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Posted by on December 27th, 2007

In Memory of Benazir Bhutto, Cut U.S. Ties to Musharraf
By Medea Benjamin

In Memory of Benazir Bhutto, Cut U.S. Ties to Musharraf
By Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK: Women for Peace

Our hearts and thoughts are with the Pakistani people as they mourn the death of Benazir Bhutto. We extend our deep sorrow to her family and the millions of supporters who for decades have seen the Bhutto family as a source of inspiration. We also extend our condolences to the families of the other Pakistanis who were killed in this heinous crime.

We at CODEPINK were in touch with the former Prime Minister when we were writing our book Stop the Next War Now. In fact, Bhutto graciously contributed an essay that was a plea to counter extremism and “a clash of civilizations that can lead to Armageddon, where there will be no winners on earth.”

Bhutto's assassination is a blow to people all over Pakistan, and the world, who hold life sacred and believe in the basics precepts of democracy. It is also a blow to women worldwide who took strength from seeing such a courageous, articulate and charismatic woman playing a leadership role in a powerful Muslim country. Inside Pakistan, even her most bitter critics wept at the news of her death, understanding that it is indeed a dark day when assassination becomes a tool for eliminating opposing viewpoints.

There is much speculation about who committed this odious act. It could certainly be religious militants opposed to a leader like Bhutto who repeatedly expressed her determination to combat violent extremists. Bhutto was perceived by many Pakistanis as too “pro-Western,” especially after remarks that if elected Prime Minister, she might allow U.S. military strikes inside Pakistan to eliminate al-Qaeda.

But it is not too far-fetched to think that the assassination could have been orchestrated by Pervez Musharraf or members of the military. Many in Pakistan speculated that the government was responsible for the bomb blasts that killed 140 Pakistanis when Bhutto first returned home on October 18, citing the fact that the street lights were turned off just before the attack and questioning the lack of a serious investigation afterwards. In fact, Musharraf had refused Bhutto's request that an independent foreign team be brought in to help with the investigation. This time, there must be a serious investigation conducted by a body independent of the government and those responsible must be found and held accountable.

Elections scheduled for January 8 must be postponed. Even before this tragedy, there were no conditions for free and fair elections. The Musharraf regime had fired independent judges, censored the press and stacked the Election Commission. It is absolutely key that an independent judiciary and free press be restored, and that elections then be scheduled under the aegis of an independent electoral commission.

The international community must put pressure on Musharraf not to use this tragedy to impose another round of emergency rule like the one he imposed on November 3, which led to the crackdown on lawyers, students, journalists and other members of Pakistan's vibrant civil society. Bhutto's death will be doubly tragic if it becomes an excuse for Musharraf to stifle the very civil society that is the true bulwark against extremism.

If Bhutto's death proves anything, it is the utter failure of Musharraf's regime and the utter failure of the Bush administration's policy of supporting Musharraf. Pakistani civil society has long been calling for Musharraf to resign. Now leaders like former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have added their voice to that call, publicly holding Musharraf responsible for Bhutto's death and demanding he step down.

CODEPINK agrees that Musharraf is the biggest obstacle facing a democratic Pakistan today. He is not capable of either fighting extremists or building a society that respects the rule of law. My colleague Tighe Barry and I recently had a taste of his dictatorial ways when we were kidnapped and carjacked at gunpoint and then deported for supporting the pro-democracy movement.

The US government must use this time to radically change its policy in Pakistan. The Bush administration has been a staunch supporter of Musharraf, providing his regime with over $10 billion in financial aid since 2001. In return, Musharraf was supposed to fight religious extremists. But Osama bin Laden has never been caught, and in the last few years al-Qaeda and the Taliban have become stronger in Pakistan. In the meantime, Musharraf's use of US funds to crack down on the country's democratic forces has led to growing anti-American sentiments among the nation's moderate, secular forces. The U.S. government should withhold assistance until Musharraf steps down and a caretaker government restores the independent judiciary, lifts restrictions on the press and sets up the conditions for fair elections.

We should also begin to focus our attention on one of the key underlying causes for the growth of extremism in Pakistan: the extreme poverty that persists, especially in the tribal areas where al-Qaeda is most active.

Benazir Bhutto spoke about this in the essay she wrote for our book. Her words were poignant then, and are even more poignant upon her death:

“The neglect of rising poverty against the background of religious extremism can only complicate an already difficult world situation,” she said. “The war against terrorism is primarily perceived as a war based on the use of force. However, economics has its own force, as does the desperation of families who cannot feed themselves.

“Militancy and greed cannot become the defining images of a new century that began with much hope. We must refocus our energy on promoting the values of democracy, accountability, broad-based government, and institutions that can respond to people's very real and very urgent needs.”


We, as global citizens, can pay tribute to Bhutto by rising to her challenge. Whether in Pakistan or in our home countries, we can dedicate ourselves to building a world based on tolerance, cooperation and fulfilling the urgent needs of the human family—which are the pillars of a more peaceful world.

December 17, 2007

Pakistan's Emergency Rule Lifted, But GEO TV Still Banned
By Medea Benjamin
GEO talk show host Hamid Mir and GEO Director Imran Aslam with Medea Benjamin in Karachi.

With only three weeks left until elections on January 8, Pakistan's President Musharraf is trying to set the stage for free and fair elections by lifting the Emergency Rule he had imposed on November 3. While declared in the name of the war on terror, the 42-day Emergency Rule was used to eviscerate the judiciary by sacking independent judges and replacing them with Musharraf supporters. It was also used to crack down on the press, a press that had become one of the few checks on the military government. It's hard to consider the upcoming elections as legitimate when two key democratic institutions-the judiciary and the press-have been destroyed.

In the crackdown on the press, Musharraf did not go after the print media, since just a small fraction of Pakistanis read newspapers. Instead he targeted TV and radio stations, closing them down, beating journalists, seizing equipment. To return to the air, the stations had to sign a code of conduct promising not to broadcast anything that "defames or brings into ridicule the head of state or the military." Most of the stations signed this under duress and resumed broadcasting, but journalists all over the country continue to protest the restrictions and the nation's Press Clubs have become centers of anti-Musharraf activities.

One TV station that has still not been allowed back on the air is GEO, the nation's largest station. The government has a particular vendetta against GEO, closing not only its news channel, but also its sports, entertainment and youth channels-costing the station about $500,000 a day and jeopardizing the livelihoods of some 2,500 employees.

Ironically, it is precisely under Musharraf's rule that private television began to thrive in Pakistan. The General was used to controlling the airwaves through the state-run PTV, which the public had dubbed with the slogan "On PTV, seeing is not believing." People realized that state-run TV was government propaganda, and there was a thirst for independent TV outlets. While the Arab world saw the blossoming of Al Jazeera and other independent networks, Pakistan saw the creation of GEO.

"The channel ran into problems from its inception in 2002, as Musharraf tried to control it," GEO TV's charismatic President Imran Aslan recalled as he gave us a tour of the station's sprawling headquarters in Karachi. At a meeting with government officials in early 2002, the owner of GEO, who heads a powerful media conglomerate called The Jang Group, was informed that key members of the GEO team were unacceptable. He was told that if he hired a different crew, the station could go forward. "But what the government officials didn't know is that the owner had taped the entire conversation," laughed Aslan. "The next day we went straight to the Press Club and played the tape. The government was so embarrassed that it allowed GEO to go ahead."

