Hello friends, community members, activists, social justice and environmental groups, service organizations, people of faith, families and students,
Below is the Facebook event page:
And an event webpage for those that don’t use social media:
Hello friends, community members, activists, social justice and environmental groups, service organizations, people of faith, families and students,
Below is the Facebook event page:
And an event webpage for those that don’t use social media:
Hiroshima Day, August 6, 2016 at Riverfront Park, Corvallis
I am so grateful to the organizers and all of you for allowing me to share this space with you.
As a historian of science at Oregon State I research the intersection between human rights, radiation exposure and nuclear history, but my life’s goal is to see global nuclear disarmament before I die. I hope all of you here will help me, because sometimes it seems we are moving farther and farther away from what we need to do to get there.
But I know in my heart it is what we must do to survive climate change and create a world we all want to live in, where resources are used for human needs and sustainability, not preparing for war and destroying the planet in the process.
Unbeknownst to many Americans we are standing at the precipice of a $1 trillion dollar modernizing plan for nuclear weapons with new air, sea and land delivery systems. We are in a new nuclear arms race and these weapons are still on hair trigger alert. It is important to inform each other as this news is not being well televised. This year the leadership of Senators Wyden and Merkley to cut some of this nuclear weapons budget might make a real difference, and I want to encourage all of you here to write letters to the editor and to them and to do what you can to support disarmament.
Another thing many Americans are not aware of is the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons based on their catastrophic humanitarian threat. A new nuclear weapons ban has international momentum. When I saw the ban introduced to the NonProliferation Treaty Prep Com in 2012 in Vienna there were only a handful of countries that endorsed it. Now there are over 127 countries and 440 non-governmental organizations working at the UN to ban nuclear weapons.
The need for the ban is due to the lack of progress by nuclear weapons states to reduce their arsenals to absolute zero, as previously agreed in the Nonproliferation Treaty of 1968. To learn more about what you do to support a nuclear weapons ban see the website ICANW.org and sign up for their newsletter.
Learning more and sharing peace literacy and nonviolence is imperative to create a more just world. This year at OSU there will be a year of peace literacy events including Paul Chappell, a veteran who teaches ways to wage peace, who will be speaking on campus November 16.
We all must learn more, and we must help our neighbors and politicians see as clearly as Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King saw a continuum of violence, as he explained in his Nobel Peace Prize lecture of 1964. For him, nuclear weapons were intimately connected to injustice and poverty. Resources going to nuclear weapons and war creates poverty and injustice, compounded by deficits in education and peace literacy as resources are diverted from what humans need to thrive.
And then there is the question of leadership. What does it mean to lead with nuclear arms?
Vice President Jo Biden implored this summer that it is time for “profound introspection and dialogue” about violence in America in the wake of the Orlando shootings, disproportionate police killings of African Americans and the murders of Dallas police officers. Where does our countries own leadership with nuclear weapons fit in the conversation about violence? What does it mean when the country that you love can destroy the world, several times over?
Two weeks ago I visited one of our three new National Parks, the Hanford B-Reactor. In 2014 the US created the Manhattan Project National Historic Park. The park is composed of the B-Reactor and two additional sites so far, Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Oak Ridge Tennessee. The B-Reactor is about five hours northeast of us, near Richland Washington.
The B-Reactor created the plutonium used for the Nagasaki bomb.
Because of creating plutonium, Hanford is one of the most contaminated places in the world, with a 150 billion dollar intergenerational cleanup effort. I call it a nukescape. I cannot possibly list all of the human rights violations that have been involved with nuclear weapons, extending from the bombings to the uranium miners, atomic soldiers, human radiation experiments and those contaminated and neglected by the nonsensical quest for nuclear security, but I mourn for all these wrongs done in my name here today.
My precious friend Hideko Tamura Snider on this day seventy-one years ago lost her mother, her best friend, her best friend’s mother, her cousin Hideyuki, other relatives and the entire city she knew and loved. Hideko is one of only 120 surviving American Hiroshima victims. She is in despair over these new Manhattan Project parks.
