News Release Archive - 2001

Military Options: Where Would They Lead?

AS’AD ABUKHALIL
Associate professor of political science at California State University at Stanislaus and fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, AbuKhalil is author of the article “Islam and the Study of Central Asia.” He said today: “Learning about Islam is not terribly instructive here, just as Christian theology is not a good framework to explain David Koresh. Non-religious political factors are involved…. There are up to 3 million refugees in Afghanistan and they are basically forced to stay there while they may be bombed. The Afghani people, despite their ethnic divisions, historically always rally against outside aggressors. The Afghani people and fellow Muslims would find any punishment of the people and the country as unfair and unjust. After all, the Taliban were not voted in with free elections, but were thrust on the country due to direct Pakistani military and intelligence support, with tacit U.S. agreement.”

JAY TRUMAN
Truman grew up in Southern Utah, where he watched mushroom clouds rise from the Nevada Test Site. Today, as director of the Downwinders organization, he is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on nuclear weapons policy. He said today: “Rumsfeld declined to answer whether the U.S. would rule out the use of nuclear weapons. Rumsfeld’s assistant, Paul Wolfowitz, has stated that the Pentagon is poised to unleash ‘a very big hammer.’ The administration could be angling to use earth-penetrating nuclear weapons, which they were already planning to test. Contrary to the administration claims that these weapons are almost surgically clean, these weapons are incredibly ‘dirty’; by their very nature they will produce a great deal of intensive local radiation and massive widespread fallout for hundreds of miles, as tests of similar cratering devices in Nevada have already shown.”
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WILLIAM HARTUNG
Hartung is senior research fellow at the World Policy Institute and co-author of “Toward a New Nuclear Posture: Challenges for the Bush Administration” and “Tangled Web: The Marketing of Missile Defense, 1994-2000.” He said today: “It certainly seems as if these attacks are being used as an excuse by the military and the political right to basically take all their pet projects … and label them ‘anti-terrorist.’ In the name of ‘national unity,’ the Democrats have for the most part agreed to roll over and give the president anything he asks for in the military and intelligence spheres — hardly a sterling example of democracy at work. The $20 billion increase for the Pentagon was rubber-stamped without debate, or even an outline of how the funds might be spent. Before this increase, our military budget was already $343 billion — at Cold War levels.”
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ROBERT JENSEN
Author of the forthcoming book Writing Dissent and an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Jensen is among activists who are planning nationwide gatherings to begin Sunday. He said today: “The resistance to hyper-aggressive U.S. plans is deepening. In five days I have received 1,200 personal email messages and calls in response to my writing, which argues for the Bush administration to drop its belligerent stance. The majority of these people are terrified of what the U.S. is planning and desperate for a solution based on justice, not retribution and power politics. The notion that Americans all have a blood lust is simply not true.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Alternatives to More Violence?

ALI ABUNIMAH
Vice president of the Arab-American Action Network, Abunimah drove from Chicago to New York City just after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. His writings since then have elicited substantial response. He said today: “While we grieve and come to terms with this outrage, people in the Mideast and in the U.S. need to start genuine dialogue on how they experience and perceive each other.”
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STEPHEN SHALOM
MICHAEL ALBERT
Shalom is professor of political science at William Paterson University in New Jersey and author of Imperial Alibis. Albert is editor of Z Magazine. They have written a question-and-answer piece on the current crisis, at the above web page. Among the points they make: “We have real, substantive options besides those presented by the administration. The best way to deal with terrorism is to address its root causes. Perhaps some terrorism would exist even if the grievances of the people of the Third World were dealt with — grievances that lead to anger, despair, frustration, feelings of powerlessness, and hatred — but certainly the ability of those who would commit terror without grievances to recruit others would be tremendously reduced…. Calling for Pakistan to cut off food aid to Afghanistan, as the U.S. has already done, would likely lead to starvation on a huge scale….”
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PERVEZ HOODBHOY
Hoodbhoy is the author of Islam and Science and professor of physics at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan. During summers, he is visiting professor at the University of Maryland. He said today: “Samuel Huntington’s evil desire for a clash between civilizations may well come true after last Tuesday’s terror attacks. The crack that divided Muslims everywhere from the rest of the world is no longer a crack. It is a gulf, that if not bridged, will surely destroy both.”
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EDWARD HERMAN
Professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, author of The Real Terror Network and co-author of Manufacturing Consent, Herman said today: “Many have opined that a distaste for ‘Western civilization and cultural values’ fuels terrorism, but large numbers outside this country believe that Western civilization has hurt them badly. Corporate globalization has unleashed an impoverishment process on the Third World, through the ruthless imposition of a neoliberal regime that serves Western transnational corporate interests and is buttressed by a willingness to use unlimited force to achieve Western corporate and political ends.”
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MICHEL CHOSSUDOVSKY
Chossudovsky is professor of economics at the University of Ottawa and author of the book The Globalization of Poverty and the recent piece “Who Is Osama Bin Laden?” He said today: “The imminent shift from civilian into military production would pour wealth into the hands of military contractors at the expense of civilian needs. Behind the Bush administration is the power of the ‘big five’ military contractors (Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon et al.), increasingly in partnership with the oil-energy giants, which are behind many of the regional wars and insurgencies along strategic oil pipelines.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Terror Aftermath: Deeper Analysis

