Dec 31, 2006
Saddam Hussein is gone.
The President of Iraq, who fell out with his imperial paymasters in Washington, was hanged for his hubris, amidst taunts by hooded supporters of Muqtada Al-Sadr, head of the Shi'a Mahdi Army.
His crime? Surely not the killing of his Shi'a opponents, nor his torture of Iraqis; for in the grim aftermath of these events, US envoys continued to skin and grin with him, shaking his hand (as did the then-Reagan Administration's Donald Rumsfeld), and sending him more tools of war and weapons of mass destruction.
If he was guilty of crimes against humanity, what of those many Americans who aided and abetted him? What of those many Western businesses which armed him (and greatly profited from such arms deals)?
It is a sign of our cynical times that the nation that egged on and armed Saddam during his long and brutal war with Iran, that looked the other way when he waged his reign of repression against the Shi'a majority, now deigns to punish him for doing their bidding.
Saddam was sentenced to death for human rights violations that happened in 1982, right? Well, why did the US sign diplomatic treaties with Iraq in 1984? In the remarkable book, "Behind the Iraq War", written by the Indian activist group, Research Unit for Political Economy (New York: Monthly Review, 2003) we learn that diplomatic relations between Iraq and the US were formally restored "well after the United States knew, and a U.N. team confirmed, that Iraq was using chemical weapons against the Iranian troops" [p. 31]. In fact, in 1986, when the U.N. Security Council tried to condemn Iraq for using mustard gas against Iran's troops, the US blocked the resolution!
As RUPE writes, arming Iraq against Iran was good business:
"Brisk trade was done in supplying Iraq. Britain joined France as a major source of weapons for it. Iraq imported uranium from Portugal, France, and Italy, and began constructing centrifuge enrichment with German assistance. The United States arranged massive loans for Iraq's burgeoning war expenditure from American client states such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. administration provided "crop-spraying" helicopters (to be used in chemical attacks in 1988), let Dow Chemicals ship its chemicals for use on humans, seconded its air force officers to work with their Iraqi counterparts (from 1986), approved technological exports to Iraq's missile procurement agency to extend the missiles' range (1988). In October 1987 and April 1988 U.S. forces themselves attacked Iranian ships and oil platforms." [p. 31]
If that ain't aiding and abetting, what is?
But those who aided Iraq have since joined hands to condemn him, and to rip the nation into strips (a Shi'a strip, a Kurd strip, and a Sunni strip). They could care less about the Iraqi people, or even such canards as 'democracy'. For the farthest thing from American and Western concerns is the will of the Iraqi people. According to every reputable poll, Iraqis are sick and tired of their occupiers, the Americans.
The U.S. loved Iraq during 'The War of the Cities' when almost a million people on both sides were slaughtered. But Saddam got too big for his britches. He thought he could act with impunity in his region of the Middle East.
Saddam didn't know that this was a pleasure reserved to the US Empire. For only the US could start a war on this scale, cause the death of over a 1/2-million people, use false pretexts to invade a sovereign state, torture its people, ravage cities like Fallujah, almost shatter the nation into threes, wreak untold national and regional havoc -- and call it liberation.
The execution of Saddam Hussein was purely an exercise of raw American power.
History will prove this is but a minor blip on the road to oblivion.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Dec 24, 2006
Within days the Bush regime is expected to announce its so-called "new strategy" in Iraq -- the most talked-about plan being a surge in U.S. forces in Iraq.
By 'surge' is meant the significant increase in troop size in that beleaguered country, a plan meant to address the obvious failures in Iraq.
In light of the rumored 'surge', one wonders, what does it take for the administration to listen to the voices of the People?
In February and March, 2003, the U.S. and much of the world spoke, with millions marching in the streets of cities the globe over, against the scourge of war.
The Bush regime ignored them. No -- "ignored" isn't right. President Bush belittled the protests as 'a focus group.' As journalism professor Robert Jensen notes in his book, The Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (San Francisco: City Lights Publ., 2004) Bush's response to the "single largest public political demonstration in history", was unbelievable:
"When asked a few days later about the size of the protest, he said: 'First of all, you know, size of protest, it's like deciding, well, I'm going to decide policy based on a focus group. The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security -- in this case, the security of the people.'
