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The white-Left Part 1: The two meanings of white

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Anonymous & WikiLeaks Unite to expose Stratfor as 25 Anons are arrested

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Offense Monday, February 27th, 2012

WikiLeaks and Anonymous collaborate in releasing The Global Intelligence Files of the global intelligence company Stratfor. This is huge, like another Cablegate dump, Stratfor is known as the private CIA. From the WikiLeaks site:
On Monday February 27th, 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files, over five million e-mails from the Texas headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor. The e-mails date between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal's Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor's web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods.

torrent dumps are available at http://wlstorage.net/torrent/gifiles/, pick newest one available

According to Democracy Now, one of the leaked emails suggests a secret U.S. indictment of Julian Assange.

Defense Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

INTERPOL leads arrests of 25 alleged Anonymous cadre in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain as part of what the are calling "Operation Unmask." (get it?) From the Interpol PR:
Hackers reportedly linked to ‘Anonymous’ group targeted in global operation supported by INTERPOL

LYON, France ? An international operation supported by INTERPOL against suspected hackers believed to be linked to the so-called ‘Anonymous’ hacking group has seen the arrest of some 25 individuals across four countries in Latin America and Europe.

Operation Unmask was launched in mid-February following a series of coordinated cyber-attacks originating from Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain against the Colombian Ministry of Defence and presidential websites, as well as Chile’s Endesa electricity company and its National Library, among others.

The international operation was carried out by national law enforcement officers in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain, under the aegis of INTERPOL’s Latin American Working Group of Experts on Information Technology (IT) Crime, which facilitated the sharing of intelligence following operational meetings in the four participating countries.

Some 250 items of IT equipment and mobile phones were also seized during searches of 40 premises across 15 cities during the operation, as well as payment cards and cash, as part of a continuing investigation into the funding of illegal activities carried out by the suspected hackers who are aged 17 to 40.

Redirect Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

http://interpol.int TANGO DOWN >> FREE INTERNATIONAL ANONS! #Anonymous
This tweet went out on Twitter last night as Anonymous brought down the Interpol website with DOS attacks. It is back up as I write this.

Here are some more links on this news:
Hackers reportedly linked to ‘Anonymous’ group targeted in global operation supported by INTERPOL

25 Alleged Anons Arrested in International Crackdown

Interpol #TangoDown, Suspected 25 Anonymous arrested

Anonymous brings down Interpol website in retaliation for 25 arrests

The Kicker

The Stratfor password was the company name. These people are such idiots that I propose that their name be promoted to that rare category of word, where like quisling, the owner of the name has distinguished themselves as to define a whole category of behaviour and that henceforth, whenever someone hides their money under the mattress, puts their key above the door, or uses their name as their password, we will say they have pulled a stratfor.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Updated: The Big Lockerbie Bomber Lie

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since I first published this here in December 2010. With Libya now liberated and Qaddafi gone, much new information on this terrorist attack and who was and wasn't involved is now coming out, and all this new information is pointing in the direction I went 14 months ago.

Megrahi has also published a new book which gives his side of the story and two new documentaries on the Lockerbie bombing that aired last night, on BBC Scotland Investigates and Al Jazeera English are now raising the question I raised here: was Megrahi the victim of ‘Britain’s worst miscarriage of justice’?

I won't attempt to summarize what is new in these reports, the links above will provide that, but I will note that the AJE, which is embedded below [47 min.] not onlu demolishes the case against Megrahi but also indicates that the US government "rewarded" the chief witness against him with $2 million, something not allowed under Scottish law. AJE titles their piece simply Lockerbie: Case closed What follows below the fold has not been updated since 2010 but should be useful on background nevertheless. There is only one thing I would change in the diary I wrote at the time, in it I assumed that the 800 page SCCRC report was public. It was not.

Wed Dec 22, 2010 at 01:28 PM PST

Today the MSM is using Tuesday's release of a U.S. Senate report on the humanitarian release from a Scottish jail of Abdelbesset al Megrahi, also widely known as the Lockerbie Bomber, to stoke the fears of terrorism, further support for Homeland Security and many other things besides. It is a propaganda campaign that is worthy of 1984, the book not the year.

This whole propaganda campaign is based on the solid assumption that Megrahi is definitely the Lockerbie Bomber. This is a very shaky assumption. All the best available evidence points to his innocence. He was the victim of a frame up. The MSM has been united in leaving out a few details that might trouble their narrative.

On June 28, 2007 the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission allowed Megrahi's appeal and granted him a new trial. It's 800 page report on the case determined that "a miscarriage of justice may have occurred". This new trial began on April 28, 2009 and was plagued by so many delays that Megrahi's lawyer Maggie Scott complained "There is a very serious danger that my client will die before the case is determined." In August of 2009 Megrahi dropped his appeal and was granted a compassionate release because he was expected to die within three months, if he remained in a Scottish jail. Outside of jail, his prospects were much better.

I won't bore you with all the minutia starting with Megrahi's first trial in 2000, in which his co-defendant was found not-guilty, and so on. You can read the 800 page report for yourself, or if you want to go the Cliff's Notes approach, I recommend this Wikipedia article. Let's just say there is a lot to point to Megrahi's innocence, and these facts are beyond dispute: Megrahi has been granted an appeal. That appeal had not yet been resolved.

So one narrative about the Lockerbie Bomber's release might be that the Scottish Courts used Megrahi's illiness as an excuse for granting compassionate release because in doing so they could cancel the appeal and avoid the embarrassment of having to admit that they had convicted an innocent man. But these inconvenient truths get in the way of the narrative that is being spun for our consumption and so they play no role in it. They have been completely excluded from the story as it is being told by the American Media today.

This diary has been prompted by today's Morning Joe on MSNBC on which I watched four supposedly knowledgeable individuals, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Mike Barnicle and Richard Hass discussed yesterday's report on the Lockerbie Bomber. There was plenty of outrage to go around but nobody mentioned the appeal or even hinted that some people thought he might not be the Lockerbie Bomber after all. Since I find it very hard to believe that whoever wrote that segment is that ignorant about the facts of the case, I would call it a conspiracy of silence, but then some would accuse me of having a theory.

