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Debra Sweet from the World Can’t Wait!

Republicans Want Open White Male Supremacy

Download audio file  16 October, 2013 10:16  

The US is a knuckle-dragging, low grade moronic culture – George Galloway

The US government shutdown has caused the cancellation of most social programs by the government. While the government has supposedly been “shut down” special interest projects and imperialistic activities by the US continue unabated, far-right elements in the US have decided to use the shutdown as a means to facilitate the further stripping of social programs for those most in need. The power elite in the US believe that the “poorer classes” of the population are expendable. I spoke to Debra Sweet of the World Can’t Wait! on these issues and more.

Robles: Hello, this is John Robles. I am speaking with Debra Sweet from the World Can’t Wait!. Hello, Debra. How are you his evening?

Sweet: Hi, John. I am well.

Robles: I am glad to hear that. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s going on there in Washington with the protests by the veterans?

Sweet: I am not in Washington. I have watched this online and a little bit from a distance and they could well be veterans or maybe not.

It seems to be the Tea Party with Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz with a bunch of American flags, and red white and blue, and their main complaint is that somehow the Obama Administration has shutdown the veteran monuments, specifically to lock them out, while there are other complaint is that and I am using this in quotes “the illegals were allowed to march”.

Robles: What does that mean “the illegals”?

Sweet: The “illegals” means that undocumented people came to Washington to protest the fact, specifically that the Obama Administration has deported more people than any president in history. And the deportations have not stopped even though the government has been shutdown, along with the “Wars for Empire” and Guantanamo and all the things that the US is doing, that has made it so hated; the targeted killing, the indefinite detention continues even while the government is shutdown.

And the government shutdown has amounted to as always, I think, hitting the people who work for the government and the people who really depend on government programs, for sustenance, including aged, women and infants and children which is really in jeopardy right now.

Robles: And food stamps I think are getting cut.

Sweet: Well, the food stamp system stopped working yesterday in 17 states. What the government says is that there was a computer problem that made that happen and that the money has not run out yet on food stamps, but it really did give you a little window on a picture into the volatility of the situation because people were very, very upset at not being able to get the food that they depend on.

Even people who work on one or two jobs already, qualify for food stamps because there are so many people in this country who work at minimum wage.

Robles: I recently talked to a gentleman who put forward the theory that this was a sort of genocide against the “expendable” populous in the US, I mean the poor, the unnecessary population. I mean, how would you react to that?

Sweet: That the government shut down?

Robles: No, that this is just a part of a bigger game by the elites. As you said, none of their pet programs or anything have stopped, just anything that affects the populace has stopped. Is that correct?

Sweet: Well, look, you can make the argument and I think that people do correctly that the mass incarceration of 2.4 million people in this country actually is a slow genocide which could speed up.

Yeah, to be poor in America right now is increasingly common and very difficult because there are forces at the top of the government, and this is what this argument about shutting down the government is really about, who want to remove all government services, all social services, from what the government does, they don’t believe in any social program at all other than defense.

Robles: You wrote a very interesting note on this titled, it was on your website, “The Shutdown the Showdown and the Urgent Need To Repolarize For Revolution”. You said that this is an extremely serious situation, that there is a core group of fascists within the Republican Party using this shutdown. Can you describe what you meant by that in detail?

Sweet: Well, I posted actually a long article from the website revcom.us by that title and I put a short introduction suggesting that people read it because I feel that article went really very, very deeply into what’s going on and was quite helpful in laying out some of the particulars, but I have been, in the meantime, talking to many, many people in person, on the phone and via e-mail over the last week to find out what people think about this shutdown and you know, to really explore what’s going on here.

And I felt really compelled to make a point that this is not just some temporarily glitch, some problem, this is not just about the Democrats vs. the Republicans on some minor political tiff that they are having.

It seems to be that there is very, very intense struggle within the ruling forces of this country, if I could put it this way: how best can they maintain their imperial stance towards the rest of the world?

Is it by bringing in what Obama has come to represent someone from the Democrats in general, somewhat of a more multicultural imperialism. You know, changing the nature of the mix, of the demographic: gay people out of the closet, having more Black people, Latinos and women in office and so forth, while, carrying out the same terrible… as you put it, invading the small countries and seeking the hegemony over the rest of the world.

