Today, part one of our special look back at 2007, including Saddam Hussein’s execution, the U.S. bombing of Somalia, the Appeal for Redress, Scooter Libby’s convicton, the firing of Don Imus, the Virginia Tech massacre, the rise of Blackwater, the death of Molly Ivins and Kurt Vonnegut, Michael Moore and "Sicko", Greg Palast and Rep. Conyers on vulture funds, the Hamas-Fatah split in the Palestinian territories, the U.S. Social Forum and more.
Featuring the Voices of:
Nancy Pelosi, Cindy Sheehan
President Bush, Sgt. Ronn Cantu, Leslie Cagan
Sen. Patrick Leahy, Zanku Armenian
Molly Ivins, Sami Al-Arian, Laila Al-Arian
Greg Palast, Rep. John Conyers, Salim Lone
Patrick Fitzgerald, Murray Waas
Dennis Kucinich, Jeremy Scahill, Don Imus
Rev. Al Sharpton, Bill McKibben, Louise Melling
Alberto Gonzales, Sen. Dianne Feinstein,
Seymour Hersh, Katrina Vanden Heuvel,
Ernesto Arce, Paul Rusesabegina, Don Cheadle
Sen. Daniel Akaka, General John Batiste
Majid and 9 yr old son Kevan
Ricardo Alarcon, Tony Blair, Joan Baez
Tariq Ali, Studs Terkel, Ted Shaw, Mona El-Farra
Rocky Anderson, Michael Moore, Ali Abinumah
Vanessa Redgrave, Dennis Brutus, and more
Tune in Tuesday, January 1 for Part 2 of our look back at 2007. [includes rush transcript]
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, the first six months of our look back at 2007. We begin in January.
- The Hanging of Saddam Hussein: A Roundtable Discussion on International Law, the U.S. Role, the Kurdish Response and the Media’s Glossing Over of U.S. Ties to Saddam (1/2/07):
AMY GOODMAN: It was a grisly scene. Just after dawn Saturday, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging in Baghdad. A video released on the internet, filmed on a cellular phone, showed men preparing to execute Saddam Hussein.
RICHARD FALK: The execution, its manner, the fact of not only carrying out a death penalty at a time when most liberal democracies have repudiated that as an option for the state and doing it in a particularly horrifying manner, has completely eclipsed the criminality of Saddam Hussein’s period of brutal rule. And I think in a way that’s the greatest cost, aside from the public relations catastrophe for the United States and the current Iraqi leadership that’s associated with the way in which this execution was carried out.
JUAN GONZALEZ: In Washington, Nancy Pelosi was elected Thursday to be the country’s first female Speaker of the House as the Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress for the first time in a dozen years. In the Senate, Harry Reid was elected Majority Leader. Shortly after becoming Speaker, Pelosi addressed the full House.
REP. NANCY PELOSI: It is a moment for which we have waited over 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren’t just waiting; women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal.
CINDY SHEEHAN: The Democrats need to have a plan. They need to have the courage and the strength and the integrity to know that George Bush cannot fix this mess that he has gotten our country into. The Democratic congress is going to have to be the ones to fix the mess.
AMY GOODMAN: U.S. Special Operations forces have launched a pair of air strikes on the Somali region of Raz Kamboni. Many people are believed to have been killed. The dead are said to include a four-year-old boy. The Pentagon says the target of the strikes were members of al-Qaeda connected to the ’98 bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
SALIM LONE: This has escalated this war, begun basically by Ethiopia when they invaded Somalia. And it has opened—and this is what is so incredulous to me, I find, incredulous that the US has opened another front in the Muslim world. I do not understand what the intention is. The world does want to help the US end terror, but the way the US repeatedly is doing it, from Iraq and Afghanistan to now in Somalia, this will increase the amount of terrorism that exists in the world and certainly in this region.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence—and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I have committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them—five brigades—will be deployed to Baghdad.
AMY GOODMAN: Sergeant Ronn Cantu is an Army sergeant serving his second tour of duty in Iraq right now. He recently signed a petition to Congress, known as an Appeal for Redress, calling for the withdrawal of US troops. The appeal will be delivered to Capitol Hill next week.
SGT. RONN CANTU: Any troop increase over here, it’s just going to be more sitting ducks, more targets. Everything we’re doing is reactive. People go out on patrols, and they’re sitting ducks until somebody strikes first. There was a story relayed to me by somebody I know—I don’t want to give his name—a soldier was shot in the face, and nobody fired back, because they couldn’t see where it was coming from.
LESLIE CAGAN: This shows just how deeply the people of this country, including the people who wear the uniform of the United States military, how deeply people feel in their opposition to what the President has brought to us and to the people of Iraq. This war has to end. It never should have started. It was a war totally based on lies. It has to end. It has to end now.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, the Bush administration’s handling of the case of Maher Arar came under new scrutiny Thursday when Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, now controlled by the Democrats. Arar is the Canadian citizen who was seized by U.S. officials during a stopover flight in New York in 2002. He was secretly sent to Syria as part of the Bush administration’s extraordinary rendition program.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Attorney General, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to treat this lightly. We knew damn well if he went to Canada, he wouldn’t be tortured. He’d be held; he’d be investigated. We also knew damn well if he went to Syria, he would be tortured. And it’s beneath the dignity of this country, a country that has always been a beacon of human rights, to send somebody to another country to be tortured.