The Telegraph thinks that "conspiracy theories" are at work. This is how they characterized the Senate report:
the senators produced a very poor piece of work that demonstrates the incredible ignorance evinced by these four conspiracy-theorists
The MSM really started pushing this story anew in the middle of the Gulf Oil spill. At the time, the "breaking news" was that BP had used it's influence to gain the terrorist's early release in return for business opportunities with Libya. BP was made the centerpiece of the story, and since everybody was already in hate BP mode, that made it easy to swallow. The outrage was directed at BP. They had helped a terrorist go free to better their profits. There was no reason to look for other motives behind the Scottish Court's actions, let alone the actual guilt or innocence of the man at the center of the controversy.

Now Senator Robert Menendez's (D-NJ) report on the 22nd anniversary of the bombing gives a new cause for propaganda making around this issue. This time the issue of BP is pushed more to the background and we are left with the outrage against a terrorist and the Big Lie that Abdelbesset sl Megrahi is the Lockerbie Bomber.

In my travels this morning I was most disappointed to see that the Huffington Post has also omitted these important facts from their story. In today's story Lockerbie Bomber Release Not Medically Justified, Says Report, Dean Praetorius mentions nothing at all about Megrahi's appeal, saying "The Lockerbie Bomber, as Megrahi has come to be known, was responsible for the deaths of 259 people aboard the Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and 11 others on the ground."

So now I must ask Dean Praetorius of the Huffington Post just what he means by the phrase "has come to be known [as]"? Is this suppose to stand in for the fact that some very serious questions have been raised about his guilt? Is this in lien of mentioning the SCCRC review or the new trial? Is it because the Huffington Post doesn't want to trouble it's readers with too many facts? Or is it that the Huffington Post is just part of the herd?

Monday, February 27, 2012

African Spring continues in Senegal

When Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade was booed by hundreds of voters as he cast his ballot Sunday in an election the controversial incumbent hopes will elect him to serve a third term in office, it capped more than a month of popular protests by opposition candidates and their supporters against what many have called a "constitutional coup" by supporters of the corrupt regime.

The protests, that began in late January, have seen at least 6 people killed in clashes between police and protesters. In Dakar, the capital of this westernmost African country of 12 million, the protests have centered on a green square in the heart of the downtown suburb of Plateau a few blocks away from the presidential palace and known as Independence Square. In recent weeks, many of these protests have turned into street battles on side streets as the protesters have attempted to defy a ban against protesting in the square. The protesters, and even people going about their ordinary business, have been subjected to volleys of rubber bullets and clouds of tear gas from riot cops and in at least one case, sonic blasts from a US-made Long Range Acoustic Device. Yes, they are experimenting with the latest in crowd control technology in Africa, naturally. Angry youths have responded by throwing rocks and setting fires to tires and setting up barricades in the roads. These street battles would go on for hours and became widespread not only in Dakar but throughout Senegal.

A week ago, the police fired tear gas into a mosque belonging to the nation's largest Islamic brotherhood, the Tidianes, during Friday pray. This prompted fury among the faithful and a fresh wave of protests last Sunday.
"They violated the mosque by firing teargas into it, and we are here to tell them never again," said Soulaymane Diop, 33, as he watched protesters shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) and hurling chunks of concrete at police in full riot gear.
Senegal is 97% Muslim with a history of secular government and religious tolerance. Most Senegalese follow one of four Sufi brotherhoods. The Sunday protested resulted in another death when a man was hit by a rubber bullet while buying bread in a bakery in the suburb of Rufisque. He was an innocent bystander. A protester was killed in another protest 25 kilometers from the capital after he was hit in the head and authorities said a 21 yer-old tailor died in the city of Kaolack, about 190 kilometers southeast of Dakar from injuries he received in a protest.
“Look at these bullets here, they want to kill us, they do this on purpose. Abdoulaye Wade, that’s enough, look at your bullets, your teargas, these kill if they touch you,”
cried another young protester at one protest as he held a rubber bullet in his hand.

Wade followed up that weekend with claims through spokesman Serigne Mbacke Ndiaye, that an unnamed candidate had appointed a retired army colonel to recruit a militia, made up of 200 ex-soldiers.
“Beyond these 200 soldiers recruited and led by the colonel, there are also youths being recruited in the neighborhoods and in the interior of the country,” Mbacke said.

“Those who think that we don’t know, let them understand that we have formally identified them. We know who’s in charge of recruiting, how much they are paid per day, who is financing it,” he said. “Those that are behind this plot are after one thing only — blood. That lots of blood be spilled in our country. The fundamental thing for them is that chaos installs itself in the country so that the nation becomes ungovernable.”

Many think that Abdoulaye Wade's game plan is to prepare his son Karim Wade, who, at 43, already heads four ministries, to replace him in power. They think Wade is trying to setup a neo-monarchy similar to that accomplished by Assad in Syria and attempted by Ben Ali in Tunisia, Murabak in Egypt and Qaddafi in Libya.

At 85 years old, Wade is running for a third seven year term even though the constitution limits the president to two terms. Angering many, Senegal's constitutional court has ruled that law doesn't apply to Wade because it came into effect after he became president. In fact, he introduced it, and that is not the only paradox in the way Wade is stubbornly clinking to power.

Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo who is leading an African Union observer mission in Senegal, has called upon Wade to pull out of the race. Aware of the political climate in Senegal, Obasanjo said Feb 14, when he arrived "If necessary, my role will be more than that of a simple observer."

In 2007
, after Obasanjo's supporters in Nigerian failed in their attempt to have the constitution amended so that he could stand for a third term, Wade said it was time for the Nigerian president to go. And although he had been a long time ally of Mummar Qaddafi, Wade that the first of the AU leaders to tell Qaddafi it was time to quit. But when its Wade's time to go, that's a different story.

The same court that ruled that Wade was eligible for a third term, also ruled that the leading opposition candidate, Youssou N'dour could not run because they questioned the authenticity of the signatures on his application form. It is not surprising that the opposition thinks the constitutional court is in Wade's pocket. Youssou N'dour has described the court's decisions as "a constitutional coup." Alfred Stepan and Etienne Smith write in the Times of Oman:
Wade has been tinkering with Senegal’s constitution in dangerous ways ever since he was inaugurated in 2000. Of the 15 changes Wade made to the constitution, ten weakened democracy; the others were erratic, if not bizarre. For example, Wade at one point abolished Senegal’s senate, only to reinstate it after realizing that it could be put to use as a place to reward political allies. Likewise, he reduced the length of presidential terms from seven years to five, but later restored it to seven.

In February 2007, Wade was re-elected as Senegal’s president amid opposition charges that the election had not been free and fair. As a result, the opposition boycotted the June, 2007, parliamentary elections. That was a mistake, because the boycott gave Wade absolute control over the legislature, as well as the ability to appoint Constitutional Court judges unimpeded.

