News Releases

Trump Vetoes Yemen War Powers Bill

Rep. Ro Khanna tweeted late Tuesday: “With Trump’s veto of @BernieSanders’ and my War Powers Resolution, which passed with bipartisan support in Congress, he is risking the lives of millions of Yemeni civilians to famine, deadly airstrikes, and the war crimes of the Saudi regime. We must override his veto.”

SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI, 1shireen at gmail.com, @shireen818
Originally from Yemen, Al-Adeimi is an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University. Her most recent piece is “As War on Yemen Hits the 4-Year Mark, Here’s a Brief History of U.S. Involvement.”

She tweeted Tuesday night: “Just yesterday, MbS [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud] met with U.S. Central Command in Riyadh … Also yesterday, @SenSanders called on Trump to sign #SJRes7 during the #BernieTownHall on Fox. And this evening, Trump vetoed the bill. #Yemen”She writes in her recent piece: “This brutal and ongoing onslaught has taken the lives of more than 60,000 Yemenis and left half the population — 14 million people — on the verge of famine. What began as a civil war in Yemen escalated into what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Yemen became an international killing field, with Saudi Arabia leading a vicious bombing campaign, which the Obama and then Trump administrations helped unleash. As the political tide in the United States finally turns against the war, we must not let its early proponents — and those who remained silent — whitewash their misdeeds. We must be willing to look honestly at what the United States has done to the Yemeni people, so that we can finally end this war, and prevent similar atrocities in the future. …”

ISAAC EVANS-FRANTZ, isaacef at yahoo.com, @actioncorpsnyc
Isaac Evans-Frantz is with Action Corps NYC, which is organizing a number of protests, including targeting media outlets that have largely ignored the devastation in Yemen. See on Facebook: “Tell Morning Joe to Report on Yemen.” Background: recent piece from the media watch group FAIR: “Bill to End Yemen Siege Passes — No Thanks to MSNBC.”

Examining the Center for American Progress

The New York Times has had a pair of stories in recent days on the Center for American Progress: “Bernie Sanders Accuses Liberal Think Tank of Smearing Progressive Candidates” and “The Rematch: Bernie Sanders vs. a Clinton Loyalist,” which states: “The Center for American Progress and its sister political arm, with a $60 million combined annual budget and 320 staff members, have played an outsize role in the Democratic Party for nearly two decades. Founded in 2003 by top advisers to Bill and Hillary Clinton, the organization has sought to rebrand itself as a brain trust for the anti-Trump resistance.

“Its donor rolls overlap substantially with those of the Clintons’ campaigns and foundation. The think tank has taken in millions from interests often criticized by liberals, including Wall Street financiers, big banks, Silicon Valley titans, foreign governments, defense contractors and the health care industry. Individual donors can ask to remain anonymous. …

“From 2016 through last year, the center accepted nearly $2.5 million from the United Arab Emirates to fund its National Security and International Policy initiative, according to previously unreported internal budget documents. …

“Internal criticism of the Emirati donations leaked into the news media, prompting an in-house investigation that led to the firing of two staff members. One of them, Ken Gude, a longtime executive, is working with a lawyer on a wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

“In November 2015, after Ms. Tanden invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to a question-and-answer session at the center, a dozen staff members stood during an all-staff meeting and read a statement of protest. ‘Our goal is to promote humanity and shut down oppression and genocide and terrorism. Bringing in another head of state with a record of oppression would further push our mission away,’ it read in part.

“In an email Ms. Tanden sent on the day of the Netanyahu visit … released by WikiLeaks, she told the think tank’s founder, John D. Podesta, that the ‘far left hates me’ for hosting Mr. Netanyahu, but the invitation ‘may have sealed the deal with a new board member.’ Ms. Tanden was wooing Mr. [Jonathan] Lavine, a pro-Israel philanthropist.”

ZAID JILANI, [in D.C.] areo64 at gmail.com, @ZaidJilani
Jilani writes about political polarization for UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center and co-hosts “Extremely Offline,” a podcast “about better conversations between political tribes.” Jilani is blogging on the 2020 election at 2020watch.org.

He used to work at CAP and just wrote the piece “Constructive criticism of the Center for American Progress has helped make it more transparent and responsive over time” which states: “While I worked at the institution from 2009-2012, most of its donors were kept secret. However, following investigations by journalist Ken Silverstein, the think tank decided to disclose most of its donors.

