Brendan Smith

5 Reasons the Keystone Pipeline Is Bad for the Economy

This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.

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Keystone XL Opponents Need a Jobs Program

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline are taking a well-deserved victory lap. The Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada’s pipeline proposal — at least for now — represents an historic win for the environmental movement, and reveals the potency of the emerging alignment between the environmental, anti-corporate, Occupy, and other movements.

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Can Ocean Farms Actually Be More Sustainable Than Even the Most Environmentally Sensitive Traditional Farms?

For decades environmentalists have fought to save our oceans from the perils of overfishing, climate change, and pollution. All noble efforts -- but what if environmentalists have it backwards? What if the question is not how to save the oceans, but how the oceans can save us?

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Why Unions Should Reconsider Support for Tar Sands Oil Pipeline

More than two million American construction workers -- nearly one in five -- are currently unemployed. Factories that produce building materials are operating at only half their capacity. So when a private company proposes a project it claims will spur the creation of 118,000 new jobs, it is hardly surprising that unions representing construction, transportation and related workers pricked up their ears.

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Can We Solve Our Environmental Crisis Without Talking About Climate Change and Global Warming?

To talk of climate change or not to talk of climate change — that is the question.

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How to Pay for a Global Climate Deal

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by SolveClimate.

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The Financial Crisis Is Too Dire to Be Left to Politicians

Editor's Note: As tens of thousands of activists from around the world gather in Belem, Brazil, for the World Social Forum, social movements everywhere are debating how to respond to the ever-deepening economic crisis. This article is excerpted from the longer discussion paper "Globalization From Below" Tackles the "Great Recession" prepared by Global Labor Strategies.

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How We Got the Worst Health Care System Mountains of Money Can Buy

As Americans respond to President-elect Barack Obama's call for town hall meetings on reform of the American health care system, an understanding of how that system came to be the way it is can be crucial for figuring out how to fix it. The American health care system is unique because, for most of us, it is tied to our jobs rather than to our government. For many Americans, the system seems natural, but few know that it originated not as a well-thought-out plan to provide for Americans' health, but as a way to circumvent a quirk in wartime wage regulations that had nothing to do with health.

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Nine Reasons to Investigate War Crimes Now

Retired General Antonio Taguba, the officer who led the Army's investigation into Abu Ghraib, recently wrote in the preface to the new report, Broken laws, Broken Lives:

"There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

Should those who ordered war crimes be held to account? With the conclusion of the Bush regime approaching, many people are dubious, even those horrified by Administration actions. They fear a long, divisive ordeal that could tear the country apart. They note that such division could make it far harder for the country to address the many other crises it is facing. They see the upcoming elections as a better way to set the country on a new path.

Many Democrats in particular are proposing to let bygones be bygones and move on to confront the problems of the future, rather than dwelling on the past. The Democratic leadership sees rising gas prices, foreclosures, and health care costs, as well as widespread dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, as playing in their favor. Why risk it all by playing the war crimes blame game? Perhaps some Democratic leaders are also concerned that their own role in enabling or even encouraging war crimes might be exposed.

Meanwhile, the evidence confirming not only a deliberate policy of torture, but of conspiring in an illegal war of aggression and conducting a criminal occupation, continues to pile ever higher. Bush's own press secretary Scott McClellan has revealed in his book, What Happened, how deliberately the public was misled to foment the attack on Iraq. Philippe Sands' new book, Torture Team, has shown how the top legal and political leadership fought for a policy of torture -- circumventing and misleading top military officials to do so. Jane Mayer's The Dark Side, reveals that a secret report by the Red Cross -- given to the CIA and shared with President Bush and Condoleezza Rice -- found that U.S. interrogation methods are "categorically" torture and that the "abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the U.S. government in jeopardy of being prosecuted."

Despite the reluctance to open what many see as a can of worms, there are fresh moves on many fronts to hold top U.S. officials accountable for war crimes.

Courts: U.S. courts have issued a barrage of decisions against the Administration's claim that they can do anything and still be within the law. The Supreme Court ruled June 12 that the Administration cannot deny habeas corpus rights to Guantánamo detainees. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals on June 30 overturned the Pentagon's enemy combatant designation of a Chinese Muslim held in Guantánamo for the last six years. A Maine jury in April acquitted the Bangor Six of criminal trespass charges stemming from protesters' claim that the "Constitution was being violated by the Bush Administration's involvement in Iraq."

Congressional investigation: Rep. John Conyers has recently brought top policy-makers, including former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff David Addington, and this week former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and former Attorney General John Ashcroft before a House Judiciary subcommittee and grilled them on their role crafting the Administration's torture policy.

Senate hearings in June revealed that treatment of Guantánamo captives was modeled on techniques allegedly used by Communist China to force false confessions from U.S. soldiers.

Impeachment: Despite Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi's instruction to keep impeachment "off the table," Rep. Dennis Kucinich for the first time brought an impeachment resolution to the House floor that incorporated a devastating, thirty-five article indictment spelling out Bush Administration war crimes and crimes against the Constitution. Now Rep. Conyers has announced that the Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the charges July 25. Even after the Bush Administration leaves office, the judges it appointed who appear complicit in war crimes -- notably torture policy architect Judge Jay S. Bybee -- could still be impeached.

Truth commission: In response to General Taguba's accusations, New York Times Op-Ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof has just called for the establishment of a truth commission -- like that of post-Apartheid South Africa -- with subpoena power to investigate the abuses in the aftermath of 9/11 and "lead a process of soul searching and national cleansing."

International: In May, Vanity Fair magazine published an article by British human rights attorney Philippe Sands, in which he described the reasons Administration lawyers face a real risk of criminal investigations if they stray beyond U.S. borders. The British parliament is about to launch an investigation of Washington's lying to the British government about its use of its facilities for "extraordinary rendition." Constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley recently said, "I think it might in fact be time for the United States to be held internationally to a tribunal. I never thought in my lifetime I would say that." Colin Powell's former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson publicly advised Feith, Addington, And Albert Gonzales "never to travel outside the U.S., except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel."

Prosecution: According to a recent Mellman Group survey commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans of all political stripes overwhelmingly support the appointment of an independent prosecutor to investigate both the destruction of the CIA's interrogation tapes and the possible use of torture by the agency. Every segment of the electorate -- including majorities of Democrats (82 percent), independents (62 percent), and Republicans (51 percent) -- want to hold this administration accountable for its role in the destruction of the torture tapes.

