28 December 2007

The Year in Political Pictures

This project was inspired by Sarah. I became more active politically and photographically this year. Here are some of the highlights. (all photos hyperlinked to higher resolution versions)

Bangor Main-Gate Overpass MLK Banner
Bangor Main-Gate Overpass MLK Jr. Banner - January

Speaking Truth to Power
Speaking Truth to Power - February
(Please see more from the Lt. Ehren Watada support rally.)

Waiting - March
(See here and here for more photos from PMR actions in Tacoma.)

Bring them home.
Bring Them Home - March bonus photo
(Please see more photos from the Washington State Impeachment Investigations.)

Pedestrian Interference Ordinance
Pedestrian Interference Ordinance - April

Vaude deVille
Vaude deVille - May
(Please click here to see more from the Rachel Corrie Foundation Peace Works 2007 Collaborative Story Telling Event. Stories were read from Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn's book, Voices of a People's History of the United States.)

Leaving Groundwater Protection Area
Leaving Groundwater Protection Area - May bonus photo

The People of Iraq are Suffering
The People of Iraq are Suffering - June
(Click here and see more photos from the Special Operations Weapons Exposition in Tacoma.)

Venezuelan Diesel
Venezuelan Diesel - July

Nuclear Imprint
Nuclear Imprint - August
(Please see more from the Ground Zero for Nonviolent Action's Civil Resistance Action and Hiroshima/Nagasaki nuclear bombing remembrance.)

Town Hall Meeting with Brian Baird
Town Hall Meeting with Brian Baird - September

Another World is Possible - Roy
"Another World is Possible", Roy - October
(Please see more from the Seattle Occupation of Iraq protest.)

Tackle... - November
(Please see Oly PMR November 2007 for more.)

"Don't Shed Blood for Oil!"
"Don't Shed Blood for Oil" - December

and finally
Moveon.org Petition Delivery
No Iran War Petition-Delivery - December bonus photo
(See more from the Petition Delivery.)

Political and social change can be difficult and sometimes painful work. But if we honestly assess the present-day realities and take appropriate actions in earnest, I believe that we can save not only ourselves, but future generations as well, from a greater suffering.

Wishing you all the best in the new year,

Naomi Klein Shock Doctrine - Must See Video

This is a must see video interview with Naomi Klein by Geoffrey Millard. Go to video (it's in two parts).

26 December 2007

Bombings Kill Dozens in Iraq


What is the USA doing in Iraq? Did Iraq pose a threat to the USA prior to the invasion? Were there Weapons of Mass Destruction? Why do millions of Iraqis suffer, their civilian infrastructure so widely reduced to ruin? Is it because of the petroleum resource? Were these deaths necessary? Were they preventable? If the occupation is unjust - if it is wrongful - what can you and I do to stop it?
Two Bombings Kill At Least 26 in N. Iraq
Officials Call for Increase in Security Forces
By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, December 26, 2007; A14

BAGHDAD, Dec. 25 -- Two bombs ripped through a pair of cities north of Baghdad on Tuesday, causing some of the worst carnage in the country in recent weeks and revealing that, despite the relative calm that has taken hold, insurgent groups remain capable of carrying out devastating attacks.

The morning bombs were detonated in Baiji, an oil refinery town, and Baqubah, a provincial capital where the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq has lost some of its earlier dominance. The attacks, which killed at least 26 people and wounded as many as 100, prompted calls by officials for an increase in Iraqi soldiers and police in the northern provinces to quell the violence.

In Baqubah, tensions were particularly high because of allegations by Iraqis that, hours before the bombing there, U.S. forces had executed two members of an American-backed volunteer force. The U.S. military denied the accusations.

The bombing in Baiji, near a checkpoint outside a two-story housing complex for oil industry employees, was the more devastating of the two attacks Tuesday...
go to original

21 December 2007

Thank You Lt. Watada

On June 6th, 2006 Army Commissioned Officer First Lt. Ehren Watada refused to deploy to Iraq:

Thank You Lt. Watada,

You have my full support in resisting the illegal actions of our government.

- Robert Whitlock

Also see:
Statement of Lt. Ehren Watada
Recorded June 6 and presented on June 7, 2006

20 December 2007

EPA Chief Says NO to Environmental Protections

Here's an interesting story about the Bush Administration's opposition to climate saving measures:
EPA Chief Denies Calif. Limit on Auto Emissions
Rules Would Target Greenhouse Gases

By Juliet Eilperin Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 20, 2007; Page A01

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson yesterday denied California's petition to limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, overruling the unanimous recommendation of the agency's legal and technical staffs.

The decision set in motion a legal battle that EPA's lawyers expect to lose and demonstrated the Bush administration's determination to oppose any mandatory measures specifically targeted at curbing global warming pollution...
go to original

17 December 2007

PMR Civil Resistance

This is directly related to the PMR protests against the illegal war of occupation in Iraq. For legal expert Francis Boyle, those PMR activists who organized and engaged in civil resistance toward uses of the municipal Port of Olympia, which further and enable an illegal military action, are the true "sheriffs" [sentence updated for grammar Jan 17, 2008]. You can find this article on the UFPPC website. read on:
ANALYSIS: Francis Boyle distinguishes 'civil resistance' from 'civil disobedience'
Written by Madeleine Lee
Friday, 14 December 2007

In a lecture given at Northwestern Law School on Nov. 20, 2007, Prof. Francis A. Boyle asserted, as he has many times while defending Lt. Ehren Watada's refusal to deploy to Iraq, that the Bush administration is a criminal regime:

"[I]n many instances specific components of the Bush Jr. administration's foreign policy constitute ongoing criminal activity under well recognized principles of both international law and United States domestic law."

