News Releases

World Said No to Iraq War, Backers of Invasion Now Running Policy

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STEPHEN ZUNES, zunes@usfca.edu
Zunes is professor of politics at the University of San Francisco who has written extensively on the Mideast. He said today: “Eighteen years ago today, tens of millions of people around the world, in the largest single protest event in history, came out against the incipient U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. I spoke before half a million people gathered in San Francisco. Every mainline Christian denomination, 90 percent of Mideast scholars, and the vast majority of the world’s governments were saying no to war. The following current U.S. office-holders, however, insisted we were all wrong and that Bush and Cheney were right:
Joe Biden (President)
Anthony Blinken (Secretary of State)
Chuck Schumer (Senate Majority Leader)
Mitch McConnell (Senate Minority Leader)
Steny Hoyer (House Majority Leader)
Kevin McCarthy (House Minority Leader)

“In other words, current leaders of both the executive and legislative branches have demonstrated their belief that the United States somehow has the right to illegally invade a country on the far side of the world that is no threat to us despite being warned of the disastrous humanitarian, strategic, fiscal, and environmental consequences. People like that should not be in positions of power. Don’t think for a moment they won’t try to get us into another war. (And they all insist we should still have combat troops in Iraq 18 years later.)”

Will Biden End the Militarization of Police?

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JARIBU HILL, jaribu.hill@gmail.com@truthteller711@blacks4peace
NETFA FREEMAN, netfa@ips-dc.org@Netfafree

Hill and Freeman are both on the coordinating committee of the Black Alliance for Peace. Freeman is writing a forthcoming book: Community Control Over Police.    The group recently released a statement calling for an executive order to end the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which siphons military equipment to police in the U.S.

The group states: “The gratuitous militarization of police forces across the United States through this program has helped to turn these agencies into brutal weapons of repression. Therefore, nothing short of complete abolition of this program is acceptable.

“BAP has demanded abolition of the 1033 program since BAP’s 2017 founding. It now asks the public to sign a petition (available in English and Spanish) demanding the Biden administration and Democrats commit to abolishing this racist and brutal program.”

Hill is also executive director of the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights. She added: “Here in the belly of the Deep South beast, we understand the harsh and irreversible effects measures like 1033 have had and continue to have on those who languish in poverty, forced to live in shanty shacks and tenements.” She formerly served as municipal judge for the city of Hollandale and is a human rights attorney and a veteran community organizer.

The group noted: “The National Defense Authorization Act of 1997 that then-Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) supported and President Bill Clinton (D) signed into law created the 1033 program by expanding on a previous program.”Responding to outrage about the heavily militarized police response to protests after Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama enacted a policy in 2015 that appeared to limit the program, but made little difference in any department’s ability to acquire and use military weapons.

“Even with the scale-back, the Obama administration managed to transfer a $459 million arsenal to police agencies. …

“President Donald Trump came into office and reversed Obama’s cosmetic changes. What the Biden administration is now proposing by reversing Trump’s reversal to the Obama policy is not enough, as reverting the policy to Obama’s altered version is not justice.”

Biden Continuing Assange Prosecution, Launched By Trump DOJ

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KEVIN GOSZTOLA, kevin@shadowproof.com, @kgosztola
Managing editor of Shadowproof, Gosztola just wrote the piece “Assange Prosecution, Launched By Trump Justice Department, Will Continue Under Biden.”

He writes: “The Justice Department under President Joe Biden plans to continue the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that was launched under President Donald Trump.

“‘We continue to seek his extradition,’ Justice Department spokesperson Marc Raimondi told Reuters, days before February 12, the deadline for the United States government to submit its ‘grounds for appeal.’

“The statement represents a departure from President Barack Obama’s administration, which declined to prosecute Assange. Justice Department officials were reportedly concerned about the threat it would pose to press freedom.

“On January 4, British district judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the U.S. government’s extradition request and concluded Assange’s mental condition was ‘such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America.'”

Gosztola notes that earlier this week “a coalition of civil liberties, press freedom, and human rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Center for Constitutional Rights, Committee to Protect Journalists, Fight for the Future, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Human Rights Watch, PEN America, Project on Government Oversight, and Reporters Without Borders, signed on to a letter demanding that the Biden Justice Department drop the charges against Assange. …

“During Biden’s first foreign policy speech on February 4, he proclaimed, ‘We believe a free press isn’t an adversary; rather, it’s essential. A free press is essential to the health of a democracy.’ …

“However … U.S. security agencies believe they should monitor, neutralize, and even target dissident media organizations that may employ practices pioneered by WikiLeaks.”