“Similarly, I wrote several articles based off of presumably hacked and leaked emails from the inbox of the Ambassador from the United Arab Emirates that showed that the UAE was both financing CAP and using its senior staff to lobby the Trump administration and influence Washington policy. After a series of articles noting these ties, CAP eventually decided to end its financial relationship with the UAE, as was reported earlier this year.”

See piece by Silverstein from 2013 for The Nation: “The Secret Donors Behind the Center for American Progress and Other Think Tanks.”

International Court Caving to Trump Pressure

The New York Times reports: “Hague Court Abandons Afghanistan War Crimes Inquiry.”

MARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal at gmail.com, @marjoriecohn
Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She said today: “After conducting a preliminary examination, Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found ‘a reasonable basis to believe’ that ‘war crimes of torture and ill-treatment’ had been committed ‘by U.S. military forces deployed to Afghanistan and in secret detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency.’ In 2017, Bensouda recommended to the ICC’s Pretrial Chamber that it open a formal investigation, which could involve subpoenas and arrests.

“In March 2019, the U.S. announced it would revoke or deny visas to members of the ICC involved in the investigation of war crimes allegedly committed by U.S. or allied personnel in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened economic sanctions if such investigations proceed. On April 4, the U.S. made good on its threat and revoked Bensouda’s visa.

“On April 12, the Pretrial Chamber, apparently succumbing to U.S. threats, refused to authorize an investigation based not on a lack of jurisdiction or reasonable grounds, but on the ‘extremely limited’ prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution, in large part due to a demonstrated and anticipated lack of cooperation from authorities in Afghanistan and other relevant States.

“This refusal does not bode well for the prospects of international justice against war criminals not just in Afghanistan, but in Israel as well, as Bensouda continues herpreliminary examination into war crimes committed in Gaza.”

See Cohn’s pieces: “John Bolton Escalates Blackmail to Shield U.S. War Criminals” and “Lawyers Worldwide Urge International Court: Investigate Israeli Crimes.”

Also see Institute for Public Accuracy news release from last week: “Trump ICC and Iran Moves: Latest Attacks on International Law” with Prof. Francis Boyle, who filed the original complaint against Bush administration officials to the ICC and his interviews with The Real News: “Sec. of State Pompeo Protecting Bush Jr. from War Crimes Prosecution.”

Contrary to Reports, the U.S. Gov. Can Add Charges After Assange Extradition

In “Julian Assange Arrested in London as U.S. Unseals Hacking Conspiracy Indictment,” Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman and Eileen Sullivan of the New York Times state: “If Mr. [Julian] Assange is convicted on the conspiracy to hack offense alone, he could face up to five years in prison. The government could later seek to charge him with additional offenses, but because of extradition practices, any such superseding indictment would most likely need to come soon, before Britain formally decides whether to transfer custody of him.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press).

He said today: “The New York Times report is wrong and understates the dangers to Assange. What it states is normally the case in extradition treaties, but it’s not the case in the relevant U.S.-British extradition treaty.

“Once the U.S. government has Assange over here, they can concoct whatever charges they want to against him for anything and then ask the British to waive what’s called the Rule of Specialty. That could add up to much more than the current five years Assange is facing. The British government will almost certainly consent, unless Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister.

“I’d expect that Assange’s lawyers will try to use the European Court of Human Rights to stop the extradition and in any event, they would need to ensure that the British government receives assurance from the U.S. government that the death penalty will not be sought.”

Also see from the Freedom of the Press Foundation: “The Trump administration’s indictment of Julian Assange threatens core press freedom rights.”

Also see: Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed the Pentagon Papers, was just interviewed by The Real News. (As Assange was forced out of the Ecuadorian embassy, he was holding a book — Gore Vidal: History of the National Security State — based on a collection of interviews Vidal did with The Real News.)

Rep. Barbara Lee’s Startling Vote to Boost Military Spending

To the surprise of many, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) provided the winning margin in the House Budget Committee last week when she voted for a bill that would raise military spending by $17 billion next year. Some prominent constituents of the famously antiwar congresswoman are now vocally questioning her pivotal action.