-- In addition, "all high-level civilian officials and military officers in the U.S. government who either knew or should have known" that those under them were involved in such crimes are also "personally responsible for the commission of international crimes."

-- It follows from this assertion, Prof. Boyle says, that "American citizens possess the basic right under international law and the United States domestic law, including the U.S. Constitution, to engage in acts of civil resistance designed to prevent, impede, thwart, or terminate ongoing criminal activities perpetrated by Bush Jr. administration officials in their conduct of foreign affairs policies and military operations purported to relate to defense and counter-terrorism."

-- Such action constitutes not civil disobedience but "civil resistance." -- Therefore the idea that those who resist must be willing to be punished for their acts is a non sequitur: "Nothing could be further from the truth! Today's civil resisters are the sheriffs! The Bush Jr. administration officials are the outlaws!"

-- "Civil resistance," Boyle said, "is the last hope America has to prevent the Bush Jr. administration from moving even farther down the path of lawless violence."

-- Thus the Port Militarization Resistance movement that began in the Pacific Northwest in 2006 is not civil disobedience with respect to unjust laws, but rather civil resistance undertaken to uphold the rule of law itself: "today's civil resisters are acting for the express purpose of upholding the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution, human rights, and international law. Applying the term 'civil disobedience' to such civil resistors mistakenly presumes their guilt and thus perversely exonerates the Bush Jr. administration criminals."

You can read the rest here.

Here are a couple more quotes that I like. Part of the first one was included above:

Stop the War "Today in international legal terms, the Bush Jr. administration itself should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international criminal law in violation of the Nuremberg Charter, the Nuremberg Judgment, and the Nuremberg Principles, because of its formulation and undertaking of serial wars of aggression, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany. As a consequence, American citizens possess the basic right under international law and the United States domestic law, including the U.S. Constitution, to engage in acts of civil resistance designed to prevent, impede, thwart, or terminate ongoing criminal activities perpetrated by Bush Jr. administration officials in their conduct of foreign affairs policies and military operations purported to relate to defense and counter-terrorism." - Francis A. Boyle


"If you believe Dante may be right, that 'the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in time of moral crisis, remain neutral,' you need this book. . . . If you are concerned that our country lives by its Constitution and laws, its often-proclaimed principles . . . you too should read this book. . . . If you cherish freedom, here is your chance to learn how much you have. A person ignorant of her rights has little advantage over those who have none." - Ramsey Clark, Former U.S. Attorney General
[ Original source: Rowman & Littlefield]

[3/12/2008 Update:] Francis Boyle's most recent book is titled Protesting Power. Here's a link to the publisher's website: http://www.rowmanlittlefield.com/Catalog/SingleBook.shtml?command=Search&db=^DB/CATALOG.db&eqSKUdata=0742538923

14 December 2007

Blocking a Bush Attack on Iran

moveon_6I attended a Moveon.org Operation Democracy petition event yesterday at the Olympia Office of Washington State 3rd Congressional District Representative Brian Baird. Nearly 600 names of 3rd District Constituents were transferred to Congressman Baird's staffers in order to support Baird's plan to sign on to a bill that would require Congressional authorization prior to a US military attack on Iran.

HandshakeI also spoke to my disappointment in a response I received from the Congressman in regard to a comment I left with him during his September Town Hall Meeting. He came to Olympia to defend his policy redirection and newfound explicit support for the Bush Administration "surge" in Iraq. I was concerned that he did not take into account the efficacy and potential for a responsible and safe, gradual and phased redeployment (aka withdrawal) of US military forces from Iraq. Today I will stop by his office and deliver documentation of the plan to responsibly withdraw the military from Iraq. Here's a link to the report, it was published by the Center for American Progress. It was co-authored by Lawrence J. Korb, Max Bergmann, Sean Duggan, and Peter Juul.

Press InterviewI implored upon the staffers furthermore my need for the Congressman to do everything in his power to oppose a White House move toward attack in the absence of thoroughly credible, entirely transparent and absolutely verifiable evidence that Iran poses an immediate threat to the USA. period

moveon_14Given the Bush Administration's use of false pretenses to prompt an unnecessary attack on Iraq - it's crucial that Congress, and my Congressman, do everything in their power to insure against another unjustified, unlawful aggressive attack.

11 December 2007

LTE re: protest and media

I just sent this off to The Olympian after some considerable wrangling with the word count. I like it. Except for the part in paragraph two, which is kind of confusing. I was trying to pack too many ideas into 250 words.

I intended to communicate that embedded reports have become the norm in the mainstream media. This allows untoward influence over the quality, context and content of journalistic reports.

Separately, though similarly, I intended to draw attention to the fact that the media reprints - as truth - with little to no question about the veracity of the statements, or the integrity of what are virtually anonymous sources, stories that originate from military communications personnel (who have incentive to portray the stories under a favorable, and hence oftentimes false, light.) A good example of this is the media reporting of what happened in and around Fallujah, Iraq soon after the opening days of the invasion/occupation in 2003. Dahr Jamail has compiled good reports about the discrepancy between on the ground reality and reports that the media was being fed by military sources and subsequently presenting as truth in a regurgitated form.

