Posted by Janet
We had an impromptu after- meeting discussion with the volunteers of the Whatcom Civil Rights Project the other day about documentaries and movies about real events we simply have to watch this winter. Below is a list we generated in about 30 seconds. Click on the link to watch the trailers!
Thin Blue Line
Kill the Messenger
The Most Dangerous Man in America
Disturbing the Universe
"Border Children -- Why Are They Fleeing? Human Rights and U.S. Policy in Honduras and Central America”
Dana Frank, Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz
October 22, 7:00pm
Fireplace Room at Garden Steet United Methodist Church
ADA accessible on Magnolia Street.
Media reports of unaccompanied, undocumented children arriving at the U.S. border from Central America have depicted their flight from gangs and violence. But silence largely reigns regarding the underlying economic and political roots of the crisis, in dangerous governments supported by the United States. Professor Frank looks at human rights and U.S. policy in post-coup Honduras, in particular, as well as dynamics within Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. She will also discuss grassroots efforts across the U.S. and in Congress to affect U.S. policy in Central America.
Sponsored by the World Issues Forum and Whatcom Peace & Justice Center
Would you do me the favor of reading the letter below to our Senators and Congresspersons and emailing back to me with any questions, comments, or suggestions for improvement.
The goals of this letter are: 1) to educate the average reader about just how morally corrupt and incomprehensible our government's behavior in Afghanistan has been; and 2) to try to force our Congresspeople to do what they should be doing.
I especially want to know if this letter is understandable to the average reader or does it need more explanation or context.
If you think this letter is good as it is, I encourage you to print some copies, have your friends and others sign it, and mail it (yes, through the U.S. postal service) to our Congressional representatives and Senators.
Mailing addresses for our representatives in DC are at the bottom of this letter.
They need to be shamed or otherwise motivated into speaking out about the waste of lives and money in Afghanistan.
The Afghan people have suffered through more than 35 years of war. Our government supplied the arms and money that led to much of that suffering. We need to take responsibility for what we've done and attempt to make it right.
Letter to Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell,
and Representatives Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene
October 20, 2014
CONCERNING Misuse of Our Reconstruction Funds in AFGHANISTAN
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (known as SIGAR, a position created by Congress) is responsible for overseeing the use of U.S. tax money for reconstruction in Afghanistan. SIGAR issues quarterly reports to Congress. These reports raise very serious questions that I hope you can respond to.
In the introduction to the July 2013 report, SIGAR writes: "...I would also like to reiterate the concerns I raised in our last report about the Army's refusal to act on SIGAR's recommendations to prevent supporters of the insurgency, including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and al-Qaeda, from receiving government contracts. SIGAR referred 43 such cases to the Army recommending suspension and debarment...But the Army rejected all 43 cases."
In the introduction to the July 2014 report, SIGAR writes, "As I have pointed out in our last five quarterly reports, the Army's refusal to suspend or debar supporters of the insurgency from receiving government contracts because the information supporting these recommendations is classified is not only legally wrong , but contrary to sound policy and national-security goals."
The question is: Are you aware of this situation and what will you do to ensure that our aid reaches the people who need food and shelter for their families?
On page 73 of the July 2014 report, under "Status of Funds", SIGAR reports that $104.1 billion was spent on reconstruction from 2002 to the present. Of that, only $2.84 billion was spent on "humanitarian aid". That works out to about $8.50 per person, per year, over 12 years. According to SIGAR, most of the $104.1 billion was spent on building up the Afghan National Army and Police, supporting the government, and counternarcotics.
The question is: Can the Afghan people and security forces be expected to give their lives to defend an Afghan government that gives them nothing to fight for or believe in? If Congress does not insist on doing what's right for Afghans, isn't our policy there doomed to fail?
I am eagerly awaiting your reply,
Your humble employer,
P.S. While I'm waiting for your reply, I'm going to ask as many people as possible to sign and send this letter to you and ask for a reply.
To Signers: If you have questions about the information in the letter or about SIGAR, or if you want someone to talk to your group, please call Bill Distler, 224-3579. He will be glad to discuss it.
MAILING ADDRESSES FOR CONGRESS:
Senator Patty Murray
154 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Phone (toll free): 1-866-481-9186
Senator Maria Cantwell
311 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Note: For Congresspeople, choose the one that represents your district.
Congressman Rick Larsen
2113 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene
318 Cannon House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515
Posted by Matteo
Last night I went to see the movie "Kill the Messenger". Aside from being a great movie, it tells some important historical facts. In fact, i'm surprised the movie even exists - and that it's so good!
A little historical background, which the movie begins to hint at:
throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, our government supported the brutal Somoza family as the dictators of Nicaragua, who happily created a welcoming business environment for US corporations. Then, in 1979, the
Sandinista National Liberation Movement successfully overthrew the Somozas and began a serious program along social democratic lines that was less friendly towards US business interests.
The US government began to fund former members of Somoza's military (called "the contras") to overthrow the sandinistas. Their military campaign targeted civilians and carried out brutal atrocities.
However, due to incredible public pressure, Congress eventually banned military aid to the contras. There's a lesson here, for those who would pay attention, about the effectiveness our popular organizing in changing government policies.
The congressional ban on aid to the contras led Reagan to resort to cover means to fund them. Those illegal means certainly included the (secret) sale of weapons to Iran. (This is known in US popular culture as the "Iran-Contra scandal").
This brings us to the movie: California Journalist Gary Webb (who is the main character in the movie) began a journalistic investigation into allegations that another (secret and illegal) mechanism that the
US government used to fund the contras was to aid them in the sale of cocaine - large amounts of with wound up in Los Angeles, creating the birth of the "crack epidemic". (if the allegations are true, a serious
"war on drugs" would begin by bombing Washington DC).
Gary Webb wrote a book about this called "Dark Alliance", of which a couple of copies are available in the WPJC library.
The movie is well worth the price of admission, and is worthy of support - we need more movies like it! I always wonder why people read fiction, when the real world is filled with heroes like Gary Webb and villains like Ronald Reagan.
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