She wonders what this enshrinement of the places that created the bombs used to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki means about our country. It seems we have an obsession with erasing our own nation’s history of violence from the many genocides of indigenous people as I stand and speak on Kalapuya land to genocidal weapons. We must without distortion face history to repair our relationships with each other and the earth.
Hideko spoke here at OSU this past fall. She gave an amazing message of resilience. In so many words, she explained she had survived an atomic bomb, losing her loved ones and her whole world. Dig deep within yourselves, she said, not only can we work together to ban nuclear weapons, but we can survive the things that seem like we cannot survive them. She will be sharing her survivor story on Tuesday evening in Portland on Nagasaki day at Waterfront Park.
Tonight I am very honored to share with you her poem One Sunny Day, but before I do I want to set the stage. The night before the Hiroshima bombing, Hideko had just returned from the country. She was only ten years old. During the war many Japanese children were sent out of the cities away from their families to rural areas to be safer during the war. She was so happy to be back at home the morning of August 6.
Douglas Gillison, Nick Turse, Moiz Syed
July 13, 2016
Leaked Data Reveals How the U.S. Trains Vast Numbers of Foreign Soldiers and Police With Little Oversight
U.S. Special Forces members advise and assist soldiers assigned to the Belize Special Assignment Group during a marksmanship range exercise near Belize City, Belize, April 12, 2010., U.S. Department of Defense,
At 9:30 a.m. on a gray winter Monday, the State Department officials began certifying the names at a rate of one every two minutes and 23 seconds.
In rapid succession, they confirmed that 204 police officers, soldiers, sailors, and airmen from 11 countries had committed no gross human rights violations and cleared them to attend one of more than 50 training efforts sponsored by the U.S. government. The programs were taking place at a wide variety of locations, from Italy, Albania, and Jordan to the states of Louisiana and Minnesota.
Thirty-two Egyptians were approved for instruction in, among other things, Apache helicopter gunship maintenance and flight simulators for the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. Azerbaijanis were cleared for a U.S. Army course on identifying bio-warfare agents in Maryland and underwater demolition training with Navy SEALs in San Diego. Thirty-three Iraqis were certified to attend a State Department training session for bodyguards, held in Jordan. Bosnians were bound for Macedonia to prepare for deployment to Afghanistan. Ukrainian police were selected for peacekeeping training in Italy. Romanians would study naval operations in Rhode Island and counterterrorism in Skopje.
This was only the beginning of one day’s work of vetting security personnel for U.S. training. A joint investigation by The Intercept and 100Reporters reveals the chaotic and largely unknown details of a vast constellation of global training exercises, operations, facilities, and schools — a shadowy network of U.S. programs that every year provides instruction and assistance to approximately 200,000 foreign soldiers, police, and other personnel. The investigation exposes the geographic and political contours of a U.S. training system that has, until now, largely defied thorough description.
The data show training at no fewer than 471 locations in 120 countries — on every continent but Antarctica — involving, on the U.S. side, 150 defense agencies, civilian agencies, armed forces colleges, defense training centers, military units, private companies, and NGOs, as well as the National Guard forces of five states. Despite the fact that the Department of Defense alone has poured some $122 billion into such programs since 9/11, the breadth and content of this training network remain virtually unknown to most Americans.
The contours of this sprawling system were discovered by analyzing 6,176 diplomatic cables that were released by WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011. While the scope of the training network may come as a surprise, the most astounding fact may be that it is even larger than the available data show, because the WikiLeaks cables are not comprehensive. They contain, for example, little information on training efforts in Colombia, the single-largest recipient of U.S. training covered by the human rights vetting process that produced these records. Other large recipients of U.S. security assistance, such as Pakistan, are vastly underrepresented in the cables for reasons that remain unclear.
