Debra Sweet, Director

Protests Demand Release of Photos; Prosecution of Torturers

Today, there are protests planned in 16 cities demanding that Barack Obama release the 2,000 photos of torture and detainee abuse, and demanding that those Bush era officials responsible be prosecuted.

Wednesday, Reuters quoted General Taguba (who accused the White House of War Crimes last year) about the content of the unreleased photos, based on a report he made in 2004.  

"Taguba included allegations of rape and sexual abuse in his report, and on Wednesday he confirmed to the Daily Telegraph that images supporting those allegations were also in the file.  'These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency,' Taguba, who retired in January 2007, was quoted as saying in the paper."

This is why these photos must be released!   Let's go out publicly with the photos and protest!  Make enlargements of photos reportedly part of the 2,000 photos President Obama is fighting to suppress.

Tuesday May 26: Rove Denounced at Radio City
from a World Can't Wait supporter

A series of protests from the audience disrupted Karl Rove Tuesday night during his appearance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Rove, the longtime former political strategist infamously known as “Bush’s Brain,” and the architect of Dubya’s two election “victories” in 2000 and 2004, appeared alongside James Carville, the former Clinton strategist and alleged liberal.   Rove and Carville joined moderator Charlie Rose on stage for a debate that marked the finale of “The Radio City Music Hall Speaker Series: The Minds That Move the World.”

A “Mind That Moves the World”?  I guess that’s one way to describe a man who engineered two election thefts based largely on suppressing and intimidating voters of color, paving the way for the most fascist president in the history of the United States to assume and consolidate power.  I suppose it’s one phrase that could be used to evaluate a key visionary behind, and unrepentant apologist for, one Bush crime after another.  It’s certainly not the phrase I would use.  And, clearly, I wasn’t the only one in the auditorium who felt that way.

“Rove is a War Criminal!” a woman in the audience shouted repeatedly, roughly an hour into the debate.  She was able to yell for about a minute or two before security ushered her out of the building.  She also screamed: “Arrest Bush!” “We Will Not Be Silent!” and “Torture is a War Crime.”

I was in the mezzanine, excitedly watching events unfold.  While my eyes were fixed on the protester, a voice from the stage said, “Put a sock in it—shut up!”   According to a conservative, college-aged man sitting next to me, it was Carville, not Rove, who reprimanded the woman.

“Let’s keep moving here,” Rose said nervously, as the protestor continued to yell at Rove.

Many in the audience, which clearly included a significant number of overt reactionaries, booed the woman. (At the beginning of the event, Rose asked the audience to indicate, by applause, how many people mainly agreed with Rove and how many primarily agreed with Carville. I would register Rove’s applause level at a “6” out of 10, and Carville’s at 9 out of 10.)

Shortly after the woman began screaming, two other protesters got onto the stage.  One of them appeared to get within about 5 yards of the speakers before being restrained by security. The
Huffington Post reported that one of the women on stage was carrying handcuffs, in an attempt to arrest Rove.

After the event, I found out more details about the disruptions.  The woman yelling from the audience had been inspired by three World Can’t Wait activists who had spoken out a few minutes earlier; the three stood up and began chanting as Rose, Rove, and Carville rambled on about Bush’s economic legacy.  The resisters then unfurled a banner, though it was very difficult to read in the dimly-lit auditorium, saying: “Indict Rove/Master Thief -- 2 elections!  Media Chief -- Iraq lies!”

I learned that initially, nearby spectators were booing, and yelling at them to sit down and be quiet.  However, he said that as they continued to yell, the booing stopped.  After shouting for about a minute, the three were escorted out; the World Can’t Wait protester said that, as he was being led out by security, he switched to shouting, “Indict the Bush Regime War Criminals!” which generated applause from a significant number of people in the audience.

One fellow demonstrator would tell him afterwards that he hadn’t taken part in an action of this sort since the Civil Rights Era.  And he wasn’t the only one who was inspired: The woman who, a short time later, began yelling, “Karl Rove is a War Criminal!”  told the World Can’t Wait activist after the event that the three demonstrators had provided her with the courage to speak out.

“When I saw you guys do it,” he recalled her telling him, “I knew I had to do it.”

Before the debate, a crowd of about 40 demonstrators gathered across the street from Radio City’s ticket-holder entrance, responding to the call put out by The World Can’t Wait’s New York City chapter to “Spread the Unwelcome Mat” for Rove.   This protest, together with the actions inside was part of a national week of resistance to torture centered on the demands to prosecute Bush Regime war criminals; release the torture photos; and bring an immediate end to torture in our names.   (With actions in 15 cities across the country on Thursday May 28—including a demonstration planned for Rove’s appearance in Chicago— that day takes on particular importance).