"A focus group? Perhaps the leader of the free world was not aware that a focus group is a small number of people who are brought together (and typically paid) to evaluate a concept or product. Focus groups are primarily a tool of businesses, which use them to figure out how to sell things more effectively. Politicians also occasionally use them, for the same purpose. That's a bit different from a coordinated gathering of millions of people who took to the streets because they felt passionately about an issue of life and death. As is so often the case, Bush's comment demonstrated his ignorance and condescension, the narrowness of his intellect and his lack of respect for the people he allegedly serves." [pp. xi-xii]
Decades ago, during the height of the Vietnam War, presidents and their military advisors extended the hostilities long after it was abundantly clear that the conflict could not be won.
President Lyndon B. Johnson escalated it, but could not bring himself to rein it in, for fear that history would judge him one who 'lost' Vietnam.
His successor, Richard M. Nixon further escalated the conflict, by ordering bombing of neighboring countries. Some historians now say that the escalation and continuation of the Vietnam war cost some 20,000 Americans lives; the numbers of Vietnamese, and other southeast Asians are unknown to us.
The point is, the war and its needless carnage was extended for years, at a horrific cost: to save U.S. face.
It seems that this not-so-distant history is repeating itself.
In a few weeks, we shall hear what "the Decider" has decided. You can bet that it will conflict with the will of most Americans. What kind of democracy is this?
Demonstrations don't matter. Elections don't matter. Study groups don't matter.
No matter what most Americans think -- it doesn't matter.
Nothing matters -- but what the decider decides.
There's a word for that -- and it sure ain't democracy!
Americans have seemingly settled for a dictatorship of one -- in fact, a dictatorship of disaster.
Like good little sheep, they plan to silently acquiesce as more of their young people are slain on an altar slick with oil.
This isn't patriotism. It's the very essence of subservience.
There's another word for it.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Dec 18, 2006
In the last few years, we've all seen nothing but mass violations of virtually every international human rights treaty.
Torture, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, violence against civilians, orders to ignore the Geneva Conventions .... The list goes on and on.
How has the American government dealt with this state of affairs?
It has virtually ignored it.
There have been a handful of military prosecutions against relatively low level people, but there is a steel ceiling, above which the prosecutors dare not go.
That's because the violations of international law go to the highest levels of the U.S. government.
Writer Lila Rajiva argues, in her remarkable The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2005), that the tortures at Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad shows something deep and ugly in the American state:
"The Prometheans of today acknowledge no limits except of their own imagining, and at least for now the world that they find themselves in allows them the self-indulgence of that imagining. With such absolute power comes absolute corruption, only not the corruption that the law easily unmasks, the simple corruption of bribery and chicanery. The occupation of Iraq displays ample evidence of that as well, but the deeper corruption that rote the institutions of America today is one legitimated by law, whose presence is revealed not in the courthouse but in the solitary recesses of prison cells hidden from the light. Torture is the insignia of this corrupt power. Torture is the deadly proof of the metastasizing cancer of American empire." [p. 186]
Rajiva tells us many of the stories from Iraq that have been largely whitewashed from the safe coverage that the corporate media airs. She tells us the many cases where Iraqi women were raped by Americans, and subjected to public humiliations.
Perhaps if more Americans read, saw or heard such accounts, they would not be mystified by the steady growing of the insurgency in Iraq, which is surely fueled, in part, by how Americans treated Iraqi men and women in prisons there.
The corporate US media has done more to misinform its public than to inform them. They keep Americans in the dark, while people all around the world know more about America than Americans.
In this context, we can continue the illusion that the US is 'doing good' in this new kind of colonialism of Arab lands. It is this mass disinformation campaign that allows political figures to float the mad idea of more troops in Iraq.
The somewhat tame Iraq Study Group report has come and gone, with supporters of the military-industrial-complex working their media assets to insure that their defense contractors keep getting paid.
Discussions over Geneva Conventions might as well be about treaties with space aliens, as arcane as they are to most of us. But the Geneva Conventions aren't rocket science. There are 4 of them. The first governs wounded and sick soldiers; the second relates to the treatment of war prisoners captured at sea; the third deals with treatment of prisoners of war; and the fourth governs how citizens should be treated in times of war. Under the articles of these conventions, people had express rights to fair, humane treatment, family visitation, and the right to be processed by "competent tribunal"[s]. As the flicks from Abu Ghraib showed, in living color, folks were treated like dogs. Geneva, though, to be 'quaint', didn't apply.
When it comes to the Empire, there is no higher law.
The Emperor has spoken: that is all that is needed to launch wars, torture, terrorize, bomb, imprison, kill, obliterate.
That kind of logic can only lead to more disaster.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
[Source: Rajiva, L., *The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media* (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2005).]