Last June, Wade attempted what would have amounted to a constitutional coup. The most recent credible opinion poll in Senegal, conducted the previous year, had indicated that Wade would receive only 27 per cent of the vote in the next presidential election. Given the existing constitution’s provision for a mandatory run-off if no candidate wins 50 per cent, Wade would almost certainly lose if the opposition parties united behind a single candidate.

Wade, recognizing this, tried to have the National Assembly amend the Constitution in his favor once again. Any candidate who won a plurality and at least 25 per cent of the popular vote in the first round would win the presidency. No run-off would be necessary.

Thanks to massive demonstrations, in which many popular artists played a role, Wade backed off.
As this "constitutional coup" was widely denounced by the opposition which adopted the slogan “Wade dégage!” (Wade out!) – reminiscent of “Ben Ali, dégage!” in Tunisia a year ago, it cause some observers to raise the question "An African Spring in Senegal?" The opposition parties formed the June 23 Movement [M23] untied front, some Sufi religious leaders have asked for him to step down and governments of the United States and France also have called upon him to bow out, saying they would like to see a younger man take the job.

About 23,000 security personnel including the police and army voted in early balloting more than a week earlier and amiss many voter irregularities that have already come to light, it is widely feared that Wade is also rigging the election. 13 candidates are opposing Wade for the office and even with no leading opposition figure, Wade is unlikely to get a legitimate majority. His constitutional court had already ruled that the leading unity candidate, Youssou N'dour, ineligible, now there is a strong suspicions that Wade will rig the vote and the count so that he gets more than 50% in any case and doesn't face a run off. If this happens, the opposition vows to make the country ungovernable.

A long democratic history

The revolutionary wave that swept Europe in 1848 bestowed two great benefits on Senegal, which was France's only significant colony in Africa at the time. The first was that slavery was abolished in all French colonies, including Senegal and the newly freed slaves automatically became French citizens. The second was that universal male suffrage was extended to all French citizens, including those newly freed slaves. Before the year 1848 came to a close, the people of Senegal took part in national elections and chose the first person of color ever to sit in the French Parliament. The further decree that the principal that any slave who reached French soil was freed also applied to Senegal made this tiny island of liberty a sanctuary for slaves from all over slave-holding West Africa, a kinda Canada of the African continent, if you will...

While the reality was never as good as the promise, slavery wasn't entirely eliminated from the interior until 1905 and runaway slaves were often returned, nevertheless, Senegal developed strong liberal democratic institutions. Elections have taken place regularly since Senegal became independent in 1960 and there has never been a coup.

France still maintains a permanent base in Senegal, Dakar, Senegal (23BIMa), with maybe 250 permanent personnel and rotating units coming from France. This base stems from a defense agreement Senegal signed while gaining its independence, today it is seen as a way for France to maintain a neo-colonial influence in Africa.

The World Capitalist Crisis Hits Senegal

Now, amiss rising food and fuel prices, and growing unemployment, especially for the youth, dissatisfaction has been rising with a regime that is widely seen as corrupt and self-serving, that is known for lavishing millions on grandiose projects leading to self-enrichment while letting the country's infrastructure rot, and that once boasted of its close ties to Mummar Qaddafi and his Libyan regime.

Probably the most famous Wade boondoggle is his $27 million dollar "African Renaissance" statue he commissioned just outside of Dakar. The 164ft statue is designed to be the centerpiece of a whole new tourist trap with new hotels and restaurants provided by Wade associates. Wade himself takes 35% of fees paid by tourists to see the statue and all merchandising profits and copyright because he considers it his "intellectual property." In a country with a 49% unemployment rate, the project didn't even go to a Senegalese company because Wade paid a North Korean firm, Mansudae Overseas Project Group, to build the statue. Christina Passariello wrote in the WSJ:
The African Renaissance is Mansudae's biggest work yet, measuring 164 feet high and crowning two barren hills in Dakar called "Les Mamelles" at the westernmost point of Africa. That makes it taller than either the Statue of Liberty (151 feet) or Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer (100 feet). The statue depicts a father holding a baby in his left arm. The man's right arm is around the waist of the baby's mother. The three are reaching out to the sky and out to the ocean.

"Its message is about Africa emerging from the darkness, from five centuries of slavery and two centuries of colonialism," says Mr. Wade.
In Senegal, however, the statue has been a beacon of discontent, sparking angry newspaper editorials and protests from religious leaders. The statue's sultry mother figure, dressed in a wisp of fabric that reveals part of a breast and a bare leg, has offended imams in this majority-Muslim country.
There was even a scandal about the land the statue was built on. Diplomatic cables [09DAKAR1069] leaked by WikiLeaks reveals it was built on state-owned land that had been given to a friend of Wade's, Mbackou Faye, who then sold a portion of it back to the government at an enormous profit. According to the cables, Faye is planning to build 270 luxury homes on the remaining portion.

Wade and Qaddafi, Senegal and Libya

Not long after Abdoulaye Wade's monster statue was finished in 2010, he received an email from Mummar Qaddafi asking how he could get one. Wade and Qaddafi had a long history together. Wade was a big supporter of Mummar Qaddafi's concept of a United States of Africa.

At a three day African Union meeting in Accra in 2007 both Libya and Senegal failed in a joint push to immediately establish a continental government. Pascal Fletcher in Reuters wrote:
Libya's flamboyant leader Muammar Gaddafi and octogenarian Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who like to cast themselves as crusaders of African unity, both lobbied noisily for the immediate proclamation of a government for Africa.

But many states, including the continent's economic and political powerhouse South Africa, preferred a more cautious approach which sought to first strengthen regional economic communities before advancing to the political union goal.

In 2001, there was a scandal that saw Senegal recall its ambassador to Tripoli following an alleged attempt to smuggle 100 young women to Libya. The 100 so-called "models" were apprehended attempting to board a charter plane at Dakar airport. The allegation was that they were really prostitutes going to Libya to entertain at celebrations to mark the 32nd anniversary of the coup that put Gaddafi in power.

Before that, Qaddafi's Libya had trained many Senegalese rebels. One of the most important was Ibrahim Bah. His story tells us much about how Qaddafi was able to use his control of Libya's oil billions to influence events in Africa and around the world.

