News Release Archive - 2009

A Woman Among Warlords: Afghan Malalai Joya in U.S.

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MALALAI JOYA, via Sonali Kolhatkar
Joya is author of the new book A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Woman Who Dared to Speak Out.

Now 31, Joya was the youngest ever woman elected to the Afghan parliament in 2005. She has just begun a tour of North America.

She recently wrote: “Afghan women like me, voting and running for office, have been held up as proof that the United States has brought democracy and women’s rights to Afghanistan. But it is all a lie.”

She adds: “More than ever, Afghans are faced with powerful internal enemies — fundamentalist warlords and their Taliban brothers-in-creed — and the external enemies occupying the country.

“Democracy will never come to Afghanistan through the barrel of a gun, or from the cluster bombs dropped by foreign forces. The struggle will be long and difficult, but the values of real democracy, human rights and women’s rights will only be won by the Afghan people themselves. So do not be fooled by this facade of democracy.”

Some of Joya’s writing and interviews are here.

Details of Joya’s speaking tour are here.

Kolhatkar is co-author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence. She is also co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, a U.S.-based nonprofit that supports women’s rights activists in Afghanistan.

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

Al Qaeda Leaders Killed — or Construction Workers?

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REESE ERLICH, PETER COYOTE
Available for a limited number of interviews, Erlich and Coyote wrote the just-published piece “The Murders at al-Sukariya” for Vanity Fair after visiting Syria.

Vanity Fair summarizes the piece: “On October 26, 2008, U.S. helicopters stormed a farm near the Iraq-Syria border in order to assassinate leading al Qaeda operative Abu Ghadiya. One year later, the authors report from Syria that the raid may have been botched, and the lives of seven innocent civilians were mistakenly taken instead.”

See the full article online.

Freelance foreign correspondent Reese Erlich has covered the Middle East for 23 years and is the author of three books. His fourth, Conversations with Terrorists, will be published in September 2010. Peter Coyote has appeared as an actor in more than 130 films and television programs and is the author of numerous articles and the recently re-issued book Sleeping Where I Fall. He is currently working on a new book, Lies We Like to Believe, and three television pilots.

Also see the interview with The Real News with Erlich: “Attack on Syria cover up.”

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

Afghan Policy a “Script” for Escalation

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ELIZABETH GOULD and PAUL FITZGERALD
In Washington D.C., until Saturday, Gould and Fitzgerald recently wrote the book Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story. They began covering Afghanistan in 1981 for CBS and produced the documentary “Afghanistan Between Three Worlds” for PBS.

They said today: “Opinion here indicates that the administration is behind the runoff, expects Karzai to win, which will in their view legitimize the government in order that McChrystal’s request for more troops can be granted. It’s a script totally detached from reality. There’s still no real plan except the military option. Washington apparently doesn’t think public opinion in Afghanistan matters. Afghans here are all appalled by Karzai, but feel entirely left out of the process set up by the Bush gang. Afghans won’t accept the verdict on Karzai no matter which way it comes in. The government insiders here are terrified that the whole thing between Pakistan and India will soon blow wide open. They’re beginning to refocus on the regional collapse now underway but just don’t know what to do about it. …

“The focus on al Qaeda is all wrong. Queeta Shura of Mohammed Omar is now far more powerful with connections of its own in the Middle East. Their religious mission overpowers their political one and is drawing support from everywhere. The situation in the north is growing worse. Russians are very worried that a path is opening up for Taliban in the Northern provinces. Lots of fighting. Punjabi extremists are fighting in Helmand. Very bad sign that Pakistan is out of control.”

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

Afghan Election Runoff

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“ZOYA” via Sonali Kolhatkar
Twenty-eight-year-old Zoya is a member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. Because RAWA is an underground organization, members like Zoya do not reveal their real identity for fear of being persecuted. She said today: “Neither Hamid Karzai nor Abdullah Abdullah deserve to be in a second round of voting because they have proven through their corrupt actions that they will resort to any means to gain political power. The people of Afghanistan deserve real democracy, not power-hungry criminals. It is disappointing that the Obama administration is trying to legitimize this election that has been discredited in the eyes of our people.”

Zoya was recently profiled in the Des Moines Register. She testified before the Human Rights Commission of the German parliament. According to her bio: “Zoya grew up during the wars that ravaged Afghanistan and was robbed of her mother and father when they were murdered by fundamentalists — Zoya was only 14.” http://afghanwomensmission.org/awmnews/index.php?articleID=84

Zoya will be visiting the United States until October 27.

Sonali Kolhatkar is co-author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence. She is also co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, a U.S.-based nonprofit that supports women’s rights activists in Afghanistan.

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

“Wall Street Is Mocking Us”

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NOMI PRINS
Prins, a former investment banker turned journalist, is author of the new book It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bonuses, Bailouts, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street.