So here's my decidedly imperfect letter:
December 11th, 2007

To the Editor,

Certain prominent officials within the Bush Administration continue to perpetrate and to get away with a wrongful, aggressive and illegal war of occupation in Iraq. There are many factors which enable the Bush Administration's imperial aspirations; not least among them are the politics of fear and division, the leverage of a compliant Congress, and an apathetic Public.

But the Bush Administration may be most enabled in its pursuit of global dominance by a compliant and cooperative mainstream media. For example, embedded military reports are taken at face value with little to no question about the veracity of what are oftentimes virtually anonymous sources. In its compliance with the Bush Administration politics of fear and division, the mainstream media do the USA harm.

Iraq did not pose a threat to the USA prior to invasion.

Our nation's military and military personnel are being misused, and abused, in the service of an unjust and aggressive occupation.

The port blockades were an attempt to stop an unlawful occupation; one that is hurting the people of Iraq and the uniformed service personnel of the USA. To speak against the blockades is comparable to saying that a police officer should not drive in excess of the speed limit in order to apprehend a suspect.

Millions of people in Iraq suffer on a daily basis because of the war. Their suffering goes unreported or glossed over. Where are their voices in our media? Why don't we hear from those who are most impacted by this 'war?'

Thank you and sincerely,

Robert Whitlock

[edit added Dec. 12:] Yes - the blockades were an attempt to hold the Bush Administration accountable for the wrongful making of war. They were, for me, an attempt to confine the military vehicles on port property until the commencement of a responsible, safe and complete withdrawal from Iraq.

The blockades were, for me, an attempt to serve the interests of justice by shutting down an intolerable and immoral crusade for control over the petroleum resource of Iraq, a crusade for geopolitical and economic dominance.

I think there is a valid argument to be made that the protests were legal because they were an attempt to hold an Executive Administration that has run riot with the military resources of the USA to account for its wrongdoing. Congress is delinquent. There is abundant evidence to reasonable conclude that prominent members of the Bush Administration have committed heinous and grievous wrongdoings in their respective quests for global dominance and personal power.

09 December 2007

Early December Photography

I have some new pictures posted to my photoblog on Flikr. Here are some samples:





Mossy Trees
Mossy Trees (Dancing Trees)

see more

06 December 2007

The Branches of a Snag

Like arms stretched out toward the sky...
Branches on a Snag

The War is Illegal

This is something that I whipped up on the "haloscan" comments section of The Olympian newspaper. I have edited it slightly for publication here:

The war can reasonably be understood to be illegal. Let me illustrate by using a couple of examples. Say that an underage person enters a tavern and uses a piece of fake identification to purchase and consume an alcoholic beverage. The purchase and consumption by an underage patron is not lawful, even if he or she is never called into question. Another example: if a corporation or other entity uses false evidence and makes false claims in order to justify a particular action - then its actions can rightly be understood to be illegal - it's called fraud.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, prominent officials within the Bush Administration made (and continue to make) false claims about the threat that Iraq posed (primarily via WMD.)

Just because Congress (in a condition of delinquency) has not exercised appropriate and necessary oversight authority - just because the Bush Administration's conspiracy to defraud the Congress and the People has not been tried in a court of law - doesn't mean that the Bush Administration has not violated relevant laws. The law of the land is clear. To wage an aggressive military action is highly illegal (and immoral.)

Because the matter has not (to my knowledge) been reconciled in an appropriate court of law, and because Congress has failed to exercise appropriate oversight authority, the burden falls on The People.

There were no WMD in Iraq to threaten either the USA or its allies. There was not proper justification for the invasion.

It can be rightly understood that the invasion was an aggressive military action - motivated by the aspiration amongst certain prominent Bush Administration officials to control the petroleum resource of Iraq.

Therefore, the use of the municipal Port of Olympia to further and enable the continuously aggressive occupation of Iraq is inappropriate, and unlawful, in a very real sense.

Millions of people in Iraq are suffering right now, because of the belligerent war making of the Bush Administration.

The Uniformed Services of the USA are being misused and abused to further an aggressive foreign occupation.

We have an opportunity, right here in Olympia, to do something about it.

Rather than recouping the costs from PMR Protesters whose only motive was to further the causes of peace and justice, I argue that the costs of the protests should be paid by those who profit off of an unjust and unlawful aggressive military action.

05 December 2007

Taking the Bush Administration to Task, Taking the President, et al., to Court

Why hasn't the Bush Administration, or Prominent Officials therein, been taken to task - and taken to court - over alleged improprieties relating to the invasion of Iraq? These allegations include, but are not limited to, the deliberate falsification of facts, and "evidence," in order to "justify" invasion and occupation.

Home of the BraveI wish that a Federal Court would hear a case in regard to the various alleged improprieties of the Bush Administration.

The case that the Bush Administration made false claims about the threat from Iraq in order to justify invasion is very strong. Look at some of the reasons that this case hasn't been tried in court.

We have to take into consideration the reasons that such a case hasn't materialized (at least to my knowledge.) I think first and foremost among these reasons is that such a case might be considered political (which it is not.) But the claim that it might be motivated by politics might enable a court to avoid hearing it. Also, look at who has the legal resources in this country and who doesn't. The people who are suffering the most from this war do happen to be the people who have comparatively less access to legal recourse. Also, I think that it can be difficult to try a case of this nature because of the general nature of the claim (I very well might be wrong about this though - certainly there are enough specific examples of alleged wrongdoing to build an effective claim, or set of claims...).