Vincent Bugliosi, the former Los Angeles County Prosecutor who has won twenty-one convictions in murder trials, including Charles Manson's, has just published The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, which argues that there is overwhelming evidence President Bush took the nation to war in Iraq under false pretenses and must be prosecuted for the consequent deaths of over 4,000 U.S. soldiers.

Dean Lawrence Velvel of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is planning a September conference to map out war crimes prosecutions against President Bush and other administration officials. Velvel says that "plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth." Reps. John Conyers, Jerrold Nadler, and Bill Delahunt have called on Attorney General Michael Mukasey to appoint a special counsel to investigate the rendition of Canadian citizen Maher Arar to Syria.

Citizen action: Voters in Brattleboro and Marlboro, Vermont this spring approved a measure that instructs police to arrest President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for "crimes against our Constitution," should they venture into those precincts.

All these developments suggest approaches that might be used to hold Bush Administration war criminals accountable. Establishing accountability for U.S. war crimes in the Iraq war era is the sine qua non for initiating a new era on different principles. Here are nine reasons why we must not let bygones be bygones:

1. World peace cannot be achieved without human rights and accountability.

According to Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, chief American prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunals, "The ultimate step in avoiding periodic wars, which are inevitable in a system of international lawlessness, is to make statesmen responsible to law." Moving in that direction will be impossible unless such responsibility applies to the statesmen of the world's most powerful countries, and above all the world's sole superpower. U.S. support for the war crimes charges like those just brought by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will represent little more than hypocrisy if U.S. Presidents are not held to the same standard.

2. The rule of law is central to our democracy.

Most Americans believe that even the highest officials are bound by law. If we send mentally-disabled juveniles to prison as adults, but let government officials who authorize torture and launch illegal wars go scot-free, we destroy the very basis of the rule of law.

3. We must not allow precedents to be set that promote war crimes.

Executive action unchallenged by Congress changes the way our law is interpreted. According to Robert Borosage, writing for Huffington Post, "If Bush's extreme assertions of power are not challenged by the Congress, they end up not simply creating new law, they could end up rewriting the Constitution itself."

4. We must restore the principles of democracy to our government.

The claim that the President, as commander-in-chief, can exercise the unlimited powers of a king or dictator strikes at the very heart of our democracy. As Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson put it, we, as citizens, would "submit ourselves to rules only if under rules." Countries like Chile can attest that the restoration of democracy and the rule of law requires more than voting a new party into office -- it requires a rejection of impunity for the criminal acts of government officials.

5. We must forestall an imperialist resurgence.

When they are out of office, the advocates of imperial expansion and global domination have proven brilliant at lying in wait to undermine and destroy their opponents.

They did it to destroy the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. They'll do it again to an Obama Administration unless their machinations are exposed and discredited first.

6. We must have national consensus on the real reasons for the Bush Administration's failures.

Republicans are preparing to dominate future decades of American politics by blaming the failure of the Iraq war on those who "sent a signal" that the U.S. would not "stay the course" whatever the cost. Establishing the real reasons for the failure of the U.S. in Iraq -- the criminal and anti-democratic character of the war -- is the necessary condition for defeating that effort.

7. We must restore America's damaged reputation abroad.

The world has watched as the United States -- the self-proclaimed steward of democracy -- has systematically broken the letter and spirit of its Constitution, violated international treaties, and ignored basic moral tenets of humanity. As former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora recently pointed out to the Senate Armed Services Committee, our nation's "policy of cruelty" has violated our "overarching foreign policy interests and our national security." To establish international legitimacy, we must demonstrate that we are capable of holding our leaders to account.

8. We must lay the basis for major change in U.S. foreign policy.

Real security in the era of global warming and nuclear proliferation must be based on international cooperation. But genuine cooperation requires that the U.S. entirely repudiate the course of the past eight years. The American people must understand why international cooperation rather than pursuit of global domination is necessary to their own security. And other countries must be convinced that we really mean it.

9. We must deter future U.S. war crimes.

The specter of more war crimes haunts our future. Rumors continue to circulate about an American or American-backed Israeli attack on Iran. A recently introduced House resolution promoted by AIPAC "demands" that the President initiate what is effectively a blockade against Iran -- an act seen by some as tantamount to a declaration of war. Nothing could provide a greater deterrent to such future war crimes than establishing accountability for those of the past.

Holding war criminals accountable will require placing the long-term well-being of our country and the world ahead of short-term political advantage. As Rep. Wexler put it, "We owe it to the American people and history to pursue the wrongdoing of this Administration whether or not it helps us politically or in the next election. Our actions will properly define the Bush Administration in the eyes of history and that is the true test."

Will the Military Halt an Iran Attack?

Sometimes history -- and necessity -- make strange bedfellows. The German general staff transported Lenin to Russia to lead a revolution. Union-buster Ronald Reagan played godfather to the birth of the Polish Solidarity union. Equally strange -- but perhaps equally necessary -- is the addressee of a new appeal signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright and many other leaders of the American peace movement:

"ATTENTION: Joint Chiefs of Staff and all U.S. Military Personnel: Do not attack Iran."

The initiative responds to the growing calls for an attack on Iran from the likes of Norman Podhoretz and John Bolton, and the reports of growing war momentum in Washington by reporters like Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker and Joe Klein of Time. International lawyer Scott Horton says European diplomats at the recent United Nations General Assembly gathering in New York "believe that the United States will launch an air war on Iran, and that it will occur within the next six to eight months." He puts the likelihood of conflict at 70 percent.

The initiative also responds to the recent failure of Congress to pass legislation requiring its approval before an attack on Iran and the hawk-driven resolution encouraging the President to act against the Iranian military. Marcy Winograd, president of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, who originally suggested the petition, told The Nation:

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Will Bush Provoke a Constitutional Crisis?

While the November elections provided the Democratic Party a public mandate to end the war in Iraq, President Bush has signaled his intent to utilize his institutional powers as Commander in Chief to maintain and even escalate the U.S. commitment, public or congressional opinion notwithstanding. The Democratic leadership has removed two obvious ways to stop him -- impeachment and a cutoff of war funds -- from the table. Some Democrats have even indicated they will acquiesce in the sending of tens of thousands more troops to Iraq.

For those for in Congress and the public whom acquiescence is not an option, there remains an indirect route to challenging Presidential war-making power and force withdrawal from Iraq. That is to so discredit the Administration in the eyes of the public that neither Republican politicians nor the military, the intelligence agencies, the foreign policy establishment, or the corporate elite will allow it to continue on its catastrophic course. That requires a devastating exposure of the criminality, corruption, stupidity, and false premises of those who are making the decisions.

