Sunday, July 31, 2005

Jonathan Barriga--Conscientious Objector and His Fight with the Marine Corps

Jonathan Barriga--Conscientious Objector and His Fight with the Marine Corps
By: Jack Dalton

Jonathan was a young man in high school when the Marine recruiter approached him about joining the Marines “Delayed Entry” program. That’s where a young person under-age and still in school, with parents permission, can sign on the bottom line, supposedly receive an enlistment bonus, then once out of high school straight off to Boot Camp. That’s pretty much how it happened with Jonathan; who is now at the Marine Corps Base, Camp Geiger, N.C. This is the very same base
Trent Helmkamp was at, and where he underwent an outrageous ten month ordeal after submitting paperwork as a Conscientious Objector. Not only is Jonathan at the very same base, but he is also in the very same Separation Barracks and under the very same command as was Trent.

After 8 months, the conscientious objector application Jonathan submitted according to all military law, rules and regulations, Jonathans command has not even begun to process his application. It would seem that today’s Army does not think its command structure has to follow its own laws, rules and regulations when it comes to those who stand as conscientious objectors. In fact just two weeks ago, Jonathan’s new Commanding Officer told Jonathan, “you might as well start training as your C.O. application is never going to be approved.”

The military is really slick, especially the Marine Corps (that’s the branch of military I was in) in how they not only approach these kids in school, but in who they have approach them and their parents. The “how and who” in Jonathan’s case really points out just how “slick” military recruiters are. Jonathan’s parents immigrated to this country from Ecuador. Jonathan’s mother does not speak English and his father speaks broken English. Jonathan is first generation born in this country.

When Jonathan’s parents answered the knock at their front door, there in the doorway stood a tall, smartly dressed Marine in full dress uniform—a most impressive sight. There was no language barrier as the Marine recruiter that was sent to convince Jonathan’s parents to give their permission for Jonathan to enlist in the Delayed Entry program also had immigrated to this country from Ecuador. Get the picture?

This fellow “countryman” the Marine Corps sent to hustle Jonathan and his parents did a really good job at it. After the recruiter made a lot of promises and guarantees that, to paraphrase, “I will be there to watch over him; those of us from Ecuador after all have to stick together.” This recruiter then went on to tell Jonathan and his parents, “as an electrician, you will not be going into combat or even be traing for combat.” Jonathan and his parents signed the Delayed Entry papers behind these statements of this recruiter.

Jonathan and his parents had just been conned and hustled by one of the Marine Corps so-called “finest.” At the same time this Marine Corps recruiter had just committed the Corps to a verbal contract in terms of what Jonathan would and would not be doing. And, yes, I know that verbal contracts don’t hold water with the military. Hell, today, written contracts don’t hold water in today’s military from what I have been seeing. But Jonathan and his parents didn’t know that. They believed what the recruiter told them, which under the circumstances is understandable.

Jonathan was now in the Marines Delayed Entry program. According to Jonathan, “I joined the Marines because of my recruiter’s good way of talking.” But then Jonathan told me, “Before leaving for Boot Camp I got this feeling like I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I told my recruiter I didn’t want to go no more, that I think it’s not for me.” Rather than take the chance of a bad fitness report that would prevent promotion, Jonathan’s recruiter told him, “…I can’t; it’s too late.” So off to Boot Camp went Jonathan.

When Jonathan arrived at Marine Boot Camp, things went from bad to worse for him. According to Jonathan, “…that’s when it hit me, I’ve been lied to.” Jonathan went on to say, “everything that was said to us recruits was ‘kill’…I remember plenty of times while getting disciplined, the drill instructor would be screaming we need to be ready and tougher; that we need to be able to kill a little kid…coming at you and have no physical or mental feeling towards it and carry on.”


For crying out loud, Jonathan is still a “kid” himself! Kids with guns killing other kids with guns; and that is called “spreading freedom and democracy” by the megalomaniacs in Washington, D.C.—the people I refer to as Bush & Co and that my friend Dr Steven Jonas at The Political Junkies calls the “Georgites.”

Jonathan’s conscientious objection crystallized even more when the time came to train with the M16. Jonathan says it best: “The force and power that the weapon contained was incredible. I held in my hands what can determine a human beings fate as well as mine. The severity of killing became more apparent when we were trained to shoot at targets in the shape of human beings. Although it was not made of flesh and blood, it made me feel depressed. I actually talked to my drill instructor on several occasions telling him, I couldn’t continue with further training. I didn’t fully express my objection to war or killing due to being intimidated by what would happen if I did. None the less, he [drill instructor] told me to “suck it up” and that I can’t [stop training] because I signed a piece of paper called a “contract.”

When Jonathan graduated from Boot Camp at Parris Island in Nov. 2004, he went home for leave. By the time he got home he was in a state of total depression and a lot of stress. It was while he was at home on leave that Jonathan filled out the military’s forms to file as a conscientious objector. When his leave was over he reported to his next duty station at Camp Geiger, N.C. which is right next door to Camp Lejeune, where AWOL’s and “suicides” are increasing in numbers. As soon as Jonathan got to Camp Geiger on Dec. 7. 2004, he filed his paperwork as a conscientious objector.

8 months later, Jonathan’s application is still sitting on some Colonels desk. Two of the people at Camp Geiger that held up Trent Helmkamp’s CO paperwork and gave him such a bad time were the same people that would be handling Jonathans application, Maj. Laws and 1st Sgt Watkins—it you remember it was
1st Sgt Watkins that called Trent a “F…..g faggot conscientious objector.”

No wonder Jonathan was so intimidated and did not fully express his objection to war—he was in the very same Separation Barracks as was Trent and Jonathan saw on a daily basis what the Marine Corps subjected Trent to after he made application as a C.O. 4 different young men in those barracks have attempted suicide in the past 4 or 5 months—something is seriously wrong at Camp Geiger and Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Over the months Jonathan has had three interviews and all three of those that interviewed Jonathan all have said the very same thing: “…all three have found me to be a conscientious objector within the military’s regulations and meaning.” However, Jonathan was told by Maj. Laws, “my investigating officer I appointed recommended you for a discharge but that doesn’t mean that I have to.” That was Jan. 2005. Since then Jonathan has heard nothing other than what his new commanding office told him two weeks ago, “you might as well start training as your application is never going to be approved.”

Someone I have gotten to know over the past year, and who is an active duty high-ranking officer with 26 years of service under his belt, wrote to me just today and relayed a conversation he had with a British officer. The conversation was about “conscientious objectors” how they are handled in this country and how they are handled in Briton. It is more than worth looking at and then taking note of: “While In England a few weeks ago, I was talking to fellow RN officers I know about Trent, and they were dumbfounded when I told them Trent could not get out on the basis of his beliefs. They told me Royal Marines who objected to killing would be released and without stigma.” Could our military “leaders” learn from that or what?

Here in this nation, as a direct result of the total top-down insanity unleashed by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, and the rest of that totalitarianistic mob of Mayberry Machiavellis’, people who apply as a conscientious objectors are turned into “criminals” and I use that loosely as the only criminals are the ones in charge of this Twilight Zone episode.

“Is this what we have allowed this nation to become
? Lives that are not our own, but the states to do with as it will when it will? That’s not an all volunteer military, that’s called forced indenture—once it was called slavery.”

This nation set up the process by where those in uniform that refuse to participate in war as a matter of moral principle and conscience, may make application as a conscientious objector. The procedures and process are very well spelled out for the applicant and the military. The problem comes in due to the simple fact the military uses its own laws, rules and regulations to create a major obstacle and stumbling block for those that make application as a C.O. Let’s hear it for the “rule of law” which does not seem to exist in today’s politicized military.

At one time in this nation individuals had the right to choose how to live their own lives; what they would do; where they would work; what kind of work they would do; at least until now. If, when after starting a “job” the individual decided, nope, this is not for me, they could quit and move on from there. Now we are in a situation where a person that goes into the military full of John Wayne movies (what can I say, I’m old), highly trained military recruiters who know how to get inside a kids head and
computer generated war games gets confronted with the reality of the military and its mission says, “nope, I cannot do this,” and then is criminalized for not wanting to kill or even learn how to kill.