Demonstrators outside the theater displayed two large, bright orange banners that read: “Torture is a war crime-Prosecute!” and “War Criminal Free Zone!”

It appears the mainstream media has overwhelmingly been silent about the debate disruptions, and about the protest outside Radio City, although
Washington Post blogger Dan Froomkin did link to the Huffington Post account of the event. 

It’s significant that a war criminal on the magnitude of Karl Rove was not simply able to come to New York City, spew his murderous lies, and leave without disruption. Everyone who entered the auditorium to witness the debate was confronted with visible, audible opposition to Rove’s presence, both before and during the event.

Rose, Carville, and significant sections of the audience tried with all their might to place a shield of respectability around Rove: Although a large portion of the crowd booed Rove heavily when he tried to defend the Iraq War and the Bush administration’s response to Katrina, Rove also received laughter and applause on several occasions throughout the night. Earlier, the speaker who introduced Rose said Carville and Rove had both “dedicated their lives to serving our nation,” and asked the audience to display an “open and respectful attitude.”  
By publicly condemning this war criminal, the demonstrators dented Rove’s shield of respectability. And, as the comments of the female heckler after the event indicate, boldly speaking out and challenging war criminals—and the terms they are setting—can inspire others to do the same.

Wednesday May 27
World Can't Wait protest outside Obama fundraiser in Beverly Hills

30 people gathered at the very busy intersection in Beverly Hills with a 20' orange banner that read "Release the Torture Photos!  Prosecute the War Criminals!".  Orange-jumpsuited "detainees" and people with white masks and orange ponchos saying "No Torture" and "Prosecute War Criminals" stood next to the new large WCW posters across from the Beverly Hilton where Obama spoke at a fundraiser.  Unlike the coverage of our press conference last Thursday at West Hollywood City Hall (next to Beverly Hills), all the local TV news, both English and Spanish-language, covered the protest, as well as several radio stations, AP, UPI, and Getty Photos. 

The most openly supportive press were Armenian TV journalists who covered the Armenian protesters demanding that Obama live up to his promise to recognize the Armenian genocide by Turkey.  Up the street, some of us also joined the anti-war and gay rights protesters in front of the hotel entrance.  World Can't Wait unfurled the banner "Silence + Torture = Complicity" and with members of the Revolution Club, got lively bucket drum beats and chanting going (until the police stopped the drumming and bullhorns for violating the noise ordinance!)  There was little foot traffic, but our message was quite controversial among the tons of rush-hour drivers who passed by during our 4-hour demonstration.  Some yelled things like "I support torture!", while others honked their horns in support. 
Several people joined us whom we haven't seen in quite awhile, who were active with us before, but got demoralized, and now felt the need to be out in the streets as their hopes for change with Obama are disintegrating.  A gay marriage supporter gave us a poster he'd made with the iconic Obama image and the word "Fail" at the bottom.  Many of the young Armenian protesters said they had campaigned for Obama, and probably most people out there voted for him.  There are big questions about where are the others who should be standing with us, and who can we rely on.  One person said that he finds Debra Sweet's emails to be among the most insightful as we forge a path of resistance against these continuing crimes against humanity.
Fox LA 
Los Angeles Times 5-28-09

Antiwar protesters criticize President Obama during visit
6:27 PM | May 27, 2009
About 40 antiwar protesters were holding a peaceful but noisy demonstration near the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where President Obama is holding a fundraiser. They demanded the release of torture photos and the prosecution of Bush-era officials for war crimes.

The demonstrators were beating on drums and chanting, “Obama and Cheney are just the same. They do torture in your name.”  A few of the protesters were wearing orange jumpsuits and black hoods over their heads, mimicking the photos of Guantanamo detainees.

Though small, the demonstration was eliciting honks and thumbs-up signs from motorists passing through the intersection of Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards. The protest, which began about 3:30 p.m., was organized by World Can’t Wait, a group coordinating demonstrations in 15 other cities this week.

“In terms of national security and state policy, Obama and Bush are one in the same," said Dennis Loo, a professor of sociology at Cal Poly Pomona and a member of the national steering committee for World Can’t Wait. “In fact, Obama is extending the war in Afghanistan and into Pakistan. A lot of people feel betrayed because they expected something different from him.”

-- Carla Rivera



Main About Debra Sweet, Director Organizers Debra Sweet Protests Demand Release of Photos; Prosecution of Torturers


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.