Native American prisoner to fight on
by Chris Summers
BBC News Online
Native American activist Leonard Peltier has spent 28 years in prison for a crime he says he did not commit - the cold-blooded murder of two FBI agents on an Indian reservation in the summer of 1975. On Friday, as another activist was jailed for life for a murder on the same reservation, BBC News Online spoke to Peltier's lawyer Barry Bachrach.
A ticker on the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee website counts the days, hours, minutes and seconds that he has served in prison.
It currently stands at 10,305 days.
Peltier was convicted of the murder, on 26 June 1975, of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams.
The pair had been involved in a firefight with members of the American Indian Movement (Aim) on a property, known as the Jumping Bull site, on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.
Both were finished off, at close range, by their killers.
Peltier has always admitted he was on the Jumping Bull site on that day but he claims he escaped, along with other Aim activists, before the agents were killed.
'He knows who did it'
This was not a trial about Arlo Looking Cloud. They couldn't care less about Arlo. It was about putting to rest the Aim and getting some more shots in at Leonard. They want to make sure he never gets out
Leonard Peltier's lawyer
His lawyer, Barry Bachrach, told BBC News Online: "He has heard rumours about who did it but he will not reveal it."
Mr Bachrach is currently preparing an appeal, challenging the Parole Commission's right to set Peltier's parole date, bearing in mind its record of "arbitrary and capricious" decisions.
On Friday a former AIM activist, Arlo Looking Cloud, was jailed for life for the murder of a colleague, Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, whose body was found on the Pine Ridge reservation in February 1976. The trial heard she was killed because she was suspected of being an FBI informant.
Pine Ridge is home to the Oglala Sioux tribe, whose famous ancestor was the warrior Crazy Horse.
Mr Bachrach said: "Arlo's trial was a farce. It was a set-up. This was not a trial about Arlo Looking Cloud. They couldn't care less about Arlo. It was about putting to rest the AIM and getting some more shots in at Leonard. They want to make sure he never gets out."
He said: "What is important to bear in mind is that this (Pine Ridge) was a war zone. At the time - between 1973 and 1976 - it was known as the "reign of terror".
"During this time Dick Wilson (the former tribal chief, now deceased) hired a group known as the Guardians Of the Oglala Nation (Goon), and they were terrorising people.
"Wilson was leasing and hiring land, rich with uranium deposits, to energy companies.
"The US Government and the FBI were supporting Dick Wilson and his Goons, who committed more than 60 murders which were uninvestigated."
Mr Bachrach said: "The only one of these 60 murders which anybody has bothered to reinvestigate was Anna Mae's."
Arlo Looking Cloud's trial heard evidence from Darlene "Kamook" Nichols, the former wife of one-time Aim leader Dennis Banks.
She claimed Anna Mae was challenged about being an FBI informant at a convention in New Mexico in June 1975.
Ms Nichols testified that Peltier threatened Anna Mae with a gun and added: "She told him that if he believed that he should go ahead and shoot her."
Mr Bachrach said he visited Peltier last week at Leavenworth penitentiary in Kansas: "I asked Leonard about what Kamook said. He said he was asked to inquire of Anna Mae if she was working for the FBI and he took her into a teepee in Farmington, New Mexico to talk to her. But it's false to say he struck a gun in her mouth."
Ms Nichols also told the trial that Anna Mae had said Peltier later bragged about killing the two FBI agents.
Mr Bachrach said: "This case was nothing more than smearsay. They coached Kamook and she admitted she had been paid $40,000 by the FBI. Her evidence should never have seen the light of day."
He said: "Leonard feels very betrayed by Kamook. It's very hurtful for someone you think is a friend to lie about you."
He added: "Why would he brag about killing the agents if he suspected she was an informant?"
Peltier is one of the best-known alleged miscarriages of justice victims in the United States.
In the past he has received messages of support from Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, British MP Tony Benn and numerous actors, including Robert Redford and Winona Ryder.
Mr Bachrach said: "We are not going to go away. This is an injustice and a government cover-up and we are just not going to go away until Leonard is released and even when he is released we will not go away."
He recently wrote to the US Congress asking them to widen an investigation into FBI misconduct in Boston, Massachusetts (involving mafia boss James "Whitey" Bulger) to include alleged misconduct among FBI agents in South Dakota in the 1970s.
© BBC MMIV
Pick Your Price:
Your Blood or Your Soul
Do you support our killer troops
committing genocide in Iraq?
By John Kaminski
What would you do if your brother - or perhaps your son, father, or husband - was charged with murder? With deliberately taking the life of another human being.
For sure, it would be an agonizing decision - making the choice between practicing what you preach about justice, or standing by your devastated family. A choice no one would envy - defend your blood or obey the laws of God and society.
And then, what if it was a particularly bad murder? Say he shot an old woman in the back, and watched her die - all the while preventing medical personnel from tending to her. Maybe she was already wounded and he finished her off. From a helicopter, even.
It sure would be tough to keep your family - your mind, your heart - together in that situation. Who could blame you whatever you decided.
Of course, things are different in the middle of a war, even a completly illegal war based on well-publicized lies like the situation in Iraq.
I mean, it's easy to say your were just following orders. That's what lots of Nazis did in World War II, but they still were put to death in the trials following the war.
