Print it out: color best. Pass it on.
Military Resistance 10A4 Notice:
Serious Military Resistance Website Problem
Issues since January 1, 2012 cannot be uploaded to the Military Resistance
website, http://www.militaryproject.org, because of a technical problem. There is, of course, no way to notify people who read the newsletter at the website of this difficulty. Work is underway to fix it. Because notice of the deadline for the Military Resistance Fund Raffle was supposed to have been posted on the website January 2, it will be necessary to extend the deadline once it is again possible to post to the website. Thanks, and apologies for the delay, to everyone who has contributed so far to the Fund Raising effort. We will end the Raffle as soon as a new deadline can be posted to the website.
AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS
Foreign Occupation “Servicemember” Killed Somewhere Or Other In Afghanistan: Nationality Not Announced
January 3, 2011 Reuters A foreign servicemember died following an improvised explosive device attack in southern Afghanistan, yesterday.
Rifleman Sachin Limbu Dies In UK From Wounds Sustained In Afghanistan
4 Jan 12 Ministry of Defence It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Rifleman Sachin Limbu, from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on Monday 2 January 2012. He died from wounds sustained while serving in Afghanistan in June 2010. Rifleman Sachin Limbu was a member of 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (1 RGR). He deployed on Operation HERRICK 12 with B (Sari Bari) Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles as a machine gunner. He was involved in a number of operations to stabilise the area of Walizi Village, many of which involved intense, protracted and close-quarter combat in an area known to present a high risk from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). On 24 June 2010 his multiple deployed on a patrol to Walizi as part of an operation to enable Local National Freedom of movement and deter insurgent activity in the area. As this multiple reached its objective, an area characterised by frequent insurgent attacks, Rifleman Sachin moved into a fire position to provide protection to his comrades and was caught in an explosion from a hidden IED. He was evacuated to Selly Oak via Camp Bastion. Rifleman Sachin died on 2 January 2012, in the New Queen Elizabeth Hospital, surrounded by his family.
POLITICIANS CAN’T BE COUNTED ON TO HALT THE BLOODSHED THE TROOPS HAVE THE POWER TO STOP THE WARS
The scene of Tuesday’s night explosion in Kandahar, south of Kabul, Afghanistan Jan. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)... December 30, 2011 By Associated Press & January 03, 2012 Radio Free Europe 7 Jan. 4 Arab Times A second deadly blast in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar killed three policemen, General Abdul Raziq, the provincial police chief of Kandahar told AFP. Earlier in the day a bomber on a motorbike struck a crowded bazaar killing a policeman. The blast followed a smaller explosion, likely from a planted bomb at the site, he said. In the latest attack, another bomber detonated a bomb-laden tricycle in downtown Kandahar, Raziq told AFP. A hospital official also confirmed the casualties. In the first attack, the attacker detonated his explosives near a mobile police post as officers ordered him to stop, Kandahar police chief Abdul Raziq told AFP.
“The attacker was on a motorbike in a crowded bazaar in Kandahar city near the border police mobile checkpoint. When police stopped him he detonated his explosives, killing one police,” he said. Three police officers, were wounded, Raziq added.
IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE RESISTANCE END THE OCCUPATION REALLY BAD PLACE TO BE: ALL HOME NOW
U.S. soldiers at the site of an attack in Kandahar province January 3, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer.
Coffee Strong Art Show Benefit
From: Contact Coffee Strong To: Military Resistance Newsletter Sent: January 04, 2012 Subject: Coffee Strong Art Show Benefit.
You are invited to ZOLTÁN’S 50th BIRTHDAY PARTY
Saturday, January 7, 2012, 7:30-11:30 pm.
Olympia Ballroom, 116 Legion Way, by Sylvester Park, upstairs from Urban Onion. Watch for the red, white & black balloons.
Dance Party with DJ Sy Khan.
Formal dress,with your own interpretation of dressing up.
There will be a masquerade waltz, so bring a mask if you have one.
Cash Bar, Benefits to G.I. Voice / Coffee Strong: http://www.CoffeeStrong.org
Please bring your favorite cold hors d’oeuvre.
No gifts please, but donations welcome for G.I. Voice / Coffee Strong
Silent and live auctions of Iraq War veterans’ artwork.
Handicapped accessible. Kids welcome.
Contact Debi for more information or to help out: (360) 359-8869 or [email protected]
Coffee Strong | 15109 Union Ave. SW, Ste B, Lakewood, WA 98496 | 253-581-1565
DO YOU HAVE A FRIEND OR RELATIVE IN MILITARY SERVICE?