For decades we have been told that “serving in the military is the highest form of national duty and service.” And for decades people have enlisted in great numbers to stand against all the so-called “enemies” our government has told us wanted our national downfall. In fact that was what motivated me to enlist in the Marine Corps behind the Cuban missile “crisis” in Oct of 1962—gotta stop our “enemies.”

Some of us, once we got to boot camp, understood that there were some people who just did not belong in uniform. Some were not physically able and no amount of training or “motivation platoons” would change that. Others were not mentally or emotionally fit for military service. That in no way is meant to impugn those not mentally or emotionally fit to be in the military—it’s just a statement of fact. And young Jonathan Berriga definitely does not belong in the Marine Corps. So why won’t those in command and control at Camp Geiger just do what the investigating officers recommended and discharge Jonathan?

The following from an active duty Naval Captain may have more than just a little to do with why not: “…ill-equipped to make a determination with respect to an individual's desire for status as a Conscientious Objector. Military Officers are not trained to make these kinds of assessments. More importantly, line officers are compromised from the start and should not be placed in this position because a positive endorsement on their part is currently culturally unacceptable in the officer corps generally and could impugn the credibility and professionalism of the Investigating Officer specifically - especially in the Marine Corps where the "warrior ethos" is strongly espoused at commissioning and reinforced daily thereafter. Officers will deny this bias and publicly, firmly deny that they are to act as expected. Yet we cannot deny that competition for promotion is keen and an officer's decision to be supportive of a Conscientious Objector while on the cusp of further promotion is an extraordinarily difficult prospect just prior to his 20th year of service when vested in retirement.


These are especially difficult decisions when many must ensure they will be retained at mid-career and have a retirement for the benefit of their family - generally, no blemish on an officer's service record is sustainable.

I am not suggesting that comments on an officer supporting an applicant for Conscientious Objector status would appear in detail on his annual Fitness Report, but his judgment might well be questioned and marks that are less than superior in any category will cause promotion board members to reject an officer when most competitive officers present perfect records. Grade inflation has been and remains a well documented problem within the services and has caused several "course corrections" to be made to governing instructions for officer fitness reports and enlisted evaluations. With a very limited number of promotion spots available, it is difficult to blame an officer for not wanting to "stand-out" from his peers for any reason other than superior performance in an "acceptable" realm - such as combat.”

“Since most all records presented before promotion boards are those of superior performers, board members must hunt for any fault, weakness or some data-point that is "less-than-perfect" to distinguish between those eligible for promotion. Of course, as you know, not everyone can be promoted as officer corps manning is limited (by rank) by Congress so even small discrepancies in an officer's record can make the difference between being promoted or not. Some might consider the process cut-throat, or Darwinian or just simply unfair; but whatever you call it, it's the process we have, like it or not. Nevertheless, we can not blame the Investigating Officers for the environment they are subjected to, but we must understand the impact the system might have on an officer's decision process and eventually, his clear-minded willingness to render a recommendation for approval.”

“Additionally, it would not surprise me if the officers would prefer that Conscientious Objector applicants simply go on Unauthorized Absence and eventually become Deserters rather than having to deal with the staff work associated with preparing and investigating the application for the desired status.”


”Separations for reasons of misconduct are, after all, a "face-saving" alternative to admitting that our recruiting process does not properly disclose, in sufficient detail, the ugliness of combat to young enlistees. Perhaps instead of handing out decals, tee-shirts, and other do-dads to potential recruits, the services should provide some kind of realistic portrayal of the Services' combat performance expectations by MOS before the contract is signed. I simply do not believe proper, full-disclosure is provided our recruits. Certainly no "amnesty program" exists at Boot Camp to excuse recruits who begin to understand better what is expected of them personally after they are placed in training and then decide they can not live with some aspects of these requirements burdening their conscious for the rest of their lives. The value and right to a free conscious, after all, is what this is all about.”

The contract Jonathan signed as far as I am concerned is null and void. Bush & Co along with the military voided that contract by this war of choice, this war of aggression, this war against the peace in Iraq. As such, Jonathan has all the right in the world to be let out of the Marine Corps.

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace” is exactly what this nation is being led into by a relatively small group of hard core neo-cons with an army of pundits, religious zealots, corporate greed merchants and “Mayberry Machiavelli’s” comprised of: the Project for a New American Century; the Carlyle Group; the Heritage Foundation; the American Enterprise Institute; the Club for Growth; and the Federalist Society. All of whom are at the head of the BushCo parade attempting to redefine this nation.

This is by no means all that comprise the menagerie of megalomaniacs pulling the strings of “government.” But these “groups” are pretty much at the top of the heap of those that “help” formulate what the foreign and domestic policies emanating from the Bush administration and Congress will be. And have led this nation to where it is now today and it is due to the Bush & Co policies that have put Jonathan in the position he is in; it is those same policies that has caused
the imprisonment of Kevin Benderman for doing nothing more that declaring himself a conscientious objector.

Butler Shaffer sums things up rather nicely in his essay,
The Exploitation of Soldiers:

“Politically-structured societies wallow in lies and, in so doing, tear apart the fabric of decent social behavior. War, by its very nature, is sociopathic, as are those who plan for and execute the systematic slaughter of millions of persons. The idea of a "just" or "moral" war is so palpably absurd as to make even its suggestion a basis for questioning the sanity of its advocates. War makes "heroic" and "honorable" that which, if done privately, would render one a despicable criminal. We rightly condemn the serial killer who murders ten or twelve victims, while rewarding those who plot the political murders of hundreds of thousands with high political office or the Nobel Peace Prize!

It has been encouraging to observe, in recent months, the emergence of an apparent awareness among many American soldiers of the insanity of the war system, particularly as it has been playing out in Iraq. Soldiers have refused to obey orders that would send them on life-threatening missions; others have spoken out about the lack of adequate armor and protective equipment; still others have questioned the national purpose and/or morality of their participation in the killing of innocent people, particularly children. A number of soldiers have brought a lawsuit challenging the continuation of their service beyond the original commitment. Not surprising, National Guard officials announced that enlistments have fallen well below anticipated levels.”

Thru all of this I am absolutely certain of this: recruiters have absolutely no business hustling kids to join the military while they are in school. And the situation Jonathan is now faced with clearly points that out. On top of that, the “war” these kids are being trained to go fight is by all standards of international law, illegal on face value!

So why do we sit back and continue to allow young men like Jonathan, Trent among many others to be brutalized in the manner they are; why do we continue to sit by as men like Kevin Benderman are sent to prison only because they believe in the immorality of war and especially one like this in Iraq which was initiated on nothing but lies, manipulation and disinformation; and one that has absolutely nothing to do with defending or protecting this nation. If anything this Bush & Co war of choice has made this nation one great big target. Let those that started this mess as well as those that support it send their kids to go fight it and leave everyone else the hell alone! Especially the nation’s young people in school.

Free Kevin Benderman—Free Jonathan Barriga!

Addition reading:

As Recruiting Suffers, Military Reigns in Abuses at Boot Camp
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/072605O.shtml

Military Recruiters Teaching High School Classes

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/073005A.shtml

Center on Conscience and War
http://www.centeronconscience.org/

Military Families Speak Out
http://www.mfso.org/

Gold Star Families For Peace
http://www.gsfp.org/

Killology
http://www.killology.com/

Traprock Peace Center
http://traprockpeace.org/

Leave My Child Alone
http://www.leavemychildalone.org/

Child Victims of War
http://www.childvictimsofwar.org/content%20index%202.htm

Jack Dalton is a disabled Vietnam veteran an anti-war independent writer that lives in Portland, Or. and is published widely on the internet. His blog is
Jack’s Staright-Speak and his email address is jack_dalton@comcast.net










Saturday, July 30, 2005

Married Active Duty Marines Getting the Shaft--Again

Active Duty Military, Marines, Get the Shaft Once Again.

