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New Ground 84

September - October, 2002


  • Commutation Is Justice, Not Mercy by Thomas J. Broderick
  • Young Democratic Socialists National Convention by Paul Fitzgerald
  • Mexicans in the United States: Still Fighting for Political Rights by Jorge Mújica
  • Blowback! by Mark Weinberg
  • Kathleen Desautels and the School of Americas by Harold Taggart
  • WAR! by Robert Roman
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • 17th Annual Mother Jones Dinner

    Commutation Is Justice, Not Mercy

    by Thomas J. Broderick

    Joe Burrows, Perry Cobb, Rolando Cruz, Gary Gauger, Alejandro Hernandez, Verneal Jimerson, Ronald Jones, Carl Lawson, Steve Manning, Anthony Porter, Steven Smith, Darby Tillis, Dennis Williams. These are the names of thirteen men condemned by the State of Illinois to be executed. All were found to be innocent of the crimes for which they were to be murdered.

    How did they end up in the condemned units of Illinois prisons? Class and race figure as major factors. The state has a budget that it can manipulate to throw large amounts of money into the prosecution of capital cases. Most defendants who face the death penalty have to rely on poorly paid private lawyers or public defenders bogged down by their caseloads. Some of these defense attorneys are incompetent. Some judges go out of their way to favor the prosecution. Some prosecutors focus on winning a high profile case and ignore or hide evidence that hurts their chances. Often the defendants receive only the justice they can afford.

    African American defendants have been condemned to death by all-white juries. Imagine the cries for "a jury of my peers" coming from Chicago's mayor if he faced an all-African American jury on obstruction of justice charges stemming from his role as State's Attorney when Police Commander Jon Burge and his detectives were allegedly torturing confessions out of prisoners on the south side of Chicago.

    Ten men are currently in the condemned units in Illinois prisons after confessing to Jon Burge and company. Russian roulette, suffocation and electric shock are interrogation methods reportedly used by Burge and his detectives. After years of community pressure, in 1993 the Chicago Police Department fired Burge, but allowed him to retire with a full pension. Those men on death row are facing execution through the legalization of lynching, not a fair and just judicial system.

    The majority of women and men in the condemned units in Illinois did not get there because of Burge, but they did suffer through a legal system that Governor George Ryan has called racist and unfair. The Illinois Constitution gives the Governor broad power in sentence commutation. Governor Ryan has indicated that he is considering commuting the sentences of the men and women facing execution in Illinois. This should not be considered an act of mercy. This should be viewed as recognition of a legal system that does not provide justice. It should be seen as recognition of a legal system that is prepared to execute the innocent.

    While the number of commutations would set a record, other governors have either commuted every death sentence under their review, or they have commuted the sentences of everyone on death row prior to leaving office. Most recently, Governor Anaya of New Mexico commuted the sentences of all five condemned prisoners in his state prisons before leaving office in 1986.

    Standing in the way of mass commutation is a law passed by a vindictive Illinois State Legislature that only allows the governor to commute the sentences of prisoners requesting commutation. In January of 1996, then Governor Jim Edgar commuted the sentence of Guinevere Garcia from death, to natural life in prison without parole. Edgar issued this commutation against the wishes of Garcia. After reviewing her case, Governor Edgar felt that the circumstances of her crime (shooting her husband during a robbery attempt) did not merit the death penalty. Governor Edgar issued the following statement after commuting Garcia's sentence: "It is not the state's responsibility to carry out the wishes of a defendant." In a spiteful move, our legislature then passed the law that requires the prisoner to request commutation. Obviously, justice was not a consideration in the passage of this law, as it makes commutation dependant upon the defendant as opposed to a gubernatorial review of possible judicial failure, systemic or individual.

    Regardless of the law, Governor Ryan should commute the sentences of all of the condemned to, at most, a sentence of life without possibility of parole. This would prevent execution of the innocent and allow for further review of the individual cases of all currently condemned prisoners. Given that the ratio of executed to exonerated in Illinois since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1977 is less than 1:1 (12 executed to 13 exonerated), complete commutation is the only just solution.