JILL NELSON
Author of Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience and a columnist for MSNBC, Nelson said today: “What we can do is demand leadership. Not the leadership of politicians angling for pet projects like missile defense shields or casting about for somewhere to lay the blame and someone to wage war upon. We certainly don’t need the leadership of America’s corporations and Oiltocracy, the defense contractors who stand to profit from military activity or the independent profiteers who are capitalizing on our fears by gouging gas prices. It’s up to the American people to take the high road and demand that our leaders join us. Revenge will not resolve the magnitude of this tragedy. Nothing does. We owe the dead and those who mourn them the tribute of our true, loving, compassionate selves, not the violent and vengeful other.”
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NAOMI KLEIN
Author of the international bestseller No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies — called “a movement bible” by the New York Times — and a leading voice against corporate globalization, Klein said today: “Americans don’t get daily coverage on CNN of the ongoing bombings in Iraq, nor are they treated to human-interest stories on the devastating effects of economic sanctions on that country’s children. After the 1998 bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan (apparently mistaken for a chemical weapons facility) there weren’t too many follow-up reports about what the loss of vaccine manufacturing did to disease prevention. When NATO bombed civilian targets in Yugoslavia — including markets, hospitals, refugee convoys, passenger trains, and a TV station — major media didn’t do ‘streeter’ interviews with survivors about how shocked they were by the indiscriminate destruction. The U.S. has become expert in the art of sanitizing and dehumanizing acts of war committed elsewhere. This is one of the country’s many paradoxes: though the engine of globalization around the world, the nation has never been more inward looking, less worldly. The U.S. is a country that believed itself not just at peace but war-proof, a self-perception that would come as quite a surprise to most Iraqis, Palestinians and Colombians. The era of the video game war in which the U.S. is always at the controls has produced a blinding rage in many parts of the world, a rage at the persistent asymmetry of suffering. This is the context in which twisted revenge seekers make no other demand than that American citizens share their pain.”
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STEVE NIVA
Niva, who wrote the article “Between Clash and Cooptation: U.S. Foreign Policy and Islamic Movements,” is professor of international politics at Evergreen State College in Washington and an associate with the Middle East Research and Information Project. He said today: “The present U.S. strategy for ending the threat of terrorism through the use of military force will only exacerbate the problem. Terrorism is a phenomenon that can be defeated only by amelioration of the conditions that inspire it. These attacks have been attributed to Islamic radicals based in the Middle East and Central Asia. While only a fringe element has seized upon violence as their solution, many of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslim people are understandably aggrieved by double standards. When innocent U.S. citizens are killed or harmed the U.S. government expects expressions of outrage and grief over brutal terrorism. But when U.S. cruise missiles kill and maim innocent Iraqis, Sudanese, Afghanis, and Pakistanis, the U.S. calls it ‘collateral damage.'”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

A Way Out?

At the National Cathedral today, President Bush said “this nation is peaceful.” The following analysts are available for interviews.