See Gosztola’s extensive reporting on Assange’s trial, which he covered in London.

While vice president, Biden likened Assange to a “hi-tech terrorist.”

Debunking Biden State Dept. Claim Putting Israel Above the Law

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Friday evening, the U.S. State Department released a statement: “Opposing International Criminal Court Attempts to Affirm Territorial Jurisdiction Over the Palestinian Situation.”

JOHN QUIGLEY, quigley.2@osu.edu
Professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley’s books include The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict and The International Diplomacy of Israel’s Founders: Deception at the United Nations in the Quest for Palestine (both Cambridge University Press).

He said today: “The United States bucks the international consensus by claiming that Palestine is not a state. The U.S. opposition to an investigation into war crimes committed in Palestine hinders the International Criminal Court in preventing such crimes. The decision by the pre-trial chamber to allow an investigation to proceed will allow the Prosecutor to investigate crimes committed by both sides. One of the war crimes the Prosecutor seeks to investigate is the transfer of civilians to Israeli settlements in the Palestine territory that Israel occupies. That activity is defined as a crime in international law, because a belligerent occupant does not gain a right to move its own people into the territory it occupies. The actions of Israeli officials in regard to the settlements is almost universally regarded as a war crime. The International Criminal Court is the only international institution that has jurisdiction to investigate this crime. It has that jurisdiction because Palestine, as a state, is party to the Statute of the International Criminal Court. The fact that the United States does not consider Palestine to be a state does not keep the International Criminal Court from taking jurisdiction. An investigation will now be able to proceed.”

Also see recent accuracy.org news release: “Desmond Tutu: Biden Should End Israeli Nuclear Cover-up and Save Billions.”

Biden Says He’s Ending the Yemen War, but Will He?

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SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI, @shireen818
Al-Adeimi an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University. Since 2015, she has played an active role in raising awareness about the Saudi-led war on her country of birth, Yemen, and works to encourage political action to end U.S. support.

She just wrote the piece “Biden Says He’s Ending the Yemen War — But It’s Too Soon to Celebrate” for In These Times. She gives Biden credit for positive moves, but scrutinizes his speech at the State Department yesterday in which he said: “We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen including relevant arms sales. … At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks and UAV strikes and other threats from Iranian supplied forces in multiple countries. We are going to continue to help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.”
But Al-Adeimi notes: “Unfortunately, qualifiers like ‘offensive’ and ‘relevant’ do not signal a clear commitment to ending all forms of support for the U.S. war in Yemen, which includes targeting assistance, weapons sales (the U.S. is the largest supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia), logistics, training, and intelligence sharing with the Saudi-led coalition. Labeling Yemen’s Houthis as ‘Iranian supplied forces,’ and making a commitment to defending Saudi Arabia’s ‘sovereignty,’ echoes President Obama’s initial pretense for entering the war on Yemen in 2015. …

“Importantly, [National Security Advisor Jake] Sullivan noted that ending the war in Yemen ‘does not extend to actions against AQAP,’ or al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. While sanctioned by the [2001] AUMF [which is continuing to be used to justify attacks in many countries], it’s important to oppose this parallel U.S.-led war in Yemen that has also led to the killing of civilians.

“Now, more than ever, it is vital to hold a firm line about what a real end to U.S. participation in the Yemen war means: an end to all U.S. assistance, including intelligence sharing, logistical help, training, providing spare parts transfers for warplanes, bomb targeting, weapons sales and support for the naval blockade (we still don’t know the full extent of U.S. support for the latter). It also requires that the United States immediately reverse the Trump administration’s designation of the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), a determination that is cutting off critical aid to northern Yemen and significantly escalating the crisis of mass starvation.

“Because these things have not yet come to pass, it is critical to keep up the pressure until the war is really ended. As much as we might welcome positive messaging – no doubt a result of the pressure exerted by dogged organizers – we must not rest until we have won actual material relief. …

“The Obama-Biden administration made numerous announcements in 2012 and 2013 that it would end the U.S. war in Afghanistan by 2014. But we saw that declarations do not, in themselves, end U.S. aggression. This principle especially applies when declarations are loaded with red-flag-raising qualifiers like ‘offensive operations’ and ‘relevant weapons systems.'”

Over 100 Groups Call for Biden to Close Guantánamo

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More than a hundred human rights and civil liberties groups are calling on President Joe Biden to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and end indefinite military detention.