The feisty station was launched in August 2002 with a talented team that innovated an all fronts, not just the news. They revived sports that were dying out-boxing, hockey, volleyball, football, polo. Ignoring the threats of religious fundamentalists, they televised marathons where men and women ran together. On the youth channel, they had call-in shows where young people from around the country could say whatever they wanted, unedited, uncensored.

They changed the debate on women's rights, launching a campaign to openly discuss Pakistan's controversial rape laws that blame the victim, threatening her with lashings or even stoning to death. Since they were enforced by Zia ul Haq in 1979, these laws have been regarded as untouchable for fear of a backlash by powerful religious extremists. GEO took the issue head on, and not from a more obvious feminist perspective, but by airing debates between religious leaders about whether these practices were in conformance with Islam. The debate, which included religious leaders labeling these practices are un-Islamic and immoral, led to the drafting of new laws more favorable to rape victims.

But what landed GEO in hot water with the government was their news show. "We would get Musharraf and top government officials on our shows and ask them tough questions," famed talk show host Hamid Mir told us. "I asked Musharraf how he could be President while on the payroll as Army Chief, or how could he let Benazir Bhutto back in the country but not Nawaz Sharif-questions he found hard to answer."

GEO reporters and talk show hosts questioned the army about missing people, about their tactics fighting in Balochistan and the tribal areas. They even pressed Benazir Bhutto so hard about the assassination of her brother, questioning how it happened under her rule, that she got up and walked out in the middle of a show.

GEO brought irreverence and satire to the TV screen with the hilarious animated cartoon called "Pillow talk", which featured conversations between Musharraf and Bush. Sometimes the two leaders would be chatting in bed, with George Bush wrapped up in a Mickey Mouse blanket.

"We alienated everyone, so I guess we did our job," joked Imran Aslan. "We were innovative, we pushed the limits, we had fun--and the people loved us. In less than six years, we had a lead of 8-9 points on other stations."

By closing the sports, youth and entertainment channels, the government's goal is to cripple the station financially. The head of GEO Sports Channel Mohammad Ali had tried, unsuccessfully, to petition the court to get the 24-hour sports station reopened. "What does sports have to do with the war on terror?", Ali asked when we met him outside the Courthouse. "We just lost $15 million dollars we had paid for the right to broadcast the India-Pakistan cricket match. The people were deprived of seeing a match they love, and we are being ruined financially."

"This is just vindictive on the part of the government; it's a blatant effort to put us out of business," said Aslan after losing the court case. "My biggest regret is that the government is jeopardizing the livelihoods of so many wonderful staff, who are among the finest minds in this country."

With the upcoming elections, GEO had been poised to play a major role. It had a campaign called "You have the vote, don't' you?, " encouraging people to exercise their right to vote. They had anticipated airing debates, educating voters about the views of the different parties and candidates, and training young people all over the country to report on the campaigns.

While the Bush Administration has been touting the upcoming elections, it has been silent on the continued silencing of GEO. It was not even mentioned in the testimony of Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher when he testified before Congress on December 6 about continued aid to Pakistan. Boucher admitted that democracy requires not only elections "but accountable government institutions, including a free and dynamic press." But instead of using the opportunity to demand that press restrictions be lifted, Boucher gave the stunning conclusion that "Pakistan is making progress toward these goals."

The U.S. government, which gives over $100 million a month to Pakistan, should speak out forcefully against the banning of GEO, and withhold U.S. assistance until GEO is back on air. And when assistance is resumed, a portion of our aid should help GEO get on its feet financially.

An independent media is the backbone of a democratic nation. If the US government is truly committed to democracy in Pakistan, it should support GEO and Pakistan's courageous journalists in their struggle for a free press.

Medea Benjamin (medea@globalexchange.org), Cofounder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange, and CODEPINK activist Tighe Barry were kidnapped by Pakistani government agents and deported on December 4 for supporting the democracy movement.

December 7, 2007

Deported at Gunpoint by Pakistani Government,
By Medea Benjamin

On our tenth day in Pakistan, my colleague Tighe Barry and I, both human rights activists with CODEPINK and Global Exchange, were arrested at gunpoint by agents of the Pakistani government. We had just left a student rally and were driving down the streets of Lahore with a car full of Pakistani journalists and lawyers. Two cars and six motorbikes came screeching up, blocked our car, piled out with guns drawn, dragged the journalists and lawyers out of the car, beat the bystanders, and hijacked the car. With the two of us huddled in the back surrounded by shouting police, our captors raced at breakneck speed through the crowded streets of Lahore. We had no idea why we were being abducted or where we were headed.

The car pulled up to the Race Course Police Station, where more police threw open the gate and dragged us inside. Terrified, we found ourselves in the office of a shady-looking character in a running suit. He had on no badge or ID, but behind his desk was a framed certificate made out to Faizal Gulzar Awan, awarded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Great—he'd been trained by the FBI. That made us even more terrified!

Our phone had been ringing non-stop, with our friends desperate to find us. The police tried to grab the phone from Tighe, but I snatched it and stuck it down my shirt, assuming the Muslim deference for women would keep them from attacking me physically. I also pressed the answer button, as a call was coming in. Infuriated, Mr. Awan called in a policewoman to get the phone, who pulled and shoved and pinched me, putting her hand down my shirt while I screamed and held on for dear life. All of that, we informed them, was being recorded at the other end by our journalist friends.

At that point, our captor Mr. Ijaz from the Special Police Force, walked in, and the two of them switched to the good cop mode. “Okay, okay,” said Mr. Awan. “Let's all calm down.” “Yes, yes,” Mr. Ijaz smiled. “Let's all drink tea together.” They brought out the tea, which we refused to drink, and tried to talk small talk, asking us questions like “What is your favorite Pakistani food?” and “What is the weather like back in the United States?” We refused to answer their questions and instead insisted on talking to a lawyer or someone from the US Consulate.

Finally, after making endless phone calls to their superiors, they allowed us to call the Consulate. We talked to the political officer, Antone Greuble, who was well aware of the situation and said he was on his way.

When we got off the phone, Mr. Awan shocked us with his comment. “We don't know why you were arrested,” he said, “we are only carrying out orders from high up. But I think your own government had a hand in it because you embarrassed the Ambassador when she was in town.” Just the day before, when Ambassador Anne Patterson was holding a press conference, we had confronted her about the Bush administration's continued support for Musharraf. Now we didn't know who to fear more, Musharraf or our own government.

Four hours later, Mr. Grueble from the Consulate appeared with two security agents. He said that Pakistani government had canceled our visas (which were valid for two more months). The government felt we were engaging in seditious acts under the emergency rules by showing up at rallies and by sitting outside the home of detained lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan. “Why didn't the government just warn us that we were doing something wrong or nicely ask us to come into the police station, instead of terrorizing us?,” Tighe asked. “Because this is Pakistan,” Greuble replied, condescendingly.

This is indeed Pakistan, but it is the Pakistan of a Pervez Musharraf, a close U.S. ally who has been receiving over $100 million a month of our taxdollars. It is the Pakistan of a dictator posing as a democrat, a general who took off his uniform to please the West, but who remains the strongman who runs the show. It is the Pakistan of Musharraf's emergency rule, issued on November 3 in the name of fighting terrorism but used to wage war on the democratic forces of this country.

