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Show details for the week of August 3rd, 2015

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KPFT is in Pledge Drive this week. The Monitor has a goal of $1,000 for this week and this is our only pledge drive show so please call 713-525-5738 during the show and donate to keep the station solvent and help The Monitor reach the goal. You can also pledge online at www.kpft.org

On The Monitor this week:

More about this week’s guests

Roy Eidelson is a clinical psychologist and the president of Eidelson Consulting, where he studies, writes about, and consults on the role of psychological issues in political, organizational, and group conflict settings. He is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, associate director of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at Bryn Mawr College, and a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. Roy recently co-authored an Op-Ed titled “How the American Psychological Assn. lost its way

Here are some excerpts: “The APA got into this mess by holding tightly to a deeply flawed assumption: that psychology should embrace every opportunity to expand its sphere of influence…For 10 years, the APA quashed any attempt to question its faux task force, loosened ethics, too-close ties to the military, or its motivation to have psychologists play a central role in “enhancing” interrogations…Our profession has yet to address profound ethical challenges posed by national security operations and research where the intent is to cause injury, or where the targets of intervention have not consented, or where actions are beyond the reach of oversight by outside ethics panels…After the 9/11 attacks, the APA could have used its knowledge, reputation, and influence to promote alternatives to the tragic choices our government made. Instead it lost its way to war entrepreneurs, careerists, and yea-sayers.”

Imad Khadduri has an MSc in Physics from the University of Michigan (United States) and a PhD in Nuclear Reactor Technology from the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). Khadduri worked with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission from 1968 until 1998. He was able to leave Iraq in late 1998 with his family. He now teaches and works as a network administrator in Toronto, Canada. He has been interviewed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, CBC, FOX, ABC, MSNBC, BBC, CTV, the Toronto Star, Reuters, Democracy Now, Dubai Business TV Channel, al-Jazeera satellite channel and various other news agencies in regards to his knowledge of the Iraqi nuclear program. Khadduri is author of the books Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage: Memoirs and Delusions and Unrevealed Milestones in the Iraqi National Nuclear Program 1981-1991. He now runs the “Free Iraq” blog.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Khadduri argued that, contrary to what the Bush administration was claiming, the Iraqi nuclear weapons program had been dismantled since the 1991 attack on Iraq. In a November 21, 2002 article, a few months before the occupation, “Iraq’s nuclear non-capability,” he wrote: “Bush and Blair are pulling their public by the nose, covering their hollow patriotic egging on with once again shoddy intelligence. But the two parading emperors have no clothes.”

Max Fisher claimed in Vox recently that if “Iran tried to block inspectors…that would blow up the deal. … This was something that so infuriated the world when Iraq’s Saddam Hussein tried it in 1998 that it ended with his country getting bombed shortly thereafter.” Khadduri’s response: “This doesn’t reflect what actually happened. The U.S. used inspectors as a method of espionage, not for legitimate arms inspections purposes. Scott Ritter notes in a recent article titled ‘We ain’t found shit‘ why the Iranians shouldn’t accept ‘no notice’ inspections of its nuclear sites. The ‘no notice’ inspection on Iraq didn’t help with the disarmament process, but they were a gold mine for illegitimate espionage. The Iranians learned from our mistakes and they were much better negotiators.” The New York Times earlier this year published a piece by John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN from 2005 to 2006 and now with the American Enterprise Institute. In the piece, ‘To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran,’ he claims: “The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq.” It’s a claim that’s long been made by war hawks, for example, Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic has claimed: “In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting — forever, as it turned out — Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions.” Again Khadduri responds: “This is nonsense. I worked on the pre-1981 nuclear program and I was certain it would not be used for military purposes. But after the 1981 bombing, we were so angry that we were ready to work on a military program. The Israeli attack didn’t end the nuclear weapons program, it began it.” Khadduri added: “The Iranian nuclear program is peaceful. Their nuclear program started in the 1950s under the U.S. government’s Atoms for Peace project, which sent Iraq, Iran and other counties nuclear plans. In the case of Iraq, it was a gift from the U.S. for joining the Baghdad Pact. After the revolution in Iraq ended the monarchy, the U.S. built for Iran the plant they were going to build for us. …The Iranian nuclear program really took off in the 1970s after the U.S. convinced the Shah that he could be a regional power only if he embraced the atom. But the U.S. was trying to gouge the Shah, so he had the Germans build his reactors. A main component of the Iranian program is a research reactor used for medical purposes — even Iranian Americans frequently go back to Tehran for chemo because it’s provided for free. …When Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, he stopped work on Iranian nuclear facilities. He had already come to the position that having nuclear weapons was religiously prohibited and the financial costs were enormous. But he eventually allowed it to be restarted for peaceful purposes since the costs of cancelling the contracts were high. During the war with Iran, Iraq attacked the Iranian nuclear facilities more than 12 times, but they were minor attacks. But after the Iranians bombed Iraqi oil refineries, Saddam ordered the destruction of two Iranian reactors in 1987, killing 14 people including one German and the Germans withdrew. Since then, the Iranians have been struggling to have a serious nuclear program for civilian purposes, and the U.S. has continuously put up road blocks. The recent deal compromises Iran’s notion of nuclear sovereignty, but gets the Iranians what they really wanted.”