The road to withdrawal from Iraq, in short, may run through a congressional hearing room. But whether it does will depend in large part on how Democrats go about their investigations and how much the public demands they truly confront the Bush administration's criminality.

Just in the first three weeks of the session, Senate Democrats plan to call at least 13 hearings on Iraq.1 On the House side, Rep. John Murtha has promised to hold two hearings a day for several months beginning on January 17th, and many others are planned as well.

The Democrats' investigations could follow either of two strategies. One is to use hearings simply to service their '08 election goals by revealing some blemishes in Bush's Iraq policy -- while letting the war, torture, spying, and other crimes continue unimpeded. The alternate is to investigate with the intent of driving a dagger into the soft underbelly of the Bush juggernaut -- its criminal violation of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. and international law and its criminal coverup of its abuses.

The upcoming hearings will undoubtedly include demands for information that the Administration has up till now refused to provide. The consequence will be a power struggle which could -- if Democrats so choose -- be the defining moment in the effort to establish legal and constitutional accountability for the Bush administration -- and thereby force it to end the war.

The Bush administration has been historic in its refusal to share information with Congress or the public. It has strong motivations to continue to conceal such information, such as avoiding humiliation, further public exposure, and probable criminal liability. It has sent strong signals it will indeed refuse to provide such information. As Time magazine wrote just before the election:

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Reining in the President

The constitutional crisis facing the United States has only deepened as a result of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' testimony on warrantless domestic spying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. Karl Rove's well-publicized scheme to tar critics of the secret NSA program as friends of terrorism has fallen flat.

Despite the committee's indulgence of Gonzales' stonewalling, the hearing revealed deep bipartisan concern about a presidency that defies all checks and balances. Committee chair Arlen Specter promised further hearings and said he would consider subpoenas for documents the Administration is withholding. These are the first indications that the institutions of restraint on presidential power, while comatose, may not be dead.

Further indications followed unexpectedly and quickly. The first was the call for a full Congressional inquiry into the warrantless spying program by Republican Representative Heather Wilson of New Mexico. A former National Security Council aide under George H.W. Bush, Wilson heads the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence, which oversees the National Security Agency.

In a New York Times interview Wednesday, she called for a "painstaking" review that would include not only classified briefings but access to internal documents and interviews with NSA staff. She also called for a briefing of the full House Intelligence Committee on the program's operational details.

Lo and behold, Gonzales and Gen. Michael Hayden, deputy to the director of U.S. national intelligence, showed up just hours later on Wednesday afternoon to brief the full House Intelligence Committee -- for the first time ever -- on the warrantless spying. Wilson claimed credit for the White House reversal but said, "I don't believe it complies with the National Security Act, which requires that the committees be kept fully informed of intelligence activities."

Meanwhile, the Republican chair of the House Judiciary Committee, James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, wrote a letter to Gonzales demanding answers by March 2 to fifty-one pointed questions about the warrantless surveillance program. And Specter announced he would introduce legislation requiring President Bush to have a special court examine the eavesdropping program.

These developments may seem like an earthquake after long years in which Bush scornfully defied all attempts at restraint and most of the Congress meekly acquiesced. But it is still a long way from effective checks and balances on executive power. The Bush Administration may still try to parlay its retreat into Congressional support for warrantless spying, just as it turned McCain's anti-torture bill into a legalization of prisoner abuse.

Seeking accountability

More forthright action is unlikely without public pressure. Turning Congressional concern into effective restraint will require a string of battles whose goal is not immediate victory but rather education of the public on why constitutional restraint on executive power matters. This kind of public education -- from Congressional hearings to courageous civic resistance -- is what finally terminated the criminal regimes of Senator Joe McCarthy and President Richard Nixon.

The next step toward any kind of accountability for Bush Administration criminality is to penetrate the wall of silence that surrounds Administration deceit. Leaks, ranging from the photos of Abu Ghraib to the Downing Street memos to the warrantless spying, have driven the anti-Bush backlash. Investigations like those proposed by Representative Wilson could well be the next arena.

The House Progressive Caucus has adopted an informal strategy of encouraging as many members of Congress as possible to introduce Resolutions of Inquiry. These ROIs allow members to pose factual questions to the President or Cabinet officials, and since the resolutions are privileged, relevant committees are required to report back to the House within fourteen legislative days.

In this session alone, Democrats have introduced twenty-two ROIs, the majority of which have centered on prewar intelligence, Plamegate and rendition. The assault began in July 2005, with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and others introducing a succession of seven ROIs in one month. The Downing Street memo ROI prompted extensive debate in the International Relations Committee about the role of Congressional oversight in relation to the war in Iraq, and while the resolution failed, the vote marked the first time all Democrats on the committee voted unanimously concerning Iraq.

On Wednesday, Progressive Caucus members turned their attention to questions of U.S. torture and rendition. Representative Ed Markey's resolution was one of three ROIs that came before the committee requesting documents on any person subject to torture after being transferred to another country by U.S. officials. It won support from Republicans James Leach, former chair of the Banking Committee, and antiwar conservative Ron Paul, but it was defeated by the Republican majority. Representative John Conyers and others now have their sights set on the NSA spying controversy, with four more ROIs expected to come up in the next few weeks.

The Senate is anticipating its own battles over information access and Congressional oversight. Last December, in response to the Administration's claims that Congress had access to the same intelligence as the President when deciding to go to war in Iraq, Senator Ted Kennedy offered an amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Bill requiring the disclosure of the President's Daily Briefs. The amendment passed with the support of Pat Roberts, Republican chair of the Intelligence Committee. The measure also included two other amendments requiring information on U.S. rendition policy. In response, for the first time twenty-seven years, the Senate failed to pass an intelligence authorization bill because an unknown senator placed a hold on the bill. Kennedy has refused to back down, promising a head-on clash with the Administration.

Abuse of Presidential authority is likely to come up in other venues as well. A debate lies ahead on renewal of the Patriot Act. Senator Specter has promised to hold hearings on the Guantánamo prison. The Senate leadership has promised Intelligence Committee hearings on the abuse of prewar intelligence. Looking further to the future are Representative Conyers' proposals for a special prosecutor, a vote of censure and a select committee to investigate impeachable offenses by President Bush. Human rights groups have recently brought suit to find NSA spying unconstitutional. And of course, there are the upcoming Congressional elections.

Foiling Rove's strategy

At the January meeting of the Republican National Committee, Karl Rove explicitly laid out a strategy to win the 2006 election by stigmatizing the Democratic Party as weak on national security. Bush, Cheney and Gonzales have followed Rove's script in their aggressive defense of warrantless NSA spying.

