Today, part two of our special look back at 2007, including the Jena Six, the Petraeus report, the trial of Jose Padilla, Alberto Gonzales’s resignation, Alan Greenspan v. Naomi Klein, Michael Mukasey on waterboarding, Blackwater’s Massacre in Baghdad, Jimmy Carter on apartheid in the Palestinian territories, Al Gore and IPCC win the Nobel Peace Prize, the pro-democracy uprising in Burma, the firing of Norman Finkelstein and Ward Churchill, New Jersey abolishes the death penalty, the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and more.
Featuring the Voices of:
Joseph Wilson, Alan Johnston, Robert Bailey,
Caseptla Bailey, Marcus Jones, Helen Thomas,
President Bush, Rep. Dennis Kucinich,
Ward Churchill, Sen. Barack Obama,
Marjorie Cohn, Nydesha Foster, Angela Hegarty,
Amira Baraka, Nir Rosen, Camilo Mejia,
Grace Paley, Alberto Gonzales,
Sen. Larry Craig, Norman Finkelstein,
President Jimmy Carter, Sen. Robert Byrd,
Gen. David Petraeus, Rev. Al Sharpton,
Alan Greenspan, Naomi Klein, Mark Canning,
Rep, Danny Davis, Erik Prince,
Sen. Ted Kennedy, Jeremy Scahill,
Katie Redford, Yoko Ono, Bill McKibben,
Maher Arar, John Tanner, Jonathan Paul,
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Michael Mukasey,
Desiree Anita Ali-Fairooz, Mark Klein,
Evo Morales, Asma Jahangir, Wayne Barrett,
John Edwards, Noam Chomsky. Desmond Tutu,
Mitt Romney, John McCain, Nelson Mandela,
Lou Dobbs, Mohamed ElBaradei, Michael Ratner,
Mark Benjamin, Rev. Jesse Jackson,
Rajendra Pachauri, Al Gore, Jon Corzine,
Benazir Bhutto, and more. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Today, the second six months of our look back at 2007.
AMY GOODMAN: President Bush has commuted the sentence of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby, sparing him from a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence in the CIA leak case.
“He Has Subverted the Rule of Law and the System of Justice”—Former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson Reacts to Bush’s Commutation of Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jail Sentence in Outing of Valerie Plame (7/5/07):
JOSEPH WILSON: I think, in doing this, he has actively subverted the rule of law and the system of justice in our country, which has undergirded our democracy for 231 years.
AMY GOODMAN: The BBC reporter Alan Johnston has been freed after nearly four months in captivity in the Gaza Strip. Hours after his release, Johnston spoke from Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s offices in Gaza.
ALAN JOHNSTON: There are just hardly no words to say how relieved I am to — that this thing has ended, that I am free again. I dreamt of being free, literally dreamt many, many nights, and now I’m out, and it is, as I say, almost difficult to describe how good this moment feels.
AMY GOODMAN: Last December, six black students at Jena High School were arrested after a school fight in which a white student was beaten and suffered a concussion and multiple bruises. The six black students were charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy. They face up to 100 years in prison without parole. The Jena 6, as they have come to be known, range in age from fifteen to seventeen.
The origins of the story can be traced back to early September, when a black high school student requested permission to sit under a tree in the schoolyard, where usually only white students sat. The next day, three nooses were found hanging from the tree.
JACQUIE SOOHEN: Robert Bailey, seventeen years old and a safety receiver for the school football team, is another of the Jena 6 facing life behind bars. He described his reaction to the nooses.
ROBERT BAILEY: It was in the early morning. I seen them hanging. I’m thinking the KKK, you know, were hanging nooses. They want to hang somebody. Real nooses, the ones you see on TV are the kind of nooses they were, the ones they play in the movies and they were hanging all the people, you know, and the thing dropped, those were the kind of nooses they were. I know it was somebody white that hung the nooses in the tree.
JACQUIE SOOHEN: To Caseptla Bailey, the meaning of the nooses was clear.
CASEPTLA BAILEY: It meant hatred, to the other race. It meant that “We’re going to kill you, you’re going to die.” You know, it sent a message: “This is not the place for you to sit. This is not your damn tree. Do not sit here. You know, you ought to remain in your place, know your place and stay in your place. You’re out of your boundaries.” And the first thing now that the sheriff department or that the chief of police want to say that—as well as the superintendent—one had nothing to do with the other. Now, come on now!
MARCUS JONES: One of the best lessons that my son could learn that’s one of the best lessons: to know what it is to be black now. You know, if this don’t teach him what it is to be black now, I don’t know what will.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: And now I will be glad to answer a few questions, starting with Ms. Thomas.
HELEN THOMAS: Mr. President, you started this war, a war of your choosing, and you can end it alone, today, at this point—bring in peacekeepers, UN peacekeepers. Two million Iraqis have fled their country as refugees. Two million more are displaced. Thousands and thousands are dead. Don’t you understand, you brought the al-Qaeda into Iraq.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Actually, I was hoping to solve the Iraqi issue diplomatically. That’s why I went to the United Nations and worked with the United Nations Security Council, which unanimously passed a resolution that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. That was the message, the clear message to Saddam Hussein. He chose the course.
