With prognosticators claiming that Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)’s re-election campaign is full-steam ahead, activist/writer/playwright/Brooklynite Sander Hicks is running for the Senate on a platform of “true transparency,” and economic and leadership policies focused on peace. We had an exchange about immigration, anthrax, the finer points of the alleged 9/11 cover-up, the BP oil spill disaster, the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and — that old, beaten-horse topic for Green Party candidates — in essence, the ambiguity of saying Republicans are worse.
1. On your campaign page, you hold up Cesar Chavez as an example of non-violence. In light of recent events in Arizona and the passage of controversial immigration legislation, how does Mr. Chavez’s opposition to illegal immigration function alongside your personal views of border control? (This is what I’m talking about.)
Is attempting to apply restrictions on human movements through the enforcement of borders ever inherently racist?
Any good labor leader will want to protect against strike-breakers. This is what Chavez was dealing with — illegals were being hired to cross picket lines and scab on the union.
The ideal immigration policy would make it easier to become a citizen. We need to create more jobs in this country so that we’re not at each others’ throats competing for a such a small number of jobs.
You asked about racism. I think that that’s certainly in play here in today’s politics. What’s going on in Arizona does have an ugly racial tone to it. Let’s remember to try to empathize with what everyone is going through. This whole Tea Party movement is about not getting enough information, not enough “transparency” from Obama. Left and Right, people are feeling like the Government is out of control, out of touch. The response from the liberal magazines has been to attack the Tea Party. I say instead, let’s build a mass movement for peace, for America, for free speech and free flow of information, for truth.
2. You mentioned “Anthrax” as needing investigation on your website. Do you feel that Bruce Ivins is responsible for his own death? Do you believe, if responsible at all, he is the sole party culpable for the attacks on congressional offices? If he wasn’t, why would investigators be so eager to find a fall guy?
Bruce Ivins could not have done it. All the experts on this point out that the antrax was super-fine, it was “weaponized”. Ivins simply did not have the tech at hand to make anthrax this fine.
Whether Ivins killed himself or not is not as relevant as the clear pressure that was on him. He had the FBI telling him he was going down for this huge crime. FBI even pressured Ivins son to take “one million dollars and the sportscar of your choice” to betray his father, and claim that he was guilty. The son wouldn’t do it, bless him. But what does that show you? Brutal fabrication of evidence, trying to coerce witnesses who did not witness any guilt.
Look at the timing of the Ivins scape-goating. It was a rush job, just as the Bush/Cheney administration was falling apart, on the verge of impeachment, on the verge of dissolution, lowest polls ever, their sorry term about to end. Ivins was the perfect fall guy, especially because he was dead when accused in public.
What really blows me away is that I’m not alone with this stuff. Even the Wall Street Journal backs me up! This piece by Edward Jay Epstein came out earlier this year. But the FBI changed their story once again, shortly after this came out, and despite Epstein’s claims, the FBI re-affirmed that Ivins was their culprit. But this can not be true. For an even more comprehensive refutation of the FBI’s pathetically weak story, see attorney Barry Kissin’s masterful compendium of media articles, with commentary, that shows that the “weaponization” of the anthrax indicates that it came from high up in the world of the US military. But someone in the media/military/intelligence undertook a campaign to delete, and make us forget that the words “weaponized” were ever used with this anthrax.
3. So I saw the film “Able Danger,” as filmed by Paul Krik in your coffee shop “Vox Pop.” Although that film was a dramatization of real events, do you think it’s too charitable to presume that the members of operation “Able Danger” were doing anything less than “letting 9/11 happen on purpose?”
Well, hold on, the guys in the “Able Danger” operation were the good guys. They were Army intelligence reservists working in early 2000 on their task: to find and document Al Qaeda operatives inside the USA. They did so, and that’s when things got hairy with their higher-ups. People like Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer testified to Congress, and Rep. Curt Weldon, in 2005 that a very strange series of blocks arose against Able Danger sharing their info with FBI or other people at Pentagon. I don’t think Able Danger had the power to “let 9/11 happen” but I do believe we need a new investigation, to find out who really did do 9/11. Clearly someone higher up allowed it to happen, or made it happen. The terrorists that Able Danger found, Nawaf Al-Hazmi, Khalid Al-Mihdhar, and Mohammed Atta, all have these strange connections to CIA, FBI and the Saudi Royals close to Bush. Weird, huh?
I just ran into [Washington Editor for Harper’s Magazine] Ken Silverstein at Left Forum this year. My jaw hit the floor. He actually said that he “enjoyed . . . destroying the life” of Congressman Curt Weldon, the guy who had the guts to convene the Able Danger Congressional hearings in 2005. Remember this? The FBI raided the guy’s daughter’s house right before his re-election, and his easy victory turned into a sound defeat. Even Mueller thought that this was a politically biased raid, and a lot of the experts have been implying that this was payback from CIA.
I blogged about my confrontation with Silverstein. The guy is dangerous. He stopped answering my questions after one dismissive, cynical email.
4. Today, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey said that there is a cap of $75 billion on what the law holds BP legally liable for in regards to the Gulf spill. Is this cap acceptable? What, if anything, can be done to hold the company accountable for this without causing the company to pass on the added cost to consumers?
It’s not just Sen. Bob Menendez. The laws on the books protect any oil company from legal liabilities over $75 million.
But wait, the damage should really cost them $10 BILLION. The Guardian reports that the financial analysts at Barclay’s say that BP could be hit with about 100,000 claims of $100,000 each. What does that total? $10 billion.
OK, so let’s do some quick math. People are suffering. BP should compensate them. The damages equal X amount.
