News Release Archive - Foreign Policy

Activists Go on Trial for Protesting Power Grab in Honduras as El Salvador Prepares to Follow Suit 

ADRIENNE PINE, adrienne@quotha.net@adriennepine
Currently in Honduras, anthropologist Pine is available for interviews and can also connect media to bilingual Hondurans closely involved with the Espinal and Álvarez trial.

She said today: “This Monday and Tuesday, former political prisoners Edwin Espinal and Raúl Álvarez will go on trial in Honduras on trumped-up charges related to their participation in protests during the 2017 Honduran electoral crisis.

“Protests had erupted nationwide after the blatant theft of the November 2017 presidential elections by Juan Orlando Hernández, who had previously orchestrated an illegal takeover of the country’s Supreme Court in order to obtain permission to run for a consecutive second term, in violation of the Honduran constitution. State security forces shot into crowds. Espinal and Álvarez were among over 180 Hondurans who were arrested for exercising their constitutionally-guaranteed right to protest, and 22 who were illegally imprisoned without trial in dangerous maximum security prisons. If found guilty, they face sentences of 15-30 years.

Pine, who is in Tegucigalpa to accompany Espinal and Alvarez and document their trial, added: “The illegitimate and unelected Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández is able to persecute and torture his opponents thanks primarily to unfailing U.S. support for his regime and complicity in its systemic human rights abuses. Hernández’s major involvement in drug trafficking has been thoroughly demonstrated by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and the majority of Hondurans would like to see him tried in court. Instead, Edwin and Raúl are being persecuted for standing up for Honduran democracy and sovereignty.”

Meanwhile in neighboring El Salvador, the right-wing populist, president Nayib Bukele, has increasingly consolidated power.

ALEXIS STOUMBELIS, alexis@cispes.org@CISPES

Co-director of Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, Stoumbelis recently wrote the recent article “Ruling by loyalist court upends Constitution to allow Bukele to run for reelection.”

She said today: “In El Salvador, the recent ruling by the court that President Bukele’s party illegally installed to allow him to run for reelection — despite multiple prohibitions in the Constitution on consecutive terms — is a page straight out of Hernández’ playbook. And it’s no surprise that Bukele is persecuting his political opponents, either.

“Many Salvadorans have been saying all along that Bukele’s goal was to take complete control over the Salvadoran state — that should be abundantly clear by now.”

9/11 Family Members: U.S. Gov Wages War; Covers up; Blocks Justice

Biden executive order demands disclosure of 9/11 files and ...DAVID POTORTI, via Katharina Feil, katharina@peacefultomorrows.org@PeacefulTomorro
Potorti’s brother Jim was killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. He helped found September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows in the aftermath of the attacks. The group has recently filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in U.S. v Abu Zubaydah charging that the judiciary is “serving as a gatekeeper to prevent unjustified invocations of the state secrets privilege, which may otherwise suppress information that is not privileged or is merely embarrassing to the government.” Members of the group have traveled to Afghanistan and to Guantanamo to observe pre-trial hearings of the 9/11 accused. The group is also holding a film festival. Potorti is co-editor of the recent 9/11 poetry anthology Crossing the Rift and is working with the Forgiveness Project. Feil is project coordinator for the group and can connect media to various members of the group.

KRISTEN BREITWEISER, kdianbreit@aol.com
One of the “Jersey Girls,” Breitweiser is a lawyer and co-founder of September 11 Advocates. She just wrote the piece “My Husband Died on 9/11. I Am Still Waiting for a Trial of His Killers” for The Intercept which states: “For a country that invokes 9/11 so freely to start wars … such use of the 9/11 tagline abruptly halts at the courthouse steps. …
“When a person looks at the facts and circumstances of the 9/11 attacks, taken as a whole, it would seem implausible that not one individual, entity, bank, or business has been fully prosecuted and found criminally responsible as a co-conspirator for the crime that took place. I say a crime, because my husband’s death certificate, like every other 9/11 victim’s, lists the manner of his death as ‘homicide,’ not ‘war.’ And yet our nation, a democracy based upon the rule of law, that supposedly protects and entitles all of its citizens with a Constitution and clear Bill of Rights (and certainly the most basic universal human right to live and not be blown up in a building) has not found, and will not ever find, it necessary to hold any co-conspirator of the 9/11 hijackers accountable in a court of criminal law. The typically exceedingly easy-to-meet thresholds for who and what qualifies as a criminal ‘co-conspirator’ and ‘conspiracy’ have never quite been met by the screaming facts and circumstances of 9/11 — and I’d argue that’s by systemic prosecutorial choice to look the other way for matters of political expediency, cover-up, or in the best-case scenario, sheer embarrassment. …