Nothing would make Rove happier than to have warrantless spying and other abuses of presidential authority treated as a partisan issue of Democrats against Republicans. But they aren't. As Al Gore recently observed, "Democrats as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the blame for not taking sufficient action to protest and seek to prevent what they consider a grossly unconstitutional program." Specter told the Washington Post, "I think they are seeing concerns in a lot of directions from all segments: Democrats and Republicans in all shades of the political spectrum."

One key to foiling Rove strategy is to treat government lawlessness as a nonpartisan concern. The combination of bipartisan complicity and bipartisan concern opens a new opportunity to split support for Bush's criminal activities and to build a coalition to terminate them.

This is possible because Rove's script isn't playing so well even in the Republican Party. Insight magazine quoted Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska as saying, "I didn't like what Mr. Rove said, because it frames terrorism and the issue of terrorism and everything that goes with it, whether it's the renewal of the Patriot Act or the NSA wiretapping, in a political context." Before the Gonzales hearing Specter said that the spy program of his own party's President is in flat violation of the law. In a post-hearing interview with the Washington Post, Specter said of Gonzales, "He's smoking Dutch Cleanser!"

The Republican resistance is even more impressive given an Insight magazine report that Rove has threatened to put any Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee who votes against the President on his blacklist, denying them political and financial support. Despite that, four of the ten Republicans on the committee, including South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, raised doubts about the legality of the NSA program.

Republican politicians are faced with contrary pulls. On the one hand they are fearful, as Rove warned them that the defection of even a few Republicans could be catastrophic for the 2006 elections. On the other hand, if the Bush Administration is crashing, they have an interest in distancing themselves from it so that they don't go down with it. Then there's always principle: Norman Ornstein, head of the American Enterprise Institute, estimates that a majority of Republicans in both houses, if polled in secret, would be concerned about the government's invasion of privacy.

Another key to foiling Rove's strategy is to focus on the fundamental issue of constitutional checks and balances on presidential power. The issue is not whether Republicans or Democrats care more about protecting Americans against terrorists; the question is who -- in or out of either party -- will stand up for the principles of constitutional democracy?

Conyers exemplifies what it means to articulate that frame. He told The Nation, "There is no doubt that our nation is at a constitutional crossroads, and the domestic spying scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. We can continue down the path of an out-of-control executive unwilling to account for his actions and a Congress unable to muster the will to challenge him, or we can return to a system of checks and balances, where Congress performs genuine oversight and stands up for our citizens' rights and liberties."

Such a frame both allows and requires the entire spectrum of Bush Administration criminality to be painted as part of the same picture: not just warrantless domestic spying but lying to Congress about weapons of mass destruction; conducting an aggressive war in violation of international law; engaging in torture of terror suspects; outsourcing of torture through "rendition"; secret prisons; use of white phosphorus and other illegal weapons in Iraq; and multiple other violations of national and international law. These are all actions that have been conducted and justified on the basis of an antidemocratic, anticonstitutional doctrine of unlimited presidential power.

None of this would be happening without the growing public distrust of President Bush and outrage over his debacle in Iraq. They underlie the Administration's inability to keep Congress in line. They are also the primary reason Rove's plan to wave the bloody shirt of 9/11 is less and less effective. But that growing alienation needs to find expression in a repudiation of those in high places who have committed and justified crimes -- and an irresistible public demand that those who are supposed to hold them accountable step forward to meet their responsibilities.

Bush's retreat on Congressional oversight of NSA spying is a small step, but it demonstrates the Administration's vulnerability to a bipartisan challenge based on constitutional principles. What is at stake is not just punishing the crimes already committed by the Bush Administration but making it possible to prevent Bush and his successors from committing similar or worse offenses in the future.

Commanding Responsibility from the Pentagon

A jury verdict in Memphis late last year caused little stir among the general public, but it may have caught the attention of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and other high officials of the Bush administration. The jury found Colonel Nicolas Carranza, former Vice Minister of Defense of El Salvador and now a U.S. citizen living in Memphis, responsible for overseeing the torture and killing in that country 25 years ago. Could similar charges be brought against high U.S. officials for the actions of their subordinates in Abu Ghraib, Falluja, and Guantanamo?

Carranza was sued by victims of armed forces under his control. The jury applied the principle of "command responsibility," which holds a superior legally responsible for human rights abuses by subordinates if the official knew or should have known about them and failed to prevent them or punish those who committed them.

Intelligence agency whistleblowers recently leaked to ABC News a list of six "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" authorized for CIA agents in mid-March 2002. The agents, according to an ABC News report, did so "because the public needs to know the direction their agency has chosen."

The techniques included "Water Boarding:" "The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt." CIA officers who subjected themselves to the technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. According to John Sifton of Human Rights Watch, "It really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law."

President Bush has said "We do not torture." But according to a classified report by the CIA's own Inspector General John Helgerwon, the techniques appeared "to constitute cruel and degrading treatment under the [Geneva] convention." If so, they are likely to be crimes not only under international law, but under the U.S. Anti-Torture and War Crimes Acts.

Where they have acknowledged prisoner abuse, Bush administration officials have often blamed it on a few "bad apples" at the bottom of the chain of command. But under the principle of command responsibility, this is no excuse -- and no legal defense.

Colin Powell's top aide, Colonel Larry Wilkerson, said late last year that the United States has tortured and, "There's no question in my mind where the philosophical guidance and the flexibility in order to do so originated -- in the vice president of the United States' office."

According to Wilkerson, "His implementer in this case was Donald Rumsfeld and the Defense Department." Wilkerson explained, "The vice president had to cover this in order for it to happen and in order for Secretary Rumsfeld to feel as though he had freedom of action."

The former commander at Abu Ghraib prison, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, confirms Wilkerson's charge: Abusive techniques at Abu Ghraib were "delivered with full authority and knowledge of the secretary of defense and probably Cheney."

This is not just a question of past abuses. According to Wilkerson, "There's no doubt in my mind that we may still be doing it." When the vice president of the United States "lobbies the Congress on behalf of cruel and unusual punishment" Wilkerson says he can "only assume" that "it's still going on."

Asked whether Cheney was guilty of a war crime, Col. Wilkerson said the vice president's actions were certainly a domestic crime and, he would suspect, "an international crime as well." Wilkerson says his charges are based on an "audit trail" he prepared for Secretary Powell, including government memoranda and reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Criminal investigation is warranted where facts or circumstances "reasonably indicate" that a crime has been committed. Wilkerson's charges are sufficient in themselves to require the Department of Justice to immediately open a criminal investigation of Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Such an investigation could take as its starting point Wilkerson's "audit trail," the statements of CIA agents and the CIA Inspector General, and extensive published evidence indicating torture and prisoner abuse by U.S. personnel around the world.