People are not as deaf, dumb and blind as the Department of War, the Pentagon, the military in general, thinks we are, or wishes we were. Even with the lowering of enlistment numbers and enlistment eligibility requirements, all branches are seriously missing their target numbers. Military age youth in this country hear the stories of how today's military eats its own in not so pretty ways. They see that in many ways today's military establishment is a real live version of Henry Kissinger's comment about, "people in the military are dumb animals to be used for our purposes." The following article from Military.Com's Marine Corps News, is but one more example how active duty Marines are getting the shaft while Bush & Co continue to demand the nation support the troops. Bush & Co have absolutely no idea, no concept of what that means.

I've seen the Marine Corps and the Army turn good, honest men of ethics, integrity and honor into "criminals" such as men like Kevin Benderman; I've spoken with young men the Marine Corps--the branch I was in--was brutalizing in multiple ways. Problem with that is simple, men like Kevin are the furthest thing from being a criminal as is possible to be, and those that withstand what the Corps throws at them and not budge from the principled stand they have taken--they are the people who show us all what courage and character are; they provide the very example of "moral leadership," as Norman Solomon so aptly put it.

The young people of military age hear the stories about the wounded coming back from Iraq that still have to pay for meals while being treated; they hear about all of the stop-loss; they hear about how the V.A. is not there for this nation's veterans; they hear about active duty having one pay screw up after another; and now they hear about married active duty having their off-base family housing allowance cut. Is it any wonder that this nation's youth no longer wants to serve in uniform? I could go on forever with this list of "they hear..." As I know you can, but I'll stop here so you can get to the article.--Jack

Some to Lose Hundreds in Pay Monday
Marine Corps News July 29, 2005
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Untold numbers of servicemembers residing off base will see their next paycheck shrink by as much as $250 -- and many of them may not even know the blow is coming.
(open the link here for the full, must read article; here is the full link also:
http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,74425,00.html )

Letters From Palestine--Phillip D'Onofrio

My good friend Doris Colmes introduced me to Phillip D’Onofrio about a year and a half ago. Phillip is another resident of Portland, Or. He is also one incredible man. Last year Phillip decided to go to Israel and Palestine. He wanted to see for himself what was really going on there. He had pretty much gotten tired and fed up with all the conflicting reports about the situation the Palestinians are faced with. The three months he was there Phillip went way past being an observer as more than once he put himself between Israeli troops and Palestinians—once coming real close to being shot when a bullet zinged past his head. A few days ago Phillip went back to try and be of some real help to the Palestinians but was not allowed back into Israel. Apparently they now consider Phillip, a peace activist, as a security threat. Below is the first of Phillips letters. As Phillip sends me updates and additional information I be posting them on the blog for your reading (dis)pleasure and to help Phillip inform the people of this nation the reality of what the Palestinians are facing by this countries 51st state—Israel.--Jack

Greetings from the Middle East
By: Phillip D’Onofrio
human_rights_international@msn.com

I apologize for not having written sooner. I left Portland Oregon on Tuesday July 26th, and arrived at the hotel in Amman Jordan about 26 hours later on July 27th.While waiting for my flight from Chicago to Amman I spotted a young man about in his late twenties waiting for the same flight. I took him to most likely be a contractor headed for Iraq. On the plane we sat one seat apart. In our dialog I learned that he, as I suspected, he was a security contractor with Blackwater in Iraq. He had just been home for two weeks leave to see his wife and two children and now he was returning for another three months. He seemed like a very kind and gentle young man, not the personality I would stereotype with his line of work. He believed that progress was being made, but then again I guess one would have to believe that to emotionally survive. I was reminded how nothing is black and white, either good or bad, or right or wrong. We all hold an aspect of the truth and most importantly it is our truth we hold on to.

I know my truth conflicts with my travel mates truth, I believe the invasion and occupation of Iraq is immoral and is a crime against humanity.

While waiting for the bus outside the airport in Amman my stereo typical contractor walked by; he was dirty and large with crooked teeth and carried himself with an air of arrogance. On the back of his t-shirt was a large American flag that matched the one on his hat. I reminded myself that this man too has a family and loved ones back home.

I was exhausted when I arrived at my hotel and took their last room, and it looked like their last room. Due to jet lag I slept little. In the middle of the night I lay and listened to the mosque's call to prayer. It is such a beautiful sound that reminds me of where I am.

In the morning (July 28) I got up at six, went trough all my belongings to insure I had nothing indicative of activism or supportive of Palestinians, and then packed my bag. I went to the not so busy street to find some breakfast. I purchased an egg sandwich for about 50 cents and returned to my room. I still wasn't sure what I was going to do. I was ready to head for the border and enter the West Bank, but on the other hand I was waiting for the internet to get working at the hotel so I could send an email to you all. By 9 I became impatient and called my Israeli contacts to let them know that I was going to enter and to be ready for a call from the immigrations.

My plan was simple and fool proof. I had an itinerary to justify my time in Israel and it included staying at several Israeli homes. I had their contact information and we were on the same page as far as the story went.At about 10 am I caught a service for 3 JD (about $2) which took about an hour to reach the border. Leaving Jordan was easy and calm with no hassles. At every stage I was kindly pointed in the appropriate direction, and the whole process took little time. I wish I could say the same about the entry into Israel.

Buses transport everyone across the approx 1/2 mile "no mans land" between Jordan and Israel. Once in Israel the scene is chaotic and confusing. We were unloaded off the bus and waited in "line" under the hot sun. First we are separated from our bags in a system much like checking your bags in at the airport. Then we moved inside where we waited to walk through a metal detector. It may seem like no big deal to walk through a metal detector but at the Allenby crossing this is far from reality. The line moves so slowly, the guards are abrasive and look down at us as though we are lesser of humans. After getting through the simple metal detector everyone waits in another line.

Waiting for us at the front of the line is this large machine that looks like a fancy metal detector. When my turn finally arrives a green light comes on and the machine says: "enter". Once within, the machine says:” firing gas", and bursts of gas were shot from approx. 6 locations on each side of me is a systematic manner starting at my head and working its way down to my feet. The process takes about 8 seconds and then the machine gives you permission to exit. I have to say that I was very uncomfortable with this type of "security" and found it rather upsetting when I think about the history of the Jews and then a machine operated for Jewish security "shoots gas".

Once through the "gas machine" I entered a large room that reminds me of a plane hanger. No one directs you as to which line to go. Everything is ambiguous and confusing but having been there before I knew approximately where to go. The first few lines say "Passport Control" and people are cramming like cattle to get into the lines. Further down there are two booths, one without a sign and the other with a small hidden sign that says "Visitor Passport Control." This is where I need to be but rather than move directly into line like I know where I am going I play a bit confused and fade into the line.

At first I wait in line to get a form. Then I wait in line to hand in the form. Many fill the form out incorrectly and are sent to the back of the line in an abrasive manner. When I hand in my form I am asked why I come to Israel and I respond: "tourism." The young lady dealing with me gets her coworkers attention and they discuss what is on the computer screen. I am then asked to take a seat (there are few and they are full) while the lady takes my passport to a back room. As I sit and wait to be called I remember that this is exactly how it went last time and it took 6 hours. I think to myself that its been about 1 1/2 hours so far and I wondered if I would get out in another 4 1/2 hours.


I sit in the heat and watch the chaos and confusion about which line to be in and how to correctly fill out the forms. After a while a man comes and tells me to follow. As we walk he starts the small talk that they use as a foundation for further questioning later. He asks if I have been there before and I reply no. It all takes place in a quiet and indirect manner. I ask if I can use a rest room and am told that I could not at that time. I ask for water and was taken to a place to purchase water. I am lead past the "gas machine" and ask the man: "what is this machine." He snaps at me, "Why are you so interested in our machines!" I calmly reply that I have never seen such a machine and was curious about what it was doing. I am lead to a row of chairs and told to wait. He then asks if there is anything that I needed. I caught his eyes with a bemused look and he left before I could respond. I really did need to use the rest room.

As I wait guards walk by, some glare at me and some pay no attention. I know exactly what is happening because it is just like last year. After an hour a man comes and leads me into a small cubical with a curtain. Yep just like last year. I am searched and patted down and a metal detector is waved over my body. Like all hand held metal detectors it went off on the metal button of my pants, so of course I had to drop my pants. My shoes are taken and returned about 10 minutes later. I am then told that they want to further check my bag and lead to another room that would remind you of an unorganized baggage terminal at an airport.