HELEN THOMAS: Didn’t we go into Iraq—
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: It was his decision to make.
AMY GOODMAN: In economic news, the NAACP has filed a class action lawsuit against fourteen subprime mortgage lenders alleging they engaged in institutionalized, systematic racism. Lenders named in the suit include Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Washington Mutual. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition recently found African Americans were twice as likely as white applicants to receive loans with expensive, above-market rates.
AMY GOODMAN: Less than twenty-four hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection, Troy Anthony Davis has been granted a ninety-day stay of execution. The thirty-eight-year-old African American from Savannah, Georgia has been on death row for more than fifteen years for a murder he says he did not commit.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I believe government cannot provide affordable healthcare. I believe it would cause—it would cause the quality of care to diminish. I believe there would be lines and rationing over time. If Congress continues to insist upon expanding healthcare through the S-CHIP program—which, by the way, would entail a huge tax increase for the American people—I’ll veto the bill.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I introduced a plan four years ago, Anderson, that was a full plan to remove our troops. I’m the only one on this stage—excuse me—who not only voted against this war, but voted against funding the war. It is not credible to say you oppose the war from the start when you voted to fund it 100% of the time, 70% , 5% of the time. Let’s get real about this war. Let’s get those troops home and let’s take a stand and do it now. Send a message to Congress now. We cannot wait until the next president takes office.
AMY GOODMAN: The Board of Regents of the University of Colorado in Boulder voted 8-to-1 Tuesday evening to fire tenured professor of ethnic studies Ward Churchill on charges of research misconduct, they said. But Professor Churchill maintains the allegations were a pretext to remove him for his unpopular political views.
WARD CHURCHILL: I was a target, was a target that would serve as a sort of conduit, in a way, they considered me to be, and said so, considered me to be kind of at the forefront of a sort of critical line of analysis, historically speaking. And they wanted to roll back that line of analysis altogether, to discredit it, so that you basically have a return to that triumphalis, celebratory white-supremacist interpretation of American history with all of the denial and falsification that that is known to entail.
AMY GOODMAN: On the campaign trail, Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama has announced he would attack areas in Pakistan with or without approval of the Pakistani government.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will.
AMY GOODMAN: The Democrat-led Congress handed President Bush a major legislative victory this weekend when it voted to broadly expand the government’s authority to eavesdrop without warrant on the international telephone calls and email messages of American citizens.
MARJORIE COHN: This could not have been passed without the Democrats. And so, in essence, this congress is very—there’s very little difference between this congress and the congress that gave Bush the PATRIOT Act without reading it, gave Bush the authorization for the Iraq war, gave Bush the Military Commissions Act. They have rolled over consistently, and they even rolled over on the Iraq spending bill after Bush vetoed it, instead of saying, “Look, Bush is the one who isn’t supporting the troops, because he vetoed our spending bill, even though it had timetables.” They said, “Oh, we don’t want to be perceived as not supporting the troops.” This has been a congress that has remained terrorized by the Bush administration since 9/11.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Three weeks from today a thirty-year-old African American man on death row in Texas is scheduled to be executed. Kenneth Foster was sentenced to death ten years ago in a San Antonio court for the murder of Michael LaHood, a white man, in 1996. What makes Foster’s case unique is that he didn’t commit or plan the murder. Even the trial judge, the prosecutor and the jury that sentenced him to die admit he never killed anyone.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to Austin to speak with Kenneth Foster’s daughter Nydesha. She’s eleven years old, about the same amount of time that Kenneth Foster has been on death row.
NYDESHA FOSTER: When somebody is a big part of your heart, like my father is—I mean, my father is more than half of my heart. I mean, I love him so much. And if the State of Texas kills him just for driving a car, it’s like you’re killing my heart. It’s like you’re killing half of me. It’s like if you execute him, you might as well execute me, because of the type of things and the could-have-should-have-known stuff, and it’s just how the Texas law of parties, they just really need to take the time to listen, and my dad probably would not be in the predicament that he is in, if the law of parties would take the time to listen to us.
AMY GOODMAN: President Bush’s top adviser, Karl Rove, has announced he will step down as White House deputy chief of staff on August 31. Rove’s resignation comes while he is at the center of several congressional investigations. Last month, Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy subpoenaed Rove to testify about his role in the politicization of the Justice Department and the firing of nine US attorneys. So far, Rove has ignored the subpoena and has refused to testify, citing executive privilege.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Karl Rove is moving on down the road. I’ve been talking to Karl for a while about his desire to spend more time with Darby and Andrew. This is a family that’s made enormous sacrifices not only for our beloved state of Texas but for a country we both love.
JUAN GONZALEZ: A jury began deliberations on Wednesday in Miami in the case of Jose Padilla, a Brooklyn-born man accused by the Bush administration of plotting to set off a dirty bomb inside the United States.
Questions have also been raised about whether Padilla was mentally fit to stand trial. His lawyers and family say he’s become clearly mentally ill after being held in isolation for so long.
Today, we’re joined by one of the few medical experts who has spent time with Padilla since his arrest five years ago. Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Angela Hegarty spent twenty-two hours interviewing Padilla last year to determine the state of his mental health.