I am not a legal expert. But I know that such a case might be difficult to approach for a number of reasons. Care to chime in?

This post was inspired by commentary on OlyBlog regarding the recent violent opposition by the Olympia Police Department to the nonviolent attempts of peace activists to stop the war in Olympia Washington.

29 November 2007

What if the Occupier Were to Come to this Land

What if it were you. What if, for example, a foreign country X decided that it was in its best interests to invade YOUR country. Let's use water as an example here. What if Country X was worried about running out of water. It's people were in danger, in the not so distant future, of not having sufficient water to live normally.

So Country X started to think about how important it is economically that mostly everyone have enough water to function normally. So they start to buy water from foreign countries. At first a little, then some more, then a lot. This goes on for some time, and most people are mostly happy. Country X starts to build a big military so that it can protect its water interests in the future, because it looks like there might not be enough for everyone in the world to have enough. And they want to make sure that they have access to enough for themselves.

At some point, Country X runs into some major water problems. There is fast approaching a point where there is just not enough supply to meet growing demands... And yuck, they even managed to contaminate large amounts of their own native supplies. Whoops. But damn, wasn't building that military a good idea. Because you know what, Country X is now able to go into other countries and take water without asking. In fact, this idea of using military conquest for resource control even has the potential to be lucrative for those who know how to work it.

What if this were to happen? What if it were to happen to you? What if you found soldiers from Country X in your city, hooking up hoses to your artesian well and shipping it back, perhaps even across an ocean to another continent. Hooking up to the water that you have always depended on for your quality of life in order to supply its own people with enough water so that they can function normally? Don't worry they say - they will start to pay you for the water once they hold elections and establish a new government.

This is what is happening in Iraq. The US is piping oil from Iraq to ships that then bring it to the USA.

I like the old adage that you get what you give.

I want the USA to be aware of how it wages wars for control over resources. Because it might come back to haunt "us" someday. Maybe there is a Country X somewhere out there, polluting its own water resources, watching its supplies struggle to keep up with demands in the face of a growing, and thirsty, population - and anticipating a time when it may be necessary to occupy other countries in order to ensure its own access to sufficient water supplies. Water, oil, air, land. Isn't it time that we figure out ways to use and share the resources of this planet responsibly so that aggressive wars of control over resources are not necessary in the first place?

There are other options besides fueling an addiction to easy petroleum. We need to explore those alternatives if we care about human rights and human dignity. There will be other options, in the future, besides waging wars over who gets access to the world's great water supplies. We can enable those options by speaking out against the great crime of our day - the aggressive crusade for control over oil in Iraq.

Water, unlike petroleum, is absolutely necessary to life on Earth. We need to learn how (if we care about the well-being of future generations) to share and use the Earth's resources responsibly before major wars over water erupt. Because it might just be us who wake up to occupiers in our own backyard.

Ken Silverstein Interview with Douglas MacGregor

This is an excerpt of an interview of Retired Army Officer Douglas MacGregor, by Ken Silverstein, from Harper's Magazine.
go to original

1. How big of a change has there been in recent months in the military situation in Iraq?
The situation on the ground has definitely changed, but not for the reasons the Bush Administration and its generals claim. The main reasons include cash-based deals with Sunni leaders and Shiite leader Muqtada al Sadr’s independent decision earlier this year to temporarily restrain his Mahdi army from attacking U.S. forces...

2. Has the “surge” in troop levels played an important role here as well?
Not really. Where once there was one country called Iraq, there are now three emerging states: one Kurdish, one Sunni, and one Shiite. More than two years of sectarian violence have left districts in and around Baghdad completely Sunni or completely Shiite, and that has significantly reduced violence in those districts and resulted in fewer bodies in the streets. This new strategic reality, combined with huge cash payments to the Sunni insurgent enemy, is what has given U.S. forces a respite from the chaos of the last four years. The introduction of a few thousand additional troops into Baghdad’s neighborhoods was never going to result in any kind of strategic sea change...
read more

28 November 2007

Haunting Lesson from Vietnam

The Vietnam 'war' was horrible. There are horror stories about life in the jungle and the killing of innocent civilians in acts so brutal that it causes, for me, emotional shock. Some stories have already surfaced about horrible stories from Iraq like Haditha, and the siege of Falluja. I wonder what, and how many, horror stories will continue surface, in time, about the current 'war' (of occupation) in Iraq. Here's an excerpt from a Robert Parry article about one horrible incident from the Vietnam War. The article is entitled The Truth About Colin Powell:
My Lai

On March 16, 1968, a bloodied unit of the Americal Division stormed into a hamlet known as My Lai 4.

With military helicopters circling overhead, revenge-seeking American soldiers rousted Vietnamese civilians – mostly old men, women and children – from their thatched huts and herded them into the village’s irrigation ditches.

As the round-up continued, some Americans raped the girls. Then, under orders from junior officers on the ground, soldiers began emptying their M-16s into the terrified peasants.

Some parents used their bodies futilely to shield their children from the bullets. Soldiers stepped among the corpses to finish off the wounded.

The slaughter raged for four hours. A total of 347 Vietnamese, including babies, died in the carnage.