I wonder what will happen when and if Americans find themselves in that situation in the near future.
Being in a military situation means everything is different. Innocent civilians always get killed accidentally when the military's involved. Some are accidental, some are deliberate, but mostly we never get to know the difference. Bodies get thrown in holes and are forgotten, except by some of the living who years later wake up screaming in the middle of the night.
Long after the grisly facts become known, sometimes we get a little tardy justice. Mostly we don't. Remember when former Senator Bob Kerrey tried to give back his Vietnam medals, admitting he killed women and children rather than the dangerous enemy gunmen his valor citations described. How did the public react? Hell, we didn't want to hear him. We told him to keep his medals, keep quiet, and forget about the whole thing.
Demonic demagogues like Joseph Farah, Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh all have recently recommended killing large numbers of innocent Iraqis "to teach them a lesson." The "lesson" being it's not cool to mess with Uncle Sam and mutilate his hired killers, the highly paid mercenaries he hired to assassinate Iraqi intellectuals so when America has that tortured nation sufficiently lobotomized, there will be a minimum of intelligent people around to protest the new "democratic" prison camp that America has created.
The United States and Britain have decided to adopt the Pol Pot theory of social engineering - kill everyone with academic credentials. And when the irate Iraqis decide to strike back at this masterpiece of Israeli-style population control, the U.S. ups the ante on its already-high atrocity level - and bombs a totally defenseless town from the air, no matter who gets killed, and murders all the males under 45. Repeat: murders all the males under 45. That's what's going on right now, my dear American compatriots, in the inferno called Fallujah, Iraq. It's called genocide. No question about it.
This is how your American boys are behaving in a foreign country. Your sons, your husbands, your fathers.
Hey! They were just following orders. Based on lies.
This is what your country is doing to innocent people. Killing them without a second thought, without regard for who they are or what they've done, how many children they might have or how many wonderful things they've done in this life.
Hell, they don't worry about the children because they're killing them, too. Listen to that doctor, forced to set up his clinic in a filthy garage, describe a little boy with a shell of a skull missing its brains. Or the man who was brought to the clinic with burns so bad he will automatically dehydrate to death in 24 hours. How about the boy they threw in the river, and he couldn't swim so he drowned? Or when the fighting first began, the hundred teenagers hooded and kept in the sun, and then shot to death by your beloved Americans boys, one by one.
This was all done by your sons, your husbands, your fathers. Just following orders.
You know, we all ought to be very scared that these killer punks will be coming home soon, all with the taste of blood on their tongues, ready and willing to tell us all about the wonderful experiences they had in Iraq, or at least the ones who don't immediately get sick and die from the radioactive ammunition they had to handle or the poisonous vaccines they had to endure, at least they'll be able to tell us how they fought the War on Terror in Iraq by shooting defenseless women in the back and bombing residential neighborhoods and splattering body parts all over the tan brick walls of Baghdad.
They were scared. It's OK to kill people when you're scared.
This is the kind of behavior approved by Fox news every night, only they don't tell you about this stuff - they tell you about our tough guy president saying "Bring it on", and how the folks back home are cheering about the lives they are throwing away.
Pretending to be brave and patriotic when they plant their own children in the peaceful soil, saying how proud they are that their children gave their lives for an unjust genocide that was based on lies.
America. What a country. A country gone mad.
And this isn't something new, you know. Don't pretend to be surprised. Don't tell me you didn't know this is the kind of stuff we noble Americans do on a regular basis.
It has been going on - in Iraq, anyway, for FIFTEEN years! But hey, in Palestine it has been going on for FIFTY-FIVE years, at least officially (actually it has been much longer).
I haven't heard the phrase Geneva Conventions lately. The last time I heard it was when Rumsfeld complained about Iraqis taking photos of American POWs being a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
The U.S. uses the phrase Geneva Conventions when it's somebody else they can complain about. Americans forget to use the phrase when it pertains to U.S. behavior in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Lebanon, Palestine, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Vietnam or any of a hundred other places all related to Fort Benning, Georgia, where they teach courses on how to violate the Geneva Conventions.
At the end of the first Gulf War in 1991, our famous drug czar Barry McCaffrey supervised the slaughter on the Highway of Death which killed thousands of Iraqi soldiers who had already surrendered. This was noted as an egregious violation of the Geneva Conventions - killing soldiers who were trying to surrender.
But Americans cheered. Sons, husbands, fathers.
Then, for nearly 15 more years, the Americans and the Brits - WITHOUT approval of the United Nations - continued to bomb large parts of Iraq, and in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions, bombed water treatment plants, hospitals and other necessary services (all direct violations of the Geneva Conventions), resulting in the deaths of ONE MILLION Iraqi children from birth defects and childhood diseases that could have been easily cured were it not for the embargo of necessary medicines.
Now, the new Iraqi death toll (various American generals said it wasn't necessary to count Iraqi dead - another endearing American trait) stands at more than 30,000. Ninety percent were innocent civilians.
Obliterated by America's video game weapons, by your sons, your husbands, your fathers.