See the letter they have signed, noting that Guantánamo was “designed specifically to evade legal constraints, and where Bush administration officials incubated torture. … United States government has viewed communities of color — citizens and non-citizens alike — through a security threat lens, to devastating consequences. … It is long past time for both a sea change in the United States’ approach to national and human security, and a meaningful reckoning with the full scope of damage that the post-9/11 approach has caused. Closing Guantánamo and ending indefinite detention of those held there is a necessary step towards those ends. We urge you to act without delay, and in a just manner that considers the harm done to the men who have been imprisoned without charge or fair trials for nearly 20 years.”

Among the groups signing the letter are the Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Victims of Torture, American Civil Liberties Union, Immigrant Advocacy Project, Physicians for Human Rights, Muslim Solidarity Committee and Witness Against Torture.

Available for interviews:

ALIYA HUSSAIN, via Jen Nessel, jnessel@ccrjustice.org@theCCR
Hussain, a Center for Constitutional Rights advocacy program manager said: “That so many groups are calling for an end to the indefinite detention of Muslim men without charge or fair trial at Guantánamo, and see it as part of a broader movement to uphold human rights, demand accountability for U.S.-sanctioned torture and violence, and fundamentally change the flawed criminal legal system, is significant. There is wide-ranging public support for President Biden to close Guantánamo. He must take bold and decisive action, and we will hold him accountable until he does.”

Over 100 Groups Call for Biden to Close Guantánamo

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More than a hundred human rights and civil liberties groups are calling on President Joe Biden to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and end indefinite military detention.

See the letter they have signed, noting that Guantánamo was “designed specifically to evade legal constraints, and where Bush administration officials incubated torture. … United States government has viewed communities of color — citizens and non-citizens alike — through a security threat lens, to devastating consequences. … It is long past time for both a sea change in the United States’ approach to national and human security, and a meaningful reckoning with the full scope of damage that the post-9/11 approach has caused. Closing Guantánamo and ending indefinite detention of those held there is a necessary step towards those ends. We urge you to act without delay, and in a just manner that considers the harm done to the men who have been imprisoned without charge or fair trials for nearly 20 years.”

Among the groups signing the letter are the Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Victims of Torture, American Civil Liberties Union, Immigrant Advocacy Project, Physicians for Human Rights, Muslim Solidarity Committee and Witness Against Torture.
Available for interviews:

ALIYA HUSSAIN, via Jen Nessel, jnessel@ccrjustice.org@theCCR
Hussain, a Center for Constitutional Rights advocacy program manager said: “That so many groups are calling for an end to the indefinite detention of Muslim men without charge or fair trial at Guantánamo, and see it as part of a broader movement to uphold human rights, demand accountability for U.S.-sanctioned torture and violence, and fundamentally change the flawed criminal legal system, is significant. There is wide-ranging public support for President Biden to close Guantánamo. He must take bold and decisive action, and we will hold him accountable until he does.”

Nonviolent Resistance to Myanmar Coup

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MICHAEL BEER, michael@nonviolenceinternational.net, @NVIntl
Executive director of Nonviolence International, Beer has been to Myanmar many times and has worked for 30 years supporting the nonviolent campaigns for peace, justice, and democracy in the country. He is in contact with activists there, many of whom are afraid to speak publicly.

He said today: “The people of Myanmar are resisting the military coup d’etat. Government doctors are going on strike. Myanmar citizens responded last night by engaging in a mass nonviolent tactic of caceleroza which involves the banging of pots and pans. Many governments, including South East Asian nations, are protesting. Ethnic minorities in the country are united in opposition. World-wide, citizens are planning to re-launch global boycotts. This coup will not succeed if enough pressure can be brought upon the coup plotters.

“Despite the overwhelming electoral defeat of the military’s political party, the military has copied U.S. former president Trump’s strategy of criticizing the validity of the election and are now trying to overturn the election. This may have been prompted by the military leader’s fear of losing power as a civilian where his vast wealth might be at risk.

“People around the world are sickened by the coup d’etat in Myanmar by the rapacious Burmese military. Despite having enormous power in the country, they were not satisfied with sharing power with a civilian government but decided to return to their long-standing practice of ruling the country for the benefit of themselves.”

Vilsack’s “Cozy Relationship With Big Ag Makes Him A Non-Starter at USDA”

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President Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is scheduled to have his hearing Tuesday.

CommonDreams reports: “Amid Broader Concerns Over Biden USDA Nominee, Watchdog Flags ‘Disturbing Suppression’ of Science by Vilsack.”

WENONAH HAUTER, SETH GLADSTONE, sgladstone@fwwatch.org, @foodandwater
Hauter and Gladstone are with the group Food & Water Watch, which recently put out the statement: “Tom Vilsack’s Cozy Relationship With Big Ag Makes Him A Non-Starter at USDA.” They have joined with RootsAction and other groups to advocate against his nomination as secretary of agriculture.