Forward Military Resistance along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Afghanistan or at a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the wars and economic injustice, inside the armed services and at home. Send email requests to address up top or write to: The Military Resistance, Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657. Phone: 888.711.2550
Quack Quack Quack:
Army Spent $140 Million On Useless “Training Aimed At Enhancing Soldiers’ Psychological Resilience” That Faked Reports To Make It Look Good:
“‘This Report Reads More Like Propaganda Than A Serious Scientific Study’ He Said In An Email After Reviewing The Army Study Results”
“The ‘Report Does Not Support The Legitimacy’ Of The Program” “It’s Not Clear They Actually Showed Anything”
Jan. 2, 2012 BY DAN SAGALYN, PBS NewsHour [Excerpts] A top-priority program aimed at enhancing soldiers’ psychological resilience and mental health has proven to be effective, the U.S. Army says in a forthcoming report. However, several leading mental health professionals say the findings do not prove the program works. Last month, health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser explored the nuances of the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program. This new and anticipated report adds one more layer to the debate. The program, launched in 2009 to teach soldiers how to better handle battlefield trauma as well as stress in their daily lives, seeks to improve well-being and reduce anxiety,
depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which have become prevalent among troops who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade. At the heart of the program is a 10-day class that non-commissioned officers take at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, where they learn about their personal strengths, how to be more aware of their thoughts and emotions, and how to enhance relationships with loved ones so that during tough times they will have better support. Service personnel are also taught techniques for positive thinking and skills to reduce a negative focus when things go wrong. Officers who finish the class are called “Master Resilience Trainers,” and they, in turn, teach the skills to troops. The soon-to-be-released report, titled “The Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program Evaluation, Report #3: Longitudinal Analysis of the Impact of Master Resilience Training on Self-Reported Resilience and Psychological Health Data,” concludes, “There is now sound scientific evidence that Comprehensive Soldier Fitness improves the resilience and psychological health of soldiers.” The new study (an advanced draft was provided to the NewsHour) follows two others -“Report #1: Negative Outcomes (Suicide, Drug Use, & Violent Crimes)” and “Report Number 2: Positive Performance Outcomes in Officers (Promotions, Selections, & Professions)” -- and finds that troops in four combat brigade teams instructed by Master Resilience Trainers “experienced significantly higher rates of growth” than soldiers without such training. The report also concludes that soldiers in units with trainers did 1.6 percent less “catastrophizing” -- worrying that the worst case will happen -- than troops without the trainers. They also developed 1.3 percent better coping skills, were 1.3 percent more emotionally fit and were 1.1 percent more adaptable than soldiers in units without the trainers, whom the Army also studied. But several leading psychiatrists and psychologists disagree. “The findings do not seem to be very impressive,” George Bonanno, a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, wrote in an email to the NewsHour. The “report does not support the legitimacy” of the program, he contended. “It’s not clear they actually showed anything.” Even if the Army study is accurate, “it’s such a small effect one would have to question whether it was worth it,” Bonanno said. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a professor of psychiatry at Boston University, voiced similar concerns. “This report reads more like propaganda than a serious scientific study,” he said in an email after reviewing the Army study results.
“The big question, though, has not yet been addressed: Does this intervention make combat soldiers more resilient and prevent PTSD and somatization (a condition in which a person has many physical symptoms but no physical cause that can be detected)? “Does it make it easier,” van der Kolk continued, “to tolerate the central traumatizing issues of combat: killing, witnessing or engaging in atrocities, seeing one’s friends being blown up, and being reminded of horrendous scenes after returning home, and being able to sleep comfortably after combat?” One of the main creators of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, Martin Seligman, said the criticisms were “off base.” [For more on Seligman, who got a $31 million no bid contract from the Army for this bullshit, see below. T] The $140 million initiative should not only be measured on how well it meets the difficult goal of preventing PTSD, according to Seligman. [Especially because there is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence that it prevents anything at all. T] The manner in which the study was conducted is also being criticized. According to Bonanno, the study’s design was weak. “If they wanted to conclude that there was something special” about providing units with resilience trainers, then for scientific proof, Army officials should have compared three different situations: units with resilience trainers; units with no trainers, and units receiving training in “how to relax, or how to be better leaders, or just about any alternative.” Bonanno, who studies the impact of adverse events on individuals, said it is possible that the Army’s program might even have a negative impact. Absent any specialized psychological training, soldiers are already “remarkably resilient,” he wrote. This program does not “consider the possibility” that it “might somehow undermine” a natural resilience that soldiers have. Frank Ochberg, founder of Columbia University’s Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, said that the analysis would benefit from a third party taking the lead, rather than having Army officials and contractors with a stake in the program’s success evaluating their own effectiveness. [Translation: The people that got the money were the people who evaluated their own program and, of course, report how successful it is. Otherwise the money might stop coming their way. T] Reports on the effects of CSF training “would have higher credibility if they were conducted by an outside agency with no ties to the program management,” Ochberg said. The report is also being criticized for relying on soldiers’ self-reporting.
Some observers said that a study asking participants to evaluate his or her own psychological state is widely regarded as not fully scientific. [Translation: not worth shit. T] “As the subtitle of the report points out, this is a measure of ‘self-reports’ by the soldiers,” said Bryant Welch, a clinical psychologist and former official with the American Psychological Association. “It is not ‘empirical’ evidence of resilience as they claim.” “All the study shows,” Welch wrote, “is that if soldiers are given a set of attitudinal questions to answer and then are given several months of instruction by a superior officer explaining why the attitude the Army would like them to have is better for them, then, when they are retested, more of them will endorse the answers the Army would like them to have.” He added: “In other words, the study suggests that the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness has the ability to indoctrinate the soldiers. “It says nothing about resiliency and does not even attempt to measure resiliency with any empirical measures.” There is one aspect of the report that all sides agree on: The results are not based on hard behavioral data. Seligman “wholeheartedly agreed” with van der Kolk’s point that there were no objective measures of domestic violence, suicide attempts, job performance, illness or amount of medication taken, or rates of PTSD. Lester wrote that his team aimed to look at such objective outcomes next year. He said there was not enough time to do that in this current study.