I find my bag and am taken the room where they search the bags. A lady goes asks me to open my bag and then she goes at it. At a glance she appeared to be very thorough but in reality she never really looked at anything. She even missed the top compartment of my bag and I had opened it for her. I was then taken to a hall where I was asked to wait. Everything was going in the exact order it did last year, I recognized every room and knew what to expect next. But there were less questions and less searching of my bag.

After a while I am asked to enter a room where my picture is taken and again I am patted down and scanned with a metal detector and again asked to drop my pants. I am then taken to a small room where the questioning begins. The questions are simple, who are you? Where are you from? What type of work do you do? and so on. Then he asks if I will be in the West Bank this year. With out hesitation I say "no", but I caught the words this year so I know what is coming. Then he asks if I have been there before and I say "no"(I started with this story and I'm sticking with it through the thick and thin because I know they have a reputation for bluffing and if you change your story it's all over). He looks at me with a played out startled look, "no!” Our records show that someone with your exact name was here last year. I said: "that's strange because there can't be many people with my name." He then asks if I have another passport and I say that I do not. He then says that I was seen in the West Bank last year. I just sit quietly and listen, only responding to direct questions asked.

By this time it is late in the day or the middle of the night Portland time. I can barely keep my eyes open and I have to go to the bathroom so bad. His next topic I found rather amusing as he told me about how peace organizations were causing problems in Israel. He then goes on to ask me about the ISM. Of course I have never heard of such and organization. He insinuates that I was with the ISM last year and I quietly listen. This goes on for a half hour or so and then I am taken to the main room at the "visitor passport control" booth. The hanger like room is now all but empty. Palestinian janitors are washing the floor and a handful of people are waiting. I listen in on two men talking; one is from Washington DC and the other from Canada.

Soon the three of us are chatting. I stick to my story that it is my first time. The man from Canada says he'll never return to Israel because he has never been treated so poorly. The man from DC says he was going to stay for one week but he was now afraid because of what officers had said about the dangers. I wanted to counter the Israeli rhetoric but I just listened.


Soon an officer came out with my passport and told me I would have to return to Jordan. When asked why, I was informed that I was deemed a security threat. I asked to speak with the officer in charge. When I asked him what was going on he gave me the typical non answer that was exactly as I had been told previously. I was then taken to collect by bag and escorted to a bus. My escort was very pleasant and seemed genuine. He said that he was sorry that I had to wait so long only to be denied entry and that it wasn't in his hands. It had only been 5 hours since I last asked and was denied use of a bathroom so I asked to use one again and my request was granted.

Jordan accepted me warmly. One officer asked why I was denied entry into Israel. I told him that they thought me to be a security risk. He smiled, leaned up to the glass and whispered to me that Israel must have mistaken me for Bin Laden.It was still hot even though the sun had dropped behind the hills as I left the Jordanian border check point and entered the desolate, dusty street. I sat on my backpack and waited for a service to drive by. Within 15 minutes I was sitting in an air conditioned service headed for Amman.

I am disappointed, not because my plans fell through, but because I know that there are friends in Palestine and Israel that I am not allowed to see. In some ways my world has gotten smaller, but not nearly as small as the Palestinian restricted by checkpoints, walls, fences and occupation. Palestinians face rejection at checkpoints on a daily basis so who am I to complain because one check point rejected me.

I am also reminded about how small the world has become for Israel as she isolates herself more and more from the rest of the world. What are the consequences of peace organizations being seen as a problem? But Israel is not alone on this front, as our government has a long history of targeting people and organizations of peace while supporting those who harbor violence.

I am also disappointed and humbled because the money for my work in Palestine / Israel was donated by many of you on this list. At this time I am sitting tight sending out feelers as to how I can recover from this set back and still make gains in regards to human rights while here in the Middle East since we paid $1700 for my ticket alone.

If anyone has any suggestions please do not hesitate to contact me asap.

In Solidarity
Phil
Write Phil at:
human_rights_international@msn.com


Friday, July 29, 2005

The Case of Sgt Kevin Benderman

Camilo Mejia is also an amazing man. A man of ethics, integrity, honor and principle as is Kevin Benderman. Monica told me that Camilo and members of his family were by Kevin and Monica's side thru Kevins trial. A strong movement is building and men like Camilo and Kevin are providing us all a very strong example to follow, support and to build upon in our efforts in trying to stop the madness that has swept the nation.--Jack

The Case of Sergeant Benderman
By Camilo Mejia
t r u t h o u t Perspective
Thursday 28 July 2005

Fort Stewart, Georgia - When Sgt. Kevin Benderman went to Iraq on March of 2003, he saw the destruction of a nation, he saw a little girl with a burnt arm asking the soldiers for help they were ordered not to provide, he saw people drinking water from mud puddles, and he saw that Iraqis were regular people, just like himself, and that our military should not bring destruction to that country. What Sgt. Benderman saw in Iraq changed him in a way so profound, that after ten impeccable years in the Army, he decided to apply for conscientious objection. But Sgt. Benderman also spoke truth to the people about what is going on in Iraq, and he spoke about how the war is not destroying Iraq alone, but our own country as well. He spoke of how American soldiers are dehumanized by the war.

But today's general Court-Martial did not deal with Sgt. Benderman's war experience, nor with the dehumanization of America's children in Iraq; it mostly dealt with a forty-five minute meeting Sgt. Benderman had with his Sgt. Major just an hour before his unit was to deploy to the Middle East, where they were to provide logistic support to American infantry units, and they were to train Iraqi police officers and military personnel.

The defense successfully showed how during that meeting Sgt. Benderman's chain of command, not knowing how to deal with his Conscientious Objector packet, released him to work on documents and to have dinner with his wife, just an hour prior to his unit's deployment, and how they made no effort to get him to the airfield, or to get him onboard a later flight. The defense showed how Sgt. Benderman, far from being absent without authority or having missed movement, continued to perform a sergeant's duties while and after his unit deployed to Iraq.

The defense also showed the ambiguity in Sgt. Benderman's chain of command. For instance, one of the government's arguments in seeking both a conviction and a harsh punishment was that Sgt. Benderman's logistic duties were crucial for the unit in Iraq. Yet the defense proved that his chain of command had planned to fire him from his job and to assign him to latrine duty. Another argument was the hazardous component of the unit's mission in Iraq, yet the 1st Sgt. insisted that Sgt. Benderman would be perfectly safe and in a position were he would see no combat at all. The defense successfully showed the humiliation Sgt. Benderman went through because of his Conscientious Objector beliefs, from the harassment of his wife by the Sgt. Major (who admitted to commenting on her physical figure) to his 1st Sgt. calling him a coward.

Why then, one wonders, was Sgt. Benderman convicted of Missing Movement by Design, and sentenced to 15 months of confinement, reduction to the lowest rank, and a dishonorable discharge? The defense strategy was sound and solid. The government's prejudice and Sgt. Benderman's chain of command's unmeasured persecution and incompetence were all made evident. Why the conviction and the harsh sentence then?

Perhaps because a legal strategy is no match for a political strategy. The Army had in its hands a blond, blue-eyed, six foot two, all American soldier, born and raised in the south, someone white America can look up to and identify with, someone who went to Iraq and came back with his humanity enhanced, most definitely a threat to a government on a mission to militarize its society and spread its empire. The government threw the book at Sgt. Benderman to ensure others like him don't follow behind. Therefore, his case should not have been boiled down to a forty-five minute meeting, because in doing so, the defense disconnected itself from the humanity of the action and from its message of resistance, and that is something America cannot afford at this time.

Sgt. Benderman is not an African American Muslim, he is not a Cuban Buddhist, and his parents are not Latin Americans. Unlike other recent conscientious objectors, Benderman looks like he belongs at a George W. Bush rally. The humanity he displays in his refusal to fight a senseless war cannot be blamed on a foreign ethnicity, or on the color of his skin; it cannot be blamed on his religion either. And he cannot be accused of being a Yankee liberal. Sgt. Benderman's courageous stance gives the conscientious objector response to the war in Iraq a universal touch that breaks down barriers and goes beyond borders, bringing down the issue of war resistance to the humanity in each and every one of us, regardless of who we are or where we come from.