After fighting with the Casamance separatist movement in Senegal in 1970's, Bah trained in Libya under the protection of Mummar Qaddafi. In the early 1980s he spent several years fighting alongside Muslim guerrillas against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan, then he joined the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia to fight Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, returning to Libya at the end of the 1980s to train others who would go on to lead rebellions in West Africa, including Charles Taylor of Liberia and Foday Sankoh of Sierra Leone, founder of RUF. Bah himself later fought in both of these countries. More recently he is said to be the king maker in the West African blood diamond trade.

Part of the social displacement being felt by Senegal now is caused by the return of newly displaced Senegalese immigrate workers and mercenaries from Libya. Wades story about a mysterious "colonel" putting together a militia of 200 ex-soldiers was, no doubt, designed to play on the fears created by this situation.

Wade may have been good buddies with Qaddafi in the AU and in other areas as well but once the saw he way the chips were going to fall, he wasted no time in jetisoning him. Under Wade's direction, Senegal recognized the National Transitional Council as the legitimate opposition that should be supported in May of 2011 when the African Union was only calling for a ceasefire. The next month violent protests were breaking in Senegal over his attempts to create a vice-president's post because people feared it was part of a scheme to put his son in power. Wade wasn't too concerned. He was in Benghazi meeting with NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil and publicly urging Qaddafi to quit, saying "the sooner you leave the better." Now those are words he doesn't want to hear said to him.

"Its time for Wade to go."

While the various western governments may be trying to distant themselves from Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade now that he is faced with rising opposition to his rule, he has been able to maintain his position because he has been very useful to them. The changes he made to the constitution to increase his power and ensure his rule were accepted by them because they also further opened up the country to foreign investment. Similar in many ways, to the situation in Ben Ali's Tunisia or Mubarak's Egypt, this exploitation by world imperialism has not benefited the people as a whole but it has given rise to an internal business class that has benefited and is therefore willing to defend the regime and the status quo.

Toby Leon Moorsom, an editor of Nokoko Journal of African studies, elaborates:
Wade's primary skill seems to have been signing cheques to foreign companies. By far the most significant achievement for Wade has been opening up mineral exploitation in the country's Toumbacounda region, facilitated by a $527m project to build the largest port in West Africa.

The port is being built in a public-private initiative with DP World - an affiliate of the Dubai World Group, a company that also took on an $800m deal to build and run a special economic zone, based upon the Jebel Ali free-trade zone in Dubai. The port facilitates the extraction of gold by a Canadian and Saudi company, Oromin Venture Group, and two other Canadian companies; Sabodala Mining and Lamgold Group. They are joined by Jersey-based Randgold, and the multi-national Arcelor Mittal. Numerous other valuable metals are found in the area, such as copper, chromium, lithium and uranium. The quantities seem to be less significant than the rare properties they offer for blending in new metal composites.

These minerals will make their way to port via massive road rehabilitation and construction projects, which have been doled out to companies such as Swiss-based SGS Industrial, and China's Henan Industrial Cooperation Group and APIX, the government investment agency. Many Senegalese find it painfully insulting that, after 50 years of independence, they still cannot even build their own roads.

Under pressure from the World Bank, Senegal has also been involved in the protracted process of privatising its water services, with an early electricity privatisation that initially involved Hydro-Quebec and later Vivendi, among others. Vivendi is the company so loathed in South Africa for its pre-paid meter system. These privatisation processes lead to rising household bills for working people whose wages have been stagnant.
These conditions have led to the development of a protest movement with some surprising strengths. Not only has it been strong in Dakar, it has gained a lot of support in smaller towns throughout the country. 77% of the labor force still works in agriculture in Senegal.

A growing strike movement

There has also been a arising tide of labor struggles in Senegal since Ben Ali lost power in Tunisia and these have become more political. For example, recently there was a three day work stoppage by taxi and transport workers with near 100% participation to protest the rise in fuel prices, police harassment and bribery.

Before that, the union at the national broadcast company carried out a demonstration and brief labor disruption to protest the misuse of the company as a Wade propaganda machine in violation of journalistic ethics. The workers at Fox News could learn something from these Africans.

For the past three months there has also been a nationally coordinated strike of college and university professors that face growing class sizes but can't even afford decent housing.

In spite of these and other growing facets of the people's struggles, the leadership of M23 has been unable to really forge them into a unified struggle, provide the analysis to show how they are all connected, or provide a viable alternative. This is because most of these opposition candidates are themselves opportunists that have not stood on any principal and have been in and out of Wade's PDS party as the political climate suited them. They tend to limit their complaint to the whine "Wade's too old."

More recently a new group Y’en a Marre ["Had enough"] has emerged as an alternative to M23. Moorsom writes:
Y’en a Marre members reveal a greater interest in popular education and grassroots action, but are highly marginal in society and as a result face heavy police repression. They draw inspiration from a long history of non-violent anti-colonial resistance - especially as it existed among the Mauride Brotherhood - but they haven’t been able to extend it beyond symbolic gestures into actions that actually obstruct the economy or galvanize large crowds prepared for police violence.
So the mass opposition to the current regime has been growing but the organization and leadership of those masses is still badly limited.

Even in the early days of the Arab Spring, some of us, i know we had these discussions around WL Central, look forward to the spreading of that movement from North Africa south. We especially thought that the fall of Qaddafi in Libya would lead to dynamic and revolutionary change throughout the continent, such was the retarding effects of his meddling and control. Steven Cockburn raised similar questions in a blog he wrote over a year ago, on February 23, 2011 and titled Tunisia, Egypt, Libya...Senegal?
It’s a question on people’s lips, consuming many a column inch here. Could the dramatic scenes witnessed in Tunis, Cairo and Tripoli be played out in Dakar, Abidjan or Harare? Could the revolutions engulfing countries north of the Sahara spread their way south ?

So stay tuned to developing news from Senegal!

Follow clayclai on Twitter

Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 12:25 PM PT: This piece is also highlighted and linked in today's The #African Daily

Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 12:46 PM PT: As of this hour there has yet to be an official announcement of the results of Sunday's presidential election but early results give Wade about 32% of the votes, meaning he should definitely face a runoff election. If the opposition unites around Macky Sall, who looks to come in second with 25% of the vote, Wade will not survive the runoff. As we await the official result, EU observers are questioning why the government is not publishing real-time results from the polls.

Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 5:37 PM PT: gobalpost: Senegal elections: official results confirm run-off

Senegal is to hold a second round of presidential elections after incumbent Abdoulaye Wade failed to win an absolute majority, election officials confirmed late Wednesday.