If I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and other high government officials can be investigated for outing Valerie Plame, don't facts that "reasonably indicate" war crimes and crimes against humanity deserve equal time?

Bush administration officials have said over and over that they have acted within the law. If so, they have nothing to fear from an investigation and should encourage one to clear the air.

The United States is supposed to have "equal justice under law." Colonel Carranza has had his day in court. We as citizens -- and our prosecutors, judges, and elected representatives -- need to address the question: When will Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, and their collaborators get theirs?

A Sanctuary for Torturers

Thousands of well-meaning people are mobilizing to pressure Congress to pass legislation banning torture. But the Bush Administration is maneuvering to turn it into legislation that would instead protect the torturers by eliminating a basic legal right. To stop them, torture opponents will need to be not just as innocent as doves but also as cunning as foxes.

When Congress returns to Washington on Monday, a campaign will unfold in support of Senator John McCain's legislation banning torture, which is attached to a defense bill. But McCain's amendment is accompanied by one from Senator Lindsey Graham that bans the appeals that prisoners at Guantanamo have used to take their cases to civilian courts.

In the 2004 case Rasul v. Bush, brought on behalf of Guantanamo captives, the Supreme Court established the right of foreigners held by the United States to habeas corpus, the 800-year-old legal procedure grounded in the Magna Carta and enshrined in the US Constitution, which requires government officials to explain to a court why they are holding someone in captivity. Graham's amendment strips courts of the power to hear such cases.

Graham sprang his amendment on the Senate in the closing days of the session with no hearings and little debate. A firestorm of criticism forced Graham to accept a compromise--negotiated with Democratic Senator Carl Levin--that allows captives limited appeals to civilian courts. (Newsweek has reported that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and White House Counsel Harriet Miers were also in on the negotiations.) But the Graham compromise still strips federal courts of jurisdiction to hear applications for habeas corpus brought by Guantanamo prisoners.

The Senate passed the compromise amendment 84 to 14. Republican Senator Arlen Specter, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, described it as "a sophisticated, blatant attempt at court-stripping."

Bill Goodman, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought the first habeas corpus cases for Guantanamo captives, says the Graham amendment "will formalize the lawless policies of the Bush Administration that allow the Department of Defense to hold prisoners indefinitely without any requirement that it show any reason for doing so." That has and will continue to result in "torture of US prisoners."

The Graham amendment bans habeas corpus appeals against conditions of confinement. The consequence, according to Michael Dorf, the Sovern Professor of Law at Columbia University, is that "a prisoner cannot get into federal court by claiming (or presenting evidence) that he is being subject to torture or otherwise degrading treatment."

Deviously, the Graham amendment has been packaged with McCain's anti-torture amendment. But the package will make things worse, not better, for Guantanamo captives unless Graham's amendment banning habeas corpus is removed. As Bill Goodman points out, while the pair of amendments "profess to ban torture," without the right to judicial oversight, they are "defanged." They are "a right without a remedy and, as such, meaningless."

The Bush Administration is now negotiating with Graham and others to make the legislation even more restrictive. A Justice Department spokesperson told Newsweek, "We definitely agree with the principle behind the current bill, though there are still some concerns that the language may need to be improved." White House spokesman Trent Duffy also told Newsweek that the White House is positive about the Graham bill and is "working with Senator Graham on technical aspects" of the legislation.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has talked with Senator Graham about the bill at least twice. The Justice Department spokesperson told Newsweek Gonzales was "particularly focused on thwarting some of the 160 habeas lawsuits filed by Gitmo detainees." (Gonzales was the author of the notorious 2002 memo advising the President that the Geneva Conventions did not apply in order to provide "a solid defense to any future prosecution" of US officials under the War Crimes Act. Gonzales's personal role in laying the groundwork for torture is sufficient for professor Marjorie Cohn, now president-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, to have drafted an indictment of Gonzales for violating the War Crimes Act.)

The Bush Administration is apparently divided. Despite the role of the White House in preparing the Graham compromise amendment, Vice President Cheney opposed it. Indeed, Cheney has fought any legislation that would eliminate the government's right to torture, though he seems willing to compromise on language that leaves the CIA, but not the military, free to torture. In the past, President Bush has threatened to veto the entire defense bill if McCain's anti-torture amendment is included.

Both the Graham and McCain amendments are attached to a defense bill that now goes to a Senate-House conference. Graham and Levin plan to demand that the final legislation include both.

The conference committee will undoubtedly be the focus of pressure from those who want to preserve the right of habeas corpus. A statement by Habeas Counsel, the coalition of prestigious attorneys representing Guantanamo captives, says, "To legislate this way is disgraceful. It is also completely unnecessary. This is not an emergency situation. The Graham-Levin amendment should be stripped out in conference. The genuine deliberation required by the gravity of the issue can then begin."

Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts, a member of the Progressive Caucus and an outspoken opponent of torture and "extraordinary rendition" (a k a government-run kidnapping), describes the task facing cunning progressive foxes:

"If the US wants to demonstrate that we are a nation committed to justice and the rule of law, we should adopt the McCain amendment barring torture and drop the Graham amendment suspending habeas corpus rights for those detained at Guantanamo Bay. If persons held by the US lack the right to challenge their detention or their treatment, the McCain amendment's protections against torture and other forms of cruel or humiliating treatment may turn out to be illusory."

Only nine of the more than 500 Guantanamo captives have even been charged with crimes, and their trials are being prolonged year after year. This is exactly the situation habeas corpus is designed to remedy. And without it, the captives can rot in prison forever and possibly be subject to torture and inhumane treatment that the courts are unable even to learn about.

Graham and the Bush Administration oppose rights for Guantanamo detainees in part on the grounds that they are terrorists who deserve no better. They refuse to face the very real possibility of innocent people caught up in the system, acknowledged by the military's own commanders at Guantanamo. According to the Wall Street Journal:

"American commanders acknowledge that many prisoners shouldn't have been locked up here in the first place because they weren't dangerous and didn't know anything of value. 'Sometimes, we just didn't get the right folks,' says Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, Guantanamo's current commander."

Graham's original proposal to eliminate habeas corpus for foreign captives was met by extraordinary condemnation. Ten retired military leaders endorsed a letter from Rear Adm. John Hutson calling the restriction on habeas corpus a "momentous" change. "The practical effects of such a bill would be sweeping and negative." Signers included Army Lieut. Gen. Robert Gard, Marine Maj. Gen. Fred Haynes and other senior officers.

Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, the organization of military lawyers, said the Graham amendment would sanction "unreviewable executive detention that cannot be harmonized with the nation's longstanding adherence to the rule of law."

The American Bar Association has urged the Senate to reconsider and defeat the original Graham amendment. Michael Greco, president of the association, gave a stirring defense of habeas corpus, which "cannot and should not" be replaced by the "extremely limited review" provided by the Graham amendment, which "would undermine the very principles that distinguish us from our enemies."

Does Congress have the power to tell the Supreme Court what cases it can or cannot hear? In American law, courts have the power to review the constitutionality of legislation passed by Congress, but they tend to defer to the other branches of government, especially where national security issues are involved.

Both Graham's original amendment and his compromise amendment directly conflict with the Supreme Court's decision in Rasul v. Bush that Guantanamo captives have the right to habeas corpus. The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, a challenge to the constitutionality of the Bush Administration's military tribunals for Guantanamo captives.

No one knows how the Court would respond to an instruction from Congress to reverse its interpretation of the Constitution. Indeed, the conflict over the power of courts to hear prisoners' appeals is plunging the country into an ongoing constitutional crisis in which all three branches of government are involved.

Since treatment of captives held by the United States has included well-documented cases of torture, brutality and even treatment leading to death, the Graham amendment would erect a screen behind which such crimes may be conducted with impunity. Opponents of torture need to make sure they are not inadvertently helping to pass an amendment that would protect torturers.

Fitzgerald Needs to Dig Deeper

Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's name has reaffirmed the basic American principle that even the highest government officials are subject to the rule of law. His charges represent the start of a revitalization of the institutions designed to maintain government under law. But that revitalization still has a long way to go.

As a prosecutor, Mr. Fitzgerald rightly brought charges where the law was clearest and the evidence most compelling. But the alleged crimes he is investigating are in essence the apparent cover-up operation for another possible set of crimes against national and international law. Why would I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby commit perjury and lie to FBI agents, as he is accused of doing?

The letters from Acting Attorney General James B. Comey appointing Mr. Fitzgerald delegated to him "all the authority of the attorney general" to investigate and prosecute "violations of any federal criminal laws related to the underlying alleged unauthorized disclosure."

We would argue that Mr. Comey's charge, based on the evidence Mr. Fitzgerald has uncovered, authorizes the special prosecutor to investigate the following:

Did top Bush administration officials deceive Congress? Several federal statutes make it a crime to lie to Congress. As Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York recently put it, "If, as mounting evidence is tending to show, administration officials deliberately deceived Congress and the American people, this would constitute a criminal conspiracy against the entire country."

Did top administration officials violate the U.S. Anti-Torture Act? The law makes torture and conspiracy to commit torture a crime. The former commander at Abu Ghraib prison, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, has stated that abusive techniques were "delivered with full authority and knowledge of the secretary of defense and probably [Vice President Dick] Cheney."

Did top administration officials violate the War Crimes Act? Passed by a Republican Congress in 1996, the law makes it a federal crime for any U.S. national to commit a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions.

In a 2002 memo, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who was then White House counsel, urged that the United States "opt out" of the Geneva Conventions for the Afghan war on the grounds that opting out "substantially reduces the likelihood of prosecution under the War Crimes Act."

What was he worrying about? Did the special prosecutor find evidence that top Bush administration officials ordered or condoned the string of Geneva Conventions violations that run from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay and from the leveling of Fallujah to attacks on medical facilities?

Did top administration officials violate the War Powers Act? The law requires the president to present to Congress the basis for proposed U.S. military action. If the administration provided false information, is it guilty of violating the War Powers Act and, in effect, usurping the war powers given to Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution?

Did top administration officials violate the U.N. Charter? U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said the U.S. attack on Iraq was "illegal." The conduct of the war has involved many breaches of internationally guaranteed protections of civilians. Did the special prosecutor find evidence of deliberate violation of U.S. treaty obligations, which under Article VI of the Constitution are the law of the land?

If the special prosecutor found evidence of violation of "any criminal laws," he is obliged to investigate and prosecute. Where the abuses he finds are not covered by existing federal law, they must be addressed by Congress, either by new laws or through the impeachment process.

The Bush administration's alleged abuses of national and international law are closely linked. The Valerie Plame affair was not just a random incident, but rather an effort to silence critics attempting to halt an aggressive war whose initiation and conduct appear to have violated both national and international law. Indeed, aggressive war, illegal conduct of war and torture are nothing less than war crimes.

Investigation and, if warranted, prosecution of such crimes is crucial for the revitalization of democratic government in our country. To let such flagrant flouting of the rule of law go unpunished would be to invite government officials to subvert our Constitution again.

Repudiating war crimes committed by high U.S. officials is also an essential starting point for repairing the damage done to our country's international relationships and reputation. There is no way to take the taint off our country for the abuses symbolized by Abu Ghraib without holding those responsible for them accountable.

This editorial originally appeared in the Baltimore Sun.

Swing State Psyche

When Barbara Blackwell moved to Santa Fe 24 years ago, she quickly realized that Republicans weren't welcome, so she kept her dirty little secret hidden.

"It's very awkward, and I guess I might have been a closet Republican for the first several years I lived here," says Blackwell, a local realtor. "For business reasons, there are a lot of people who are Republicans at heart who are registered Democrats."

Blackwell emerged from her shell and now is serving her second two-year term as Santa Fe County chairwoman of the New Mexico Republican Party. Her journey is indicative of the state Republican Party's growing strength and increasingly vocal presence in a swing state considered vitally important to both George Bush and John Kerry for the November presidential election.

While northern New Mexico still is considered a Democratic stronghold, New Mexicans have a split personality in party politics. Democrats hold a commanding 20-percent lead over Republicans in state voter registration rolls, so it should be a slam dunk for Democrats in any major political race. Yet New Mexicans have ping-ponged between Democratic and Republican governors, and the state has two popular, long-term US senators, one Republican and one Democrat.

"We are a swing state," says F Chris Garcia, a political science professor and former president of the University of New Mexico. "New Mexicans are willing to go with whatever person or policies that appeal to them, regardless of party affiliation."

Republican delegates from New Mexico are packing their bags for the Republican National Convention, scheduled from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Garcia believes Bush and Cheney will take the offensive at the Convention, despite past embarrassments over their tenuous justifications for the Iraq war. "Strategists will employ the adage that the best defense is a good offense," Garcia says. "You go on the offense and talk about all the good aspects, or you put a positive spin on everything as much as possible. The Republicans are very good at that, and I think that's what we'll see."