The Army Awarded A $31 Million No-Bid ResilienceTraining Contract To A Psychologist Whose “Fingerprints Show Up On The CIA And Military Torture Programs”
The Award Was A Fraud:
The Army Said Nobody Else Was Allowed To Bid On The ResilienceTraining Contract Because “There Is Only One Responsible Source Due To A Unique Capability Provided”
“And Yet, Salon Was Able To Identify Resilience Training Experts At Other Institutions Around The Country”
Marty Seligman, whose “fingerprints show up on the CIA and military torture programs” Oct 14, 2010 By Mark Benjamin, Salon.com [Excerpts] The Army earlier this year steered a $31 million contract to a psychologist whose work formed the psychological underpinnings of the Bush administration’s torture program. The Army awarded the “sole source” contract in February to the University of Pennsylvania for resilience training, or teaching soldiers to better cope with the psychological strain of multiple combat tours.
The university’s Positive Psychology Center, directed by famed psychologist Martin Seligman, is conducting the resilience training. Army contracting documents show that nobody else was allowed to bid on the resilience-training contract because “there is only one responsible source due to a unique capability provided, and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements.” And yet, Salon was able to identify resilience training experts at other institutions around the country, including the University of Maryland and the Mayo Clinic. In fact, in 2008 the Marine Corps launched a project with UCLA to conduct resilience training for Marines and their families at nine military bases across the United States and in Okinawa, Japan. Government contracting regulations allow sole-source contracts, but only under very limited conditions, such as when only one company has the ability to do the needed work, according to Trevor Brown, a contracting expert at Ohio State University. Brown said inappropriately awarding sole-source contracts is an “endemic” problem throughout the Department of Defense. “I am not an expert on resilience training,” he said, “but I know enough to know they could have put out a tender, and my guess is they would have gotten a number of bids. My first reaction was that there is a market for this stuff.” Army resilience training is the pet project of Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, previously the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq during the darkest days of the war there, from July 2004 through February 2007. Army sources say the director of the Army’s resilience program, Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, rammed the training contract through the Army bureaucracy on Casey’s behalf. Seligman is most famous for his work in the 1960s in which he was able to psychologically destroy caged dogs by subjecting them to repeated electric shocks with no hope of escape. The dogs broke down completely and ultimately would not attempt to escape through an open cage door when given the opportunity to avoid more pain. Seligman called the phenomenon “learned helplessness.” Government documents say that the goal of Bush-era torture was to drive prisoners into the same psychologically devastated state through abuse. “The express goal of the CIA interrogation program was to induce a state of ‘learned helplessness,’” according to a July 2009 report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Seligman, described as politically conservative by a psychologist who knows him well, once chastised his fellow academics for “forgetting” 9/11. “It takes a bomb in the office of some academics to make them realize that their most basic values are now
threatened, and some of my good friends and colleagues on the Edge seem to have forgotten 9/11,” Seligman once wrote on the Edge Foundation website. In that post, Seligman was arguing that any science advisor to the president “needs to help direct natural science and social science toward winning our war against terrorism.” Previous reports have explored how Seligman’s fingerprints show up on the CIA and military torture programs — including his interactions at key moments with individuals and institutions that helped set up and carry out government torture. Understanding Seligman’s connection to torture requires a bit of background. Bush-era torture was designed by a small group of current and former military psychologists who had been training elite U.S. soldiers to resist torture, an effort that has been in existence in the military for decades in what is called the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program. In late 2001, both the CIA and the Pentagon first requested interrogation assistance from various SERE psychologists, according to a November 2008 report by the Senate Armed Services Committee and a 2004 CIA inspector general report. A small group of those SERE psychologists agreed to reverse-engineer their torture-resistance training tactics into brutal interrogation methods. Seligman shows up early on. In December 2001, one of the SERE psychologists who helped establish and run the CIA torture program, James Mitchell, attended a small meeting at Seligman’s house along with Kirk Hubbard, then the CIA’s director of Behavioral Sciences Research. The New York Times has described this meeting as “the start of the program.” Seligman said he interacted with Mitchell at that meeting infrequently, but does recall the SERE psychologist “telling me that he admired my work at a coffee break.” Another interaction between Seligman and the architects of Bush-era torture came a few months later, in the spring of 2002. Jane Mayer’s 2008 book “The Dark Side” shows that Seligman made a three-hour presentation at the Navy’s SERE school in San Diego in the spring of 2002. Mayer said Hubbard, the CIA official, was involved in arranging Seligman’s presentation. Hubbard confirmed that in an e-mail to Salon. In e-mails to Salon, Seligman said that Hubbard, the CIA official, also attended the presentation. So did Mitchell and Mitchell’s partner in setting up government torture, another SERE psychologist named Bruce Jessen. Seligman said the audience included 50 to 100 SERE officials.