According to the first official elections results, Wade won 34.8 percent of the vote, meaning that he faces a run-off next month against his former prime minister, Macky Sall, who came second with 26.5 percent, the BBC reported.

The second round is expected to be held on March 18.

Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 10:07 PM PT: The presidential elections that resulted in a run off the last weekend in February are being held today. Unlike the February contest, in which the 85 year old long time incumbent Abdoulaye Wade, faced a dozen challengers, in today's vote all the opposition has united around its strongest candidate, Macky Sall who is widely expected to unseat the long time Qaddafi crony.

France24 has more details: Wade under pressure as Senegal holds run-off vote In depth analysis on Al Jazeera: Senegal's game of thrones

Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 7:18 PM PT: This just in: Senegal's Wade concedes election defeat

Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, has conceded election defeat as results gave an overwhelming lead to his rival Macky Sall.

"We have confirmation now from the presidential office that Abdulaye Wade has telephoned Macky Sall to concede defeat," said Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons, confirming a state television report that Wade had made a congratulatory phone call to Sall at 21:30GMT (9:30pm local time).

Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 8:36 PM PT: An appreciation of Abdoulaye Wade: Wade was president of Senegal for 12 years. Although he was Mummar Qaddafi's closest collaborator on his United States of Africa plans, he was never the sort of totalitarian ruler that Qaddafi was and when the Arab Spring reached Libya, we was among the first African leaders to advise Qaddafi to step down. Likewise in 2007 he publicly told Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo it was time for him to go when he met with overwhelming public opposition.

So he was widely ridiculed for insisting on running for a third term at the age of 85 in a country were the constitution imposes a two term limit. I ridiculed his "new math" here. Before today's vote, many feared that he would somehow steal the election, or refuse to go and challenge the outcome no matter what.

But instead he conducted himself as a gentleman and a true democrat, within three hours of the polls closing, and seeing that the vote was going strongly against him, he called Sall and conceded. In doing so he gracefully avoided prolonging a struggle that had already cost more than a half-dozen lives, and it was good that he did so. It is time for new blood, but he has left Macky Sall with some big shoes to fill.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Amnesty International on Libya again

Amnesty International was a long standing critic of the Qaddafi regimes' human rights record and last April they wrote about his siege of Misrata:
"The scale of the relentless attacks that we have seen by al-Gaddafi forces to intimidate the residents of Misrata for more than two months is truly horrifying," said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior adviser in Libya.

"It shows a total disregard for the lives of ordinary people and is in clear breach of international humanitarian law."

In a report, Amnesty accused Libyan government forces of launching "relentless indiscriminate attacks" on residential areas of the city, including the use of 122 mm Grad rockets fired from tens of kilometres away, and by mortars and 155 mm artillery shells.

"Under international humanitarian law, none of these weapons should ever be used in populated residential areas," it said.

It said it had found evidence of the use of cluster bombs, which spread 'bomblets' over a wide area, killing and wounding indiscriminately.

The report cited the deaths of a dozen residents of Misrata when several rocket salvos fell on the Qasr Ahmad neighbourhood. Many of the victims were queuing outside a bakery, it said.

Amnesty said pro-Gaddafi snipers were targeting residents in areas under the control of rebels, preventing them from moving around freely.

The Siege of Misrata

Misrata was the Stalingrad of the Libyan Revolution. It is Libya's third largest city, and like the second largest, Benghazi, it went over to the side of the revolution early but unlike Benghazi, it didn't have the natural protection and advantage of a 400 mile line of communication from Qaddafi's base, Misrata is in Tripolitania. Both Qaddafi and the Thuwar knew that the fate of the whole revolution could be decided by the battle for Misrata.

Misrata had to suffer a third month of the type of bombardment described by Donatella Rovera before the encirclement was finally broken in mid-May. Much of this three month siege was staged from the nearby town of Tawergha and men from Tawergha would often volunteer to go on incursions into Misrata because they were given free license to rape and plunder in the rebellious city. Then they would put videos up on YouTube bragging about their exploits. It was not pretty. The number of civilians and defenders killed was 1,083 with another 900 missing or captured and over 4,000 wounded. Cluster munitions, like the one's Qaddafi used on Misrata, are designed to mane more than kill. And about those captured by Qaddafi's forces, Wikipedia adds this note:
**Of the missing and captured, 150 civilians were found dead in a mass grave in Tawargha in mid-August[34]
A lot of bad blood was created between Misrata and Taqwergha in those months.

Payback`s a Bitch

We've all heard this saying and we all know what it means. It's not saying revenge is sweet. It's not even saying that payback is justice. It is saying that payback is a part of the human response to attacks and suppression and in that there may be some rough justice. It should surprise no one that after living for 40 years in a brutal police state which acted so meanly and with so little regard for non-combatants and children, and which had to be put down with such a great loss of life, that all is not yet sweetness and light in Libya today. Transitions take time.

The truth is that there has been a certain amount of retribution. Far too much, really. So on the eve of the anniversary of the February 17th uprising, Amnesty International, respected for exposing human rights abuses, without fear or favor no matter who is responsible, came out with another report on such abuses in Libya and this time it is the revolutionaries that are being taken to task. The Washington Post describe the report:
NEW YORK - Armed militias now rule much of Libya, Amnesty International said Wednesday, accusing them of torturing detainees deemed loyal to the ousted regime of Moammar Gadhafi and driving entire neighborhoods and towns into exile.

Amnesty International quoted detainees as saying They had been suspended in contorted positions; beaten for hours with whips, cables, plastic hoses, metal chains and bars, and wooden sticks and given electric shocks with live wires and taser-like electroshock weapons.

At least 12 detainees had died since September after torture, Amnesty said. Their bodies were covered in bruises, wounds and cuts and some had had nails pulled off, the group said.
Nobody is holding these militias responsible, Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty International, told The Associated Press by telephone from Jordan on Wednesday, a day after she left Libya.

While even a single death as a result of torture is deplorable, a dozen, after a revolutionary war that cost an estimated 30,000 Libyan lives and was as bloody and meanly fought as this one was, is, frankly, less than one might expect. As the Amnesty report points out:
Thousands of people lost their lives fighting to overthrow the government, some slaughtered in groups after they had been rounded up by soldiers. Many of those in today militias suffered under the old regime and saw their friends and relatives die in the conflict; some of them want revenge or to exact vigilante-style justice.
There probably are more deaths to be found out and certainly there has been far too much abuse and torture, this is most certainly a problem and a feature of every revolutionary war in its aftermath. I wouldn't want to be a Tory after the American revolution or a French Nazi after the SS was run out of Paris. But this sort of thing is another barrier to liberation the revolutionary people must overcome.