    Timing is of the essence. It is inconceivable that either of the major gubernatorial candidates will consider mass commutation. Both Ron Blagojevich and Jim Ryan support the death penalty, as do the two major candidates for attorney general: Lisa Madigan and Joseph Birkett. In fact Lisa Madigan, alone, has stated her opposition to the current moratorium on executions. Commutation will be a non-issue for them. While it is unlikely that Governor Ryan will act before the November election, he will have nearly two months after the election to help right the wrongs of a broken judicial system.

    Contact Governor Ryan and urge him to commute the sentences of all of the condemned in Illinois prisons. His address: The Honorable George Ryan; Governor of Illinois; State House; Springfield, IL 62706.

    Young Democratic Socialists National Convention

    by Paul Fitzgerald

    From August 15 through the 18th Young Democratic Socialists held our Summer Institute and National Convention at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Around forty students and youth showed up from around the country to discuss our ideas and direction and hear speakers on issues from GLBT rights to the occupation of Palestine.

    On Thursday, as people continued coming into town, we held "basics" workshops about our ideology which included an informative and entertaining "discussion/debate" resembling some sort of Mclaughlin Group with the U of C's own Noah Millstone and Peter Frase. Later, we were lucky to have Salim Muwakkil (whom you may recognize from the magazine In These Times and his weekly editorials in the Chicago Tribune) speak to us on Race in America after 9/11 and spoil us with a lengthy question, answer and discussion spot afterwards.

    The next day, our conference officially began with workshops on Plan Columbia and LGBTQ youth issues and ideas of how to organize folks around either issue. We started reviewing the Activist Agenda (our guide to priorities for the coming year) in small groups and pitching ideas for changes. Another round of workshops were given with the main topics of discussion being the International Union of Socialist Youth (YDS is a member) and Reproductive Choice Campus/School Organizing. Afterwards, our Keynote Event (which was open to the public) "Assault on Democracy" took place with Hany Khalil of the War Times Organizing Committee and Svend Robinson a Member of Parliament from Canada with our sister organization the New Democratic Party. Hany gave an excellent presentation of the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict from the original basis to both Intifadas via PowerPoint. Svend told several personal anecdotes on experiences he has had in Palestine as well as commentary on the current status of America's looming war with Iraq.

    Saturday was a day of guest workshops. Jessica Shearer of the Working Families Party (and YDS member, actually) spoke on Congressional campaigns and the importance of a Wellstone victory in Minnesota as well as the WFP in New York. Kevin Pranis spoke on the Prison Moratorium Project and its current campaign against Lehman Brothers, a firm that underwrites bonds for private prisons. Author of the recent Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che, Max Elbaum spoke on anti-war and anti-occupation organizing. Max is (like Hany Khalil) a member of the War Times Organizing Committee, which puts out the bi-lingual, non-sectarian newspaper War Times every six weeks as a means to inform and organize people (the newspaper is geared towards working class and of color communities).

    Now the nuts and bolts of the conference in the form of plenaries and so forth: YDS passed resolutions on the topics of Zimbabwe, Bi-lingual education, The War on Iraq and some structural aspects of our magazine The Activist. Our Activist Agenda has been changed to reflect more work on Racism and the ongoing war (both abroad and the domestic assault on civil liberties) and we've decided to step up our work within the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition. A new Coordinating Committee was elected with Peter, Noah and myself, Paul, representing Chicago (apparently a very Biblical town) as well as others from everywhere from Phoenix to Texas to Washington, DC. All in all the conference was a success with excellent speakers and good decisions.

    Mexicans in the United States:

    Still Fighting for Political Rights

    by Jorge Mújica

    After a year of intense lobby, Mexicans abroad are no closer to being able exercise their political rights than they were in 1996. In that year, the Mexican Constitution was amended, to allow the vote from abroad, conditioned to whatever the Election Code dictated. Eight years later, the Election Code does not say anything regarding such vote, and Mexicans abroad might miss the chance to participate in the mid-term election of 2003.

    Mexicans abroad already lost their chance to participate in the 1997 election, when, for the first time in history, the Institutional Revolutionary Party lost its majority in Congress. Obviously, they also lost their chance to participate in the 2000 presidential election, when the PRI lost the presidency, also for the first time in history.