What remains to be seen is how New Mexico will factor into the presidential race, which is so polarized the candidates are spending much of their time and money searching for undecided voters in swing states such as New Mexico. Republicans also are appealing to Hispanics and young voters, with hopes of pulling New Mexico's five electoral votes for Bush. "I think there will be a lot less voting straight party line, just like it was four years ago," says Santa Fe City Councilor David Pfeffer, a Democrat who is endorsing Bush. "It could, honest to God, come down to a state like New Mexico."

New Mexico has an excellent track record for choosing presidents. Since statehood in 1912, New Mexicans have always voted with the majority of the country for the presidential winner, except in 1976 when Gerald Ford won more votes here than Jimmy Carter. The only other exception came in 2000 when Al Gore squeaked out a win in New Mexico by 366 votes. Technically, New Mexico was still voting with the majority of the country, but Bush won with a little help from the US Supreme Court and Florida election officials. "It's an amazing paradox – while New Mexico is so different demographically, it is so similar in its voting views [with the nation], at least for president," Garcia says.

New Mexico hasn't always leaned Democrat. The state was solidly Republican from 1912 until the 1930s, when the Depression put millions of people out of work and Franklin D Roosevelt offered government jobs through the New Deal.

New Mexico also has the largest percentage of Hispanics in the country, with the Census showing the state's Hispanic population increasing from 38 percent to 42 percent from 1990 to 2000. Forty-nine percent of Santa Fe County residents are Hispanic, with the percentages pushing higher for some other northern New Mexico counties.

While both Bush and Kerry have appealed to Hispanic voters nationwide, some typical Hispanic vote-getting issues don't always play well here. While Hispanics in larger border states often favor increased immigration from Mexico, many Hispanics in New Mexico trace their lineage to Spanish ancestors and don't necessarily welcome more recent immigrants. "We just have a [Hispanic] population here that is very established," Garcia says. "Mexican ties are much more distant than those in California or Arizona or Texas."

The Republican Party has tried to reach Hispanic voters, many of whom are Catholic, through the party's opposition to abortion, yet Garcia and even some local Republicans don't believe the abortion issue will translate into many votes for either party. "I don't know if that is going to be a big campaign issue," says John Dendahl, the outspoken former chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party.

Dendahl, who served as state Party chairman from 1994 to 2003, was known for his pit-bull style in attacking what he viewed as the excesses of the Democrat-controlled Legislature. Dendahl believes gay marriage has surpassed abortion as a conservative social issue, even though Republicans in Congress couldn't muster enough votes to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Gay marriage and abortion may motivate some voters, but both major parties must address an overriding issue: the Iraq war and America's fight against terrorism. While Democrats are still angry about the pre-emptive attack on Iraq and those missing weapons of mass destruction, Dendahl says the focus will shift to the future.

"Most people know now the economy is improving, and they aren't going to buy this idea that jobs are fleeing the country," Dendahl says. "I think what is going to be important come November is not whether we did the right thing to go into Iraq or not, but if the situation in Iraq is continuing to improve." Santa Fe County's voter registration rolls show 63 percent Democrat, 19 percent Republican, 3 percent Green and 15 percent other party or no party. Even with closet Republicans thrown in the mix, those numbers spell an uphill battle for Bob Parmelee, a retired computer manufacturing executive chosen as Santa Fe County chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign. But he doesn't sound worried.

"We find the people on the left hysterical, uninformed and on the lunatic fringe on the issues. Any time I've had the opportunity to confront people on the facts, I've been able to move people toward the Bush position," Parmelee says. "The less people are informed, the more likely they are to vote Democrat."

Parmelee will be organizing volunteers and planning campaign events with hopes of reaching undecided voters before the November election. "I think New Mexico will go Republican, but that doesn't mean the official election results will go Republican. I think there is obvious fraud and corruption in the Democratic [state] government," he says. "Did we lose this election by
300-odd votes last time in New Mexico? Who knows? Nobody knows. You don't have to go to Florida to find a scandal. New Mexico is a scandal." Besides Republican appeals to Hispanics, Dendahl also has seen "a growing number of students on college campuses who are increasingly conservative."

Jeremiah Ritchie – a rising junior at UNM who is vice-chairman of the New Mexico Federation of College Republicans – says UNM has a very active group of young Republicans fighting the good fight at a very liberal campus. "We do definitely feel a strain in ideology, especially with the professors, and it becomes an issue in the classroom," he says. "Everybody knows [the youth vote] has been a resource that has been untapped. It has been a crowd that is hard to motivate, but we're trying to change that."
Republican students at UNM have canvassed precincts, walked door-to-door handing out campaign material and manned the phone banks for Bush and local Republican candidates. Students also protested outside an Albuquerque theater showing Fahrenheit 9/11. "I find a lot of motivation in the fact that the majority of the people around me feel
differently, and that helps me do my part to get out and help the president win the election," Ritchie says.

Perhaps no one illustrates New Mexico's split personality in party politics better than Santa Fe City Councilor David Pfeffer. Pfeffer, a registered Democrat who was elected to his first four-year term in 2002, has infuriated some former supporters by his increasingly conservative bent. The 59-year-old architect was the only City Councilor to vote against a 2002 Council resolution opposing the Iraq war. In ultra-liberal Santa Fe, jaws dropped when Pfeffer announced in June he is endorsing Bush's re-election campaign because of his support for the Iraq war. "The war is just, and Bush is taking the correct actions," Pfeffer says. "He is addressing the root cause of terrorism, which are the autocracies in the Middle East that suppress democracy, suppress freedom and terribly suppress women."

Pfeffer says his support for the Iraq war is colored by his experience in the Vietnam War. Pfeffer was drafted into the Army and patched bullet holes in US aircraft from 1966-67. "I didn't spend a year in Vietnam for nothing. I did those things for my country," he says. "I thought about it a great deal at the time, and I did my duty."

Even though Pfeffer says he later protested against the Vietnam War, he now takes issue with Iraq war protesters who say they are supporting American troops by trying to bring them home. "You can't support the troops unless you support their mission," he says. "Otherwise, you demoralize them, and that's life-threatening to them."

Pfeffer says he will not switch his party affiliation because he still disagrees with the Republican Party on many issues. He hasn't decided whether to seek re-election to the city council in 2006, and he doesn't know how his endorsement of Bush will affect his own political career. "I get angry letters saying 'You're finished. You're stupid. Thank God we only have to live with you for one term.' "But I also get [letters saying] 'I'm really glad you came out and did what you did because I'm a Democrat and feel the same way,'" Pfeffer says. "Obviously, it's upset people who naturally assumed that the Santa Fe City Council is going to be anti-Bush."