Or as the Ted Cruz’s, and you know these other people, that I think are incorrectly labeled as idiots, what I call the fascist core of the Republican party, here they want to strip all this away and go for open white and male supremacy, going back to the so-called traditional core American values and get rid of all the social programs and completely, with the understanding they have, that they are going to be an elite minority and they don’t really care if anybody likes them or not!

They have a very small social base, maybe not very small, probably 15 or 20% of the population. Right now that they are whipping up with things like this March of the Veterans, around a very reactionary, thoroughly terrible social program which include, you know, let poor people die. They can go seek charity but we are not giving them anything. If the market won’t take care of them, then we don’t need them.

Robles: But they are supporting veterans because they can use them as a political tool, right?

Sweet: Who knows that they are even veterans really? Yeah, veterans of the Second World War are the ones they particularly like.

I think they have no use at all or the veterans of the current US imperialist wars they are certainly doing nothing to stop the tide of suicide, by actually caring for the people who have gotten really messed up in these wars.

This is just political, John. It doesn’t have anything to do with what they are actually striving to do in society there are willing to use this utterly superficial political ploy.

Robles: Though Republicans usually do that, don’t they.

Sweet: Well, you know the Democrats are not immune from that either.

Robles: Sure. What you said about Obama is very interesting, because I mean a lot of people have been analyzing him and his stance; the fact that he is supposedly a black man and the black people and the liberal left have been completely silenced because he is supposed to be “their” President.

Do you really believe he wants to sort of push forth this imperialism across the board for everybody? Or, to me it seems that he is just interested in his own skin, and making sure that he stays in power and he is just one of the elites and I don’t think he really cares about bringing in other people, I mean, okay, Holder is in but he is pretty much the same thing. Nothing has changed for the black population.

Sweet: Certainly, you are right but there is the appearance, right?

And what Obama thinks in his heart of hearts, I have just no idea. However, I think strategically, the Democrats have united around this strategy of inclusiveness. And this has been the way they are developing a distinction between themselves and the Republicans, with going after Latino votes.

Finally, after dragging along forever, getting rid of the “Defense of Marriage Act”, and “Don’t ask don’t tell” in the military so that gay people can serve openly. This is a significant social thing.

Robles: Do you think that is sincere? I mean are they really promoting this? Or are these just like policies that they’ve given lip service to at vote time.

Sweet: Well, he gave a lot of lip service to overturning (inaudible) but they finally did it.

So now actually gay people can be in the military which raises a whole other set of questions. Gay people are now allowed to be open in the military, but why the heck would they want to be?

Robles: So they have more canon fodder!

Sweet: Exactly, right?

So there is an appearance of openness but as I brought up when I introduced the way the Democrats approach things; it is in the service of Empire.

We see this across US society and it used to be that the trade unions, even 10-15 years ago in New York, were only run by old white men. The trade unions which are conservative as ever in many ways are now being run by people of color but their essence of keeping working people in check and under the thrall of the Democratic party is still the same.

Robles: I think it is easier for Obama to pretty much silence the leftand control dissent just by his appearance.

Sweet: Well and this is the essence of the Democratic Party’s role, is to keep its base quiet, whereas the essence of the Republican role is to inflame its base so that you have the situation coming up again where, the Tea Party which now has significant influence, very significant influence in the Republican Party, to the degree that even some of the established Republicans are getting nervous about this. They are not sure they want it to go in this direction.

Robles: Weren’t these the furthest right of the Neo-Conservatives, weren’t they the ones that started this whole, ridiculous sounding Tea Party Movement?

Sweet: There is a Neo-Cons, who were a very distinct feature of the Bush Regime, right? And the architects of the torture and war.

Robles: And I would say 9/11.

Sweet: And all of the policies that Obama is actually carrying-on, and John McCain, for instance, have a lot of unity about what Obama is doing internationally.

The Tea Party is vehemently racist, anti-Obama, namely on the basis that he is not supposedly a “real” American and that’s the whole subtext of what’s going on with shutting down the government.

Robles: I am almost half American Indian, I am not a real American either! And I never was when I was in the United States.

Sweet: And what is America anyway but Mexico and Native lands, right? It was all stolen so it’s all irrelevant. But the people running things perpetuate this myth that there’s a real “Anglo-Saxon American” that built this country.

Robles: Slaves built it, I mean.