“What you have stumbled across is a systematic lack of strategic thinking, a systematic lack of evaluation, but a massive commitment of people and money and time in a growing number of countries,” said Gordon Adams, formerly a senior White House official for national security and foreign policy budgets. “I think the word ‘system’ is a misnomer. This is a headless system,” he said.
The investigation raises serious questions about U.S. government oversight, safeguards, and accountability. The investigation found:
• A global training network without any coherent strategy, carried out by scores of agencies and offices with no effective oversight, centralized planning, or a clear statement of objectives.
A Rand Corp. analysis from 2013 found that the Pentagon alone has 71 different authorities under which it provides foreign aid as a means of “building partner capacity,” or BPC — part of a system that the report criticized as akin to “a tangled web, with holes, overlaps, and confusions.” The Pentagon, for example, maintains no master list of the people it trains nor does it keep aggregate figures.
“The way we do security cooperation has been a patchwork that we’ve added to over and over,” said Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former member of the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board. “There are more than 180 authorities and scores of agencies working in these areas, and the way it has evolved over time has made it absolutely impossible for anyone to know what’s going on. … There really is no oversight.”
Details on the U.S. government’s training programs have long been lacking. In 2012, the Obama administration submitted a one-time report to Congress on foreign police training that covered just two fiscal years — and it was never made public. Annual disclosures by the State Department about foreign military training programs cover many volumes but are often vague and difficult to analyze, with information frequently missing or reported inconsistently.
The diplomatic cables that were mined for this investigation were written between December 1999 and February 2010 and were among a far larger batch of documents leaked by Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning; a military court subsequently sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison. The cables provide the identities of nearly 60,000 trainees and units from 129 countries (today, the number stands at more than 150 countries) who were selected by U.S. government entities as varied as the FBI, the Defense Department Fire Academy, the Patent and Trademark Office, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the National Park Service. Only some of the cables contained enough information to appear on the accompanying map, which depicts the planned movements of just under 39,300 people and units between 2003 and 2010.
The cables also reveal that more than two-thirds of the State Department’s vetting approvals were granted for training programs carried out overseas rather than in the United States. Domestically, training was conducted in 39 U.S. states as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the District of Columbia. At least 57 domestic Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps bases were involved in these domestic training efforts. Additional research by The Intercept and 100Reporters indicates that little has changed in the years since the cables were released; the global U.S. training system remains sprawling, opaque, and in disarray.
William Hartung, a senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor, which tracks American military aid around the globe, said the scale of the training efforts was “just mind boggling.”
“It’s sort of a question of, ‘Where aren’t we training people?’” he said. “It’s hard to imagine any other country in the world being in a position to do all this and to do it with so little scrutiny.”
A soldier of the Iraqi army’s 16th Division kicks in a door during a training exercise at Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq, March 21, 2015. Photo: U.S. Army Central
The WikiLeaks cables examined in this investigation were written to comply with the so-called Leahy Law — a vetting process meant to weed out foreign trainees or units implicated in “gross human rights violations.” While the Leahy Law has prevented some aid from reaching units in countries like Pakistan and Indonesia, it has been routinely criticized as ineffective and filled with loopholes that are used to circumvent the law’s intent. Its implementation has also been hobbled by a lack of funding. As Lora Lumpe, a senior policy analyst at the Open Society Foundations, has observed, the State Department office that controls the Leahy vetting operated on a budget of just $2.75 million in 2014, while the security projects it oversaw were worth as much as $15 billion. The number of cases it vetted in 2015 was astounding — 191,899. The total number of individuals trained is certainly higher: According to the State Department, a single case can comprise thousands of individuals.
“When you say we have to look at every individual and every unit and you actually have to do the vetting, you get far too many people who are technically vetted, but who we actually know very little about,” said Kleinfeld of the Carnegie Endowment. “So you build a haystack where you’re looking for a needle. And as you build that haystack, the vetting necessarily becomes worse.”
