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.