Worst of all, the whole world now knows America had absolutely no reason to invade Iraq this time around (not that it did before in the era of the April Glaspie sucker punch, either). Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction (just as Scott Ritter, Hans Blix and others said) and Iraq had no connection to al-Qaida (although now reportedly the U.S. is trying to smuggle in WMDs and claim that Saddam had them hidden all the time). No legitimate reason whatsoever to go to war.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq is entirely unjustified, a massive crime against humanity, carried out by your sons, your husbands, your fathers, who murdered innocents on the cynical say-so of the lies our leaders told us, and are still telling us.
And now the opposition presidential candidate, supposedly a war hero himself who only recently found out he was Jewish, says he will continue the same policy of random murders and denial of self-determination should he win the totally-fixed elections of 2004. This means America is destined to be a soulless, killer nation indefinitely into the future. And it's only a matter of time before this kind of thing starts happening here.
Your sons, your husbands, your fathers are murderers. The Geneva Conventions state that when soldiers know their leaders are giving them illegal or immoral orders, it is their duty to disobey them. America used that argument in the post-World War II trials against the Japanese and the Germans, and the whole world damn well better use it against the Americans when it puts America on trial for its illegal genocide against the Iraqis.
Do the world a big favor and think of all these things the next time you hear the Star Spangled Banner, or listen to some pompous ass in a faux military hat say in a drunken stupor, "Support our troops!"
Tip your glass to him, and say, with all sincerity and that American killer smile, "Yes, brother, support our killer troops."
Just don't go to church afterwards. God would puke on you.
John Kaminski is the author of "America's Autopsy Report," a collection of his Internet essays seen on hundreds of websites around the world, and also "The Day America Died: Why You Shouldn't Believe the Official Version of What Happened on September 11, 2001," a 48-page booklet written for those who still believe what the U.S. government is still saying about 9/11. For more information about both, go to www.johnkaminski.com
Graham interview reveals further details
by: David Melmer / Indian Country Today
April 06, 2004
VANCOUVER, B.C. - A taped interview with John Graham, who is charged with the murder of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, puts him at the scene where the execution took place.
Aquash was executed on Dec. 12, 1975 on a remote section of the Badlands on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Her body was found in February 1976.
According to a transcript of a tape obtained by the Associated Press, Graham said he was with Aquash just moments before she was shot in the back of the head. Prosecutors assert that Graham pulled the trigger.
The tape explains a trip from Denver to South Dakota with Graham, Arlo Looking Cloud and Theda Clark, all members of AIM, where Aquash was taken to a safe house.
Graham did not admit killing Aquash, but the interview did place him at the location where the execution took place. Graham, on the tape said he didn’t remember going into Bill Mean’s house, he stayed in the car. He said Clark went in, but couldn’t remember if Looking Cloud went in. He did say Clark drove the car from Mean’s home on the Rosebud Reservation to where the killing took place.
At Looking Cloud’s trial, witness testimony from John Trudell alleged that the three received their orders to execute Aquash at Mean’s home.
Credibility of the tape is in question by the Graham Defense Committee. "Regarding this infamous tape, we don’t know enough about the tape to have much insight," said Matthew Lien, director of the Graham Defense Committee.
Lien said when the AP read a portion of the transcript to him he noticed the interviewer was asking very leading questions "while John is giving brief answers." Lien alleged that it could be easy to edit this type of tape.
Denise Maloney Pictou, Aquash’s daughter and executive director of Indigenous Women for Justice, which has a transcript of the tape, said by e-mail interview that the IWJ has asked Graham to take a lie detector test and also to contact the organization to hear the tape.
"It’s interesting that at first the Friends of John Graham denied that he ever did this interview and said that there was no such tape. Then his defense committee said they had never heard it. And then after the article appeared, one of his supporters wrote and said that they were present when the interview took place and that Graham didn’t say what the AP quoted," Maloney Pictou said.
"Now the world has had independent verification that the tape exists and that John Graham puts himself at every venue they dragged my mother to, including Bill Mean’s house. Graham even identifies Theda Clark as driving from Bill Mean’s house to Wanblee [S.D.] where they executed my mother," she said.
Maloney Pictou said the federal authorities and prosecutors do not have the tape or the transcripts. "They do not have all the evidence that U.S. prosecutors will present against Graham, and like everybody else, they will not know until such time as Graham is extradited and he has an attorney in the U.S. and the discovery process takes place."
Graham received a delay in his extradition hearing on March 29. The next appearance will be April 30. Terry LaLiberte said the case was much more serious than first believed. Graham is under house arrest in Vancouver.
On a related matter, Arlo Looking Cloud was granted a new attorney, Terry Gilbert of Cleveland, Ohio. Looking Cloud was convicted of aiding and abetting in Aquash’s death. Looking Cloud’s trial attorney, Tim Rensch, asked to be removed from the case.
This article can be found at http://IndianCountry.com/?1081282132
Looking Cloud lawyer wants out
by: David Melmer / Indian Country Today
March 26, 2004
RAPID CITY, S.D. - Arlo Looking Cloud’s attorney wants to be fired.
Tim Rensch was the court-appointed attorney who represented Arlo Looking Cloud at his trial. Looking Cloud was convicted of aiding and abetting in the murder of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash whose body was found in a ravine in South Dakota’s Badlands in February 1976.