AMY GOODMAN: Today is the funeral of the prominent Turkish newspaper editor Hrant Dink. He was shot dead outside his office last Friday. Dink had recently received death threats by Turkish nationalists for his writings about the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
ZANKU ARMENIAN: Well, Hrant Dink was not only a leader in the Armenian context, but also in terms of Turkish society. He was one of those brave and courageous people who decided to stick his neck out and speak about the truth, the truth about the Armenian Genocide, and in his attempt to educate Turkish citizenry about the Armenian Genocide and start a dialogue, and for that, he paid with his life.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we’re in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk.
PATRICK COCKBURN: Iraqis spend most of their time just trying to survive day to day, just trying to stay alive, not get kidnapped. So I think they’re pretty cynical about the troop surge. I mean, it sounds quite a large number—16,000, 17,000 US soldiers in Baghdad—but this is a city of six million. And it won’t—these will be very spread out on the ground. So I think that there isn’t much optimism here that the extra troops are going to have that much of an effect.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, the estimates varied from tens of thousands to half-a-million protesters who took to the streets of Washington, D.C. Saturday to call for an end to the war in Iraq. Veterans and military families joined lawmakers, peace groups, celebrities to urge Congress and President Bush to bring the troops home now.
PROTESTER: I’m here because I am sick of the lives wasted, the money squandered. It is time to bring our troops home and get down to sensible domestic and foreign policy.
JUAN GONZALEZ: The syndicated columnist and bestselling author Molly Ivins has died at the age of sixty-two. She passed away last night in her home in Austin, Texas, following a long bout with breast cancer. Her weekly column appeared in over 400 newspapers, making her the most widely read progressive columnist in the country.
MOLLY IVINS: Now, the thing about W is, when he misspeaks himself, you usually know what he’s trying to say. Unless he’s having a real bad day, you can tell what he meant to say even if he got some of the words a little bit wrong. They’re very, very funny as a father/son pair. The old man is clearly more at home in the world, a man of wider perspective and vision. W, again, is the little more narrow, little more—the Texas provincialism keeps showing. Always reminds me of every guy I’ve ever had dinner with at the Midland Petroleum Club. You know, you come away saying, “Gosh, what a swell bunch of fellows! Thank God they’re not running the world.”
AMY GOODMAN: In the four years since his arrest, Sami Al-Arian has never conducted a broadcast interview — until now. In this Democracy Now!
exclusive, we speak with Sami Al-Arian from prison. He called us yesterday from the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia.
SAMI AL-ARIAN: Well, I believe that freedom and human dignity are more precious than life itself. In essence, I’m taking a principled stand, that I’m willing to endure whatever it takes to win my freedom. I’m also protesting the continuous harassment campaign by the government against me because of my political beliefs.
LAILA AL-ARIAN: I was twenty-one when he was first arrested. I was a senior in college, about to graduate. And he ended up missing my graduation. And me and my older brother and younger sister, who’s twenty-one, are very much aware of what’s going on. And we’ve been, you know, his advocates for the past four years as much as we can. And we just see this as the government criminalizing political speech and association. It’s un-American. And that’s sort of my core understanding of my father’s case.
AMY GOODMAN: Vulture funds buy up the debt of poor countries at cheap prices, then demand payments much higher than the original amount of the debt, often taking poor countries to court when they cannot afford to repay.
GREG PALAST: And then they use political muscle, bribery or lawsuits to try to squeeze, not only get back the money that they put down—in the case of Zambia, $3 million by Mr. Goldfinger—or they’ll try to get $40 million.
AMY GOODMAN: House Judiciary Chair John Conyers appeared on Democracy Now!
The Michigan Congress member said he raised the issue with Present Bush on Thursday after hearing Palast’s report on our broadcast.
REP. JOHN CONYERS: But it was my job, I felt, to raise the whole question of this bond speculation that goes on at the expense of poor debtor countries, in which their debt is bought up and then they’re sued for the full amount. It’s bought up at pennies on the dollar, and then they’re sued. And I wanted to thank you for revealing this to us, because it allowed me to ask President Bush two questions: one, about Paul Singer and Michael Sheehan; and two, whether he would be willing to stop this incredible misuse of our government’s charity toward funding aid to our poorer nations.
AMY GOODMAN: The Washington Post
is reporting the U.S. Army’s top medical facility, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, has turned into a “virtual town of desperation and dysfunction.” The paper reports finding hospital rooms infested with mouse droppings, cockroaches, stained carpets, rodents and black mold. On the worst days, soldiers say they feel like they’re living a chapter of Catch-22.
FIRST LT. JULLIAN GOODRUM: I still have problems actually believing what I encountered was actually true. But, unfortunately, I was caught in a — or I actually found myself in a system that basically, as far as treating soldiers, was illegal and unethical, as far as, for myself, trying to receive the proper and mainstream medical care and also to be diagnosed properly and to be rated justly and fairly.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Human rights groups are calling for the US government to shut down a jail in Texas, where about 200 immigrant children, some only infants, are being detained. Ten months ago, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement began holding families in the Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas, owned by the private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America. Many of the families held at the facility are seeking asylum in the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: We have just gotten a call from the Hutto detention facility. We’re joined on the phone by an Iranian immigrant named Majid, from inside the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. He, his wife, his nine-year-old son Kevin have been held at the center for the past nineteen days.