Food & Water Watch states: “The Biden administration will fail rural America right out of the gate with a choice like Tom Vilsack for Secretary of Agriculture. ..

“As [Obama’s] Secretary of Agriculture, Vilsack failed to hold up his promise of addressing antitrust issues in the agricultural industry. A series of public meetings on the issue held jointly with the Department of Justice never resulted in regulatory action, and USDA policy continued to favor large-scale, corporate farming at the expense of family farms. Vilsack went on to become a lobbyist for the Dairy Export Industry, raking in more than $1 million in his first year, at a time when prospects for dairy farmers were so bleak that some received a suicide prevention hotline number along with their dairy checks. The prospect of Vilsack returning to head the USDA is an egregious example of a revolving door between industry and government.”

Also, see from the Guardian: “Tom Vilsack’s Cozy Relationship With Big Ag Makes Him a Non-Starter at USDA.”

See from The Counter: “How USDA Distorted Data to Conceal Decades of Discrimination against Black Farmers.”

In These Times reports that while Vil­sack was secretary of agriculture during the Obama administration, “he angered pro­gres­sive groups by let­ting poul­try fac­to­ries self-reg­u­late, speed­ing up the approval process for GMO crops, shelv­ing new reg­u­la­tions on big agri­cul­ture at the industry’s behest, and step­ping in to craft an indus­try-friend­ly nation­al GMO-labelling bill intend­ed to replace a pio­neer­ing stricter stan­dard in Ver­mont. The move helped earn him the deri­sive moniker ‘Mr. Mon­san­to.'”

Desmond Tutu: Biden Should End Israeli Nuclear Cover-up and Save Billions

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The Biden administration is pressuring concessions from Iran regarding a renewed nuclear deal. Iran, which has no nuclear weapons, is under sanction by the U.S. government. Meanwhile, the administration is expected to sign secret letters that it will not acknowledge Israel’s nuclear arsenal, facilitating the continuation of billions of U.S. dollars to Israel.

On New Year’s Eve, The Guardian published a piece by Archbishop Desmond Tutu titled “Joe Biden Should End the U.S. Pretence over Israel’s ‘Secret’ Nuclear Weapons: The cover-up has to stop — and with it, the huge sums in aid for a country with oppressive policies towards Palestinians.”
Tutu, a Nobel peace laureate, is a former archbishop of Cape Town and, from 1996 to 2003, was chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The piece states: “Every recent U.S. administration has performed a perverse ritual as it has come into office. All have agreed to undermine U.S. law by signing secret letters stipulating they will not acknowledge something everyone knows: that Israel has a nuclear weapons arsenal. …

“Israel in fact is a multiple nuclear weapons proliferator.” In addition to its own acquisition of nuclear weapons, “there is overwhelming evidence that it offered to sell the apartheid regime in South Africa nuclear weapons in the 1970s and even conducted a joint nuclear test. The U.S. government tried to cover up these facts. …

“Amendments by former Senators Stuart Symington and John Glenn to the Foreign Assistance Act ban U.S. economic and military assistance to nuclear proliferators and countries that acquire nuclear weapons. … Another U.S. statute, the Leahy law, prohibits US military aid to governments that systematically violate human rights.”

Instead of applying the rule of law, Tutu wrote, “there has been an oral agreement since President Richard Nixon to accept Israel’s ‘nuclear ambiguity’ — effectively to allow Israel the power that comes with nuclear weapons without the responsibility. And since President Bill Clinton, according to the New Yorker magazine, there have been these secret letters. …

“The incoming Biden administration should forthrightly acknowledge Israel as a leading state sponsor of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and properly implement U.S. law. …

“South Africa learned that it could only have real peace and justice by having truth that would lead to reconciliation. But none of those will come unless truth is faced squarely — and there are few truths more critical to face than a nuclear weapons arsenal in the hands of an apartheid government.”

Available for interviews:

RONNIE KASRILS, rkasrils@gmail.com
Kasrils was Minister for Intelligence Services in South Africa from 2004 to 2008 and was a leading member of the African National Congress during the apartheid era. He wrote the piece “I Fought South African Apartheid. I See the Same Brutal Policies in Israel” for The Guardian.

GRANT F. SMITH,, gsmith@irmep.org@IRmep
Smith is director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. He recently wrote the piece “Biden Could Reverse Six Harmful Israel Policies… With the Only Power That Stops Israel’s Lobby.” He notes: “Publicly known cumulative U.S. foreign assistance (excluding intelligence support and other covert funding) to Israel is on track to reach $295 billion.”

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