Dec 15, 2006
It actually may be too early to tell, but are you getting the vibe that Congress is going to betray you -- again?
The Congress -- both the House and the Senate -- are seen as honest and trustworthy by an astonishingly low 14-and-16%, respectively, by most Americans according to a recent poll. The converse of this, of course, is that 84-86% of most Americans don't trust their Congress.
A term like that just ended at least partially explains that gap; for Congress routinely sells its collective soul to the lobbyists and corporate powers-that-be.
Only these wealthy forces could explain the actions and inactions of Congress in its most recent term; complete servility to the military-industrial-complex; the bankruptcy bill; their unbridled hostility to a minimum wage -- you name it.
If you could afford their services -- cool; if you were a regular Joe (or Joanna), working-class, or -- heavens forfend! -- poor -- forget it.
The Congress, in violation of the Constitution, ceded its power to the President, and the executive has made a complete mess of every power it was granted.
The mid-term elections, thought by many to have been a partial remedy of this disaster, was predicated upon the wide public will to get out of Iraq.
The new congress was not yet in their seats, and already there are whispers in the air of sending more troops to Iraq!
The march towards betrayal of the public will may have already begun.
As journalist Richard Swift explained in his book, The No-Nonsense Guide to Democracy (Toronto, Ontario: New Internationalist Publ, Ltd./Between the Lines, 2002), today's political parties strive to actually be less and less representative:
"Such parties run the ideological spectrum from Right to Left (although here differences between them are certainly narrowing). ... Such parties have loose ideological commitments and use a vaguely populist rhetoric (often of the Left) while campaigning. They typically contain a number of powerful factions and interest groups each of which stakes a claim on policy and economic awards once the party is in power ...
"Under most present circumstances these 'representatives' are only answerable to us in a very general sense. Once they have been elected any number of factors may weigh more heavily for them than the wishes of their constituents; their own views, Party discipline, personal ambition or the influence of powerful lobbies. Voters by-and-large do not get to hold them accountable until the next general election. In the meantime they form a virtual dictatorship -- particularly if they are part of a majority government." [pp. 102-3]
For millions of people, especially those who voted for Democrats, there is the expectation that this new class (or new majority) would headline an Iraq withdrawal.
Now, it looks less so.
As the new congressional majority forms, lobbyists are bellying up to the bar to make new and lucrative deals -- and with money comes influence.
Americans may learn that, in politics, faces may change, and parties may swap -- but the same game goes on.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Dec 6, 2006
(Mumia interviewed by Fred Hampton Jr and Jr Valrey)
December 9th marked the anniversary of Black Panther revolutionary journalist and death-row political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal's abduction from the community and his family for political reasons. He is one of thousands if not millions of Black people who are in this situation, either as a political prisoner or as a political victim of Amerikkka's war crimes on the Black community. Mumia sits on death-row for killing a police officer, although evidence shows that the caliber of the bullet that killed the police officer didn't fit Mumia's gun, another man confessed to committing the murder, the presiding judge Sabo said that he was going to "help fry the nigger", as well as police coercion, and some more. Chairman Fred Hampton Jr and myself, Minister of Information JR talked to Mumia about the 25 years that the government took from his life. Check it...
Ch. Fred: As we speak we are on the heels of honoring the anniversary of the Black Panther Party, we're also embarking on dates that I wish that I didn't have to talk about or have to deal wit'; one date December 13th will mark one year since the state of California executed brotha Stanley Tookie Williams, December 4th will mark the 37th year after the assassination of deputy Chairman Fred Hampton and Defense Captain Mark Clark, and December 9th marks 25 years after you yourself was literally kidnapped by the state of Philadelphia. If you can, touch on each one of those dates, the significance of those dates, what message the state is sending us with those dates, and the message that we got to send as the people.
Mumia: You know when you were mentioning those dates, what came to mind for me was how for every year for at least the last decade, people all across the country and in other parts of the world have celebrated Black August...
Concentration Camp: This call is from a "correctional" institution and is subject to monitoring and recording.
Mumia: And even I have participated and written about it, and talked about it, but I've always been, I guess, impressed by the simple truth that no one month can encapsulate our people's struggle. No one month, even though in August a number of great things happened and significant things happened in our people's history, our people's long history, every month in the year is a month to be remembered for many of the reasons that you discussed right there. Every month in the year, every day in the year, has significance because after 500 years, here, in the wilderness of North Amerikkka, how could it not be significant? Many of those events evoke memories of resistance, some of them are heart rending, and some of them are inspiring, but every one of them are about our people's continuous struggle for freedom against tremendous odds.