HOWARD ZINN
A renowned historian who has authored numerous books including A People’s History of the United States, Zinn was a bombardier during World War II. He said today: “The images on television horrified and sickened me. Then our political leaders came on television, and I was horrified and sickened again. They spoke of retaliation, of vengeance, of punishment. I thought: they have learned nothing, absolutely nothing, from the history of the 20th century, from a hundred years of retaliation, vengeance, war, a hundred years of terrorism and counter-terrorism, of violence met with violence in an unending cycle of stupidity. Will we now bomb Afghanistan, and inevitably kill innocent people, because it is in the nature of bombing to be indiscriminate? Will we then be committing terrorism in order to ‘send a message’ to terrorists? Yes, it is an old way of thinking, and we need new ways. A $300 billion military budget has not given us security. Military bases all over the world, our warships on every ocean, have not given us security. Land mines, a ‘missile defense,’ will not give us security. We need to imagine that the awful scenes of death and suffering we are witnessing have been going on in other parts of the world for a long time, and only now can we begin to know what people have gone through, often as a result of our policies. We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children. War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times.”

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KEVIN GRAY
An activist and contributing editor to Black News in Columbia, S.C., Gray is working on a book entitled The Death of Black Politics. He said today: “People who feel hopeless fly into buildings. And now we’re going to get mad and kill them. Well, they’re already willing to die — they’re already dead. People have focused on the who, what, where and how — but we need to ask and think about the why. U.S. policies have caused enormous levels of death and destruction around the world. From Nicaragua to Chile to Iraq to Cuba to Palestine to Timor to Cambodia to any number of other places, one clearly sees the callousness with which U.S. policies treat the lives and property of especially non-white peoples. A declaration of war will — rather than reducing the threat of terrorism — eliminate basic civil liberties and strengthen the existing tendency toward a racist and classist police state.”

JULES LOBEL
Professor of constitutional and international law at the University of Pittsburgh, Lobel co-wrote the Yale International Law Journal article “The Use of Force to Respond to Terrorist Attacks — The Afghanistan and Sudan Bombing.” He said today: “We live in a culture of violence. I was in a courtroom arguing about how to deal with violent inmates when the judge told us of the attacks. I spent hours wondering if my sister — who worked on the 50th story of the WTC — was safe. I thought about whether our bombing another country and killing people would give her possible death meaning. It was an empty feeling. When our leaders talk of a disproportionate response that would inevitably kill many civilians — what exactly distinguishes that response from this heinous act? The only hope is if this tragedy forces us to re-evaluate our role in the world.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

“Blowback”?

RABBI ARTHUR WASKOW
Director of The Shalom Center and author of Godwrestling — Round 2, Waskow said today: “Even the greatest oceans do not shield us; even the mightiest buildings do not shield us; even the wealthiest balance sheets and the most powerful weapons do not shield us. The lesson is that only a world where we all recognize our vulnerability can become a world where all communities feel responsible to all other communities. And only such a world can prevent such acts of rage and murder. If I treat my neighbor’s pain and grief as foreign, I will end up suffering when my neighbor’s pain and grief curdle into rage. This does not mean ignoring or forgiving whoever wrought such bloodiness. They must be found and brought to trial, without killing still more innocents. Their violence must be halted, their rage must be calmed — and the pain behind them must be heard and addressed. Human beings become terrorists in a pool of despair, we must dry up that pool of despair by replacing despair with dignity and justice in all neighborhoods on this planet.”
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JEFFREY SOMMERS
Assistant professor of history at North Georgia College and State University, Sommers said today: “Colin Powell said yesterday that Osama bin Laden is the prime suspect. If that accusation is right, this would be what the CIA calls ‘blowback’ — when what we’ve created blows back in our face. The Taliban’s coming to power is partly the outcome of the U.S. support of the Mujahadeen — a pluralist group with a radical Islamic faction — in the 1980s in its war against the Soviet Union. Blowback might erupt quickly, or simmer for decades. In Afghanistan, we trained the fundamentalists for covert operations — the stuff of terrorism. After they came to power, they turned on their former benefactor, the U.S., which had achieved the smooth flow of oil from the Middle East at a terrible human cost. A decade of bombing and sanctions has left Saddam Hussein in power but over 700,000 Iraqi children are dead. Palestinians live under a brutal military occupation. When the Arabic nations try and address this matter civilly in the UN, as they just tried last week at the Durban conference, they are rebuffed. When blowback strikes, the consequences are as devastating as they are tragic.”
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DAVID GIBBS
Associate professor of political science at the University of Arizona and author of the recent articles “Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion in Retrospect” and “Washington’s New Interventionism,” Gibbs said today: “Bin Laden began his military career during the 1980s, as a fighter with Muslim groups in Afghanistan that were armed and trained by the CIA. The Taliban government of Afghanistan, which supports Bin Laden’s organization, consists of elements that also were supported by the CIA. It is ironic that some of the alleged villains in the recent terrorist attacks may well be products of past U.S. policies. A major problem with military ‘solutions’ is that they often create far more problems than they solve. The CIA’s operations in Afghanistan during the 1980s, which have helped to generate terrorism in recent years, are spectacular examples of such policy failures.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Another Gulf of Tonkin Resulution?