ROBERT WEISSMAN
President of Public Citizen, Weissman said today: “Wall Street is mocking us. The giant Wall Street firms likely would be out of business had taxpayers not provided trillions of dollars in bailout money and supports. Now, within a year of these unfathomable bailouts, Wall Street has the gall to siphon off record sums in salary and bonuses. As troubling as the scale and audacity of these payments may be, what is most appalling is that they are, in large measure, the result of Wall Street resuming exactly the same speculative gambling and consumer rip-off strategies that crashed the financial system in the first place.

“The obscene Wall Street payments should shake Congress out of its lethargy and drive it to adopt strong financial regulatory rules. These should include a Consumer Financial Regulatory Agency empowered to crack down on consumer rip-offs; tough limits on bonus payments (including a requirement that bonus payments be based on long-term performance, to remove the incentive for dangerous, short-term betting); and meaningful controls and restrictions on the trade in derivatives and other exotic financial instruments.

“Today, the House Financial Services Committee is considering legislation related to the derivatives market. Unfortunately, the legislation being considered will do almost nothing to curb the speculative frenzy on Wall Street.”

Background:
U.S. banks and securities firms are on track to pay a record $140 billion in compensation to staff — more than at the peak of 2007, according to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis.

The New York Times is reporting this afternoon: “A key House committee voted on Thursday to regulate, for the first time, trading in the arcane financial instruments known as derivatives, which have been linked to the financial crisis that shocked Wall Street and cut into the savings of millions of Americans.”

But this morning, William Black, author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One, stated that the chairman of the House Finance Committee, Barney Frank, “has proposed legislation on financial derivatives that essentially exempts what are called over-the-counter derivatives from most regulation, and it is over-the-counter derivatives that have been a major cause of this crisis. So that’s utterly insane. There’s no conceivable justification for it. And he stacked the hearing.” Black is a former bank regulator at the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation. In the 1980s he helped expose the savings and loan scandal. He now teaches at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

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

Abbas Reverses on Goldstone Report

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NASEER ARURI
Aruri is chancellor professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He said today: “The Abbas government, whose term in office has expired long ago, had succumbed to pressure being exerted by Israel and the U.S. to defer all discussion of the Goldstone report on the war crimes in Gaza until next March. The unprecedented Goldstone Committee report accuses Israel of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity this past winter in Gaza.

“Nearly two weeks later, however, Abbas succumbed to a different kind of pressure, this time exerted by Palestinians, Arabs and various members of the UN Human Rights Council. A broad coalition has succeeded in getting Abbas to rescind his earlier position.

“Many have challenged the Palestinian Authority recently by saying if the PA is a failed structure, then some other body should assume the defense of the helpless people of Palestine; meanwhile the PA can disband and make room for another body to assume those responsibilities.”

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

Nobel’s Will

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FREDRIK HEFFERMEHL
A Norwegian lawyer, Heffermehl is author of the book Nobel’s Will, which argues that “since 1948 the parties in the Norwegian parliament have misused the Nobel Committee seats to reward party veterans lacking insight in the peace politics that Nobel wished to support. Over half of the awards since 1946 have not conformed with the intention of Nobel, who wished to change the international system in order to end wars and armaments.”

Heffermehl said today: “When Nobel called upon the parliament of Norway to give his prize to ‘champions of peace’ he had in mind those who work for a fundamental change of the world where nations could safely abolish national military forces. Obama is light-years of improvement after Bush, but still I do not see him having any intention of abolishing his own or other military forces.

“In my book Nobels vilje (Nobel’s Will, 2008) I argued that the Nobel Committee has a fantastic chance to make a relevant and useful contribution towards the world’s most urgent problem, if they would only understand and use the prize to support the fundamental change of international relations that Nobel had in mind. They still have a great chance to improve. …”

MIKE FERNER
President of Veterans for Peace, Ferner said today: “Now you can promise change and international cooperation while ordering more drone bombings that kill innocent civilians — and still get a Nobel Peace Prize. There’s something wrong with this picture. …

“I’ve seen what happens to people at the receiving end of bombs. For two years I took care of hundreds of wounded and dying soldiers coming back from Vietnam and Cambodia. Sadly, President Obama continues to rely on violence to carry out foreign policy.” Ferner was arrested in front of the White House with 60 others on Monday protesting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Past Peace Prize awardees include Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, major forces in eliminating South African apartheid; Lech Walesa, who, as leader of the ‘Solidarity’ union, defied the power of the Communist Party to win rights for Polish workers; Mikhail Gorbachev, who presided over the end of the Soviet Union and helped end the Cold War; Rigoberta Menchu Tum, campaigner for human rights in Guatemala during the reign of the death squads; Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines; Dr. Linus Pauling, early leader in the movement to oppose the nuclear bomb; Doctors Without Borders; Mother Teresa and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Others have been nominated, sometimes more than once, like Kathy Kelly, coordinator of Voices in the Wilderness. This Chicago-based group organized over 70 citizen delegations to Iraq to report how sanctions were affecting people in that country during the 1990s. In addition, Kelly twice led delegations that literally camped out in the way of the U.S. invasions of Iraq in 1991 and 2003.”