Show Details for the week of July 27th, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

  • What can the experience of the Iraq war teach us about the Iranian nuclear program? We talk with former Iraqi nuclear scientist Imad Khadduri
  • National news is increasingly covering the deaths of people, many/most of them minorities, while in police custody. The case of Sandra Bland in Texas is only one such case. Increasingly, these cases are gaining exposure because of citizen video documentation. We talk with Miami multimedia journalist Carlos Miller, the founder of Photography is Not a Crime

More about this week’s guests

Imad Khadduri has an MSc in Physics from the University of Michigan (United States) and a PhD in Nuclear Reactor Technology from the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). Khadduri worked with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission from 1968 until 1998. He was able to leave Iraq in late 1998 with his family. He now teaches and works as a network administrator in Toronto, Canada. He has been interviewed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, CBC, FOX, ABC, MSNBC, BBC, CTV, the Toronto Star, Reuters, Democracy Now, Dubai Business TV Channel, al-Jazeera satellite channel and various other news agencies in regards to his knowledge of the Iraqi nuclear program. Khadduri is author of the books Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage: Memoirs and Delusions and Unrevealed Milestones in the Iraqi National Nuclear Program 1981-1991. He now runs the “Free Iraq” blog.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Khadduri argued that, contrary to what the Bush administration was claiming, the Iraqi nuclear weapons program had been dismantled since the 1991 attack on Iraq. In a November 21, 2002 article, a few months before the occupation, “Iraq’s nuclear non-capability,” he wrote: “Bush and Blair are pulling their public by the nose, covering their hollow patriotic egging on with once again shoddy intelligence. But the two parading emperors have no clothes.”

Max Fisher claimed in Vox recently that if “Iran tried to block inspectors…that would blow up the deal. … This was something that so infuriated the world when Iraq’s Saddam Hussein tried it in 1998 that it ended with his country getting bombed shortly thereafter.” Khadduri’s response: “This doesn’t reflect what actually happened. The U.S. used inspectors as a method of espionage, not for legitimate arms inspections purposes. Scott Ritter notes in a recent article titled ‘We ain’t found shit‘ why the Iranians shouldn’t accept ‘no notice’ inspections of its nuclear sites. The ‘no notice’ inspection on Iraq didn’t help with the disarmament process, but they were a gold mine for illegitimate espionage. The Iranians learned from our mistakes and they were much better negotiators.” The New York Times earlier this year published a piece by John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN from 2005 to 2006 and now with the American Enterprise Institute. In the piece, ‘To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran,’ he claims: “The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq.” It’s a claim that’s long been made by war hawks, for example, Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic has claimed: “In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting — forever, as it turned out — Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions.” Again Khadduri responds: “This is nonsense. I worked on the pre-1981 nuclear program and I was certain it would not be used for military purposes. But after the 1981 bombing, we were so angry that we were ready to work on a military program. The Israeli attack didn’t end the nuclear weapons program, it began it.” Khadduri added: “The Iranian nuclear program is peaceful. Their nuclear program started in the 1950s under the U.S. government’s Atoms for Peace project, which sent Iraq, Iran and other counties nuclear plans. In the case of Iraq, it was a gift from the U.S. for joining the Baghdad Pact. After the revolution in Iraq ended the monarchy, the U.S. built for Iran the plant they were going to build for us. …The Iranian nuclear program really took off in the 1970s after the U.S. convinced the Shah that he could be a regional power only if he embraced the atom. But the U.S. was trying to gouge the Shah, so he had the Germans build his reactors. A main component of the Iranian program is a research reactor used for medical purposes — even Iranian Americans frequently go back to Tehran for chemo because it’s provided for free. …When Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, he stopped work on Iranian nuclear facilities. He had already come to the position that having nuclear weapons was religiously prohibited and the financial costs were enormous. But he eventually allowed it to be restarted for peaceful purposes since the costs of cancelling the contracts were high. During the war with Iran, Iraq attacked the Iranian nuclear facilities more than 12 times, but they were minor attacks. But after the Iranians bombed Iraqi oil refineries, Saddam ordered the destruction of two Iranian reactors in 1987, killing 14 people including one German and the Germans withdrew. Since then, the Iranians have been struggling to have a serious nuclear program for civilian purposes, and the U.S. has continuously put up road blocks. The recent deal compromises Iran’s notion of nuclear sovereignty, but gets the Iranians what they really wanted.”