Of course, Pfeffer's endorsement delighted local Republicans who are heading for the bright lights and big city of New York for the Republican National Convention.

Twenty-one Republican delegates from New Mexico, including four from Santa Fe and Los Alamos, will attend the Republican National Convention next week. JoAnn Johnson, a delegate who also chairs the Los Alamos County branch of the state Republican Party, has high hopes for the Convention. "It certainly energizes the people, and it's the last spark that is needed before the election to get people behind their candidate," she says. Each presidential candidate usually gets a bump in poll ratings following his party's convention. Kerry only got a small bump after the Democratic National Convention in Boston, possibly because many voters already have made up their minds. (Some Democrats attribute the small increase to the Bush administration's sudden announcement of a seemingly new terrorism threat on the East Coast, which actually relied on old information gleaned from the Internet before 9/11.

"When people are threatened, they tend to rally behind the president," says Garcia at UNM. "They call it the rally-round-the-flag syndrome.") So what will Bush and Cheney need to do at the Republican National Convention to boost their poll ratings? "I'm not sure I have the answer to that question," Dendahl says.

Dendahl at a loss for words? Is the Republican firebrand growing soft in his old age? Not to fear; he quickly regrouped. "The president and the vice president need to come out of the Convention as they are right now, appearing that they are in control of the government," Dendahl says. "They are calm, maintaining a steady course and continuing to instill confidence in people."

The national conventions, which used to nominate presidential candidates and have real debates over party platforms, have been reduced to major pep rallies, with free television airtime for each party to pummel the public with optimistic speeches and political rhetoric. Critics from both major parties are questioning the continuing need, and the spiraling cost, of the conventions. Congress approved $50 million in taxpayer funding for security at both the Democrat and Republican conventions. The parties pay for the conventions themselves, while the lavish dinners and galas thrown by corporations and lobbyists use a gaping campaign finance loophole to wine, dine and influence convention-goers. Dendahl attended the 1996 and 2000 Republican Conventions in San Diego and Philadelphia. "I had a good time. There always are a lot of very nice parties," he says. Yet Dendahl concedes the conventions are "awfully expensive" and "might be becoming a white elephant." State Rep. Jeanette Wallace (R-Los Alamos) will serve as a Convention delegate from Los Alamos County, the only Republican enclave in northern New Mexico. Wallace believes opposition to the Iraq war will be a "big stumbling block" for Bush, who needs to give more concrete answers at the Convention about his plans for US troops in Iraq. "We want to know as citizens exactly when this is going to end and how it's going to end and whether we've resolved anything. It's no different than the Vietnam War," she says. "We need to say, 'This is going to end at some point in our life.'"

Regardless of what happens at the Convention, questions regarding how New Mexico's five electoral votes will swing in November remain. As in 2000, will New Mexico again be a lone Democratic "blue state" in a sea of Republican red states swallowing the Southwest? Or will closet Republicans and conservative Democrats push New Mexico to Bush this time? Given that Al Gore won New Mexico by 366 votes in 2000, it most likely will be another nail-biter.

"I'm getting excited about it now," Wallace says. "I think every vote counts, so New Mexico will be extremely important."

Freelance Troublemaker Leads Anti-Nuke Charge

During his brief two-year tenure in northern New Mexico, Father John Dear has tangled with Archbishop Michael Sheehan, New Mexico National Guard soldiers and his own parishioners over his anti-war views. Dear, a Jesuit priest with a felony record and more than 75 arrests from past peace protests, now is targeting Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is slowly reopening after its latest security scandal blamed on missing classified computer disks.

"We're praying. We're begging God to shut down this place that builds these weapons," Dear told the Santa Fe Reporter. "We don't have any ill will for the people of Los Alamos. We want to say the people are good, the work is evil." "They can't even handle the security of the place," he added. "How can we trust them with nuclear weapons?"

It's a question protesters will be asking, or shouting, in Los Alamos on Friday, Aug. 6. A protest march, which begins at 7:15 a.m. and goes from Ashley Pond to the Lab, will mark the 59th anniversary of the US atomic blast that killed or injured 160,000 people in Hiroshima, Japan. A daylong rally also will be held on the Plaza in Santa Fe, with speeches by peace activists scheduled at 2 p.m.

Dear will help lead the Los Alamos Hiroshima Day protest, unlike last year when Sheehan ordered him not to attend because of conflicts within the Archdiocese of Santa Fe about his activist role. Dear is no longer under Sheehan's authority; he resigned in June after serving as pastor of several northern New Mexico parishes since 2002. He now is concentrating on his writing and anti-war speeches scheduled across the country. "Jesuits have always been freelance troublemakers anyway," Dear says. "For me, there's no real distinction between spiritual and political. To me, the Gospel is totally political. Jesus was executed, and everything he did was nonviolent and illegal."

Eagle Nest parishioners were so infuriated by Dear's sermons against the Iraq war last year they asked Sheehan to remove Dear from the parish. Sheehan complied with the request, leaving Dear still in charge of parishes in Cimarron, Springer and Maxwell.

Last December, Dear encountered a group of New Mexico National Guard soldiers on a fitness run outside his home in Springer, so he encouraged them to quit instead of being sent to Iraq. Dear hopes Los Alamos National Laboratory employees plagued by low morale from yet another security scandal also will quit the Lab. He says he has encouraged about a dozen Lab employees to quit over the past year, but he doesn't know if any resigned. "I think God does not bless the work of making weapons of mass destruction, so I hope people have the courage to find other life-giving jobs," he says. "That place is a disaster at every level, not the people but the work." Dear moved south of Santa Fe after resigning from the archdiocese, and founded a New Mexico branch of Pax Christi, an international Catholic peace movement.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Celine Radigan wouldn't comment on past conflicts regarding Dear's activism. She says Sheehan has not ordered priests to steer clear of controversial topics but "has just asked the priests of the archdiocese to preach according to Roman Catholic teachings." For Dear, that means focusing on Christ's teachings of peace and nonviolence. "It's time to stop all work on weapons of mass destruction and to be consistent with our policy around the world," he says. "If Iraq can't have one, we can't have 20,000."

Globalization From Below

In the year since the "Battle of Seattle," international demonstrations from Washington, DC, to Okinawa and from Bangkok to Prague have confronted and sometimes halted meetings of the WTO, IMF, World Bank and other instruments of globalization. They have had successes that could not have been imagined just a year ago. They have reframed the debate on globalization, put its advocates on the defensive and forced change in the rhetoric if not the actions of world leaders and global institutions.



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