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

Nobel Peace Laureate: Obama Choice “Disappointing”

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MAIREAD MAGUIRE
Mairead Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in l976, said today: “I am very disappointed to hear that the Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama. They say this is for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples, and yet he continues the policy of militarism and occupation of Afghanistan, instead of dialogue and negotiations with all parties to the conflict. …

“Furthermore, I believe the Nobel Committee has not met the conditions of Alfred Nobel’s will where he stipulates it is to be awarded to those who work for an end to militarism and war, and for disarmament. This is not the first time the Nobel Peace Committee in Oslo has ignored the will of Alfred Nobel and acted against the spirit of what the Nobel Peace Prize is all about.

“Giving this award to the leader of the most militarized country in the world, which has taken the human family against its will to war, will be rightly seen by many people around the world as a reward for his country’s aggression and domination.”
More Information

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

Veterans on Afghanistan

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RICK REYES
Reyes is recently back from Afghanistan. After enlisting in the Marine Corps, Reyes served as an infantry rifleman. He was deployed in “Operation Enduring Freedom” (Afghanistan) 2001 and then “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (Iraq) 2003. In 2008 he got involved in the Brave New Foundation’s Rethink Afghanistan project and testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Video of that testimony is posted here.

Reyes is a co-founding member of Veterans for Rethinking Afghanistan. He said today: “The most effective weapon we have in combating and suppressing Taliban extremists in Afghanistan is the very system we are currently systematically destroying, the tribal nature of the country. Working with and supporting rural areas and with tribal leaders directly is the best chance we have for winning in Afghanistan. Using this system is the only effective way to get anything done there. On my recent trip back to Afghanistan, I met with the UN Development Program. They’ve had a very successful disarmament program with which they’ve been able to reach out to 30,000 villages and they have disarmed 28,000 of them.

“Women for Women International-Afghanistan is undergoing a pilot program that has also proved to be very successful. They are getting large groups of men into classroom settings and teaching these men about women’s rights; they are in their second batch now and these men are taking the message back to their villages.

“I also met with the minister of Afghanistan’s rural reconstruction and rehabilitation agency who has also had a very successful rebuilding program. … The village has vested interest in the reconstruction projects and allows no one, not even the Taliban, to interfere with them. They continue to stand strong today.”

MIKE FERNER
President of Veterans for Peace, Ferner was arrested in front of the White House with 60 others on Monday. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War.

MATTHIS CHIROUX
Chiroux, now on the board of Iraq Veterans Against the War (which includes veterans of the war in Afghanistan), was deployed briefly with an infantry unit in Afghanistan in 2005. He later refused to be deployed to Iraq. He said today: “Even in my brief deployment, I saw all kinds of problems with our operations in Afghanistan. The inequities were horrible. We’re driving around in Humvees, leaving bases with Burger Kings in them and we pass by people who are literally starving, trying to sell hash to soldiers to eek out enough to live on. … I saw preciously little actual reconstruction or development taking place. … Crucial negative information wasn’t going up the chain of command because commanders didn’t want to look bad.”

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

Helen Keller: Radical, Socialist

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AP reports today: “Alabama is updating its historical presence in the U.S. Capitol, swapping out a statue of a rather unknown former congressman for a new bronze likeness of Helen Keller.”

KIM NIELSEN
Nielsen is author or editor of several books on Helen Keller, including The Radical Lives of Helen Keller and, most recently, Beyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her Extraordinary Friendship with Helen Keller.

She said today: “Helen Keller was a very important figure, both domestically and internationally. Most people know about her personal story, but don’t know about her commitment to activism, to what democracy should really look like, to internationalism and to ending economic inequality. She was one of the U.S.’s most effective ambassadors after World War II.”

Nielsen is a professor of history and women’s and gender studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Helen Keller in her own words:

“We must set to work in the right direction the three great agencies which inform and educate us: the church, the school and the press. If they remain silent, obdurate, they will bear the odium which recoils upon evildoers.”
— From “I Must Speak: A Plea to American Women,” Ladies Home Journal, from Helen Keller: Revolutionary activist, better known for her blindness than her radical social vision available in part at Google Books.

Keller’s 1912 essay “How I Became a Socialist,” which addresses her being attacked by media outlets including the New York Times, and other writings are available on the web page “Helen Keller Reference Archive” and in her book Out of the Dark: Essays, Lectures, and Addresses on Physical and Social Vision at Google Books.

“Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee … You ask for votes for women. What good can votes do when ten-elevenths of the land of Great Britain belongs to 200,000 and only one-eleventh to the rest of the 40,000,000? Have your men with their millions of votes freed themselves from this injustice?”
— From A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn

Keller joined the Industrial Workers of the World (known as the IWW or the Wobblies). She stated in “Why I became an IWW” (1916): “I was appointed on a commission to investigate the conditions of the blind. For the first time I, who had thought blindness a misfortune beyond human control, found that too much of it was traceable to wrong industrial conditions, often caused by the selfishness and greed of employers. And the social evil contributed its share. I found that poverty drove women to a life of shame that ended in blindness.” [The last sentence refers to prostitution and syphilis, the latter a leading cause of blindness.] See: Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James Loewen.

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