“I was invited to speak about how American troops and American personnel could use what is known about learned helplessness to resist torture and evade successful interrogation by their captors,” Seligman wrote. Seligman did allude to discussions at that time with SERE officials about interrogating al Qaida suspects, but said those talks were limited because of security clearance issues. “I was told then that since I was (and am) a civilian with no security clearance that they could not detail American methods of interrogation with me,” he wrote. “I was also told then that their methods did not use ‘violence’ or ‘brutality,’” he wrote. Seligman’s colleagues estimate that the famous psychologist charges between $20,000 and $30,000 to present a speech. Seligman waived his fee when he presented to the SERE officials. The Senate report says that at around the same time during that spring of 2002, Mitchell’s partner, Jessen, wrote for the military a “draft exploitation plan” for use on detainees. The Senate report says that at the same time, a number of SERE officials became involved in developing the torture program. “Beginning in the spring of 2002 and extending for the next two years (SERE officials) supported U.S. government efforts to interrogate detainees,” the Senate report says. “During that same period, senior government officials solicited (SERE) knowledge and its direct support for interrogations.” Another related thing was going on at the same time in the spring of 2002. The CIA had also just recently taken custody of al Qaida suspect Abu Zubaydah, the first so-called “high-value” detainee subjected to CIA abuse. Mayer’s book documents how Mitchell, the SERE psychologist, led the team that tortured Zubaydah that spring of 2002. She quotes an unnamed source present at the scene who says Mitchell described his plans for Zubaydah “like an experiment, when you apply electric shocks to a caged dog, after a while, he’s so diminished, he can’t resist.” (Mayer’s book also explores the ironic leitmotif of Bush-era torture: that SERE officials are not trained interrogators and the methods they employed were originally designed by Communists to produce forced confessions, not good intelligence.) In his correspondence with Salon, Seligman said the CIA and military appear to have hijacked his learned helplessness work without his knowledge or consent. “I am grieved and horrified that good science, which has helped so many people overcome depression, may have been used for such dubious purposes,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Most importantly, I have never and would never provide assistance in torture. I strongly disapprove of it.”
Similarly, Seligman says he doesn’t know anything about how or why the military early this year steered the $31 million resilience-training contract to his psychology center with no other competition allowed. “I just don’t know,” Seligman wrote. “Government contracting is way above my level of knowledge or competence.” “You will need to ask General Cornum and (Army Chief of Staff.) Gen Casey about their process,” Seligman added. Gary Tallman, an Army spokesman, said in an e-mail that the Army steered the contract to Seligman for the benefit of soldiers. He said the contract also went to Seligman because the psychologist had “the only program available that demonstrated it could meet stated requirements such as ‘longitudinal efficacy in randomized clinical trials, with improvement well documented in published research.’” Tallman said Casey and Cornum declined Salon’s interview request.
“At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. “For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder.
“We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose.” Frederick Douglass, 1852
It is a two class world and the wrong class is running it. -- Larry Christensen, Soldiers Of Solidarity & United Auto Workers
“Movements Are Networks Of Social Relations And Activity Marked By Inner Contestation And Practical Argument”
‘They Are Anything But Immune To Influence By Their Opponents”
“Movement Opponents — Notably Employers And States — Have A Decided Interest In These Various Debates”
“What They Prefer Are Movements Without Teeth, Led By ‘Responsible’ People Who Use Their Leadership Positions To Contain Supporters Within The ‘Normal Channels’ Of Legality, And To Oppose And Demobilize More Radical Currents”
Excerpt from “In The Middle Way,” by Colin Barker, International Socialism 101, December 2003 The realities of life within the exploitative and oppressive social relations of capitalist society constantly regenerate forms of opposition to the status quo. That opposition takes practical appearance in an enormous variety of shapes, in a multiform array of ‘social movements’. Never and nowhere are such movements, especially as they take on mass form, composed either of members only of a single class, or of all the members of any one class. Rather, constructed out of diverse social networks, they typically contain within themselves a wide spectrum of opinions, aspirations and prejudices. Just as the working class as a political actor is anything but homogeneous in its outlook, so it is with the movements in which it (variably) participates. ‘Consciousness ‘— theoretical and practical alike — develops unevenly, at different speeds and degrees and in divergent directions. Movements are themselves networks of social relations and activity marked by inner contestation and practical argument. They are not characterized by unified and coherent ideologies. Furthermore, they are anything but immune to influence by their opponents, or by ruling class ideas. What the debates within movements concern is not just general ideas, or goals, but also the very meaning and nature of the movements themselves, the kinds of practical methods it is appropriate for them to employ, the ways they ought to organise themselves, particular strategies and tactics and so forth.