GUS NEWPORT, gusnewport at gmail.com
Newport is former mayor of Berkeley, Calif. and former vice president from the U.S. to the World Peace Council. He said today: “It is with great sadness that I have to speak out in opposition to Congresswoman Barbara Lee for voting in favor of raising an already inflated military budget. She will always be remembered as the lone vote in September 2001 against a green light for endless war; however in no way is her present position justified.”

MICHAEL EISENSCHER, meisenscher at gmail.com, @meisenscher

National coordinator emeritus of U.S. Labor Against the War, Eisenscher said today: “Politicians are pragmatic about trading votes to move their legislative priorities. But there’s a difference between trading votes and trading away principles. The war machine and military-industrial complex consume more than half our discretionary budget, starving social programs and other national priorities in the name of ‘national security.’ Real national security is not determined by how large and lethal our military is but rather by whether our people earn living wages, have affordable housing, can see a doctor when needed without incurring huge medical bills and can go to college without becoming life-long indentured servants to their student loans. And we gain more influence in the world by being respected than by being feared.”

See recent piece — “Rep. Barbara Lee’s Startling Vote to Boost Military Spending” — by Norman Solomon, co-founder of RootsAction.org and founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Assange Arrest: “Nuclear Option” Against the First Amendment?

Consortium News notes in “Moreno Withdraws Asylum as Assange is Arrested” that Jen Robinson, a lawyer for Assange tweeted: “Just confirmed: Assange has been arrested not just for breach of bail conditions but also in relation to a U.S. extradition request.”

Edward Snowden tweeted: “Important background for journalists covering the arrest of Julian Assange by Ecuador: the United Nations formally ruled his detention to be arbitrary, a violation of human rights. They have repeatedly issued statements calling for him to walk free — including very recently.”

Last month, Chelsea Manning was jailed by the U.S. government for refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify in front of a grand jury believed to be investigating WikiLeaks’s publishing activities. Manning had revealed information that WikiLeaks made public, including the “Collateral Murder” video, which showed U.S. soldiers killing civilians, including media personnel, in Iraq: collateralmurder.wikileaks.org.

Floyd Abrams, author of The Soul of the First Amendment, has litigated a host of critical First Amendment cases. He provided the Institute for Public Accuracy with a statement responding to Attorney General William Barr’s remarks during his confirmation hearings: “It’s one thing to say that there could be circumstances in which a journalist’s need to protect her sources could lead to a potential finding of contempt of court if she refused to obey a court order requiring such disclosure. But the notion that a journalist could properly be jailed for publishing material that the government thinks could ‘hurt the country’ is something else entirely and would be deeply threatening to First Amendment norms in general and journalistic freedom in particular.”

ExposeFacts, a project of IPA, released a statement by Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg in 2017 warning: “Obama having opened the legal campaign against the press by going after the roots of investigative reporting on national security — the sources — Trump is going to go after the gatherers/gardeners themselves (and their bosses, publishers). To switch the metaphor, an indictment of Assange is a ‘first use’ of ‘the nuclear option’ against the First Amendment protection of a free press. (By the way, the charges they’re reportedly considering against him — conspiracy, theft, and violation of the Espionage Act — are exactly the charges I faced in 1971.)

“If journalists and publishers fail to call this out, denounce and resist it — on the spurious grounds that Julian is ‘not a real journalist’ like themselves — they’re offering themselves up to Trump … for indictments and prosecutions, which will eventually silence all but the heroes and heroines among them.”

JOE EMERSBERGER, jemersberger at aol.com@rosendo_joe
Emersberger wrote the piece “Assange Case Shows Support for Free Speech Depends on Who’s Talking” for the media watch group FAIR: “The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded in February 2016 that the governments of the UK and Sweden had forced WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange into a condition of arbitrary detention in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been since 2012. The group’s press release stated: ‘The expert panel called on the Swedish and British authorities to end Mr. Assange’s deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation.’

“Assange has never been charged with a crime in Sweden. At the secret urging of the UK government, Sweden refused for several years to question Assange in London regarding sexual assault allegations. That kept the case in ‘preliminary investigation’ limbo, while Sweden also refused to guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to the United States, where he is likely to face prosecution for his work as a publisher.”