Questions about the vetting process are accompanied by concerns about the effectiveness of the training programs. Last year, a $500 million Pentagon effort to train and equip Syrian rebels, slated to produce 15,000 fighters over three years, yielded just a few dozen before being scrapped by the Obama administration. A 13-year effort in Afghanistan has resulted in an army filled with “ghost” soldiers, wracked by desertions and continuing to suffer setbacks and lose territory to a relatively unpopular insurgency. And then there was the spectacular collapse of the Iraqi army in 2014 to the much smaller forces of the Islamic State (though the territory lost at the time is beginning to be won back).
These failures call into question whether these far-flung programs “can ever achieve their desired effects,” according to a 2015 report by the Congressional Research Service. “Despite the increasing emphasis on, and centrality of, BPC in national security strategy and military operations, the assumption that building foreign security forces will have tangible U.S. national security benefits remains a relatively untested proposition.”
A 2015 report by the Center for a New American Security similarly concluded that many “security assistance and cooperation interventions fail to accomplish U.S. objectives as a result of both strategic and structural deficiencies.” It found that training goals are often poorly articulated and sometimes in conflict with each other. In 2013, a State Department advisory panel also found that American security aid had no coherent system of planning or evaluation and no overall strategy. It compared the “baffling” array of federal funding sources to “a philanthropic grant-making process by an assemblage of different foundations with different agendas.”
That year, the Obama administration attempted to bring order to foreign security assistance through a directive that, according to the Congressional Research Service, calls on national security agencies “to improve, streamline, and better organize” all American international security assistance and cooperation. According to the National Security Council, the administration directed the State Department to “synchronize” foreign security aid programs. The State Department, in response, has said it “continues to play a leadership role” in carrying out the still-unpublished 2013 directive, but the results have been murky and basic information from various agencies is still lacking. The Department of Justice, for example, said it does not track foreign training at the department-wide level.
The failure of the State and Justice departments to meaningfully manage and track their training programs is mirrored by similar deficiencies at the Department of Defense. Despite its claims that programs are “closely overseen,” the Pentagon can’t even say how many foreign troops it mentors. According to Lt. Col. Joe Sowers, a Department of Defense spokesperson, “Because training is provided through multiple authorities, appropriations accounts, and geographic combatant commands, there is currently no single database that provides a total figure for the number of foreign security forces trained.”
Kleinfeld, from the Carnegie Endowment, describes the situation as a strategic failure. “No one knows how many people are being trained because of the lack of centralization — because State does some training, National Guard does some, the FBI, the DOD,” she said. “No one has any idea what’s going on.”
This story was co-published with 100Reporters as part of its series investigating chronic failures in the U.S. training of foreign police and military personnel.
Story by Douglas Gillison and Nick Turse. Data visualization by Moiz Syed.
Research: Lewam Dejen, Aishvarya Kavi, Chloee Weiner, and Drew Williams of 100Reporters.
Recommended by Bobbi, this article is from the Columbia Journalism Review
WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning filed her long-awaited appeal to a 35-year jail sentence last week, and her case brings up an important question for journalists: When will courts finally rule the Espionage Act unconstitutional for leakers and whistleblowers?
Manning, who admitted to leaking thousands of classified Pentagon documents and State Department cables to WikiLeaks in 2010, was convicted for something that happens on a smaller scale every day in Washington: handing journalists classified information. Yet as the ACLU pointed out in its excellent legal brief bolstering her defense: Before Manning, “no person in the history of this nation had been sentenced to decades in prison for the crime of disclosing truthful information to the public and press.”
Thanks to Manning, the wealth of information the public now has on how its government operates is almost incalculable. Hundreds of newspaper stories have been written using the documents Manning leaked—years later, the cables are still regularly cited in stories about breaking news around the world. For example, just this week, the Intercept used some of the State Department cables in its widely read feature on Hillary Clinton’s role in advocating for fracking during her time as Secretary of State.