Carlos Miller was arrested for taking photos of Miami police during a journalistic assignment in order to document his trial in 2007. Shortly afterwards he founded Photography is Not a Crime. He quickly learned that citizens from all over the country were being harassed, threatened and arrested for recording in public, so he began documenting these incidents on his blog as he waited for his trial to begin.

By the time he went to trial more than a year later, the blog had developed a significant following who not only began learning about their rights, but also exercising those rights, many of them equipped with newly introduced smartphones which allowed them to record and upload videos instantly, something that had never been possible before.

Photography is Not a Crime, which became known as PINAC,  inspired many new blogs, Youtube channels and Facebook pages that became dedicated to documenting police abuses throughout the country, sparking the movement that continues to grow today that is holding police accountable better than the mainstream media, politicians or the police themselves.

Today, PINAC is an evolving multi-staffed news site of writers, researchers and correspondents in almost every state.

For more background on the growth of PINAC, click on this story by the Columbia Journalism Review. Also, check out the above video by We Are Change where Miller talks about the birth of the blog. And here is a nice piece from the Florida Times-Union that provides good background.

Show Details for the week of July 20th, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

  • The Puerto Rico debt Crisis with Julio Ricardo Varela
  • The Iran Nuclear deal with Gareth Porter.

More about our guests:

Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77) is Digital Media Director of NPR’s Latino USA and the Founder of Latino Rebels LatinoRebels.com, Julio made several co-host appearances on Al Jazeera America’s “The Stream” and Al Jazeera English’s “The Stream.” He is a Harvard graduate in Latin American History and Literature.

Gareth Porter (@GarethPorter) is an independent investigative journalist and historian writing on US national security policy.  His latest book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, was published in February 2014. Gareth has also published investigative articles on Salon.com, the Nation, the American Prospect, Truthout and The Raw Story. His blogs have been published on Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Counterpunch and many other websites. Porter was Saigon bureau chief of Dispatch News Service International in 1971 and later reported on trips to Southeast Asia for The Guardian, Asian Wall Street Journal and Pacific News Service. He is also the author of four books on the Vietnam War and the political system of Vietnam. Historian Andrew Bacevich called his latest book, ‘Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War’, published by University of California Press in 2005, “without a doubt, the most important contribution to the history of U.S. national security policy to appear in the past decade.” He has taught Southeast Asian politics and international studies at American University, City College of New York and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Show Details for the week of July 13th, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

More about this week’s guests:

Antonia Juhasz is a leading oil and energy expert. She is a policy analyst, author and investigative journalist. Juhasz is the author of three books: Black Tide (2011), The Tyranny of Oil (2008), and The Bush Agenda (2006). She holds a Masters Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a Bachelors Degree in Public Policy from Brown University. An award winning writer, her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, CNN.com, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, Petroleum Review Magazine, The Advocate, The Nation, In These Times, Washington Post, Cambridge University Review of International Relations Journal, Roll Call, The Daily Mirror – Zimbabwe, The Star – Johannesburg, Multinational Monitor, Tikkun, LeftTurn, Alternet.org, The Huffington Post, and many more. Juhasz received grants in 2014-2015 and 2013-2014 from the Max & Anna Levinson Foundation to support her ongoing work in investigative journalism in the oil and energy sectors with Media Alliance and the Investigative Reporting Program, respectively. Juhasz was a 2012-2013 Investigative Journalism Fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program, a working news room at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. She investigated the role of oil and natural gas in the Afghanistan war. In 2012, Juhasz received funding from The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute to conduct two on-the-ground investigations into the ongoing impacts of the BP Gulf oil spill. Juhasz is the author of BLACK TIDE: the Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill (Wiley 2011), a searing look at the human face of BP’s disaster the Gulf. An in-depth investigation into the causes and consequences of the largest offshore drilling oil spill in world history. It uncovers the public policy choices that enabled the disaster to take place and the obstacles that have prevented the best policy responses from occurring. Black Tide includes first-hand interviews with key actors in government, industry, and advocacy organizations. Juhasz reports from the front lines where she was embedded in those communities most impacted by the disaster. “These remarkable stories—of loss, heroism, and culpability—are a vivid reminder that this catastrophe will be with us for decades” Naomi Klein “Masterfully report,” Ms. Magazine. “Both engaging and informative,” Mother Jones.

William R. Polk is a graduate of Harvard University (B,A.  and Ph.D.) and Oxford University (B.A. and M.A.).  He also studied at the Universidad Nacional de Mexico, the Universidad Nacional de Chile, the University of Baghdad and the American University of  Beirut. Dr. Polk taught history and Arabic language and literature and helped to found the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University from 1955 to 1961 when President Kennedy appointed him the Member of the Policy Planning Council responsible for the Middle East,  Central Asia and much of Africa.  On the Council, he also dealt with a number of special issues including development, refugees and cultural exchange.  And there he was the head of various interdepartmental tasks forces on foreign affairs including efforts to end the Algerian war, the revision of American relations with Turkey and the Palestine problem.   During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he served as one of three members of the Crisis Management Committee.  During this period he was asked to become Deputy Commissioner General of UNRWA. In 1965, Dr. Polk resigned from government service to become Professor of History at the University of Chicago.  There he established the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and was a founding director of the American Middle Eastern Studies Association. In 1967 he became the founding director (later President) of the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs which, among other ventures, hosted the 20th Pugwash Conference on nuclear weapons and did much of the planning for the United Nations Environment Program. He was called back to the White House briefly during the 1967 Middle Eastern war to write a draft peace treaty and to act as assistant to the former Director of the National Security Council and then the President’s special assistant, McGeorge Bundy.   In 1970, at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir he successfully negotiated with President Nasser of Egypt a ceasefire on the Suez Canal. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, he grew up there and on a nearby ranch.  He attended public school in Fort World and, during the Second World War was trained for the cavalry at the New Mexico Military Institute.  After the war ended, he worked on a newspaper in Rome before entering college. He was awarded four Rockefeller Foundation, one Ford and one Guggenheim fellowship and, during his time in government, he received a commendation from the Department of Defense and the Medal of Honor from the Kingdom of Afghanistan. Dr. Polk has traveled extensively throughout Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe and speaks several of he languages of those areas. He has written a number of books (some of which are listed under “Books”) and has served on the boards of various foundations and businesses.  In addition,  he has acted as an advisor to the chief executives of a dozen major corporations. Dr. Polk has lectured in over a hundred universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Chicago, Northwestern, SMU, Texas, UCLA, Berkeley, the University of Colorado, and research institutions including The Council on Foreign Relations, the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), Brookings, and the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In addition he has appeared frequently on radio and television programs including CBS, ABC, PBS, BBC, Channel 24 (Paris)  and a large number of local stations. He has also spoken to many public affairs groups, clubs and civic organizations.

Show Details for the week of July 6th, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

  • An interview with Dahr Jamail on the “Sixth Great Mass Extinction Event” that is already underway.
  • An interview with Adam Johnson on overblown FBI terror warnings

More about this week’s guests:

Dahr Jamail (@DahrJamail) is a Truthout staff reporter and the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last ten years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards. His third book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with William Rivers Pitt, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in Washington State.