Sweet: On slavery, it was built on slavery.

Robles: Thank you, Debra, I’ve written about that, I’ve said that. I appreciate you bringing that up. I wanted to ask you about the truth behind the “Core Interest” and can you talk about American exceptionalism?

Sweet: Yes, this is Obama. This is what he came to the UN and said. And I did write some things about this. He gave this speech two weeks ago during the opening of the General Assembly where he completely embraced, not only American Exceptionalism, but then interpreted that and he said very clearly America is going to use… America, first of all!

America? It is the United States of America, there are two continents that are the Americas.

Why are we even talking about the word “America” unless we are trying to evoke something. The “specialness” that comes with empire and this is what Obama is trying to do.

He said America is going to use everything at its disposal, first of all, military might, to push its interests in the world.

And the argument, you know, is that the US has some kind of special relationship with the rest of the world as an example, some sort of special license to push, to dictate to the rest of the world what the terms are going to be.

And Obama is a perfect “poster person” for this because here he is developing, on the basis of what the Bush regime did, which was so hated around the world, a policy that continues, both indefinite detention, targeted killing and now he is even making it more complex because he is holding this guy that was picked up in Libya on a naval ship in the Mediterranean, having him questioned by the FBI, with-out lawyers, you know without being read his rights and here you have both indefinite detention and potentially a targeted killing situation or a rendition situation in a whole new hybrid, that’s developed only by Obama.

So this is getting into a… Maybe this is the American exceptionalism that we should talk about. America holds other countries to a certain standard of obeying international law, Cuba or Venezuela, certainly can’t be allowed to do any of the things that the US has done. But the US gets a pass on the violations of the international law.

Every time it goes across a national border, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, with drone killings or other secret operations, the “Dirty War”, America gets a pass because we, they say, we were attacked on 9-11. Therefore, we can go anywhere in the world, we are authorized to use military force. International law doesn’t say that, it says you can’t attack a country unless your country was attacked by that one.

Robles: That’s getting tired already. That’s not going to last much longer. And they’ve used as much of that capital as they possibly can . I think the world is beginning to realize it. Continuing an endless war anywhere on the planet, anywhere they want, whenever they want, doing whatever they want, was not part of (if we could say) “the deal”. Personally I see that finishing soon and I think Syria was a good case and point.

Sweet: Well, in terms of air strikes and naval invasions and so forth I think they were put off for a moment.

You were listening to an interview with Debra Sweet, the Director of the World’s Can’t Wait. You can find part 2 of this interview on our website

Bradley Manning must not spend another minute in prison – Debra Sweet

31 July, 2013 21:45   Download audio file

Bradley Manning must not spend another minute in prison – Debra Sweet

For many people of the world the Bradley Manning case seems absurd and his persecution by the US Government something difficult to comprehend. He was something that the US Government is afraid of. He was the soldier with the conscience who exposed war crimes being committed by the US forces. For many people of the world the Bradley Manning case seems absurd and his persecution by the US Government something difficult to comprehend. He was something that the US Government is afraid of. He was the soldier with the conscience who exposed war crimes being committed by the US forces.

Only an illegal and illegitimate government would protect criminals, while prosecuting and even torturing a moral and upstanding brave individual who have the courage to stand up and blow the whistle on what he saw.

Rather than being rewarded and seen as a hero, those protecting the criminals have decided to make Mr. Manning an example in order to throw fear into the hearts of anyone who would dare to expose their illegality.

Robles: Hello! This is John Robles, I’m speaking with Debra Sweet. She is the director of the World Can’t Wait.

Robles: Hello, Debra! How are you?

Sweet: Hi, John!

Robles: Nice to be speaking with you again. I’d like to ask you some questions about the Manning verdict which happened a couple of hours ago. He was acquitted of aiding the enemy but faces 136 years in prison. Were you in the court today?

Sweet: I was in the court, yes. It was a very-very short session. There were 21 counts that the Government filed against Bradley Manning, including, as you’ve mentioned, the most serious, aiding the enemy, which would have potentially been a death penalty offense, or could have carried life in prison.

And the judge found him not guilty of that charge, which is a good thing because the government didn’t show any evidence that he aided the enemy. And he was also found not guilty on providing encrypted video which we still haven’t seen of the U.S. Air Force bombing mission in Afghanistan, in Gharani that led to the deaths of many civilians. He was found not guilty of releasing that video.