MAJID: They brought us here to Hutto Detention Center, and here we are in same part, but different room. My wife and my son is room, but it’s totally inside the room, uncovered toilet. My son has asthma, and he’s very bad and still comes here. It’s very horrible here. And we are in very bad situation. We need help.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you put your son Kevin on? He’s standing next to you, nine years old?
MAJID: Yes. Just hold on, please?
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you. We’re talking to Majid and Kevin in the Hutto Detention Center that’s run by the Corrections Corporation of America in Taylor, Texas.
AMY GOODMAN: Hi, Kevin. How are you?
KEVIN: Not good.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Kevin, where are you staying at night? Are you with your parents, or are they locking you up separately?
KEVIN: I’m with my parents, but we’re in separate rooms.
JUAN GONZALEZ: In separate rooms?
JUAN GONZALEZ: And are they letting you—are you getting any kind of education, or are you just sitting in your cell all day?
KEVIN: We’re sitting in the cell all day.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you want to do now, Kevin?
KEVIN: I want to be free. I want to go outside, and I want to go to school. I want to be in my homeland: Canada.
AMY GOODMAN: Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, is facing up to twenty-five years in prison following his conviction on Tuesday in the CIA leak case. Jurors found Libby guilty of four felony counts, of making false statements to the FBI, lying to a grand jury and obstructing a probe into the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity. Libby is the highest-ranking White House official to be convicted of a felony since the Iran-Contra scandal nearly two decades ago.
PATRICK FITZGERALD: The jury was obviously convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had lied and obstructed justice in a serious matter. The results are actually sad. It’s sad that we had a situation where a high-level official, a person who worked in the office of Vice President, obstructed justice and lied under oath. We wish that had not happened, but it did.
MURRAY WAAS: What Libby was doing was he was lying about how he was engaged in another cover-up, which was how to manipulate—which was allegedly—or we can not say “allegedly,” we don’t have to say that anymore—how the use of intelligence information to make the case to go to war with Iraq and that information, the statements made by the Vice President and the President leading up to the war with Iraq, were false. So having been caught doing that or afraid of being caught doing that, Libby then essentially lied to cover that up, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: President Bush has arrived in Guatemala for the second-to-last stop of his five-nation tour of Latin America. He is meeting with Guatemalan President Oscar Berger for talks expected to be dominated by immigration and free trade.
Bush’s visit to the region has been marked by mass protest and marches. In Brazil Thursday, 30,000 people took to the streets. The next day in Uruguay, some 6,000 marched in the capital of Montevideo. In Bogota, police made 120 arrests when 5,000 protesters marched just one mile from where Bush held talks with the Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
AMY GOODMAN: The three police officers indicted for the killing of Sean Bell pleaded not guilty Monday after surrendering at the Queens County Courthouse. Bell was killed in November on his wedding day, when police fired fifty shots at the car carrying him and his two friends. All three men were unarmed. Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora are each charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter for Bell’s death.
REV. AL SHARPTON: We absolutely want to see an aggressive prosecution. We do not want to see any plea bargaining. We do not want to see harassment of witnesses, and we have informed him that he can feel fully empowered to tell the appellate court that we will not cooperate or testify in a trial outside of Queens County, because we feel that given the fact that the detectives did a very serious ad campaign themselves, they cannot talk about a change of venue, when they campaigned and put more money into a public campaign than anyone in the case. It was a very blunt meeting, a frank meeting. Both Trent Benefield and Joe are willing to proceed as long as there’s an aggressive prosecution. Again, I remind you that this is not a day of victory. We’re not walking out of this courtroom to Sean and Nicole’s wedding. We’re not walking out with their friend. There is no victory here, but we hope that we can get justice, so this will never happen again.
AMY GOODMAN: Power, Politics and Resistance, Democracy Now!
’s look back at 2007. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: We return now to part one of our Democracy Now!
look back at 2007.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, an in-depth look at Blackwater with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. He has just come out with his first book, its title, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army
JEREMY SCAHILL: A decade ago this company didn’t exist. It was little more than a 5,000-acre plot in North Carolina near the Great Dismal Swamp and the private fortune of its rightwing Christian bankroller-of-the-President founder, Erik Prince, whose family had a long history of backing Republican Revolution causes and the rise of the religious right. The company was started officially in ’96, began building up in ’97 as a sort of training facility for the federal forces, local and state law enforcement, as well as the military.
After 9/11, it became an all-out mercenary outfit and now has many, many government contracts. One of them alone with the State Department has generated $750 million for Blackwater since June of 2004. The company guards the senior US officials in Iraq, trains forces in Afghanistan, has been deployed in New Orleans. They have 2,300 men actively deployed around the world, another 20,000 contractors at the ready. It’s really the Praetorian Guard for the Bush administration’s global war on terror.