    Since last year, Mexicans in the United States have been lobbying to participate in their country's political change in the year 2003. In the years gone by since 1996, their demand has raised not only for the right to vote, but from the right to also be elected to public offices. Particularly, migrant groups wrote and delivered to all Mexican political parties their own amendment to the Constitution, commonly known as the "Sexta Circunscripción," the Sixth Electoral District.

    Besides the regular 300 political districts for the House of Representatives, Mexico elects 200 Congressmen (Diputados), in five mega-electoral districts, according to the percentage of votes received by each political party. The Senate is formed by two Senators per each one of the 32 states, plus 28 also elected according to vote percentage in these five mega-districts.

    The migrants proposal creates a Sixth mega-district, and establishes the election of 40 Congressmen and 10 Senators, all of whom have to be living abroad for the last five years. The initiative also establishes an electoral mechanism. It calls for polling places in the capital cities of any country where Mexicans live, the 10 largest cities in the United States, the 50 counties with large concentration of Mexican nationals, by request of 500 or more citizens not living in any of the above, and finally, the vote via postal office. The initiative establishes a time and conditions to register to vote from abroad. Altogether, the initiative is not only comprehensive but impeccable in its legal reasoning. Nobody is left out; everything falls into place.

    Not surprisingly, despite the initiative being presented to new President Vicente Fox, to the presidential office of Mexicans abroad, and to all political parties, the one that formally took it to the floor of Congress was the Revolutionary Democratic Party, PRD.

    In itself that fact condemned the migrants' initiative to "the freezer", the congressional limbo where all initiatives not supported by the main political parties end off. The initiative was presented on October 4, 2001, with plenty of time to be lobbied for and discussed in Congress.

    In mid March, at the beginning of the congressional period, dozens of Mexican migrants met in México City for a week of lobby in favor of the "Sexta". The delegation was formed not only by PRD members but by US-resident members of the PAN and the PRI. They met with Congressmen and Senators of those three and smaller political parties, plus a number of civil rights organizations, and public officials. Nobody said no to their proposal but the one and only necessary step for the initiative to become law, its scheduling for a discussion in the floor of Congress, was impossible to achieve. That would require a political agreement by the two political parties that make up 85% of Congress, the PRI and the PAN.

    According to the Mexican Constitution, any change in the Election Code has to be signed into law one year before the election to be enforced. The year 2003 election will be held on July 6, which left the migrants with less than three months to reach their goal.

    Every two weeks, delegations of migrants held forums, conferences, attended political gatherings and conventions in México City and other states, lobbying for their proposal. They even succeeded in passing a resolution in the State Legislature of the state of Michoacán, which has over 3 million citizens in the United States, calling the federal Congress to discuss and approve the "Sexta".

    By the end of June, with time running out, the two major political parties agreed only in placing migrant candidates in their lists for the year 2003, so they could be elected and become congressmen. Migrants' groups rejected the agreement, as they declared, "because democracy means 'electing representatives' not 'having somebody to representing us.'"

    Until the fatal date of July 5, 2002, migrants kept pushing for the right to vote and to be represented in Congress. After that, they declared war on Congress and Mexican political parties. In a declaration dubbed the "Plan de Azores", migrants called for boycotts against Mexican products, declarations of Mexican officers as persona non grata in the US, and to the creation of their own political organization. The first of these boycotts was held from July 15 through the 19th, with the immediate result that both PRI and PAN immediately declared that the political rights of Mexicans abroad would be a priority ... by the year 2006. Too little, too late, according to migrant groups.

    The Plan de Azores calls for a new and "last stance" in favor of the "Sexta" by September, when Mexican Congress starts its fall session, with not one but two Constitutional amendments: since the time for reform has expired, migrants call for a change in the Constitution that allows electoral changes "three months before the election", instead of a year. If successful, the second amendment would be, again, the "Sexta".

    To force the amendments, the Plan de Azores calls for boycotts in September to Mexican products such as Cerveza Corona, Bimbo-Marinela-Tía Rosa products, Herdez, Jarritos and a dozen other popular items. It also calls for a delay in sending money, to affect the Mexican bank system. Mexicans sent over $9 billion USD last year, the amount has increased this year, and Mexico hopes to receive well over $11 billion USD this year. Since this money goes directly to families in México, migrants plan not to stop sending it, but to hold it for days or weeks, until their demands are met.