“Horrifically, some U.S. prosecutors literally sit on the side of the defendants (in this case, Saudi Arabia) and help the key evidence we need stay secret.”

Report: $21 Trillion Financial Cost of Militarization Since 9/11

LINDSAY KOSHGARIAN, lkoshgarian@nationalpriorities.org@lindsaykosh
    Program director of the National Priorities Project, Koshgarian is co-author of the just released report: “State of Insecurity: The Cost of Militarization Since 9/11,” which states: “Over the 20 years since 9/11, the U.S. has spent $21 trillion on foreign and domestic militarization.

    “Of that total, $16 trillion went to the military — including at least $7.2 trillion for military contracts.

    “Another $3 trillion went to veterans’ programs, $949 billion went to Homeland Security, and $732 billion went to federal law enforcement. …

    “Spending on the DoD totaled $14 trillion over the last 20 years, including $1.9 trillion in funds appropriated specifically for wars through the Overseas Contingency Operations fund. Even though in recent years the fund was increasingly used for routine military expenses (or ‘base requirements’), this total falls short of estimating the true costs of the War on Terror. More than 70 percent of the Pentagon’s $14 trillion in spending over the last 20 years was for operations, purchasing and research and development. Operations and maintenance ($5.7 trillion) includes costs for operating, deploying, and maintaining weapons systems, including the military’s nearly 300 ships and more than 13,000 aircraft, and facilities, as well as training and other costs. Procurement ($2.8 trillion) includes the purchases and upgrades of major weapons systems such as ships and aircraft, as well as land vehicles, missiles, and ammunition.”

U.S. Government Illegally Killing Civilians in Afghanistan

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle@illinois.edu
After a U.S. government drone strike in Afghanistan, many cheered. On Sunday, Charlie Savage of the New York Times wrote: “The U.S. clearly has remarkable intelligence line of sight into ISIS-K right now.”

Today, the Washington Post reports: “10 civilians, including children, reported killed in U.S. drone strike; rockets fired at Kabul airport.”

Biden had vowed to “hunt down” those responsible for the Kabul airport attack, with his press secretary Jennifer Psaki explaining: “I think he made clear yesterday that he does not want them to live on the Earth anymore.”

Professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Boyle said today the entire enterprise was illegal: “Retaliation is not self-defense under international law, but only more aggression.”

On Aug. 16, Boyle was warning: “U.S. forces at the Kabul Airport remind me of the Marines at the Beirut Airport who were blown up — sitting ducks.” Boyle had worked with members of Congress to prevent the disaster in Beirut, urging them to force then-President Reagan to withdraw the Marines using the War Powers Resolution. Boyle has noted: “Unfortunately, a ‘compromise’ was struck and predictably led to disaster with the Marine barracks bombing.” See New York Times report from Sept. 21, 1983: “Congress And Reagan Back Compromise On War Powers Keeping Marines In Lebanon.”

Also, see: “Did the U.S. Support the Growth of ISIS-K?” by Alex Rubinstein.

Why Won’t Biden — and Others — Admit Israel Has Nuclear Weapons?

America Needs to Start Telling the Truth About Israel’s Nukes” by Peter Beinart in Wednesday’s New York Times states: “American politicians sometimes say an Iranian bomb would pose an ‘existential’ threat to Israel. That’s a dubious claim, given that Israel possesses a nuclear deterrent it can deploy on air, land and sea. But many Americans find the claim plausible because, according to recent polling conducted by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland, barely 50 percent know Israel has nuclear weapons. A higher percentage thinks Tehran has the bomb.”