But he was found guilty of 19 charges, including five charges that are part of the Espionage Act. And as you’ve mentioned, the maximum he could get at this point is 136 years in prison. Of course there are different amounts for each charge, but there are 19 charges, some of which Bradley has pleaded guilty to, some of the lesser charges.

So, those charges right now add up to a possible 20 years in prison. And the demand of the supporters of Bradley is that when the sentencing phase is over, over the next few weeks, that he be released for time served he should not serve one more second in prison, especially when the people who perpetrated these vast crimes on behalf of the US Government, in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular, are running free and have been promoted. They are running corporations, they are in the US Government, they are teaching in major universities, while Bradley who revealed many of these crimes to the public at great personal risk and with much integrity and personal courage, is facing being locked up for the rest of his life.

Robles: We’ll get back to that in one second. I wanted to ask you what was the mood like in the court room? What happened in the court room, anything that we may not have heard about?

Sweet: For such a historic moment it went by very quickly. The judge is a very hard-boiled character. There is no life or imagination in the court room. The prosecutors are all doing their military jobs. they’re stiffly at attention. And Bradley’s attorneys and him provide some humanity in the court room, but of course there are all of the supporters. We were allowed 30 supporters in the court room today. And we had more than 36 out in the overflow area.

After the four minute proceedings where she announced her verdict and left we were able to meet briefly with Bradley’s Chief Defense Attorney David Coombs where he said that the battle has been won, but the war is certainly not over and immediately turning his attention, right now to the sentencing and fighting legally and politically to make sure that Bradley gets the minimum amount of time in being convicted of these charges, which we all feel are very unjust. But we cheered the work of Mr. Coombs and we’ve sent messages of support, and respect and love to Bradley as people do every day at the end of court.

Robles: Was anyone able to communicate with Bradley? Was that possible?

Sweet: No, it is very difficult. Of course we can write to Bradley, but even though we are sitting as close as ten feet from Bradley, he is kept under orders that he cannot have any contact with us. No eye contact, no acknowledgement of us whatsoever. So, he has to be face forward towards the judge and we never get any interaction with him.

Robles: He can’t even look at the audience?

Sweet: No. He is under orders that he can’t look at us. It is to maintain court order and discipline, I suppose. But really, it is a form of punishment and revenge.

He is in the situation where he may never be out among the public for years or decades and his last times that he is able to be among his peers and people who are thinking and critical of the Government are being very demained. They are out for revenge for what Bradley did.

Robles: I’m sure they want to make him an example for anyone else who would have the audacity to expose their illegality again. Would you agree?

Sweet: Right! And that include journalists. I’ve seen the news coverage since the verdict and there were some journalists who are breathing a sigh of relief because Bradley was not found guilty of aiding the enemy. And of course, that charge has a lot of implications for any journalist because essentially the Government was arguing, with that charge that Bradley, along with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks essentially conspired to get information from the US, post it on the Internet, that would be delivered directly to who they define as the enemy.

And if you interpret it that vaguely and broadly, of course any news gathering operation could be charged with aiding the enemy because, after all, you are putting something out on the Internet and anybody can see it. So, it is very-very dangerous.

And I think it is important for everybody to look at the fact that even though Bradley was not found guilty of that charge, he was still found guilty of five counts of espionage, which are essentially the same situation where information about what the U.S. does, in this case leaked by someone who is whistle blowing with the intention of reveling bad conduct to the public (which is what whistle blowing is) is charged with a crime in the process of doing that. And this again could apply to all journalists.

So, people should be very-very alarmed about this verdict and very much demanding, and joining our demand that Bradley serves not one second more time in prison.

Robles: Back to the war crimes that he exposed. How can the U.S. Government continue to pretend it is legitimate and that there is some sort of rule of law when people have committed war crimes, they are allowed to go free, and the person who exposed those crimes is punished? That would tell me that the criminals are ruling the government.

Sweet: We certainly could pose this in very many different ways. There is a huge contradiction that this Government maintains its rule by spreading a military empire across the globe. Very interesting, and tied into this Eric Holder recently had to write to Russia, to the government saying that it would be fine if Edward Snowden comes back to the U.S., as they guarantee that he won’t have the death penalty and he wouldn’t be tortured because torture is illegal in the US.

