News Releases

Will Biden Continue Bombings?

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As thousands of troops were deployed to Washington, D.C. during Joe Biden’s inauguration, Rev. Silvester Beaman gave the benediction, saying: “We will make friends of our enemies. We will make friends of our enemies. People, your people, should no longer raise up weapons against each other. We will rather use our resources for the national good and become a beacon of life and goodwill to the world. And neither shall we learn hatred anymore. We will lie down in peace and not make our neighbors afraid.”

As of a few days ago, the U.S. government has now been bombing Iraq for 30 years.

Chris Wood of airwars.org just tweeted: “Amid discussions about what Biden’s foreign policy might look like, it’s worth noting that he’ll be inheriting U.S. military actions at a post-9/11 low. The U.S. declared around 1,000 strikes last year across four theatres — down from 13,000 under Obama in 2016. … Given this low level of U.S. military engagement there’s clearly an opportunity for the incoming Biden administration radically to rethink overseas actions.”

See Sen. Rand Paul’s questioning of Biden Secretary of State nominee Anthony Blinken about the U.S. government’s wars in Libya, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Mali and numerous other countries.

KATHY KELLY, kathy.vcnv@gmail.com, @voiceinwild
Kelly is a peace activist and author working to end U.S. military and economic wars. She just wrote the piece “About Suffering: A Massacre of the Innocents in Yemen” which states: ” Yemeni children are not ‘starving children;’ they are being starved by warring parties whose blockades and bomb attacks have decimated the country. The United States is supplying devastating weaponry and diplomatic support to the Saudi-led coalition, while additionally launching its own ‘selective’ aerial attacks against suspected terrorists and all the civilians in those suspects’ vicinity.” AFP reports that Blinken stated yesterday, regarding support for Saudi Arabia’s attacks: “our support should end.”

DAVID SWANSON, davidcnswanson@gmail.com@davidcnswanson
Swanson is executive director of World Beyond War and campaign coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was just on an accuracy.org news release on Blinken.

Leading Big Tech Lawyer May Head Biden Antitrust

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The Intercept and The American Prospect are reporting “Renata Hesse, who has worked for Google and Amazon, is the leading candidate to run the Justice Department’s antitrust division.”

MAX MORAN, moran@cepr.net@revolvingdoorDC

Moran is a researcher at the Revolving Door Project and said today: “In 2010, Renata Hesse worked alongside Ted Cruz to persuade the Texas Attorney General not to sue to break up Google’s monopoly over the online search market. As recently as 2018, Hesse publicly stated that she thinks people mostly use Google Search ‘because they like it better’ (not because of its fiercely-defended priority status in most internet browsers) and that it would be wrong to punish Google ‘because they did a great job.’

   “And yet if appointed assistant attorney general for antitrust, Hesse would inherit a DOJ case joined by almost every attorney general nationwide to break up her former client. Moreover, Hesse’s deputies might find themselves arguing against their boss’ spouse: her husband, Joshua Soven, is a fellow antitrust lawyer representing Google and employed by its go-to law firm Wilson Sonsini.

   “Just as concerning is that in 2017, Hesse assisted Amazon in its acquisition of Whole Foods. While the federal government has not yet announced plans to sue to break up Amazon, activist coalitions have called for antitrust action against the firm. Under Amazon, moreover, Whole Foods has engaged in unprecedented mass surveillance of employees to deter unionization.

“Notably, when Hesse served at the DOJ in 2005, she protected TurboTax-creator Intuit from the threat of a competitor offering free tax filing to all taxpayers, by deploying a tortured reading of antitrust law. If not for Hesse, Americans might not need to pay to file their taxes this year.

   “Hesse’s past work defending Google and enabling Amazon’s acquisitions create irresolvable conflicts of interest that must disqualify her from serving in a Biden administration’s DOJ antitrust division or Federal Trade Commission.”

See past accuracy.org news releases on Biden’s cabinet.

Questions for Blinken Today

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President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, is scheduled to have his confirmation hearing today at 2:00 p.m. ET.

DAVID SWANSON, davidcnswanson@gmail.com@davidcnswanson
Swanson is executive director of World Beyond War and campaign coordinator of RootsAction.org, which just sent out an email to their membership urging Senators to ask Binken serious questions: “Blinken should be asked about his role in helping start wars in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Which of those wars does he now regret? What would he do to prevent similar catastrophes going forward?

“The trend of the past dozen years is away from ground wars in favor of air wars. This often means more killing, more injuring, and more making people homeless, but with an even higher percentage of all that suffering concentrated on the non-U.S. side. We need to know whether Blinken favors continuing this trend and how he claims to defend it morally and legally.

