News Release Archive - Biden's Cabinet

Haiti and the Disaster Foreign Manipulation Has Wrought

The Miami Herald reports in “Haiti President Jovenel Moïse assassinated in middle-of-the-night attack at his home“: “The assailants apparently claimed to be agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to videos taken by people in the area of the president’s home. Moïse, 53, lived in Pelerin 5, a neighborhood just above the hills in the capital.

“On the videos, someone with an American accent is heard yelling in English over a megaphone, ‘DEA operation. Everybody stand down. DEA operation. Everybody back up, stand down.'”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “These reports are absolutely false.”

See Wednesday Institute for Public Accuracy news release on Haiti. Also see Twitter list on Haiti.

AMY WILENTZ, awilentz@uci.edu@amywilentz
Wilentz is author of numerous books on Haiti including The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier and Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter From Haiti. She can talk about the history of Haiti and how U.S. interventions have “inspired enmity and disgust” among the Haitian people.

See Twitter thread on U.S. interventions in Haiti.

CHRIS BERNADEL, cbernadel@protonmail.com@Blacks4Peace
Bernadel is on the Haiti Committee of the Black Alliance for Peace; both of his parents are Haitian immigrants. See the group’s statement from Wednesday: “Will the Biden administration and other political players use this moment as the pretext for military intervention, as was done in 1915? Will interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph attempt to consolidate power under the pretext of the current state of siege? Will the Core Group find a new willing puppet, more pliable than Moïse, to bring ‘stability?'”

EMMANUELA DOUYON, [in Haiti] emmanuela.douyon@gmail.com@emmadouyon
Douyon testified in March before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs on what Biden administration policy on Haiti should be. She said today: “Since last June, with the collective of activists, NOU PAP DOMI (We Will Not Sleep), I have been actively denouncing the increase in violence in Haiti and urging the authorities to act accordingly. A friend and fellow activist, Netty Duclaire, was killed less than a week ago along with 18 other Haitian citizens. I am mourning and now comes this terrible news.

“Never would I have imagined that the head of the country would be assassinated. If he can be assassinated in his home, who is safe in this country? Whose life matters in this country? How are we supposed to keep going and keep burying our loved ones?

“We, young activists, Petrochallengers, tried to warn the international community with the hashtag #freeHaiti but it was to no avail. We are not receiving the kind of support we need whether it’s from the UN or other countries and organizations. This partly explains why the situation keeps getting worse and we can’t see the impact of all the aid received, not to mention that because of corruption there is at least one notable case of mismanagement of aid money: the Petrocaribe scandal.

“I am shocked by the news of the assassination of former president Jovenel Moïse. This shows the extent to which violence reigns in Haiti. Justice must be served. We, the Haitian people, must stop the current political crisis and end the vicious cycle of violence.”

The Case for a National Infrastructure Bank

ALPHECCA MUTTARDY, via Angela Vullo, avullo@nibcoalition.com
Muttardy is with the Coalition for the National Infrastructure Bank and recently released a statement: “In the final weeks of June, 2021, the Biden administration has negotiated with a bipartisan group of Senators on the terms of a package to provide $973 billion for infrastructure projects over five years ($579 billion in new spending, plus $394 in re-authorization of existing spending). Finalizing the Bi-Partisan Plan (BPP) will still depend on reaching agreement on how to pay for it, as well as on the terms of a second, companion package — The American Family Plan — moving through Congress under reconciliation rules.

“Even if approved, the BPP will not be enough to cover the full infrastructure financing gap identified by the American Society of Civil Engineers. ASCE estimates that $2.6 trillion is needed over 10 years, far greater than the $579 billion of new money over five years suggested under the BPP.” The group states that currently, “nothing is allocated under the BPP to cover high speed rail, schools, dams and levees, public parks, affordable housing, or new water delivery projects for drought stricken areas in the U.S. And the amount assigned to water infrastructure is a fraction of what is needed, according to ASCE.

“A fully funded, public, National Infrastructure Bank (NIB), as set out in HR 3339, would finance up to $5 trillion to cover all of the infrastructure projects listed above, in every single jurisdiction in the country. Passage of the Bill would guarantee complete funding over a ten-year period, without the need to re-negotiate again in five years or beyond. Moreover, the NIB would pay its own way, offer low-cost loans, mobilize for economic growth and development, all without adding to federal taxes or deficits.”

Muttardy is a macroeconomist and was with the International Monetary Fund for 25 years, now retired. She has also been involved with Our Revolution, as chair of economic policy for the group in northern Virginia.

Relatives of Chicago Police Victims Oppose Ex-Mayor Rahm Emanuel as Ambassador to Japan

Victims and relatives of victims of police brutality in Chicago while Rahm Emanuel was mayor released a joint statement Thursday against the reported plan by President Biden to nominate Emanuel as the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

“During his eight years in office, Emanuel displayed contempt for communities of color,” says the statement. “He showed callous disregard for terrible losses suffered by the families of those who were killed or brutalized by officers of the Chicago Police Department.”