SAM HUSSEINI, samhusseini@gmail.com, @samhusseini
An independent journalist now writing at Substack, Husseini has questioned numerous U.S. officials who have refused to acknowledge Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal. See “The Absurd U.S. Stance on Israel’s Nukes: A Video Sampling of Denial.” He notes that Archbishop Desmond Tutu had a piece shortly before Biden became president: “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.” Husseini is also senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Grant Smith is director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy and has written extensively on U.S. policy on Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal including the piece “Challenging the secret ‘Israel Nuclear Weapons Gag Order’ WNP-136.”

Smith notes of the Beinart piece: “The key point is missed: If the U.S. acknowledges Israel’s nuclear weapons, it also acknowledges it has been supplying unlawful foreign aid to Israel since the mid-1970’s.” Grant estimates this totals nearly $300 billion.

Last year he wrote letters to several members of Congress who have voiced criticism of Israel, noting: “I believe your coalition has far more influence on the matter of foreign aid than it may realize. In 2016 and 2017 we sued the administration(s) over violations of the Arms Export Control Act, but did not prevail for lack of standing. Your coalition does not have such issues.”

See IPA news release: “Could Congress Cut off Funding to Israel by Acknowledging its Nuclear Weapons?

Hollywood Actor Invokes Cultural Boycott of Israel, Risks Netflix Lawsuit, California Law Reprisal

In 2019, the Hollywood Reporter wrote: “David Clennon, an Emmy-winning U.S. actor with more than four decades of work across film and TV, has revealed that he turned down an audition for a new Netflix series from the makers of hit Israeli show ‘Fauda’ because of his support for Palestinian rights.”

Now, Clennon has escalated the issue, providing spoilers to undermine the Netflix series, risking lawsuits.

He is working with Jewish Voice for Peace/Los Angeles in calling on viewers to boycott “Apartheid TV,” especially in its most recent incarnation, Netflix’s “Hit and Run,” a U.S./Israeli co-production.

“Hit and Run’s” Israeli partners were behind the series “Fauda,” a Netflix commercial success, which was based on the premise that Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian land is necessary and justified. “Fauda” was, Clennon notes, “widely criticized for its racist portrayal of Palestinians, and for its message that Palestinian resistance to occupation is illegitimate.”

The call by Clennon and Jewish Voice for Peace marks the opening of a new front in the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel: Hollywood.

Clennon just wrote a piece revealing narrative plot points in the “Hit and Run” series, in order “to encourage viewers to focus on the racism and violence inherent in Israeli domination of Palestine.”

He hopes that the revelation of plot twists will “undermine the suspense which the creators of this U.S./Israeli series are trying to build, in order to keep viewers engaged.” Clennon’s new piece is entitled, “For Justice in Palestine, Boycott Netflix’s Apartheid TV: ‘Hit and Run.’

Clennon is aware that his revelations, also known as “spoilers,” could leave him “vulnerable to lawsuits by Netflix, as well as by the U.S. and Israeli producers of the series.”

He also states that any film or television company that might hire him in the future “could be punished under California’s anti-BDS law, AB2844.”

Working with Clennon is the Jewish Voice for Peace/LA Education and Visibility Committee which has organized online boycott-awareness programs, and, before the pandemic, multiple street demonstrations and vigils.

Available for a limited number of interviews:

DAVID CLENNON, djjc123@earthlink.net

  The actor David Clennon has also written about how various media images are manipulated. Earlier this year, he wrote the pieces “Hollywood’s New Blackface” and “How Hollywood Neuters the 60s: Sorkin’s ‘Trial of the Chicago 7’ Sentences American Radicalism to Oblivion.”

Drone Whistleblower to be Sentenced Today

CHIP GIBBONS, chip@rightsanddissent.org@RightsDissent
    Gibbons is policy director with the group Defending Rights & Dissent which has done extensive work in the case of Daniel Hale, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He participated in the U.S. drone program, working with both the National Security Agency and the Joint Special Operations Task Force at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

    Gibbons has said: “Hale’s crime is exposing the human rights abuses of U.S. drone strikes, including that during a given time period nearly 90 percent of those killed by drone strikes were not the intended target.”

