March 04, 2005

John OíNeill Wall of Heroes Update

John Nichols, The Nation: Congress may not be prepared to hold an honest debate on when and how the United States should exit the Iraq imbroglio, but the town meetings of rural Vermont are not so constrained. Declaring that "The War in Iraq is a Local Issue," citizens in communities across the state voted of Tuesday for resolutions urging President Bush and Congress to take steps to withdraw American troops from Iraq and calling on their state legislature to investigate the use and abuse of the Vermont National Guard in the conflcit.
Spearheaded by the Vermont Network on Iraq War Resolutions, Green Mountain Veterans for Peace and the Vermont Chapter of Military Families Speak Out, the campaign to get antiwar resolutions on town meeting agendas succeeded in more than 50 communities statewide. That meant that the issue was raised in more than one fifth of the 251 Vermont towns where the annual celebrations of grassroots democracy take place. Forty-nine towns voted for the resolutions. Only three voted "no," while one saw a tie vote. In the state's largest city, Burlington, the antiwar initiative received the support of 65 percent of electors...
One of the strengths of the Vermont resolution campaign was the focus on the status of the Vermont National Guard. That brought the issue home, as 200 of the state's 251 towns have residents who have been called up to serve in Iraq. A rural state where wages are low in many regions, Vermont has traditionally had a high level of participation in the National Guard. With Guard units being so heavily used in the Iraq, several studies show that Vermont has suffered the highest per capita death toll of any state since the war began a two years ago.
"There is nothing more quintessentially local than war, and the local connection is the National Guard," explains Ben Scotch, a former director of the Vermont American Civil Liberties Union who helped draft the model resolution for the town meetings. "The guard members and their families are our first concern. Discussions over the appropriateness of their use in the war need to start in our own communities."

KATHY MULADY, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER: The U.S. government may have turned its back on the Kyoto Protocol, but Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said yesterday he plans to spearhead a city-by-city effort to implement the climate-protection measures that went into effect in more than 100 other countries yesterday.
Nickels said he is gathering support from mayors in other cities and plans to build a "green" coalition of his counterparts at the U.S. Conference of Mayors when the group meets in Chicago in June.
"Seattle, along with other U.S. cities, will provide the leadership necessary to meet this threat," Nickels said.
He plans to introduce a resolution at the mayors conference setting up the coalition for other cities to join. To be eligible, cities would have to agree to certain steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The details of the resolution are still being worked out.

John Files, New York Times: The government has told a federal appeals court that a suit by an F.B.I. translator who was fired after accusing the bureau of ineptitude should not be allowed to proceed because it would cause "significant damage to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."
The translator, Sibel Edmonds, was a contract linguist for the bureau for about six months, translating material in Azerbaijani, Farsi and Turkish. Ms. Edmonds was dismissed in 2002 after complaining repeatedly that bureau linguists had produced slipshod and incomplete translations of important terrorism intelligence before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Ms. Edmonds also accused a fellow Turkish linguist in the Washington field office of blocking the translation of material involving acquaintances who had come under suspicion and said the bureau had allowed diplomatic sensitivities with other nations to affect the translation of important intelligence...
The case has become a lightning rod for critics who contend that the bureau retaliated against Ms. Edmonds and other whistle-blowers who have sought to expose management problems related to the antiterrorism campaign...
In a report that the department sought for months to keep classified, the inspector general issued a sharp rebuke to the bureau over its handling of Ms. Edmonds's accusations. It reached no conclusions about whether her co-worker had actually engaged in espionage, and it did not give details about the espionage accusations because they remain classified.
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media@aclu.org: The Justice Department admitted today that information it had retroactively classified could be released to the public and did not pose a threat to national security. The American Civil Liberties Union said the revelation could aid government whistleblowers in their efforts to fight unlawful dismissals.
"The Justice Departmentís long-overdue admission goes to the core of the ACLUís allegations that the government is going all out to silence whistleblowers to protect itself from political embarrassment," said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson, who is representing former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds in a lawsuit challenging her termination. "This is hardly an isolated case, as numerous national security whistleblowers can attest. The government is taking extreme steps to shield itself while gambling with our safety."
The ACLU said that the Edmonds case is part of a larger pattern by the government to silence employees who expose national security blunders. Coleen Rowley, Manny Johnson, Robert Woo, Ray McGovern, Mel Goodman, Bogdan Dzakovic, and Mike German are just a few of the other national security whistleblowers who were vilified and retaliated against.