In our ten-day visit, we met lawyers who had been brutally beaten and thrown into prisons with rats and murderers. We met judges who had dedicated their lives to the rule of law, only to find themselves unceremoniously thrown off the bench and even physically evicted from their homes. We met students who had been beaten with batons and face expulsion for participating in pro-democracy rallies. We met journalists whose programs had been yanked off the air and tossed from their jobs for criticizing the government. All this under the guise of the war on terror. All this with the continued support of the U.S. government.

Back at our jail in Lahore, Mr. Greuble explained our options. We could languish in jail for an unknown period and then be deported, or we could leave the country on the next available flight. We “chose” the latter. We were released under the care of the U.S. political officer, who booked us on a flight the following day.

Before we left, we had a final goodbye gathering with our newfound friends--the amazing group of lawyers, journalists and students we had met at rallies, vigils, debates. They apologized profusely for the actions of their government; we apologized profusely for our government's actions.

Reflecting on our ordeal on the flight home, Tighe and I marveled at the courage and determination of the Pakistani activists. We left angry at the Pakistani government for the way we were treated, but inspired and motivated by the example of our Pakistani brothers and sisters.

December 2, 2007

Vigil Outside a “Sub-Jail” in Lahore,
By Medea Benjamin

As soon as we arrived in Lahore, Pakistan on November 30, Tighe Barry and I—both human rights activists from the United States—called the wife of the most prominent lawyer in Pakistan today, Aitzaz Ahsan. Ahsan is under house arrest, but his wife, Bushra, invited us to come by their office the following day.

The law office of Aitzaz Ahsan is connected to his home. When we arrived, the building was surrounded by 10 policemen. We entered the office and had a long chat with Bushra. She told us that her husband had been in jail for 21 days, and was then placed under house arrest. He was not allowed to leave the house, and visitors were not allowed in. I asked her if we could try. She smiled and escorted us to the door connecting the home and office.

A sign on the door read “Sub-jail,” and two officers were guarding the door. We greeted them and asked to be allowed in. “We have come all the way from the United States to meet Aitzaz Ahsan,” I said politely. “Can we please meet with him?” The jailors wouldn't budge.

Later in the day, about 60 members of Lahore's civil society staged a rally outside the house. Their signs read, “Free Aitzaz Ahsan,” “Restore the Judiciary”, “We want democracy.” They stayed outside the house for about an hour, chanting and singing. The crowd included lawyers in their traditional black jackets, businessmen in their suits, professional women in their colorful “shalwar kamiz,” even several children. They were certainly not a dangerous-looking crowd.

Neither is Aitzaz Ahsan, who suddenly appeared on the balcony to the delight of the protesters. He was not allowed to speak to them, but he raised his hand in a peace sign, and the crowd roared “Long Live Aitzaz.”

The 62-year-old, gray-haired, bespeckled Ahsan who is president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, looks like a mild-mannered professor but to President Musharraf, he's a dangerous man. He defended the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, when Musharraf fired him back in March. Ahsan won the battle, Chaudhry was reinstated, and Musharraf was furious.

That was just the beginning. Ahsan, emboldened, took a case against Musharraf up to the Supreme Court, arguing that Musharraf could not legally be both president and army chief. The court was just about to decide the case when Musharraf clamped down and imposed emergency rule on November 3. While the pretext was the need to counter Islamic militants, the government instead arrested thousands of lawyers, journalists and members of civil society, and fired the independent judges.

Most of those arrested have been released, but a few key lawyers such as Ahsan remain in detention, and the independent judges have not been reinstated. That's why the demands of civil society are not just to lift the emergency law, as Musharraf now says he will do on December 16, but also to release all those arrested, restore the independent judiciary and restore freedom of the press. Most members of civil society are calling for a boycott of the elections until these conditions are met.

Pervez Musharraf has taken off his uniform to please the West, but he is still no democrat. In the past month, his regime has shamefully beaten and jailed thousands of this nation's best and brightest. Equally shameful is the fact that the Bush administration continues to back him, instead of backing the democratic civil society struggling under his grip.

Aitzaz Ahsan is now a symbol in Pakistan of the people's struggle for democracy. That's why we decided to sit outside his door, his “subjail”, in protest of his continued detention, in protest of our government's backing of a dictator, and most of all, in support of the Pakistani people.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace. Benjamin and CODEPINK activist Tighe Barry are staging a 24-hour vigil outside the home of Aitzaz Ashan in Lahore, Pakistan from December 2-3.. For more information see www.codepinkalert.org.

November 27, Karachi, Pakistan.

Judges Get a Heroes' Reception Medea Benjamin

The heroes in today's Pakistan are not the returning former Prime Ministers—Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif—but the Supreme Court and High Court judges who refused to accept General Musharraf's emergency law putting the Constitution in abeyance. When asked to take a new oath pledging to uphold his “Provisional Constitutional Order”, they simply said no. While politicians Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif are making deals with Musharraf to get back into power, these judges are putting principle over power. They may have lost their seats on the bench, but they have won the hearts of millions of Pakistanis.

We got to see a manifestation of this by accompanying a group of activists in Karachi to the home of one of the Sindh High Court Judges, Sarmad Jalal Osmany. The judge was having a dinner party for his colleagues who had also refused to take the oath.

Codepink meets citizens of Pakistan who are braving the conditions to raise their voice against injustice. They explain what the whole protest is about and who is the "dream team" in most Pakistanis' hearts. Credit: Tighe Barry

Arriving at the judge's home, the activists--an odd assortment of students, small businessmen, accountants, and journalists--ceremoniously carpeted the entrance with rose petals. Armed with bouquets of flowers, they crammed into the judge's living room. One by one, as the judges arrived, the group gave them a standing ovation. In all, thirteen judges appeared. “It was thrilling to be in their presence,” said one journalist. “We are so used to a tarnished image of judges throughout our history who have sold out to military regimes and corrupt governments. Here was a group of judges who were putting the interest of the nation above their self interest. I couldn't believe my eyes.”

The flowers, each with the name of a particular judge, were accompanied by a letter from the students at the prestigious LUMS management school in Lahore. A recent graduate had flown in from Lahore to Karachi just for the occasion. The activists wiped tears from their eyes as they watched the young lawyer paying homage to the sacrifice of his elders and read the moving letter that ended with a tribute: “For your courage and resolve, for your steadfastness, for your selflessness, we salute you. For carrying on the struggle and showing all of Pakistan what a principled stand really means, we congratulate you. For giving us this glimmer of hope, this tangible inspiration, this possibility of change, we thank you.”

The activists said that in their homage to the judges, they were representing the sentiment of the majority of Pakistanis. “Even the flower vendor where we bought the bouquets was moved,” journalist Beena Sarwar told the judges. When he found out who the flowers were for, he insisted on sending a bouquet himself, ‘with love to the judges.'”

Codepink is in Pakistan to show peace and solidarity with its people. A visit with some citizens who want the constitution and the basic human rights restored.Credit: Tighe Barry

The group spent about an hour chatting with the judges, with much laughter and good-hearted banter. It was a rare scene, since judges normally lead very secluded lives because of the nature of their work. They told stories about being put under house arrest after the emergency law was declared on November 3. And they talked with pride about the fact that most of the judges—at both the Supreme Court and the provincial Sindh High Court—refused to take the oath. At the Supreme Court, only 5 of the 17 judges went along with Musharraf's emergency measures.

With the future uncertain, the judges have no idea whether they will ever be able to retake their positions. But the goal of the legal community and their supporters is to pressure the government to restore the Constitution and reinstate the Judiciary.

