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Peter Rothberg | The Nation

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Peter Rothberg

Peter Rothberg

Opposing war, racism, sexism, climate change, economic injustice and high-stakes testing.

Uncovered: The Truth About Iraq

The recent founding of the Committee for the Republic is yet another sign of how even mainstream members of the conservative elite are waking up to George W's (mis)leading of the country into ruin. Created to ignite a discussion in the establishment about America's lurch toward empire, the Committee includes numerous prominent Republicans, like former counsel to first President Bush C. Boyden Gray.

An explosive new documentary film offers far more proof, if any was still necessary, that the Bush Administration's extremism is severely compromising America's national security interests. That's why Rand Beers, a National Security Council adviser to five Presidential Administrations, including those of Reagan and Bush 41, recently resigned in disgust as Bush's special counterrorism assistant.

You can hear Beers make his case in "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War," a sixty-minute documentary directed and produced by award-winning film-maker Robert Greenwald. "Uncovered" takes you behind the scenes, as outraged CIA, Pentagon and foreign service experts reveal the lies, misstatements and exaggerations employed by the Bush Administration in the run-up to war.

Featuring never-before-seen interviews with over 20 national security experts--including former Ambassador Joe Wilson; ex CIA chief Stansfield Turner; weapons inspector David Albright; CIA operative Robert Baer; former Ambassador to Greece John Brady Kiesling, who resigned in protest against the invasion of Iraq, and The Nation's own David Corn--"Uncovered" is a compelling call to action in 2004.

Public screenings will be held across the country, including one hosted by Alternet on November 19 in San Francisco. (Click here for more info.)

And in an unprecedented collaboration, Moveon.org, The Center for American Progress, The Nation, Alternet, Buzzflash and Working Assets are teaming up to promote sales of DVD copies to the public as inexpensively as possible.

Buy a copy and host your own screening. It's only $14.95, including shipping. Show it to friends, family, colleagues or students--at a school or community center, an American Legion Hall, a local library or a church, temple or mosque. Or ask your local chapter of the ACLU, United for Peace and Justice, the People for the American Way, IndyMedia, Students Against the War or Amnesty International to co-host a screening with you.

Putting this film on America's radar is a strong step toward fostering regime change in the United States.

Help Save Reproductive Rights

The Senate voted Tuesday to ban so-called "partial-birth" abortions, marking the end of eight years of legislative skirmishes and the beginning of a major court battle, which could begin even before President Bush signs the bill into law, which he's said he'll do.

This will become the first federal ban on a specific abortion method since a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion was established by the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

As Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel writes in her weblog, this bill is just the latest in a series of increasingly aggressive assaults on women that Bush and his Administration have been launching since he took office. As abortion-rights activists like NARAL's Kate Michelman are pointing out, no one should be fooled as to the real intentions of this bill's sponsors: they want to take away a woman's right to choose.

Fortunately, there are numerous groups mobilizing in opposition: The Feminist Campus Network is planning protests and lobbying campaigns and is helping with what organizers hope will be a good, old-fashioned, massive march on Washington on April 25. The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, headquartered in Washington, DC, works with twenty-two affiliates in states nationwide to conduct educational, lobbying and media efforts. NARAL and Planned Parenthood are both in the trenches slugging it out with the Bush appointees looking to choke off funding for virtually all social programs. The Abortion Access Project is increasing abortion services by training new abortion providers. And the California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League is promoting good tips on combating the radical right's toxic effect on public policy.

Investigate White House Deceptions

According to a recent report by the EPA's own inspector general, the Bush Administration instructed the agency to give the public misleading information in the days following the September 11 attack, telling New Yorkers the air was safe to breathe when reliable information on air quality was unavailable. The agency was even ordered to remove helpful tips from its press releases, such as ways to clean indoor areas and information on the effects of the contaminants.

In an interview with New York Newsday's terrific science reporter Laurie Garret from last August, Dr. Stephen Levin, director of the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center, called the report "shocking." "It's an outrageous interference in the role of the public-health agencies that were established to protect the people," Levin said of the Bush Administration's alleged influence over the EPA.