Published on Thursday, March 3, 2005 by The Nation

Vermont Votes No to War
by John Nichols

Congress may not be prepared to hold an honest debate on when and how the United States should exit the Iraq imbroglio, but the town meetings of rural Vermont are not so constrained. Declaring that "The War in Iraq is a Local Issue," citizens in communities across the state voted of Tuesday for resolutions urging President Bush and Congress to take steps to withdraw American troops from Iraq and calling on their state legislature to investigate the use and abuse of the Vermont National Guard in the conflcit.
Spearheaded by the Vermont Network on Iraq War Resolutions, Green Mountain Veterans for Peace and the Vermont Chapter of Military Families Speak Out, the campaign to get antiwar resolutions on town meeting agendas succeeded in more than 50 communities statewide. That meant that the issue was raised in more than one fifth of the 251 Vermont towns where the annual celebrations of grassroots democracy take place. Forty-nine towns voted for the resolutions. Only three voted "no," while one saw a tie vote. In the state's largest city, Burlington, the antiwar initiative received the support of 65 percent of electors.
"Many have wondered how a town meeting could direct something on a national scale," admitted Middlebury Town Manager Bill Finger. "But it does send a message that hopefully people are listening to."
Ned Coffin, an 83-year-old retired poultry farmer in the town of Bethel agreed. "I can't think of another forum in which people can express their views on any subject, even ones of national importance," explained Coffin. "The war was a mistake and this is a way for that message to be heard."
There is no question that the message was heard by Vermont's Congressional representatives. US Rep. Bernie Sander, I-Vermont, announced his support for the resolution being considered at the town meeting in Burlington. US Senator Jim Jeffords, I-Vermont, endorsed the resolution campaign, as did US Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. ''This resolution has prompted the kind of constructive debate that should be happening not only in Washington but in every community in the country, and Vermonters again are setting a good example of civic responsibility and participation,'' said Leahy.
Activists hope the Vermont resolution campaign will go national. Already, Amherst, Massachusetts -- which begins city council meetings by reading aloud the names of Iraqis and US soldiers who have died in the war -- has passed a "Bring the Troops Home" resolution, as has Arcata, California.
In November, San Francisco voters endorsed Proposition N, an antiwar statement that ended with the declaration, "The Federal government should take immediate steps to end the US occupation of Iraq and bring our troops safely home now."
One of the strengths of the Vermont resolution campaign was the focus on the status of the Vermont National Guard. That brought the issue home, as 200 of the state's 251 towns have residents who have been called up to serve in Iraq. A rural state where wages are low in many regions, Vermont has traditionally had a high level of participation in the National Guard. With Guard units being so heavily used in the Iraq, several studies show that Vermont has suffered the highest per capita death toll of any state since the war began a two years ago.
"There is nothing more quintessentially local than war, and the local connection is the National Guard," explains Ben Scotch, a former director of the Vermont American Civil Liberties Union who helped draft the model resolution for the town meetings. "The guard members and their families are our first concern. Discussions over the appropriateness of their use in the war need to start in our own communities."
Nancy Lessin, a co-founder of Military Families Speak Out, a national antiwar network that includes more than 2,000 military families, agreed. The Vermont approach, Lessin says, "brings into discussion the very people who should be discussing the impact of this war: National Guard families, local politicians, police departments, school officials."
John Nichols, The Nation's Washington correspondent, has covered progressive politics and activism in the United States and abroad for more than a decade. He is currently the editor of the editorial page of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times. John Nichols's new book, Against the Beast: A Documentary History of American Opposition to Empire (Nation Books) was published January 30
© 2005 The Nation
http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0303-25.htm

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/212425_kyoto17.html

Seattle dreams of 'green' team
Mayor urging other U.S. cities to enact Kyoto Protocol

Thursday, February 17, 2005

By KATHY MULADY
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

The U.S. government may have turned its back on the Kyoto Protocol, but Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said yesterday he plans to spearhead a city-by-city effort to implement the climate-protection measures that went into effect in more than 100 other countries yesterday.


RELATED STORY
Energy converts in Seattle doing their part

Nickels said he is gathering support from mayors in other cities and plans to build a "green" coalition of his counterparts at the U.S. Conference of Mayors when the group meets in Chicago in June.

"Seattle, along with other U.S. cities, will provide the leadership necessary to meet this threat," Nickels said.

He plans to introduce a resolution at the mayors conference setting up the coalition for other cities to join. To be eligible, cities would have to agree to certain steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The details of the resolution are still being worked out.

The Kyoto Protocol was hammered out in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 and commits countries to reduce or limit the output of six gases, chiefly carbon dioxide, a byproduct of burning coal and oil products.

By 2012 the European Union, for example, is to reduce emissions by 8 percent below 1990 levels and Japan by 6 percent.

The United States had envisioned a 7 percent reduction, signed the protocol in 1997, but in 2001, President Bush renounced the agreement, saying compliance would cost millions of U.S. jobs.