Movement opponents — notably employers and states — have a decided interest in these various debates. Where, as in liberal democracies, they have learned that they cannot easily exist without movement-based oppositions, they have definite interests in shaping the forms such movements take. What they prefer are movements without teeth, led by ‘responsible’ people who use their leadership positions to contain supporters within the ‘normal channels’ of legality and constitutional respectability, and to oppose and demobilize more radical currents. They want unions that do not step beyond wage demands to challenge ‘managerial prerogatives’, just as in the 19th century they wanted even Friendly Societies to remain within the bounds of decency and good order. And ruling classes have various factors working for them in their search for self limiting movements: not only the everyday effects of the very workings of capitalism itself, in which the wages system and employer authority come to seem ‘natural’, but also the mechanisms of law, media influence, and even the material and symbolic rewards offered to co-optable and ‘statesmanlike’ leaders. However, contrary to those theories of ideology which see nothing but ruling class domination, the actual experiences of exploitation and oppression within capitalist society produce countervailing pressures. There are dual tendencies, both to the containment and to the regeneration of opposition. As a result, the interior life of movements consists of permanent contestation of ideas — permanent ideological struggle, not least ‘over the terms in which the actors in the class struggle are to construe their experience of it’. The very institutions and practices of movements are generated in a history of victories, defeats and compromises which mark working class experience, and through which both ruling class ideology and popular experience come in part to constitute each other mutually. Marxists are numbered among the participants in the arguments within and about what movements are, can be, and should do and say. These struggles have to be grasped theoretically, not just in abstract and general terms, but in relation to a succession of concrete and particular situations, which are always changing. A Marxism, on the one hand, which does not deal with the concrete and immediate is condemned to practical irrelevance, to mere academicism. On the other hand, a set of oppositional ideas that does not constantly seek to tease out the dialectical interrelations between concrete and abstract, between the particular moment and the totality, is open to ‘economism’ and other forms of partial critique. Thus, for example, it can ignore the varieties of forms of
oppression (and resistance to oppression) that constitute the whole concrete situation. Each specific situation poses strategic and tactical issues for all sides, in which the various forces at play may learn, devise new stratagems, respond and invent. Movement opponents may put forward new means by which they may seek to confine or disrupt movement activity; in ways whose implications are not always easily decoded. Movements in this sense are always, in Shandro’s term, ‘in the strategic sights’ of their adversaries, compelling ideological struggle within movements over the interpretation of events along with the meanings and purposes of opponents’ actions and words. Such conflicts concern battles not just over matters of ‘distribution’ or ‘rights’, but over movements’ very self constitution, organisation and self understanding. Each situation thus constitutes a significant event, whose outcome will have consequences for future struggles. Every separate event is always relatively ‘open’, its outcome depending on who does and says what. All large and small events in the class struggle have ‘turning points’, moments when the practical and ideological stances adopted by the various parties and the actions they undertake set the stage for what is possible next. If this is most obvious in the case of ‘revolutionary situations’, the principle is by no means restricted to these. Events involve narratives of struggle, involving consciousness, organisation and the reformulation of ideas in the light of experience. Marxists, to be effective, have to be able to respond creatively to the concrete developments occurring within each particular situation. In all of this, the revolutionary socialist standpoint remains that outlined in the Communist Manifesto: stressing the basic incompatibility of interests that lies at the heart of capitalism, advancing arguments for the maximum unity of the movement, always holding to the overall socialist goal of working class power. Here one of Lenin’s central arguments in his much-maligned early pamphlet What Is To Be Done? is vital: socialists have to advance the interests of all the oppressed, acting always as ‘tribunes of the people’. Working class power as a goal requires that Marxists struggle to advance the interests of all those who are oppressed in different ways within class society, and must fight for those interests within working class movements themselves. Marxism, in other words, always involves a critical stance towards the very working class movements that it seeks to influence and advance.
The vital interest of the working class is to constitute itself as the hegemonic force within all movements, whether against national, gender, racist or any other form of oppression, since the alternative is always its own division, its own narrowness of outlook and aspiration — and thus its own containment within capitalist limits. In this light, Marxism must be a developing rather than a fixed and finished theory, advancing itself through continual interrogation of movement practice and ideas, and in a permanent dialogue between Marxist organisations and the movements in which they participate and intervene. Its proponents cannot simply be ‘educators’, for they have to be constantly open to learning. The impulses to Marxism’s own creative development often come, not from ‘within’ organized Marxist parties and groups, but from ‘without’, from the inventive practice of movements themselves. Indeed, one important criterion by which to judge Marxists themselves consists in their capacity to listen and learn as well as to speak and to teach, to develop their own theory in the light of others’ creative responses.