BUT, this oil-addicted society, where the law is written by big money, you have laws like this $75 million cap. It was put there after the Exxon Valdez, actually, another huge tragedy that Exxon took way too long to clean up.
This law says that BP doesn’t have to pay that X amount to compensate the suffering. No, not even half. They only have to pay 1/133rd of that. They only have to pay 0.75% of that. Wild, huh?
I mean, I don’t even really have to answer this, anyone can see that this is a damn lousy deal for anyone living or owning land or otherwise damaged by this sloppy oil company. I wonder if laws like this have an effect on the liklihood of future accidents. Hey, if you’re BP or Exxon, why would you spend too much money on safety? That’s not smart business! Instead, just pay your lobbyists to pass laws like this $75 million cap on liabilities.
One more point before I go:
Look at BP’s Operating Profits. $33,392,000,000 last year. $33 billion.
Am I alone in thinking that the first $10 billion of the 2010 profits should go to pay damages? I’m sure a lot of people will agree with me on this. Except that the law is not on our side. This has to change. We need to get money out of politics. No more regulatory legislation written by oil lobbyists.
5. Respond point-by-point to this video sponsored largely by the Koch family through the Institute for Energy Research.
Bleh. This is silly. Of course wind turbines are made with traditional steel and transported with fossil fuels. How else could they be made? They can’t will themselves into existence. The point is that once they are made, then they begin to replace the need for fossil fuels.
6. Do you now suspect there were explosives in World Trade Center 7? How about towers one and two? How certain are you of this suspicion?
What I’m certain of is that we need a real investigation. We have never had a fair and impartial inquiry. Even the 9/11 Commission leaders admit that now. Then there’s that international panel of scientists who last summer (09) published a peer-reviewed paper. They found nano-thermite, a military grade explosive, in four out of four dust samples tested at the site. Those guys are pretty certain that two planes didn’t bring down three towers. My friends in Architechts and Engineers for 9/11 Truth agree— they tell me that no fire of any kind ever brought down a steel-framed building. Pretty weird, don’t you think? No matter what you believe, this issue is not going to go away. The only therapy for the country’s nagging doubts is a real investigation.
7. Senator Kit Bond has frequently gone on television to defend consideration of a military tribunal for 9/11 suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, citing leaked documents from the civilian trial of a suspect in the first World Trade Center bombing that, he asserted, aided Osama bin Laden’s evading authorities. In light of this, do you support a domestic trial and/or a civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? If so, why?
Well, you are assuming a lot here, first of all that KSM is guilty, or indictable at all. Or that Osama bin Laden was guilty, or that he “evaded” authorities. I’m not sure any of that is true. We never proved that Bin Laden had anything to do with the attacks, although we promised the world proof. Colin Powell promised “a white paper” on this that never came. Tony Blair did as well. Today, the FBI does not list Bin Laden on the 10 Most Wanted list for 9/11, they say they don’t have enough proof. I told this to ABC’s Nightline when I was on, and the guy just looked at me like I was nuts. “We’ll look into it.” Chris Bury promised, but he didn’t mention it on air.
I’m not sure I have ever seen strong evidence that KSM was guilty. Plus, this guy has been tortured for years, so he may not be fit to be tried. In the context of the nano-thermite those scientists found in the dust, or the 1000 Architects and Engineers who submitted a petition to Congress, I think really we have a lot bigger issues to pursue in this country, around 9/11 Justice, before we try and fry a couple of Islamists.
The big question for me around 9/11 is this: was it an act of treason. This is what the country needs to wake up and ask itself. Because treason is serious, the founding fathers held it up as the one crime that deserved its own definition, in the Constitution. You commit treason if you levy war, or cause or compel your country into war. 9/11 may well fit the bill for the most flagrant act of treason, ever in the history of the USA.
I mean, step back and look at US history: the Vietnam generation showed that the people have begun to reject wars of foreign intervention. For a good while there in the ’60s and ’70s with Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, and the anti-war movement, we were beginning to seriously find ways to resist the huge crime of war, the sick logic of the oil company laws. So, the right-wing had to come up with a new strategy, to trick the people into compliance. No wonder truthers get treated with so much vitriol. We truthers are pointing out that the whole of U.S. Foreign Policy is based on a big lie. But this big lie is so important to so much money and power, no one in the media or government can afford to stand up and say, yeah, the logic of the truth movement is superior to the shoddy sloppy logic of the 9/11 official story.
8. In the unlikely event that John McCain had beaten Barack Obama, do you think the United States would have as many military members deployed in Iraq?
There’s not much to like with McCain, but he is to the left of Obama on torture. A combat veteran, maybe he wouldn’t be so insouciant about asking for $33 billion more to amp up the Afghanistan occupation. But who knows. It’s almost like the GOP knew they couldn’t beat Obama, with the hated Bush/Cheney legacy looming over them, so they hit a sacrifice fly.
9. NATO has stopped burning poppy crops in Afghanistan. You have spoken very negatively of the financiers of narco-trafficking in writing you have done for AlterNet. Do you consider ceasing the burning of these crops a positive step?
Right. The logic goes, 90% of the world’s opium comes from Afghanistan, and if we just burn their crops, that will lead to more support for the Taliban.
But listen, let’s talk hard truth. From the CIA and Casey and Reagan in the 80’s up to right now the USA has been at war in Afghanistan in one way or another for a good long time. We have tolerated and participated in the creation of a total narco-state. Heroin production went up by a factor of 33.
From 250 tons in 1979 to 8,200 tons in 2007. That means that we treat heroin trafficking as just a cost of doing business in Afghanistan.
That’s just life in PostModern America. But it’s not good enough for me.
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