In the meantime, many cities across the country, including Seattle, have adopted the Kyoto Protocol standards, or set even higher goals.

When the city of Seattle adopted the Kyoto Protocol four years ago, while Paul Schell was mayor, it joined nearly 100 other U.S. cities in setting reduction targets.

The 2001 resolution called for dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions by the city, and calling on national leaders to support targets at least as aggressive as those described in the Kyoto Protocol.

Nickels said he will work with the state Legislature to pass the clean-car bill, requiring stronger emission standards for cars sold in Washington. The legislation is based on a similar law adopted in California.

Nickels has also directed city departments to reduce paper use 30 percent by the end of 2006 and said that global warming will be a consideration in doling out neighborhood matching fund grants.

Yesterday, Nickels also announced a commission on climate protection that will be led by Denis Hayes, founder of the first Earth Day and president of the environmentally focused Bullitt Foundation. Orin Smith, president of Starbucks Coffee Co., also will lead the committee.

In making his announcement yesterday, Nickels was flanked by Hayes and Steve Howard, chief executive of the Climate Group, a non-profit based in London dedicated to slowing greenhouse gas emissions.

Hayes described the effects of global warming that are already being seen in Europe. He described small indicators such as bees that no longer hibernate and a 2003 heat wave that killed thousands in Europe.

"Early movers like Seattle have a farsighted advantage in taking a leadership position," Howard said. "It is good for business, good for the community and good for the world."

Some see evidence of global warming in the Pacific Northwest where the snowpack provides water, hydroelectricity and irrigation. According to reports, the Cascade snowpack is down 50 percent since 1950.

The city of Seattle government has reduced its emissions 60 percent since 1990, said Steve Nicholas, director of the city's Office of Sustainability and Environment. The city required more fuel efficiency in its cars and attempted to reduce the number of trips taken.

However, communitywide it is a different story, according to a report by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

By 2010 emissions are expected to increase 21 percent above the 1990 number, and by 38 percent by 2020.

About 50 percent of those emissions come from vehicles.

Councilwoman Jean Godden, head of the city's energy and environmental policy committee, was in Olympia yesterday to testify in support of the proposed clean car legislation. The bill calls on manufacturers to dramatically reduce car emissions by 2012.

"Interestingly enough, by doing that it could save people about $18 a month in gasoline costs," Godden said.

She said she is excited about Nickels' plans.

"As we know, the council adopted the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, and now the mayor has taken it a step farther and is challenging other cities to do the same," she said. "I am very excited, we are going the right direction and setting the standard. "

Councilman Richard Conlin, who was also in Olympia yesterday, called Nickels' announcement "great."

"All of those things are wonderful; we are glad to have him on board," Conlin said.

K.C. Golden, policy director for Climate Solutions, said Seattle is well positioned to set the standard for other cities.

"This was ground zero for the information revolution, we have more than our share of the world's innovators here," he said. "Our contribution to the solution can be bigger than our contribution to the problem."

Mayors in some other cities have already pledged to work with Seattle.

In a statement, Portland Mayor Tom Potter said his city was the first in the country to adopt a policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"We are proud that the people of Seattle share our vision for turning the crisis of global warming into an opportunity to transform our economy and leave a healthier planet for our children and grandchildren," he said.

Mayor Jerry Brown of Oakland, Calif., added his support. Oakland has set a goal of 15 percent reduction by 2010.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This report includes information from The Associated Press.