Rensch filed a motion in federal court on March 17, asking U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Piersol to remove him from the case.
"Since the trial I have attempted to communicate in person, by letter, and by telephone with the defendant in an effort to prepare this matter for sentencing and possible appeal," Rensch wrote to the court.
He said the attorney-client relationship has "irrevocably and irretrievably broken down."
Rensch said in his motion that an associate from his office attempted to speak with Looking Cloud to inform him of his rights and the conversation turned adversarial and spiteful, which lead Rensch to state that there was no way he and Looking Cloud could work together.
In February, Looking Cloud petitioned the court to remove Rensch as his court-appointed attorney. Judge Piersol said there was no basis for removing Rensch.
Prior to Looking Cloud’s trial in early March, Terry Gilbert, a Cleveland attorney, wrote to Judge Piersol and asked to be appointed as co-counsel with Rensch. Judge Piersol said that to appoint him would delay the trial.
"I thought I could compliment the defense. Two lawyers in such a case is essential," Gilbert said.
He wrote to Judge Piersol a second time, but said he had not received a reply. He said he would work with Rensch on the appellate level.
"The judge needs to know that on appeal, it may come to pass that the strategy used by the defense counsel may have to be challenged. It happens all the time, it’s not uncommon.
"Another person would have a new look at the case," Gilbert said.
Rensch, in his motion, mentioned that Looking Cloud’s family members sent a letter to him with information that another attorney had been retained. However, family members did recant that and said no attorney was hired.
Gilbert said the family has no money and he would take the case only if he were appointed by the court. He was contacted by the family and said he would be happy to be appointed by the court.
"I hope to get appointed. I will look at other issues. There are a lot of issues, a lot of evidence that didn’t get presented," Gilbert said.
Gilbert said he was in touch with Rensch before the trial and he knows "my offer. I have no problem with him. I learned of Arlo’s wish for a new lawyer. There is a need for new blood in this thing and I’m willing to do it."
Rensch mentioned a previous attorney-client relationship which caused an earlier motion to withdraw. But that relationship was repaired and he told the court he and Looking Cloud were getting along.
"In fact, throughout the trial the defendant expressed to friends and family how pleased he was with my work. His family and friends were very satisfied and overjoyed by how I handled the trial. They all thought we won and were congratulatory and thankful," Rensch wrote in his motion to withdraw.
After the trial when Looking Cloud was found guilty, Rensch said the relationship changed.
Rensch said he was contacted by an attorney who claimed to be the new counsel for Looking Cloud. He added that upon checking with the family that a new attorney had not been hired.
Looking Cloud was convicted by a 12-person jury in February and sentencing will take place in late April.
Attempts to contact Looking Cloud’s family were not successful.
Departure of a native son
By Amy Kroin
April 6, 2004
Longtime activist Randall Robinson tells his story of the U.S. "coup" against Haiti's Aristide, calls Colin Powell the most dangerous black man alive, and explains why he quit the U.S. for St. Kitts.
For Randall Robinson, the Caribbean is not a tropical getaway. The region is his adopted home, his refuge since leaving the United States three weeks before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The founder and former president of TransAfrica Forum, a humanitarian organization dedicated to promoting enlightened U.S. policies toward Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, Robinson left America for his wife's native island of St. Kitts. In his new book "Quitting America: The Departure of a Black Man From His Native Land," Robinson writes, "I had always felt spiritually countryless. I belonged to the black world and not necessarily to America."
A lifelong political activist, Robinson is also the author of "The Debt," which articulates the highly controversial argument that the United States should address the legacy of slavery by paying reparations to African-Americans. Although favorably reviewed by such mainstream-left publications as the Nation and the Christian Science Monitor, "The Debt" was attacked by some on the right as racially divisive and by some on the left for Robinson's suggestion that slavery in America may have had a more devastating impact on African-Americans than colonialism and imperialism did on blacks living in Africa. His new book has also raised hackles. "Quitting America" opens with a look at the man Robinson considers the granddaddy of Western capitalists, Christopher Columbus. Robinson argues that Columbus' ruthless exploitation of the Caribbean paved the way for like-minded Europeans to follow suit in the centuries to come.
Right-wing commentators, such as those at David Horowitz's FrontPage magazine, have savaged the book. "By leaving America for the picturesque beaches of the Caribbean, the wealthy Robinson has demonstrated that he favors self-indulgent separatism above engagement and political debate," wrote Anders G. Lewis, who termed Robinson a "smooth-talking racist."
Some on the left may also scratch their heads at Robinson's apparent choice of flight over fight. Indeed, there are plenty of politically disgruntled Americans who refuse to flee the country, who are committed to effecting change from within. Yet Robinson hasn't abandoned the U.S. altogether; he continues to involve himself in efforts to shape American policy and writes that he intends to remain a U.S. citizen in "good standing." But he says he could no longer abide living in a country he had found so inhospitable to African-Americans, and he wanted his daughter to grow up in a culture where he believed her race would not marginalize her.
"Quitting America" doubles as a chronicle of Robinson's decision to leave the States and a scathing sociopolitical critique of the country he once called home. The book is also a valentine to St. Kitts and Nevis, a nation, Robinson writes, that disdains materialism, provides universal health care and has little crime.