“Restoring the Constitution and reinstating these judges to the highest courts in the land is more important than elections,” said attorney Tammy Haque. “An independent judiciary is the basis for a democratic state. Without it, you can have all the elections you want, but you won't have a democracy.”

Police forcefully stopped silent protestors who were simply holding banners. Due to intervention by some senior citizens, arrests were avoided. Police has been quite brutal recently in silencing peaceful calls for restoring the constitution and upholding the rule of law.
Credit: Tighe Barry

Day One: Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, November 25

Let me introduce you to a flash demonstration, Karachi-style. Since the police have been rounding up and jailing people protesting General Musarraf's imposition of martial law on November 3, one of the new tactics is a "flash mob." Today, people gathered along the waterfront at the McDonalds (yes, they hate gathering at McDonalds, but it's a good landmark with a parking lot). The group was small--about 25 people--but they were men and women, young and old. Some women even brought their children. They were well-dressed, well-educated, English-speaking professionals. Most had never participated in a protest before martial law was declared, but they were quickly becoming seasoned activists.

They were delighted that US activists had come to show support. Tighe and I interviewed several of them on camera before the action started. One of the women was a journalist who insisted that journalists must shed the pretense of “objectivity.” When the government starts censoring the press, she said, it's time for all journalists to take a stand. Another women in her 50s was a public health worker who bemoaned the fact that she could not motivate more of her colleagues—doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers—to join the movement. “The lawyers in this country are really the only organized professional sector that is standing up to Musharraf,” she said. “It's understandable that the poor who are struggling everyday to survive cannot afford to protest. But the other professionals should be out here with us. And the political parties, the ones who can really mobilize large numbers of people, should be taking the lead. But they are too busy jockeying for power so it's up to us, the civil society, to lead.”

The group, holding a few banners and posters (one said, in English: “This revolution will not be televised”, referred to the closing of TV stations), began walking along the sidewalk that borders the beach. Part of the action was to quickly spray paint the sidewalk and walls with anti-government slogans. "Most people in Karachi are poor," a young man said, “they can't even afford to buy a newspaper. So writing on the public spaces is a good way to get the word out." They also engaged the people walking and driving by, handing out leaflets calling on the government to release jailed activists and reinstate democratic rule. When a crowd had gathered around, one of the women began to give a speech in Urdu. She was not your typical revolutionary--in fact, this young, beautifully dressed woman worked in a bank. But she was passionate about the need to restore the rule of law and drew applause from the crowd.

As she was talking, you could hear the siren of a police car pulling up. You might think that the group would have dispersed immediately (the women with children did), but most people stayed. One young man who was with the group kept filming as the police approached and started yelling at the crowd to disperse. The police didn't like that, and two of them tried to grab his video camera and threatened to arrest him. Two women immediately intervened, trying to calm the police. They escorted the man to his car, but the police blocked the car. One of the policemen, toting a Kalashnikov, also approached Tighe and wanted his video camera. He started grabbing Tighe's hand, trying to pull him to the police car. Tighe, playing dumb, kept repeating that he was just a tourist, while I grabbed the camera and put it in my purse. The policeman let Tighe go, but the standoff continued with the other man.

So the women huddled and came up with a plan to all jump in the car. “The police are less likely to arrest him if he is surrounded by women,” they reasoned. So five of us, including me (a foreigner was even better protection), squeezed into the car. And sure enough, it worked. They police, exasperated, finally told him to go.

Afterwards, the group met in a local café to “debrief.” The man who almost got arrested was giving high fives to the women. I asked him if he was scared and he shrugged. “I've seen so many others get arrested in these last few weeks,” he said, “I thought it was my turn.” I asked him what he did for a living. “I'm a dentist,” he laughed, “so perhaps my arrest would have gotten some of my colleague out on the streets.”

The group made some decisions for future actions: When the police threaten us, the men should leave and the women should stay because the police have a harder time roughing up women. If one person gets arrested, they should all go with him or her. Next action, tomorrow at the Press Club.

And so it goes here in Pakistan, where lawyers, bank tellers, journalists—and dentists--are taking on a US-backed dictator.


November 23, the day after Thanksgiving.

Tighe Barry at CODEPINK's
Don't Buy Bush's War demonstration in D.C.

Human rights activist Tighe Barry and I are on our way to Pakistan today. It's a bit of a trek--leaving from New York to Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), where we have an 11-hour layover, then on to Karachi for a week, then Lahore and perhaps Islamabad.

This is the beginning of what we hope will be an on-going presence of US human rights observers in Pakistan until the elections are scheduled to take place in January.

We've been very troubled by the state of affairs since General Musharraf imposed martial law on November 3. Under the guise of the war on terrorism, he has jailed thousands of lawyers, human rights advocates and opposition leaders. Some have been released, but many remain in prison or under house arrest. He sacked the Supreme Court and then stacked it with his own judges, thereby wiping out an independent judiciary. And he clamped down on the press, closing several stations and restricting others.

So we are going to learn more about the situation, hoping to interview the lawyers and activists who have been victimized by the crackdown. We'll get their stories and learn how we can be of support as they take great risks to bring the rule of law back to their country.

With the US government shoring up Musharraf and continuing to give millions of our taxdollars to his regime every month, we in the US have a great responsibility toward the people of Pakistan. That's why this trip--and hopefully the subsequent delegations--are so important.

Click here for a description of the delegations and their purpose. We hope you'll help us spread the word, so that more people from the US will join us or donate funds so that others can come.

Thanks so much,
Medea Benjamin
Cofounder, Global Exchange
and CODEPINK: Women for Peace

'rnc action photos'

Posted by on July 20th, 2007
CODEPINK DC in Action: Don't Buy Bush's War!







The Pink Police were on the job, sealing off a crime scene at the RNC. The Republican National Committee headquarters heard the message of "Accomplices to war crimes! War criminals!" A cease and desist order was given to stop obstructing democracy. Our police force will continue to work this case.

To Those Who Threw a Pie in My Face, Let’s Swap Recipes

Posted by Medea Benjamin on

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Reflections on being pied at the US Social Forum.

On the eve of the closing of the first ever US Social Forum in Atlanta, CODEPINK hosted a reception in the Peace and Justice Tent. We raised our glasses in a toast to the historic gathering and the wonderful activists from around the country. We belted out “Ain't gonna study war no more” and other peace songs in three-part harmony. We laughed raucously as we enjoyed each other's company. And we closed with a congo line that snaked out of the tent. Suddenly, while basking in the warmth of the camaraderie, I felt someone's hand smashing into my face. It was so quick I didn't have time to even close my eyes. With goo dripping down by face and my eyes burning, I realized I had been “pied.” I invite you to see the photos and video that my attackers posted online. You'll see how our merrymaking was spoiled by not-so-merry pranksters guilty of a pie-by hit and run.

It's particularly odd that this group of pie-slingers chose the Social Forum for their attack. The first ever Social Forum in the United States was supposed to be a place to grow our movement, to build unity, to respect differences, to embrace each other. These Bay Area Bakers could have spent their time meeting Katrina survivors from the Gulf, homeless advocates from Atlanta, immigrant rights leaders from Chicago or attending some of the 900 workshops being offered. Instead they spent their time plotting an attack against someone with whom they probably agree on 90 percent of the issues. The organizers of the forum, seeing the incident as both an individual assault and an assault on the very principles of the forum, publicly denounced the attack during one of the main plenaries.