Ch. Fred: As in any battle, we will experience ups and downs, morale highs as well as battle fatigue, is there any advice or moves that we should be making, in reference to the campaign, to get you back out here on the street?
Mumia: Well I would just urge people to continue to struggle because it is bad, for people that are not active in it, they may see an article in the paper or hear something on the radio, and it will come back to mind, but believe me it is not just a struggle for me, but for many people; people whose names you know, and some people's names that you don't know, people struggling in little ways that they can. They might be putting out leaflets or speaking to friends or teachers talking to students. What is missed is the campaign of repression that goes against those people for daring to speak out, for daring to wear a t-shirt, for daring to read a book. Freedom ain't free, And freedom has to be excercised. It has to become an activity or else it's just a word. And as we speak, we're literally living in a time where the state is using fascist powers, and passing fascist laws, very similar to what Nazi Germany did. I'm talking about the so-called Patriot Act, I'm talking about the recently passed M.C.A., the Military Commission Act. All of these things are profoundly repressive, and the least that can be said about it, is that it violates the Constitution, but when have they not violated the Constitution. In the past, they violated it under Cointelpro. Well they simply rewrote the laws. 9-11 gave them a perfect opportunity so what used to be illegal when Fred Hampton Sr. was active in Chicago, and the Black Panther Party was active in over 40 states, cities, and branches has been made legal in the last 5 or 6 years or so. What does that tell you?
Ch. Fred: On your comments, I was just thinking about this statement that Minister Huey P. Newton said in reference to the Constitution, he referred to it as pagan poetry.
Mumia: It sounds good, don't it?
Ch. Fred (laughing) It sounds real good. Other than battling in the courts, what other apparatuses has the government been using to impede the process to get you out here in the community, whether it be the media or what have you? Can you comment on that?
Mumia: Well its a war on all fronts. I mean, if I spoke of 5 fronts, then I would be ignoring 15 others. You know the state uses what it has, which is the power of the purse on one hand, the power of repression on the other, the power of wealth and money. The state uses all of its resources, you see, so that's why I always invite people to do what they feel they can do. You know it really is more of us than it is of them but people, especially now feel like they can't make a difference or what they do doesn't count. Well believe me, it does count. What every person does is important so they have to in a sense follow their heart.
Ch. Fred: In the electoral political arena, there has been this news of the democratic majority in the House of Representatives, crazy as it sounds this day and age, I encounter some people who are breathing some sigh of relief that the democrats are in the majority, so on and so forth. Can you commit on the contradictions in that?
Mumia: Well, there are always contradictions in the ruling class in every state, the problem is that many of the people who either consider themselves or are considered progressives are what I call "left-wing imperialists". We remember back in the year 2004, during the last presidential election, I keep repeating this to people because it shocks me, I remember John Kerry, the so-called democratic quasi-progressive candidate saying during a debate that the U.S. needs to send over 40,000 more troops to Iraq. What that did of course, was that it decimated the anti-war movement, and even though many millions of people who got out and voted, voted against the war, that doesn't mean that the people that they voted for would actually do anything about that, you see? So you know, we shall see. What will happen is what will happen, but already there are forces in the democratic party that are trying to quiet down those anti-war voices. They're talking about withdrawal to bases or re-positioning, or some other, really, pro-war strategy, because there are no good options, you dig, because both parties are corporate parties. Both parties are running on sheer imperialism so what can they do, you see?
Ch. Fred: I'm going to tag-team wit' my comrade Minister of Information. Comrade, revolutionary love and respect. We love you, respect you, and appreciate you. Free Mumia Abu Jamal! Free'em All! Dare to struggle, dare to win!
Mumia: Thank you brother.
Ch. Fred Thank you.
MOI JR: With all the evidence that points to your innocense, including Arnold Beverly's televised confession, the police coercion of witnesses before the "trial", and Judge Sabo saying that he was going to help the government by way of the prosecutor "fry the nigger" in reference to you, what do you have to say about this death-row case, as we fight for your life?