27 November 2007

TJ Johnson and Laura Ware, Olympia City Councilors

Video of TJ Johnson, Mayor Foutch, and Laura Ware, Olympia City Council Members as they spoke during a Council Meeting on November 20th about recent protests at the Port of Olympia:

22 November 2007

Civil Resistance - Nonviolent Direct Action

Scott McClellan is due to release a book in which he allegedly names names regarding the outing of Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie "Plame," as a covert CIA operative. Wilson had published an OP-ED in the NYT [linked], in which he called into question the veracity of Bush Administration claims of a specific threat from Iraqi WMD. According to McClellan, high officials (Bush, Cheney, Rove, among them) were involved in the outing. Read more about McClellan's new book here [salon] or here.

News has also breached the wire of another failure in the Democratic Congress to pass a bill that would require the substantial withdrawal of the US military from Iraq. (If that link doesn't work, try this one ["Dems bill on Iraq wouldn't end war"].)

We are WorthyThe current system is not working. I want to stop the war. I want to protect our soldiers from being coerced into fighting an improper and unnecessary, aggressive war of occupation. I want to protect the Iraqi people from the harms that the occupation has wrought.

I want to see a civil resistance to this delinquent federal government. I believe that one of the most effective tactics that we can use is nonviolent direct action.

Remember that the democrats, elected under a mandate to end the (illegal, immoral, etc.) aggressive war of occupation - are not living up to their mandate. Congress, and the Democratic wing in particular, are derelict in their duty to exercise oversight.

The burden falls upon us, "the People," to enforce the rules that govern society. These rules (e.g. against aggressive war making) exist for the benefit of all people.

Wars of occupation that are designed to control natural resources - like the war over oil in Iraq - are inherently unjust and do immeasurable harm - to human beings, and to humanity in general.

Entering Peace Port OlympiaThere exists within all of us a human capacity to care, and to respond out of heartfelt emotions.

These deaths and this suffering never needed to happen.
Please, ask of yourself, what can I do to make it so my government doesn't wage unnecessary and illegal aggressive wars?

We, as regular people, can have an impact. We can have a beneficial impact. We can work to stop needless suffering.

21 November 2007

I Want this War of Aggression to Stop!

I support our troops by calling for the immediate commencement of a safe and responsible withdrawal from Iraq. The US doesn't belong in Iraq.

The justifications for invasion have been shown to have been lies and falsifications.
The justification for the ongoing occupation is mired in obfuscation and the unacceptable Bush Administration aspiration to militarily and economically dominate the globe. (I know it sounds insidious and ridiculous, but there is ample evidence in the public realm to support and confirm this conclusion.)

As such, the invasion was illegal. The ongoing war of occupation is also illegal.

The war is also immoral. But more importantly, the war is hurting people. It is hurting people unnecessarily.

pmr november 200728I want the war to stop. I want to protect people from unnecessary harm being done to them. I want to protect not only our troops, but the Iraqi people as well, from this unjustified, improper, unnecessary military action.

TJ JohnsonThank you to TJ Johnson [City Council Member, edit 11/28/07] for standing up for the true benefit of people in Olympia and elsewhere.

PMR's attempt to prohibit the military use of the Port of Olympia was an attempt to protect and support our soldiers, and to protect the Iraqi people from further death and destruction associated with this ill-advised war of aggression.

The Olympia Police Department and the Port of Olympia have enabled an illegal and immoral military war of aggression.

On the LineBut PMR will be successful in the long run. The strength of truth and positive intention will prevail. Really, it already has.

But what PMR could benefit from most is your support - so that the next time that the municipal Port of Olympia is used to enable an immoral and illegal war of aggression and occupation, we can, as a people, effectively prohibit the military cargoes.

Support our troops, bring them home!

Protect the Iraqi people, commence the safe and responsible, complete, withdrawal of the US Military from Iraq - immediately!

18 November 2007

PMR Saturday Rally

[edited 11/20/07:]

Here's a video that shows some of the action from Saturday's PMR Support Rally and March. Word has it that some 400+ supporters attended Saturday's event.

I support and work with PMR because I care about the lives of our military personnel and the lives of the Iraqi people. People are suffering - and it's without justification. The occupation contravenes legal statutes.

I was heartened to see the community response and support of PMR. I have had enough of my government participating in illegal and immoral military actions. When it comes to the use of my public port to enable an illegal military action the choice is clear to me - it is not even a choice - it is my duty and responsibility to, nonviolently, constructively and creatively, oppose the enabling of an illegal/immoral military action.

Check out a video from Saturday:

14 November 2007

Women's Blockade

On Tuesday November 13th, 2007, 43 people were arrested while attempting to blockade the transfer of military cargoes from the Port of Olympia. Of these 43 arrestees, one was yours truly. Yes I submitted to arrest. But the big story is that of the 43 arrested, 39 were women.

Women's BlockadeThe PMR Women's Caucus organized the nonviolent blockade, and forced the Olympia Police Department to change its tactics from assault and dispersal to peaceable arrest. All 43 arrests were conducted in a peaceable manner.

Which begs the question: why hasn't the OPD used arrests to enforce against blockades previously? Why has the OPD chosen to deliberately harm and injure people - with chemical weapons assaults; pushing, shoving, and tackling with batons; the use of projectile weapons; and even concussion grenades - instead of making arrests in a peaceable manner?

The OPD has used violence against peaceful protesters, escalating tensions and creating an unsafe environment.

Please stop these assaults on protesters.

PMR remains committed to blocking the transfer of military cargoes via the Port of Olympia.

I will support and participate in the PMR movement as long as the military is engaged in improper and unjustified (illegal and immoral) military actions.