ANGELA HEGARTY: What happened at the brig was essentially the destruction of a human being’s mind. That’s what happened at the brig. His personality was deconstructed and reformed. And essentially, like many abuse victims, whether it’s torture survivors or battered women or even children who are abused by parents, as long as the parents or the abuser is in control in their minds, essentially they identify with the primary aims of the abuser.
AMY GOODMAN: Jazz drummer, composer and activist Max Roach has died at the age of eighty-three. He helped reinvent the role of the drummer in jazz and played alongside such greats as Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie and Cecil Taylor. Max Roach was also a prominent supporter of the civil rights movement.
AMIRI BARAKA: Max is the highest
The outest the
Largest, the greatest
The fastest, the hippest,
The all the way past which
There cannot be
When we say MAX, that’s what
We mean, hip always
Clean. That’s our word
For Artist, Djali, Nzuri Ngoma,
Senor Congero, Leader,
Scientist of Sound, Sonic
Trappist Definer, Composer,
Democrat, Bird’s Black Injun
Engine, Brownie’s Other Half,
Who baked the Western industrial
Into temperatures of syncopated
AMY GOODMAN: The American Psychological Association has voted to overwhelmingly reject a measure that would have banned its members from participating in interrogations at Guantanamo Bay and other US detention centers. The vote took place at the association’s annual convention this weekend here in San Francisco.
DAN AALBERS: We have made an enormous mistake, and I think it’s—not only did we do the wrong thing morally, we did not act in our best interests. We are now standing against the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, the British Psychological Society, numerous human rights organizations, the UN, the Council of Europe, and this detention and interrogation policy is going to go down. And once it does go down, we will find that we have secured the best cabin on the Titanic
NIR ROSEN: Iraq has been changed irrevocably, I think. I don’t think Iraq even—you can say it exists anymore. There has been a very effective, systematic ethnic cleansing of Sunnis from Baghdad, of Shias—from areas that are now mostly Shia. But the Sunnis especially have been a target, as have mixed families like the one we just saw. With a name like Omar, he’s distinctly Sunni—it’s a very Sunni name. You can be executed for having the name Omar alone. And Baghdad is now firmly in the hands of sectarian Shiite militias, and they’re never going to let it go.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Members of one of the country’s leading Iraq war veterans’ organizations voted this weekend to launch a campaign encouraging US troops to refuse to fight. The decision was made at the group’s annual membership meeting held last week in St. Louis, Missouri, alongside the annual convention of the Veterans for Peace Organization. To underscore the point, Iraq Veterans Against the War elected Sergeant Camilo Mejia to chair its board of directors.
CAMILO MEJIA: I was the first public combat veteran to refuse to redeploy to Iraq. Back then, when I went public with my refusal to go back to the war, we had approximately twenty-two cases of desertion in the military. And then, by the time I got out of jail, that number was 5,500. Today, it’s over 10,000 people within the military who are refusing to go to the war in Iraq since the war started. And just to put it in perspective, that’s almost like saying like the 101st Airborne Division was wiped out by desertion or AWOL, basically people not wanting to fight the war.
AMY GOODMAN: The acclaimed American poet, short story writer, antiwar activist Grace Paley has died at the age of eighty-four.
GRACE PALEY: When people say, “What can poets do?” I often say, “Just what any other working group could do to get anything accomplished, and that is to organize.”
AMY GOODMAN: After months of calls for his departure, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has finally stepped down. Gonzales made the announcement Monday but didn’t give a reason for his resignation.
ALBERTO GONZALES: Yesterday I met with President Bush and informed him of my decision to conclude my government service as attorney general of the United States, effective as of September 17th, 2007.
AMY GOODMAN: And Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho is facing a potential ethics probe, following his admission to pleading guilty to disorderly conduct this past June. Police say Craig was detained after he made sexual advances to an undercover officer in a men’s bathroom in the Minneapolis airport.
SEN. LARRY CRAIG: Let me be clear: I am not gay. I never have been gay.
AMY GOODMAN: Two years after Hurricane Katrina drove out more than half of New Orleans, the battle over the right of return rages on. Prior to the hurricane, over 5,000 families lived in public housing.
SHARON SEARS JASPER: We refuse to let you tear our homes down and continue to destroy our lives. The government, the President of the United States, you all have failed us. You have fake promises. You have done nothing to help us. It’s two years after the storm, and we are still suffering. But let me tell you this, we are going to fight this ’til the battle is fought and, as I always say, the victory is won. Our people have been displaced too long. Our people are dying of stress, depression and broken home. We demand that you open all public housing. Bring our families home now!
AMY GOODMAN: In academic news, professor Norman Finkelstein has resigned from DePaul University after the two sides agreed on a private settlement. The deal was announced Wednesday just before a scheduled protest against the school’s decision to deny Finkelstein tenure and to cancel his classes this semester. Finkelstein spoke before a crowd of about 125 supporters wearing t-shirts that read “We are all Professor Finkelstein.”
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It is now time for me to move on and hopefully find new ways to fulfill my own mission in life of making the world a slightly better place on leaving it than when I entered it.