This tendency to distort the truth has been shown to be a hallmark of this Administration, whether the issue is clean air, global warming, tax cuts, trade policy or weapons of mass destruction. (See David Corn's new book The Lies of George Bush for an exhaustive survey of the Bush Team's mendacity.)

Fortunately, the lies seem to sticking more and more to an Administration that has been called "the worst government the US has ever had in its more than 200 years of history," by Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof, another longtime member of the mainstream establishment horrified by the Bush Administration's extremism and deceit. (Click here to read Katrina vanden Heuvel's account of Akerlof's dissent from her weblog Editor's Cut.)

A host of New York Democrats are trying to call the White House to account for its air-quality cover-up. Rep. Jerry Nadler, backed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has recently demanded a Congressional investigation into the EPA's handing of the issue, noting that New York City residents and workers continue to breathe in World Trade Center contaminants because of the EPA's false reassurances about air quality.

Please support Nadler's call for a bipartisan probe into who ordered the EPA to lie to New Yorkers after September 11. If you need to get your blood boiling first, click here to read the EPA Inspector General's full report. Then send a letter to your elected reps. It'll take about sixty seconds with The Nation's new activist tool-kit. And it really may help put this issue on the national agenda.

Rumsfeld Should Go!

Having elbowed the State Department aside and demanded full authority for overseeing the invasion and reconstruction of Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should be held accountable for the problems facing the US occupation, which include mounting US and Iraqi casualties, an increasingly sophisticated insurgency, rampant street crime and costs exceeding one billion dollars a week.

The Nation said it last April and it's more true than ever before: "The Defense Secretary should resign--now. Although George W. Bush is ultimately responsible for the catastrophe unfolding in Iraq, it is Donald Rumsfeld who is the Cabinet member directly charged with planning and carrying out the nation's wars." And he should take Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle with him.

As the Washington Post reported last week, Rumsfeld appears to be losing political support most dramatically on Capitol Hill, where many in Congress, even some conservative Republicans, are expressing concern about his handling of Iraq and his continued in-fighting with many in the military establishment. "Winning the peace is a lot different than winning the war," said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). Even the conservative Weekly Standard, now doing its own flip-flop, has taken aim at Rumsfeld calling him "mulish" and the "Secretary of Stubborness."

A number of public interest groups, including Move.On, Win Without War and True Majority, have banded together to help channel public outrage over Rumsfeld and his policies to the pols in Washington, who may finally be ready to hear this message. Click here to send a letter to your reps urging them to support calls for Rumsfeld's resignation and to withhold funding Bush's $87 billion blank-check request unless his Iraq policy is dramatically altered.

Dirty Tricks in the War on Terror?

The rising death toll in Iraq, Israel and Palestine has kept media coverage of the War on Terror focused squarely on the Middle East. Lost in this reporting are serious allegations concerning the Philippines--a chief ally of the US in its global fight with Islamic fundamentalism.

As Nation columnist Naomi Klein recently detailed, on July 27, three hundred soldiers of the Philippine Army rigged a Manila shopping mall with explosives in an act of protest against their superiors. The story quickly faded from view and with it the serious allegations made by the insurgent troops, among them the startling charge that the Philippine government and army had themselves engineered terrorist bombings, which they then blamed on Islamic terrorist groups in an elaborate plot to justify increased military aid from the United States.

The mutineers insisted they were not interested in taking power but only wanted to expose a top-level conspiracy. When Philippine President Gloria Arroyo promised to launch a full investigation into the allegations, the mutiny ended peacefully. And, as Klein wrote, though the soldiers' tactics were widely condemned in the Philippines, there was widespread recognition, even inside the military, that their claims were "valid and legitimate," as retired Navy Capt. Danilo Vizmanos told her.