So, you might ask, why was I targeted? While the pie-throwers fled the scene of the crime, they did leave behind leaflets. I am, they say, “a self-appointed ‘spokesperson' whose actions further the commodification of resistance and sabotage our movement's sustainability and credibility. This person's actions benefit the NGO Industrial Complex at the expense of real democracy and solidarity.” That's a mouthful from these self-appointed critics, judges and prosecutors. But it actually sounds like good fodder for a healthy debate. Instead of a “pie-by”, they could have dropped by any of the five open workshops where I was speaking and we could have had a great discussion. Or they could have easily found me at the Global Exchange or CODEPINK tables where I was hanging out for days, chatting with anyone who wanted to talk.

But the pie-flingers were not interested in fruitful dialogue, but tasteless condemnations. Their leaflet went on to say:

1. I sided with police and municipal authorities against direct actions performed at the World Trade Organization protests of 1999 (Truth: I disagreed with the tactic of smashing windows and helped gather an activist clean-up crew to show our goodwill to the people of Seattle. And after eight years, this grudge is mighty stale!)

2. My organization Global Exchange hordes funds raised for community organizations in Guatemala (Huh? I have no idea what this one means. We promote fair trade and have helped channel millions of dollars to producers all over the world, including Guatemala. See http://www.globalexchange.org)

3. Global Exchange solicited the economic dependency of residents in Cuba and then abandoned the project, pushing the Cuban participants deeper into poverty. (Truth: We have organized hundreds of people-to-people delegations to Cuba, and even with the Bush administration coming down on us, we still take groups to Cuba to build ties of friendship.)

4. I publicly refused to endorse a call for Israel to unconditionally withdraw from Southern Lebanon in the 2006 war. (Truth: I always called for unconditional withdrawal, and even went to Lebanon in the midst of the bombing to show my commitment to an immediate ceasefire.)

Having been involved in the movement for social justice for almost 40 years now, I've developed thick skin after facing so many attacks from hateful, violent people. Whenever I appear on TV shows such as Hannity and Colmes or Bill O'Reilly, I receive vicious messages on my phone and threatening emails that scare my children and anger my husband with their variations on the theme of “Die, you ugly, communist, lesbian, American-hating bitch.” I have learned over the years that attacks come with the territory—but it does take me by surprise (and hurt the most) when the attacks come from the left instead of the right, from people who are supposed to be your allies.

Years back, I remember reading with amusement about the Biotic Baking Brigade that roamed the world flinging pies in the face of the “upper crust”—people deemed responsible for corporate crimes. These included the CEOs of Monsanto, Novartis, Chevron and ENRON. In fact, I had organized a protest against ENRON CEO Jeffrey Skilling in San Francisco when a young woman in the audience threw a pie in his face. It was an act of “speaking pie to power,” she said.

But while a pie in the face of the ENRON crook might seem like just desserts, other targets the brigade chose were half-baked. Ralph Nader was pied while at a San Francisco press conference supporting a Green Party candidate for Governor. Sierra Club Director Carl Pope was pied for supposedly supporting legislation that would increase logging in California—a bill the Sierra Club actually opposed. And then all sorts of random people were pied—filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, artist Andy Warhol, singer Kenny Rogers, Jimmy Carter's brother Billy. With no quality control, the Biotic Baking Brigade had become the Myopic Baking Brigade.

The problem was not just who was getting creamed, but the creaming itself. Sure, pie-throwing can be good natured—like at a fundraiser at a county fair or a college food fight. It can also be hilarious, like the slapstick comedy of the Three Stooges or Charley Chaplin. But when done with malice, it can easily turn sour. I remember a nasty episode when San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was pied by three people who held him responsible for policies that created more homelessness. One of the culprits was our friend Justin Gross. Justin was a sweet, gentle soul who cooked us vegan lunches once a week at Global Exchange and worked with Food Not Bombs. The mayor was hurt in the assault, and when the “piers” were tackled to the ground by security, one of them broke her clavicle. Justin was sentenced to six months in jail for battery.

When Sierra Club Director Carl Pope was pied, the tofu in the cream didn't mollify him. “The pie has nothing to do with it,” Pope said bitterly. “It's the fist behind the pie. It's like being slugged.”

Now I know exactly what he meant. I often thought that if I was pied, I'd laugh it off. Big deal. A bit of cream in the face. But it felt like a punch in the sucker. It felt very violent. In fact, I am still shell-shocked. When people I don't know approach me to say hello, I flinch and brace myself for a beating.

In the wake of the assault with a high-caloric weapon, I could have followed the footsteps of Willie Brown or Ann Coulter by pressing charges. I'd have a great case, because I have on videotape both the successful pieing and an unsuccessful and even more violent attempt hours earlier. But I wouldn't do that. Why? I actually feel sorry for people who harbor so much resentment and come from a place of such anger. Perhaps these pie-throwers are wounded people who lack the essential ingredients of a fulfilling life—a supportive family and community that provides a healthy dosage of love.

I feel the love from my wonderful husband and two daughters. I feel the love from my colleagues at Global Exchange, where we've built an organization with 40 staff whose lives are dedicated to transforming the world for the better. I feel it from my sisters at CODEPINK, which now has 150,000 supporters, 250 local chapters, and a house in DC that serves as a hub of anti-war activism and a place that empowers new activists every day.

That's my recipe for not only a healthy life, but my contribution to changing our world. I ask the pie-throwers, what's yours?

Instead of packing a punch, why not come over for lunch? Let's swap our recipes for change. And I'd be happy to bake you the dessert of your choice. May I suggest humble pie?

Medea Benjamin, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK is accessible, even to pie-throwers, at medea [at] globalexchange.org.

Hillary the Cyborg

Posted by yellowribbonmom on June 11th, 2007

We are unable to trust the likes of Hillary because she is programmed by political powers to be elected, not to think and act like a human.

Hillary is unable to maintain a personal position on anything without consulting her advisors who continue to push her towards the 'center'.

Hillary needs to hear our voice, and we must stand united against her hawkish behavior.

Hillary is in a race with W to set the standard for being a good servant to the political machine.

Do you feel peace in your Heart?

Posted by debbie wells on May 9th, 2007

Hilary,

If someone were to walk up to you, push you and you lost your balance and fell to the ground, would you get up, look that person in the eyes and ask, "why did you do that?" or would you get up and push that person back? Hilary, don't push back anymore, ask those persons who were the cause of this war, "why did they want this war?" Lets stop pushing and shoving, lets stop with the lies, the blame game and take action. Hilary, we are counting on you, as we know you have peace in your heart. Put peace back into the equation.

Stop this war!!

What do you want to stand for?

Posted by S. W. Netski on April 5th, 2007

 

Hillary: I've heard it said over and over, "People either despise or adore Hillary Clinton, there's no middle ground."

I , personally, disagree. I have never really felt one way or the other about you. I keep waiting to see who you really are. What do you truly want to stand for?

Its obvious, you are intelligent, you are brave-but then what are you willing to risk everything for. You may well be defeated, but what is worth the risk? If not PEACE then what? Oh yes, we all know its complicated, and if we keep this war going it will become more complicated. We must face the fact that we are creating more and more terrorists as more and more innocents die each day. More and more money is wasted and more and more lives are broken.

The time is now- all time is now, help bring us out of this darkness! For the sake of the world- be a beacon of PEACE Hillary. Stop fluctuating- decide what your life's true mission is. What do you stand for ?