Sgt. Kevin Benderman chose to put his weapon down; he chose not to kill but to love his fellow human beings; he chose to put his career and physical freedom in jeopardy; he chose to speak truth in the face of power and adversity; he was harassed, humiliated, accused, tried, convicted, and sentenced to jail. He kissed his wife goodbye, and he kept his head up high as he walked to his fifteen months of confinement. I have never seen a freer man.

Camilo E. Mejia is a former prisoner of conscience, Iraq war veteran, war resister, and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Camilo's conscientious objector application is still pending. He served nine months in confinement for refusing to return to Iraq after a two-week leave.

Judge Not

Michael Carmichael, along with Judge Stephen Gheen and Dr. Steven Jonas are the founders, editors and publishers of the web publication, The Political Junkies. They are as openly opposed to what Bush/Cheney & Co has unleashed in this nation as anyone I have spoken with. We can only hope that more people like sitting Judge Stephen Gheen will stand up for ethics, integrity and honor as has Judge Gheen, Michael and Dr. Jonas.

The following essay by Michael Carmichael is an excellent “picture” of the man, Roberts, the Bush cabal wants on the Supreme Court. I still do not believe the majority of those in this country have snapped to exactly how close we are to a total theocratic dictatorship. Roberts on the Supreme Court will help speed up the process of that I am certain.

One more thing: I just spent the last hour on the phone with Monica Benderman. She has told me that the jail Kevin is being held in greeted Kevin as the man of integrity that he is—they are referring to him as a hero, so the Army has failed in its attempt to generate hate toward Kevin. Guards and those incarcerated alike. There is a lot more coming about Kevin, Conscientious Objectors and the current militarization. Now on to Michael’s essay.--Jack

Judge not
By Michael Carmichael
The Planetary Movement

http://www.planetarymovement.org/

Judge not lest ye be judged.
Matthew 7, 1

Last week, George Bush nominated John Glover Roberts to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court bench.When Justice O’Connor ascended to the Supreme Court, she represented a quantum leap for the role of women in American jurisprudence. Ronald Reagan’s role in her nomination was seen as, perhaps, the single most progressive political decision that the deeply conservative president ever made. While Justice O’Connor has not been a leading light of liberalism or even progressivism, she has – on the odd occasion – injected a note of balance into what would otherwise be a preponderantly and abidingly conservative court.

Bush’s nomination of Judge Roberts will provide him with no such aura of balance or political decency. Now, one week after this nomination was made public, it is perfectly clear that Judge Roberts is a dangerous Republican Party apparatchik who represents the most serious threat to the constitution in general and constitutional democracy in particular since 1789.

Judge Roberts is a card-carrying, right-wing Republican. A dedicated extremist, he played a pivotal role in Bush’s brutal seizure of political power in 2000. He has contributed substantial sums of money and massive amounts of time to furthering the cause of right-wing extremism and its offspring, neoconservativism. He is deeply prejudiced against each and every constitutional protection of the weak, the poor, the minorities and the women of America. Roberts’ nomination marks a desperate attempt by a failing and unpopular presidency to mask the chaotic swarm of catastrophes swirling and circling and twining around its throat now that it has entered the terminal phase of its existence.

Timed with precision to deflect public attention from the escalating insurgency and civil unrest in Occupied-Iraq and the tightening noose that is now visibly dangling from the neck of Karl Rove, Sandra Day O’Connor got her cue to exit center stage. Swiftly emerging from stage right, we were treated to the spectacle of George Bush and John Glover Roberts who was wearing a mask bearing a frozen smile accompanied by the three remaining members of his quaintly costumed “family” who looked and acted as if they were reporting for a casting call for roles on the 1950s family sitcom, Ozzie & Harriet. The Roberts foursome could have been painted by Norman Rockwell circa 1949. In this case, one picture is worth a thousand words. The Roberts family is a throwback to the era predating Brown versus the Board of Education, Roe versus Wade and the Miranda ruling.

Judge Roberts is attractive to neoconservatives for a wide variety of reasons. He has had a very limited career as a judge, and – on first glance – it seems as if there is little to criticize. His record is undeniably thin. However, what little he has done both on and off the bench has been of the same consistently conservative quality – deeply inimical to the rights of working Americans, women and the poor. Judge Roberts has conscientiously assembled his career as a champion of large corporations. He is precisely the sort of jurist that Theodore Roosevelt would have abhorred. Worse. He is one of the boldest supporters for the growth of state authority in American history for he supports the rights of the state against the individual, the rights of corporations against their workers and the rights of the corporate state to destroy the environment.

Judge Roberts’ judicial record is now being minutely examined on a daily basis, but it is all too likely that there is very little important about him that we do not already know. His political counseling at the time of the 2000 election is all we really need to know to ascertain his total lack of judicial credibility.During the electoral chaos of 2000, Florida Governor Jeb Bush recused himself from all formal deliberations due to his relationship with his brother. At that time, John Glover Roberts swiftly entered stage right and flung himself into a top secret meeting with the Governor that took place in a locked conference room in Tallahassee with only the two of them present. Shortly after that top secret meeting, a strategy was fixed into its position to deny and divert any attempts by the Democratic presidential nominee, Albert Gore, from subpoenaing the crucial “Certificate of Ascertainment” that named the state’s electors for Bush. Had Gore and his legal team successfully blocked this document and ensnared it in a legal process, then the results of the presidential election could have been placed in jeopardy by forcing a thorough recount as demanded by the Florida Supreme Court.

Two years after his crucial and secret role in the Florida debacle, George Bush elevated John Roberts to the Federal bench, and today he is attempting to elevate him once again. There can be little doubt that the Bush family expects to retain its political influence over future contested presidential elections by resort to a Supreme Court heavy-weighted by Roberts, Scalia and Thomas. Roberts is an insurance policy for a future presidential candidacy of Jeb Bush.

The Bush political machine knows well that the tally of votes does not matter. What matters is the ascension to power, and in Bush’s America, that process has been transformed into a legalistic game of political power ultimately devoid of any democratic foundation. In what will come to be known as “The Bush Era,” Democracy has been reduced to a slogan to motivate the masses in support of profit-making wars against weak third world nations rich in natural resources, minerals and, of course, oil. Judge John Roberts is the embodiment of the right-wing legal revolution that would deconstruct constitutional democracy in America.

Moving beyond his political prejudices to take a look at his philosophical prejudices - Judge Roberts is deeply opposed to abortion. He has gone on the record with his opposition to Roe versus Wade, and he stated that it should be, “over-ruled.” His wife, Jane Stuart Roberts, is devoting her life to the destruction of women’s rights to make the most crucial, most intimate and most personal decisions that they will ever make: when to give birth. There can be no serious doubt that the deeply seated prejudices of both Judge and Mrs. Roberts stem from their devotion to the most abidingly conservative doctrines of their Roman Catholic faith. If Judge Roberts is eventually confirmed to the Supreme Court, he will be the third ultra-conservative Catholic to become a current member of that august body. Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are both ultra-conservative Roman Catholics, as well. Is this suspicious syzygy a mere coincidence?

There has been a welter of speculation about the role of the secretive sect within the Catholic Church known as ‘Opus Dei.’ Many articles have been published that suggest both Scalia and Thomas are members of Opus Dei, an organization that endorses self-mortification as one of the highest forms of Roman Catholic spirituality. The current Pope, Benedict XVI has long been associated with this shadowy organization that was a riveting focus for criticism in the recent blockbusting bestseller by Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code.

In addition to Scalia and Thomas, former Director of the FBI, Louis Freeh, was rumored to have been a devout member of Opus Dei. Even the wives of Justices Scalia and Thomas have been suspected of membership in the ultra-orthodox and secret spiritual organization. None of the high-ranking US government officials or the members of their families named in this paragraph have ever confirmed or denied their enrolment in the controversial group. In these cases, silence may well speak volumes.

In his relatively short career, Judge Roberts has fought against the rights of American coal miners. He has championed the rights of corporations to wreak permanent and irreversible damage on the environment by removing mountaintops in order to extract minerals. In Judge Roberts, the American environmental movement sees a predatory enemy to its objectives of environmental preservation.