“The Interest Payment On State Debts Is Always A Heavy Burden On The Tax-Paying Population But It Can Be A Means Of Enriching The Capitalist Class”
“Anyone Who Wishes To Inspire The Masses To The Political Struggle Must Show Them How Closely Linked It Is To Their Economic Interests”
“These Must Never Be Allowed To Fade Into The Background If The Struggle For Political Liberty Is Not To Be Blocked”
Excerpt from Preface To The Russian Translation Of Kautsky’s ‘The Driving Forces Of The Russian Revolution And Its Prospects’ by V.I. Lenin; 1906 There is no country in the world, not even the richest, where the yield from taxation is enough to cover the large expenditure that militarism from time to time requires and that is colossal in time of war but still considerable in periods of armament, rearmament and the like. In such instances state debts have for a long time been the tried and tested way of immediately producing the resources for these large expenditures. The interest payment on state debts is always a heavy burden on the tax-paying population but it can be a means of enriching the capitalist class of a country when it is the state’s creditor. The state then expropriates the working classes, in order to enrich the capitalist class, multiplies its wealth and simultaneously increases the number of proletarians at its disposal. But every political struggle is basically a class struggle and thus also an economic struggle. Political interests are a result of economic interests; it is to protect these, and not to realize abstract political ideas, that the masses are in revolt. Anyone who wishes to inspire the masses to the political struggle must show them how closely linked it is to their economic interests. These must never be allowed to fade into the background if the struggle for political liberty is not to be blocked. The alliance between the proletariat and other classes in the revolutionary struggle must rest above all else on a common economic interest, if it is to be both lasting and victorious.
Comments, arguments, articles, and letters from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Write to Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657 or email [email protected]
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DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK
A Sewage Mistake Earns Engineer A Criminal Record:
“Many Federal Infractions Are Now Easier To Prosecute Than In The Past Because Of A Weakening In A Bedrock Doctrine Of AngloAmerican Jurisprudence”
The DC Dictatorship Gets Rid Of “The Principle Of Mens Rea, Or ‘Guilty Mind,’ Which Holds That A Person Shouldn’t Be Convicted If He Hasn’t
Shown An Intent To Do Something Wrong”
“The Government Didn’t Have To Prove Mr. Lewis Knew He Was Doing Anything Wrong”
Lawrence Lewis: ‘I got a criminal record from my job — when I thought I was doing the right thing?’ Melissa Golden for The Wall Street Journal Mr. Lewis says his lowest point came around the time of his conviction when he went to the courthouse to be fingerprinted and have his mug shot taken. “I was treated like everybody else, like I was a hardened criminal” he says. “Imagine what I looked like. ‘What you in for? Backed up toilets.’” DECEMBER 12, 2011 By GARY FIELDS And JOHN R. EMSHWILLER, Wall Street Journal [Excerpts] BOWIE, Md.— Lawrence Lewis was raised in the projects of Washington, D.C. By the time he was 20, all three of his older brothers had been murdered and his father was dead of a heart attack.
Seeking an escape, he took night classes while working as a janitor for the D.C. school system. He rose to become chief engineer at a military retirement home. He raised his two youngest daughters alone, determined to show them how to lead a crime-free life. That goal was derailed by blocked toilets. In 2007, Mr. Lewis and his staff diverted a backed-up sewage system into an outside storm drain — one they long believed was connected to the city’s sewagetreatment system — to prevent flooding in an area where the sickest residents lived. In fact, the storm drain emptied into a creek that ultimately reaches the Potomac River. Eight months later, Mr. Lewis pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the Clean Water Act. He was given one year’s probation and placed under court-ordered supervision. “I got a criminal record from my job — when I thought I was doing the right thing?” says Mr. Lewis, 60 years old. Mr. Lewis was caught in Washington’s four-decade expansion of federal criminal law. Today, there are an estimated 4,500 federal crimes on the books, a significant increase from the three in the Constitution (treason, piracy and counterfeiting). There is an additional, and much larger, number of regulations written to enforce the laws. One of those regulations ensnared Mr. Lewis. Many of these federal infractions are now easier to prosecute than in the past because of a weakening in a bedrock doctrine of Anglo-American jurisprudence: the principle of mens rea, or “guilty mind,” which holds that a person shouldn’t be convicted if he hasn’t shown an intent to do something wrong. A law without a mens rea requirement tripped up Mr. Lewis. Nobody, including Mr. Lewis, argues that dumping waste into a creek is a good idea. However, critics of the federal criminal justice system argue the government is criminalizing mistakes that might more appropriately be handled with civil fines or injunctions. In Mr. Lewis’s case, a Justice Department court filing acknowledged he didn’t realize the waste was going into the creek. In fact, the building’s manager and Mr. Lewis’s then-supervisor, retired Navy Capt. Craig Sackett, says it was long standard practice at the home — predating Mr. Lewis’s tenure — to divert overflow into nearby storm drains if a backup occurred. This prevented floods within the building itself.