Reconsider your position

Posted by L. Pittman on March 30th, 2007


Senator Clinton-- It is of the utmost importance that you become president in 2008.
Young girls and women the world over are looking to you for guidance, leadership, and inspiration. Your support of Bush's War can only be detrimental to your campaign. I urge you to please rethink your position on the matter. The war has proved fruitless for nearly five years, let us not waste another five years or thousands more troops for a cause that no longer serves a purpose (and maybe never had).

Again, I urge you to reconsider your position on the War on Iraq. Today and tomorrow's women are counting on you.

First, listen. Next, evaluate

Posted by Vicki Rovere on March 26th, 2007

 

When evaluating opposing arguments, we need to take into account the vested interests of the arguers (I wish this were taught in schools!).

If the side denying global warming is made up of oil companies, and the side asserting global warming is made up of scientists, we might well decide that the scientists are likely to be impartial, while the oil companies are likely to be biased. The argument over Iraq's putative weapons of mass destruction had the Bush administration, on one hand, claiming these weapons existed, and people like Scott Ritter, Hans Blix and Middle East scholars, on the other hand, doubting that Saddam Hussein indeed had such weapons.

There were hundreds of thousands of people across the country who looked at the neocons' pro-war proclivities, their manipulative language (deliberately confusing Iraq with 9/11), Bush's lackluster presidency, his demonstrated lack of integrity, etc., and rejected their arguments. How come we were right and almost everyone in Congress was wrong? Either our elected representatives were incapable of evaluating specious arguments, or they were suspicious of the Bushies but felt it would be political suicide to vote No. Neither option would seem to qualify someone to hold such a responsible office. When Kerry or Edwards says his vote was a mistake, it's still not clear which of my two options he is copping to.

But you can't even manage to say that. Each time I hear the clip of you saying, "If I had known then what I know now..." my response is, "Why didn't you know? And if you couldn't even suspect you were being lied to, why would I want someone so clueless as President?"

Impeachment or peril

Posted by Robert John White, Esq. on March 14th, 2007

 
The fallacious pretext for the invasion of Iraq was a purported cache of weapons of mass destruction. You, of all people, should have seen through the idiocy of that idea following your 8 years as first lady and access to unlimited intelligence reporting as a Senator. There were no such weapons then and there are none now, thus the pretext self-destructed.

Why are we there? To build "democracy" with an occupational army, the largest constructed foreign embassy in known history, and a system of airstrips intended to move attack vehicles into militarily strategic locations to wreak more havoc on the poor souls in the mideast. And to what American interest, I might add? The Jews security in the region? They have a military second in repugnancy only to ours and an equally bereft national will-they can fend for themselves, as they should. Nation building after its utter destruction without pretext? Only Halliburton and its abettors can buy that one, surely not the Iraqis. Could it be oil, perhaps? Ah, the pulse quickens. Bush, Cheney, Condominium Rice and the entirety of the neocons are subhumans that don't understand that kinder and gentler murder is murder indeed and no better than the other.

Crossing international boundaries without pretext to plunder a nation's people and assets is a violation of every international and domestic law on the subject. It mandates impeachment and prosecution for crimes against humanity and if you cannot see it, do not understand it, or lack the courage to demand it, then step aside and raise more money to advance your crawl toward the destruction of America and its rebirth as USA, Inc.

Put impeachment back on the table - while we still have a table!!!

Posted by Eileen Coles on March 14th, 2007

 

Today Rep. Dennis Kucinich defied Speaker Nancy Pelosi and put the Impeachment of George W. Bush "on the table" where it urgently belongs. Kucinich said,

"This week the House Appropriations committee removed language from the Iraq war funding bill requiring the Administration, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, to seek permission before it launched an attack against Iran. Since war with Iran is an option of this Administration and since such war is patently illegal, then impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran."

I think it can now be safely said that this administration is completely out of control and no longer even pretends to represent the best interests of the majority of the people of the United States of America. From obviously immoral meddling with the judiciary branch, to corrupt dealings with contractors that led to an intolerable deterioration in care for our wounded military, to the defiant increase in military action during a time when our economy is clearly unstable - this administration refuses to hear the voice of the people and continues to waste billions of dollars and cause needless death and destruction. The outing of a CIA operative because her husband wouldn't play ball. Warrantless wiretapping from the NSA. Mismanaged surveillance from the FBI. Torture. Lies. Theft. No branch of our federal government, not one governmental agency has escaped the touch of this administration's corruption. Honestly, what ELSE has to happen to convince this country that this administration is the out-of-control engine on a downbound train? What's it going to take? What new horror has to come to light before action is finally taken?

Hillary, please - you and Senator Schumer surely know after the recent issues with the Department of Justice that you have got to start looking at impeachment as a serious option. Both of you are powerful leaders and if you speak out on this matter it will gather the strength to become effective. I implore you to familiarize yourselves with the movement toward impeachment that other members of the Senate and Congress are putting together and join them in this necessary effort of moral courage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movement_to_impeach_George_W._Bush

Thank you, Eileen Coles

The Middle East

Posted by Tevis Jones on March 11th, 2007

 

Senator Clinton, I truly would like to believe that you support peace in the Middle East. Unfortunately your actions and words last summer give me no comfort that you do. To jump immediately to the defense of Israel when it waged a vicious war and committed human rights violations against the Lebanese (with the blessings of America's weapons and power), and to support Israel in its outrageous and continuous violations of the rights of Palestinians, demonstrates that you are not independent of AIPAC.

I am sorely disappointed by your lack of balance and regard for Arab and Persian lives. Israel is in the wrong in its relationships in the Middle East, and there will never be peace until people in power, such as yourself, seek true justice for all and cease supporting without question states that behave unjustly - I include in their number not only Israel but also Saudi Arabia and Egypt, all of whom we prop up with taxpayer dollars but who operate as totalitarian states. Can you not see that the blind and fervent support of United States for Israel is exactly what has destabilized the entire area and created the terrorists who hate our country?

I ask you to move decisively to end the war in Iraq NOW, bring our troops home NOW (we will never 'win' this war and you should admit that you were in error in supporting it at all); this war has not only caused the deaths of thousands of our own soldiers, but also killed tens of thousands of Iraqis and made refugees of a hundred thousand more. And for what? The lives of Iraqi women and children have descended into a living hell because of this war. The number of terrorists created by this war who despise the United States has grown like a cancer. With this war in Iraq we have taken our eyes of the target in Afghanistan and enabled the Taliban, abuser of women's rights, to regain power supported by the opium trade. If you truly care about women and children in places beyond your own constituency, end this war now, not next year, but NOW!

Peace not War

Posted by carleen on March 4th, 2007

 

Please end this illegal and horrible war. Bush took us into this war on a lie and so many have died. With all of Bush's crimes the attack on a country that had nothing to do with 911 and was no threat to the us, was the worst.

Just think how you would feel if your daughter was sent to war, and did not even have training or the equipment to protect herself. We are supposed to be the most powerful; country in the world and yet we are acting like a bully and are being hated around the world. Let us be the country who leads in peace and helps countries instead of killing them. We must impeach Bush before he and his cronies get us into a 3rd world war---then nothing will matter, not health care, not global warming,not poverty, not pandemic disease ---because we will all be dead Bring our troops home and work for peace and restore our battered reputation around the world.

I will vote for the peace candidate and I believe we will all be safer.

Peace,

Carleen

Enough!

Posted by Linda Long on March 3rd, 2007

 

Hillary you will be the first woman President in the USA, stop the war's, get our kids home. Take better care of our Vet's.