An enemy of women’s rights and the environment, a champion of corporate power, a proponent of authoritarian government, a proponent of weakening the core of our constitutional democracy – the right to vote - Judge Roberts should be repudiated by the Senate. Failure to do so will terminate any claims to balance left in the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

In the relatively recent past, the Senate has rejected as unacceptable several presidential nominations of right-wing Republican Presidents Nixon and Reagan. In 1971, Richard Nixon had the temerity to nominate two successive men who were tainted with racism: G. Harold Carswell and Clement Haynsworth. Both of these racist judges were soundly repudiated by the Senate.

When Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork, his ultra-conservative legal philosophy was deemed to be so extreme that he was rejected by the Senate. It is interesting to note that the ultra-conservative Robert Bork converted to Roman Catholicism only in 2003. Another Reagan nominee, Douglas Ginsburg, was rejected largely because he had smoked pot, something that probably will not stand in the way of confirmation during this century. Judge John Glover Roberts is clearly Bush’s attempt to re-enforce the radical legal philosophy of Scalia and Thomas as well as to strengthen the partisan prejudices of the court and to weaken constitutional democracy in America.

He should be repudiated by a majority consisting of supporters from both sides of the aisles in the Senate. (emphasis added)

Any Democratic Senator who violates the sacred trust placed in them by the voters and supports the nomination of Judge Roberts should face extremely strong primary opposition. We are watching you – and you shall be judged.

Roberts Gave GOP Advice in 2000 Recount - John G. Roberts, President Bush's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, played a crucial role in the chaotic, 36-day period following the disputed 2000 presidential election.
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0721-07.htm

Wife of Nominee Holds Strong Antiabortion Views
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-wife21jul21,0,4513105.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Michael Carmichael
Chairman / The Planetary Movement
64 Kingston Road
Oxford OX2 6RJ
The United Kingdom

Email mc@planetarymovement.org

The Planetary Movement
http://www.planetarymovement.org/

A Note From Monica Benderman

A Note From Monica Benderman

THANK YOU -- to everyone for supporting Kevin and me.Kevin is currently in a local county jail -- but he is being treated well. We are waiting to see where he will be going next, and what will be happening.The appeals process has been initiated - BUT -- Kevin has not actually been convicted as yet. He is in prison, but the conviction will not be official until the Convening Authority, Col. John Kidd, has signed off on it. He cannot make the sentence any greater, buthe can reduce it. It's doubtful that he will do that, he has an inordinate amount of disdain for me.


The entire prosecution team, including witnesses, all stood outside the doorway and laughed while Kevin was walking to the van. They wanted to put him in shackles and chains "so that the media could take pictures of him that way" but his supervisor, the man they had placed in charge of that, refused to do that, so Kevin walked freely.

This supervisor has been very supportive of Kevin from the start - and continues to be very upset about what is happening, as he knows the truth.Kevin could serve his entire sentence without Col. Kidd approving the sentence, which means that he will have the potential to serve without being convicted.

The reason this is a possibility is that until the sentence is confirmed, they cannot officially process the appeal, and until the conviction is official, the defense team cannot receive the full transcripts from the trial. Without these, they cannot begin to create the brief to file for the appeal.People need to be aware of this. Please... let people know just what they are capable of.Kevin is fine, and says

THANK YOU for staying with him.Love, Monica

Thursday, July 28, 2005

One Party with Two Faces - It Has Got to Go!

Due to the simple fact the following essay by John Stanton so closely parallels my own thoughts, I will only say there is nothing here I am in disagreement with. We've only had one party in this nation for a long time and those in it, regardless of what they call themselves, all have the same corporate minders. And one of the biggest cash cows they have is war and the self-justifying over- inflated military budgets. Also, right now I'm having a hard time thinking past Kevin Benderman and the 15 month sentence he was given. Kevin and his wife Monica are my friends and this really pisses me off! See: Free Kevin Benderman!--Jack

American Revolution, Now! -- Eliminate the One Party System with Two Faces
By: John Stanton
http://english.pravda.ru/printed.html?news_id=15866

To all but the most critically astute American minds, a precious few it must be said, the USA is the most dynamic country to appear in recorded history. In the American mind, all problems, foreign or domestic, are, the faithful say, solvable with another election cycle, a court decision, a high profile resignation or, perhaps, another war on something (drugs), someone/some country (North Korea), or some mythical army of millions (terrorists). America's bounty is endless, they say, the US Constitution unchangeable, and the US military, led by archangels and their legions of fighting angels, undefeatable.

There are infinite sums of money and limitless ingenuity to throw at whatever difficulty may come the American way and, besides, Americans trust in an omnipresent God, so how in God's name could God abandon those who trust so blindly? All of this propaganda is peddled to Americans, beginning in utero and ending on a slab in the morgue, by America's myth making machinery in religious institutions and the media. The engine for that machinery is the individual and collective ideological and monetary wealth of Wall Street.

The powerful of the country run a minimum security, open air labor camp called the Unites States of America in which the wardens are the Republicans and Democrats located in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the US government, along with their governments-in-waiting at think tanks around the country. The hideous and anticompetitive one-party system with two faces is an abomination, a monster disguised as an American politician, or maybe even a General or CEO, who claims to be the leader of the free world

The fact is that 21st Century Americans are little more than laborers, captives and, like all prisoners throughout recorded history, are fearful, afraid to challenge the system in any serious way, anxiously waiting on the next meal and a decent night's sleep before the alarm signals another wretched day in the hive. But the routine is safe and predictable but results in a form of imprisonment for the vast majority of Americans. Oh, the bloggers and other journalists get excited about a Karl Rove, or a Supreme Court nomination, or the actions of insurgents justified by stupid American policy, or even a ham-handed spy operation. But these are busy-body issues that keep the faithful followers occupied while the foundation of the country rots away beneath them.

The American masters have created a system based on the necessity to accumulate material goods, the necessity to believe in lies and myths, and the necessity of believing fantastical hyper-threats to justify internal security and repression, and world domination To date, the American people have bought the goods since they believe no alternative exists. Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote about such a society, prior to George Orwell, in his classic work "WE."

In the American system of life, the dollar value of an individual, of a group of people is what matters. It's easily calculated. "People are fungible," said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It's all about the return-on-investment, the metrics and the data whether you are a military or civilian American. You're just another number. In this system, platitudes like "freedom is not free," "military service is the highest calling," "freedom to buy and sell," are little more than the equivalent of a cosmetic makeup base designed to disguise the hard face of reality that Americans are taught and encouraged to ignore.

For example, it costs roughly $30,000 to train a regular US soldier and, perhaps, $40,000 to train a special operations soldier or military academy graduate. Multiply those figures by approximately 2,000 US KIA, and 16,000 US maimed in action or non-operative and returned stateside. Do the math. Using the $30,000 figure and 2,000 US dead equals $60,000,000. Taking the 16,000 maimed and multiplying by $30,000 equals $480,000,000.

So those American lives - men and women - mostly youngsters, were worth $540 million dollars (have the insurgents spent this much?). What kind of people can tolerate being fungible, can live with the lies of their "leaders", and be happy being a number in a balance sheet? These calculations take place every day in every organization large and small. It all makes a mockery of the mythical American way of life. Of course, it's not a way of life; it's a cold, calculating system.

Will people ever confront the silent horror that is the American system of life?

Can one seriously argue that the 9am to 5pm work cycle (more likely 7am to 7pm including commute, shower, dress) is dissimilar to the daily life in a labor camp? Ridiculous, you say. I'm free! Are you really? For at least five days a week you are owned by your company/organization. The boss/master says, "Oh, Mr/Ms ABC, you are 10 minutes late. I expect you not to be tardy." "I'm sorry, it will not happen again," you say. What can you do? Nothing, because you are afraid. These days, your job slot is imperiled by the availability of overseas labor that is as good as you are, maybe even better at satisfying the job requirements. Fear drives your performance. Fear of losing your food, shelter and clothing, your reputation, or the gadgets that define you.