AMY GOODMAN: As part of the settlement DePaul also issued a statement that described Finkelstein as a “prolific scholar and an outstanding teacher.” Finkelstein has said DePaul’s decision to deny him tenure was a result of political opposition to his speaking out about the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Fmr. President Jimmy Carter on “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” Iraq, Greeting the Shah of Iran at the White House, Selling Weapons to Indonesia During the Occupation of East Timor, and More (9/10/07):
AMY GOODMAN: President Carter, I wanted to switch gears to talk about the raging controversy over your book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
JIMMY CARTER: The word “apartheid” is exactly accurate. You know, this is an area that’s occupied by two powers. They are now completely separated. Palestinians can’t even ride on the same roads that the Israelis have created or built in Palestinian territory. The Israelis never see a Palestinian, except the Israeli soldiers. The Palestinians never see an Israeli, except at a distance, except the Israeli soldiers. So within Palestinian territory, they are absolutely and totally separated, much worse than they were in South Africa, by the way. And the other thing is, the other definition of “apartheid” is, one side dominates the other. And the Israelis completely dominate the life of the Palestinian people.
AMY GOODMAN: Power, Politics and Resistance, part two of our Democracy Now! 2007 retrospective. More in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We continue our special today, Power, Politics and Resistance, part two of our look back at 2007.
AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Robert Byrd grilled General Petraeus about why he was ordered to testify on September 11 and about the military’s strategy of arming former Sunni insurgents.
SEN. ROBERT BYRD: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this important hearing is taking place on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. There seems to be another attempt to link in the mind of a confused public the war in Iraq to the attacks perpetrated on us on 9/11 by al-Qaeda. Is this just a big sales job? Please answer this clearly and succinctly, so that the American people can understand: is there and was there any connection between the attacks of September 11, 2001 and Iraq?
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: Not that I am aware of, Senator.
AMY GOODMAN: The private military contractor Blackwater is now believed to have killed twenty Iraqi civilians in a mass shooting Sunday in Baghdad. The Iraqi government revoked Blackwater’s license amidst reports nine civilians were killed when Blackwater guards opened fire. Blackwater says it responded after coming under attack from a roadside bomb. But in its initial report on the shooting, Iraq’s Interior Ministry says the guards shot at a small vehicle that failed to make way for Blackwater’s convoy to pass.
AMY GOODMAN: Tens of thousands of protesters gathered Thursday in the town of Jena, Louisiana to demand justice for the Jena Six, the six African American teenagers who face a total of over a hundred years in prison for allegedly beating a white student in a schoolyard fight.
REV. AL SHARPTON: We cannot sit by silently. That’s why we came, and that’s why we intend to keep coming. We are going from here to Washington, D.C. We’re going to change the federal laws. You think we brought thousands to Jena. You wait ‘til we go to D.C. and bring the whole country, because there’s Jenas all over America.
AMY GOODMAN: Alan Greenspan, let’s talk about the war in Iraq. You said what for many in your circles is the unspeakable, that the war in Iraq was for oil. Can you explain?
ALAN GREENSPAN: The size of the threat that he posed, as I saw it emerging, I thought was scary. And so, getting him out of office or getting him out of the control position he was in, I thought, was essential. And whether that be done by one means or another was not as important, but it’s clear to me that were there not the oil resources in Iraq, the whole picture of how that part of the Middle East developed would have been different.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined in studio by Naomi Klein, author of the book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
. Your response to that, Naomi Klein?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I’m just wondering if it troubles Mr. Greenspan at all that wars over resources in other countries are actually illegal. Mr. Greenspan has praised the rule of law, the importance of the rule of law, in his book. But in his statements about the reasons why this has not been publicly discussed, he has said that it’s not politically expedient at this moment. But it’s not just that it’s not politically expedient, Mr. Greenspan. Are you aware that, according to the Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions, it is illegal for one country to invade another over its natural resources?
AMY GOODMAN: The military junta in Burma is intensifying its two-day crackdown on the most vocal popular uprising against its rule in nearly two decades. Up to eight people have been killed over the last two days. There are now late-breaking reports Burmese troops have opened fired on a crowd of thousands assembled in central Rangoon. Military forces have also raided several monasteries, arresting an estimated five hundred monks. On Wednesday, British ambassador Mark Canning described the scene on the streets.
BRITISH AMBASSADOR MARK CANNING: There were a series of arrests over night of pro-democracy activists. A curfew has been announced from dusk to dawn starting this evening. And I think the question then was whether all these measures would intimidate people into not marching as they have been for the last eight days. And I think the answer is that it did not. There have been many thousands of people out on the streets again.
AMY GOODMAN: And thanks, Juan, and thanks to all of our TV and web viewers who have written in, concerned about my health, since, well, you see me, and the radio listeners don’t. I just want to say I have a temporary condition called Bell’s palsy, which is an irritation of a facial nerve. It’s not painful. The doctors tell me I’ll be back to my usual self in the next few weeks. In the meantime, it just makes it a little harder to smile, but so does the world. But really, thank you so much for your concern. On with the show.
AMY GOODMAN: During Tuesday’s hearing, Blackwater chief executive, Erik Prince, was questioned repeatedly about the killing of civilians in Iraq. This is Illinois Democrat, Danny Davis.
REP. DANNY DAVIS: You do admit that Blackwater personnel have shot and killed innocent civilians, don’t you?
ERIK PRINCE: No, sir. I disagree with that. I think there has been times when guys are using defensive force to protect themselves, to protect the package, they’re trying to get away from danger. There could be ricochets. There are traffic accidents. Yes, this is war.
JUAN GONZALEZ: President Bush has followed through on a promise to veto a bill expanding health care to millions of low-income American children.
SEN. TED KENNEDY (D-MA): Mr. President, I think that this is probably the most inexplicable veto in the history of the country. It is incomprehensible. It’s intolerable. It’s unacceptable.
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY DANA PERINO: I am not going to comment on any specific alleged techniques. It is not appropriate for me to do so. And to do so would provide the enemy with more information for how to train against these techniques. And so, I am going to decline to comment on those, but I will reiterate to you once again that we do not torture. We want to make sure that we keep this country safe.
AMY GOODMAN: A lawsuit is being filed today against the private military firm Blackwater USA over last month’s shooting in Baghdad, when Blackwater guards shot dead seventeen Iraqis and injured many more.
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill, your reaction to this lawsuit that has now just been filed?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I mean, this is an incredible development. We have to remember that upwards of a million Iraqis have died since the beginning of the US invasion and the names of the victims of both the US military and these private military companies are almost never reported. And this is the first major case brought by Iraqi civilians against a private military company like Blackwater.
JUAN GONZALEZ: As the United Nations Security Council condemns the Burmese military junta, calls are increasing for foreign multinational companies to stop working with the Burmese military government. In the United States, much of the criticism has been focused on the California-based oil company Chevron.
KATHERINE REDFORD: Chevron and many other corporations in the world are complicit in these abuses, because they are in a business relationship. These soldiers, these thugs, this junta that we saw shooting protesters are Chevron’s business partners. This is the government or the regime that they do business with, that they have signed deals with. And all of the corporations who are in Burma or thinking about being in Burma need to know that, that they are in partnership with this brutal regime.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, we spend the hour with Yoko Ono, artist, musician, peace activist. She’s here in the firehouse studio with us, just days after returning from Iceland, where she unveiled a project forty years in the making: the Imagine Peace Tower. Dedicated to her late husband John Lennon, the tower shoots light into the sky and bears the inscription “Imagine Peace.”
YOKO ONO: I’m not that concerned about professional politicians, because I always believe that we can only change the world by grassroots movements, because in grassroots there are so many people, really, you know? And it’s a very important thing to do through grassroots.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: If you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously. And we’ll continue to work with all nations about the seriousness of this threat.
AMY GOODMAN: In Pakistan, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is calling for international experts to be brought in to investigate Friday’s bombing of her convoy that killed about 140 people. Bhutto’s convoy was attacked just hours after she returned from eight years in exile. It was the deadliest attack in Pakistan’s history. On Sunday, Bhutto spoke out for the first time since the bombing.
BENAZIR BHUTTO: We want to avoid bloodshed. We want to avoid loss of life, but I also want to say that if it means sacrificing our lives, if it means sacrificing our liberty, to save Pakistan and to save democracy, because we believe democracy alone can save Pakistan from disintegration and a militant takeover, then we are prepared to risk our lives, and we are prepared to risk our liberty. But we are not prepared to surrender our great nation to the militants.
AMY GOODMAN: What does global warming have to do with the fires raging in Southern California?
BILL McKIBBEN: We need a movement as strong, as willing to sacrifice, as morally urgent, as passionate, as the Civil Rights Movement was a generation ago. If we don’t get it soon—and we have a real time limit here—if we don’t get it soon, then we’re not going to be able to force the changes that we need over the power of the very strong vested interests that would like to keep things the way they are, even though it’s now destabilizing the planet in the most powerful and most tragic ways. Those pictures of that smoke pouring out of those canyons in California should remind us at the deepest level what’s at stake and what we can do to help right now.
AMY GOODMAN: The Department of Homeland Security acknowledged Friday the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, had staged a fake news conference Tuesday with agency staffers posing as news reporters.
FEMA STAFFER: Are you happy with FEMA’s response so far?
HARVEY JOHNSON: I’m very happy with FEMA’s response so far.
AMY GOODMAN: The Chief of the Justice Department’s Voting Rights section has apologized but refused to retract his claim that elderly voters would be harmed most by voter ID laws because most minorities die before becoming elderly. John Tanner made the comment earlier this month at the National Latino Congreso.
JOHN TANNER: Of course, that also ties into the racial aspect, because our society is such that minorities don’t become elderly the way that white people do. They die first. There are inequities in healthcare. There are a variety of inequities in this country. And so, anything that disproportionately impacts the elderly has the opposite impact on minorities. Just the math is such as that.
AMY GOODMAN: Jonathan, I wanted to go back to 1997, to the Cavel West horsemeat slaughterhouse. What exactly did you do? What was the slaughterhouse, and where was it?
JONATHAN PAUL: Well, it was in Redmond, Oregon, and this facility was owned by the Belgian Mafia. It was exporting its meat to Europe and Japan. And they were killing up to about 500 horses a week. And I’ve seen—you know, I saw the videos and saw what was going on there, and it was really horrendous. It was a hell of an area. They were using any kind of horse, whether it was a pet horse or a retired workhorse or wild horses that the BLM had been rounding up off—you know, off the lands in the United States. So it was actually—it was a very—it was a horrible place. I mean, this place needed to go.
AMY GOODMAN: Opposition to Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey is growing, after the retired federal judge refused again to declare the practice of waterboarding a form of torture.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: Finish that thought. So, is waterboarding constitutional?
MICHAEL MUKASEY: I don’t know what’s involved in the technique. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.
AMY GOODMAN: We end today’s broadcast in Washington, D.C. with Desiree Anita Ali-Fairooz. She is the antiwar activist who covered her hands in fake blood and approached Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week at the start of the congressional hearing.
DESIREE ANITA ALI-FAIROOZ: The blood of millions of Iraqis are on your hands, Condoleezza! War criminal! War criminal! War criminal!
AMY GOODMAN: Pakistan, a key US ally in the so-called war on terror, is in a state of emergency. In a countrywide crackdown, police and soldiers beat and arrested hundreds of lawyers and activists today who were protesting the imposition of what critics are describing as a state of martial law.
GEN. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: I had to take this action in order to preserve the democratic transition, which I initiated eight years back.
AMY GOODMAN: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned to Islamabad over the weekend.
BENAZIR BHUTTO: There are, every day, news of bomb blasts, loss of lives. The situation is out of the control of the ruling party. And I fear that unless regime change comes, we could be facing a takeover by radicals.
AMY GOODMAN: Former AT&T technician Mark Klein traveled to Washington Wednesday to urge lawmakers not to give AT&T, Verizon and other telecom companies immunity from lawsuits over their role in the government’s domestic spying operations. Last year, Klein leaked internal AT&T documents that revealed how AT&T had set up a secret room in its San Francisco office to give the National Security Agency access to its fiber optic internet cables.
MARK KLEIN: They were copying everything flowing across the internet cables and the major internet links between AT&T’s network and other company’s networks, and it struck me at the time that this is a massively unconstitutional, illegal operation. It affects not only AT&T’s customers, but everybody, ’cause these links went to places like Sprint, Qwest, a whole bunch of other companies, and so they’re basically tapping into the entire internet.
AMY GOODMAN: The United Nations has issued a grave warning about the humanitarian situation in Somalia—over ten months after the U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion. This is Eric Larouche, UN humanitarian coordinator.
ERIC LAROUCHE: The humanitarian crisis is very bad. It’s the worst humanitarian crisis we have had in the last fifteen years. It reminds us of the beginning of the nineties, so it’s not very good news. We had a few months ago only — I mean, we had already 400,000 people that were displaced because of the conflict and because of the natural disasters. Today we have 850,000 people, so we have more than doubled the number of people that are displaced in Somalia.
AMY GOODMAN: In news from Latin America, Bolivia has become the first country to approve the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights. The UN General Assembly passed the sweeping declaration of rights for indigenous peoples last month granting native peoples the “right to self-determination.” This is Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous leader.
EVO MORALES: [translated] We are the first country to turn this declaration into a law, and that is important, brothers and sisters. We recognize and salute the work of our representatives. But if we were to remember the indigenous fight clearly, many of us who are sensitive would end up crying in remembering the discrimination, the scorn.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Despite the best efforts of the Democratic leadership, impeachment was indeed on the table this week in Washington. On Tuesday, Congress member and presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich nearly forced the full House to vote on his measure to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: The articles of impeachment that were introduced under a privileged resolution cite the Vice President’s persistent lies relating to Iraq. He claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that necessitated the US response. He claimed that Iraq somehow was connected to al-Qaeda’s role in 9/11. He has been beating the drums for war against Iran. Those are the elements of the articles of impeachment that were introduced into the House this week.
AMY GOODMAN: 2007 has become the deadliest year for US troops in Afghanistan. On Friday, six US troops died in an ambush in eastern Afghanistan. The deaths brought the total number of US troops killed in Afghanistan this year to at least 101. 2007 has also been the deadliest year for US troops in Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: Power, Politics and Resistance, Democracy Now!
’s look back at 2007. We continue in a moment.
AMY GOODMAN: We continue our special today, Power, Politics and Resistance, part two of our look back at 2007.
AMY GOODMAN: Asma Jahangir is the chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion. She was among the first people rounded up in the state of emergency. She joins us now on the phone from her home in Lahore, where she remains under house arrest.
ASMA JAHANGIR: People are rather awakened. People know their rights. And so, they are not going to accept a sham election anymore. They have to ensure not only elections, that they are free and fair, but that it is in an atmosphere where fundamental rights are there, people are out of jail, and leadership itself is out of jail, media is free. So I think that they will have to support steps towards democracy, rather than insist that Musharraf stay on regardless of his actions, which have been extremely unpopular in Pakistan.
JUAN GONZALEZ: With the Iowa caucuses fifty days away, more questions about Giuliani’s past have emerged in recent days that could threaten his candidacy. On Friday, his personal friend and business partner, former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, was indicted on sixteen counts of federal corruption charges, including bribery and tax fraud. The former New York City commissioner faces up to 142 years in prison and almost $5 million in fines.