One focus of the report is the persecution of people from Tawergha. They document many such abuses:
Another challenge is to tackle the widespread discrimination and xenophobia against sub-Saharan Africans and dark-skinned Libyans from Tawargha and other parts of Libya where support for al-Gaddafi forces during the conflict was reportedly high. The 30,000 residents of the town of Tawargha, who were forcibly displaced during the conflict, are still barred from returning to their town, where their homes have been looted and burned down. They remain in poorly resourced camps in Benghazi, Tripoli and elsewhere in Libya and face an uncertain future. So far the NTC has been unwilling to take on the militias and local authorities in Misratah who are determined not to allow the residents of Tawargha to return home.
Because most people from Tawargha are black, much has been made of these revenge attacks by some in the pro-Qaddafi and anti-interventionists camps. They see them as racists attacks, pure and simple, and display them as proof that the revolution is "not progressive in anyway."

While racism by Arabs against black Africans in Libya is a problem of long standing which I have examined elsewhere, most notably in Racism in Libya, there is reason to believe that the suppression of Tawargha and its people has much less to do with racism than these people think and more to do with simple revenge. Certainly, there is enough reason in the realities of the war immediately past to understand the animosity between these two groups without falling back on any color difference. The descriptions of the abuses in the Amnesty document don't look like racism, in fact many can be read the other way entirely. For example, they describe the abuse a 45-year-old army officer from Tripoli of Tawargha origin while he was being held at a militia's detention facility in Tripoli:
[He said] "They also subjected me to electric shocks through live wires while I was lying on the floor. They put the electricity to different parts of my body including my wrists and toes. At one point I fainted and they threw water at me to wake me up.

He said that he believes that the only reason he was detained was that a colleague reported him to the militia for being of Tawargha origin.
Another way to say that is to say that he wasn't detained because he was black, they already knew he was black, he was detained and tortured after they found out that he was from Tawargha.

I am in no way trying to justify the mistreatment of Libyans from Tawargha. That has to end and that town eventually has to be restored. I only point this out because so many people on the left are only too happy to brand this treatment racist and use it to condemn the whole revolution.

The "out of control" militias

The headline to be taken from the Amnesty report is its title: Militias Threaten Hopes for New Libya and that is certainly the focus of the report. The headline used by Reuters on the day before the anniversary was similar to that in hundreds of other news outlets; Libya must rein in "out of control" militias:Amnesty

While the Amnesty report focuses on detention and torture it shares a common refrain coming from almost all sides in the international community, in this case, including Russia and China, and it is this: the Libyan militias that won the revolution should be disbanded or absorbed into a national army controlled by the state ASAP before chaos envelopes the country.

Most stories along these lines focus on fights between rival militias, and since there have been few of these that have resulted in fatalities, the fear of fights between rival militias that could breakout at any time. I saw one like that on France24 for the February 17th anniversary. The anchor kept going on and on about violence between militias but without any specifics. I kept listening for deaths or injuries and especially some total killed by inter-militia fighting since the fall of Qaddafi without hearing any. I, myself, am aware of 13 people killed in 3 such incidents. Finally the France24 reporter on the ground felt obligated to correct the false impression the anchor had, telling him "No, this is nothing like Iraq after the war" and he sounded like he knew from experience what that difference was.

The Amnesty report has that same flavor:
Lawlessness still pervades Libya a year after the outbreak of the uprising which ended 42 year of Colonel Muâammar al-Gaddafiâs repressive regime. Hundreds of armed militias, widely hailed in Libya as heroes for their role in toppling the former regime, are largely out of control. Their actions, and the refusal of many to disarm or join regular forces, are threatening to destabilize Libya, hinder the much-needed building of accountable state institutions based on the rule of law, and jeopardize the hopes of millions of people who took to the streets a year ago to demand freedom, justice and respect for human rights and dignity.

So just who are these militias and why are they so "out of control?"

The first thing you should know is that these militias are kinda like the Viet Cong. I'm not talking here about ideology or organization, I'm talking about the origins of the name. You see, the revolutionary fighters in South Vietnam never called themselves the Viet Cong, that was a term created by a US psyops officer in 1958 and widely adopted by the media. Similarly the revolutionary brigades in Libya don't call themselves militias, they call themselves revolutionary brigades, and that is also what the revolutionary Libyan government calls them.

The Amnesty report goes on to describe these militias and their origin:
Hundreds of armed militia groups, established at local levels during the fighting, continue to operate largely independently of the central authorities, often effectively controlling specific areas or neighborhoods. Some militia members have a military background but most were civilians. Militias have established sometimes fluid networks of co-operation.
In other words, these revolutionary brigades are the armed organizations created by the Libya people to take up the armed struggle against the Qaddafi regime and his imperialist supporters. [See my Arming Gaddafi and many other works.] These remain the principal armed organizations of this democratic people's revolution.

They may be "out of control" but nevertheless they "have established sometimes fluid networks of co-operation" which should sound familiar to anyone in the occupy movement, like it might be horizontal, non-hierarchal, which is not how a national army functions. All of this begs the question, just whose control are they out of?

The brigades, for their part, say they aren't interested in disbanding until they know that they are getting the national government they have been fighting for and so far the TNC ain't it.

It may also be argued that a certain amount of wanton armed conflict is the price of freedom. The founders of the United States evidently thought so because they enshrined in the constitution the right of the people to form armed militias specifically to protect those freedoms and they had to realize that such an armed population, human nature being what it is, would necessarily result in needless deaths by gun fire.

Although there really has been very little violence resulting from hundreds of separate revolutionary brigades, almost everyone in the media, and the diplomats of all the major powers agree, these revolutionary brigades must be broken up ASAP and a proper Libyan national army should be formed. You know, a regular army that can be ordered to invade a foreign country or suppress its own people the way hundreds of "out of control" revolutionary brigades can't.

And now Amnesty International agrees, and while they are absolutely correct in investigating human rights abuses by the brigades and demanding their correction, their whole perspective is so tied to a static conception of the "rule of law" that they completely ignore the practical requirements of a revolutionary period. Once you come to the conclusion that just such revolutions will be required to create the very conditions of peace and humanity for which AI longs, you realize the basic flaw in their approach.

For example, in this report, the main statue on which they hang the revolutionary brigades is cited as follows:
"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law."