Who or what really owns your home or condo and the other 95% of residences in the USA? Mortgage companies and banks. In reality, there is no difference between renter and owner. As an owner, you have the right to sell your home and take interest deductions, but that's it. How about the automobile you drive? More than likely it's owned by a bank or finance company. Have credit cards? The bank owns them and you. Even the water you drink is most likely owned by a company whose stock is traded on Wall Street.

On that note, your 401K is not yours until you retire and is dependent on the whims of Wall Street investors. The corporate pension plan and government social security--that social compact between corporation-government and the people--has disappeared. Americans simply do not take care of each other any longer.

And so, at the end of the day, you bury yourself in "intellectual" pursuits. Read the New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune or Houston Chronicle? You are reading day old news from home and abroad reviewed and approved by corporate legal counsel. Of course, your favorite news sources are produced by organizations traded on Wall Street. Five days a week, you are given power-point-type news in print and electronic format and it is conveniently designed just like fast food: limited choices and doesn't take a lot of time or thought to digest.

On the weekends - usually Sunday - your newspaper of choice provides you with a supplemental "magazine" of essays and longer op-ed pieces that just happen to coincide with the issues appearing on the Sunday propaganda talkies aired by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and FOX. The networks, maybe even CSPAN, carry "news making" press conferences/speeches from the Pentagon, the US Congress, the White House - sometimes in prime time - or a corporate boardroom. You think these might be spontaneous, maybe even improvised. But, of course, it's all rehearsed and staged and hardly convincing. The questions are as empty as the answers given. It's pathetic.

As Herbert Marcuse once said, "the system is administered and managed." Your freedom, your thoughts, your actions are not your own. You are the property of organizations and institutions far beyond your control. You "do the time" as the convicts say. After all, you owe the system a lot of money.

The psyche of America is created by and belongs to the ideological and monetary powerhouses of Wall Street. It is easy not to think, to accept the way the system works. But that is not in concert with the spirit of the American Revolution of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin and the many others for whom the break away from the United Kingdom was as much intellectual and spiritual exercise as anything else. Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence lost everything for their cause. Jefferson would ultimately die penniless.

Change must come. The spirit and intellectual caliber of the American Revolution must be rekindled.

So what to do? A few suggestions:

1. Creation of the New Party Development Organization. The NPDO would initiate development of The New Party, one alternative to the status quo. The NPDO would encourage peaceful street revolt and ballot box action throughout the country. The goal would be to purge the White House and US Congress of Democrats and Republicans - the One Party with Two Faces - starting with the most banal and corrupt. New Party members would act aggressively throughout the country using the Net, home-based newsletters and word of mouth to create alternatives to Democrats and Republicans control. "Watcher" groups would be established to monitor those attempts to infiltrate the NPDO.

2. Nationwide boycotts must be initiated and sustained against corporations who destroy pension plans and defend mining companies that pollute communities in the US and abroad.

3. Red-White-Blue mini-Revolutions must be initiated against an American electoral system that ensures the safety of the status quo. NPDO members would study CIA tactics used in Georgia and the Ukraine and apply them during election cycles.

4. Cities and townships are currently rebelling against the mandates of the federal government in matters of the environment and security. NPDO members must ally themselves with these groups and encourage them to change party affiliation.

5. The NPDO Manifesto must address the need for nationalization of US defense contractors and US airlines. Taxpayers pay for the former and have bailed out the latter. Corporations must be forced to shed the status of individual.

6. The NPDO Manifesto must address the need for national, one stop health insurance.

7. The NPDO Manifesto must address the need to eliminate child poverty, hunger and homelessness.

8. The NPDO Manifesto must address the need to establish national work projects to repair infrastructure. Tax cut repeals, including "death tax" will pay for the programs.

9. The compact between government and its people must be reestablished. Outsourcing of military functions, government agency functions and the corporate sale of American jobs overseas must cease.

10. The US must engage the world. Resources must be shared with emerging nations. Grievances of peoples long harmed by US government action must be addressed. The War on Terror would be terminated and civilian control would be restored to capture terrorists.

11. Homeland Security Department would be dissolved along with the National Director for Intelligence organization.

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political and national security matters. He is the author of America 2004: A Power But Not Super. Reach him at: cioran123@yahoo.com

Additional reading--and yes, they're my pieces, but they have a lot of outside links in them. Together, they all agree what John Stanton wrote. Just try and ignore some of mygrammarammer--what can I say, I'm just another crazy old Nam vet...

The Illusion of Two Parties: my partial take on party politics
http://jack-dalton.blogspot.com/2005/05/illusion-of-two-parties.html

The Great Power Grab and All for the "Good" of the American People
http://jack-dalton.blogspot.com/2005/05/great-power-grab-lets-make-deal.html

Here Come Da Judge, There Go Da Courts: and any Semblance of Justice
http://jack-dalton.blogspot.com/2005/05/here-come-da-judge-there-go-da-courts.html

Infiltrating Bilderberg 2005 - this is the worlds financial masters.
http://jack-dalton.blogspot.com/2005/05/infiltrating-bilderberg-2005.html

It's a Pentagon World and Welcome to It--Bases, Bases Everywhere
http://jack-dalton.blogspot.com/2005/06/bases-bases-everywhere.html

Open Letter To The American Media
http://jack-dalton.blogspot.com/2005/06/open-letter-to-american-media.html

War Crimes: US Insists Its Leaders [Bush & Co.] are Unaccountable to the World
http://jack-dalton.blogspot.com/2005/06/war-crimes-us-insists-its-leaders.html

Where Are the Jobs?
http://jack-dalton.blogspot.com/2005/06/where-are-jobs.html

Wall Street, Banks, U.S. Foreign Policy and War By: Jack Dalton
http://www.oldamericancentury.org/dalt1050.htm

Bush, the Republican Party, and Eliminating Competition through "Strategic Initiatives" By: Jack Dalton
http://www.oldamericancentury.org/dalt0004.htm

Security or Just Criminalization under a Different Name? By: Jack Dalton
http://www.oldamericancentury.org/dalt0005.htm

Taking Care of Business-But Whose Business ? By: Jack Dalton
http://www.oldamericancentury.org/dalton/dalt0002.htm

America's Heart of Darkness By: Jack Dalton
http://www.oldamericancentury.org/dalt0011.htm

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sgt Kevin Benderman Goes on Trial Tomorrow

Kevin Benderman will face a General Courts Martial tomorrow for his refusal to deploy to Iraq a second time. It is the Army that should be on trial (as well as Bush & Co) and not Kevin! (the article By John Catalinotto follows my short comments)

Kevin Benderman is a man of the highest ethics, integrity and sense of honor; and one that I have had the good fortune to have met. We have had many, many conversations over the past year and I always come away from those conversations with increased admiration and respect for Kevin and his wife Monica. Kevin has raised the “bar” and has set an example that we would all do good to follow. It was Kevin’s willingness to go public with his decision not to re-deploy to Iraq that has got in the position he is in currently. It was after all his going public that got the Army’s shorts tied in a knot. It does not like or appreciate media or public attention and anything or anyone that puts a spotlight on the Army will, as has Kevin, suffer its full wrath.

But Kevin has not been intimidated by the Army—honorable men of ethics and integrity are not easily intimidated—but has stood tall with honor against the beast this nation’s military has been turned into thanks to the “perpetual war for perpetual peace” insanity of Bush & Co.

Here is the email response I sent to Kevin and Monica today behind the one I received from them, also today:

No Monica, it is not for me...it is for your children; it is for all the children you do not know but who will be affected by all of the efforts of you and Kevin. It is for the wives and children of those in the same position as you and Kevin; that's what you are fighting for and that is also what I fight for.

It is up to people like us to fight for those who for one reason or another cannot fight for themselves. And it is that which you and Kevin have fought so well for.

You are an amazing woman, Monica and one with a good heart as well as mind. You, like Kevin, have looked the "beast" dead in the eye and have fought it on its own terms. Regardless of how this turns out, you have raised the bar of open active resistance for others to see and follow--you have set the example for others to follow and nothing and no one can ever take that away from you.