JUAN GONZALEZ: The Cincinnati-based fruit company Chiquita has found itself at the center of another major controversy over its practices in Latin America. On Monday, Chiquita admitted it had paid off the group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States government. Chiquita has agreed to pay the US government a fine of $25 million dollars on the condition that it doesn’t have to reveal the names of executives that were involved.
ADAM ISAACSON: The United Self-Defense Forces, which are on the United States’s list terrorist groups, have killed about 20,000 Colombians in the last twenty years, and they are responsible for about three-quarters, actually, of all killings in Colombia in the last twenty years. And they were founded by large landowners and by factions of the military, as well as by — and financed by drug lords.
So these guys came to Chiquita Brands in 1997 and said to them, we’re going to kick the guerrillas out of the Uraba region, which is the region in northwestern Colombia where the banana — really the banana heartland of Colombia, and we want money from you in order to do this.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, hundreds of members of ACT Up are heading back to Wall Street, this time to demand a single-payer healthcare system and drug price controls. Among those who will be walking will be the activist and writer Larry Kramer. In 1983, he helped found the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the country’s first AIDS organization. Four years later, he helped form ACT UP. He is a legendary and controversial figure in the gay rights movement.
LARRY KRAMER: Well, now there’s 70 million people with HIV, who have died or have it. An awful lot of people helped that happen. It takes a lot of government inaction to allow 70 million people to get infected. My particular—I have a letter in the New York Review of Books
. I have never appeared in the New York Review of Books before. They actually published a letter of mine about Ronald Reagan being a monster and that he was responsible for more deaths than Adolf Hitler, because his entire seven-eight years in office, next to nothing was done on HIV, on AIDS. They didn’t even put out a public health warning to say “Be careful,” allowing people to think everything was OK. So during those seven years, just about every gay man who had sex anywhere in the world had been exposed to the virus.
AMY GOODMAN: In 1971, psychology professor Philip Zimbardo created an experiment at Stanford University in which twenty-four male college students were randomly assigned the roles of prison guards and prisoners at a makeshift jail on campus, actually in the psychology building. The experiment was scheduled to run for two weeks. By day two, the guards were going far beyond keeping the prisoners behind bars. In scenes eerily similar to Abu Ghraib, prisoners were stripped naked, bags put on their heads and sexually humiliated.
PHILIP ZIMBARDO: What we wanted to do was create essential psychology of imprisonment, and that’s all about power. Every prison is about power. Guards have to assume more and more power and domination, and prisoners have to have their power stripped away. And so, that is the ultimate evil of prison. It’s all about power, dominance and mastery. And that was the same thing we found in Abu Ghraib prison.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk show host Don Imus is under fire for making racist comments on his radio broadcast. On Wednesday’s edition of Imus in the Morning
, Imus and his producer, Bernard McGuirk, spoke about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Rutgers had just lost the national championship game the night before.
DON IMUS: So I watched the basketball game last night between a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women’s final.
SID ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night, seventh championship for Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by thirteen points.
DON IMUS: Some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they’ve got tattoos and—
BERNARD McGUIRK: Some hardcore hos.
DON IMUS: That’s some nappy-headed hos there, I’m going to tell you that.
AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Al Sharpton, what are you calling for today?
REV. AL SHARPTON: I’m calling for Imus to be fired. I think that what he said was racist and sexist, and there must be accountability. If there is anything at all to FCC regulating and protecting the public, and if there’s any kind of ethics at all among advertisers, they would immediately move to have him removed. This is no borderline amusing comment. This is as racist and sexist as you can get.
Novelist Kurt Vonnegut Dies at 84 (4/12/07):
AMY GOODMAN: The author Kurt Vonnegut has died. He was eighty-four years old. Vonnegut authored at least nineteen novels, including Slaughterhouse-Five
and Cat’s Cradle. In recent years, Kurt Vonnegut was a fierce critic of the Bush administration and a columnist for the magazine In These Times.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Tens of thousands of Americans are gathering across the country in the largest-ever demonstration against global warming. Over 1,300 rallies, demonstrations and actions are being held in all fifty states to call on Congress to cut carbon emissions by 80% by the year by 2050.
BILL McKIBBEN: In Jacksonville, Florida, people are going to descend on the parking lot of the Jacksonville Jaguars football stadium, and they’ve hired a crane to lift a yacht twenty feet into the air so they can show people where the sea level is going to be some day, and they’re going to have a big gathering underneath. Down in the battery, midday, in Manhattan, there are going to be thousands of people in blue shirts crowding into Lower Manhattan to show where the new tide line will be, a kind of sea of people down there to demonstrate where the ocean will come not too far from now. Out in the Rockies there will be people descending, skiers descending in formation down those dwindling glaciers. You know, every corner of the country and every kind of person, evangelical churches, environmental groups, you name it, all joining this stepitup07.org thing.
AMY GOODMAN: There has been a startling new development in the Virginia Tech school massacre. Last night, NBC News announced that the gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, had mailed the network a multimedia package of disturbing video statements, a written manifesto and photographs of him holding the guns he used to kill at least thirty of his classmates and teachers. NBC aired some of his video statements.
CHO SEUNG-HUI: You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today. But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.
Supreme Court Upholds Late-Term Abortion Ban (4/19/07):
AMY GOODMAN: The Supreme Court handing down what’s being called one of the biggest setbacks for the abortion rights movement in years. On Wednesday, the court voted 5-4 to uphold a ban on late-term abortion. The so-called Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was signed into law in 2003, but it had been held up by rulings from lower courts.
LOUISE MELLING: This decision, as you said, is devastating. It’s incredibly significant. This is, as you commented on, the first time the court has upheld a restriction on abortion that lacks protections for women’s health. This is the first time—this is the first-ever federal law banning certain abortions, and the court has upheld that. This really is a decision that undermines a core principle of Roe
that’s been in place since 1973, that women’s health must remain paramount.
AMY GOODMAN: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s future at the Justice Department is in further doubt today, following his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Gonzales was questioned Thursday in the continued probe into the firing of eight US attorneys. In more than five hours of testimony, Gonzales claimed more than fifty times he could not recall certain events, including a conversation with President Bush.
ALBERTO GONZALES: Senator, I don’t recall specifically the genesis of the idea, although in going back and looking at the documents, it appears that there was some thinking about this as early as 2004. I will say this: I do support—I did support the change in the law, not in order to avoid Senate involvement, but because I, quite frankly, do not like the idea of the Judiciary deciding who serves on my staff, and that’s why it’s important to—
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: So you essentially approved it being conveyed to the Senate in the manner in which it was conveyed?
ALBERTO GONZALES: No, that’s not what I’m saying. I don’t have any recollection about the mechanics of getting it—of the legislative process—
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: So you don’t have a recollection.
AMY GOODMAN: The body of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin is to lie in state in Moscow, ahead of a funeral on Wednesday. Yeltsin died Monday of heart failure at the age of seventy-six. Boris Yeltsin came to power in 1991 as Russia’s first post-Soviet head of state, replacing Mikhail Gorbachev. He led the country’s chaotic transition from communism to a capitalist democracy.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: He squandered the democratic possibilities, I believe, that Mikhail Gorbachev opened for Russia. He did so in three ways: he presided over the greatest fire sale in twentieth century history, in my view, strip-mining the country; he launched the war against Chechnya, killing hundreds of thousands of Russian civilians and Chechens; and he presided over a corrosive poverty that to this day afflicts Russia.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about the tragic death of David Halberstam yesterday morning, killed in a car crash in Menlo Park, California, just given an address of University of California, Berkeley, Journalism School on Saturday, and the significance of David Halberstam in the world of journalism.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: He was a towering figure. I think his great significance was his reporting on Vietnam. From his first dispatches from that country, which won him a Pulitzer Prize, there was an unquenchable desire to report what he believed was the truth. I mean, I think he went to Vietnam believing the war was a good war and saw the truth, and he reported what he saw.
AMY GOODMAN: In Somalia, fierce fighting has killed over 320 people over the past ten days. This comes just three weeks after another series of battles claimed at least a thousand lives. Agence France-Presse described Thursday’s clashes in Mogadishu as some of the heaviest fighting in the city’s history.
SALIM LONE: …women are being raped, that hospitals are being bombed. This is clearly a huge effort to intimidate and terrorize all those who come from clans who are fighting the government. They want to intimidate the civilians, because most of the death toll is of civilians. So this has been going on, and there has been no call whatsoever for this to stop.
AMY GOODMAN: Hundreds of thousands of immigrants took to the streets Tuesday in protests in dozens of cities across the country. In Chicago, police said over 150,000 marched through downtown. In Phoenix, Arizona, organizers put the crowd size at 100,000. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, organizers estimated 60,000 people took part in the city’s second annual civil rights march and boycott. Another 10,000 immigrants marched in Detroit and Denver. Los Angeles held two large protests Tuesday. The afternoon protest in LA ended when police fired dozens of rubber bullets and tear gas into a peaceful crowd. Families with young children were forced to flee for their safety. Eyewitnesses said police gave little or no warning before firing the rubber bullets.
ERNESTO ARCE: A lot of people were running, screaming. There were families. There were children. There’s a large transient population that lives at MacArthur Park, a lot of homeless individuals, handicapped individuals and, of course, streetcar vendors that, you know, sell different fares, whether ice cream or hot dogs, and they were unable to get out on time. And the police were relentless. They were merciless. They would hit anyone in their path. They would shoot at anyone. Actually, a lot of people were shot on the back, including myself.
PAUL RUSESABAGINA: More than twelve years ago in Rwanda, a militia was slaughtering innocent civilians on the hills, in the cities and towns. Today, last year I went to Darfur. What I saw in Darfur is exactly what was going on in Rwanda during that time: more than two million people displaced without food, without shelter, without water, without education, which is the basic need for our future generations without any other hope. Ladies and gentlemen, what I saw in Darfur is a disaster and a shame to mankind. The international community, as Rwanda has been abandoned, Darfur is also abandoned.
AMY GOODMAN: Paul Rusesabagina, the Rwandan hotel manager who Don Cheadle played in Hotel Rwanda
. As you were making this film, the foundation was being laid for the genocide in Darfur. How did you go from Rwanda to Darfur, Don?
DON CHEADLE: John Prendergast came along, and we toured the camps, and I was able to get a firsthand accounting of what happened. And once I had seen with my own eyes and understood and listened to these people’s stories, it was very hard to just return to my comfortable life and not do anything when I had the opportunity to do a lot more.
JUAN GONZALEZ: John Prendergast, I’d like to ask you about the International Criminal Court. Clearly the Bush administration has had a very antagonistic view of the criminal court.
JOHN PRENDERGAST: The Bush administration has a whole lot of potential leverage that it’s squandering by its non-cooperation with the court. We don’t expect the Bush administration to sign the treaty, but we could, in fact, expect the administration to provide some declassified intelligence and information to the court in order to accelerate the indictments of some other senior officials within the regime that are more responsible for orchestrating the genocidal crimes that have been committed in Darfur. That, I think, is the—one of the most pressing policy imperatives today is to have the Bush administration quietly cooperate by providing information to the court to finally impose a cost for committing genocide.
AMY GOODMAN: Our first guest is one of the twenty-three Democrats who voted against the war in 2002. Senator Daniel Akaka is a Democratic senator from Hawaii, the first senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry and the Senate’s only Chinese American member.
SEN. DANIEL AKAKA: The people in Hawaii join the people on the continent in being very, very concerned about the Iraq war and especially the mistakes that have been made over time here.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Legendary folksinger and antiwar activist Joan Baez has been denied permission to sing at a concert for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
JOAN BAEZ: I’m not terribly surprised, although I did think, because of what’s going on, that the turmoil in this country and the changes, which have been fairly rapid, of the majority of the population really not wanting this war and generals popping up from here and there refusing to go and have any part of it or openly criticizing it or saying that “it is a scenario that is absolutely impossible, and I’ll have nothing to do with it,” that maybe, you know, the winds of war had switched a little bit, and maybe there were some people in that—in Walter Reed, especially because of the scandal, who would like to sort of change the course of things, and for that reason I might be let in.
AMY GOODMAN: Power, Politics and Resistance, part one of our look back at 2007. We come back in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We return to our Power, Politics and Resistance special, part one of our look back at 2007.
AMY GOODMAN: The latest news out of France, conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected the country’s new president. He won a clear victory over Socialist rival Segolene Royal with 53% of the vote to her 47%. The estimated turnout of 84% was the highest in France in thirty years. Sarkozy will officially replace President Jacques Chirac on May 17th to begin his five-year term.
DOUG IRELAND: It’s a very sharp, hard right turn that has taken place. This is the third consecutive defeat for the left in a presidential election. And Nicolas Sarkozy represents an extremely hard-line authoritarian conception of government on a whole host of social issues, represents Chicago School/Milton Friedman-style ultra-laissez-faire economics on economic issues, and represents the interests of the tycoons and business leaders in France.
JUAN GONZALEZ: The Cuban and Venezuelan governments have repeated their calls for former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles to be extradited to stand trial for his role in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed seventy-three people. Posada was scheduled to go on trial in Texas on Friday for immigration fraud, but a US federal judge tossed out the indictment Tuesday, making Posada a free man.
AMY GOODMAN: We go now to Havana for an exclusive satellite interview with the president of the Cuban National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon.
RICARDO ALARCON: After 9/11, the US promoted a resolution that is mandatory at the Security Council that, among other things, establishes that arguments of a political nature may not be admitted to deny extraditions to individuals associated with or allegedly associated with terrorist actions. And that is exactly what the US is doing at this moment. They do not have any option, according to international law, either to extradite Posada to Venezuela to continue the trial he was going through there twenty years ago or to prosecute him and present him to an American court of law.
JUAN GONZALEZ: British Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced he plans to resign next month after more than a decade in power.
PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: But I ask you to accept one thing: hand on heart, I did what I thought was right.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: When Tony Blair tells you something, as we say in Texas, you can take it to the bank. We’ve got a relationship, such that we can have really good discussions. And so, I’m going to miss him. He’s a remarkable person, and I consider him a good friend.
TARIQ ALI: We had no real accounting of why he’s leaving as prime minister. And the fact is he’s leaving is, because he’s hated. And the reason he’s hated is because he joined the neocons in Washington and went to war against Iraq, which now 78% of the population in this country oppose. And when people are being asked what will Blair’s legacy be, a large majority is saying Iraq. And I think that’s what he will be remembered for, as a prime minister who took a reluctant and skeptical country into a war designed by Washington and its neoconservative strategists, all of whom are in crisis.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you want them to think of when someone says “Studs Terkel”?
STUDS TERKEL: I want them to think of somebody who remembers them.
AMY GOODMAN: Last words to young people today?
STUDS TERKEL: Last words? Oh, I always say my epitaph. I know that. Can I try, Amy? My epitaph is, curiosity did not kill this cat.
JUAN GONZALEZ: We’re talking about Gaza, where at least twenty Palestinians were killed Wednesday in fierce internal fighting between the two main factions, Hamas and Fatah. As many as forty-four people have died, with more than 100 wounded, in four days of violence.
LAILA EL-HADDAD: People here are very perturbed and upset at what’s happening locally and place a lot of blame on the organizations themselves or the members or whoever is doing the shooting, but at the same time look at it within the larger context of the continuing Israeli occupation, the continuing Israeli siege of Gaza and, of course, the continuing global boycott of the Palestinian government and, even now, the Palestinian unity government, and taking a step further and seeing that there’s something far more sinister behind it all, particularly the US agenda to see the downfall of the unity government through arming, of course, and training Mohammad Dahlan, the Fatah strongman in Mahmoud Abbas’s security forces.
AMY GOODMAN: Lebanese tanks and artillery are continuing to shell a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli for a third day, amidst growing concerns for the 40,000 civilians trapped inside. The Nahr el-Bared camp has been under siege since Sunday, as Lebanese troops have battled with gunmen from the group Fatah al-Islam.
NICHOLAS BLANFORD: The civilians in the camp have been caught up in this confrontation between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam. So, of course, the bulk of the casualties is from the Lebanese army’s shelling of the camp. And it’s been—it’s quiet now, but it has been very heavy in the past, yesterday, especially yesterday afternoon, when you could watch from the high ground above the camp and see the mortar shells being fired from the Lebanese army positions, exploding from one end of the camp to the other, setting buildings on fire and causing, you know, I’m sure, very widespread damage down there.
AMY GOODMAN: The Lebanese government accuses Fatah al-Islam of having ties with al-Qaeda and the Syrian government. But there’s another theory of who’s backing the militant group: the Lebanese government itself, along with the United States.
SEYMOUR HERSH: We supported Osama bin Laden and other jihadists in Afghanistan against the Russians, and that didn’t work out so well. Well, we run right back to the well again, and we began supporting some of these jihadist groups, and particularly—in the article, I did name Fatah al-Islam.
JUAN GONZALEZ: On Capitol Hill, the House is expected to agree today to give President Bush $96 billion to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a major victory for the Bush administration, the Democratic leadership has abandoned its effort to include a non-binding timetable for withdrawal from the Iraq war.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: We were elected in November to end the war. That’s why people voted Democrat. That’s why they gave us control of the House and the Senate. And they expected us to take a new direction. They didn’t want a Democratic version of the war, and they didn’t want to be told later on, “Well, we just don’t have the votes.” Well, you know what? You don’t need the votes to say no. You just don’t offer any legislation at all.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I have always said that I will listen to the requests of our commanders on the ground.
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: Mr. President, you did not listen. You continue to pursue a failed strategy that is breaking our great Army and Marine Corps. I left the Army in protest in order to speak out. Mr. President, you have placed our nation in peril. Our only hope is that Congress will act now to protect our fighting men and women.
AMY GOODMAN: Major General John Batiste served as commander of the First Infantry Division in Iraq. He led 22,000 troops fighting in the Sunni Triangle. Batiste was offered a promotion to become a three-star general and the second-highest-ranking military officer in Iraq. Instead, he resigned after a thirty-one-year career in the Army.
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: Somebody had to speak out. If not me, who? How long are we going to continue down this road to nowhere, where we’re depending on our military almost entirely to accomplish this ill-fated mission in Iraq, all the while ignoring, virtually, the tough diplomatic, political and economic measures of a successful strategy and absolutely failing to mobilize this country to accomplish what I believe is a terribly important effort to defeat worldwide Islamic extremism, global terror, whatever you want to call it. But this is the defining issue of our time. I also believe that Iraq and Afghanistan are but the first two chapters in a very long book, very long book. And guess what? We’re off to a very bad start.
AMY GOODMAN: The APA convened a 2005 Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security to examine the issue. After just two days of deliberations, the task force concluded, “It is consistent with the APA Code of Ethics for psychologists to serve in consultative roles to interrogation or information-gathering processes.”
LEONARD RUBENSTEIN: Well, I think the most important aspect of the task force was that it was dominated by psychologists in military intelligence and from the intelligence agencies. And that fact and the fact that some of the people were actually directly involved in the use and development of SERE techniques for Guantanamo is what made the task force what it was and in some ways predetermined the outcome.
I think our concern also was the task force didn’t really come to grips with what the techniques being evaluated were. They actually didn’t discuss what techniques were used. They didn’t discuss the fact that severe humiliation, sexual humiliation, isolation, threats, all the kinds of horrors inflicted on people were really at stake, and that scientists, behavioral scientists, had somehow become implicated in torture.
AMY GOODMAN: Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, has been sentenced to thirty months in prison for lying to federal prosecutors about his role in the CIA leak case.
MURRAY WAAS: There were four convictions for obstruction of justice, perjury and lying to investigators. And the argument seemed, in part, to be that because of his government service, he shouldn’t serve any time, and Judge Walton disagreed with that, said no to that, and did practically just the opposite. In effect, I think the news today was that he tried to send not only the defendant a message, but he wanted to send the people in government or other people who are thinking of doing what Scooter Libby did a message: don’t do that.
Exclusive: Facing Seven Years in Jail, Environmental Activist Daniel McGowan Speaks Out About the Earth Liberation Front, the Green Scare and the Government’s Treatment of Activists as “Terrorists” (6/11/07):
AMY GOODMAN: Last week, the court sentenced environmental activist Daniel McGowan to seven years in prison for his role in two arsons in Oregon in 2001. The judge ruled one of the fires was an act of terrorism.
DANIEL McGOWAN: I was very disenchanted and very upset about what I saw. I think those feelings are legitimate, and I think young kids that have these feelings right now, and not so young kids, are — you know, they’re legitimate thoughts, and we have to — basically, we have to come up with ways of dealing with this crisis and stop ignoring it. And that was my message to the media that day, after sentencing, was we have to stop pretending this is all about crime and punishment and start dealing with like real issues like global climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: The Bush administration has been dealt a major setback in its treatment of prisoners in the so-called “war on terror.” On Monday, a federal appeals court ruled the administration cannot label US residents “enemy combatants” and jail them indefinitely without charge.
JONATHAN HAFETZ: This is a monumental victory for the rule of law in the United States, a vindication of basic constitutional principles, the right to habeas corpus
, to challenge your detention in a federal court, and the principle that no person can be held without due process of law.
AMY GOODMAN: Vanessa Redgrave is one of the most famous of the Redgrave acting dynasty with a career that spans nearly fifty years. She served as a UN Goodwill Ambassador, was a founding member of International Artists Against Racism.
VANESSA REDGRAVE: But what’s alarming is when you have a kind of decree-orientated leadership in a country, in Britain or in America or in any country, where a group — some are not elected, some elected — declare we are higher than the law. Now, that’s a very alarming situation for citizens in any country, because break the law at the top, break the foundations which were laid after the defeat of the Nazis and Fascism, after the Berlin Wall was overthrown and the totalitarian regimes were overthrown, too, break the laws at the top, and the whole of society becomes permeated with lawlessness. And history is the proof of that.
AMY GOODMAN: Hamas is in full control of the Gaza Strip following days of bloody clashes with the rival Palestinian faction Fatah. Hamas militants seized the presidential compound in Gaza City overnight after a week of fighting, which has left more than a hundred people dead. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday announced the dismissal of the Hamas-led government and declared a state of emergency.
ALI ABUNIMAH: Yes. What we’ve seen is really a direct result of the Bush doctrine. Since January 2006, when Hamas won the legislative election fair and square, the United States refused the election result, and it has been arming several Palestinian militias, particularly those controlled by the Gaza warlord, Mohammed Dahlan. This is a repeat strategy of the Contras. These are Palestinian Contras. And the architect of this policy is none other than Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security advisor, who was convicted for lying to congress in the Iran-contra scandal.
An Hour with Michael Moore on “SiCKO,” his Trip to Cuba with 9/11 Rescue Workers, the Removal of Private Healthcare Companies & Clinton’s Ties to Insurance Companies: "They’re into Her Pocket and She’ (6/18/07):
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore is on the move. On Wednesday, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker will testify on Capitol Hill. He then heads to New Hampshire to challenge presidential candidates—Democrat and Republican—over the nation’s healthcare system. Oh, and his latest documentary, SiCKO
, is being released in thousands of theaters next week. The film is a seething indictment of the US healthcare system.
MICHAEL MOORE: The health insurance industry does not like to pay out claims, because they don’t make money. The only way they can make a profit is if they don’t pay for your operation. If they pay for your operation and your doctor’s appointment and your pharmaceuticals, they don’t make any money. So their goal is to try and pay out as little as possible, which right away, that just tells you right there, there can’t be any room in this healthcare thing for insurance companies, because all it—health should be about helping people. And the decision should never be based on whether or not, hey, we should—how can we save our money here, how can we deny that operation?
AMY GOODMAN: Rocky Anderson, the Mayor of Salt Lake City, is one of the most outspoken critics of the Bush administration and the Iraq war. Earlier this year he called for the impeachment of President Bush, calling him a “war criminal” who has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON: The thing that I find incredibly frightening is that Mitt Romney—and this has stunned me—that he could stand up and say, number one, that he would support this war, that he would have gone about this much like President Bush has, that he supports torture and that he would double the size of Guantanamo. That, for me, is just so absolutely unconscionable.
JUAN GONZALEZ: In a landmark decision Thursday, the Supreme Court voted against voluntary desegregation plans. The narrow 5-4 ruling rejected using race as a criteria for assigning students for different schools. It rejected integration plans for school districts in Seattle, Washington and Louisville, Kentucky and supported white parents from both cities, whose children had been denied admission to schools nearest to them because of those schools’ diversity policies.
TED SHAW: Thurgood Marshall would be turning in his grave if he could read the opinions of the court that were handed down yesterday by the five justices in the majority. Juan Williams is becoming more and more conservative as time goes on, but essentially what his argument goes to is a return to the idea that racially separate schools can be made equal, and that’s never worked well in this country.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Over 10,000 grassroots activists have gathered in Atlanta this week for the first United States Social Forum. The theme of the five-day event has been “Another World Is Possible. Another U.S. Is Necessary.”
DENNIS BRUTUS: Certainly, for many people outside in other countries, they’ll talk of the United States as the “belly of the beast.” It’s where the oppressive process begins. But that’s only half the story, because there are so many people in the United States, activists, people in the churches, trade unions, community organizations. There is a different thrust. That thrust is for social justice, of course, in the United States, but also social justice in the other countries, which are part of this global process of repression: the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. We’re challenging that.
AMY GOODMAN: Power, Politics and Resistance, the first six months of 2007. Tomorrow, part two.