Robles: I’ve wrote an answer to that letter for the Voice of Russia, it is on the website. But of course, the U.S. has…

Sweet: But what about Guantanamo and the Baghram, and the black sites spread all over the world?

Robles: Yes!

Sweet: In Iraq, six years before Bradley Manning was stationed there and revealed some of these crimes that have happened, there was a wide abuse of detainees that was completely without oversight where the Joint Special Operations Command, which is still in existence, and increasingly helps the United States plans to fight wars, through secret, so-called black operations.

'Obama has given himself the power of extra-judicial executions' - Debra Sweet

7 August, 18:20  Download audio file

афганистан солдат США армия

For many people of the world the Bradley Manning case seems absurd and his persecution by the US Government something difficult to comprehend. He was something that the US government is afraid of, he was a soldier with a conscience who exposed war crimes being committed by US forces. The way the US has turned logic upside down by going after one who exposed crimes while protecting those who commit crimes should have the world up in arms. Only an illegal and illegitimate government would protect criminals while persecuting and even torturing a moral and upstanding brave individual who had the courage to stand up and blow the whistle on what he saw. Rather than being rewarded and seen as a hero, hose protecting the criminals have decided to make Mr. Manning an example in order to throw fear into the hearts of anyone who would dare to expose their illegality.

Part 2

You are listening to an interview in progress with Debra Sweet from the World Can’t Wait. You can find the previous parts to this interview on our website at english.ruvr.ru.

Sweet: In Iraq just six years before Bradley Manning was stationed there and revealed some of these crimes that had happened, there was wanton abuse of detainees, that was completely without oversight, where the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) which is still in existence, and increasingly how the United States plans to fight wars through secret so-called “black operations”, was given impunity, and still never has suffered not only any punishment but no investigation to speak of for carrying out interrogations that probably caused the deaths of a hundred Iraqi civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. And yet, Bradley Manning is in prison.

Robles: Yeah… Back for a minute to Eric Holder’s letter, the hypocrisy of his letter was unbelievable. I mean to me, because it’s so obvious the U.S. has no respect for international law and any promises they would make to another country or if there were conventions or anything, I think they would easily violate them, I mean that goes with the way they’ve arrested Russian citizens in third countries, and brought them back to the United States illegally, basically kidnapping them and renditioning them.

Now all of these crimes you are talking about: Guantanamo… it’s all taking place outside of the United States, so it seems like the U.S. government… anything that they do that’s illegal as long as it’s outside the United States, no one will ever be prosecuted for it.

How’s the world supposed to believe that the U.S. is the “moral beacon” of the planet if they are behaving in that manner?

Sweet: Yeah, well, as I mentioned it’s a huge contradiction and there certainly are… I would argue that there are no governments in the world right now that are really free of these contradictions, but the U.S. posing and putting itself forward as the “guardian of freedom in the world”, “freedom and democracy” has made a sham and shambles of the very term.

And there is no way through the legitimate political structure in the United States at this point, as you said, to bring those criminals to justice or even to have a serious investigation, including by the current President who won the Nobel Prize for Peace but has said, “No, we prefer to look forward and not backward,” and you know, “we don’t torture.”

So therefore, because the President said this, it’s a fact, while this very same President has taken to himself the power of targeted assassination, every other Tuesday meeting with a few people in his office to decide who is going to be targeted and killed by drones or by other means in sovereign countries, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, without any investigation, with no indictment, with no trial, with no charges. People are just killed. This is the situation we find ourselves in.

Robles: These are extrajudicial executions that you are speaking about … Now they can target…

Sweet: Which are clearly against international law!

Robles: Sure. Yeah! It’s against the UN conventions and, as the U.S. is supposed to be a U.N. member it’s not abiding by the rules of the United Nations or by other international conventions of course.

Do you think there’ll be any chance that some… for example like a church commission, comes up and begins to bring back some sort of sanity?

Sweet: I always know there is a chance, but the chances for that is not going to come from within the ruling political structure, they will not investigate themselves.

The Church Committee came about 1974 and 5, because there was an anti-war movement that was very robust in the 1960s really spread across the world, you know, there could have been a revolution in this country, there wasn’t, but there was a very deep feeling by a lot of people, that the government actually was not legitimate in what it was doing, and I think it will take people coming back to that point which could happen, given the revelations of Edward Snowden about the vast surveillance of whole populations across the world within and without the United States.