“Much of the U.S. public has been wanting an end to endless wars, and President-elect Biden has promised it. Blinken has suggested that endless wars shouldn’t really be ended. We need to know which of these wars, if any, he supports actually ending every U.S. role in: Yemen? Afghanistan? Syria? Iraq? Somalia?

   “Blinken co-founded WestExec Advisors, a company that helps war profiteers get contracts, and serves as a revolving door for unscrupulous individuals who get rich from private money for what they do and whom they get to know in their public jobs. WestExec has paid Blinken nearly $1.2 million for advising corporations, including seven that have recently lobbied the State Department, including Facebook, Boeing, and Blackstone.” See the full backgrounder.

See past accuracy.org news releases regarding Blinken.

New Domestic Terrorism Legislation “Would Make It Worse”

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CHIP GIBBONS, chip@defendingdissent.org, @ChipGibbons89
Policy director at Defending Rights & Dissent, Gibbons recently wrote the piece “The Capitol Riot Was Bad Enough. New Domestic Terrorism Legislation Would Make It Even Worse” for Jacobin, which states that since 9/11, the U.S. government has erected a vast “apparatus in the name of ‘national security.’ Yet this security apparatus completely failed to thwart a plot carried out in plain sight.

“On top of that, just last summer, demonstrations against police violence and racism were repeatedly met with militarized police and wanton repression. In a country where you can’t even take expired suntan lotion past airport security, where Quakers organizing against the death penalty are surveilled in the name of ‘counterterrorism,’ and where police that resemble an occupying army — because they are literally equipped with gear from an occupying army — greet peaceful protests, it’s rational to wonder just how all of this could have happened.

“One thing is certain: the failure to prevent the Capitol attack is not because of a lack of police powers or anti-terrorism measures. Still, some people have wasted no time hijacking the moment to advocate new domestic terrorism legislation. A lawmaker in the solidly Democratic state of Maryland has proposed a state domestic terrorism statute, and others are sure to follow.

“This is not the first time in recent memory that far-right violence has sparked calls for new domestic terrorism legislation. The general uptick in violence that has plagued the Trump years, including the horrific white supremacist shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, has produced a steady drumbeat of demands for a new domestic terrorism law. Joe Biden’s campaign website put him on record as backing a new domestic terrorism law, though it’s unclear where he currently stands.”

Last year, The Intercept published Gibbon’s in-depth investigation: “FBI Opened Terrorism Investigations Into Nonviolent Palestinian Solidarity Group, Documents Reveal.”

See National Security Archives documents on FBI and NSA spying on Martin Luther King Jr.

You Can’t Fight Fascism by Expanding the Police State

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EVAN GREER, evan@fightforthefuture.org, @fightfortheftr

Greer is deputy director of Fight for the Future and recently wrote the piece “You can’t fight fascism by expanding the police state” for Fast Company, which states: “In the coming days and weeks we are likely to see pundits and lawmakers call for things like passing a new domestic terrorism law, expanding mass surveillance programs, increasing funding for the FBI and law enforcement, installing backdoors in encrypted messaging apps, and arming police with more technology like facial recognition and social media monitoring software. …

“This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing. Expanding the U.S. government’s already bloated surveillance state will only bring more terror and harm to the same communities that Trump targeted with his racist policies and rhetoric. …

“President-elect Joe Biden has already expressed that he supports the creation of a new domestic terrorism statute. Experts warn that a new law isn’t needed — acts of terrorism are already illegal. Creating a new designation would fail to prevent right-wing attacks while threatening marginalized communities with increased surveillance, prosecution, and harassment for engaging in First Amendment protected activities. In the last few years, top Democrats and Republicans have called for billions of dollars in additional funding for the FBI, and have scuttled attempts to rein in the phone and internet spying programs enabled by the USA Patriot Act, which was rushed through Congress faster than lawmakers could read it in the immediate wake of 9/11.”

Samantha Power’s Yemen Record and Potential for More Disasters at USAID

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NPR reports: “President-elect Joe Biden has nominated former UN Ambassador Samantha Power to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development. Biden also said he was elevating that role — USAID administrator — to be a member of the White House National Security Council.”

The International Rescue Committee has released a statement: “24 million Yemenis at catastrophic humanitarian risk following new U.S. terrorist designations of Ansar Allah, warns IRC.”

DANIEL KOVALIK, dkovalik@outlook.com, @danielmkovalik
Kovalik is the author of No More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using “Humanitarian” Intervention To Advance its Economic and Strategic Interests (see on Simon and Schuster’s website.)

He was featured on an accuracy.org news release last month: “Samantha Power’s Role in Yemen Disaster.”