I work with PMR in an effort to protect our soldiers as well as the populations of occupied countries (e.g. Iraq) from the harm and abuses that wrongful military actions cause.

Please support PMR in its effort to create a more humane, sustainable, peaceful and just world.

12 November 2007

Testimony about Port Militarization Resistance Actions

Here's a link to about 4 minutes or so of testimony from a forum in response to Police Violence that has occurred recently in Olympia, Washington.

More audio is available here.

I'm Okay

I feel traumatized by the violence used against nonviolent / peaceful protesters here in Olympia Washington. But I am okay. I got some sleep last night. I have been documenting some of the events. You can find the photos via my flickr account.

This photo was taken during roughly 4 hours of testimony provided by victims and witnesses of police brutality during PMR's nonviolent campaign to prevent the use of the Port of Olympia to aid, abet and/or enable an illegal military action in Iraq.

President Bush has been lying and making falsifications in order to justify the occupation of Iraq. But I know better. I know that the occupation is imperial in nature. If we need access to the oil resource of Iraq, we need to find ways other than violent military occupation and overthrow of a sovereign government (based on lies and fraudulent falsifications,) in order to ensure that access.

Here's me:
Pepper Spray in my Eye

07 November 2007

Port Militarization Resistance

Ship at DockA military transport ship, the USNS Brittin has pulled alongside the quay of the Port of Olympia, Washington and is unloading its cargo of used military vehicles and containers (cargo mysterious.)

Some of the vehicles being unloaded are "Stryker" vehicles, which were used in Iraq by the 3rd Stryker Brigade from Fort Lewis.

The anti-occupation group, Olympia Port Militarization Resistance (Oly PMR) seeks to contain the return materials on the quay. The materials have been used in an illegal occupation and there is potential for a repeated deployment, which would cause further harm. Oly PMR seeks to contain this shipment for the benefit of the soldiers in the US Military, as well as the people of Iraq.

Please join in Oly PMR's efforts to stop this illegal and unjust military occupation. Oly PMR is committed to nonviolent resistance.

This is a great opportunity to build a movement around the cessation of the imperial occupation of Iraq.

Protect the USA and Iraq from this assault by the Bush Administration!

04 November 2007

Maple Leaf

A sure sign of the progression of the seasons is the changing colors expressed in tree leaves. Here's a maple leaf from Lions Park in Olympia Washington. Have a good week.

Maple Leaf

03 November 2007

"The War on Whistleblowers"

Another example of extreme authoritarianism cropping up in US federal government: http://salon.com/news/feature/2007/11/01/whistleblowers/
The war on whistle-blowers

U.S. officials have long retaliated against employees who speak out, burying the dangers they expose. Now, Congress wants to give whistle-blowers greater protection -- but President Bush vows to stop it.

Editor's note: This story continues a multiyear series from Salon and the Center for Investigative Reporting scrutinizing the U.S. court system. For more background and resources related to this story, click here.

By James Sandler

Nov. 1, 2007

If there is any doubt about how the Bush administration treats government whistle-blowers, consider the case of Teresa Chambers. She was hired in early 2002, with impeccable law enforcement credentials, to become chief of the United States Park Police. But after Chambers raised concerns publicly that crime was up in the nation's parks, she was rebuked by superiors and fired. When Chambers fought to regain her job through the legal system meant to protect whistle-blowers, government lawyers fought back, and associated her with terrorists. Despite a multiyear legal struggle, she is still fighting for her job.

Whistle-blowers have faced hostility not only under Republican administrations. During President Clinton's tenure, Bogdan Dzakovic, an undercover security agent with the Federal Aviation Administration, suffered retribution for speaking out about weak airport security -- three years before Sept. 11, 2001. Dzakovic was passed up for promotion time and again, and today, he says, he remains consigned to data entry duties for the Transportation Security Administration.

Every year, hundreds of federal workers sound the alarm about corruption, fraud or dangers to public safety that are caused or overlooked -- or even covered up -- by U.S. government agencies. These whistle-blowers are supposed to be guaranteed protection by law from retaliation for speaking out in the public's interest.

But a six-month investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting, in collaboration with Salon, has found that federal whistle-blowers almost never receive legal protection after they take action. Instead, they often face agency managers and White House appointees intent upon silencing them rather than addressing the problems they raise. They are left fighting for their jobs in a special administrative court system, little known to the American public, that is mired in bureaucracy and vulnerable to partisan politics. The CIR/Salon investigation reveals that the whistle-blower system -- first created by Congress decades ago and proclaimed as a cornerstone of government transparency and accountability -- has in reality enabled the punishment of employees who speak out. It has had a chilling effect, dissuading others from coming forward. The investigation examined nearly 3,600 whistle-blower cases since 1994, and included dozens of interviews and a review of confidential court documents. Whistle-blowers lose their cases, the investigation shows, nearly 97 percent of the time. Most limp away from the experience with their careers, reputations and finances in tatters.

01 November 2007

Fascism in America

After last week's confrontation between Desiree Fairooz and Condaleeza Rice, several activists with the organization Code Pink have been banned from Washington D.C.'s Capitol Hill. Congress is in dereliction of its duty to exercise oversight over a White House that is under reasonable suspicion of committing illegal acts.

Does this mean that it is up to the people of the USA to exercise oversight authority? You decide. Here's a link to a page with video of last week's confrontation and the authoritarian reaction by Capitol Security.