Especially given that Southeast Asia looks like it could quickly become the next front in America's War on Terror, it's particularly important not to let these charges drop. Writing members of the House Foreign Relations Committee can't hurt. Click here to access the Nation's Congressional directory database. Contacting the media could also be a big help. The Nation has created an easy way for you to write, call or email your local media about this story letting them know that the issue needs to be reported, examined and debated.

Click here to send a letter to your local daily or weekly newspaper, talk-radio program or public affairs television station. And tell any print pub you contact that if they don't have the resources to devote to this important story, they should consider reprinting Klein's Nation column, which is available at very reasonable rates. (Click here for reprint info.)

Help Save Overtime Pay

Lower pay, longer hours and unpredictable work schedules are some of the increased challenges working families will face if the Bush Administration is able to pass its proposed changes to overtime rules in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Some of the most important employment protections for working families today are part of the FLSA, established in 1938, which sets minimum national standards for wages and overtime. Under the FLSA's overtime rules, some eighty million workers are now paid time-and-a-half when they work more than forty hours a week. Many of them depend on this overtime pay for survival at a time when the minimum wage is far from a living wage in most parts of the US. But the Bush Team seems determined to terminate this hard-fought benefit for millions of workers.

Promoted by the Administration as "family-friendly" measures, the proposed changes, along with five Big Business-backed bills now in Congress, would actually make it much more difficult for working families to stay afloat. As an Economic Policy Institute report released June 26 notes, the main consequence of the changes would be that about eight million police officers, nurses, store supervisors, secretaries and many other workers would face reduced pay because employers who require their workers to labor more than forty hours a week would not be required to pay the time-and-a-half formula.

The AFL-CIO has been working overtime against the changes as have local unions and grassroots groups nationwide. Check the Federation's site for background on the FLSA and click here to view its powerful new TV ad currently running this week nationally on CNN and in Maine, Ohio and Missouri. (Maine is home to moderate GOP Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. Sens. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Christopher Bond, R-Mo., are up for re-election next year.)

Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, one of organized labor's strongest supporters in Congress, has proposed an amendment that would block the new proposed regulations. The Senate debate began this week and a vote is scheduled for WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Click here ASAP to tell your Senators to support the Harkin amendment. Tell them their own jobs really might depend on it.

Harkin says that he believes he has three to six Republican votes, which could be decisive in the Senate, where the GOP is in control by a narrow margin. This fight looks like it'll be close so let your reps know how you feel today.

Iraq: The Agony Continues

The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, said last night that the UN will continue its work in Iraq, despite Tuesday's devastating car-bomb attack on its headquarters in Baghdad.

The blast killed at least 18 people, including the highly respected UN special representative for Iraq, Brazilian diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello. More than 100 people were also injured in the explosion, which is believed to be the most lethal attack on a UN complex in the body's 58-year history. The bombing follows a spate of attacks on US troops, Iraqis working with the occupation forces and the Iraqi infrastructure.

What should be obvious to all by now was eloquently spelled out by terrorism expert Jessica Stern today on the op-ed page of the New York Times. In "How America Created a Terrorist Haven," Stern--no leftist--makes painfully clear that "America has taken a country that was not a terrorist threat and turned it into one."

As Stern, an author and lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, explains, the US inability to get basic services functioning and a legitimate government up and running in Iraq has created a situation much more dangerous for American interests than was the case prior to Bush's invasion. "The occupation has given disparate groups from various countries a common battlefield on which to fight a common enemy," Stern rightly insists. "Most ominously, Al Qaeda's influence may be growing."

Click here to read "How America Created a Terrorist Haven" in its entirety. And email this compelling indictment of how the Bush Administration has made us less safe to friends, family and foes.

And for more on the the situation in Iraq, see The Nation's collection of editorials, articles, columns and web reports on Iraqi reconstruction and the postwar situation, (sometimes known as war profiteering). You should also check out both the Common Dreams news site and Tom Englehardt's TomDispatch for regularly-updated links to good news sources on Iraq.

The 2003 Blackout

Electricity has now been restored across much of the northeast region of Canada and the United States, but officials are urging consumers and businesses to conserve electricity to avoid the possibility of rolling blackouts to prevent the grid from becoming overburdened as it stabilizes after the worst power cuts in North American history.