So that’s the kind of political situation it would take to have an impeachment or another Church Committee that really looked at how is that the U.S. projects its power across the world and put some fairly minor curbs on it by the way, which were then trodden over, in succeeding administrations.

Robles: Back to Manning’s revelations. Is there any way that those crimes could be brought before an international body? I mean it’s very clear these were war crimes that were committed.

Sweet: I think this is why the U.S. never signed the International Criminal Court, don’t you? Because they fear exactly this: there has been a chance in Europe to bring charges against various levels of the CIA, from things that happened in Italy and Spain, and nothing has been able to take hold because of the incredible power and threats from the U.S. Government itself towards any country that would even think about that.

Think about this: here’s Edward Snowden who was offered asylum by three countries in Latin America, and the U.S. has put incredible power and threat against that ever happening. They are determined that Snowden is not going to leave Russia and that he will be brought back to the U.S., and yes, promising in writing that he wouldn’t be tortured or given the death penalty. But how can we trust that?

Robles: That’s a joke. I mean I as soon as he got back to the United States they would do whatever they wanted with him and of course he would be tortured, okay “enhancely interrogated” or whatever they want to call it.

The European Parliament… 17 members urged the U.S. lawmakers to set Bradley Manning free. And they sent a letter to President Obama and the Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in light of the human rights abuses and the war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan he exposed…

Sweet: There should be a massive outcry from everywhere against the U.S. for prosecuting Bradley.

Robles: Is that having any effect, do you think, in court itself, you were there in the court today. Have you seen any softening of positioning because of international outcry there?

Sweet: I don’t pretend to think that the judge is operating, there as a single agent. She is accountable to her whole chain of command, and the commander-in-chief, who, as we know, said two summers ago that Bradley Manning committed a crime. So we never had any idea that he was really going to have a fair trial.

We do know that in the court of the public opinion, internationally, he’s seen as a hero, not as a traitor, he’s seen as a whistleblower and not someone who endangered the people of the world, but someone who in fact provided information to open up people’s eyes, and we hope and we are working very hard on this, always and very urgently right now, to get the real story out to people about what did happen in Iraq and Afghanistan during those terrible years, which continue in both countries by the way, those wars are not over and the damage is just beginning to be discovered, I believe.

Bradley Manning cared about humanity – Debra Sweet

6 August 2013, 19:23 Download audio file

Брэдли Мэннинг WikiLeaks утечка секретные материалы

For many people of the world the Bradley Manning case seems absurd and his persecution by the US Government something difficult to comprehend. He was something that the US government is afraid of, he was a soldier with a conscience who exposed war crimes being committed by US forces. The way the US has turned logic upside down by going after one who exposed crimes while protecting those who commit crimes should have the world up in arms. Only an illegal and illegitimate government would protect criminals while persecuting and even torturing a moral and upstanding brave individual who had the courage to stand up and blow the whistle on what he saw, rather than being rewarded and seen as a hero. Those protecting the criminals have decided to make Mr. Manning an example in order to throw fear into the hearts of anyone who would dare to expose their illegality.
You are listening to an interview in progress with Debra Sweet from the World Can’t Wait. You can find the previous parts to this interview on our website at english.ruvr.

Robles: In your opinion, was this a fair trial? Or is it just a kangaroo court that’s going to do whatever they’ve decided to do in the first place?

Sweet: Well, you know I think Glenn Greenwald referred to it as a show trial and I tend to agree with that.

Here’s the entire power of the US government, through its military, arrayed, prosecutors walking in and out all day long, and endless amounts of money arrayed against the resources that we have been able to raise for a private attorney working as a sole practitioner and some jag lawyers that is the U.S. military lawyers assigned to help him, who had a huge amount of materials to go through, a lot of which was kept secret from the defense, they were not allowed to see and their motions were continually denied by this judge.

Even a motion today, that was trying to reargue whether the charge of aiding the enemy should be dismissed altogether was denied and all of that makes me say that there was a presumption of guilt in this case, not a presumption of innocence. The fact that he was tried in military court, is very telling.

Robles: You would not characterize this as being a legitimate court process?