    Finally, the Plan de Azores calls for the creation of a national political association to represent the interests of Mexicans abroad. The association will hold a National Convention in Chicago on October 12. For the time being, is called MUSA, Mexicans in the United States of America.

    On a more practical side, realizing that two amendments of the Constitution can be "just too much", MUSA plans to take advantage of the "offer" of migrant candidates by the Mexican political parties, but in a way that creates "really elected" congressmen: MUSA will call in October for a national "election of migrant candidates-to-be-candidates" in the US. The election will be held in January, and the complete list of participants will be presented to the Mexican political parties for them to choose their own candidates. In a way, even without voting on July of 2003, migrants would be "electing" their own representatives. The counter offer to the Mexican political parties is simple: "if you position our own candidates, we will not act against your party". If the parties don't agree, migrants in the US will call their voting families in México telling them not to vote for them. If they agree, migrants will call their families in favor of casting their ballots for the parties that support migrant candidates.

    Of course, on July 6, 2003, Mexican migrants in the US plan a whole range of activities, from thousands of people going to border towns to cast real ballots, to holding "constitutional elections" in every major town in the United States.

    In the background of their refusal to allow Mexicans to vote from abroad, the PRI and PAN are simply full of fear. Adding 10 million voters to the election lists is a major cause of panic since neither of these parties can say for sure that those voters will favor them. The delicate balance between the Mexican political parties could be smashed by those numbers. If the PRI is favored with the votes, it would obtain a supermajority in Congress. The converse would happen if those votes favor the PAN. But if those votes go to the left-wing PRD, this party would recover from its 2000 crash and re-establish the 1997 balance in which neither of the three parties had majority in Congress.

    Interestingly enough (although not surprising), one of the major controversies regarding Mexican voting from abroad comes not from México, but from the United States. It seems that the same folks who oppose immigration, whether legal or undocumented, are scared by the possibility of Mexicans organizing politically in the US. For months now, they have being discussing an amendment to the US Constitution that would make illegal holding dual citizenship, like Mexicans enjoy. In the wake of September 11, it seems to them that a US citizen should only think in terms of the US and forget the existence of the rest of the world. After all, Mexicans organizing politically in the US to participate in Mexican election is only one step away of Mexicans organizing politically in the US to participate in the US elections.

    For those reading in Spanish, you can follow the development of the Mexicans' movement to vote from abroad by subscribing to International Coalition of Mexicans Abroad's Internet group, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cimechicago.

    Officially, the boycott starts on Saturday, September 15th, our Independence Day. The first 3 products in the boycott are Corona beer, Gansitos (a sort of Mexican Twinkie), and Hérdez products (sauce, chiles and so on). Every Monday we will announce 3 more Mexican products to the list (all Spanish newspapers but one are weeklies).


    Boycott List



    by Mark Weinberg

    Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson (N.Y.: Henry Holt, 2000) 288p $15 paper, $26 hard

    I write this a few days before the September 11th program co-sponsored by CDSA and Open University of the Left in which I'll be doing a short presentation on Chalmers Johnson's Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire to be followed by comments of several local peace activists and audience discussion. Although I'm a harsh critic of U.S. foreign policy, I'm hardly an expert and I agreed to discuss the book as part of a series of readers, book talks that OUL's David Williams, a librarian for the Chicago Public Library planned at the Harold Washington library. As library czar Mary Dempsey now has a select committee scheduling speakers there, my little talk has been moved and is now the modest centerpiece of a program scheduled on the first anniversary of the horrific attacks.

    I first read the book a few months after 9/11, having read that it predicted such attacks a year before they occurred. Johnson wrote, "Given its wealth and power, the United States will be a prime recipient in the foreseeable future of all the more expectable forms of blowback, particularly terrorist attacks against Americans in and out of the armed forces anywhere on earth, including within the United States." While this doesn't seem clairvoyant to us on the Left, Johnson's well-written and documented book is an incisive indictment of U.S. foreign policy by a revisionist scholar with some mainstream currency. After serving in the Navy during the Korean War, he taught political science at the University of California, Berkeley, and became chair of the Center for Chinese Studies there. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1976. By then he had left the China field, due to "the stultifying Maoist uniformity prevailing in my University." He was also working as an intermittent consultant for the CIA although he makes clear that he had nothing to do with covert actions. Like many other experts with some intellectual integrity he left when he saw his expertise had no effect on U.S. policy. Although he came to realize the antiwar protestors were right in the large scheme of things he still feels that they were ill informed on the nature of Vietnamese communism and China's "Cultural Revolution". He later taught at the University of California, San Diego and co-founded the Japan Policy Research Institute with which he is still affiliated. He was recently working on a new book on the militarization of the United States and other topics.