© 1998-2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer


Justice Dept. Opposes Bid to Revive Case against F.B.I.
By John Files
The New York Times
Saturday 26 February 2005
Washington - The government has told a federal appeals court that a suit by an F.B.I. translator who was fired after accusing the bureau of ineptitude should not be allowed to proceed because it would cause "significant damage to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."
Lawyers for the government said in a brief filed with the court on Thursday that the suit could not continue without disclosing privileged and classified information.
The translator, Sibel Edmonds, was a contract linguist for the bureau for about six months, translating material in Azerbaijani, Farsi and Turkish. Ms. Edmonds was dismissed in 2002 after complaining repeatedly that bureau linguists had produced slipshod and incomplete translations of important terrorism intelligence before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Ms. Edmonds also accused a fellow Turkish linguist in the Washington field office of blocking the translation of material involving acquaintances who had come under suspicion and said the bureau had allowed diplomatic sensitivities with other nations to affect the translation of important intelligence.
"The effect of the government's posture in this case will be to discourage national security whistle-blowers," said Ben Wizner, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who is helping Ms. Edmonds. "She is fighting for the right to prove that she was wrongfully terminated."
The case has become a lightning rod for critics who contend that the bureau retaliated against Ms. Edmonds and other whistle-blowers who have sought to expose management problems related to the antiterrorism campaign.
The A.C.L.U. joined her cause last month, when it asked the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reinstate her suit against the government. The suit was dismissed in July after Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked a rarely used power and declared the case as falling under "state secret" privilege.
The judge who issued that ruling, Reggie B. Walton of Federal District Court, had said he was satisfied with government statements that the suit could expose intelligence-gathering methods and disrupt diplomatic relations.
The Justice Department said in its brief that the appeals court should affirm Judge Walton's decision, adding: "The district court correctly recognized what the classified declarations in the record establish: the privileged information here is fundamentally implicated by Edmonds's allegations, and the case cannot be litigated without disclosure of that information, which would damage national security."
The case touches on potential vulnerabilities for the bureau, including its ability to translate sensitive counterterrorism material, its treatment of whistle-blowers and its classification of sensitive material that critics say could embarrass the bureau.
The Justice Department retroactively classified a 2002 Congressional briefing about the case and some related letters from lawmakers, but this week it decided to permit the information to be released. The inspector general of the department concluded last month that the F.B.I. had failed to aggressively investigate Ms. Edmonds's accusations of espionage and fired her in large part for raising them.
In a report that the department sought for months to keep classified, the inspector general issued a sharp rebuke to the bureau over its handling of Ms. Edmonds's accusations. It reached no conclusions about whether her co-worker had actually engaged in espionage, and it did not give details about the espionage accusations because they remain classified.
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http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/022605Y.shtml



Administration Blinks in Sibel Edmonds Case
By WilliamPitt,

Thu Feb 24th, 2005 at 08:09:07 AM EST :: War on Terror ::


Administration Blinks; Admits Retroactively Classified Information Not Harmful to National Security

February 22, 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: media@aclu.org

Decision Likely to Have Significant Impact on Sibel Edmondsí Appeal, Says ACLU

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department admitted today that information it had retroactively classified could be released to the public and did not pose a threat to national security. The American Civil Liberties Union said the revelation could aid government whistleblowers in their efforts to fight unlawful dismissals.

"The Justice Departmentís long-overdue admission goes to the core of the ACLUís allegations that the government is going all out to silence whistleblowers to protect itself from political embarrassment," said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson, who is representing former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds in a lawsuit challenging her termination. "This is hardly an isolated case, as numerous national security whistleblowers can attest. The government is taking extreme steps to shield itself while gambling with our safety."


In May 2004, the Justice Department retroactively classified information presented two years earlier by the FBI to the Senate Judiciary Committee during two unclassified briefings regarding Edmonds, who had repeatedly reported serious security breaches and misconduct in the agencyís translation program. An executive summary of the Justice Departmentís Inspector General report into her termination concluded that Edmonds was fired for reporting the misconduct, and that her allegations, if true, could have potentially damaging consequences for the FBI. Edmonds, a former Middle Eastern language specialist hired by the FBI shortly after 9/11, challenged her retaliatory dismissal by filing a law suit in federal court, but her case was dismissed last July after Attorney General John Ashcroft invoked the so-called "state secrets privilege." It was at that time that the Justice Department retroactively classified the two-year old briefings in attempt to bolster its "state secrets" claim. The ACLU is representing Edmonds in her appeal.

The government will file its response to Edmondsí appellate brief on February 24th, and has indicated that portions of its response will be classified and unavailable for review by Edmonds or her attorneys. The ACLUís Beeson said that this use of secrecy is highly suspicious in light of the Justice Departmentís admission that the information retroactively classified does not pose a threat to national security.

Todayís actions came as a result of a separate lawsuit filed by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) against Attorney General Ashcroft and the Justice Department, charging that the retroactive classification in Edmondsí case was unlawful and violated POGOís right to free speech. When forced to defend its extreme step of retroactively classifying information, the government was unable to do so and admitted the information could be released to the public without harm to national security.

Todayís development also follows the Justice Departmentís release of the full Inspector General report on Edmondsís dismissal at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 18, at the beginning of a holiday weekend. The ACLU said that the executive summary released last month actually revealed more information than the full 106-page Inspector General report, as the bulk of it was redacted.

The ACLU said that the Edmonds case is part of a larger pattern by the government to silence employees who expose national security blunders. Coleen Rowley, Manny Johnson, Robert Woo, Ray McGovern, Mel Goodman, Bogdan Dzakovic, and Mike German are just a few of the other national security whistleblowers who were vilified and retaliated against.

http://forum.truthout.org/blog/story/2005/2/24/897/14465
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Published on Wednesday, March 2, 2005 by the Los Angeles Times


Posted by richard at March 4, 2005 09:20 AM