Impeach Bush and Cheney. We need a better world for our children, you can be one of the one's to give it to them. Enough is enough, it is time for you to take a hard stand and get things done. We are counting on you.

Thank you

Listen to the Young People

Posted by Heather Box on March 2nd, 2007

 

Dear Hillary Clinton,

I am a former Intern and supporter of yours. I cannot and will no longer support you until you take definitive action to stop this unjust war and vote to de-fund it.

While Congress continues to send a blank check to President Bush to continue the war my friends and peers are getting injured and dying in Iraq by the thousands.

We are also suffering at home, we are paying more for education than ever before, we are dying in the streets of San Francisco at a horrific rate, and suffering from the loss of social, after school and daycare programs.

I am so disappointed in you, Senator Clinton, for enabling such a flawed and unjust federal funding agenda. We, young Americans, oppose this war at a higher rate than any other group…and Senator Clinton, young people will not support you until you listen to us.

I have been waiting my whole life to campaign for a woman for President. But I cannot support your campaign until you clearly shift your priorities and vote to de-fund the war and invest in the youth of this country. I don't just want a woman president; I want a woman president who will stand for peace and justice for all people.

Sincerely,

Heather Box
The League of Young Voters

CODEPINK interrupts Hillary’s fundraiser… again

Posted by Rae Abileah on February 24th, 2007


This past Friday, February 23, Senator Hillary Clinton held a fundraiser in San Francisco at the Sheraton Palace Hotel. San Franciscans who have spoken out against the war repeatedly gathered outside the hotel for a rally and press conference urging the New York senator and presidential would-be to put action behind her words and end the Iraq war. About 30 demonstrators outside the hotel handed out flyers that read, “Hillary Stop Funding War” and encouraged funders entering the event to ask Hillary hard-hitting questions about her stance on the war.

Meanwhile, five activists made their way into the private donors-only event. Two hotel guests found their way to seats in the audience, while three of us entered as “caterers.” When Hillary began her talk, we unfurled large hot pink banners that read “Hillary Stop Funding War” and “We Need a Peace President.” Two of us were positioned behind Hillary, which made for some excellent photos. A third was stage right, making it appear as though there was a sea of pink popping up around the room. The security people were slow to respond to us and finally took our banners and escorted us out.

On my way out I stated very loudly and passionately, “Hillary please stop funding the war!” As I was shouting, a woman clocked me in the chin and hooked her fingers into my mouth, grabbing at my jaw as if to yank it off. I felt like I was being bridled. Stunned, I didn't speak up to demand that she be identified and held by the police. I was amazed that here in America supporters of a presidential candidate could so easily assault someone with an opinion they don't approve of, and a Democrat no less. I faced a similar response at a Hillary engagement with the BAR Association in San Francisco about a year ago—after holding up a banner, I was chocked by the security official, and the audience members sitting within inches of me did nothing to help me. The anger and aggression with which people react to our actions still astounds me. It makes those with contrary political opinions appear tenuous at best.

After we were taken out of the event, we were detained in a small room for the remainder of the event, cited for “disrupting a meeting,” and released. My interaction with the SFPD was pretty calm and respectable, but not all the protesters had such a smooth experience.

At the start of the event, fundraiser host Susie Beale commented that she's eager to see change in this country, and when she and another host asked if the room was ready for a woman president, the crowd applauded enthusiastically. I wanted to applaud too. I was raised with the idea that I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be, and that women could now choose their professions freely. “We don't have to serve the boss coffee these days, so honey you be strong and burst through that glass ceiling” was my mom's refrain. I decided I would blast through the gender barriers in a space shuttle as an astronaut, or stomp them out while tromping through the jungle doing scientific research. So understandably, just like most gals my age, I get psyched about the idea of a woman president. But I want to see a president with values, and being a woman just isn't enough to buy my vote. I want to vote for a peace candidate, someone who is unafraid to take leadership to bring us out of Iraq, and speaks out against any future aggression towards Iran.

Right now Hillary has the worst position on Iraq of any of the Democratic presidential candidates. Her latest call for a phased withdrawal with no end date is totally inadequate. Hillary's new legislation puts a cap on troop levels, while units are already being deployed to Iraq—the cow's out of the barn on that one—and her proposal threatens to cut off funding to the Iraqis if their government doesn't meet certain standards in six months—talk about blaming the victim! Hillary said at the fundraiser on Friday, as if responding to our earlier disruption, “Yes, we do have to end the war in Iraq, and we have to do it as soon as we possibly can!” Hillary, if this is what you believe in your heart, then don't wait to be president to do something—act now to bring our servicemen and women home and secure a better tomorrow for Iraq!

There may come a day when disrupting Hillary feels like shouting at a brick wall, or George Bush. But for now, when Hillary is still using the verb “listening” and is vulnerably vying for the presidential nomination, I am still hopeful. And I'm hopeful that Americans will keep pressuring the candidates to stand up for peace, especially those who have the purse power to make or break their campaigns. The bottom line to wealthy Democrats is this: Until Hillary takes action in the Senate to responsibly end the Iraq occupation, funding Hillary is funding war.

Best Photo collection:

http://dropbox.eltecolote.org/elluke/hillary_clinton_070223/Completed/html/

Article links:

Anti-War Protesters Disrupt Clinton Fundraiser (includes video)

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/02/23/BAGOVOA6O67.DTL

http://www.kcra.com/news/11097031/detail.html

http://www.nbc11.com/news/11092982/detail.html (which includes an interesting part about the Clintons' campaigning tactics: “Unlike her husband, who famously strayed from his lectern to roam audiences like Oprah Winfrey, Mrs. Clinton stays largely static. Like a hitter in the batter's box, she stands, hands clasped, pivoting only to take questions from audience members scattered throughout the hall. Like her husband, however, she runs late -- 23 minutes on Friday. Like Bush, the senator shook hands and took pictures with the biggest donors behind closed doors.”

http://cbs5.com/local/local_story_054164312.html

http://www.insidebayarea.com/trivalleyherald/localnews/ci_5296738 (pro-hil piece in TriValley Herald)

http://www.kget.com/news/state/story.aspx?content_id=873ddc1b-0c9c-445b-8432-8021560badb9

Photos of outside action:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/codepink/sets/72157594553065967/

February 2007 Actions in DC

Posted by on February 20th, 2007

I had another one of those "Meanwhile in Baghdad" moments when I turned on the TV today, my first day back home again in Indiana from the front lines of the political war in Washington. CSPAN is running video of hearings that are more than a month old while the Mainstream Media is running live coverage of a hearing about, you guessed it, Anna Nicole Smith. And I am baffled. They are airing live, in real time, a hearing about what will happen with the remains of a person who is famous for being famous, sending out national news alerts that the Judge presiding over the hearing wept when he rendered his decision. Here's the baffling part. For a solid month, activists and Women For Peace have been in hearings in our nation's capital. Standing up, quite literally, for our democracy, our rights as citizens and the human rights of others all over the world. True, we did not have a gallon jug of methadone in our refrigerator in the CODEPINK house on Capital Hill--organic cheese and left over vegetarian soup are more our speed. But we, too, have wept in hearings, and we also created quite a ruckus on our last trip to a hotel.

That's where the similarities begin and end, though. No one waited an inordinate amount of time to call 911 for us. We could see the secret service out on Connecticut Avenue counting up the six floors to pinpoint our location and put an end to our partying. Our idea of fun was to drop a 40-foot pink slip from the sixth floor of the 6 star Mayflower Hotel while George Bush was speaking in a ballroom downstairs. Pink slipping George was one of many highlights in a month filled with actions and opportunities to work for Peace.