Said Kovalik: “While making her name by penning a Pulitzer-prize award-winning book inveighing against the evils of genocide — A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide — Power went on as Obama’s ambassador to the UN to actually help facilitate quite possibly the greatest slaughter of innocents in modern history.”

Kovalik cites the work of Shireen Al-Adeimi who wrote the piece “How Dare Samantha Power Scrub the Yemen War From Her Memoir,” which states that Power, in her 2019 autobiography, The Edu­ca­tion of an Ide­al­ist, “down­plays her role in the blood­shed that fol­lowed in Libya. … The most strik­ing thing about Power’s mem­oir is her com­plete omis­sion of her role in what became the world’s worst human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis: the ongo­ing U.S. inter­ven­tion in Yemen.”

See past accuracy.org news releases on USAID.

See “Democracy Now” segment from 2014: “Is USAID the New CIA? Agency Secretly Built Cuban Twitter Program to Fuel Anti-Castro Protests.”

Threats of Impeachment, Wagging the Dog as Pompeo and Facebook Join in Targeting Iran

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Journalist Dan Cohen tweets that today’s Facebook “ban on PressTV comes hours before [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo’s speech to lie the U.S. into war with Iran and shortly after Pompeo’s dinner with Israel’s top spy. This isn’t a coincidence.” (See 2018 accuracy.org news release: “Following Assassination Attempt, Facebook Pulled Venezuela Content.” and 2019 “Israel Bombs Palestinians as Twitter Censors Them.”)

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg’s piece “Donald Trump’s parting gift to the world? It may be war with Iran” was just published in The Guardian.

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
Boyle is a professor of law at the University of Illinois. Since the storming of the Capitol, he has been calling for the immediate impeachment and conviction of Trump. See his interview with Dennis Bernstein on Flashpoints the day after the Capitol riot: “Professor Francis Boyle on Why Trump Must Be Removed NOW.

Boyle argues for impeachment as an immediate remedy to address “the seditious storming of the Capitol” as well as to prevent Trump from “further illegal activities, like attacking Iran.” The Trump administration just designated the Cuban government as a state sponsor of terrorism and Yemen’s Ansar Allah as terrorists, prompting the International Rescue Committee to warn the latter puts “24 million Yemenis at catastrophic humanitarian risk.” Said Boyle: “These designations are horrible as it is, but we cannot put anything past Trump, including the possibility of a wag the dog scenario by attacking Iran.”

Boyle stresses that the Democratic leadership should have immediately moved to impeach Trump last week, but instead, “they have been engaging in Kabuki theater.” He adds that any new “terrorism” law would simply be a pretext to have further reductions in civil liberties — “like George W. Bush did with the Patriot Act after 9/11.”
Thirty years ago, as George H. W. Bush began the 1991 attack on Iraq, Boyle drafted the impeachment resolution that Rep. Henry B. González introduced at the time against Bush. George H. W. Bush would later state in his memoirs that impeachment was a concern, writing that if the war “drags out, not only will I take the blame, but I will probably have impeachment proceedings filed against me,” indicating that the threat of impeachment may have averted a ground war at the time. The Obama administration was also concerned about impeachment over attacking Syria.

Abolish the Electoral College?

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Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties is introducing a bill Monday to abolish the Electoral College.

STEVEN MULROY, smulroy@memphis.edu
Mulroy is Bredesen professor of law at the University of Memphis and author of Rethinking U.S. Election Law.

He said today: “Fair elections should have all votes count the same, avoid encouraging officials to play favorites, and never let someone with fewer votes beat someone with more votes. The Electoral College fails all three of these basic tests. It is an outmoded relic. While abolishing outright would be great and valuable to debate in Congress, a constitutional amendment will be challenging to win. That’s why the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is so crucial. We are 70 percent of the way toward making the Compact effective.”

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would “guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.”

Trump’s Twitter Suspension Raises Calls for Democratic Accountability

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Following the Capitol Hill riot which delayed Congress certifying the Electoral College results, Donald Trump was banned by Twitter, Facebook and other big tech corporations. Google removed the far-right user-friendly platform Parler from its mobile app store and Apple threatened the same.
 
THOMAS HANNA, tmhanna@democracycollaborative.org, @ThomasMHanna  
    Hanna is director of research at The Democracy Collaborative. He is the author of the book Our Common Wealth: The Return of Public Ownership in the United States.

MICHAEL BRENNAN, mb@democracypolicy.network, @mrbrnn
    Brennan is a research fellow at The Democracy Collaborative and a policy organizer at the Democracy Policy Network.

    Hanna and Brennan recently published an article in Jacobin: “There’s No Solution to Big Tech Without Public Ownership.” They contributed to the report from Common Wealth UK and The Democracy Collaborative as part of the think tanks’ Ownership Futures project: “A Common Platform: Reimagining Data and Platforms.”