Sweet: It’s not a fair situation whatsoever. Also given all we know about Bradley Manning. Just on the face of it here comes the U.S. Government arguing that on the one hand that he was acting as a spy and on the other hand that he sought fame and fortune from doing this action, those two modes of operation are mutually exclusive.

Spies don’t look for fame and fortune, and people who are exposing this kind of information to the public are in fact risking their lives and liberty and free lives and their futures in order to bring the truth out and that is the definition for many-many people around the world of a hero as opposed to the definition of a traitor, which is what the U.S. had argued.

Nobody has been able to show a shred of evidence that Bradley did this for money, fame, or another government or any entity other than the public and he was very clear at times when he didn’t know that he was being monitored, or he didn’t have the expectation that his words would ever come to light, that he was doing this because he cared about the humanity, and he was so angered, and offended, and hurt when he heard people in the U.S. Military laughing when Iraqis were killed, for instance, that’s what set him on the course of saying: “People have to know about this and we need to be able to do something about it.”

The whole picture here is of, again, all the power of the state arrayed against a small person, in stature and a person without very much power at all, who was put in a position of seeing this information and could not keep quiet. And the world was certainly richer for the fact that he didn’t keep quiet. And we owe him the great debt.

Part of what the anti-war movement and the people supporting Bradley want to do is to take the charges that the U.S. made against him for releasing the video of the massacre from an Apache Helicopter if 2007 over Baghdad of 12 civilians, that was then released to WikiLeaks in 2010 by Bradley Manning and called “Collateral Murder”.

The prosecution made a big deal about this footage and how much it endangered the country because people got to see the war crimes being carried out, and so we feel it’s very important during this sentencing period to get that video seen by as many people as possible.

We are doubling and tripling our effort to show it outdoors, we’re going to be projecting it on buildings, showing it in theaters and all over the place, so that people can really follow through on why Bradley did this in the first place.

That was to get this in front of the people and so we want to honor his sacrifice and his action by really working very hard to get that footage in front of the people, but there is a twisting by somebody who was brought… by Obama in particular, who was brought into office as an answer to the complete rampant utter criminality of the Bush regime.

People thought that they were getting someone who would… who said he would adhere to the rule of law, would go for transparency, protect whistleblowers, stop these wars, even though he was always very careful about how he made his promises he did say he wanted to end this, what he called, “the stupid war in Iraq”, but he said from the very beginning he wanted to expand the U.S. presence and efforts in Afghanistan, he actually increased the number of Afghan civilians being killed because he has refused to stop these night raids and now, as Jeremy Scahill revealed in “Dirty Wars”, both the book and the film, this democratic administration is moving much more towards “Special Operations”, “Black Operations”, “JSOC” run military exercises which go beyond national borders, which have no oversight, no limit on budget, and really run roughshod over whole countries at this point. Without respecting the status of non-combatants, without giving people the basic rights, the basic democratic rights that people should have anywhere and this has been the pattern that’s been set through choosing to pursue targeted assassination and indefinite detention, as the Obama administration has done over the last four and a half years.

Robles: I see…

Sweet: It’s really outrageous, and the worst part of it is that people who should know better, democratic liberals, are some of the people who are most supportive right now of condemning Bradley Manning, of keeping Guantanamo open, and the use of the drone program and the targeted assassination. Shame on them.

Robles: Anything else you’d like to finish up with, Debra? And it’s been a pleasure speaking with you.

Sweet: Thank you. “World Can’t Wait” the organization that we began in 2005 to drive out the Bush Regime has continued since Obama’s been President to stop the crimes of our government at home and abroad, and we have been supporting Bradley, before we even knew who he was, by distributing copies of the “Collateral Murder” DVD, which also includes significant parts of the Wikileaks revelations about Iraq and Afghanistan. People are welcome to write to us and get a copy of it. We are worldcantwait.net. We can also be reached at,. in the U.S. at 866-973-4463

Robles: How much is the DVD, is there a fee for that?

Sweet: We send them free to everyone and we ask for donations to help us make more.

Robles: Sounds like a good deal and for a good cause.

Sweet: It’s very important. To get it out there

Robles: Right, right, right

Sweet: Do it for Bradley. If there is one thing that you can do is help him deliver this message to the world that he sacrificed so much for.

Robles: Alright, thank you, Debra, I really appreciate it


Sweet: Thank you, John. Bye.