Article: Sixth Great Mass Extinction Event Begins; 2015 on Pace to Become Hottest Year on Record

In part, the article states:

…the most important development this month is clearly a recently published study in Science that states, unequivocally, that the planet has officially entered its sixth mass extinction event. The study showed that species are already being killed off at rates much faster than they were during the other five extinction events, and warned ominously that humans could very likely be among the first wave of species going extinct.

The lead author of the study, Gerardo Ceballos of the Universidad Autónoma de México, told reporters that if current rates of ACD, deforestation and pollution are allowed to continue, “Life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on.”

Another alarming feature of the study is that it is admittedly conservative. On page three it states: “We emphasize that our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis.”

Adam Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) is a Writer at , and contributing writer He just wrote the piece “Zero for 40 at Predicting Attacks: Why Do Media Still Take FBI Terror Warnings Seriously?” for the media watch group FAIR about sensationalist mainstream media outlets repeating “the latest press release by the FBI that country was under a new ‘heightened terror alert’ from ‘ISIL-inspired attacks'” for July 4

The article says, in part: “CNN led with the breathless warning on several of its cable programs, complete with a special report by Jim Sciutto of ‘The Lead’ in primetime. The threat was given extra credence when former CIA director — and consultant at D.C. PR firm Beacon Global Strategies — Michael Morell went on CBS ‘This Morning’ (6/29/15) and scared the ever-living bejesus out of everyone by saying he ‘wouldn’t be surprised if we were sitting [in the studio] next week discussing an attack on the U.S.’ The first piece of evidence Morell used to justify his apocalyptic posture, the ’50 ISIS arrests,’ was accompanied by a scary map on the CBS jumbotron showing ‘ISIS arrests’ all throughout the U.S.

But one key detail is missing from this  graphic: None of these ‘ISIS arrests’ involved any actual members of ISIS, only members of the FBI — and their network of informants — posing as such … the viewer is left thinking the FBI arrested 50 actual ISIS sleeper cells….Nevertheless, the ominous FBI (or Department of Homeland Security) ‘terror warning’ has become such a staple of the on-going, seemingly endless ‘war on terror’ (d/b/a war on ISIS), we hardly even notice it anymore. Marked by a feedback loop of extremist propaganda, unverifiable claims about ‘online chatter’ and fuzzy pronouncements issued by a never ending string of faceless Muslim bad guys, and given PR cover by FBI-contrived ‘terror plots,’ the specter of the impending ‘attack’ is part of a broader white noise of fear that never went away after 9/11. Indeed, the verbiage employed by the FBI in this latest warning — ‘we’re asking people to remain vigilant’ — implies no actual change of the status quo, just an hysterical nudge to not let down our collective guard…There’s only one problem: These warnings never actually come to fruition. Not rarely, or almost never, but — by all accounts — never. No attacks, no arrests, no suspects at large.” Johnson lists forty previous FBI and DHS ‘terror warnings’ over the past 14 years, none of which actually predicted or foiled an attack.”

One aspect of this, Johnson writes, is the “FBI, like all agencies of the government, does not operate in a political vacuum. Emphasizing the ‘ISIS threat’ at home necessarily helps prop up the broader war effort the FBI’s boss, the president of the United States, must sell to a war-weary public. The incentive is to therefore highlight the smallest threats. This was a feature that did not go unnoticed during the Bush years, but has since fallen out of fashion.”

Before the Dawn by Kathy Kelly

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Before the Dawn
by Kathy Kelly

June 30, 2015

Each year, throughout the Muslim world, believers participate in the month-long Ramadan fast. Here in Kabul, where I’m a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, our household awakens at 2:15 a.m. to prepare a simple meal before the fast begins at about 3:00 a.m.  I like the easy companionship we feel, seated on the floor, sharing our food.  Friday, the day off, is household clean-up day, and it seemed a bit odd, to be sweeping and washing floors in the pre-dawn hours, but we tended to various tasks and then caught a nap before heading over to meet the early bird students at the Street Kids School, a project my hosts are running for child laborers who otherwise couldn’t go to school.