FRANCIS BOYLE
Professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, Boyle said today: “According to the facts in the public record so far, this was not an act of war and NATO Article 5 does not apply. President Bush has automatically escalated this national tragedy into something it is not in order to justify a massive military attack abroad and an apparent crackdown on civil liberties at home. We see shades of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which the Johnson administration used to provide dubious legal cover for massive escalation of the Vietnam War.”

MATT ROTHSCHILD
Editor of The Progressive magazine, Rothschild said today: “President Bush said that America was targeted ‘because we embrace freedom.’ Not knowing with any certainty who the attackers were, it’s hard to speculate on their motives. But many groups in the Third World have grievances that are more specific than the ones Bush mentioned…. The Pearl Harbor analogy has frightening connotations. Two months after Japan’s surprise attack, the U.S. government rounded up Japanese Americans into internment camps. Now it seems highly improbable that Arab Americans or Muslim Americans will be rounded up, but what does seem quite possible is that the media’s obsessive focus on a non-differentiated Islamic fundamentalism — mixed in with nativist sentiment that is always on the shelf — will create a cocktail of hate crimes.”
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RANIA MASRI
A national board member of Peace Action, Masri said today: “In Raleigh, N.C. — where I live — the local mosque received two bomb threats the day of the attack. The Islamic School in Raleigh had to close — due to fear for its students’ safety. People driving by the mosque have been spewing racist statements — such as ‘sand niggers go home’ and ‘death to you all.’ Several Arab women wearing Hijab had stones thrown at them from passing cars, and have been spat on at the main university campus. In pockets across the U.S. and Canada, the verbal threats have become direct physical assaults.”
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DAVID COLE
Professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center, Cole said today: “In the past we have responded to acts of terrorism by clamping down on basic civil liberties, by anti-immigrant actions, and by engaging in unjustified and widespread guilt by association.”

LARRY BIRNS
Director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Birns said today: “The Senate is ducking its responsibility in today’s pro forma confirmation hearings on John Negroponte as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. No public witnesses are being heard. While the Bush administration has professedly become an apostle of democracy, it has selected one of the most tainted figures of the Central American wars of the 1980s to be its ambassador to the UN.”
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RYME KATKHOUDA
A correspondent with WBIX, which is producing community internet radio in Manhattan, Katkhouda witnessed the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Terrorism Aftermath

ROBERT JENSEN
Author of the forthcoming book Writing Dissent and an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Jensen said today: “The last time the U.S. responded to a terrorist attack, on its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, it was innocents in Sudan and Afghanistan who were in the way. We were told that the U.S. missiles hit only military targets but the Sudan target turned out to be a pharmaceutical factory. There are calls for a ‘massive response’ but let us not forget that, if the pattern of past U.S. actions holds, such a response will kill innocent people like the ones in New York and the hijacked airplanes.”
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SIMONA SHARONI
Sharoni is director of the Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development and professor of conflict resolution and international politics at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
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BEAU GROSSCUP
Grosscup is author of The Newest Explosions of Terrorism and professor of international relations at California State University in Chico.

STEPHEN ZUNES
Chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, Zunes said today: “Military responses usually result only in a spiral of violent retaliation. Similarly, simply bombing other countries after the fact will not protect lives. Indeed, it will likely result in what Pentagon planners euphemistically call ‘collateral damage,’ i.e., the deaths of civilians just as innocent as those killed in New York City. And survivors bent on revenge.”
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KATHY KELLY
Coordinator of Voices in the Wilderness, a group openly violating the economic sanctions against Iraq, Kelly and her colleagues have been fasting in front of the U.S. mission to the United Nations. She said today: “On Tuesday, Colin Powell condemned ‘people who feel that with the destruction of buildings, with the murder of people, they can somehow achieve a political purpose.’ Mr. Powell is correct. But in a sense, he holds up a mirror to U.S. policy of causing massive civilian suffering in Iraq. It’s a painful time to look into that reality, but we hope that along with the grief, we can use Powell’s sentiment to form deeper compassion and understanding.”
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LLOYD J. DUMAS
Professor of political economy at the University of Texas at Dallas and author of Lethal Arrogance, Dumas is an expert on terrorism. He said today: “All the money we’ve poured into missile defense, B-2 bombers and F-22s is of no use in preventing or defending against this kind of horrendous attack….”

PHYLLIS BENNIS
A fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Bennis said today: “We must be careful not to jump to premature conclusions…. This is not a ‘war’ that can be won by military means.”
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KIT GAGE
Gage is national coordinator for the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, a civil liberties organization.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Racism Conference

The UN conference on racism in Durban, South Africa is scheduled to end on Friday. The following analysts are available for interviews:

HUMBERTO R. BROWN
Coordinator for the African and African Descendants Caucus, one of the main caucuses of the conference in Durban, Brown said today: “Colonization and slavery should be considered crimes against humanity, and African descendants should have rights of reparations…. We also need to address the economic basis of racism and a colonial history that has led to marginalization and impoverishment.”

YEMI TOURE
Toure is a columnist for The Black World Today, a former anti-apartheid activist and editor of the HYPE Information Service, which distributes news of black interest to media outlets. He said today: “The anti-racism struggle is going to continue no matter what comes out of Durban. The idea that the U.S. pulling out makes the conference a failure is itself a racist notion.”
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KRIS ABRAMS
Abrams is a producer for the radio program “Democracy Now!”, which has been providing extensive coverage of the conference. She is in Durban.
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FRANCIS BOYLE
Professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, Boyle said today: “The U.S. and Europe should not be allowed to use the Mideast to avoid seriously addressing the legacy of colonialism and slavery. Africans and their descendants are rightfully owed reparations. Rather than distracting from each other, it’s important to see that Israeli practices are a continuation of colonialism — settler colonialism — and have a great deal in common with the European imperialism in the last half-millennium which we should at long last account for.”

JAMES CAVALLARO
Co-director of the Global Justice Center based in Brazil, Cavallaro is in South Africa until Sept. 9. He said: “There are many, many important issues other than the one the U.S. government is using as the basis of its withdrawal — or downgrading its status — from the conference. The U.S. doesn’t want to discuss slavery, Jim Crow laws and colonialism, and it seems to have taken the issue of the Mideast as a pretext to pull out. A major issue is how the legacies of racism are related to current inequities between different racial and ethnic groups around the world. There is a large block of countries questioning the nature of the relationship between the wealthy and the poor countries — of how neo-liberal corporate globalization and racism are related. The economic gap under the neo-liberal model has increased along racial lines.”
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PAUL GEORGE
George is director of the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center. (Much of the center’s membership lives in the congressional district of Rep. Tom Lantos.) George said today: “Once Lantos was put in charge of the U.S. delegation, it was inevitable that it would withdraw. He sponsored a resolution in the House not to send Powell to the conference…. Lantos is Israel’s point person in Congress.”
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Attica, 30 Years Later

Next week marks the 30th anniversary of the uprising at Attica prison in upstate New York. In 1971, on Sept. 13 — four days into a rebellion by 1,281 prisoners demanding humane treatment — more than 500 state troopers assaulted the prison compound, under orders from Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. The troopers’ gunfire killed 29 inmates as well as 10 guards being held hostage.

Interviews are now available with:

FRANK “BIG BLACK” SMITH
An Attica prisoner 30 years ago, Smith was prominent in the rebellion. Immediately after it ended, Smith was among the prisoners who underwent torture. After his release from prison, Smith became a paralegal and litigant in the lawsuit that resulted in a $12 million settlement with prisoners after a 26-year legal battle. Smith said today: “The problem isn’t just with Attica or with prisons. It’s with the foundation these prisons are built on: selective prosecution, selective arrest, class, racism — all that. We all have a responsibility to fix the problem. Crime bills and sentencing guidelines are part of the problem, but we all bear responsibility for finding solutions. We all have to wake up; what you don’t know can hurt you.”