As would be expected, Robinson has harsh words for President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and the other engineers of the Iraq invasion. But he also finds much to condemn in the policies of Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party.
Perhaps the most powerful section of "Quitting America" details the tortured history of Haiti. A longtime friend of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Robinson undertook a 28-day hunger strike in 1994 to protest the Clinton administration's policy toward Haitian refugees. Robinson explores Haiti's subjugation at the hands of the U.S. and Europe and also looks back to one of the few glorious episodes in Haiti's history, the successful slave revolt of 1803.
Robinson's writing on Haiti is particularly timely given the events of recent weeks. On Feb. 29, Aristide was exiled to the Central African Republic. The Bush administration said Aristide resigned voluntarily. Aristide himself claimed he had been kidnapped. Two weeks later, Robinson and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., a vocal critic of the administration's Haiti policy, led a private delegation to the Central African Republic. The group flew Aristide to Jamaica, where he has been granted temporary asylum. While many observers, including some on the left, became critical of Aristide's presidency, Robinson remains one of the deposed leader's most fervent defenders.
The trip was very much on Robinson's mind when Salon spoke to him two days after his return home from Africa.
At one point in your book you predict that "Quitting America" will draw a relatively small white audience. What made you feel this way?
The mail I've received suggests I was wrong. I've gotten more mail in response to this book than the three previous ones I've written combined, far and away. I would guess at least 40 percent of the mail is from white Americans who identify with the disillusionment I expressed about what has happened to the real character of American democracy. They've been important letters to me. One white writer said the racial experience I had described had accelerated my disillusionment but in no other way was it different from his.
The isolation of racial realities in America causes one to form assumptions about things we find little opportunity to test. It causes the black community to believe -- and I think I'm speaking for the huge majority of blacks -- that white Americans just don't care about what happens to other people, that they're not even intellectually curious about [people of color] who for them are opaque or faceless, that they have no interest in Native Americans as anything but a momentary curiosity. I felt that way. But then I came to discover, reassuringly, that there are at least enough white Americans with enough interest to write in response to this book and say that my experience has been their own.
For me this sense of disillusionment is an old phenomenon; for these readers it's a relatively new one. Some of it comes up in discussions of the press. A prominent journalist recently confided in me his feeling that the American press has failed its democracy. The term "embedded" that became popular during the Iraq war is more than just a description of a practical and physical relationship. It describes what has happened more generally to the American press, to what has caused it to miscarry its responsibility.
The story of what has happened to American democracy has never been written. I'm not talking about the whole ritual of elections but what democracy is supposed to mean for all of us and how we're supposed to treat each other with relative compassion. These are not just Republicans we're dealing with these days; this is something extraordinary, where there's no regard for law. What we did to Iraq is one thing; what we have done to Haiti is absolutely criminal and the press has been involved in it.
I have been known to irritate those who have wanted to support me, to criticize people on the left, black people, any kind of people, when what they are doing is unresponsive to people's fundamental human rights. Because of what I have seen -- and I've berated everybody I can put my hands on, Wolf Blitzer and everybody -- because of what I know about Haiti and have seen in the press coverage, I don't believe anything I read or see anymore. I can't trust any information that is part of a news package. Journalists have behaved so badly and in virtual knee-jerk favor of whatever the Bush administration has done.
In an interview with [National Public Radio host] Tavis Smiley in January you expressed the hope that "Quitting America" would enable its readers to understand what has made so many people feel displaced in the United States. Is it possible that your book implicitly encourages people to leave the U.S. and to quit fighting for change here?
I've left America physically but I'm still very much involved in its policies. I think you're better Americans when you live somewhere else at some time in your life. You don't learn anything about the world living in America; you need to talk to people who are affected by what the U.S. does. I think it's a good thing for young people, people early in their careers, to live somewhere else for a while. If you participate in the American political process when you return you will do so much more sensitively than you would have otherwise.
Going back to Haiti and Aristide, you talk at length in your book about Aristide's virtues, describing him as one of the few true Christians you have encountered. He has been widely criticized, in the press and elsewhere, as a one-time populist who ended up using the same corrupt and authoritarian tactics he once decried. I take it you don't agree.
It's quite clearly untrue. In America you wouldn't just write in a newspaper or say on television that President Bush is authoritarian. You would have to particularize the charge and then a reader would draw from that a conclusion that the president is or is not corrupt. With Aristide the American press has started with a verdict, that he is corrupt. The particulars are never described.
In a democracy you are elected and vested with certain powers and you exercise those powers for the period of your term. But in fact Aristide never had any power to begin with because of those who made war against his efforts to make the country right. And the coup began in 1994 when the Republicans took over the United States Congress a month after Aristide was restored to power. Because of this enormous unrelenting enmity toward Aristide in Republican circles, they began to deconstruct his government almost from the very beginning.
I was on the plane with Aristide when he went back to Haiti [in 1994], and there was nothing there, no institutions of government, no bureaus, no departments. It had all been destroyed by thugs, the Macoutes, and by the [paramilitary group] FRAPH, whom we had armed and trained, who had been part of the Duvalier machine. Aristide was facing an army he couldn't trust, so he dismantled the army. But they were never disarmed, so they just went over the border into the Dominican Republic. They just fled across the border and were never held accountable. One of these killers, Emmanuel Constant, "Toto," went across the border, got on a plane, and has been in New York ever since. He was the head of FRAPH and the United States has protected him. If he's not already back in Haiti he's coming soon.