I didn’t nap – I was fitful and couldn’t, my mind filled with images from a memoir, Guantanamo Diary, which I’ve been reading since arriving here.   Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s  story of being imprisoned in Guantanamo since 2002 rightly disturbs me. In all his years of captivity, he has never been charged with a crime. He has suffered grotesque torture, humiliation and mistreatment, and yet his memoir includes many humane, tender accounts, including remembrances of past Ramadan fasts spent with his family.

Describing his early time in a Jordanian prison, he writes:

“It was Ramadan, and so we got two meals served, one at sunset and the second before the first light. The cook woke me up and served me my early meal. Suhoor is what we call this meal; it marks the beginning of our fasting, which lasts until sunset. At home, it’s more than just a meal. The atmosphere matters. My older sister wakes everybody and we sit together eating and sipping the warm tea and enjoying each other’s company.”

I’ve never heard Muslims complain about being hungry and thirsty as they await the fast-breaking meal.   Nor have I heard people brag about contributions they’ve made to alleviate the sufferings of others, although I know Islam urges such sharing during Ramadan and aims to build empathy for those afflicted by ongoing hunger and thirst.   Mohamedou relied on empathy to help him through some of his most intense anguish and fear.

“I was thinking about all my innocent brothers who were and still are being rendered to strange places and countries,” he wrote, describing a rendition flight from Senegal to Mauritania, “and I felt solaced and not alone anymore.   I felt the spirits of unjustly mistreated people with me. I had heard so many stories about brothers being passed back and forth like a soccer ball just because they have once been in Afghanistan, or Bosnia, or Chechnya.   That’s screwed up!     Thousands of miles away, I felt the warm breath of these other unjustly treated individuals comforting me.”

A judge ordered Mohamedou’s immediate release in 2010. But the Obama administration appealed the decision, leaving him in a legal limbo.

Photo credit: Mohamedou Slahi photo: International Committee of the Red Cross

From 1988 to 1991, Mohamedou had studied electrical engineering in Germany. In early 1991, he spent seven weeks, in Afghanistan, learning how to use mortars and light weapons, training which would allow him to join the U.S.-backed insurgency against the Soviet-backed government in Kabul. He was one of Ronald Reagan’s celebrated “freedom fighters.” In early 1992, when the communist supported Afghan government was near collapse, he again went to Afghanistan and, for three weeks, fought with insurgents to overtake the city of Gardez.   Kabul fell shortly thereafter. Mohamedou soon saw that the Mujahedeen insurgents were fighting amongst themselves over power grabs. He didn’t want to be part of this fight and so he went back to Germany, then Canada and, eventually, home to Mauritania, where he was arrested and “rendered” to Jordan for questioning, at last arriving in Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Force Base on his way to Guantanamo.

I wonder how he is feeling as he observes Ramadan without his family for the 13thconsecutive year. I wish he could know that growing numbers of people in the U.S. believe he should be released and want to help atone for the suffering he has endured. Martha Hennessy, who arrived in Kabul with me, several weeks ago, hurried back to the U.S. to face charges for protesting against U.S. legitimation of torture only to learn that both of the Witness Against Torture campaign cases scheduled for trial that week were dismissed.   Perhaps public opinion now requires that the U.S. Department of Justice recognize that activists’ right and duty to protest the cruel abuses of U.S. torture policies.

I wish Mohamedou could visit Afghanistan again, not as part of a training camp for insurgents, not as a terrified, shackled prisoner, but as a guest of the community here.   A former U.S. military person dropped by the Street Kids School on Friday morning. The U.S. Air Force trained her to operate weaponized drones over Afghanistan. Now, she comes to Afghanistan annually to plant trees all over the country.   She feels deep remorse for the time in her life when she helped attack Afghans.

I don’t believe in training anyone to use weapons, but as I read Mohamedou’s words about his brothers who went to foreign countries as fighters, I thought of the Pentagon’s recent practice runs, over the New Mexico desert, training people to fire the terrifying Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), a bunker buster bomb which is 20 feet long, weighs 15 tons and carries about 5,300 pounds of explosives. People in the U.S. should consider how their horror at the violence of U.S. enemies encourages and exonerates the far more crushing violence of their own government, engaged at this moment in conflicts throughout the developing world and armed with weapons capable of extinguishing all human life within minutes.