    Gibbons said today: “Daniel Hale’s prosecution, like all prosecutions of whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, was a political prosecution. Hale was prosecuted not because he leaked classified information — such leaks are routine in Washington — but by exposing civilian casualties he contradicted official U.S. policy pronouncements about its global assassination program. …

    “The prosecution made it clear that by seeking an unprecedentedly harsh sentence they were seeking to chill other whistleblowers from coming forward to the press. Hale’s disclosures did not damage U.S. national security, but his prosecution damaged U.S. democracy.

    “Hale’s disclosure also included information about the U.S. watch list, which since released, has been used by CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] to challenge the No Fly List. While Hale’s attorneys are requesting a sentence of 12 to 18 months, the prosecution are asking for a sentence of seven to nine years. Such a sentence would be the longest sentence ever given to a whistleblower who gave information to the media in a civilian court. As part of his sentencing, Hale penned a letter to the judge explaining how witnessing the gruesome human cost of drone strikes, as well as Obama’s pronouncements that precautions were taken to protect civilians, led him to seek to expose the true nature of U.S. drone warfare. Prosecutions under the Espionage Act were once rare, but became the norm under the Obama and Trump administrations. The use of the Espionage Act against journalists’ sources has been roundly condemned by press freedom advocates.”

    A copy of Hale’s letter to the judge and other material is available at StandWithDanielHale.org.

Biden Escalates Cuba Sanctions, Reneges on Campaign Promise

During the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden said he would “go back” to the Barack Obama policy of engagement with Cuba, but late last week, rather than easing the additional sanctions Donald Trump put on Cuba, he added even more of his own.

Said Biden: “This is just the beginning — the United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for oppression of the Cuban people.”

JAMES EARLY, early1947@aol.com
Early has visited Cuba many times over 45 years. He is the former Smithsonian Institution assistant secretary for education and public service and was director of its Cultural Heritage Policy Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. He is currently a board member at the Institute for Policy Studies — see his articles on Cuba and socialism on their website.

Early positively noted the recent statement from Black Lives Matter on Cuba.

He said today: “More sanctions is another step into deepening draconian Trump Cuba policy, another step into betrayal of Biden-Harris Cuba campaign policy, which attracted many progressive and democratic socialist votes in line with large public support to renew the progress of Barack Obama-Raul Castro full diplomatic relations. It’s a blatant unilateral dismissal of the overwhelming global UN vote to dismantle the embargo, further highlighting the U.S. as a ‘rogue state.’ Expansion of sanctions on individual governance figures does not give relief to the Cuban people and encourages the U.S. Cuban interventionist rightwing in South Florida who are pushing Biden-Harris further into 60 years of failed Cuba diplomacy.” Early argued that Biden’s actions indicated “that progressive voters should seek alternative candidates in 2022 and 2024 that will keep promises” to voters and supporters and back “policies to dismantle sanctions and the embargo and join the rest of the world in working out differences with Cuba through legal UN accords.”

Last month, 184 countries called for an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, with only the U.S. and Israel voting in the negative.

Monday morning, the U.S. State Department released a statement with several other countries including Israel, Kosovo, Brazil, Colombia and Ukraine joining in condemning the Cuban government’s treatment of protesters. “They exercised universal freedoms of expression and assembly, rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” the statement read. In fact, the U.S. government is in constant transgression against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

AFRICOM Strikes Somalia: Black Bombings Matter

CommonDreams reports: “Sanders, Lee, and Murphy Slam Biden Administration’s First Drone Strike in Somalia.” It also reports: “‘A Huge Outrage’: Senate Panel Approves $25 Billion Pentagon Budget Increase.”

Politico reports in “Welcome to Joe Biden’s Somalia war“: “On Tuesday, U.S. Africa Command [AFRICOM] chief Gen. Stephen Townsend authorized a single drone strike against al-Shabaab militants attacking an American-trained elite Somali force known as the Danab. While no U.S. troops accompanied the Somalis during the operation near Galkayo, Pentagon spokesperson Cindi King told NatSec Daily that Townsend has the authority under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter ‘to conduct collective self-defense of partner forces.'”

