanny feeling that Orwell is living and writing in 2008.

“Blade Runner” [1981] is the logical extension of “1984” with human beings in a smog-filled condition of slavery.
Robots [replicants] are virtually the only beings who display human emotions.

Certainly, there are at least 250 other films that describe the human condition. The IMBd list contains 250 all-time favorites and every film buff can add any number of his choices.
I humbly suggest my five picks as a starting point for young people.

Homeless Veterans Number 200,000

Homeless Veterans
Paul Rieckhoff, HuffPost

Already, an estimated 1,500 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are homeless or at risk for homelessness. They are joining the increasing ranks of veterans who are homeless.
Bill, here are the facts. Veterans represent one-third of the adult homeless population in this country, and that number is rising. While almost 200,000 homeless veterans line the nation's streets every night, almost twice as many experience homelessness at some point throughout the course of a year. Essentially, we have the population of Des Moines, Iowa or Montgomery, Alabama "sleeping under bridges."
This is a national disgrace. As Americans we should be ashamed and outraged that the brave men and women of our Armed Forces are being abandoned under bridges, not denying their existence.