The 28 signers of the statement declared: “The possibility that Rahm Emanuel will become the U.S. ambassador to Japan is abhorrent to those of us who continue to mourn the loss of our loved ones due to police violence that he aided and abetted as mayor of Chicago. … No president who is truly serious about stopping brutality and murders by police would nominate Rahm Emanuel for an important government post. …. Rahm Emanuel became a symbol of lethal disrespect for Black lives. Making him a U.S. ambassador would make the U.S. government a similar symbol.”

Emanuel was mayor of Chicago from 2011 to 2019.

Five of the signers are willing to talk to journalists:

They are reachable via DELMARIE COBB, dlcobb@thepublicityworks.net

DOROTHY HOLMES
Holmes is the mother of Ronald “Ronnie Man” Johnson, who was shot in the back by CPD the same week that Laquan McDonald was killed in 2014. Video featuring Ms. Holmes is being released today. She says: “Rahm Emanuel covered up the murder of my son.”

AREWA KAREN WINTERS
Winters is the aunt of Pierre Loury, killed by CPD in April 2016. Pierre was shot in the back as he was climbing a fence fleeing from the police. Video featuring Ms. Winters is being released today.

EMMETT FARMER
Farmer is the father of Flint Farmer, killed in June 2011. Police officer Gildardo Sierra shot him in the back three times as he lay on the ground. He didn’t have a weapon. Sierra was involved in multiple shootings as an officer.

KENYATTA BRAND
Brand is the sister of Rekia Boyd, who was killed by off-duty officer Dante Servin in 2012. Servin was drinking, then driving when he saw young people in the park. He shot at one of the young men, killing Rekia. State’s attorney Anita Alvarez undercharged him — manslaughter instead of first or second degree murder — and then the judge pronounced a mistrial instead of requiring the state to charge him correctly.

MARTINEZ SUTTON
Sutton is the brother of Rekia Boyd.

Biden $750 Billion Pentagon Budget Called “Excessive”

The Biden administration, in a “Friday news dump,” released its Pentagon budget late last week.

WILLIAM HARTUNG, whartung@internationalpolicy.org
Hartung is director of the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy.

Following the release of the budget, he said: “At over $750 billion, the Biden administration’s proposal for spending on the Pentagon and related work on nuclear weapons at the Department of Energy is both excessive and misguided. At a time when the greatest challenges to human lives and livelihoods stem from threats like pandemics and climate change, sustaining Pentagon spending at over three quarters of a trillion dollars a year is both bad budgeting and bad security policy.”

Hartung’s recent pieces include “Memorial Day Can’t Obscure Biden’s Excessive Pentagon Budget” for The National Interest and “Two Weapons That Shouldn’t Be In The Pentagon’s New Budget” for Forbes.

He added: “Continued spending on unnecessary weapons systems like a new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile ($2.6 billion) and the troubled F-35 combat aircraft ($12 billion) represent budgetary and policy malpractice, diverting billions of dollars from other urgent national priorities. …

“The identification of China as a ‘pacing challenge is not an adequate justification for current, exorbitant levels of spending. The challenge posed by China is primarily political and economic, not military. And the United States already spends nearly three times on its military what China does, and has 13 times as many nuclear warheads in its stockpile.”

Groups Oppose Rahm Emanuel for Ambassadorship, Citing Absence of “Ethics, Integrity and Diplomatic Skills”

BREE CARLSON, via Johanna Kichton,  j.kichton@peoplesaction.org@PplsAction
Carlson is deputy director of People’s Action, one of more than two dozen organizations that announced Tuesday that they strongly oppose any nomination of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be a U.S. ambassador. Noting that President Biden is reportedly considering Emanuel to be ambassador to Japan or China, a joint statement declared: “Such top diplomatic posts should only go to individuals with ethics, integrity and diplomatic skills. Emanuel possesses none of those qualifications.”

Said Carlson: “He covered up the murder of Laquan McDonald, defunded public schools, and attacked benefits for poor people. It would be a slap in the face for many to see President Biden ignore the loud calls of opposition towards him.” See on Common Dreams: “Progressives to Biden: No Ambassadorship for ‘Ladder-Climbing Hack’ Rahm Emanuel.”

The coalition statement said that Emanuel “has routinely served elite corporate interests and rarely the interests of the broad public or the causes of racial justice, economic equity or the peaceful resolution of conflicts at home or abroad. And whether in federal or municipal office, he has been known for his abrasive, arrogant style of wielding power. Emanuel’s disgraceful behavior as mayor of Chicago cannot be erased or ignored.”
National organizations signing the statement include Black Youth Project 100, Demand Progress Education Fund, Justice Democrats, People’s Action, Progressive Democrats of America, RootsAction.org, Veterans For Peace, and Working Families Party. Several Chicago groups also signed the statement, including the Chicago Committee Against War and Racism, Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, and Indivisible Chicago Alliance.