WAYNE BARRETT: You take a guy who was really only in the NYPD for seven years. He had the scantest police background. He never passed an exam in the NYPD. He was twenty-four credits shy of a college degree, and a college degree is required of lieutenants. He was competing with—for the police commissioner’s job—a thirty-seven-year veteran who had gone completely up the ranks to the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the department, and Rudy picks his buddy Bernie. And I think that says it all.
AMY GOODMAN: In labor news, the Hollywood and TV writers strike has entered its fifteenth day. Writers went on strike November 5 after failing to reach an agreement on pay for content used in digital media. On Friday, Democratic presidential contender John Edwards joined striking writers picketing outside NBC.
JOHN EDWARDS: Very proud to be out here today with the writers. This is a march and a fight for justice and fairness. They just want to make certain that they are able to take advantage of all the hard work and the creative work that they have provided.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, we spend the hour on the Israel-Palestine conflict with two of the world’s leading thinkers: former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and world-renowned linguist and author Noam Chomsky.
NOAM CHOMSKY: The crimes against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and elsewhere, particularly Lebanon, are so shocking that the only emotionally valid reaction is rage and a call for extreme actions. But that does not help the victims. And, in fact, it’s likely to harm them. We have to face the reality that our actions have consequences, and they have to be adapted to real-world circumstances, difficult as it may be to stay calm in the face of shameful crimes in which we are directly and crucially implicated.
DESMOND TUTU: Thanks be to God for the many, many Jews who know what their divine calling is and who want the Israeli government to live it out. We believe in a two-state solution of two sovereign, viable states, each with contiguous borders, guaranteed as secure by the international community. We condemn all acts of terrorism by whoever they are committed. The suicide bomber has to be condemned for targeting innocent civilians. But equally, the Israelis are to be condemned for their acts of indiscriminate reprisal that, too, target innocent civilians. We say, we say: please, please, learn at least one positive lesson from apartheid South Africa.
ANDERSON COOPER: Is waterboarding torture?
MITT ROMNEY: And as I just said, as a presidential candidate, I don’t think it’s wise for us to describe specifically which measures we would and would not use.
ANDERSON COOPER: Senator McCain? There were reports Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Well, Governor, I’m astonished that you haven’t found out what waterboarding is.
MITT ROMNEY: I know what waterboarding is, Senator.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Then I am astonished that you would think such a—such a torture would be inflicted on anyone in our—who we are held captive and anyone could believe that that’s not torture. It’s in violation of the Geneva Conventions. It’s in violation of existing law. And, Governor, let me tell you, if we’re going to get the high ground in this world and we’re going to be America that we have cherished and loved for more than 200 years, we’re not going to torture people.
AMY GOODMAN: Events were held around the world Saturday to mark the annual UN World AIDS Day.
NELSON MANDELA: We want to urge all of you to make a personal commitment to stop the spread of this disease. Together, we have the power to change the course of destiny. Yes, big ambitious plans are needed to deal with the pandemic.
AMY GOODMAN: And in Louisiana, the Jena Six defendant Mychal Bell has reached a plea deal with prosecutors. Bell will get an eighteen-month sentence to a juvenile prison and receive credit for time served.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonzalez. Our guest for the hour is Lou Dobbs.
JUAN GONZALEZ: So that the question is that there is a huge disparity between the economic levels in Mexico and the economic levels in the United States. And you have properly said many times on your show that American companies are creating the problems, rather than helping to alleviate the problems. All that would be needed to do is to raise the economic level in Mexico and the entire illegal immigration population problems would decline in this country. And not only that, but the country, if it had a higher immigration quota in connection with—
LOU DOBBS: Are you giving me instruction, or are you telling me what we agree upon?
JUAN GONZALEZ: No, we don’t agree. We don’t agree, because you are demonizing illegal immigration as a separate issue.
LOU DOBBS: How in the world can you use my name and “anti-immigrant” in the same breath?
AMY GOODMAN: When we hear comments like—
LOU DOBBS: You hear—
AMY GOODMAN: —a third of the—from you—we’ve played them, so we can’t refute the videotape, Lou.
LOU DOBBS: Have you looked, Amy—
AMY GOODMAN: We can’t refute—a third of prisoners are—
LOU DOBBS: Yes. And we discussed that?
AMY GOODMAN: —are illegal immigrants—
LOU DOBBS: Have we discussed it?
AMY GOODMAN: No, a third of prisoners are illegal immigrants, not true. 7,000 leprosy cases in the last three years because of illegal immigrants—
LOU DOBBS: Christine Romans misspoke—
AMY GOODMAN: — not true.
LOU DOBBS: —we said that. And that’s as straightforward as we can put it.
AMY GOODMAN: And you made an announcement on your show—
LOU DOBBS: Absolutely.
AMY GOODMAN: — and you will say it here—
LOU DOBBS: Absolutely.
AMY GOODMAN: —that it is not true. Illegal immigrants are not responsible for 7,000 cases of leprosy over last three years.
LOU DOBBS: Not over the last three years.