Despite the harsh jail sentence, no one can point to any significant damage caused by the leaks. Even government officials admitted in court that they don’t know of a single person to have died as a result, despite claiming at the time of publication that WikiLeaks had “blood on its hands.”
And that gets to the crux of the problem: During the trial, Manning wasn’t allowed to tell the court of the benefits her leaks produced, nor was she allowed to challenge the charge that they did damage to national security. She wasn’t even allowed to explain her motivations for informing the American public—rather than, say, selling secrets to foreign governments for profit. In a pre-trial ruling, the judge in her case said this evidence was inadmissible because of the absurdly broad language of the Espionage Act.
Unfortunately, lower courts in other leak cases have largely come to the same conclusion. The Espionage Act is written so broadly that prosecutors merely have to prove a government official transmitted “national defense information” to a person “unauthorized” to see it. The motives, good or ill, and the circumstances, even if the information shows abuse or illegality, do not matter. And because appeals for such cases are incredibly expensive for defendants, an appeals court hasn’t ruled on the issue in decades, let alone the Supreme Court.
Embed from Getty Images
This breathtakingly sweeping and draconian law, coupled with a lack of public interest defense, are antithetical to the Constitution, and it violates the First Amendment. It’s possible, though, that the Manning case will finally bring this injustice to the public’s attention.
If there’s one thing everyone should read on the matter, it’s the ACLU’s brief that forcefully and convincingly describes how leaks are not only extraordinarily pervasive in our democracy, but vital to its health. Yet because the government is allowed to pick and choose who to prosecute—the law effectively turns into a weapon to control speech.
You can go down the list of past journalism prize winners and find it littered with now-famous stories based on classified leaks—from the secret and illegal bombing of Cambodia and Laos and CIA crimes from the 1970s all the way up to secret CIA prisons, NSA warrantless wiretapping, and drone strikes of modern times. Would the public really be better off if they never found out about these crimes and violations of the Constitution?
But those investigations are not an aberration: Stories based on classified leaks fill the news all the time. Just this Sunday, both The New York Times and The Washington Post ran prominent stories that likely contained Top Secret information about a Taliban leader allegedly killed by a drone strike (Top Secret is a higher classification than anything Chelsea Manning leaked). It’s right there in black and white: “Pakistan was not informed of the strike beforehand, said a senior American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential operational details,” the Times reported Sunday. You can find similar information in The Washington Post: “[O]ne U.S. official said Mansour and a second male combatant accompanying him in a vehicle were probably killed,” the Post reported. “President Barack Obama authorized the attack, which occurred on the Pakistani side of the border, and was briefed before and after it was carried out, a White House aide said. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity and were not authorized to discuss the operation publicly.”
While this particular drone strike was conducted by the military and not the CIA, drone strikes have, for years, been de facto classified by the US government at the highest levels, despite the fact that they regularly show up on the front pages of newspapers. (It should be noted, though, that the president confirmed yesterday the Taliban leader was killed while managing to never say the word “drone”). The CIA, meanwhile, continues to fight in court so that it won’t have to turn over the most basic details about its drone program’s existence.
No investigation will be made into who leaked this information to the Post and the Times ahead of time, because it’s information that furthers the government’s favored narrative. Only, if we were to read the letter of the law as the government interprets it, these officials broke the Espionage Act, just as Chelsea Manning did.
As former Washington bureau chief of The New York Times, Max Frankel, once wrote in the Pentagon Papers case: “Without the use of ‘secrets’…there could be no adequate diplomatic, military and political reporting of the kind our people take for granted, either abroad or in Washington, and there could be no mature system of communication between the Government and the people.” Over the past 45 years, Frankel’s wise words have only grown in their significance.
We can only hope courts will one day recognize what newspapers long have: Leaks are vital to democracy, and whistleblowers should not be going to jail for decades for telling the truth to the American public.