The past month of living and working in D.C. with CODEPINK has been an invaluable experience with many victories, both large and small. The women of CODEPINK have experienced both excitement and frustration at trying to move Congress to end this war in Iraq and prevent another in Iran. As a small town, mid-western woman with only a couple of years of activism under my belt, the leadership and mentoring provided by all in CODEPINK has been of incalculable worth. Seeing the determination on Medea Benjamin's face each morning as we marched the eight blocks to the Capital through the snow and ice that nearly shut down the city soothed any doubts I may have had about our effectiveness. When Senators and Representatives thanked us for our concern and for our participation in our democracy, all doubts about propriety were dispelled. When Senate and House staffers followed us to the cafeteria to thank us for speaking truth to power, all questions about our effectiveness were quelled. When we were met on the street and in restaurants and in hallways with smiles and "thumbs up" we were encouraged to continue. It has been an exercise in, to reclaim verbiage from the administration, "adapt to win".

With the change over to Democratic Party Leadership in both the House and the Senate, each day on the Hill offered challenges with dealing with Legislators and finding the line with Capital Police. What was once arrestable is sometimes no longer even chided. What was once unwelcome opinion and treated as disrespectful behavior is now tolerated as part of the exercise of free speech. Do not think that things have changed so much that the path to peace will be a cake walk. It will not be. Congress will not step out onto any limb until they know that not only will their grassroots break their fall, but will grow to support the limb they have climbed out upon and prevent it from cracking under the weight of the issues.

Despite resistance from Dems and Republicans alike, women have been fighting valiantly in the war against the war, taking CODEPINK's anti-war message from the curbside to Congress in a sustained non-violent movement that has been picking up momentum and making a distinct difference in our government's handling of war issues. Our pink presence on the Hill has been a comfort to some, a thorn in the side to others and a spur to those hanging politically somewhere in between. There can be no doubt about our effectiveness, though. Whether we are attending hearings, speaking out and being removed from those hearings, being arrested in Congress or in Legislative offices, or executing actions that spark the imagination and awareness of the public, the women of CodePINK are at the forefront of the peace movement. The momentum gained from the kick off of the occupation project must be sustained. The ground we have gained in the halls of congress must be maintained. Fighting for it, standing up is the only way peace and justice will be obtained.

I feel honored to have worked with so many who have given so much of themselves to the movement, and look forward to my return to D.C.

Lori Perdue 

Live up to your claim

Posted by Clara Sharp on February 15th, 2007


Dear Hillary,

You have portrayed yourself as a true humanitarian, supporting human rights of all people everywhere. Surely you do not believe that this war with Iraq is humane, nor supportive of all people. Buckle up, stiffen your spine, and tell the current resident of the White House that you will NOT support his insistence upon increasing the number of troops sent to kill and be killed in this senseless war. You've got it in you Dear Lady, listen to the voices of those who want to support you in 2008.

No Faith, Just FEAR

Posted by Carol Tileston on February 14th, 2007

 

As this situation in Iran is being 'created', I have gone from no faith in this administration, to darn right scared of this administration. I figured the public, the media, and the Congress would not stand for this kind of madness AGAIN, but this nightmare is coming true. Hillary, On this day of LOVE I am asking that you imagine the mothers, sisters, and daughters that have lost loved ones and put yourself in their shoes. Can YOU be held responsible for one more death in Iraq? Afghanistan? and god forbid, IRAN? Until you do, I cannot even consider you as a candidate for my President. Act in Love,

BE MORE COURAGEOUS, SPEAK UP FOR US

Posted by JOANN WELLING on February 13th, 2007

DEAR HILLARY:

I'M LUKE WARM SO FAR WITH YOUR CAMPAIGNE AND YOUR SOMEWHAT CENTRIST IDEAS! I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOU AS OUR NEXT PRESIDENT, BRILLENT, A WOMAN AND CAPABLE TO RUN THIS COUNTRY BUT YOU HAVE NOT CONVINCED ME AS YET. I STILL SEE AL GORE AS THE NEXT STATESMAN OF OUR WORLD WITH HIS BRAVE FILMING OF GLOBAL WARMING,AS MUCH OR A MORE MAJOR ISSUE AS THE WAR IN IRAQ AND THE POTENTIAL WAR IN IRAN.

PLEASE ENCOURAGE NEGIGOATIONS TO BEGIN BETWEEN THE "ROGUE" COUNTRIES. STEP UP THE NEED FOR ALTERNATIVE ENERGY AND HELP PEOPLE SEE THE DANGERS OF GLOBAL WARMING. ENCOURAGE THE MEDIA TO WRITE THE TRUTH AND NOT EXPRESS THE PROPAGANDA OF OUR ADMINISTRATION TOWARDS IRAN. BE BRAVE AND GUTTSY AND SHOW YOUR CONCERN FOR THIS GREAT COUNTRY AND OUR WORLD!

SINCERELY,

JO WELLING
MASSAGE THERAPIST AND RETIRED RN

Friendly Fire . . . .

Posted by Monique Soroka on February 10th, 2007


Let's talk amongst ourselves . . . Today's headlines include a story about eight Kurdish PESHMERGA being targetted by the U.S. At least five were killed by what is known by the oxymoron, "friendly fire". . . How devastating, yet it is one of the most hideous characteristics about war and that is, "the first casualty of war is: the TRUTH". How much scandal and untruths will we unravel about this War in the years to come ? How many of our own troops were killed by their own comrades? How many committed suicide? How many more will contemplate suicide when faced with the inevitable mental anguish that accompanies War? These are only a few questions that will haunt us in the future. In the meantime the debate of increasing the numbers of troops (the so-called SURGE) goes on. Instead the discussion should be about how to increase "the electrical surge" to the population of Iraq so the children can have warm baths for the first time in years. . . or their mothers and grandmothers can wash their clothes and hang them outside to dry in the sun. Yes the sun . . . all of ours' . . . SUN. Does our Planet even have a future?

I don't remember the Clintons talking. . . let alone showing any support to Al Gore when he tried valiantly to prove that he indeed HAD won the election against G Dubya. Apparently there had been some sort of "falling out" between the Clintons and the Gores. Al Gore is seriously demonstrating his concern about our environmental problems. Can we even BEGIN to imagine the utter waste in fuel that this War has cost ? It boggles the mind. . . The original predictions and supposed funding "requests" for Bush's War were in the single digit millions and now the costs are reaching triple digit billions. That is not to speak of the untold costs that will follow for years and years to come. Undoubtedly someone believes that it WAS and will be WORTH it in oil revenues. Who is this someone . . .or who are these "somebodies" ? The general population of Iraq has suffered and is suffering inordinant hardship. The various and innumerable ethnic identities, factions and tribes have probably regrouped a dozen times by now. The Bush Administration succeeded in creating CHAOS. What can arise out of such chaos?

I read & heard on the news that Chelsea Clinton sat next to Condaleeza Rice at Gerald Ford's Funeral. If Hillary were to be elected President do you think she'd appoint "Condie" to be a liason between the Political Parties? Or maybe Ms. Rice should run for Vice-President alongside Hillary, on the same ticket. As far as I'm concerned, both are high-energy "WAR APOLOGISTS" One wonders if once people in power get "a taste" for power they become irrevocably corrupt? Let's talk. . . let's chat.

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