I can only hope at this point in time that others in this country will recognize the extremely important example you have set for the rest of us. A living example of ethics, integrity, honor and a refusal to compromise any of that for any reason--That is something to be emulated by all.

My prayers are with you both and do so hope that the court tomorrow will see and understand that the right thing to do with Kevin is just to give him a discharge and send him home. Anyone who has served this nation with honor, as has Kevin over the past 11 years, does not deserve to be treated in the manner in which he is being treated. It is the Army that has committed an act of dishonor after all by even wanting to put him on trial.

Read this email sent to me by Kevin. Kevin sums it up rather nicely:

Jack: We are going to "slay the dragon" that is threatening our very existence as a country and we are going to do this together as a team. I could not do what you have helped me do if you had not been there to get this message out to others.

You have been fighting the beast far longer than I have and I am now trying to get up to speed on what I should have been doing all along.

Jack, I have never felt that your generation has gotten a fair shake from the powers that put you into that hellhole called southeast Asia but I never actively tried to force them to put things right, well all that is changing for me now and I will use my energy to try and set things right for you and everyone that has gotten the shitty end of the stick from these assholes. And I hope my efforts will prevent another generation from receiving the same treatment from the assholes that hide behind people like us. In peace, Kevin

Kevin Benderman truly is a man of courage and honor.--Jack

Kevin Benderman On Trial

Anti-war groups mobilize for July 28 court-martial

http://www.workers.org/2005/us/benderman-0804/

By John Catalinotto

Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman is scheduled to face general court-martial July 28 in Fort Stewart, Ga., for charges of desertion and missing movement. These charges stem from his principled refusal to return to Iraq and take part in the war and occupation there. His supporters are organizing to be present at his trial.

Benderman faces up to seven years in prison.Military Judge Col. Donna M. Wright threw out charges of larceny against Benderman on July 22. The Army had based the larceny charges against this war resister on an Army accounting error that resulted in Benderman receiving an extra $2,922 in combat pay.

Last May officers used the threat of an additional 10 years in prison to try to get Benderman to waive his right to a new investigation of the desertion charges.

Army mechanic Sgt. Benderman is a 10-year Army veteran. He and his spouse, Monica Benderman, have been equally active in speaking and writing against the war on Iraq. Their writings can be found at: www.bendermandefense.org.

Benderman has been among the most outspoken of the military resisters of conscience.Others who have refused Iraq duty include Marine Pvt. Steven Funk, Army Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, Navy Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes and National Guard Sgt. Carl Webb.

Army Pfc. Jeremy Hinzman and Pvt. Brandon Hughey have chosen to go to Canada rather than to Iraq.Support resisters!

These individuals deserve the support of the anti-war movement. They are a tiny conscious vanguard expressing a much more widespread discontent among U.S. rank-and-file troops about the war in Iraq.

An Army report released July 20 writes that a majority of troops in Iraq say "morale is low," especially among National Guard and Army Reserve troops."Low morale" means the troops don't want to fight in Iraq and want to get home as soon as possible. This may be a sign of growing political consciousness as well as war-weariness.

Since he finished his one-year prison sentence for refusing to go to Iraq, Camilo Mejia has become an activist with the Iraq Veterans against the War (IVAW). He has now written a letter asking anti-war forces to support Sgt. Benderman at his court-martial. "The best way to show your support," writes Mejia, "is by attending the trial and participating in any rallies and/or activities in support of the Bendermans. But also by announcing the trial and requesting support through your websites and publications."

…………………………………………………………………
Also see: A Man of Integrity: Sgt. Kevin Benderman
By: Jack Dalton

One can only imagine the struggle, the agonizing process Sgt Kevin Benderman has gone through which culminated in his decision to refuse orders for deployment to Iraq a little over a week ago—which would have been his second deployment. Having spoken with Kevin and his wife Monica multiple times, I have a real good idea of the internal struggle they went through over an extended period of time. What I came away with from some of our conversations is the simple fact Kevin’s decision was not a snap decision, but was very carefully though out—good, bad and everything in-between, all was weighed, carefully and deeply. (open the link for the full story)
http://www.oldamericancentury.org/dalt1043.htm

And see this also:
If you are presently serving in the military or in the Delayed Enlistment Program and beginning to rethink your participation, here are resources to help you. (open the link for the resources)
http://www.oldamericancentury.org/docs3.htm

Monday, July 25, 2005

Rep. Cynthia McKinney Re-Opens 9/11--Kudos to Her!

I’m at the point now that Bush & Co has to prove they had no involvement in the attack on the WTC on 9/11. Rep Cynthia McKinney is one of only a couple in congress that has had the courage to take Bush/Cheney on head first. She survived the attack dog Karl Rove and was re-elected to congress in 2004. Now she is right back demanding answers from Bush in terms of his involvement in the deaths of 3,000 people on 9/11. I have always found it more than just a little interesting that Marvin Bush, brother to G.W., was one of the two heads of security for the WTO. Bldg 7, the one that was “pulled” (a euphemism for a deliberate controlled demolition) housed the largest CIA office and contingency outside of Langley, Va.--also an eye-brow raiser. Too many unanswered questions and I applaud McKinney’s attempts to get the answers. We should all take a moment and send her letters of support and let her know we are behind this effort to find the answers.--Jack

McKinney Reopens 9/11

http://www.ajc.com/news/content/news/stories/0705/23natmckinney.html
By BOB KEMPER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/23/05

Washington — Revisiting the issue that helped spur her ouster from Congress three years ago, Rep. Cynthia Mc­Kinney led a Capitol Hill hearing Friday on whether the Bush administration was involved in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The eight-hour hearing, timed to mark the first anniversary of the release of the Sept. 11 commission's report on the attacks, drew dozens of contrarians and conspiracy theorists who suggest President Bush purposely ignored warnings or may even have had a hand in the attack — claims participants said the commission ignored.

"The commission's report was not a rush to judgment, it was a rush to exoneration," said John Judge, a member of Mc­Kinney's staff and a representative of a Web site dedicated to raising questions about the Sept. 11 commission's report.

The White House and the commission have dismissed such questions as unfounded conspiracy theories.McKinney first raised questions about Bush's involvement shortly after the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, generating a furious response from fellow Democrats in Washington and voters in Georgia, who ousted her in 2002.

"What we are doing is asking the unanswered questions of the 9/11 families," McKinney, a DeKalb County Democrat who won back her seat in 2004, said during the proceedings.

She rebuffed a reporter's repeated attempts to ask her why she would so boldly embrace the same claims that led to her downfall. "Congresswoman McKinney is viewed as a contrarian," panelist Melvin Goodman, a former CIA official, said. "And I hope someday her views will be considered conventional wisdom."

Though she left the testimony and questioning of panelists to others, McKinney was the main attraction, presiding over more than two dozen participants, including the author of a book that claims the U.S. government had advance knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack and allowed it to happen, and Peter Dale Scott, who wrote three books on President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

Georgia peanuts, Cokes and coffee were available to more than 50 attendees, whose casual dress was a decided change from the gangs of blue-suited lobbyists who usually crowd Capitol Hill hearings.

McKinney herself offered witnesses bottled water and found additional trash cans to place around the room.Nearly a dozen 9/11 enthusiasts lined one side of the room, camcorders at the ready, broadcasting the hearing live over the Internet or recording it for later release. C-SPAN cameras documented the hearing, and a DVD recording of the proceedings will soon be available.

Ten people sat in a section reserved for family members of 9/11 victims."Nine-eleven could have been prevented," said Marilyn Rosenthal, a University of Michigan professor who lost a son in the attacks, echoing the premise of the hearing.Panelists maintained that Bush ignored numerous warnings from the CIA, the Federal Aviation Administration, foreign governments and others who told him before 9/11 that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack the United States and that terrorists were likely to use hijacked airliners as weapons.

But why would the president or his administration want the 9/11 attacks to occur? Power, the panelists agreed.In the wake of the attacks, the administration was able to greatly expand the president's power and the reach of the federal government, they said, but whistle-blowers and other potential witnesses who could have testified to the Sept. 11 commission about such things were either prevented from speaking or ignored in the commission's final report.

Panelists called the commission's report "a cover-up.""The American people have been seriously misled," said Scott.