In February, Biden bombed Syria, see Institute for Public Accuracy news release: “Biden Bombing Syria: ‘Illegal.’

ABDI SAMATAR, [currently in Mogadishu] samat001@umn.edu
    Available for a limited number of interviews, Samatar is professor and chair of the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota.

    Samatar recently wrote the piece “Somalia’s toxic political and security order: the death knell of democracy” for The Conversation: “In 2006, after a decade-and-a-half of cruel civil war, the Union of Islamic Courts, a homegrown alliance of religious leaders, terminated 15 years of warlords’ terror and tyranny. They pacified Mogadishu and surrounding areas and were about to set up local administration for the city and the surrounding settlements.
“But the initiative was short-lived. The international community, led by the U.S., reversed this local initiative, and empowered a government dominated by warlords.

    “U.S. (and foreign) influence was further consolidated after 2008 — the year Washington listed Al-Shabaab as a terrorist organisation. Since then, the U.S. and its allies have spent billions of dollars on illusive security and superficial development that has failed to improve the capacity of Somalis to take charge of their future.”

    Vice just published the piece: “U.S. Airstrikes Have Torn Somali Families Apart. They’re Still Seeking Justice.” See their reporting on AFRICOM.

    See Institute for Public Accuracy news release from last year on AFRICOM: “U.S. Bombings in Africa: Why Are People Unaware?

Cuba and the “Pink Tides” in Latin America

Pedro Castillo of the Free Peru party, which is both socialist and Marxist, has been declared Peru’s president-elect. He is a former teacher and son of peasant farmers.

In “Chile Stocks Surge as Communist Knocked Out of Presidential Race” Bloomberg reports: “Chilean assets bucked a global sell-off after a communist presidential hopeful unexpectedly lost a primary vote before the country’s November election, making room for a more moderate candidate to move forward. One-time student protest leader Gabriel Boric won the far-left vote with 60.4 percent of support, beating Communist Party candidate Daniel Jadue, a front-runner who had spooked financial markets with calls for radical economic reform.”

CARLOS GARRIDO, carlos.garrido@siu.edu@MarxMidwest
    A Cuban American currently in Miami, Garrido is an editorial board member and co-founder of the Journal of American Socialist Studies and Midwestern Marx, which, among other things, produces podcasts. A graduate student at Southern Illinois University, he was just on a podcast titled “Hands Off Cuba,” which highlighted continuous attacks on Cuba by the U.S. governemnt. See “USAID shells out $2.6 million for Cuba projects” and other reports from the Cuba Money Project. Also see AP story from 2014: “U.S. co-opted Cuba’s hip-hop scene to spark change.”

Last month Garrido co-hosted a podcast “The Struggle for Socialism in Peru: An Interview with Peruvian Intellectual Sebastian León.”

Garrido recently wrote the piece “A Marxist Analysis of the New Socialist Tide in Latin America” for The International. Garrido notes that about 20 years ago, there was a “Pink Tide” of left-wing victories in Latin America, but was followed by right-wing governments: “Brazil saw the emergence of Michel Termer after the illegitimate, U.S. backed impeachment of Dilma Rousseff — this, along with the imprisonment of Lula [da Silva], was a precondition for the 2018 electoral victory of Jair Bolsonaro and neofascism in Brazil. Along with this we have Peronist Cristina Fernández’s loss in Argentina (2015); the loss of socialist president Michelle Bachelet in Chile (2018); the turn towards neoliberalism of Lenín Moreno (2018); the U.S.-backed coup in Bolivia (2019); and more. In all of these cases,” Garrido argues, the U.S. government helped play a critical role in turning back the leftist victories.

Garrido argues that left-wing governments therefore are “working on borrowed time” if they do nothing “to change the fundamental bourgeois nature of the existing state apparatuses.” This includes meaningful changes to the “liberal-democratic electoral processes, the legal institutions, the military, the police.”