    Following the suspension of Donald Trump’s Twitter account, Brennan said: “While people may laugh at the absurdity of the Twitter President being put in permanent time-out, it raises a serious question about decision-making. There is an ongoing constitutional crisis occurring within and between the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government. Citizens depend on media to communicate events and narratives as they unfold in real-time, but the means of communication have long been unaccountable to users, workers, or governments. What are the implications of platform monopolies’ direct intervention in political conflict?

    “In October, the House Judiciary Committee completed its historic investigation into Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, which included evidence for Google and Apple’s duopoly in mobile app stores. The duos move to bar platforms who do not conform to their standard of free speech, such as Parler, effectively limits the entire social media ecosystem to that decided by the dominant platforms. …

    “The companies face Congressional investigation, antitrust lawsuits, tense political maneuvers, as well as recent major union activity with the formation of the Alphabet Workers Union. But the terms of this debate are still narrowly focused on ‘increasing competition’ rather than a full-scale re-imagination of the platform economy away from surveillance capitalism and toward democratic control.”

Slava Zilber posited that monopolies are now targeting rightwingers because Democrats are now in charge of Congress.

See past Institute for Public Accuracy news releases:

From 2020: “Zoom Censors University Event

2019: “Israel Bombs Palestinians as Twitter Censors Them

2018: “Following Assassination Attempt, Facebook Pulled Venezuela Content

Biden Nominating Victoria “F*ck the EU” Nuland

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Various media outlets are reporting that Joe Biden will nominate Victoria Nuland for the influential role of under secretary of state for political affairs.

JAMES CARDEN, jamescarden09@gmail.com
Carden is the executive editor of the American Committee for East-West Accord and founding editor thescrum.substack.com. He is also a former adviser to the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Commission.

He said today: “Victoria Nuland has had a long and storied career in the foreign service and for a long time was viewed with something like reverence by career officers. Nuland served as U.S. Ambassador to NATO and later was national security adviser to vice president Dick Cheney. After that, Nuland found herself on the ‘outs’ at the State Department during the early Obama years. But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had other plans for Nuland, the well-connected wife of the neoconservative publicist Robert Kagan. Clinton, to the astonishment of many of the political appointees in Clinton’s orbit, plucked Nuland from the obscurity of her position at the Naval War College to become Clinton’s spokeswoman.

“This was the road back to influence and Nuland used it, quickly ascending to the position of assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. It is from that post that she oversaw U.S. efforts to encourage a street coup in Kiev — going so far as to hand out cookies to anti-government protesters alongside the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. The February 2014 coup, undertaken by an alliance of pro-Western liberalizers and hardline anti-Semitic militants, resulted not in a more peaceful order, but in a civil war (in which both Russia and NATO funded and armed their proxies) that resulted in the loss of over 10,000 lives and the displacement of well over a million people from the Russophone east. After the coup, Nuland became an unwitting symbol of American heavy-handedness in the region when a call between her and Pyatt leaked in which they were seen to be hand-picking personnel for the new government in Ukraine. What would the EU think? ‘Fuck the EU,’ exclaimed Nuland, a diplomat.

“After the coup — violent and unnecessary, given that the deposed Ukrainian leader had agreed to an early peaceful transition at the ballot box, Nuland bragged at a conference sponsored by Chevron that: ‘Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic participation and good governance. … We’ve invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.’

“In the years following, we have ‘invested’ a great deal more money into Ukraine — for questionable returns. But the affair has not seemed to have clouded Nuland’s career prospects. Smart, well-connected, and well-liked, she, like many of her fellow neocons, seems to move from strength to strength in this town, never held to account for the damage they’ve caused. After her stint in the State Department ended (she was replaced in the early Trump years by the woefully unqualified neocon operative A. Wess Mitchell), Nuland took up what one can only assume were lucrative positions on the other side of the revolving door at the Center for a New American Security (where she served as CEO), the Boston Consulting Group and the Albright Stonebridge Group (from which, perhaps not coincidentally, her future boss, Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman, hails).

“Her views on Russia and European affairs are well known. Less known, however, are her views on America’s role in the Middle East. Let’s hope that changes because in an article in Foreign Affairs earlier this year, Nuland lamented that the U.S., under Trump, ‘made both Putin’s and Assad’s lives easier by neutralizing a shared threat, the Islamic State, or, ISIS.’

“As Biden’s undersecretary of political affairs, Nuland would have immense influence over policy and personnel. Progressives in Congress and their partners in the media, think tank world and among grassroots activists should join forces with the growing caucus of anti-interventionist Republicans on the Hill and vigorously oppose this nomination.”

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