    "Blowback," he explains, is an old CIA term, "a metaphor for the unintended consequences of the U.S. government's international activities that have been kept secret from the American people". He begins the book by saying, "Instead of demobilizing after the Cold War, the United States imprudently committed itself to maintaining a global empire." He then, in succeeding chapters, shows how we have built up resentments in Okinawa, Indonesia, South and North Korea, China, Japan and Thailand. He likens our action to that which led to the demise of the USSR, citing the $5.5 trillion it has cost the U.S. to build and maintain our nuclear arsenal. America is most threatened by this larger "aspect" of blowback, "the tangible costs of empire."

    Some other comments of Johnson may be more controversial with CDSAers. He writes, "It is not the contradictions of capitalism that lead to imperialism but imperialism that breeds some of the most important contradictions of capitalism" leading to devastating economic crises. However, it is hard to disagree with his first steps, "adjust to and support of China on the global stage; establish diplomatic relations with North Korea and withdraw ground forces from the Korean peninsula; pay the United States dues to the United Nations; support global economic diversity rather than globalization; extricate ourselves from our trade-for-military-bases deals with rich East Asian countries, even if they do not want to end them; reemphasize the 'defense' in the Department of Defense and make its name fit its mission; unilaterally reduce our stockpile of nuclear warheads to a deterrent level and declare a no-first-use policy; sign and ratify the treaty banning land mines; and sign and ratify the treaty establishing an international criminal court."

    I would strongly recommend that everyone, even those who don't read this book, look at the article Johnson wrote for the October 15, 2001, issue of The Nation. It's available widely on the web or in the new anthology, A Just Response: The Nation on Terrorism, Democracy and September 11, 2001 edited by Katrina Vanden Huevel (N.Y.: Thunder Mouth's Press/Nation Press, 2002). The terrorists did not "attack America"; they attacked American foreign policy. He dismisses the Bush administration's characterization of the culprits as just "evil" and the banal "clash of civilizations" theory. He briefly explains the U.S. role in creating Osama bin Laden, similar to the creation of Manuel Noriega or Saddam Hussein. He deplores military retaliation as just creating more terrorist, more blowback. He again offers first steps: urging "the dismantling of West Bank Israeli settlements as fast as possible," withdrawing our troops from Saudi Arabia, bringing home the Third Marine Division from Okinawa and demobilizing it, eliminating (not just renaming) the US Army's School of the Americas, and larger goals like reducing arm sales, refurbishing our diplomatic capabilities, rebuilding our railroads and making us less dependent on aviation. But here he clearly admit that "none of this is going to happen" because "the people in Washington who run our government believe they can now get all the things they wanted before the trade towers came down: more money for the military, ballistic missile defenses, more freedom for the intelligence services".

    A year later and Johnson's prophesy has again proven accurate. Perhaps now those many Americans who initially rejected the concept of blowback as explanation for 9/11, perhaps unconsciously believing what novelist Mark Slouka in an essay in the September, 2002, Harper's calls "the three-century-old myth of American exceptionalism", can now, metaphorically, "leave the City upon a hill, walk out of Canaan, return to Egypt, filthy with history" and see our bones. I hope so.

    Kathleen Desautels and the School of Americas

    by Harold Taggart

    Kathleen Desautels spent years opposing terrorism and exposing its sponsors. Her knowledge of terrorism is extensive. Much of it is first hand. She's an invaluable resource for a nation that has been the victim of terrorism and wants to address the causes. The government did contact Kathleen regarding her anti-terrorism activities and sentenced her to six months in jail.

    Kathleen is a diminutive, harmless-looking lady. She has short-cropped, silver hair and a beautiful, disarming smile that seems to be permanently affixed. Only the slightly furrowing brow offers an insight into the tremendous tenacity of the person inside that poses a threat to terrorists and their sponsors.

