Now It’s Obama’s War

Orders 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan

By Kenneth J. Theisen

This week President Barack Obama once again followed in the fascist footprints of his predecessor, George W. Bush. On Tuesday, February 17, 2009 Obama made official what he had promised during his presidential campaign--he is escalating the war in Afghanistan with the announced deployment of 17,000 additional troops to that war-torn nation. The Obama administration, as the new representative of U.S. imperialism, is intent on “winning” the Afghanistan war. Obama portrays the war in this Central Asian country as the good war or the real “war on terror.” This war was begun by Bush in 2001, but will continue under a president that claims to be an agent of change. What has changed when the new president is intent on escalating the war in Afghanistan on behalf of U.S. imperialism?
There are currently 37,000 US troops in the country (this does not include military contractors) but Obama has determined this is not enough to “win” the war. The additional troops to be sent by the new administration will include a Marine Expeditionary Brigade to be sent this spring, and an Army Stryker Brigade to be sent later this summer. There will also be a need for additional support troops and equipment. In his announcement Obama said, "This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires.”  This is in keeping with Obama’s campaign criticism that the Bush regime was not putting in enough of an effort to win the war in Afghanistan.


Obama and the Fairness Doctrine


By Dennis Loo
In Salon.com on February 18, 2009 columnist Alex Koppelman writes the following in a story entitled: "Can We Stop Talking About the Fairness Doctrine Now?"
"For months now, the right has been in a frenzy over the supposedly imminent return of the Fairness Doctrine, an old FCC regulation that mandated equal time for opposing viewpoints on public airwaves. Recent statements by a handful of Democrats who said they support the idea of reinstituting the rule, or something like it, have only fueled conservatives' fear that liberals are planning to censor talk radio and the Internet.
"Of course, as I've pointed out before, the chance the doctrine will actually make a comeback is right around nil, as it has been since the first time this became an issue, back in the Clinton administration. Certainly the Legislative Branch is decidedly unlikely to do anything -- when I asked him about it in 2007, Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told me, 'To be honest, I barely even know what it is.' (A quote Manley gave to the conservative Washington Times earlier this year was even better; he told the paper, 'We have enough real problems facing this country that we don't need to invent ones that don't exist.')
"So lately conservatives have been focusing on President Obama and the FCC as the instrument through which the Fairness Doctrine will make its inevitable comeback -- nevermind that it didn't happen during former President Bill Clinton's eight years in office. But on Wednesday, a spokesman for Obama made clear that the administration has no such plans, telling FoxNews.com, 'As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated.'
"Unfortunately, the latest news is unlikely to put an end to all this manufactured outrage..."
What Koppelman is doing here, of course, is aiming his fire at the GOP for making a mountain out of a molehill and he is congratulating Obama for his opposition to the Fairness Doctrine. But in "defending" Obama against the right-wing crazies, what Alex misses completely is the essence of what's going on.



Torture, Rendition & Detention…OBAMA-STYLE

 Anybody who thought the nightmare of renditions, indefinite detention, and torture would be over when Barack Obama replaced George Bush ought to take a hard look at the case of Binyam Mohamed.

In 2002 Mohamed, a 31-year-old Ethiopian with refugee status in Britain, became a victim of rendition while visiting Pakistan. Rendition is the U.S. practice of snatching people overseas and throwing them into secret CIA prisons, or moving them to third countries where they may be tortured and/or killed. Rendition began in 1993 under Democratic President Clinton and was taken to a whole other level under Bush, when it became known as “extraordinary rendition.”