Under Bush we removed all bilateral assistance for the Aristide administration. Then we blocked a $500 million loan package from the Inter-American Development Bank, money that had been earmarked for literacy education, for safe drinking water, for road development and medical care. The Republicans blocked it all. And then we started to give about $3 million a year to form an opposition to Aristide comprised of unelected businesspeople.
Why were these people so opposed to Aristide? Because he had the temerity to suggest several things. One, that the wealthy business community begin to pay taxes. Two, that the minimum wage be raised from the current rate of $1.60 a day. Three, that the practice involving the indentureship of girls working as domestics in the homes of the wealthy for room and board alone be ended. That enraged the wealthy community.
There was a recent piece on Haiti in the Boston Globe in which you described Colin Powell as the "most powerful and damaging black to rise to influence in the world" in your lifetime.
Even before the [Haitian] coup the secretary of state had indicated a callousness toward the black world. We had appealed to him years ago to use his influence to get the Clinton administration to desist in the work they were doing to wreck the Caribbean banana-dependent countries, the exporting countries of the Caribbean. There was a special regime of the European Union to create a market for the Caribbean countries to sell their bananas. Most of these countries are so small that diversification is just not a practicable kind of objective to pursue. In the Dominican Republic, 85 percent of their foreign exchange earnings came from banana exports.
But Chiquita wanted that market all to itself and gave huge amounts of money both to the Republicans and the Democrats. The head of Chiquita came to Washington and slept in the Lincoln Bedroom and Clinton went to work at the WTO [World Trade Organization] to destroy the Caribbean trade understanding with Europe. And so now Dominica is in a shambles, farmers have been committing suicide in St. Vincent, but these are places that Americans don't know anything about and don't care anything about. Clinton knew this wouldn't cost him politically, not even with the black community, because they didn't know anything more about this situation than anyone else. And the black community just adored Clinton -- for what reason I have no idea, but it was certainly largely undeserved.
So we had gone to Colin Powell, assuming that because he was a son of Jamaica that in his breast would stir some sympathy. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Of course if a black rises to high places under the wing of Ronald Reagan that ought to tell you something about what you might reasonably get. But I think African-Americans, including myself, wanted to believe in Powell. We wanted to be proud that this charming man who had become the first black secretary of state would do well and would make a difference, not just for the world but for our community. What distinguished him from Condoleezza Rice was that she was never known to anybody. She's an academic and relatively mirthless. Powell is an engaging man -- I met him at the White House with Aristide -- but his policies have been godawful and devastating to black countries around the world.
You recently got back from the Central African Republic, where you retrieved Aristide and brought him to Jamaica. How did that happen?
[Rep.] Maxine Waters and I had been talking to the Aristides on the phone five to 10 times a day in the month leading up to the coup. We were arranging for Tavis Smiley to come down on Sunday. Tavis was going to do an interview in the palace and then ABC News was going to do an interview as well.
On Saturday night [the night before Aristide's removal] I called the palace and a woman whose voice was unfamiliar to me answered the phone. I said, "Can I speak to the president?" and she said, "He's busy." I was calling to warn the president because I had been told that Colin Powell had sent a message that [Aristide] was going to be killed on Sunday morning and that the United States would do nothing to help him. I became alarmed when I couldn't get through. Then I didn't hear anything except that the coup had occurred.
It was on Monday that President Aristide called and said he was in the Central African Republic. He said over and over again, "It's a coup, it's a coup." Mrs. Aristide said they had been taken from their residence in Haiti and put aboard this white aircraft with U.S. markings. She said there were some 20 American Marines in full battle gear, helmets and all. They took their helmets off and put on baseball caps once they were onboard. And all the shades on the plane were drawn and then they took off and flew not a terribly long distance and landed and sat on a tarmac for two hours. Friends of ours in Antigua described to us this same plane. Our friends said all the shades were drawn and there were supposedly no passengers onboard.
They took off again. Mrs. Aristide raised the shade and was told to put it down, and then they flew for six hours and were on ground somewhere for three hours -- they don't know where. Then they took off again. Only when the plane was approaching the Central African Republic were the Aristides told where they were going.
[Assistant Secretary of State] Roger Noriega said on "Nightline" that Aristide had chosen to go to the Central African Republic, which if you know anything about the Central African Republic is just ludicrous. Then Noriega said later in a congressional hearing that the Aristides didn't know where they were going until just before they landed, proving that he had lied before.
We talked to the Aristides several times a day after they got to Africa. While the people in the Central African Republic were hospitable, it was clear to the Aristides that they were being held there against their will. They were escorted outside their room only twice in the week or so they were there. It became clear to them that these officials were not in fact their keepers, that they had been asked to hold the Aristides there and were doing someone else's bidding.
I think this is very illustrative of the character of the United States. On the one hand we did nothing about the ruthless killers who fled from Haiti across the border to the Dominican Republic. On the other hand we overturned the government of a democratically elected president and flew its leader 17 hours to a landlocked country in Africa that has no relations with the other African countries, that has been ostracized because its government came to power by virtue of a military coup.