Emersberger notes that a year ago “Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno made the conditions of Assange’s arbitrary detention much worse. … Moreno won the presidency in 2017 by running as a staunch Correa [the pervious president who gave Assange asylum at the Ecuadoran embassy in London] loyalist. Immediately after taking office, Moreno shifted dramatically to the right, disavowed the longstanding ties to Correa that he used to get elected, and, crucially, ensured that public media no longer provided a counterweight to Ecuador’s right-wing private media that always attacked Correa.”

“Russiagate” and “Media-Driven Hallucinations”

STEPHEN KINZER, kinzer.stephen at gmail.com, @stephenkinzer
Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. His books include Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq and most recently, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire.

He recently wrote the piece “The Folly of ‘Russiagate’” for the Boston Globe: “As long as Clinton and those who followed her off the electoral cliff believe [Russiagate], they can avoid self-criticism and blame someone else for her loss. Best of all, years of relentless attacks by American pundits and politicians have turned the person they want to blame — President Vladimir Putin of Russia — into a caricature of evil. That made it possible to imagine Putin as powerful enough to decide the outcome of a presidential election in the United States. Mueller’s report is a rude shock to those who dove down this rabbit hole.

“Media-driven hallucinations have shaped American political history. Spain’s 1898 destruction of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor propelled the United States into the Spanish-American War — but 70 years later the explosion was found to have been caused by sparks from the ship’s furnace. Congress voted to plunge into war in Vietnam after Communists attacked U.S. warships in the Gulf of Tonkin; later it became clear that no such attack occurred. As we prepared to invade Iraq in 2003, almost every important politician and media outlet parroted baseless assertions that Iraq had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction.”

He warns that as “Russiagate” “becomes dogma, anyone in Washington who urges diplomacy with Russia is stigmatized. That is more dangerous to our security than anything that happened during the last presidential campaign.”

Also see Kinzer’s piece “How to Interfere in a Foreign Election.”

See some of the past Institute for Public Accuracy news releases on “Russiagate.” Also see from FAIR by Sam Husseini: “Triumph of Conventional Wisdom: AP Expunges Iran/Contra Pardons from Barr’s Record.”

Trump ICC and Iran Moves: Latest Attacks on International Law

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press).

In “Trump Designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a Foreign Terrorist Group” the New York Times reports: “The timing of Mr. Trump’s announcement appeared aimed at giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel a final boost in a tight re-election campaign before a vote on Tuesday.”

Boyle said today that the administration’s move is “a complete negation and violation of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949 and thus a war crime. It opens us up to reprisals against our own military forces. Under the laws of war, reprisals against military personnel are permissible. This is continuing down the path of Bush Jr. determining that Taliban and Al Qaeda are not protected by the Geneva Conventions, which was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hamdan decision. …. Iran could now determine that U.S. Special Forces, Seals, Green Berets, Rangers, etc. are terrorists and thus do not benefit from the Third Geneva Convention. Apparently, for that reason, the Pentagon was against it.”

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council has responded to the U.S. government move by designating the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and all the “forces connected to it” as a “terrorist group.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently announced “a policy of U.S. visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any I.C.C. [International Criminal Court] investigation of U.S. personnel. This includes persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation. These visa restrictions may also be used to deter I.C.C. efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent.”

Boyle referred cases against top U.S. government officials to the International Criminal Court. He also advised Mahmoud Abbas to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

In an interview published Monday with The Real News, Boyle said the “I.C.C. investigation, despite what Pompeo said, is not really against U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The I.C.C. does not have jurisdiction as it were to go after low-level soldiers. Basically, the I.C.C. in the case of the United States, would be going after the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the head of the C.I.A.” See: “Sec. of State Pompeo Protecting Bush Jr. from War Crimes Prosecution

Also see recent IPA news release: “Trump’s Recognition of Golan Violates International Law.”

House Clears Yemen War Powers

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna issued the following joint statement today after the House passed the Yemen War Powers Resolution. The resolution will now be sent to President Trump’s desk. “Today, the U.S. House of Representatives took a clear stand against war and famine and for Congress’ war powers by voting to end our complicity in the war in Yemen. This is the first time in the history of this nation that a War Powers Resolution has passed the House and Senate and made it to the president’s desk. Despite the many procedural roadblocks deployed in both chambers to block this resolution, commitment to human rights and Congressional responsibility prevailed. Finally, the U.S. Congress has reclaimed its constitutional authority over matters of war and peace.”