Obama's Order: Continued CIA Renditions are Okay

By Larry Jones

“Rendition” is the term to describe the secret kidnapping of people the CIA may believe to be linked to “terrorism.” Such abductees are then sent to undisclosed nations which cooperate with the U.S. where they have often been tortured. This practice received widespread criticism during the regime of George W. Bush, especially in Europe.
But now President Barack Obama has issued an executive order which allows this heinous practice to continue. The wording is hidden in the order Obama issued on January 22 entitled “Executive Order – Ensuring Lawful Interrogations.” A quick reading of it may lead one to say, “Well, good, at last the Bush torture years are finally past.”   The order requires that interrogation of prisoners must follow the no-torture rules of the Army Field Manual, the Geneva Conventions and various other conventions making torture illegal.
BUT, and it’s a big “but,” after stating in Section 4 (a) that “The CIA shall close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates and shall not operate any such detention facility in the future,” Obama goes on to write in Section 2(g) that “The terms "detention facilities" and "detention facility" in section 4(a) of this order do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.” That means rendition facilities, although so far the CIA has had a very flexible view of what “short-term” means.
German citizen Khaled El-Masri tried to sue the CIA for wrongfully kidnapping and abusing him. But in May of 2006, a U.S. District Court dismissed the case on the grounds it would jeopardize state secrets. Secrets like the U.S. really does torture.


Will President Obama Become an Accessory to Crimes of Bush, Rumsfeld?

By Cynthia McKinney, Member of World Can't Wait's Advisory Board
On Thursday, January 29th, I sent President Obama this message:

"Mr. President: The Bush Administration lied to the people in pursuit of war. As a result, at least one million Iraqis and thousands of U.S. soldiers are dead. Thousands more are maimed. The stature of the U.S. is severely damaged. The U.S. Constitution is in shreds after signing statements, wiretaps, and torture. Your obligation is to investigate and bring to justice those who violated U.S. and international law, such as the torture treaty. Failure to do so makes you complicit in their crimes."

On Wednesday, January 28th, I sat in front of the television and I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  Exactly what I've been saying, myself.  But it was coming from an unexpected source:  the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak.  I wrote down every word.  He said that the United Nations has proof that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld knowingly approved of torture as a policy for the United States.  He said that President Barack Obama has a responsibility to investigate and prosecute those who condoned, conducted, or approved of torture.


Obama's Solution for Pakistan: Missile Strikes from Unmanned Drones

By Larry Jones

Three days after the alleged peace candidate Barack Obama was inaugurated as President and Commander-in-Chief, military forces under his command killed as many as 22 people in Pakistan, at least three of whom were children, by firing missiles from unmanned Predator drones into the Federally Administered Tribal Area. This comes on the heels Obama’s appointment of Richard Holbrooke, a long time hawk, as his special envoy to the region, and on the eve of tribal chieftains meeting with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, husband of assassinated Benazir Bhutto. 

Antiwar Obama supporters may have been disappointed with these attacks, but this is pure Obama carrying out a position he has long put forth. That Obama is continuing and carrying through with murderous missile attacks should not be surprising. On August 1, 2007 Obama said if elected in November 2008 he would be willing to attack inside Pakistan WITH OR WITHOUT APPROVAL FROM THE PAKISTANI GOVERNMENT. Reports at the time said such a move would anger the Pakistani people, and they were right. Following his statement, Obama received the lowest approval rating in Pakistan over any Muslim nation polled before the election. 


The Hopes for Obama May Die in Afghanistan


By Marc Pilisuk
Sometimes we separate foreign policy and national security issues from our domestic agenda, leaving the former inordinately in the hands of experts and officials. We do so at our peril. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates has begun an escalation of the war in Afghanistan while US citizens weigh in on abortion, clean fuels and health coverage. Despite the financial meltdown, hopes abound for major changes in health care, education and the green economy. Sadly, this may all be lost in the inhospitable mountains and deserts of Afghanistan and its Pakistan border. Recent efforts to kill militants are predictably killing civilians and creating enemies. The prospect of widening this war threatens to undo the Obama presidency.


Obama’s Privatizing Agenda for Education?


Union-busting, school-privatizing, school-militarizing Arne Duncan is Obama’s pick for Education Secretary

By Betsy Schonitzer

President-elect Obama has appointed Chicago Public School CEO (yes, his title was CEO), Arne Duncan, to the position of Education Secretary in the next White House.  Does this represent “hope” or “change”?  Or, is this a betrayal of public education?

Arne Duncan as CEO of Chicago Public Schools practiced a market-based approach to “reforming” the educational system, including outsourcing and privatizing public schools, militarizing public schools, greatly narrowing the curriculum and use of the “No Child Left Behind Program.”