On this fast day, I remember that many U.S. people worry, like anyone anywhere, about the hardships a new day may bring, in a dangerous and uncertain time that seems to be dawning on every nation and the species as a whole.  In the U.S., we carry the added knowledge that most of the world lives much more poorly – in a material sense, at least – than we do, and that were the sun to truly rise upon the U.S., with familiar words of equality and justice truly realized, we would have to share much of our wealth with a suffering world.
We would learn to “live simply so that others might simply live.”  We would find deep satisfaction in beholding faces like those of my friends gathered for a friendly morning meal before a day of voluntary fasting.  Or, like Mohamedou, find warmth in the imagined breath of others sharing involuntary hardships. “Another world  is not only possible,” writes author and activist Arundhoti Roy,  “she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”  U.S. people must know that life in the daylight might also be the start of an unaccustomed fast.

Photo credit: Witness Against Torture rally at White House, Jan. 12, 2014 photo: Witness Against Torture campaign

When will day break? I haven’t a clock nearby to tell me when, but I can’t go back to sleep. When I see the children adapt so readily to the schooling denied them, when I watch my young friends struggle eagerly to take the small steps allowed them, sowing seeds of mutual understanding or planting trees in Kabul, and when I read such grace and dignity in the words of Mohamedou Ould Slahi after years of torture, I have to believe that a dawn will come. For now, it remains a blessing to work alongside people awake together, even in darkness, working to face burdens with kindness, ready to join with kindred spirits near and far, faces aglow with precious glimmers of a coming day.

Kathy Kelly co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org). While in Kabul, she is a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (www.ourjourneytosmile.com) 

Show Details for the week of June 29th, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Former Soldier and current Peace Activist Ellen Barfield on her transformation and the activism of Resisting Drones
  • Writer, Academic, Activist, and Commentator Yasmin Nair on The Supreme Court same-sex ruling and “The Secret History of Gay Marriage”

More about this week’s guests:

Ellen Barfield grew up in Texas. Like so many, she joined the Army to get the money to
finish college. While in the army she was stationed in Germany and Korea. She served in the U.S. Army from 1977-1981. She has been a full-time peace and justice activist for nearly thirty years. In addition to being on the board of the War Resisters League, Ellen is the coordinator of the Veterans for Peace Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter, and works on national committees of VFP, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and School of the Americas Watch.

Since 2010 Hancock has been the home of the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard – an MQ9 Reaper drone hub piloting weaponized drones 24/7 over Afghanistan and likely elsewhere. Also since 2010 Hancock has been the scene of twice-monthly anti-drone demonstrations outside its main gate as well as occasional larger demonstrations and scrupulously nonviolent civil resistance organized by Upstate Drone Action, a grassroots coalition. These have led to over 160 arrests, and numerous trials in DeWitt as well as $375 fines, Orders of Protection, and numerous incarcerations. Read more about anti-drone actions www.upstatedroneaction.org

Ellen Barfield was  among 31 arrested in the driveway to Hancock’s main gate on East Molloy Rd on April 28, 2013 for “dieing-in” with bloody shrouds or for attempting to read aloud to the military personnel behind Hancock’s barbed wire fence a list of children killed by U.S. drones. The activists said they sought to “prick the conscience” of base personnel and the chain of command responsible for the war crime originating there.

On June 27th, after deliberating a couple hours, a six-person jury found four of those arrested, including Ellen, not guilty of obstructing government administration (OGA) at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, New York, but guilty of trespass, a violation carrying a maximum 15-day imprisonment.

Yasmin Nair is a co-founder and member of the editorial collective  Against Equality; she contributed essays on gay marriage, hate crime legislation, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to their book, Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion. She is also a member of the Chicago grassroots organisation Gender JUST (Justice United for Societal Transformation) and serves as its Policy Director (a volunteer position).  Nair was, from 1999-2003, a member of the now-defunct Queer to the Left.  Her activist work includes gentrification, immigration, public education, and youth at risk. Her recent article is called The Secret History of Gay Marriage

Yasmin Nair‘s writing and organizing focuses on neoliberalism and inequality, queer politics and theory, the politics of rescue and affect, sex trafficking, the art world, and the immigration crisis.  You can read her work in various anthologies and journals, including Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters and How to Stop It, Windy City Queer: Dispatches from the Third Coast, Arab Studies Quarterly and Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America.