    Kathleen is a 64-year-old nun from Indiana. She is a Sister of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods. She has traveled extensively in Central America. Her travels also include South America, the Middle East and China. She has witnessed first hand the destructive and ruinous consequences of terrorism. The more she sees, the more tenacious she becomes in her fight against it.

    Why does the U.S. government that claims to be fighting terrorism around the world want to intimidate and silence Kathleen? Kathleen opposes terrorism from any source but concentrates on the terrorism perpetrated and abetted by the U.S. and its client states.

    Martin Luther King once said that the world's greatest purveyor of violence was his own nation. Kathleen has found King's statement continues to be true today.

    In July, 2002, Kathleen was summoned to appear in court in Georgia. The judge gave her the maximum sentence: six months in federal prison. She was charged with trespassing onto government property in November, 2001. Kathleen stoically accepted the sentence. That small inconvenience was insignificant compared to the horrors suffered at the hands of U.S. terrorist training school graduates.

    Terrorism has not been defined officially. The definitions that do exist have much in common. The words "violence," "civilians" and "political ends" appear in all of them. The differences in the definitions are very instructive. As could be expected from those who revere property more than human beings, the U.S. definition uniquely includes violence against property. The United Nations definition specifically mentions "state terrorism." The U.S. definition does not. The World Court convicted the U.S. of state terrorism for its actions against Nicaragua during the 1980s. The U.S. could have been charged in numerous other cases but the victim nations knew there was no way the sentence could be enforced.

    Most Chicago activists know Kathleen. She spent the last 16 years assigned to the 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago. Any time there is an action against some injustice anywhere in the world, Kathleen is there if at all possible, participating in or leading the protest. It's always comforting to see Kathleen at a planning meeting. Those who know her would not relish being with her opposition.

    Kathleen's "crime" resulted when she participated in the annual protest against the School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning in Georgia. The SOA, known to activists as the School of the Assassins, a more accurate description of its true function, has produced some of the most barbaric thugs found in Central and South America. When the SOA's connection to grotesque human rights violations and murders was exposed to the public and pressure put on members of Congress to do something, those members reacted in a way that was morally cowardly and shameless. Rather than stop funding, they attempted to cover up the nefarious activity by changing its name to Northern Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (NHISC).

    The military admitted it offered courses on terrorism, but claimed that the restructuring that came with the new name eliminated those courses. However, Col. Blair, a former instructor at the school testified in court that the terrorist courses had not been eliminated.

    It takes a lot of training to become a terrorist. Most people are not born Hitler-grade monsters. The U.S. government has developed the expertise to produce them like Plymouths rolling off a Chrysler Corp. assembly line. As of the year 2000, the SOA had produced an estimated 60,000 Latin American graduates.

    At the SOA, military and police students are trained in the arts of torture and intimidation. A successful torturer needs to know how to inflict the most pain without sending the victim into a coma, shock or even death. Not that they oppose killing the victim, which they often do, but they want to maximize the information extraction and leave a body so brutally mutilated that no one else in the community will dare to cross the government. These tactics are needed for a small wealthy nobility to control a large impoverished peasantry, the government structure most preferred by the U.S. The U.S. trainers suggest that their students kill just a few in the village as an example to the rest. Experience has shown that a terrorized but obedient and compliant village is the result.

    The problem with the policy is that sometimes it backfires. The victims become enraged, not compliant. The best examples on a grand scale were U.S. attempts to suppress the Filipino and Vietnamese independence movements after the Second World War. In the Philippines, terrorizing and demoralizing the civilian population resulted in submission after several hundred thousand deaths. In Vietnam, the same policies only heightened resistance and the U.S. failed even though it killed an estimated 2,000,000 Vietnamese people.

    The U.S. has mastered the most advanced techniques of terror training. It is one area in which it excels but doesn't like to brag outside the school especially since it claims to be fighting terrorism everywhere. The contraband video clip of the CIA dealing with the young John Walker Lindh in Afghanistan is proof that many U.S. agents are graduates of similar training.

    A second advantage to training military and police of Latin American nations is a ready-made coup contact if the U.S. decides the current leaders are not sufficiently complying with the needs and demands of U.S. international corporations. Also, pesky people like Kathleen that expose U.S. hypocrisy can disappear in these nations and their fate covered up as many documentaries have revealed.