US and Habeas Corpus: Interests First, Freedoms Second

Download audio file  January 10, 2012  

Interview with Debra Sweet, Director of The World Can't Wait, which is a series of websites and a movement in the US. They are active and attempting to stop, among other things, aggressive wars by the US.

My first question regards the National Defense Authorization Act, under which an Indefinite Detention Clause was passed, also censorship under the SOPA act. Starting with the PATRIOT Act, it seems like human rights have been stripped away one after the other in the US. Would you characterize the US as a police state?

I don’t know that I would characterize the US across the board as a police state. Certainly, in many other countries and historically there are places where people can’t even gather, not to mention US-backed states, where protesters have been shot and killed during the Arab Spring with impunity. A lot of that comes back to the US backing of very authoritarian governments around the world. One can say that, since 9/11, since the Bush regime used the attack on the World Trade Center as a pretext to unleash an endless war on the world, apparently it’s been continued by the next administration. Civil liberties and the protection of the first ten amendments have been, which are known in the US as the Bill of Rights, has been severely restricted and now we see that what the US instituted 10 years ago, on January 11th 2002, when it opened its illegal prison in Guantanamo, it allowed the US for years to hold men with no access to Habeas Corpus right, no charges against them. And, in fact, there have been very intense court battles within the US to try to get those men any rights at all. And, in fact, 171 are still being held indefinitely. All this has become a model, as a way that the US can keep people indefinitely without charges and now, as you are mentioning, under the law that Barack Obama signed last Saturday, on the last day of the year, there is a situation where the US now, through the President, can hold people indefinitely under custody of the US military. And this definitely includes US citizens, as well as anyone else. This is under charges “suspicion of involvement with terrorism”. You may call it a police state – and it has a real fascist tinge to it, because it’s setting out a situation where people can be grabbed based on what the President thinks you are thinking about and presumably held by the military forever either in this country or outside of it. And we understand that the US has employed “black sites”, third-country prisons, in addition to what it’s done in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Guantanamo.

As far as I know, Habeas Corpus is gone in the US. For all intents and purposes, the PATRIOT Act addition killed it, right?

I don’t like to make statements like that. There certainly are people who are being charged and tried and there is some due process. People are not literally all the time just locked away. However, there is a direction here and it’s extremely alarming. The attacks on Habeas Corpus began with disallowing people who were not citizens from having those rights. Now, we see citizens suffering, in fact, targeted assassination by the Obama administration. Three US citizens were killed in 2011 in drone strikes in Yemen not on the basis of having been charged, convicted of any crimes, not on the basis of having been sentenced to death by a court by because they were put on a CIA targeted assassination list and that these assassinations were authorized clearly by Barack Obama – and he says that he did it. This is a change. The Bush administration had somebody killed in a targeted drone strike years ago but they never claimed responsibility for it. It wasn’t public, they didn’t argue that it was OK under the international law.

How many people right now are being held indefinitely for crimes that they might commit against the US?

This is exactly why we are having a protest next Wednesday, January 11th, in Washington – because there are probably 2,000 men being held by the US in Bagram, Afghanistan, at a prison at the air force base. And because the Obama administration argues so that these men are being held in a war zone they cannot have Habeas Corpus rights. These men are held without charge. Who knows why they are being held. A lot of Afghani families only learn that their male members have been taken to this prison in Bargam because they cannot find them anywhere else. We don’t have a list from the Red Cross about who they are. We don’t have a list of charges, there is no lawyer who could go in and visit them. And this is in Afghanistan, where the US is “to set up a democratic country.”

This is what’s going on all over the world with the US. I find it extremely disturbing.

You really have to go to ask the question what kind of a government occupies other countries for a decade, which is what’s happening in Afghanistan. I know that the popular idea is that the Iraq war’s over and that the US has withdrawn troops, but clearly the occupation continues. The US has no intention of giving up its sphere of influence in Iraq. It is now making serious threats against Iran. Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain – all of these military governments have been propped up by the US all along. People’s righteous demands for political freedom and just the right to live have not been listened to by the US in any serious sort of way. Note, the US continues to have secret talks with the Egyptian military and prop up this government. So, the US is not in these countries either to bring democracy, to stop the weapons of mass destruction or to do anything than to further its interests as an aggressive imperialistic actor. We have a slogan in World Can’t Wait: Humanity and the Planet Come First.

 

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