Your ultimate hope is that Aristide will be restored to power in Haiti. What was the immediate goal of your trip to Africa?
Our immediate goal was to bring President Aristide to Jamaica. We had Sharon Hay-Webster representing [Jamaican] Prime Minister P.J. Patterson with a letter saying that Jamaica was offering temporary asylum. Maxine Waters and Sharon and I arrived in the Central African Republic at about 6:30 in the evening. The military government there planned to celebrate the first anniversary of its coup the following morning. When we landed there were no passengers in the airport, only soldiers with guns, and we told them that President Aristide needed to be released so he could leave with us as soon as possible.
Their interest was in persuading us to stay over and participate in the festivities celebrating the coup. Obviously we did not want to be associated with the celebration of a military coup and we said, "We want Aristide to come with us, we have a letter, and if he is not a prisoner then he should be free to leave." Then we were taken down to the presidential palace complex. We saw the Aristides and a night of negotiations began.
Since the Central African Republic doesn't have much contact with the outside world, the government wanted to use President Aristide's presence, which had brought them more attention than they had seen in ages, as a kind of bargaining chip. We said, "No, we've got to leave tonight." They said, "We can't make this decision right away," and we said, "Why? If he's not a prisoner he should be free to leave." And they said, "No, he can't leave" -- and this was critical -- "He can't leave until we speak to Gabon." Gabon had been instrumental in paving this whole placement of Aristide there with the United States. Then they told us Aristide couldn't leave until they also spoke to the French, whose air force facility is right beside the airport. Then they said, "We can't let him go until we speak to the Americans."
And then it became clear who was really holding us. It wasn't the president of the Central African Republic but the United States. We said we weren't going to leave until Aristide was released, and I think having a member of the U.S. Congress there raised the stakes for Powell and the U.S. government and they allowed the Central African Republic to let Aristide go.
Amy Goodman from [the radio news program] "Democracy Now!" accompanied us on this trip, and she pointed out the novelty of the whole venture, that no one had ever done what we had done before. The U.S. government absconds with somebody and takes him into exile in some remote, distant place and a private group of people charter a plane and go there and get him. There were moments where we really understood the risk. Not only were the president and Mrs. Aristide prisoners, but for the time we were in that country, we ourselves had very little power.
At this point in history, you write, the U.S. conducts itself as though the rules apply to everyone but us. What do you see as the long-term outcome of this position, vis-à-vis our position in the international community?
We don't ask questions. We haven't counted the Iraqi bodies because from Vietnam on we haven't cared. That's suicide. I'm not talking about America against other people; this is certain Americans against other countries, and certain Americans against other Americans. And patriotism is just a disguise for the greed that drives this.
The most undemocratic and mercenary thing that we have done is to use an all-volunteer army to do our bidding. This is a poor army or else they wouldn't be volunteers. I would be willing to bet everything I have, everything I will have, that if we had had a draft this war would never have happened. I ask a question in the book that is so important, that if the life that is to be lost in pursuit of this policy were yours, would it be worth it? Before you send somebody else's children -- poor, black, white, Hispanic -- to fight a war and die, ask yourself this: Would you be prepared to die for the same cause? If the president can't answer that question, if Powell can't answer that question, if Rice and Rumsfeld can't answer that question, then they are loathsome.
You write that great leaders anguish over the decision to go to war, but that you think Bush and Rumsfeld felt no such anguish. Why not?
Oh, God. It's a subject for serious study. I really can't understand it. It was what I thought compelled them to send Aristide where they sent him, and to threaten him and destroy as they have, and to hate him as they do. I don't understand it. It is trite to say that these are mean, unfeeling people but indeed they are.
I'm always rather wary of people who want power. One has to wonder about the mental health of anybody who wants to be president. That ought to be the first sign that something is wrong. If you want no privacy, if you are inflated by the realization of power, that means something is wrong with you. When you get decency in the presidency it's rather an accident.
I thought Clinton was brilliant, perhaps the most gifted president. I mean, he swamps Bush hands down. There are two kinds of things to worry about: That a brilliant guy like Clinton, who believes in absolutely nothing, who's a moral void, can become president of the United States, and the other, that an abjectly stupid person like Bush can become president. What does that say about democracy? I don't know.
I felt it when I was working in Washington, more over the last 10 to 15 years than earlier in my career, that good people, decent people, are disinclined to run for office anymore. The people who want all parts of it are invariably the people who should have no part of it. The United States is now the most powerful nation ever in the history of nations and it's almost drunk with its sense of power, this feeling that it can do anything to anybody anywhere. And it is frightening.
Geneticist Accused of Letting Thousands Die in Rainforest
By Paul Brown, Environment Correspondent
April 4, 2004
Thousands of South American indians were infected with measles, killing
hundreds, in order for US scientists to study the effects on primitive
societies of natural selection, according to a book out next month.
The astonishing story of genetic research on humans, which took 10 years to
uncover, is likely to shake the world of anthropology to its core, according
to Professor Terry Turner of Cornell University, who has read the proofs.