JEHAN HAKIM, hakimjehan at gmail.com
Hakim is chair of the Yemeni Alliance Committee [see on Facebook], a leading grassroots group on the issue.

HASSAN EL-TAYYAB, eltayyab at justforeignpolicy.org, @justfp
El-Tayyab is co-director of Just Foreign Policy, see their campaigns on Yemen and on War Powers.

See prior Institute for Public Accuracy news releases on the issue.

Note: The ACLU has voiced legal objections to exceptions contained in the legislation since the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force is still in effect.

Rev. Tutu Among Luminaries Backing Activists Facing 25 Years for Nuclear Weapons Action

A host of luminaries, including Nobel Peace Prize laureates Rev. Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and Jody Williams, have released a joint statement/petition backing a groups of activists — the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 — who “nonviolently and symbolically disarmed the Trident nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia.”

The action took place on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — a year ago Thursday.

The nonviolent activists — several of whom have been behind bars for the past year, including Elizabeth McAlister, the widow of Phil Berrigan — are facing decades in jail. Other plowshares activists, and people in the support network, are now available for interviews, see below. Their trial is expected to start in the coming weeks.

Other signers of the statement include noted critics of U.S. foreign policy Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed the Pentagon Papers and recently wrote the book The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.

[The group’s supporters in a news release on Wednesday give critical background and note that NATO, which is this week being celebrated in Washington, D.C. (with its secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg addressing a joint meeting of Congress today), overwhelmingly opposes the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is supported in the statement.]

Here is the petition, with a listing of the initial signers, which is now open for all to sign:

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (KBP7) are facing a federal trial and a 25-year prison term for having confronted a system in which nuclear weapons that can destroy all creation are accepted as a normal, even inevitable, part of life.

This threat, and the lack of public outrage over it, compelled seven principled activists (Elizabeth McAlister, Stephen Kelly S.J., Martha Hennessy, Clare Grady, Patrick O’Neill, Mark Colville, and Carmen Trotta) to enter Naval Station Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia on the 50th anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. Kings Bay is homeport to six U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarines carrying hundreds of nuclear weapons, many of which have up to 30 times the explosive power of the bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. Following the Prophet Isaiah’s Biblical command to “beat swords into plowshares” (Is. 2:4), the seven were also acting legally to uphold anti-nuclear treaties as the supreme law of the land according to the U.S. Constitution, international law manifested in the U.N. Charter and the Nuremberg principles. By their actions at Kings Bay, they sought to draw attention to the urgency of withdrawing consent and dismantling what Dr. King called the “triple evils” of racism, excessive materialism, and militarism. The KBP7’s action statement reads: “Nuclear weapons eviscerate the rule of law, enforce white supremacy, perpetuate endless war and environmental destruction, and ensure impunity for all manner of crimes against humanity. Dr. King said, ‘The ultimate logic of racism is genocide.’ We say, ‘The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide. A just and peaceful world is possible when we join prayers with action. Swords into Plowshares!’”

We who share the moral vision of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 proclaim our support for their courage and sustained sacrifice and call for the immediate dismissal of all charges against them. The defendants invite us to act creatively. They invite us to join global coalitions working to promote governments’ adherence to, and full implementation of, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. They also invite us to participate in campaigns for divestment from nuclear weapons as complementary efforts towards the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Three of the Plowshares activists are still behind bars: Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J., Elizabeth McAlister, and Mark Colville (Amistad Catholic Worker, New Haven, Conn.) have been in a rural county jail in Georgia since their arrest last year.

Four of the defendants are out of jail on bail, bond and GPS monitors, and are available for interviews. They are Clare Grady (daughter of John Grady, Camden 28), Ithaca Catholic Worker, N.Y.; Martha Hennessy (granddaughter of co-founder of the Catholic Worker, Dorothy Day) of Vermont; Patrick O’Neill of the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker, Garner, N.C.; and Carmen Trotta of the New York City Catholic Worker.

For interviews, contact:
Mary Anne Grady Flores, in Ithaca, N.Y., gradyflores08 at gmail.com, @kingsbayplow7
Bill Ofenloch, in NYC, billcpf at aol.com

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