Trevor Timm is the executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports and defends journalism dedicated to transparency and accountability. He is also a twice-weekly columnist for the Guardian, where he writes about privacy, national security, and the media
The first week in May will see the 30th annual observance of Holocaust Memorial Week at Oregon State University. In keeping with standard practice, the program will deal not only with the Holocaust but with the theme of comparative genocide, and human rights issues will receive a prominent place.
Public Talk: Sunday, May 1, 4:00 p.m., Congregation Beth Israel (1972 NW Flanders)
Speaker: Eva Mozes Kor
Topic: The Triumph of the Human Spirit: From Auschwitz to Forgiveness
As was the case in 2015, a major event associated with this year’s program will be staged
in Portland, and it will focus on one of the best-known Holocaust survivors. In 1944, 10-year- old
Eva Mozes and her family of Rumanian Jews was taken to Auschwitz. Her parents and two
sisters perished there. Eva and her sister Miriam were spared, but only because they were twins,
and as such they were given over to the most notorious Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele, who
employed them, as well as other sets of twins, in his experiments. After the war, Eva spent time
in Israel, then immigrated to the United States, settling in Terre Haute, Indiana. In 1984, she
founded CANDLES, an organization dedicated to tracing survivors of Mengele’s experiment,
and in 1995 she established a Holocaust museum in Terre Haute. In the cause of Holocaust
education, she has also spoken widely of her experiences and observations. But she is likewise
well known for her work on peace and forgiveness; she has personally forgiven the Nazis, even
Mengele, for what they did to her during World War II.
Besides her talk in Portland, Eva Mozes Kor will speak in Corvallis, in Austin Auditorium
of the LaSells Stewart Center, at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 2. As at the event at
Congregation Beth Israel, the title of her talk will be The Triumph of the Human Spirit:
From Auschwitz to Forgiveness.
Other events associated with the observance of Holocaust Memorial Week, all of them staged at
Panel Discussion: Tuesday, May 3, 7:30 p.m., C & E Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center
Panelists: Kristin Johnson, Linda Richards, and Michael Dicianna
Topic: Close to Home: Eugenics in the United States – and at Oregon State
This panel will focus on the period 1870-1970, when eugenics, which justified such
practices as forced sterilization to eliminate “undesirable” traits from the gene pool, had a broad
following in both Europe and the United States, including Oregon, and was for a time taught at
Oregon State College, as well as at many other American colleges and universities. Panelists will
also examine the decline of eugenics.
Public Talk: Wednesday, May 4, 7:30 p.m., C & E. Auditorium
Speaker: Scott Straus
Topic: What Have We Learned about Genocide Prevention?
Well known for his study, The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda,
Scott Straus (University of Wisconsin-Madison) will focus on the issue of what causes genocide
and what can be done to reduce the likelihood of genocidal campaigns in the future. Straus’s talk
will highlight issues and observations discussed in his two most recent books, Fundamentals of
Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention and Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership,
and Genocide in Modern Africa.
Public Talk: Thursday, May 5, 7:30 p.m., C & E Auditorium
Speaker: Lawrence Douglas
Topic: Building the Case against Perpetrators of Genocide
Comparing the trials at Nuremberg with the later trials of Adolf Eichmann and of John
Demjanjuk, Lawrence Douglas, the James J. Garfield Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social
Thought at Amherst College, will discuss how prosecutors gathered and used evidence and how
the trials shaped historical memory. Douglas’s many books include his highly acclaimed study,
The Memory of Judgment: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust, as well as the
recently published The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes
Trial. He has also published two award-winning novels.
Conference: Friday, May 6, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Native American Longhouse
At the annual Social Justice Conference on Human Rights, students will read papers and
discuss issues relating to human dignity. This year, the focus will be on immigration and
participants will address questions of migration, borders, marginality, and identity.
All of the events noted here are free and open to the public. No tickets are required. Further
information on any of the events is available at the website of the Holocaust Memorial Program