    Kathleen's trial was a Kafkaesque experience. For those who believe they have the right to a trial by their peers, think again. Her trial was before a single Federal judge whose mind was as closed as an Enron energy supply facility. Coincidentally the main courtroom was "closed down" so the trial was held in a tiny adjacent room with only a handful of visitor seats. A request by international observers to witness the proceedings had no more chance than Ralph Nader has of sitting in on General Motors Board meeting.

    Kathleen was allowed to serve her time at her favorite correctional facility, the Pekin Correctional Facility in Illinois. She has been ordered to report there on September 10, 2002. No doubt she will make some needed corrections there. It's ironic that those who need to be locked up, corrected and civilized are running free and those who are our best role models are incarcerated.

    Over 10,000 protesters attended the SOA Watch action in November, 2001. Over 3,000 crossed the line that arbitrarily designates the beginning of the government's property at Fort Benning, Georgia. The peoples' taxes pay for the facility, but the people aren't allowed to use their purchase or even look inside the box. Inside the line, our leaders erected a fence to keep pesky people away. The fence quickly became a display board for accounts of the sins of American terrorism and hypocrisy.

    Our leaders who have no problem spending $750,000 for a single Cruise missile to blow up a tent in the middle of the desert, were thrifty with their fence expenditures. They fenced off only a portion of the Fort. Kathleen and about 80 others simply found the end and went around it. They were arrested. Forty-three were chosen for prosecution by some lottery or other arbitrary selection process much like the school's students are taught to torture and kill arbitrarily. In past years, first offenders were let off with a warning. This year, 13 first time offenders were given three-month prison sentences. Apparently this is part of America's twisted get tough policy on terrorist connected activities.

    The 2002 SOA Watch protest will be held this year on November 15-17. Fort Benning is in Columbus, Georgia, just across the river from Phenix City, Alabama, and about 75 miles south of Atlanta. Details for those interested in going, or who just want further information about the impressive accomplishments of SOA Watch, can be found at soaw.org on the Web. Photos of Kathleen and other defendants and her moving statement at the trial can be found at 8thdaycenter.org.

    Also, funds are needed for defense expenses. Anyone who wants to contribute should make a check or money order out to "8th day/defense fund" and send it to 8th Day Center for Justice, 205 W Monroe, 2nd Fl, Chicago, IL. 60606.


    by Robert Roman

    A problem with bi-monthly publications is that events often move faster than the publication. By the time you get this (nevermind when you finally read this) the United States may be invading yet another country, Iraq. Even if you contend that Iraq is a country worthy of such abuse, I hope you'll forgive my skepticism that the invasion has much to do with the nature of that state. Rather, this adventure is aimed more at the American electorate than it is at state of Iraq; it is a desperate, cynical attempt by conservative fanatics to maintain the Reagan counter-revoluation. Political economy and empire figure into this, of course, but in ways that are not quite what cheap cynics and vulgar marxists might imagine.

    Whatever the case, opponents of this foolishness should be aware of two upcoming events.


    October 6

    At 1 PM at the Tribune Plaza, 435 N. Michigan in Chicago, Not in Our Name will hold a demonstration commemorating and protesting the one year anniversary of our action in Afghanistan. For more information, call 773.250.3196 or email notinourname@together.net.


    October 26

    The International ANSWER Coalition is planning a national demonstration in Washington, DC, to specifically protest a war in Iraq. Busses are being arranged from Chicago. For more information call 773.878.0166 or email billbeth@rcnchicago.com.

    Other News

    Compiled by Bob Roman

    17th Annual Mother Jones Dinner

    This year's event will be on Saturday, October 12 at the University of Illinois Springfield PAC building cafeteria. The cocktail hour starts at 5 PM. The dinner is at 6:15 PM. The program is at 7 PM. The featured speaker is Illinois AFL-CIO President Margaret Blackshere and entertainment is by singer, songwriter Eddie Starr. Tickets are $25 each and are available from the Mother Jones Foundation, PO Box 20412, Springfield, IL 62708-0412. For more information, call Hallie Mayner at 217.522.1182 or Terry Reed at 217.523.3722.

    The annual ceremony at the Mother Jones monument in Mt. Olive will be at 11:30 AM on October 13.

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