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 9.1)
So how does this work immediately after a revolutionary people have succeed in sweeping the old regime from power? Because, make no mistake about it, the key elements of the old regime cannot be left at liberty to continue their struggle by any means still available to them. There would be hell to pay. They would make counter revolution and many more lives would be lost. Without a doubt, the victorious revolution must, for a while, exercise a dictatorship over the old regime. If they fail to do this they will likely fail all together, because even when the old regime has been defeated militarily, they are in many ways still stronger than the revolution.

They still may have superior organization, they have financial resources and international ties that can come to the rescue, they have the forces of custom and habit, an intimate working knowledge of how to run the country and literally a million other advantages over the temporarily victorious revolutionary people. For the people to be able to consolidate their victory, it is absolutely essential that these elements of the defeated regime not be at liberty to defeat the revolution.

In the case of a victorious revolutionary war this must be done immediately and throughly even if there are no warrants and nothing we might recognize as due process and even if many innocent people are swept up in it. In the case of revolution, just what "law" would Article 9.1 be referring to, the laws of the overthrown regime, or the laws to be established by the new regime? Because, as a practical matter, if they delay arresting members of the old regime until they've got their legal house in order, they will never get to that point.

It is important, however that people not be mistreated while in custody and that their cases are investigated quickly and that they are released when charges against them can't be supported. By most accounts, the Libyans have been making some fair progress at that and thousand of detainees have been released. In Libya, the number of people in custody is going down, one could only wish that were true in the United States.

Photo taken February 17, 2012 near Benghazi. Photo credit goes to Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What is a Severe Conservative?

I believe this is my first ever diary addressed to conservatives, and so accordingly, and knowing your attention span, I will keep it brief.

In fact, I'll get straight to the point. You do realise that when Mitt Romney described himself as "severely conservative' he was telling you that he really doesn't like conservatives don't you?

Nobody describes Venice Beach @ 85 degrees and blue skies as having "severe weather." People don't want severe weather, severe colds or severe anything. Nobody describes things they like as severe no matter how great, amazing or fantastic they are. Severe is an adjective used to describe negative things that are really bad. Look it up:
se·vere /s??vi(?)r/ Adjective: 1. (of something bad or undesirable) Very great; intense: "a severe shortage of technicians".

Google definition (hence the example)
Thanks to Hunter's DailyKos dairy on Mitt Romney at CPAC, we know that the severe conservative remark wasn't in the prepared speech. It was something that just "popped into his head" on the fly.

So what do you think he let slip? What do you think he was really telling you?

As for the rest of us, I think he was signalling to his 1% buddies that he is the guy ready and willing to really stick it to us with whatever austerity program they decide is needed to bail them out of this mess.

Follow clayclai on Twitter

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Anonymous speaks out on Black Bloc

Also published on The North Star

Like many of us in the Occupy movement, Anonymous has had it with the Black Bloc. Recently they posted this video to YouTube #Occupy #Anonymous Warning to #BlackBloc

First, Anonymous posted this video warning and this week Chris Hedges' critique of the black bloc has been getting a lot of attention. Like Anonymous, he sees the black bloc as The Cancer in Occupy. I too feel like piling on the black bloc and getting them out of the occupy movement. They have done far more harm than good.

I was on the city liaison team for Occupy LA (hated by the black bloc) and helped to negotiate the arrangement by which we were able to have a peaceful, legal encampment for 2 months on city hall park and get a resolution of support from the city council. The black bloc was always opposed to any such negotiation and arrangement, but that didn’t stop them from moving in once it had been obtained.

That first night, Oct. 1st, the city wanted us to move the tents to the sidewalk between 10:30p and 6:00a to comply with park laws. Since our forces were still limited, the GA voted to comply for now. It was a tactical decision. I said at the time that once we had a couple hundred tents we could do differently and we did. The black bloc disagreed. It was a question of “principle.” Please preserve us from such “principles.” When security insisted, they tried to have security disbanded, saying we didn’t need “police” in the movement. Later they refused to move their tents to make room for a farmer’s market that happened every Thursday on city hall park. Still the city was accommodating, moving the farmers market across the street for 7 weeks even though the vendors complained they were losing money. (Are farmer’s market vendors a part of the 1%?)

I tried to teach these young “radicals”, using the experience of “legal” Marxist in Russia, that such compromise and the peace it allowed with the city would enable a tremendous growth of Occupy LA in a very short time, and it did. Within the first month we had over 400 tents, 500 occupiers staying over night, many more during the day and the largest encampment in the country.

If the black bloc had had their way, there never would have been a legal encampment in Los Angeles, because they certainly weren’t going talk to police or city officials and make it happen. If they had their way that first night, it most likely would have been scuttled then. I told them that first night. “You want to keep your tents on the grass? You want to make park laws the issue? Diversity of tactics? Fine! Los Angeles has many fine parks. You want to do, that just pick another park and you’ll have our blessing.” They didn’t go anywhere.

Why? Because they are a parasite. They are a cancer. They need a host to survive and that host today is the occupy movement. Before the encampment and the city liaison team was undermined and overthrown by their continuous assaults, the city’s time table didn't have us entirely off of city park property until Jan. 31. That was the city’s time table, still open to negotiation.

This video has drawn a very interesting response. I have long been posting my critique of the black bloc to the Occupy LA list serv and have gotten called every name in the book by black bloc supporters there. I posted the Chris Hedges article. That got a yawn. I posted this piece by a black activist in Oakland Boots Riley on black bloc tactics, they could care less.

But after the Anonymous video was posted, black bloc supporters got concerned. One list member said:
I thought it was somewhat interesting that Hedges calls black bloc a “cancer,” because so did Anonymous.

The last thing they say is, “Read rule 6? – right here:
6. Anonymous can be horrible, senseless, uncaring monster.

Knowing Anon, I’d say this warning shouldn’t be taken lightly. Just sayin’…
and here is another:
I don’t want to see Black Bloc folks accidentally on the other end of Anonymous’ wrath. I work I.T. and I know the collective power they have.
Anons message to the black bloc?

Expect Us!

I have written much more on the eviction of Occupy LA and the role of these “radicals” in “helping us out.”