Like Mr. Lewis, Mr. Sackett says he thought the flow was going into the district’s waste-treatment system. He says he doesn’t know why Mr. Lewis was the one prosecuted. “It was either him or me,” Mr. Sackett says, “and they certainly talked to me.” Mr. Lewis was one of 788,517 people sentenced for federal crimes between 2000 and 2010. Tens of thousands were found guilty of misdemeanors, which typically carry jail terms of up to a year. Though less serious than felonies, the possible impact of a misdemeanor conviction on getting a job or a loan or other aspects of everyday life “can be quite grave,” says Prof. Robert Boruchowitz of Seattle University law school, who has studied the issue. “You have a large community of people who are not considered criminals in the traditional sense,” living with the consequences “for the rest of their lives,” says Lisa Wayne, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Applications for jobs, loans and occupational licenses—ranging from auctioneers to plumbers—ask about a person’s criminal history. While a conviction is rarely an automatic disqualification, it can often tip the balance against an applicant, observers say. A misdemeanor conviction can restrict international travel and make joining the military harder. It “can be disqualifying” for anyone seeking federal employment, “though the decision is made on a case-by-case basis depending upon a number of factors,” says Angela Bailey of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. As a teen, Mr. Lewis says, he was arrested for assault after getting into a fight, but was found not guilty. Bad tempers are a family inheritance, he says. In 1969 his brother Warren was shot to death. His brother Nathan Jr. was gunned down in 1971. His father, Nathan Sr., had a fatal heart attack when told of his namesake’s death. His third brother, Roy, was stabbed to death weeks later while in prison on an assault charge. At first, Mr. Lewis was fatalistic. “We had the same life. We came out of the same womb. Why was I different? When was my time coming?” he recalls thinking. To escape from the world that took his family, he started work as a janitor for the D.C. Education Department earning $1.80 an hour. He began taking facilities-management classes at night and learning about power plants, boiler rooms and maintenance. By the time he left the Board of Education in 1993, after 24 years, he had risen to Facility Manager, making nearly $50,000 a year. Eventually he moved on to the Knollwood military retirement center, a sprawling network of living facilities housing 300 veterans, their spouses and survivors on 16 acres in northwest Washington.
Sanford Morgan, Knollwood’s engineer before Mr. Lewis, says sewage was a recurring problem. According to court documents, blockages were usually caused by elderly residents flushing adult diapers down the toilets. The backup would clog the pump that normally pushed waste to the appropriate disposal system. “I made many attempts to correct it,” says Mr. Morgan, who has known Mr. Lewis for more than 20 years and calls him “a straight-up guy.” At 7:30 a.m. on March 29, 2007, Mr. Lewis and his employees hooked up a hose to deal with the latest problem. They pumped sewage into the storm drain until 2:30 p.m., stopping only when authorities began arriving. A jogger in nearby Rock Creek Park had noticed the usually clear creek water was murky. The Park Police traced the source to Knollwood. Mr. Sackett was at Arlington National Cemetery interring his father-in-law when he got the call. He recalled more emergency vehicles at Knollwood “than I’d seen in my entire life.” Rock Creek is a small tributary that flows from Maryland through Washington, D.C., and into the Potomac River. For most of its 12 miles, it isn’t possible to put a boat into the water. For decades, federal law only covered waters deemed navigable under the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. Over the years, it became waters that could be made navigable. In 1972 the Clean Water Act further broadened the law, as Congress became concerned about pollution and water quality, spurred by high-profile incidents such as the Cuyahoga River catching fire in 1969. The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which had the job of writing regulations to enforce the 1972 law, expanded the “waters of the United States” definition to include tributaries such as Rock Creek. The argument was that pollution can move downstream to larger bodies of water, says David M. Uhlmann, director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program at the University of Michigan Law School. Spurred by the 2007 raid, Knollwood solved its backup problem by cutting a new manhole and clearing a buildup of lime, grease and sludge. Mr. Lewis voluntarily attended EPA classes to learn more about procedures and regulations. Mr. Lewis initially wanted to go to trial and fight the charges against him. He says he had served on many juries over the years and felt his peers would understand the difference between a criminal act, and a well-intentioned but mistaken act. “I said, to hell with pleading guilty, I’m innocent,” Mr. Lewis recalls. But Mr. Lewis’s lawyer, Barry Boss, told him his argument would be tough to make. (Knollwood paid for Mr. Boss to represent Mr. Lewis.)
In an interview, Mr. Boss said, “There was no fight to have. It was a strict liability case,” meaning the government didn’t have to prove Mr. Lewis knew he was doing anything wrong. “His good intentions did not matter.” The lawyer told Mr. Lewis that, to be found guilty, prosecutors needed only to prove that he was aware that sewage was being pumped into the storm drain that led to the creek. In court documents, the government argued that Mr. Lewis didn’t ensure the storm drain fed into a waste-treatment facility rather than the creek. About 30% of the city’s storm drains flow to a treatment plant, according to the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority. Plus, the government argued, Mr. Lewis was responsible for several prior discharges during his time at Knollwood. Mr. Lewis decided to plead guilty, fearful he would lose his house if he fought the charge. He has legal custody of his two youngest children (he has four others). His mother, Nancy Lewis, 96, also lives with him. He entered a guilty plea in December 2007. Prosecutors agreed probation and a $2,500 fine would be sufficient penalty. As the family drove to the courthouse for his sentencing, Mr. Lewis told his daughter Ijananya, then 16, she might have to drive home if he ended the day in prison. A few weeks later, Mr. Boss, Mr. Lewis’s attorney, took his client to the probation office for the first time and recalls him crestfallen. “He was telling me how he’d spent his adult life trying to show his daughters that not every African-American man is caught up in the criminal-justice system.” Mr. Lewis says he regularly brings his children to the graveyard where his brothers are buried, or back to the projects, to show them the consequences of bad choices. Bitter over his conviction, he left Knollwood. He filled out several job applications, all of which asked if he had ever been arrested or convicted. None of the potential employers ever called, he says. Two months into his job search he filled out an application for a job at Gallaudet University in Washington. It asked if he had a felony record or a misdemeanor conviction that required imprisonment—a question that allowed him to answer “no.” He got hired. He didn’t volunteer any information about his guilty plea to his new employers. But his probation officers put him in an awkward position, Mr. Lewis says, by making regular spot checks at the university. In one instance, Mr. Lewis’s supervisor at Gallaudet noticed the officers and asked Mr. Lewis what they wanted. “I told him it was somebody I knew who had just stopped by to check on me,” Mr. Lewis says.