During the time that Arne Duncan was CEO of Chicago Public Schools, public schools have been turned over to private operators – usually in the form of charter and contract schools – at a rate of about 20 per year.   Privatizing schools results in union-busting since charter and contract schools operate union-free.  As one of the last major district initiatives under schools chief Duncan, it was announced this month that 6 Chicago public schools will be closed in a move that could affect as many as 25 schools through closings and “turnarounds” (firing all the faculty and privatizing the school).  At a recent public hearing, parents, teachers and community leaders, accused the district of closing schools only to reopen them as schools under private control and without the same accountability as regular district schools.  Parents expressed outrage that now that classroom sizes were smaller, 20 rather than 40 students in a classroom, school authorities want to close the schools.


Just Say It


By Malcolm Shore
So, it’s the day after the Inauguration, and I had just opened the New York Times
I turn to the Editorial page and encounter these words in a piece about Obama’s address: “In about 20 minutes, he swept away eight years of President George Bush’s false choices and failed policies and promised to recommit to America’s most cherished ideals.”
Wow! Naturally, after reading this, I instantly assumed that Obama had immediately withdrawn all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. That he had closed down not only Guantanamo, but Bagram, along with the other secret, and not-so-secret, U.S. torture sites throughout the world. That he had issued an executive order overturning Bush’s spying program, and apologized for voting in favor of it in July. That he had called on California to immediately repeal Proposition 8, and apologized for marching in lockstep with its supporters during the November election. That he had reversed his earlier stance, and vowed to end Bush’s faith-based initiative immediately. That he had announced a massive aid package to New Orleans, specifically geared towards building new homes for all the displaced residents Bush abandoned after Katrina.   That he declared an immediate end to all ICE immigrant raids.


Obama Fact Sheet


“I think those of us who voted for McCain are going to be a lot happier with Obama than the people who voted for him.” - Republican Indiana resident Valerie Schlink, quoted in the New York Times, 1/18/08
January 20, 2009: The least popular, and most overtly criminal, administration in U.S. history is exiting the stage. The nation’s first ever Black president—whose central campaign themes were “hope” and “change”— is entering. For these basic reasons, the swearing in of Barack Obama as the 44th President has generated a level of excitement and optimism in the U.S. , and around the world, that is unprecedented for a presidential inauguration. Millions of Americans who, to the core of their beings, hated the Bush agenda of war, torture, repression, and religious fanaticism are hopeful that the Obama administration will dismantle that agenda.  
But will the incoming administration really undo, or even halt the progression of, the Bush program? Or will the new administration continue, in perhaps a slightly different form, that same program? In other words: What is Obama’s inauguration actually ushering in?
Consider the following questions and answers. But don’t just read this passively. Send it on to as many other people as possible —especially progressive folks who genuinely want to end the nightmare of the past 8 years and are counting on Obama to do it for them. Use this for your own ongoing reference, and to open many other eyes to what Obama’s inauguration really does—and doesn’t—mean.



Obama’s Inauguration: the Hopes of a Nation, the Needs of an Empire

By Dennis Loo 

Barack Hussein Obama is the new U.S. President. Bush and Cheney looked awfully small and dyspeptic that day, Cheney especially, since he was wheel-chair ridden, having thrown out his back while heaving boxes of ultra secret documents from the White House on his last day in office. Apparently, staffers couldn’t be trusted to move this stuff for the man who kept a safe as tall as a man in his office.


Millions came to watch, hundreds of millions glued to the TV, to celebrate the end of the Bush/Cheney years - never a more richly deserved and so-long delayed good riddance to a despised regime - and the beginning of the administration of this “skinny black man with the funny name,” as Obama has called himself.


On the Sunday preceding Tuesday’s inauguration, a concert dubbed “We Are One” was held in front of the Lincoln Memorial, featuring headliners Bruce Springsteen, U2, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Beyonce, Rene Fleming, John Mellancamp, and many others.


Crafty 89-year old Pete Seeger, blacklisted during the 1950s and banned from TV for decades, accompanied by Springsteen, in a rousing finale, restored the original lyrics to Woody Guthrie’s ode to the American people. Mellancamp performed his “Pink Houses,” a sardonic look at the American experience for working people.



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.