29 October 2007

Seattle Protest Against the "War" October 2007

I went to the UFPJ rally and march in Seattle this past weekend. It was a great event. The numbers weren't as great as I would have liked them to be, but the people who showed up were passionate and genuine in their desire for peace and for the creation of a better society and a better world. There was a caravan from Olympia, I am not sure about the specific numbers. The Olympian quoted 200. Here's a link to the Olympian article, which includes a couple of choice quotes from me as well as a picture of me. Diane Huber did a decent job reporting on the Olympia Caravan. But I wish she would have fleshed out more of my conversation with her in the article. I talked with her for a while. It was a good conversation. She seemed genuinely interested and possibly even sympathetic with the anti-occupation cause... What I wish that she would have included in the article were my thoughts about the necessity of impeachment. Impeachment (of certain prominent Executive Branch officials) for any malfeasance that has occurred during the Bush Administration is vital to the healthy and wholesome future of the USA - as well as to the creation of a stable social environment in Iraq.

Secondly, an unjust and belligerent military occupation of another country is unacceptable. It is time to begin a safe and responsible withdrawal of all military personnel from Iraq.

Here's a sample of some of the photos I took from Saturday. You can find more here (flickr) and here (dotmac):

October 2007 Seattle Protest - U.S. Out of Iraq

Mourn Iraqi Deaths


Stop Soldier Abuse

Downtown Seattle

25 October 2007

Jack Miles on Iraq: Faulty Occupation

I want to plug this well-written article, by Jack Miles, on the deteriorating political situation in Iraq. Support our troops by bringing them home. The occupation of Iraq by the American Military is unwelcome and unjust.
Endgame for Iraqi Oil?
The Sovereignty Showdown in Iraq
By Jack Miles

The oil game in Iraq may be almost up. On September 29th, like a landlord serving notice, the government of Iraq announced that the next annual renewal of the United Nations Security Council mandate for a multinational force in Iraq -- the only legal basis for a continuation of the American occupation -- will be the last. That was, it seems, the first shoe to fall. The second may be an announcement terminating the little-noticed, but crucial companion Security Council mandate governing the disposition of Iraq's oil revenues.

By December 31, 2008, according to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the government of Iraq intends to have replaced the existing mandate for a multinational security force with a conventional bilateral security agreement with the United States, an agreement of the sort that Washington has with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and several other countries in the Middle East. The Security Council has always paired the annual renewal of its mandate for the multinational force with the renewal of a second mandate for the management of Iraqi oil revenues. This happens through the "Development Fund for Iraq," a kind of escrow account set up by the occupying powers after the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime and recognized in 2003 by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483. The oil game will be up if and when Iraq announces that this mandate, too, will be terminated at a date certain in favor of resource-development agreements that -- like the envisioned security agreement -- match those of other states in the region.

The game will be up because, as Antonia Juhasz pointed out last March in a New York Times op-ed, "Whose Oil Is It, Anyway?":
"Iraq's neighbors Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia…. have outlawed foreign control over oil development. They all hire international oil companies as contractors to provide specific services as needed, for a limited duration, and without giving the foreign company any direct interest in the oil produced."
By contrast, the oil legislation now pending in the Iraqi parliament awards foreign oil companies coveted, long-term, 20-35 year contracts of just the sort that neighboring oil-producers have rejected for decades. It also places the Iraqi oil industry under the control of an appointed body that would include representatives of international oil companies as full voting members.

The news that the duly elected government of Iraq is exercising its limited sovereignty to set a date for termination of the American occupation radically undercuts all discussion in Congress or by American presidential candidates of how soon the U.S. occupation of Iraq may "safely" end.
[keep reading!]

24 October 2007

LTE, Surge, Occupation, Iraq, Baird

I sent a Letter to the Editors of my local newspaper, The Olympian, today. I have been meaning to send a letter on this topic for about 3 or 4 weeks now, but I have been struggling to find focus for it. I think it's because of the emotions that are involved. There is a lot of frustration and aggravation. My Representative to the US Congress, Brian Baird, after a visit to Iraq, has decided to come out in support of the Bush Administration "Surge" in troop levels and plan for Further Occupation. I am disappointed, heartbroken...really sad.

So I have been having difficulty writing this letter. Composing a short succinct, direct and to-the-point letter to the editors of my local paper has eluded me. But this morning the impetus struck, and somewhat hastily, as will be obvious after reading the letter I sent (below), I played around with it and drafted a letter, which I sent. Then I had to bike very fast to get to work on time. I made it in about 15 minutes, which included a 3-5 minute pit-stop at the bakery. It's a 3 1/2 mile ride. You do the math. I was going fast. (oh okay, it's about 20 mph.)

So that's a little bit of my day. Here's a letter that I sent to the local paper. I definitely could have taken a few deep breaths and a walk around the block before making a final edit prior to sending. I'll work on that... Anyway, I hope it gets the point across, and that it's not too hard to read. Sorry for the punctuation and other errors:
I attended Representative Brian Baird's September 21st Town Hall Meeting at Capital High School. I am concerned about Rep. Baird's change of direction, his explicit support for the surge. He reported having difficulty finding Iraqis who supported the surge. He didn't mention talking to ordinary Iraqis. In fact he didn't mention discussing the surge or occupation with any Iraqis in opposition.

Representative Baird claimed that withdrawal would result in a "bloodbath." I also, can imagine the spike in violence that a hastily executed withdrawal might cause. But it's also a possible that violence could be lessened, if the USA were to commence, in good faith, upon a responsible and complete, phased, withdrawal, say, over the course of one year. This idea of a responsible withdrawal was something that Rep. Baird did not seem to consider, nor has he indicated consideration in correspondence with him since the Town Hall Meeting.