At its peak, the blackout, thought now to have originated in Ohio, left more than 50 million people without power in eight US states and eastern Canada, including major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto and Ottawa.

The Nation offices, located in the Union Square area of Manhattan, were without power for about thirty-six hours, which meant that our website was temporarily unavailable, and our e-mail and phone systems were also down. Fortunately, everything seems to be functioning normally now.

Watch this space for more info and, in the meantime, check out these articles and op-eds for interesting quick hits on what the blackout means.

Top Ten Things to Do in a Blackout by Farai Chideya, Alternet, August 15

Power Outage Traced To Dim Bulb In White House by Greg Palast, CommonDreams, August 15

System's Crash was Predicted by Peter Behr, Washington Post, August 15

This Grid Should Not Exist by Harvey Wasserman, Free Press, August 16

An Industry Trapped by a Theory by Robert Kuttner, New York Times, August 16

Drunk on Power by Bill Richardson, New York Times, August 16

When the Lights Go Out by Guardian Editors, The Guardian, August 16

A 'third world electricity grid' by David Adam, The Guardian, August 16

Oppose Karen Tandy's Nomination

The Bush Administration has quietly nominated another hard-liner with a questionable past to a high level position in Washington: veteran Justice Department official Karen Tandy, the likely new chief of the Drug Enforcement Agency, who recently made headlines by conducting an aggressive series of federal raids against medical marijuana users in states where the practice has been legalized.

A recent investigation by The Nation's Jason Vest found Tandy's career to be rife with examples of prosecutorial zealotry. She began her career in the 1980s as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, in an office described at the time by US District Court Judge Robert R. Merhige, Jr., as "absolutely the worst" he had seen. Tandy was the cause of much of the dissatisfaction directed at the office.

In a 1984 case against alleged marijuana traffickers, she read sealed documents protected by attorney-client privilege; in 1994 she ordered the seizure of the property of North Carolina businessman John Wheeler to force him to testify against others despite a lack of any evidence against him. In both cases, she was strongly rebuked by a federal judge for her conduct.

On July 10, Tandy breezed through her confirmation hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee, with only Senator Richard Durbin going on record to oppose her nomination.

But it's not too late to raise questions before a vote to confirm her. Click here to let your Senator know that you're concerned about Karen Tandy's record and that you oppose her nomination as Administrator of the DEA.

Help Save the FOIA

As Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel noted in a recent weblog, the Freedom of Information Act has been under severe assault from the Bush Administration since October 2001, when Attorney General John Ashcroft began reversing long-standing FOIA policies.

Since its establishment in 1967, the FOIA has been critical in exposing waste, fraud and government abuse. FOIA replaced a "need to know" standard with a "right to know" threshold, putting a burden on the government to show that requested information should not be disclosed, rather than assuming the Government always had good reason to withhold data from the public. Unsurprisingly, the Bush Administration appears determined to systematically undermine this showpiece of good government legislation.

So comprehensive is the Administration's attack that the presidents of twenty major journalists' organizations declared in a recent joint statement that Ashcroft's "restrictions pose dangers to American democracy and prevent American citizens from obtaining the information they need." (For example, FOIA allows neighbors who live near a chemical plant to get the same safety reports that the plant provides to the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor the plant's compliance with emissions standards.)

To counter this onslaught, a handful of Democratic Senators, including Robert Byrd, Patrick Leahy, Carl Levin and Jim Jeffords, recently introduced S609-- The Restore FOIA Act--which would re-establish legal protection for federal whistle-blowers and would revive public access to the type of health, safety and environmental information that citizens have had a right to obtain for the last thirty years.

The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee last March, where it will be voted on, probably in September, and then likely sent back to the full Senate for a chamber vote.

Click here to send a letter to your Senators imploring them to support the Restore FOIA Act. It'll take about ninety second with The Nation's new online activist kit, and on this issue, it could really make a difference.

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