Opposition to Neera Tanden Builds

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced on Friday that he would vote against Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, increasing the possibility that she cannot be confirmed for the influential position. 

JEFF COHEN, jeff@rootsaction.org, @Roots_Action

    Co-founder of RootsAction.org and its policy adviser, Cohen said today: “For decades, Democratic Party leaders and top advisers have wallowed in donations from the super-rich while moving the party toward policies that have shifted wealth and income from working-class people to elites. Consummate fundraiser Neera Tanden is a prime symbol of corporatism within a party that once fought for working-class interests, and that’s why RootsAction has opposed her OMB nomination since it was announced in December. We call on the Biden administration to nominate someone who will put the public interest ahead of corporate interests when it comes to overseeing federal budgetary and regulatory policies.”

The group’s action alert reads in part: “In recent years, Tanden has become known as one of the loudest voices of the neoliberal establishment. … Her coziness with corporate elites raises questions about her potential role in the regulatory process. As the Washington Post recently reported, she has ‘mingled with deep-pocketed donors who made their fortunes on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and in other powerful sectors of corporate America.’ And, ‘at formal pitches and swanky fundraisers, Tanden personally cultivated the bevy of benefactors fueling the $45 million to $50 million annual budget’ of her think tank, the Center for American Progress.”

See Washington Post piece from Dec. 5: “Neera Tanden, Biden’s Pick for Budget Chief, Runs a Think Tank Backed by Corporate and Foreign Interests.”

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

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.'”

Groups Organizing Against Tom “Mr. Monsanto” Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture

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, a Friend of Big Ag, is the Wrong Choice for USDA.” They have joined with RootsAction and other groups to advocate against his nomination as secretary of agriculture.
See from the Guardian: “Tom Vilsack’s Cozy Relationship With Big Ag Makes Him a Non-Starter at USDA.”

“Tom Vilsack has made a career of catering to the whims of corporate agriculture giants — some of whom he has gone to work for — while failing to fight for struggling family farmers at every turn,” said Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “America needs an Agriculture Secretary that will finally prioritize sustainable family farming and national food security over corporate profits. Tom Vilsack has proven not to be the leader we need.”

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 “resist­ed Repub­li­can attacks on food stamps and upped fed­er­al sup­port for organ­ic food – 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.'”

Biden Continuing Trump’s Targeting of Venezuela

Reuters reports: “Biden will recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader, top diplomat says.”

AP reports: “Carlos Vecchio, [Trump-backed opposition leader Juan] Guaidó’s envoy in Washington who the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s ambassador, tweeted photos of himself at Biden’s inauguration. The invitation to attend was touted by Venezuela’s opposition as evidence the Biden administration will continue its strong support and resist entreaties by Maduro for dialogue that the U.S. has strenuously rejected until now.”

STEVE ELLNER, sellner74@gmail.com
Ellner is an associate managing editor of Latin American Perspectives. He is the editor of the recently published book Latin American Extractivism: Dependency, Resource Nationalism and Resistance in Broad Perspectives

He said today: “In spite of claims to the contrary, the Biden foreign policy team is not breaking with the Trump administration in its policy toward Venezuela. … The Biden people claim that their plans to enlist the support of allies is an innovation in that it corrects Trump’s go-it-alone approach toward Venezuela. In fact, Trump did seek and attain the support of over 50 nations (hardly a majority in the UN’s General Assembly) by taking advantage of the fact that much of Europe and Latin America was in the hands of conservative and right-wing leaders.

“In addition,” said Ellner, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken has indicated that “the Biden administration will provide Venezuela with much-needed humanitarian assistance. The Trump administration, however, also extended Venezuela humanitarian aid. But it was channeled through the parallel government of Juan Guaidó resulting in multiple denunciations of misuse of funds — not to say blatant acts of corruption — by members of his team who resigned in protest.

“Blinken also claims Biden will embark on a new course in that it will ‘more effectively target’ sanctions. Exactly what this means is unclear, but decades of the use of sanctions throughout the world demonstrate that, regardless of intent, the real victims of sanctions are the entire population. Even the Trump administration announced that the supply of medicine and food would not be affected but in fact it was. Everyone in the global commercial chain feared reprisals if they had any interaction at all with Venezuelan companies, both private and state-owned.

“Far from regime change, the starting point of U.S. policy toward Venezuela has to be recognizing Nicolás Maduro as the nation’s legitimate president. There may have been some irregularities in the Venezuelan presidential elections of 2018, as there have been in U.S. electoral contests, but there was no credible evidence of the votes not getting counted correctly, that is, electoral fraud. The commercial media’s uncritical employment of the term ‘authoritarian’ and ‘dictator’ to refer to Maduro is nothing short of deceptive and it ignores context, namely the multiple violent attempts to remove him, even physically.

“Maduro has clearly indicated his interest in negotiations with the U.S. and of late has expressed willingness to make concessions specifically regarding the release of several jailed U.S. citizens. He has also recently indicated his openness to concessions on the economic front.”

Questions for Blinken Today

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.