REPORTER: I understand what you’re saying about when you were informed about the NIE. Are you saying at no point while the rhetoric was escalating, as World War III was making it into conversation, at no point nobody from your intelligence team or your administration was saying maybe you want to back it down a little bit?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No, I’ve never—nobody ever told me that. Having said—having laid that out, I still feel strongly that Iran is a danger. Nothing has changed in this NIE that says, “OK, why don’t we just stop worrying about it?” Quite the contrary. I think the NIE makes it clear that Iran needs to be taken seriously as a threat to peace. My opinion hasn’t changed.
MOHAMED ELBARADEI: It is consistent with what the agency and I have been saying for a number of years, that is, while we have some important questions about Iran’s past activities, about Iran’s current program, we have not seen any undeclared ongoing weapons program, we have not seen any undeclared nuclear material that could be used in weapons.
AMY GOODMAN: The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case challenging the Bush administration’s jailing of hundreds of Guantanamo prisoners without charge or trial.
MICHAEL RATNER: The right to present evidence before a neutral tribunal and in which they can see the charges against them, that’s what we want. We are very hopeful and optimistic by the argument today that this is what the people we represent at Guantanamo will get.
AMY GOODMAN: The CIA has admitted it destroyed at least two tapes documenting the interrogations of two prisoners held at a secret CIA prison.
MARK BENJAMIN: Well, the thing that’s important to understand about these tapes is that they were made in 2002, and this is a period of time when the CIA, in particular, but also the military, are starting to experiment and utilize these so-called “enhanced” interrogation techniques—waterboarding, stress positions, isolation, that sort of business—to break people down. So what the CIA did in 2002 is—and we’ve talked about this on your show before—is enlist a group of psychologists as CIA contractors who know a lot about Cold War methods used by the Soviets and others to break down our soldiers, which include the same techniques. So the agency at that period of time was just starting to use these techniques and with some—with brutal—and they’re very, very brutal techniques.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The rise in foreclosures would have negative consequences for our economy. Lenders and investors would face enormous losses. So they have an interest in supporting mortgage counseling and working with homeowners to prevent foreclosure. The government has a role to play, as well. We should not bail out lenders, real estate speculators or those who made the reckless decision to buy a home they knew they could never afford. Yet there are some responsible homeowners who could avoid foreclosure with some assistance.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: You’re looking at record levels of evictions and foreclosures. And when you cannot pay taxes, it undermines schools and public transportation and healthcare. And that’s why the government has a role to play. Bush recognizes a role to play. He covers maybe 7% and leaves 93% out in the rain. We need a much more massive approach than this by our federal government, a kind of mortgage Marshall Plan.
AMY GOODMAN: Rajendra Pachauri, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
RAJENDRA PACHAURI: Peace can be defined as security and the secure access to resources that are essential for living. A disruption in such access could prove disruptive of peace. In this regard, climate change will have several implications, as numerous adverse impacts are expected for some populations, in terms of access to clean water, access to sufficient food, stable health conditions, ecosystem resources, security of settlements.
AL GORE: I am going to speak an inconvenient truth. My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali… And it really is up to you. I don’t know how to tell you how you can find the grace to navigate around this enormous obstacle. This elephant in the room that I’ve just been un-diplomatic enough to name.
JON CORZINE: Today, December 17, 2007, is a momentous day. It’s a day of progress for the state of New Jersey and for the millions of people across our nation and around the globe who reject the death penalty as a moral or practical response to the grievous, even heinous, crime of murder. Today, through my signature on this bill, New Jersey abolishes the death penalty as a policy of our state.
AMY GOODMAN: The New Orleans City Council has unanimously voted to move ahead with the demolition of 4,500 units of public housing. Under the plan, the city’s four largest public housing developments will be razed and replaced with mixed-income housing. On Thursday, hundreds of people were turned away from the City Council meeting. Some of the protesters were shot with pepper spray and tasered. Inside the City Council chambers, the scene turned chaotic when police began making arrests.
PROTESTERS: Let the people in! Let the people in! Let the people in!
PROTESTER: Let those people in! Let them in! Let them in! This is not Germany! Let those people in! Let those people in! There’s seats right there! There’s seats right there! Let those people in! What is wrong with y’all?
PROTESTERS: Let the people in! Let the people in!
PROTESTER: Ain’t no order until the rest our people get in here.
PROTESTERS: Let the people in! Let the people in!
AMY GOODMAN: Breaking news from Pakistan: the former prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, has been killed in a suicide bomb attack. We’re going to go now to a newsreel from Dawn News reporting in Pakistan.
DAWN NEWS ANCHOR: …has just confirmed to us that Benazir Bhutto has expired. Benazir Bhutto has passed away due to critical injuries she received. We don’t know the reason of these injuries which Benazir received.
BENAZIR BHUTTO: We want to avoid loss of life. But I also want to say that if it means sacrificing our lives, if it means sacrificing our liberty to save Pakistan and to save democracy, because we believe democracy alone can save Pakistan from disintegration and a militant takeover, then we are prepared to risk our lives, and we are prepared to risk our liberty. But we are not prepared to surrender our great nation to the militants.
AMY GOODMAN: Power, Politics and Resistance. That concludes our two-day look back at 2007.