1 of 5 essays on the eviction: Did 1st Amendment protect OLA encampment @ City Hall Park?
2 of 5 essays: Was DHS behind the eviction of Occupy LA?
3 of 5 essays: What's the real reason Villaraigosa kicked us out?
4 of 5 essays on the eviction: The Demonization of Mario
5 of 5 essays: How Occupy LA got itself evicted

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Louis Proyect reviews Vietnam: American Holocaust

Louis Proyect, the Unrepentant Marxist recently reviewed my film Vietnam: American Holocaust, so in an act of shameless self-promotion, I am republishing it here.
Among the handful of blogs I have bookmarked and visit each day is Clay Claiborne’s at Daily Kos. I first got wind of Claiborne’s penetrating analysis when he began taking exception to an “anti-imperialism” that sided with Qaddafi’s troops against the revolutionary people. I was staggered by the force of his arguments and his willingness to swim against the stream. You can get a flavor of his take on things by reading his latest post on Libya titled “The Current Situation in Libya“, dated January 13th:
Another thing that is becoming clear now is just how little real support Qaddafi had. While there was that one sneak attack against an oil terminal while Qaddafi was still alive, there has been nothing since. The guerilla war by Qaddafi supporters against the revolution has simply failed to materialize, and while wavers of the green flag still have had some freedom to demonstrate openly, as this video illustrates, there just haven’t been very many of them.
For a few days, those nostalgic for Qaddafi took heart at news that a revolt against the government-backed militia in Bani Walid took place under the toppled regime’s green flag but eventually it turned out that there was no support for Qaddafi, even in his erstwhile stronghold. Apparently, the real base of support is among Western leftists who resent those Libyans who had the impudence to rise up and defeat the dictator who worked with the CIA and killed 2000 prisoners at Abu Salim in one fell swoop.

I had always noticed Clay’s description of himself as a filmmaker on his blog profile but had not given it any thought until a comrade urged me to look at his documentary titled “Vietnam: An American Holocaust” that is for sale on his website. I had a chance to view it recently and want to second my comrade’s recommendation. This is a very powerful retelling of the genuinely anti-imperialist narrative of the war in Vietnam and very much worth purchasing for those of a certain age like me who became radicalized in the 1960s by this horrible war as well as by young activists today.

Narrated by Martin Sheen, a long-time progressive activist who played a deranged special forces combatant in “Apocalypse Now”, the film is a shocking reminder of what a criminal enterprise the war on Vietnam was. Using archival footage of madmen like Curtis LeMay, rank-and-file soldiers who turned against the war, and the Vietnamese themselves, it explains why so many young people became enemies of a socio-economic system that could spawn such cruelty. Among the archival footage is Dwight Eisenhower explaining why we were in Vietnam:
If Indochina goes, several things happen right away. The Malayan peninsula, the last little bit of the end hanging on down there, would be scarcely defensible–and tin and tungsten that we so greatly value from that area would cease coming. But all India would be outflanked. Burma would certainly, in its weakened condition, be no defense. Now, India is surrounded on that side by the Communist empire. Iran on its left is in a weakened condition. I believe I read in the paper this morning that Mossadegh’s move toward getting rid of his parliament has been supported and of course he was in that move supported by the Tudeh, which is the Communist Party of Iran.
Apparently, the West has still not gotten used to Iran breaking free from the rule of its oil companies as the threats over its right to develop nuclear power continue to mount day by day.

The film would be ideal for high school and college classes as an introduction to a war that still exercises a kind of restraint on American power referred to as the “Vietnam syndrome”. Indeed, it was the war in Iraq that inspired Clay to make the film since it was obvious at the time that the war would take a terrible toll on all its victims, the GI’s falling victim to IED’s as well as the Iraqis facing a new holocaust.

In exercising my usual due diligence in finding out about a film’s director, I discovered a fascinating interview with Clay Claiborne, who is an African-American and three years younger than me. You can both listen to it and read the transcript at the American Lives web pages at the U. of Washington in St. Louis, a school that Clay attended in the 1960s. Like so many of us whose lives were torn apart by the war in Vietnam, Clay was very much a man of his times.

Asked about some of his “extra-curricular” activities, Clay answered
I was around, now, I was in St. Louis from the fall of ’66 when I came to school here as a freshman until August of 1970. I was, I did four months in St. Louis County Jail for a demonstration against ROTC, and they paroled me to New Jersey. So, in fact, there was gonna to be a party for me at Left Bank Bookstore when I got out, but when I got out, they took me straight to the airport and put me on a plane, like I was Public Enemy Number One. I couldn’t be trusted loose in Missouri, you know, even for an afternoon. And the attitude in New Jersey was quite different. In New Jersey, my parole officer looked at my record and he said, “You’re a political prisoner. This would have never happened in New Jersey”, you know and he completely left me alone. The only thing I had to see him for was permission to come back to St. Louis, which I did a couple of times under the eyes of the Red Squad. And then a couple years later, I think ’73, ’74, I came back to St. Louis in, no, that was actually 1972, I came back to St. Louis, but by that time, my political work had almost entirely gravitated off campus. Still with a lot of the same people that are here, we formed the Worker Unity Organization and put out a newspaper called On the Line. I worked in ACF, the American Car and Foundry, a boxcar factory. I don’t know if it’s still here or not, was active in the union organization.
I read this and smile. When I reflect on the deeply evil deeds of the men running the American government during the Vietnam War, anybody being described as “public enemy number one” deserves a badge of honor. Like the young people in Germany who formed the White Rose resistance to Hitler during WWII, those who resisted the war in Vietnam constituted the country’s real democratic values. Given the continued willingness of American imperialism to wage war across the planet without even any pretenses of maintaining a “guns and butter” regime, a film like “Vietnam: An American Holocaust” is a very useful reminder of what our fight is all about.
Sometimes I forget why I spent so much time and money making a film of dubious commercial value. Then I received an email like the one below that I got this Sunday and remember that it was worth every penny and every minute even when I find myself, like now, on the verge of not being able to pay my rent:
Dear Mr. Clay Claiborne,

My name is Nhóm Mình.
I was born in 1954, & was an orphan of mixed race(Viet lai).
(birth father Western / birth mother Viet) I identify myself as Vietnamese only.)
I was adopted by my Grandfather, in a Communist village of the Viet Ceng.
All people are created equal, so I was well cared for, & loved by my Viet Ceng peoples.

I am a Vietnamese survivor of the American Holocaust in Viet Nam. I was just a boy, when I was wounded (1959/1960), during an American attack on our village. Still today I fit my memories together, & continue searching for my family, that I was taken from.

I have watched your documentary: "Vietnam: American Holocaust".
I admire your great documentary, & I would like to say thank you for showing truth.

The 87 minute documentary is also available on Amazon.