"In its scale, ramifications, and sheer criminality and corruption it is
unparalleled in the history of anthropology," Prof Turner says in a warning
letter to Louise Lamphere, the president of the American Anthropology
The book accuses James Neel, the geneticist who headed a long-term project
to study the Yanomami people of Venezuela in the mid-60s, of using a
virulent measles vaccine to spark off an epidemic which killed hundreds and
probably thousands. Once the epidemic was under way, according to the book,
the research team "refused to provide any medical assistance to the sick and
dying Yanomami, on explicit order from Neel. He insisted to his colleagues
that they were only there to observe and record the epidemic, and that they
must stick strictly to their roles as scientists, not provide medical help".
The book, Darkness in El Dorado, by the investigative journalist Patrick
Tierney, is due to be published on October 1. Prof Turner, whose letter was
co-signed by fellow anthropologist Leslie Sponsel of the University of
Hawaii, was trying to warn the AAA of the impending scandal so the
profession could defend itself. Although Neel died last February, many of
his associates, some of them authors of classic anthropology texts, are
still alive. The accusations will be the main focus of the AAA's AGM in
November, when the surviving scientists have been invited to defend their
work. None have commented publicly, but they are asking colleagues to come
to their defence.
One of the most controversial aspects of the research which allegedly
culminated in the epidemic is that it was funded by the US Atomic Energy
Commission, which was anxious to discover what might happen to communities
when large numbers were wiped out by nuclear war. While there is no "smoking
gun" in the form of texts or recorded speeches by Neel explaining his
conduct, Prof Turner believes the only explanation is that he was trying to
test controversial eugenic theories like the Nazi scientist Josef Mengele.
He quotes another anthropologist who read the manuscript as saying: "Mr.
Tierney's analysis is a case study of the dangers in science of the
uncontrolled ego, of lack of respect for life, and of greed and
self-indulgence. It is a further extraordinary revelation of malicious and
perverted work conducted under the aegis of the Atomic Energy Commission."
Prof Turner says Neel and his group used a virulent vaccine called Edmonson
B on the Yanomani, which was known to produce symptoms virtually
indistinguishable from cases of measles. "Medical experts, when informed
that Neel and his group used the vaccine in question on the Yanomami,
typically refuse to believe it at first, then say that it is incredible that
they could have done it, and are at a loss to explain why they would have
chosen such an inappropriate and dangerous vaccine," he writes. "There is no
record that Neel sought any medical advice before applying the vaccine. He
never informed the appropriate organs of the Venezuelan government that his
group was planning to carry out a vaccination campaign, as he was legally
required to do.
"Neither he nor any other member of the expedition has ever explained why
that vaccine was used, despite the evidence that it actually caused
or, at a minimum, greatly exacerbated the fatal epidemic." Prof
Turner says that Neel held the view that "natural" human society, as seen
before the advent of large-scale agriculture, consists of small, genetically
isolated groups in which dominant genes - specifically a gene he believed
existed for "leadership" or "innate ability" - have a selective advantage.
In such an environment, male carriers of this gene would gain access to a
disproportionate number of females, reproducing their genes more frequently
than less "innately able" males. The result would supposedly be a continual
upgrading of the human genetic stock. He says Neel believed that in modern
societies "superior leadership genes would be swamped by mass genetic
mediocrity". "The political implication of this fascistic eugenics is
clearly that society should be reorganised into small breeding isolates in
which genetically superior males could emerge into dominance, eliminating or
subordinating the male losers in the competition for leadership and women,
and amassing harems of brood females." Prof Turner adds.
In the memo he says: "One of Tierney's more startling revelations is that
the whole Yanomami project was an outgrowth and continuation of the Atomic
Energy Commission's secret programme of experiments on human subjects. "Neel,
the originator of the project, was part of the medical and genetic research
team attached to the Atomic Energy Commission since the days of the
Manhattan Project." James Neel was well-known for his research into the
effects of radiation on human subjects and personally headed the team that
investigated the effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs on survivors
and their children.
According to Prof Turner, the same group also secretly carried out
experiments on human subjects in the US. These included injecting people
with radioactive plutonium without their knowledge or permission.
"This nightmarish story - a real anthropological heart of darkness beyond
the imagining of even a Joseph Conrad (though not, perhaps,
a Josef Mengele) - will be seen (rightly in our view) by the public, as well
as most anthropologists, as putting the whole discipline on trial," he says.
"This book should... cause the field to understand how the corrupt and
depraved protagonists could have spread their poison for so long while they
were accorded great respect throughout the western world... This should
never be allowed to happen again."
Yesterday Professor Turner told the Guardian it was unfortunate that the
confidential memo had been leaked, but it had accomplished its original
purpose in getting a full response from the AAA. A public forum would be
held at its AGM in November to discuss the book, its revelations and courses
In a statement yesterday the association said "The AAA is extremely
concerned about these allegations. If proven true, they would constitute a
serious violation of Yanomami human rights and our code of ethics. Until
there is a full and impartial review and discussion of the issues raised in
the book, it would be unfair to express a judgment about the specific
allegations against individuals that are contained in it. The association
is anticipating conducting an open forum during our annual meeting to
provide an opportunity for our members to review and discuss the issues and
allegations raised in the book."
From: First! Media CenterEmail: email@example.com
On the Net: http://www.alexconstantine.50megs.com/