ELIZABETH FINK
Lead counsel for former Attica prisoners in their civil rights case, Fink said today: “Conditions in prisons today are worse than they were at the time of Attica. At that time, there were 11 prisons in New York State; today there are 90. There were 11,000 prisoners in the state at that time; today there are 90,000. Currently, 6.47 million Americans are under some form of judicial restraint…. The vast majority of prisoners do not belong in prison. They belong in some form of rehabilitation, most in drug rehabilitation…. The Attica brothers rebelled because of inhumane treatment; the potential for another Attica looms large today.”

TOM TERRIZZI
Terrizzi is executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York, a private not-for-profit organization providing services to New York State inmates. He said today: “One of the positive legacies of the Attica rebellion was the establishment of Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York, which was designed to give inmates a voice and access to the courts to address their grievances…. Currently at Attica, major reform has just begun in the way mental health services are provided to the seriously mentally ill, who often end up in the prison’s solitary confinement unit. This court-ordered reform came after a 15-year court battle led by PLSNY. At the moment, however, the state is likely to terminate a contract with PLSNY to provide needed services to inmates, once again leaving the state’s 70,000 prisoners with no meaningful access to the courts.”

DAVID VAN TAYLOR and BRAD LICHTENSTEIN
Van Taylor is executive producer and Lichtenstein is producer/director of “The Ghosts of Attica,” a documentary premiering Sept. 9 on Court TV. Van Taylor said today: “We had an incredible opportunity to tell some truth about a story that continues to unfold. Archival evidence that had never been available before became available after the settlement, 30 years after the uprising. There was graphic evidence of the assaults and torture committed by the state against the inmates; the footage also demonstrated the depravity of state officials who went to great lengths to cover up the brutality against prisoners and their own guards.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Cynthia Skow, (415) 552-5378; Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020

Education Issues as School Year Begins

WASHINGTON — With the start of the school year, Education Secretary Rod Paige is speaking today at the National Press Club. The following analysts are available for interviews:

JOHN TAYLOR GATTO
Former New York State Teacher of the Year and author of the recently released book The Underground History of American Education, Gatto said today: “Education used to be about instilling people with good ethics. It then incorporated the notion of teaching people how to be good citizens and then having people achieve their own personal best. All these have merit, but the education system is now being geared to making people into human resources for the benefit of corporations and government — into a workforce. We are schooling people into having no inner life; instead, we are fashioning children into raw material for the commercial and government elite.” Gatto, a participant in a forum in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine, added: “In order to make management most efficient, the working body is made to be childish because childish people are not independent. But if our schools started producing people capable of independent thought, that would undermine this economy. Contrary to popular belief, the fastest growing jobs require little skills from people. We’re producing people who would accept fast-food jobs…. There are huge amounts of free talent available that the schools don’t access, like retired people.”
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EDWARD KEALY
Executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, Kealy said today: “The administration is putting forward the notion of ‘Leaving No Child Behind,’ but the fiscal year starts Oct. 1 and no appropriations have been made for education. We don’t see the resources for the results that the president and Secretary Paige have said they seek.”
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EMILY HEATH
Senior program director with the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education, Heath said today: “Students are supposed to be in school to learn — particularly critical thinking skills. But companies are seeking to commercialize the schools, teaching them instead to be obedient consumers — to buy, buy, buy. Companies are using taxpayer funds and the fact that students are a captive audience. Commercialism enters the schools in several ways. Channel One, the TV news and advertising program broadcast into schools, is the largest example of direct advertising. Channel One forces students to watch two minutes of TV commercials every school day — students are not even allowed to read during the commercials. It now reaches about 40 percent of middle and high schools. Commercialism also gets into schools through exclusive beverage contracts — in spite of claims earlier this year from Coca-Cola that they would cut down on promoting soda to kids, we’ve seen no evidence of that. You also have banners in schools with corporate logos and other ‘freebies’ that are clearly a form of advertising. Another way that commercialism gets into classrooms is by disguising public relations material to look like classroom activities and lesson plans. Exxon and Shell have put together science curriculum material to serve their purposes. There were even ads in textbooks a few years ago, but a California state law was passed banning that.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167