The invasion was unnecessary. There was no threat, posed by WMD or otherwise, prior to the invasion. Supposed evidence of a WMD threat has reasonably been shown to have been contrived. The management of the occupation has been incompetent. The failures can be traced to the topmost command in Washington D.C.. Instead of supporting the Bush Administration policy, I want my Representative to represent me, and to support two things. One, hold the Bush Administration, and associated entities, to account for any malfeasance relating to the invasion and occupation. Two, I want a responsible withdrawal of US forces from Iraq to commence immediately.

23 October 2007

Dolores Huerta Quote

Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez in 1962:
"I quit because I couldn't stand seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children."

17 October 2007


Town Hall Meeting with Brian BairdI attended a Town Hall Meeting with Brian Baird, who is my Representative to the US House of Representatives. The Town Hall Meeting was announced after a mass of dissent toward the Representative's change of direction regarding the surge in troop levels and the occupation of Iraq.

According to Rep. Baird, after "working very hard" to find Iraqis who support the surge, he was successful in finding 13 people. Two were MPs. 11 were Sheiks from a specific area of Iraq. But the Representative found no support amongst ordinary, common Iraqis for either the surge or the occupation.

Letter from Representative BairdI was disappointed and aggrieved to hear of Rep. Baird's change of direction. I recently received a letter from the Representative, which has prompted me to become more active in expressing my opinion on this matter.

I would like to say that I agree with Baird, insofar as I feel that the US has a responsibility to stabilize, to remedy, to repair Iraq. The US pre-emptive attack was without warrant. There was no justification for the invasion. I allege that the "facts" regarding evidence of WMD threat were "fixed" to meet the policy of the invasion (www.downingstreetmemo.com).

But culpability for an aggressive and belligerent military action is a separate, though very closely related issue. Holding our leaders accountable for fraud or any other potential malfeasance would be helpful in the stabilization of Iraq.

But more importantly there must be a change in the mission. The mission must be changed from being anti-insurgency to providing for the basic security of all Iraqis and beginning reconstruction and rebuilding of the infrastructure (by military personnel.) Reconstruction must be on par with current standards in the domestic USA. Water, sewage, electricity, schools, hospitals, roads, etc. all must be repaired to at least prewar standards.

That said, I just don't know if the military option is feasible in providing for the reconstruction and re-stabilization of Iraqi civil society. I don't know if the US military is the right entity for the job...

Here's a copy of a letter I just wrote to Representative Baird:
Dear Representative Baird,

I received a letter from your office in acknowledgment of my attendance at a recent town hall meeting, which you sponsored in Olympia Washington. I am glad that I was able to attend, and I appreciate your support for civic engagement. I hope you were able to hear and listen to the views and opinions of your constituents despite the somewhat hostile environment in the Capital High School Performance Center Auditorium that night. Unfortunately, I was only able to stay for two and a half hours, until 9:30 p.m., so I didn't get to hear the rest of the comments, or your responses to them.

I care about the USA and also that the actions of the USA genuinely and accurately reflect what I think and feel to be the best aspects of the character of Americans. I believe that Americans are capable of great hospitality - even compassion, I believe that Americans are generous and that we have an interest in equitable and fair relations amongst all people. After all, America was born out of dissent over unfair taxation - taxation without representation - that was essentially a colonial power's effort to exploit its "subjects."

So I am writing to you with an eye toward the past, as well as toward the future, when I express my concern and disapproval over your change of direction in regard to your policy on Iraq. I am concerned that America is becoming that colonial/imperial force that the founders of our own government rejected.

I am also dissatisfied with the content of your letter of acknowledgment. At the Town Hall Meeting I expressed (in a handwritten statement on a note card that was delivered to your staffers) my concern that you hadn't considered the possibility of a gradual withdrawal. It sounded to me like you opposed a withdrawal that would be sudden and shocking (like the invasion) which would likely result in a major security vacuum and further violence - a "bloodbath."

But if the withdrawal were to take place over the course of one year, allowing the security situation to fill in organically as the US forces withdraw gradually, I think there is the potential to prevent much violence. So much of the violence in Iraq is the result of the US presence.

I agree with you that the US has an obligation to work toward a stabilized Iraq. I am concerned that the military option is not the best option. For one, it seems that the military mission is vague. Is it to destroy insurgency? Well, how can our military personnel destroy something which they cannot identify?

I think that the mission must be changed. It must be changed to this: provide basic defense for the Iraqi Civilians, begin reconstruction immediately, and in earnest. Increase troop levels if needed. Rebuild the infrastructure to current US standards. Give the Iraqis something to feel pride in. Restore the water, sewage, electricity, roads, schools and hospitals to pre-war standards.

Make that the mission and those the goals for the occupation. And set certain criteria to enable the withdrawal.

Without that change in mission, and without holding the Bush Administration accountable, and to the standards of Justice, then there is no other reasonable option, in my mind (as well as in the minds of the vast majority of my fellow constituents) but to commence immediately upon a safe and responsible complete withdrawal.

Thank you, Mr. Representative, for taking the time and making the effort to read and understand my comments.

Robert Whitlock
I am still trying to draft a letter to the editor of the Olympian. Hopefully these ruminations will assist that effort. Stay tuned.