The next time the probation officers came by, “I tried to explain it could create problems for me,” Mr. Lewis says. “They were nice about it, but they said, ‘We have to keep coming.’” Meloyde Batten-Mickens, executive director of facilities at Gallaudet, says Mr. Lewis had mentioned he had been in trouble, but didn’t provide specifics until more recently, when he told her the full story. Knowing about his prior conviction makes no difference, Ms. Batten-Mickens says. “I trust him across the board.” On probation, Mr. Lewis had to fill out monthly cash-flow statements showing his salary and spending to prove he wasn’t involved in any unusual activities. He had to hand over his .357-caliber revolver to a family member for the duration of his probation. He also temporarily lost privacy protections, as he learned when probation officers made an unannounced 6 a.m. search of his home. They would tell him only that he’d had an unauthorized contact with police, a potential probation violation. Mr. Lewis says he assumes the officers were referring to a traffic stop he had recently been involved in — a stop that didn’t produce a traffic ticket. After searching his home for a couple of hours the officers left and never took any further action. “They went through everything,” Mr. Lewis says. “You’d have thought I had killed somebody.” Today, Mr. Lewis’s life is moving back to normal. He has a second job at the power plant run by the University of the District of Columbia, where he was hired after coming off probation. For his family, the episode has left a strong impression. Mr. Lewis’s youngest daughter Shirley, 16, a high-school junior with a 3.8 grade-point average, says her father’s conviction and the circumstances surrounding it have “given me a firsthand look at what the world is like.” Mr. Lewis says his lowest point came around the time of his conviction when he went to the courthouse to be fingerprinted and have his mug shot taken. “I was treated like everybody else, like I was a hardened criminal” he says. “Imagine what I looked like. ‘What you in for? Backed up toilets.’”
CLASS WAR REPORTS
Syrian Anti-Government Demonstrations Reach “Central Damascus”
“In The Northern Idlib Province, Some 150,000 Protesters Took To The Streets”
“This Is The Regime’s Biggest Fear, To Have Hundreds Of Thousands Of People Gathered In One Place”
December 29, 2011 By BASSEM MROUE Associated Press [Excerpts] HOMS, Syria — The presence of Arab League monitors in Syria has re-energized the anti-government protest movement, with tens of thousands turning out over the past three days in cities and neighborhoods where the observers are expected to visit. The huge rallies have been met by lethal gunfire from security forces apparently worried about multiple mass sit-ins modeled after Cairo’s Tahrir Square. On Thursday, security forces opened fire on tens of thousands protesting outside a mosque in a Damascus suburb and killed at least four. The crowd had gathered at the mosque near to a municipal building where cars of the monitors had been spotted outside.
Troops fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse large protests in several areas of the country, including central Damascus, killing at least 26 people nationwide, activists said. Still, the presence of outside monitors has invigorated frustrated protesters and motivated them to take to the streets again in large numbers after months of demonstrations met by bullets had dashed their hopes of peaceful change. “We know the observers won’t do anything to help us,” said Yahya Abdel-Bari, an activist in the Damascus suburb of Douma. “But still, we want to show them our numbers, to let them know what is really happening here,” he said. As word spread Thursday morning that the observers would be visiting Douma — which saw an intense government crackdown in the early days of the uprising — thousands of people began gathering outside the Grand Mosque, calling for Assad’s downfall and for international protection for civilians. Amateur videos posted on the Internet showed protesters in Douma facing off with Syrian soldiers, shouting “Freedom, Freedom!” Troops then opened fire to disperse the protesters, whose numbers had swelled to around 20,000. “It came like rain, they used heavy machine guns, Kalashnikovs, everything,” said Abdel-Bari. Four people were killed and scores others wounded, said Abdel-Bari and various activist groups. A witness said angry citizens closed off streets with rocks and garbage containers and thousands of people returned to the area around the Grand Mosque to stage a sit-in. Troops also surrounded a mosque in Damascus’ central neighborhood of Midan and tossed tear gas canisters at hundreds of people calling for the downfall of the regime. In the northern Idlib province, some 150,000 protesters took to the streets — more than on any other day recently, the Observatory said. Much of the bloodshed of the past few days appeared to be a desperate attempt by authorities to keep protesters from gaining ground for multiple mass sit-ins where they can recreate the model of Cairo’s Tahrir Square. “This is the regime’s biggest fear, to have hundreds of thousands of people gathered in one place,” said one Homs resident.
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