Mumia: People who believe purely in the law are sometimes met with unbelief. They can't believe that the law hasn't done the right thing, and that's because they have a misunderstanding of the law. What has happened in my case has happened in other people's cases, the question is not the law, but the people. If people organized and people understand that it will take the power of the people to change this thing, then they'll understand what they need to do, if they feel compelled, if they feel pushed, if they feel that this is the right thing to do. If we know anything from history, we know that the law has been the force for the outlaw for hundreds of years for our people. I mean, right after the Civil War, the so-called reconstruction amendments were put in the Constitution, but for millions of our people, all across the country, it was if no such amendments were written, because our people still couldn't vote, we were not free, we couldn't make contracts or have jobs or go to descent schools. Look at our condition today. So the law is one thing, the people are another. I rely on the people.
MOI JR: Black Panther political prisoner Herman Wallace of the Angola 3 recently had his conviction overturned after being held in solitary confinement for over 3 decades, what do victories like these mean to the Black Liberation Movement?
Mumia: Well it means dare to struggle, dare to win. You know, it didn't just happen, that brotha and his many supporters fought for many years, I mean there was a film made, people all across the country continued to work on his behalf, and many ex-Panthers came out to support that struggle so you know, it took struggle. It didn't just happened. You know...
Concentration Camp: This call is from a "correctional" institution and is subject to monitoring and recording.
Mumia: Everything that led to his release could've been determined 15 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, you know? It wasn't like there was any new information, it was just one court saying "oh, ok", so dare to struggle, dare to win. People really have to understand that they do have power. There not as powerless as the media or the politicians project them to be. People really have the power, but they have to believe that they have the power then they have to act like they have the power.
Dec 2, 2006
It's boy's night out, and a group of brothers are having a bachelor's party at a neighborhood club. One of them is particularly thrilled, because his marriage to the woman he loves is just hours away.
But he will never marry, because a pack of wild, undercover cops will execute him, and unleash a deadly rain of 50 bullets on he and his friends.
The crime? Cruising While Black ... Sean Bell, unarmed, was 23.
And the corporate media merely explains it may've been a case of "contagious" shooting -- one cop fires, two cops fire, three cops ... get the picture?
It's a kind of social illness, like alcoholism.
But neither Sean Bell, Trent Benefield, nor Joseph Guzman were armed. According to some reports, one of them *said* he was armed.
Like the madmen who launched a preemptive war on the unsubstantiated suspicion of weapons of mass destruction, undercover cops launched an urban preemptive war on unarmed young Black men, reportedly based on unsubstantiated suspicions. *50 shots*. Death, and serious injury.
No cellphones; no wallets; no threatening candy bars -- for such trifles are no longer deemed necessary.
In America, blackness is sufficient.
Even maleness isn't required, as shown by the recent shooting of an elderly woman who allegedly allowed a drug dealer to use her home. Katherine Johnston, having lived almost 9 decades, was shot to death while trying to defend her Atlanta home after it was attacked by undercover cops.
According to a neighborhood snitch, he never claimed her house was a drug site, despite police pressure to do so.
No significant quantities of drugs were found at the home.
What was her crime? Trying-to-survive-to-90-while-Black?
What's more dangerous -- drugs, or armed undercover cops kicking in doors allegedly on drug raids?
Police suspicion, it seems, is a weapon of urban war. Several years ago, writer Kristian Williams noted a case where a whole community was held under siege, because of police suspicion. In his remarkable 2003 book, Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America (Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press), Williams recounted an amazing story:
"The racial politics of police suspicion are well illustrated by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation's 'Operation Ready-Rock.' In November 1990, forty-five state cops, including canine units and the paramilitary Special Response Team, lay siege to the 100 block of Graham Street, in a black neighborhood of Chapel Hill. Searching for crack cocaine, the cops sealed off the streets, patrolled with dogs, and ransacked a neighborhood pool hall. In terms of crime control, the mission was a flop. Although nearly 100 people were detained and searched, only 13 were arrested, and one of them convicted. Nevertheless, and despite a successful class action lawsuit, the cops defended their performance and no officers were disciplined.
"When applying for a warrant to search every person and vehicle on the block, the police had assured the judge, 'there are no 'innocent' people at this place ... Only drug sellers and drug buyers are on the described premises.' But once the clamp-down was underway, they became more discriminating: Blacks were detained and searched, sometimes at gunpoint, while whites were permitted to leave the cordoned area." [p. 121]
How many of the armed maniacs who shot Johnston, Bell, Guzman or Benefield will ever see the inside of a cell? How many will reach the confines of Death Row?
We know the answer -- because we've seen this movie before ... Paid leave (which amounts to paid vacations), a whitewash of an investigation, and a 'they-were-doing-their-jobs' is all that ever happens.
It's a damned shame.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal